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Wisdom, the Flying Goat

By Teresa Michaud

It astounds me, without exception to see how goats can climb. They are fearless climbers. They love steep and dangerous slopes. They lurch way out on a high flimsy tree limb or a narrow mountain ledge. I know that a fear of heights is a goat’s best defense against predators since a predator wouldn’t dare venture out onto that ledge to catch one measly little goat. At our farm, we don’t have any bold ramps, cliffs or toys for the goats to scale, although we do have a low stand outside in the sun and a steep staircase just inside the barn door where they like to slumber.

I am not brave but I am working on it. My brother, Mike, the pilot, would often take me flying with him. While we wait for take off, we have a custom we would observe. I would look out of the side window at the ground and utter, “Look at those people down there, they look just like ants!” Mike would smile generously and respond, “They are ants - we haven’t left the ground yet.” He would be notably disappointed if I didn’t say that. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint Mike just before our flight.

Mike knew that I was weak-kneed; I don’t consider myself brave, but because I flew regularly with Mike, I have never deemed myself afraid of heights. At the age of three, I enjoyed being up in the balcony in church. I would gaze down on the congregation and the people would appear so tiny. I also had a spectacular view of all the tops of their heads. I would count all the hats.When Mike and I went flying as teenagers, he sometimes took me for a ‘spin’ especially if I had flustrated him earlier that day. A spin is an aerial maneuver. I guess you could call it an ‘aggravated stall’. Once he decides to spin, he takes us over crown forestland. He simultaneously yaws and stalls the airplane. The aircraft begins to fall out of the sky. It then rotates following a corkscrew path. Looking through the cockpit windshield, I see one tree rotating in the centre like a hub and all the other trees revolving around it. As our plane spins and plummets, I scream like banshee. Mike would then recover the plane and we would be on our way - otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this today.

My one-month-old bottle-baby, Wisdom, has no fear of heights what so ever. Like his goat ancestors, he loves to climb and spends his days at the very top of the steep staircase. The final additions weren’t finished on our barn so there was a small opening in the underside of the eaves where the soffit goes. One afternoon I was on my way out to the barn with Wisdom’s bottle. I heard him call to me. I couldn’t see where he was calling from at first, then I noticed him watching me from under the eaves. He had spied me coming with his bottle. I heard him struggling and all of a sudden, his head and front legs appeared over the top of the wall. I screamed and ran as fast as I could but before I could get there, down he came with his limbs spread wide. He looked like a white fluffy aircraft falling through the air. He landed on his side and bounced right to his feet. Then the delinquent kid-goat came bounding towards me and hopped into my lap for his milk.

Don't worry he wasn't hurt at all; he was just fine. He did scare me half to death. There’s no way of knowing what a kidgoat will do next. We finished installing the soffit as soon as Wisdom was finished drinking his bottle so that this wouldn't happen again. That evening a small group of children, who wanted to see the kid-goats, came to visit. Wisdom was looking down upon our group from the top step with a smile on his face. It looked as if he were saying, “Look at those people down there, they look just like ants.” I wondered if he was counting hats.

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