I live in southern Appalachia…the foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains. I’m so close to “Deliverance” country that I tell visitors, “When you think you are getting close, roll down your windows. If you hear “Dueling Banjos” and your radio isn’t on, you are almost here.”
No…I personally don’t play the banjo, and I don’t have a still hidden in the woods…but I do know folks who do both. Hehehe…!
We ARE close enough to Atlanta, however, that a lot of Atlanta folks move up here to get away from the city stuff like traffic, tiny lot sizes, and overbearing government…and for the most part they join the community rather than trying to change it.
For those who want to move here, but want to bring their big city “conveniences” like code enforcement folks who measure your grass to make sure you don’t let it grow too high, we have one message. Stay where you are! We don’t want you and are thinking about building gates across all major roads to keep you out!
There! I’m glad I got that off my chest! It’s another of my gnat bites (you can read about my gnat bite list, and find out what a gnat bite is, here).
Anyway, the other day one of the newcomers faced a situation that most of us up here consider just a “stuff happens” moment and don’t pay any attention to…but her city slicker tendencies kicked in…and I think she handled things better than what us hillbilly rednecks would have done….and she found truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”.
Ms. City Slicker was driving along Highway 515, a four lane divided highway…
Yes, we have a major highway here. We aren’t so far back in the sticks sunshine needs to be piped in. We refer to it as “the four-lane”, and I fantasize about its destruction. (Note to Department of Homeland Security…just kidding, I think).
So, she was driving along and saw another car hit a critter…a groundhog. Now, if you don’t know what a groundhog is, all I can suggest is Googling it…here, I’ll do it for you…but they make me think of a beaver with a regular tail instead of a flat mud slapper.
Oh yeah…no huge front teeth either. We aren’t talking about another organic chainsaw here.
Now, up here in the mountains we have all kinds of critters, and the dumber of each species seems to wander out upon the asphalt trails with distressing regularity. Our county road department spends too much time picking up roadkill.
75 years ago there wasn’t a roadkill problem, but you’ll have to visit my Family Homesteading section about raising chickens to find out why.
Anyway, this nice lady’s city slicker instincts made her stop to see if the groundhog could be helped. It was unconscious but breathing and had no visible injuries, so she used a blanket to pick it up and placed it on the passenger seat.
Lady, your humanitarian instincts are admirable, but that was a bad move. A VERY bad move.
A mile down the road, at the next traffic light, she looked over at her wounded passenger and…surprise…the groundhog had awakened from its stupor. Man oh man had it awakened! It was sitting up in her front seat, looking at her, and hissing and spitting as though it thought SHE was the one who had run it down. It was just plain-dang-MAD!
Needless to say, the nice lady set new speed records in pulling off the shoulder of the road and exiting the car. I actually think she got out of the car faster than if it had been on fire!
She had grabbed her cell phone during the emergency exit, and she called 911 (now THERE is a 911 call recording I’d like to hear!).
A small aside here…does it say something about us that cell phones have become such an “attached-at-the-hip” item that we don’t forget to grab them…even in a hurry-up emergency?
A few minutes later the Jasper police department showed up and did what anyone in these parts with good sense would do:
They called for “The Goat Whisperer”.
Let me take a moment to tell you about the goat whisperer. His name is Lonnie Waters and he is really more of an “animal whisperer” than just a plain ol’ goat whisperer. I believe he could lie down to take a nap next to a bobcat and wake up without scratches. He works for the City of Jasper, Georgia, but I don’t know exactly what he does…sort of an all around problem solver for the mayor, I think.
I first met him, and dubbed him the goat whisperer, about two years ago. I had a small herd of dairy goats and due to my poor fence maintenance they had escaped. I was slowly gathering them up over several days (they stayed within a hundred yards or so of their pen, and my livestock guard dog took care of their safety), and would have eventually caught them all, except…
Neighbors didn’t approve of the goats eating their gardens, but what really upset them was the goats climbing up on the hood of their new truck. Something about not liking the hoof marks. I never understood their concerns. After all, It WAS a work truck, not a Mercedes or something…
So anyway, catching them, and doing it quickly, became critical…as in necessary to keep me out of jail for having nuisance animals. I caught them all except one ol’ stubborn gal.
Female. Goat. Stubborn. Who’da thunk?
One of the deputies (yes, The Man, or in this case, Woman was involved at this point) , Joanne, who was a friend and didn’t want to arrest me called Alan, the Chief Deputy, another friend who did not want to arrest me, and told him about the stubborn goat, and Alan called Lonnie. Remember Lonnie…the goat whisperer?
Lonnie showed up and introduced himself. I had never heard of him, and neither had Joanne, but she said Alan had said that someone told him that Lonnie was just the man to deal with a stubborn goat…or stubborn female…or both in the same package…and that was a good enough endorsement.
Lonnie went to work. First he asked me if I had a dollar. I thought maybe he worked cheap but wanted to be paid in advance, so I gave him a dollar bill, and off he went.
Now this ol’ goat would let you get within about 15 feet of her before scampering off another 30 or so feet to taunt you again. Lonnie eased up toward her once or twice and tried to sweet talk her, talking low and softly. It didn’t work, so he brought out his secret weapon…that dollar bill.
H grabbed each end of the bill, folded it over, and started rubbing the halves together.
Swish, swish, swish…a few quick swipes…followed by swish…..swish…..swish…..slower swishing…
A few fast swishes, some slow swishes, slow talkin’, soft talkin’…and I’ll just be danged…
The gal just walked up to him and let herself be led back to her pen!!!
I asked him how he did it…and why a dollar bill? He told me an old mountain man who raised goats had shown him how to “whisper” goats years ago…and he didn’t know why paper money worked, it just did. He had tried all kinds of paper…plain ol’ writing paper, newspaper, brown paper bag paper…nothing worked except the paper money is made from. Now I’ve heard everything!
So…back to the groundhog.
Lonnie showed up, along with his son. When they went to get the groundhog out of the car they discovered that all the commotion had skeered it…and it had climbed up BEHIND the dashboard…actually right behind the speedometer and above the steering column!
Folks, I’m not talking about some little squirrel sized animal. We are talking about an all grown up adult groundhog…30 or more pounds…IN the dash!
Whisper THAT sucker, Lonnie! Need to borrow a dollar bill?
Well…it took a while for Lonnie and his son to get the groundhog out, but after some coaxing, prodding, nudging, and, in all likelihood groundhog whispering, the groundhog was extracted from the dash and the car. He (or she…nobody checked) was put in a cage and Lonnie took it to a 700 acre tract of land on a mountainside to live in peace. The city slicker’s concern for animals, and Lonnie’s groundhog whispering, saved one of God’s creatures, which is a good thing.
When I talked to Lonnie yesterday I did tell him he was a fraud as a goat whisperer. When he asked me how so, I pointed out that he used money (the dollar bill) and that the goat was a Nanny…female…what did he expect?
Wouldn’t work with a stubborn ol’ Billy Goat.