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Sometimes you just need help

Sometimes it is good to fly solo, but other times, it can be a good thing to have assistance. Some chores simply seem to be better suited to multiple bodies, or brains, or hands, or so I thought, until recently.

A few days ago one of our neighbors, from up over the hill, called to let me know that her neighbor had three yearling mallard ducks who refused to stay on her farm. Apparently the birds were ruthlessly foraging up and down the road and were continually visiting where they were not necessarily invited. She asked if we would be interested in taking them in. I do not think that I need to tell you my reply. I simply asked for a few days to ready their new home.

It seemed as though it was meant to be. We stopped off at a yard sale and found a perfectly priced dog house that just happened to fit ever so perfectly inside a small dog run that we had found on sale at the feed store. All that I had to do was assemble the dog run. Well … this assembly turned out to be far easier said than done.

Greg was planting beans in the first field, so I knew that this task was mine alone, but with the assistance of the hand truck, that I dug out of the back of the barn, I was able to maneuver the heavy box containing the dog run, over to the goat yard. I imagined that the enclosed goat yard would provide the new birds with some additional security.

I unlatched the metal gate and wheeled the laden hand truck inside, only to look behind me and see that the goats had all happily escaped. They began to scatter and contentedly nibble at the grass in the upper field. I called them each by name. Four goat heads dutifully looked up. I pounded on the heavy dog run box and said “Look what I’ve got!”

Well, goats are amazingly curious creatures and their curiosity quickly got the best of them. One by one, almost in line, they returned through the gate into the yard and gathered around me and the box. I latched the gate as they began to nibble on the cardboard corners.

I sliced through the tape, upended the box, and dumped the contents onto the ground of the goat yard. One goat immediately jumped onto the empty box. She seemed thrilled by the way it crunched and gave way under her hooves.

I stacked the metal panels off to one side and reached for the instructions, but it was not to be. Another goat grabbed the paper off the ground and jumped up onto her goat house. We danced, she retreating from my lead, all around her house, me on the ground while she tapped across the metal roof, until finally she zigged rather than zag, and I was able to grab the instructions from her. They tore quite neatly in two, but all the writing was thankfully intact. I carefully read through the first several steps, and then folded the instructions and placed them securely in my back pocket.

There were eight metal panels in all, bungee ties, plastic corner securing devices, and an eight sided conical canopy that fit over eight wires. It all seemed quite confusing, and as I laid each category of material out on the goat yard ground, a curious goat would step right up and take off with a plastic part, or the whole canopy, or a mouthful of bungee ties.

I finally had it all organized, and as I stood back to look at it, reaching for my back pocket instructions, a curious goat beat me to the draw, and grabbed the paper out of my pocket and dashed off up the hill, far into the goat yard. I could see the paper slowly disappearing as she contentedly munched.

I stood still, listening to Greg’s tractor chugging away in the field below. I wondered at the wisdom of my solo appointed task, but with one goat occupied up the hill, and only three to complicate my endeavors, it occurred to me that perhaps I stood a chance at getting this task done.

Quite a while later, the duck enclosure was compete, and it really did look quite perfect. I gathered up what was left of the box and left the goat yard, locking the gate behind me. As I walked back towards the cabin, pleased with my perseverance, I looked back over my shoulder. My goat assistants must have thought that the duck enclosure looked perfect too. They were standing on their hind legs, nibbling at the bungee ties, pushing against the panels, and trying to figure out a way to jump up onto the canvas roof.

It then occurred to me that I really did need the assistance of my true assistant, Greg, to help me lift the completed enclosure out of the goat yard and into a goat free zone. Then we would be able to head up over the hill to bring the ducks home, together. It sounded as though the tractor was headed back to the barn. I walked down the hill to tell him my plan.

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2016 News Democrat