By this time, the rest of my family had arrived. Under the direction of my father, we spread out, moving swiftly and silently into the forest.
And by swiftly and silently... I mean loudly and clumbsily on my part. Being five feet eleven inches does not make ducking under thorn branches and sliding under logs very easy. Every step seemed like I might poke my eye out or snag my hair on some vindictive twig.
Now, I like to consider myself adept at walking through the woods. As a child I would spend hours running along the paths beneath the leaves, pretending I was a Narnian Dryad, or a Sylvan woodelf from Mirkwood. I could slip under bough and over log as lightly as a young deer....
But not these trees. One did could not simply run through these trees. Too many poky, snarly wicked, thorny branches that seemed to reach out and catch hold of my coat like desperate, grabbing fingers. That dreadful scene from Snow White comes to mind.
But I was not to be daunted! Never let it be said that I had been beaten by a couple of ungrateful goats and a hostile clump of trees!
I straightened up- as much as the branches would allow- and took a deep breath, ready to charge forward and find my quarry....
And suddenly my phone rang, startling me into a frantic search through my large, ripped up coat pockets.
After managing to get my rather unresponsive touch screen to actually work, I answered to find my dad on the other end, informing me that the rest of the family was in position and that we were free to start sweeping the woods. I quickly agreed and hung up so we could get to business.
Just one sweep through this woods and those goats will be out for sure! I thought. Right?
You see, goats are not like deer. When you're out hunting and the deer refuse to get in range of your gun, its often helpful to send some of your minions- excuse me, siblings- through the trees to push the deer out. As soon as the deer break through the underbrush and run out on the open field, shooting them is much easier.
But a goat is smarter. When a goat hears you clomping through the trees and muttering insults to various offending trees, they don't run. They just sit there, like rocks, waiting for you to walk by. Then, once you've passed, they sneak over to another hiding place so that you can't find them.
One sweep, my foot.
I don't know how many times we combed that little shelter belt, but we found no sign of the missing goats. Yet our lookouts on the outside swore they hadn't come out of the trees since they arrived. So we kept searching, and pushing, scrambling over logs and under brambles.
Finally, I emerged from the shelterbelt to find Nani, Jedi, my dad, and Bree puzzling over where the goats possibly could have gone. It was as if they'd vanished into thin air.
But just when we were about to give up, we heard it- a shout! They'd been found!
Spurred on by this breakthrough, we raced together to the other side of the shelterbelt and found them huddled down in the tall grass... exactly where they'd entered in the first place.
Cue the facepalm.
After some maneuvering, we managed to get Butterscotch into a halter and had to literally drag her to our giant red van, fondly known as Perry the Cherry. Her babies, Little Boy and Little Girl, did not protest overmuch when we took them to follow their mother.
I volunteered to sit in the back with the goats as we drove home, just to make sure there was no more trouble.
And let me tell you, until you have ridden in the back of a van with a large, cantankerous mother goat with horns inches away from your face, you cannot know what this feels like.
Those peculiar, rectangle pupils staring at me unblinking... as if she knew.... it would be so easy!
Swallowing my apprehension, I settled down with Little Girl on my lap, hoping that might deter Butterscotch from goring me too hard. And I spent the rest of the ride singing Celtic songs to them.
Siúil, siúil, siúil a rún
Siúil go sochair agus siúil go ciúin
Siúil go doras agus éalaigh liom...
And so we made it safely home- the goats no worse for wear, and myself and my family.... only slightly worse for wear. And inside there was warm blankets, and pantry full of delicious rewards for a job well done.
And the moral of the story is...
An adventure waits around the corner, when you least expect it. All you have to do... is see it!