the web of conventions

frozen web

frozen web

My neighbour is the proud owner of two goats. I guess they serve the purpose of animating his grandchildren. There are two fences between me and them. Sometimes they cry when they see me. Then I don’t know why they do so, although often I presume they might not have been fed that morning – or perhaps they want to talk to me.

Tonight I hear them cry. It’s cold but not too cold. What is too cold for a mountain goat? It’s going to be -10C tonight. It’s the second time within 10 days that I hear them cry late in the evening. Do they cry because of cold? Or because they have not been fed? They have this small shed, and I suppose my neighbour has given them a lot of straw to keep warm, and to nibble upon when hungry. But honestly I don’t know.

Should I phone him that something is wrong with them?
It’s already past 10pm. I don’t want to interrupt his sleep, or his evening rituals. It would be unconventional to do so.

Should I go and see for myself what is wrong?
I have to cross the two fences. I will have to say hello to at least one dog. Crossing a fence might be seen as a hostile act, especially in the night. I don’t want to be seen as a goat burglar. I’m afraid of breaking some unwritten rules. That would be unconventional.

Then what do I do if there is something wrong?
Suppose I go and see for myself what is wrong. And I find that their door is closed. I could open it for them.
If they don’t have food, they will have to spend the night without. I don’t have goat food. Would I go to my cellar and offer them 12 apples? These apples are for the kids. Another self made convention.

Being free means not caring about the little unwritten conventions to do the right thing. Apparently, tonight I’m lazy and not free.

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23 thoughts on “the web of conventions

  1. Thanks, Bert.
    I enjoyed the post today. Didn’t know if I would when I started, but you ended on such a wonderful note. Convention and non-convention. Yes, applies to so many different things in our lives.
    In a lot of pain (neck/shoulder) today, so need to stop this comment.
    Scott

  2. This is so authentic and heartfelt. I too have been faced with many similar situations and I would bust through gates to make sure an animal is not suffering. Just the fact that you process this through in your writings, means that you are such a caring person and maybe you were just too cold to go check. (lol)
    I remember one night, I heard a scratching sound out side of my house, and i was too cold to get out of bed and check…it could have been a burglar or a murderer but I would have let someone murder me just to stay warm (hehe).

    • Thank you for your kind comment. There are lots of noises here in the night, living close to a nature reservation area, foxes and owls, and weasels who like to eat cables from cars parked outside,

    • … 🙂 up till now I have not been interested in SEO. I suppose that an audience is more important than getting everything right. I have some linux sites in Belgium that pop up number one in google.be just because there are 500 visitors per week (small country). But unconventional goats is indeed a beautiful search term 🙂

  3. How nice to live near goats but a problem if the goats are being mal-treated. Hard to know what to do. I ask my husband because it becomes an issue of morals which would gnaw at me. Of course, this is a cop-out.
    What a fantastic photograph!! Have you seen a phenomenon that I am not sure is real? In the spring, after the snows have melted and before the grass is growing long enough to be cut, there are webs all across the fields.

    • They are not maltreated, but a goat’s cry sounds like a baby crying in my compassionate brain. It’s difficult to ignore. So going back close to them one hour later, and realizing they were sleeping … solved my problem.
      Thx for your appreciation, the picture is real, yesterday, after a freezing fog came inland …
      Indeed, in spring, some fields are full with spider webs. Also some hedges are full with dewed webs covering nearly every square inch.

      • Thank you for confirming the spider web phenomena in spring. There is something about them that seems to hold some importance for me. Maybe I’ll figure out just what it is.
        And glad the goats are not maltreated. Goats are so funny and such hams– can understand your concern and glad you checked them out.

    • I refer to my comments below. I guess they are ok. They are huge attention seekers. Coming close to them will make them cry. But the dilemma between ‘knowing they are all right’ and not being sure and not wanting to disturb someone late at night for nothing, is the source of not knowing what to do. I went back to listen 1 hour later, without making noise myself, and they had reached the point of being quiet.

  4. I think that i would have to go over the fneces and check on them. Not that that is necessarily what you should do, I just know I would. I have went through people’s yard after hearing cries from a pub or something. Just to make sure that they are ok. IF this man isn’t taking care of them, I would probably say something to him.
    But maybe you could just talk to him about it if you see him or something.

    • I went back to listen (without making noise) about one hour later, and I didn’t hear anything any more. So they probably heard me, and wanted to get my attention. It’s also possible, however unlikely, that they are frozen right now (cynism).
      I think he cares for them well enough, but sometimes he changes the time of feeding .. and they do not appreciate this!

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