If Gypsy, our dear Angora doe, could speak she'd have a heck of a tale to tell about the last 72 hours.
First of all, Gyspy is okay. She was returned to the farm yesterday by two of the three people who had stolen her from our farm on Thursday night.
Now, let me back up a bit.
I had to be in Connecticut all day on Friday. Mid morning I received a call from my husband Mike. He and our farm assistant, discovered upon arriving for morning chores, our flock was minus one goat. Gypsy was no where to be found.
There was a trail of goat hoof prints outside the fenced paddock accompanied by several sets of human boot prints (not Mike's, not our farm hands' and definitely not mine) that followed the goat prints around the north side of the barn, over the stone wall and down through the ravine. The tracks continued on the opposite side of the road, heading down toward the dairy barn. A thorough search revealed no other signs of goat anywhere on the farm.
I had several appointments to keep in Connecticut that day, so Mike kept me posted via cell. The authorities were alerted. Mike contacted our security company to download all the video from our barn security surveillance cameras that record everything that happens near our barns and paddocks. I got home just before dark Friday night and spent the last minutes of daylight scouting for goat prints, droppings. I hollered "GYPSAAAAY" down into the dell, hoping to hear her reply.
Got an early start on Saturday morning - I was slated to be vending yarn and signing books at the Wayland Winter Farmers' Market Fiber Day from 10 to 2 which meant I had to leave the farm by 6:30 a.m. Before I left, I spent half an hour down at the farm again, searching for any fresh goat prints and calling for Gypsy.
It took hours for the security company to sift through the video.
But Saturday morning, long after I was on my way to the Farmers' Market, Mike heard from the surveillance company that there was indeed footage of Gypsy being chased, cornered and dragged away by three men on Thursday night. When Mike eventually saw the images himself, it quite literally made him sick. Who were these people? What were they planning to do with our goat?
I was grateful to be so busy at the Wayland Farmers' Market, while all of this was being sorted out back home. I kept waiting for a text or call from Mike. The longer I waited, the tighter the knot in my stomach became. At one point a customer asked me a question I'm often asked - how many and what kinds of animals do you have? I began ratttling off my automatic response: 60 sheep, 3 llamas, 3 miniature donkeys, and 1 goat - but when I got to the goat part, the words stuck in my throat, because I was feeling nearly certain at that point that I would not see my goat again.
By bizarre coincidence, a few local individuals had noted some interesting recent FaceBook activity - a few local guys posted pictures of themselves posing with beer and a goat. The dots were quickly connected and the goat purloiners identified.
After sharing the videos and the discovery of the incriminating FB post with the authorities, they contacted the perpetrators. Mike received a call from the local police - that our goat would be returned to the farm within the hour. Mike headed straight to the barn.
An hour and fifteen minutes later, a truck rolled up at the farm with Gypsy tethered in the back. Apparently after the intervention of the authorities, two of the three men who were responsible her disappearance decided it would be a very good idea to return her to the farm.
I got home late, exhausted last night after a very busy day at the farmers market. It was dark, snowing and I wasn't dressed in barn clothes. But the barn was my first stop, to bring Gypsy a slice of apple I'd saved to share with her. You can see her apprehension in the pic I took, above. She wouldn't approach me for her treat, so I left it for her in the feed bunk. Understandable behavior on her part, really, given her experience.
I will have the vet out tomorrow to make sure she is healthy, unharmed and has not been abused in any way.
Mike and I slept well last night, knowing she was home. We're still processing the weirdness of it all - and deciding where we go from here.
We have exactly zero tolerance for mistreatment of animals. Even if there was no malicious intent, (and it's still unclear to us - what would have been her fate had she not been tracked down so quickly?) how could anyone mishandle an animal, just for sport? I just don't get it.
Gypsy's is a lucky goat - to be back in her barn, ruling the roost, bossing the ewes about and paling around with the donkeys. There's a chapter in my book, Adventures in Yarn Farming called "Goats are born looking for trouble."
In this case, trouble came looking the goat.