Marble Creek Acres

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The Moral of the Story

Adapted from Sketchite
By Josh Crise

By Josh Crise

Featured in the April issue of Goat Rancher (pages 24-25).

Featured in the April issue of Goat Rancher (pages 24-25).

There are certain times during the year the bugs in Maine are horrendous, so you often find yourself swatting, slapping and just being aggravated for a few weeks. The problem is that in this area of Maine, you are constantly saying … well, I can’t do this or that outside because it is below zero, raining, too hot, too muggy, snowing, the bugs will carry you away, etc. The list never ends for why you can’t do something in the great outdoors. For those that know me, I am always working on something from framing a new barn to building a greenhouse or repairing the swimming pool. I am also constantly harping on my family that there is always going to be a reason not to do something, so just get out there and 'gettah' done. The thing is, the more goating we do, the more I find myself in these predicaments because we want our operation to run smoothly and we want our goats to be happy for as long, or as short, as they are on the ranch, regardless of what role they play in our business.

Typically I roll out of bed at about 4 – 4:30 as Spring approaches. Sun is coming up, I have had enough sleep and my wife is just in her slumber, not to be disturbed. It works well for me because I am up and available to work most days with Lorenzo (one of my remote colleagues across the ocean in Barcelona, Spain) for a few hours early before everyone else reports for the day. Headquarters is in Calgary, Alberta. Of course, on this particular day, I took a slightly different approach.

This week I am working on a roof, for the lean-to attached to the barn expansion. Each night, my helpers say there is something going on or come up with some other excuse like the bugs are terrible. So, this morning I woke up, rolled out of bed and went outside to work, putting up metal roof panels on the lean-to by myself. Now mind you, they are three feet wide and it isn’t a solid roof. It is simply wood strapping, so you can’t get on the roof, you have to lean way out to drive the screws into the panel. Three feet doesn’t seem like a long way but it is further than you think when you are standing on the top step of the ladder (YES ... a no-no) but I had three points of contact (my toes, my free hand and the tip of the drill!) and teetering on one foot on your tiptoes to reach the furthest screw point on the panel.

This is where it gets good … so I am in that position, thinking I “goat” this, tippy toes, one foot, left leg out balancing myself in midair like a cheetah’s tail would in hot pursuit (Brady thank you for teaching me the art of similes in everyday language!) and on the top step of a six-foot ladder leaning way out to get that screw in when all of the sudden, the ladder is no longer under my foot … There is a brief moment where your neither falling nor solidly on the ladder and in that instant your decision to work by yourself screams through your head all at once. I am now pivoting in midair half on the roof and half off the roof and I hear the ladder crash to the ground.

Now wait, I want to reiterate I am working by myself at 5 AM in the morning and the whole rest of the house is sound asleep and the lean-to in question, attached to the infamous goat barn, is 150’ away from the house, where no one can hear me if I do scream like a pansy for help.

So back to the ladder that has now crashed to the ground and the teetering big guy hovering neither on the roof nor hanging from the roof, sandwiched in a two feet by two feet square area where I can’t easily let myself down eight feet to the ground nor scramble up onto the roof that is only strapped with two-inch wood strips and not sheathed with plywood.

So I manage to get my foot up behind me, and onto the strapping, in my two feet square area and push/pull my way to the roof, eight feet off the ground, scramble around and sit on the two-inch by six-inch tall stringer holding the roof together. Out of breath, looking down on the crashed ladder, what can I do but just sigh and laugh. Now the older ladies of the herd wandered back to their morning hay as the dust settled but not those darn 4-legged kids. I am quite certain, as they used the newly discovered launching pad, were making fun of me from the ground. They were probably whispering things like, “bet he wishes we were big enough to put the ladder back up” and “what if he gets stuck up there all day, who will bring us treats?”

But now what? Jump, scream for help to the fam jam (as Miss Kelly would say), cry, weep, curse … yes cursing (I am a sailor not like Lorenzo who takes every chance to get out on a sailboat he can, even dragging his wife Grisel when he can) always makes you feel better about not falling to your death or breaking a leg/arm in the process. Still now what … screaming is not going to work as the family is all asleep and too far away to hear me.

Oh wait … as I ponder my situation in the morning hours and consider just how long I may be stuck on said lean-to roof, it dawns on me, I have my cell phone in my pocket. Yes, definitely laugh and say really, you just figured that out?!? In the moment all you can think is I am not laying on the ground with a leg broke or worse. But hey, this is why I keep my cell phone in my pocket even when working because a few years back my sister in law (name that shall not be named ... Elaine) didn’t have her cell phone and she laid there for quite a while after slipping and falling on the ice. In the end, she crawled back to the house after dislocating her shoulder. Dang … I have my cell phone in my pocket so … I place the call to the wife who must be sleeping, yes likely in REM sleep … for the love of God answer the phone ... success, she answers the phone … I am saved … NO … she sends Kevin to set the ladder up for me … but wait, what 17 year old wouldn’t have something sarcastic to say to his dad after being woke up to come save his dad who is stuck on the roof. He walks out in just his skivvies barking, “Hey dad … need some help … how did you get yourself into this predicament.” Thanks Kevin for noticing the obvious!

So the moral of the story … and no the moral of the story is NOT to, NOT be out at 5 AM working, while the whole house is sleeping, nor to NOT stand on the top step of the ladder, nor NOT to stand on your tippy-toes, on one leg with your cheetah-like leg extended way out to balance you (again thank you to the master Brady for his simile rich language) … it is, in fact, to make sure you have your cell phone with you so you can beg for help! The things we will do to get the job done so our goat herd operation runs like a well-oiled machine doesn’t stop with the day to day operation; rather, they extend to all the crazy things we push ourselves to do to squeeze just one more task in for the day.

(Josh and Kathy Crise, and their grown children, Amelia and Kevin, operate Marble Creek Acres in Lee, Maine. For interest in a future year’s Kiko waitlist, questions or if you have topics you might like to read about in a future Goat Rancher, we can be reached at 207-619-3758, email [email protected] or