Written by Anne E. Shoemaker-Magdaleno House of Chabrier 2010
The old shepherd had died, and that’s what started the problem. His children had no desire to be shepherds, and were to busy playing video games and watching MTV to become farmers, shepherds, or any other such old fashioned nonsense. The goats had always led the sheep and the shepherd up to the pastures in the mountains every spring after lambing. There in the high meadows and the fresh air the kids had grown and thrived, and everyone grew fat and happy making hay while the sun shined. Every winter or late fall to be exact the whole flock descended into the valley, and lived on the farm during the cold winter months. Everyone benefited from this pattern. The farmer had meat for his table, and extra to sell. The farmer’s wife had wool to card, spin, and weave. The extra she could sell to the city folks who loved to knit and crochet with the lovely home spun yarn.
Then the Shepherd died, and life changed. The Three Billy Goats Gruff mourned the loss of the Shepherd, and together with the Great White Pyrenees decided they could lead the sheep up to the mountains. Gathering the flock with the goats in the lead and the dogs on the sides and to the rear they lit out in the early morn. They passed through the new urban sprawl, fancy houses that had sprung up here and there. As they passed home owners got on their cell phones and called their home owners associations to complain of the noise and stink. They objected to the smell of the farm animals, the noise pollution of the baaing and bleating, and the droppings that were fertilizing their well groomed lawns. Little did it matter that the sheep and goats and the farm itself had been there for generations, and they had moved to the great outdoors to get away from the vagaries of city life. Lawyers were called, and the eggs were never gathered because the farmer’s wife had to answer the phone all day and deal with all the complaints.
Now there was a deep ravine separating the lowlands from the mountain pastures, and the shepherd had always lead his flock across the sturdy bridge his grandfather’s father and the farmer’s Great, great grandfather had built and that is how they got to the lush pastures above the farm. This year as the Billy Goats started to trot, trot, trot across the bridge who should block their way, but a large, evil troll. Now this was the Farmer’s bridge, built many generations ago, but it now was on disputed land objected to by the homeowners association, an easement on Government land, or a part of the National Forest. The bridge was roped off, and a stern faced government official, and a smiling, smooth talking lobbyist halted the animals from reaching the greener pastures just beyond the old bridge. The Evil Troll threatened to tear the flock limb from limb, and eat them alive. The three Billy Goats Gruff were highly offended by the evil troll, and told him to please refrain from his bellowing because he was scaring the lambs and the kids. The Ewes were crying and bleating because all they wanted was to get to the pasture for the fresh green grass so they would have enough milk for their babies.
The Homeowners association joined the impromptu town meeting at the bridge with their lawyers, the Ogre, the Government Officials, the Lobbyists, the Special Interest Groups, The Environmentalists, and a Pork Barrel Group wanting to build a new fancy Stainless Steel Bridge over the Ravine. An Amherst Pheasant (an introduced species) entreated everyone to borrow money from China at high interest rates to pay for the new bridge, road crews, surveyors and special interest groups started mapping the new route the sheep and goats now must take. The Debt would be paid for by the Farmer’s children’s children, the Goat kid’s kids, and the poor innocent lambs. Banks got involved lending money at exorbitant rates to the county so they could pay for the environmental impact studies, and the bonuses and retirement packages approved by the district supervisors. The dogs kept their family of hungry, tired, and overtaxed sheep together, and protected the flock from those who prey upon the innocent and the weaker members of any herd. The wild life in the area made themselves scarce as the ARA told it’s members to support the new bridge and get behind the government spending because they would then have access to hunting the local Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Deer, and other wildlife living happily on the mountain above the farm after paying every increasing hunting and licensing fees. The Farmer’s wife berated her husband for not getting her enough help around the farm and a new shepherd, and the Farmer complained about the Government giving visas to Arab Terrorist and everyone else under the sun, but making it impossible for our neighbors south of the border to come and work on the farms, planting, tending the animals, and harvesting the crops. The sun set that day on a world in a very provoked state.
The next morning after having eaten just about all of the grass by the bridge, the sheep started grazing on manicured lawns and petunia beds planted around the new palatial estates on what used to be grazing land. The homeowners went hungry because there were no farm fresh eggs for breakfast, and the Ogre was still occupying the Bridge.
New plans had been drawn up for the Stainless steel Bridge, and another bridge was proposed made out of Fiberglass. A suspension bridge was an alternative put forth by the bridge builders association, and another bridge was proposed made from completely recycled materials. Lego land got involved and offered to build a Lego Bridge for free as long as they could have 500 Acres of the National Forest Land to build a Lego Land for future generations of culturally deprived children in the area. Disney World then made a counter proposal for less land, but a multi use Amusement Park for the diversion of the families in the area and around the world. Plus they would put Twinkly lights on their bridge, and they would hire some of the sheep, chickens, and goats to live as shining examples of rural farm life.
Every one kept debating the pros and cons of all the plans, the government officials kept demanding more money in taxes from the farmer, the homeowners, and threatened loss of basic services due to high demand, lower revenues and rising costs.
The sheep and goats, were hungry, there was no more grass on their side of the mountain. The Ogre had picked off a couple of lambs in the middle of the night, and the Shepherd was sorely missed. The ewes were bleating, the lambs were crying because their mothers had less milk because of all the stress. The dogs were being fed by the humane society, but didn’t like all this strange foot traffic near their flock.
The 3 Billy Goats Gruff decided to take matters in their own horns, and together with other Rams, Elk, wolves, a Puma, and a Bull Moose kicked, butted, pummeled, bit, and clawed, and pushed the Lawyers, Homeowners Association, Lobbyists, Special Interest Groups, Mass Transit Association, Army Corp of Engineers, and Government Officials into the Ravine. The Farmers wife brought in a new shepherd from South of the border who was documented, had a green card, a resident alien card, a work visa, loved farm animals, enjoyed planting crops, and whose wife would help gather eggs, card wool, and pick and can crops. He spoke Spanish and a little bit of English, had 3 children born in the USA, paid his taxes and he and his wife were working hard to put them all through college.
Speaking softly to the dogs and calling to the sheep he and the Billy Goats Gruff led the flock trot, trot, trot over the old wooden bridge to the lush green pastures in the mountains above the peaceful farm below. Life went back to making love in the spring, eating plentiful, nourishing grass in the summer, and trot, trot, trotting back over the bridge in the late fall so that in the winter months everyone could be warm and cozy on the farm. Life was good!
Copyright: Anne E. Shoemaker-Magdaleno House of Chabrier 2010 All Rights Reserved
A cautionary tale for those wise sages who tend to believe they know more, much more than the common man. Neither a borrower or a lender be. Write when we get work!