Kaspar lay in the doorway, watching the water drip off the barn roof. It formed a muddy puddle inches from his nose. He was bored. Gone were the magical winter days he had romped with his siblings in the snow. The spring rain was flooding the lower pastures and it would be weeks before the lush mountain grasses bloomed.
A growl rumbled in his throat as a strange scent reached his nose. The goats, lazily chewing their cud, pricked their ears. The bark Kaspar spent his spare time perfecting echoed across into the darkness. A howl and the patter of retreating feet answered him. He ignored the goat’s admiration. As a livestock guardian he had done his duty, nothing more. There has to be more to life, he thought.
!” Kaspar sat down to wait, frustrated.
He could memorize a pasture in a day, but the little white goats scattered
across the mountainside were identical. And hide and seek is her favorite game, he growled. Augusta
“Here I am,”
said, trotting up from a clump
of kids. “This meadow is so nice.” Augusta
“I suppose its good enough for most goats, but don’t you think you should do more than eat and grow fat?”
“Exploring outside the fence,” Kaspar suggested.
“It’s dangerous. There are bears and mountain lions and…and huge wolves.”
“I’d protect you.”
“I’d be the laughing stock of my friends. Exploring…as if well brought up goats like to jump on cars, eat tin cans and raid gardens,” she said with a toss of her head.
“We wouldn’t make trouble, we’d explore. Come on, you’re my best friend. I can’t go without you.”
“I’ll think about it.” She leapt in the air and galloped away.
He tried to wipe away the tears of disappointment with his paw. Of all the kids he had licked dry at birth, only Augusta had become his friend. The other goats were too much in awe of his bravery. They feared him. It was his sense of duty to
that kept him from leaving on
adventure. He gave a little bark of defiance at the inviting shadows in the
But it was tedious work. No bears or mountain lions raided the herd and the howling of wolves came from far up in the mountain peaks. Kaspar detested the fence most of all. His mission in life was to come up with a dozen unique escape routes, in case of emergency. He hoped, deep down, to prove how unnecessary it was. After all, some goats were allowed to free range with their guardians. Despite his growing restlessness, he never stayed away long and always spent the night curled up next to
One warm day found
dozing in the sunshine. Kaspar ran up,
panting, and put his slobbery nose in her face, wagging his tail. “I have it.” Augusta
“Wait! I dug a hole big enough for you to climb out,” Kaspar said. “I thought we could go down the mountain and visit the barnyard.”
“How should I know?”
“Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt,” she said.
They slipped beneath the fence and trotted down the rocky trail towards the farm below.
“Where do we go now?”
asked, looking up at the huge
barns with wide eyes. Augusta
A spacious pasture, barn and milking parlor were reserved for the dairy goats. “Do you think I’ll get to live here someday?”
“I hope not,” Kaspar said, sitting down nearby. “It would be so boring.”
Lost in happy thoughts of her future,
noticed the milking parlor door stood open. She
trotted up the cobble path, curious. Augusta
“Don’t go in there, we’ll get caught!” Kaspar whispered. But
didn’t hear him. Augusta
Inside, several goats stood in stanchions, eating grain, while the dairy hands milked them. Other goats bleated to be let in.
, curious to see more, sprang onto
the platform where the goats stood. The view was better, but she found herself
face to face with a grouchy old goat with long, sharp horns. Augusta
Kaspar heard snorts, the rattle of pans and a loud bang. From puppy-hood he had been taught to stay out of milking parlors. But this is an emergency, he though, and he raced in, barking.
At the door, he slipped on freshly spilt milk and skidded across the concrete floor, bumping into a milkmaid who was balancing two buckets in her hands. She tripped on top of him, soaking him with milk when the pails went flying.
It was total chaos. Does bolted from their stanchions in panic, while others laughed so hard they began to stomp the floor with their hoofs – adding to the din caused by frantic bleats.
was cornered by three furious
does. She quailed under their gaze, bracing herself for their horns and closing
her eyes. Instead, she felt a wet tongue on her face. Kaspar. Augusta
“Let’s get out of here,” he said.
They left without a backwards glance. The dairy hands, busy placating the does and sopping up the milk, were glad to be rid of dog and goat. The door slammed shut after them.
Augusta and Kaspar plopped down on the cobbles to decide what to do next. “What’s in this building?”
asked Kaspar, who was busy licking
the milk from his forepaws. Augusta
“Oh, nothing much.” He did not look up as he continued his grooming.
