"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Herding Goats

So, I'm on the final countdown to vacation but work keeps getting in the way. If I didn't have work, I would be sitting out in the car, right now, aggravating husband who can't leave for another few days and won't leave until he mows the grass. So maybe having work is good to keep me from being completely annoying. Today, I need to finish up a few work items, stop the mail, pack, make sure the neighbors know how to reach us, buy some road rations (including those individual bottles of wine!) and clean out the fridge.

I can't imagine taking off this long (more than three weeks). I've never done that and it feels lazy. Let's get real - it IS lazy!! My big fear is that I won't be able to bring myself to leave Oklahoma when it comes time to head back this direction. Or maybe my bigger fear is that I won't have the gumption to just dig in and stay.

I live in one of the most populated areas in the nation, the biggest drawback to the area, by far. Being a country girl at heart, I prefer all the backroads and will do just about anything to avoid traffic congestion. I've found a route to work that has a minimum of traffic because it goes down nine miles of hilly, windy road with no shoulder. It has a national forest on one side and a marine base on the other. It is a very dangerous road. It spits out into a semi rural area that has a goat farm on one side of the street and an old farmer on the other. The old farmer sits out in a lawn chair dressed in overalls and a weathered straw cowboy hat most afternoons gazing at his large vegetable garden. I don't know what that is about. The first time I saw him, I honestly thought it was a scarecrow until I looked closer. This is the same home that erected an inflatable nativity scene last Christmas.

So, I'm heading for work, yesterday, in my suit looking spiffy. As I leave the forest and enter the farm area, I glance to my right and see goats peering over the fence of the goat farm, their little devil hooves perched on the wire fence. I look to see what they are watching and there are kids (baby goats) EVERYWHERE along the side of the road and bouncing in and out of the forest. Oh holy Mary, Mother of God.

Honestly, the cutest things you can imagine.

Of course, I have to whip the car around as soon as I found a spot and head back to round them up. I pull into a locked, gated farm road and kids start scrambling like ants from an upturned anthill. A farm house is on the other side of the small pasture but I don't see anyone. I begin honking my horn to get their attention but all that does is agitate the kids and their mamas. The mamas are also loose and the kids are crawling through the fence and under the gate on their bellies. They wander up the farm driveway but are clearly unconfined.

Fortunately, I am wearing my favorite, non dressy cowboy boots, my Kangaroo skin shorties as I slosh through the mud. It just so happened that this is my last court day before vacation and I'd decided to hell with it. I'll wear my favorite, comfortable pair.

By this time, I'm running late to work but you can't just leave goats wandering loose. I back up and drive over to the farmhouse. Yikes, it's a wreck. It looks like they'd began remodeling it and abandoned the project. Tools are just laying around, which is a sure sign of depravity. Trade trucks and vans are parked everywhere. Two dogs (a pitt and a rott) are staked out in the yard and they are extremely enthusiastic that I am on the property. I tell myself that dogs love me and if they get loose, surely they will recognize a dog person if I can just avoid the temptation to give in to terror and run (of course, if they saw me run, they might collapse on the ground, laughing).

I call out a few times and walk back towards the barn near the back of the property.

That is when I see all the buzzards.

There are at LEAST twenty big black buzzards lurking all over the barn area. Six of them are on top of what looks like an abandoned car; a bunch come out of the lean-to area, looking mean and smug; several more are pestering a goat that has wandered by. Others are just lazily flying in and out. I begin making unnecessary moves like I have Tourettes so there's no mistaking that I'm dinner.

So, now I'm thinking maybe I don't need to be someplace that looks like something out of Children of the Corn, surrounded by escaped livestock and menaced by buzzards and angry guard dogs. I don't know what is dead back in the barn but I'm certain that by now, whatever is back there is beyond my help.

So I end up letting the police know and left for work. Presumably, no human was dead since I haven't seen anything in the news and haven't had the police come knock on my door.

When I got to court, I had a full docket. One case was a darling little seven year old rape victim, missing a front tooth, whose attacker was featured on America's Most Wanted, awhile back. The b*stard, the mother's illegal boyfriend, is still on the loose. May he rot in hell. I've had this happen, regularly, in sexual abuse cases. Many illegals are able to fade into the scenery because their cohorts won't turn them in since it would draw attention to their own illegal status. Illegals living outside the law make perfect victims and perfect criminals. An ugly side of illegal immigration is that many of the children are at such high risk with little protection from predators.

Since the animal (no offense to animals) wasn't there, the little girl didn't have to testify (we relied on the mother's observations and the physical exam). Because the mother didn't have anyone to watch the little girl, she had to stay in the courtroom with us. We all did what we could to make the situation easier for her. She looked so cute. The Judge shook her hand and oohed and ahhed over her pretty little pink bracelet (covered with pictures of the Madonna - not THAT one - Jesus and the Pope). The bailiff (who she remembered from the last time she came to court) showed her pictures of his dogs that he keeps on his phone. We teased her and she smiled and smiled the whole time. Everyone there was sensitive in what they said and how they said it. Lots of euphemisms that went over the child's head. I'd distract her at pertinent times in the testimony so she wasn't paying close attention. From time to time, the bailiff or the judge would wave to her from across the courtroom and she'd just beam, shyly, and wave back. While they were putting together the order, I was able to take her over to show the clerk her pretty little black shoes with rhinestone hearts. We fussed over her and told her she was just so pretty (she beamed) and that we were so happy she came to court to see us, again.

I have to say, the sweetest damned rape case I've ever been a part of. I wish every child that had to go through the court experience to convict their hell-bound attackers could be so surrounded by love and support. By not having the b*stard there, we were free to keep the courtroom full of smiles and positive energy.

It won't be an easy road for her but she has a terrific, loving mom who is handling everything right. So far, this little girl seems to have kept her innocence and capacity for joy. So often in these cases, by the time the abuse is discovered it has gone on for awhile, rotting out the child's soul. This was one of those rare cases where the mother walked in on what apparently was the first attack.

I can't help but wish the angels had been a little more timely in interrupting but you know what? I have to think this little girl really does have a guardian angel who protected her from worse. If mom had walked in five minutes earlier, the rape wouldn't have occurred and mom would have been none the wiser. But chances are the next time he tried, the SOB would have made sure he had enough time to avoid the interruption. So I will just be grateful that this little girl is okay, today.

Off to draft a letter to the court and then I'll make a few phone calls before shutting work down for vacation.


Anonymous said...

Your goat story is fabulous! Sorry you had to head to a rape case afterwards however. I was in a sorta similar situation years ago, but it was a bull and a couple of cows. I did NOT get out of the car!!! And considering I was in a Chevette and that bull was bigger than my car..not sure I would call it cute either!!

Stephanie D. said...

So, are you going to add herding goats to your resume?

I'm so glad you all were able to make that sesssion less frightening for the child--what a horrible experience, but what a great team effort by all involved.

Enjoy your vacation!