“Nanno got run over by a packgoat…”

…”Hauling home a new-cut Christmas tree.”

That’s how the song will be sung in the Hassey Household from this day forth!

After an unseasonably warm December, we finally had some snow on the ground to make the atmosphere feel seasonably festive enough to cut our tree. I usually bring a horse to haul our tree home, but I spent a lot of time this year training team of goats to pull, and by golly it was time they did more than follow the tree home while stripping it bare! The day was beautiful but bitterly cold!

Our “Christmas tree lot” grows on a very steep ridge behind our house and is almost impassable because of the thick scrub oak, but I’ve cut a few paths so we can access the stands of fir trees that grow there in abundance. Finn and Sputnik were not particularly happy to be out there with us. It was late afternoon and high time for supper in their opinion. The other goats were all snuggled down in their sheds. But I put leashes on the boys so they had to come.

Finding the right tree was not too hard this year. We found one conveniently located near my widest path, and it was nice and full with a quirky, crooked trunk–just the kind we like! We’d brought the yoke and doubletree so we could hitch the boys to the tree. I enjoy coming up with a unique Christmas card every year, so I had every intention of capturing a quaint, country Christmas scene like these:

Unfortunately the goats had other ideas. Finn was in a rip-roaring bad mood. He wasn’t happy about being dragged into the wilderness and forced to stand next to Sputnik. He kept snapping viciously at Sputnik’s ears, and Sputnik kept trying to run away from him. Finn was not happy about being made to stand in the cold snow and wait for us to hitch him to a tree. He was convinced that the other goats must be having dinner by now (never mind that I wasn’t there to feed them, but goats don’t seem to think very logically about these things). We got the goats hitched without too much trouble other than Finn trying to tear Sputnik’s ears off, so I thought the rest would be easy. All I had to do was lead them home. Finn, however, had no intention of following sedately behind me. He wanted to run home even if it meant dragging the tree and Sputnik all by himself!

For a brief moment I made the mistake of holding Finn’s leash between my knees while I rigged up a rein from Finn’s halter to Sputnik’s harness–an attempt to keep the goats somewhat even and force Finn to slow down. Finn saw his opportunity and made a break. Sputnik went with him.

We were on a narrow path lined with oak brush. I had nowhere to go and no time to move anyway. That tree barreled over me like a freight train and all I saw was a rooster tail of snow shooting behind our tree and two wildly bobbing tails retreating gleefully into the distance. That tree was ten feet tall and heavy, but you’d think it weighed no more than a pillow the way those goats were running with it! My cries of “Whoa Finn! Whoa Sputnik!” went completely unheeded.

Luckily Phil had gone ahead of us with the camera and was able to head them off. I got control of the lead rope and we somehow managed to make it home with the tree intact. We even got a few decent photos! But I don’t believe our Christmas card is very honest about what really went on this afternoon. Unfortunately, the most exciting moments could not be captured on film as the photographer was too busy wrangling our wild, runaway goats!

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