WHAM! Out of nowhere a bunch of feathers hit her head, knocking her away from the door.
“Egg stealer! Hen snatcher!” the rooster shrieked, strutting up.
She attempted to dash away and received a sharp peck on the rump. “That’ll teach you not to come meddling in my coop,” the rooster said.
“Kaspar!” she bleated in terror.
The rooster’s crowing was cut short when Kaspar pounced, pinning him to the ground with his mouth around its neck. “Enough of your fowl language,” he said. “Promise me you will leave young, innocent goats alone in the future.”
The rooster’s feather’s drooped. “I will, I will,” he squawked. “I must, I must.”
“Then go and tend your hens,” Kaspar said, releasing the bird.
The rooster slunk back to the coop. At the door he turned, ruffling his feathers, and gave a triumphant, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Kaspar was incensed, but the rooster was too quick for him and ducked inside. He shook the feathers out of his mouth and rejoined
. Angry clucks and squawks issued from the coop. Augusta
“Can we go back now?”
“Don’t you want to see something?”
“You found the only coop on the farm.”
“In that case, what’s over here?” she trotted off to a rail fence further down the road.
“Not over there,” Kaspar called.
A nauseating smell reached
’s delicate nostril. Then she
heard Kaspar’s tread behind her. “You can’t catch me!” Augusta
slipped as she rounded the
corner of the sty. She did a serious of hops to slow down, but misjudged the
distance and found herself flying through the fence…right into a puddle of mud. Augusta
Ominous grunts surrounded her as giant snouts rose out of the mud. “What do you want here, missy?” a gravelly-voiced pig grunted.
Kaspar found the pigs in an uproar, but
was nowhere to be found. He ran around the
sty, but only pig-scent reached his nose. Where did she go? For the
first time in his life, he was worried. She must be around here, he
decided. Otherwise she would have
run past me on her way back up the mountain. Augusta
He searched and searched until he lost hope. Each set of tracks and whiff of scent had turned out to be a dead end. Hoarse, with sore paws and a drooping head, he climbed back up the mountain as the sun set.
At the bottom of the pasture, he slid under the fence. The goats were snug in the barn and he sat down by a tree. He whined, missing
. I lost her. Augusta
A terrified bleat woke him. It came from the far side of the pasture, near the woods. He jumped up, barking.
When there was no answer, he thought he had been dreaming. Then he heard the
Fear gripped him and he took off towards the sound. “I’m coming
Scarcely visible in the shadows, a lone wolf cleared the fence in a single bound. It was bigger than Kaspar and moved with eerie silence. The wolf loped into the moonlit pasture, cutting between Kaspar and the barn.
When Kaspar barked, the wolf turned its yellow eyes upon him. They eyed each other, muscles tense – each waiting for the other to make a move. The wolf licked his lips, altogether too content with himself.
“Leave, leave!” Kaspar barked.
The wolf cocked his head and lunged. At the last moment, he dodged Kaspar and ran towards the woods. Feeling very pleased, Kaspar chased him, barking with all his might.
“Leave my goats alone and don’t you dare come back!” he cried, stopped in his pursuit by the fence.
Excitement over, Kaspar decided to check on the goats. When they recovered from fright, he understood that none of them had seen
either. With a heavy heart, he sat in the
doorway and listened to the sounds of the night. Augusta
The morning dew glistened in the sunshine, birds sang in the trees and the goats went out to pasture. One goat, very dirty and smelly, with straw sticking all over, straggled out from under the feeder. Kaspar sniffed the air twice, not sure if he could believe it. “
She bleated softly. “Yes.”
“Where have you been?”
“Here, where I belong.”
“I spent all day looking for you. Why did you leave me?”
“If you like the chickens and pigs lurking in the barnyard, then you can have them.” She stomped her little foot. “I’m staying here.”
“You won’t ever come exploring again? You’d make me leave you behind?”
said, “But when you come back
from keeping those animals in line, you’ll always find a friend here.” Augusta
Kaspar’s ears drooped. “You do take some looking after,” he said as he began to lick her clean. “Maybe exploring isn’t as necessary as I thought.”
She just looked at him through half-closed eyes, basking in the warm sunshine. He snuggled down beside her for a nap. “It’s good to be together,” he said.