Sunday, October 20, 2013

A goat comes calling...

An unexpected visitor this week – one impressive black and brown billy goat peacefully grazing in our fields. How he got there, we do not know, nor do we know why he decided to come. It is unlikely that he had any real reason for coming – he left home because he could.

Am I magnificent or what?
 A quick phone call to the nearest goat farm, at La Veyssiere on the way to Mensignac, about a half kilometre from La Chaise, confirmed that the farmer was one billy goat short. The road between La Chaise and La Veyssiere is a rural backwater, only really busy at champignon time or if someone is cutting wood.

But, and this is an important qualifier, to get into the La Chaise fields Billy Goat had to cross a main road. A quiet moment whilst one thinks of what might have happened but fortunately did not.

La Chaise has received other runaways before Billy Goat.....if one forgets to close the main gate there are always lost hunting dogs coming in of a Sunday evening, for example. And let us not forget this summer's abandoned black kitten..

The most physically impressive of the random animal visitors was the donkey that installed itself in the orchard. This was many years ago, before Arnold, Audrey and Alexandre, whilst Clea and Harry were still small and I was very, very far from being able to cope with such large animals.

Fortunately, the donkey was alternatively cropping the grass and eating the peaches and we still had a little fencing round the orchard. I closed the orchard gate, then the road gate and remembered I had heard donkey braying coming from the direction of Chantepoule, a kilometre down the road to Tocane.

I telephoned my one and only acquaintance at Chantepoule who, fortunately, immediately knew the likely owner of a donkey. Owner came to retrieve his pet,was duly grateful and I was given a Kilner jar of home preserved peaches. Well, that made up for the ones the donkey had eaten.

But escaping animals happen both ways. Mother Ducks have very little sense. One year our Mother Duck, who had a very large brood, would absolutely
insist on taking them into the ditches along the main road. In the end I stopped trying to work out why and just tried to keep them in – unsuccessfully. One embarrassing morning I discovered a car had stopped just before our wooden gate and the kind driver was shepherding the ducks back under it. Shepherding ducks is not easy, He was rewarded – eventually – with a ready-to-roast duckling.

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