Monday, September 18, 2017

I lassoed a goat in Jericho, Vermont

Having recently moved to Jericho from South Burlington, I am finding living in a small town can be different than living in the big city (although all things are relative; after all this still is Vermont!).

Upon returning from a trip, being a bit tired and red-eyed, climbing the last of a seemingly endless series of hills – they apparently are cheaper by the dozen here – I spotted a sheep walking along the sidewalk as rightfully as skate boarders, rollerbladers, bicyclist, and walkers might do in the city. (Yes, some of us use two wheels and our legs for travel.) After taking a double take, I confirmed the critter did indeed have not only long hair, but four legs as well. I yelled to my companion to stop the car, there was a sheep on the sidewalk, and we just had to do something. She, my companion, did not seem to be a bit surprised by the sighting, though she and the sheep were both a bit shaken by my loud outcry. It is usually much quieter here, what with fewer airplanes and only an infrequent and minor noise barrier broken by the military. Military folks only motor through town with camouflaged vehicles instead of taxi down the runway in jets that stop conversation for miles. Here I can hear my self ‘think’, and I did. I thought: What am I going to do IF I CATCH HIM?

Long story cut short, Christa Alexander from Jericho Settlers Farm, owner of the sheep, and not surprised by the lonely homesick ram, came by and wrangled the now somewhat ornery critter by herself. That is one strong lady farmer. Small diverse farms I had heard of (we do have Farmers Markets in the city), but this was a real close up and personal farming view new to me. The ram bleated me farewell and I, feeling like I was now becoming an integrated part of this rural town, added that I might pay him and his gals a visit sometime as part of my goal of meeting more of my new neighbors, including the four legged variety.

A few weeks later, not far from my new home, as we drove up another hill (flat is an unknown term here), we spotted a goat standing along the side of the road as though it was perfectly normal for such a four- legged domesticated creature to be hitchhiking. Being from the city, and a flatlander at that, I thought it best to stop and see if the poor fella needed directions. After all, though I was raised and grew up in the shadow of the metropolis of Burlington, mama did raise me with the good sense of neighborly etiquette.

Now being of sound mind and body, but not as fit as the local woman farmer, I decided even a goat was a bit much to wrestle with, so, yup, you guessed it, I LASSOED A GOAT IN VERMONT. Well sort of - writers and storytellers are allowed a bit of rope. With some help from a friend and the fortune of the goat wearing a collar, I led the very friendly creature back to its mate and its home in a large fenced in backyard. I felt like I too had come home to new friendly and caring folks, including the four-legged variety.

Bernie Paquette wrote a monthly column for many years published in The Other Paper of South Burlington, and now resides in Jericho, Vermont.

Published in the Sept. 7, 2017 issue of the Mountain Gazette.

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