Getting closer to Cordelia
I wanna touch that goat
Cordelia is a menace. She’s a short, stocky, white, long-faced, deviled-eyed menace. This is why I love her so much.
I want to get closer to her. I want to pet her. Our relationship isn’t entirely straight forward. I send her mixed messages. There are days when I would like to invite her into my world. I would like to find a way to get close enough to give her an ear scratch. There is something wonderful about scratching the ears of a goat. And other times, she’s a nuisance.
Her favorite party trick is to eat the horse feed - their high octane grain - directly from the back of the Gator, while Megan drops food off in the paddocks. Cordelia moves quickly, stealthily like the snap of a mouse trap. If you catch her stealing food, she’s gone just as quickly.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time defending the horse feed from her. I’ve been asked to keep Cordelia away more than once. I always jump at the chance. Literally, I jump. I do this not because it’s entirely necessary. I do this because running after a goat, making loud noises and waving my hands in the air like a windmill having a seizure is fun. It’s shit for my relationship with Cordelia.
I can’t control her. Unlike the boy goats that I’ve encountered, she doesn’t have much in the way of horns. No horns? No handles. Her utters swing freely. They’re a bit low and a bit too close to the cloppy wackers1 at the end of her legs. She does sport a withered and sun damaged old piece of nylon rope around her neck. I’ve never gotten close enough to catch hold of it. She has thus far eluded me.
Lately I haven’t been chasing her. The horses are coming inside. The grain goes from feed room to stall with little room for her to interrupt. The horses that remain outside are all together in the same place. Cordelia is stuck with her own food. With less randomly spread grain, she’s become a little more bold.
On top of this, I move more slowly around her. I’ve been working on making contact with her for the last three weeks. Three times a week I’m at the barn. Three times a week for the last three weeks, I’ve been moving towards connecting with Cordelia.
When I want to make an attempt, I begin by making certain that she’s not cornered anywhere. Unlike the fly that I wrote about cornering and killing, I want her to have every means of escape. When I approach I move slowly. I walk an indirect arc towards her. I move like a croissant only without the flour, butter, flakes or deliciousness.
Really I try to be as much like a croissant as I possibly can. I step light and fluffy steps. I move in an arced route. I attempt to maintain and embody a light, open sense in my torso, in my breath and face. I try to notice and let go of my tension before I get to her. She doesn’t need that. What’s more, the more tense I am, the quicker she runs. It’s as though ‘she knows.’
The closer I get to making contact with her, the slower I tend to go. Waiting. Yesterday I had an apple core with me. I used to follow her with apple cores hoping that she’d notice that I had sweetness on offer. She’s super food motivated. It should have worked. It didn’t. I’d approach with food - something delicious like an apple and she’d run off behind the pigpen.
This time, I noticed that as I slid in towards her moving sideways, with my back and most of my attention turned away from her, she turned her head. She made a small movement towards the apple. That was a nibble. Not an actual nibble. But her interest seemed to nibble forward. I turned away a bit more. I created tension in my body as though I was going to walk. It was like there was a rope of tension between us. I tolerated it. I insisted. She took a step forward.
It was just a step - a small one at that but she initiated. She started moving towards me. If I’m indirect, insistent and patient with her I stand a chance of being her friend. This is a good thing. Who doesn’t love being friends with a goat? My chances improve even more if I notice when she makes subtle shifts from fearing me to being moved by her desire for the apple.
We all know goats. Sometimes it’s a client. Other times a lover, child or family member. We all face problems that are like goats.
Who are the goats in your life?
How do you move with them?
How does your how inform your approach?
What does it mean to you to be indirect, light, patient and insistent?
How is this a better account of who you are than the story you tell yourself?
How do your actions and movements make you the world’s best goat herder?
Can you pretend to be a croissant?
Also, if you have any tough to buy for billionaires on your Christmas shopping list, I might have just the present for them.
Spend enough time hanging around livestock and you’ll too begin to respect and avoid the wrath of the cloppy wackers.