Life just keeps getting weirder. The faltering economy means different things to different people, and it's hard to comprehend what it means out here. After taking a couple of kittens off my neighbor's hands, I mentioned to the vet that people were dumping an awful lot of cats lately. She said that's because the county can't afford to keep them in the pound, so they won't take any from owners. So, owners are just dumping them out in the country. That was sad enough, but I heard something even sadder this weekend.
Apparently, not knowing what else to do with them, some people are castrating stray males themselves. I won't repeat the procedure here, because it was rather barbaric -- sounds like something from the Civil War era surgical books -- and I certainly don't want to give anyone else any ideas. The person who told me about it said that most of them survive.
Then today I received a letter from a couple of Shetland shepherds who can no longer care for their sheep and are looking to give them away to someone. They had photocopied their letter and just filled in my first name after "Dear" in the salutation of the letter, so the letter obviously went to a number of people with Shetlands.
A friend also called today and started telling me about people deserting horses in parks that allow riding. Since horses cost a small fortune to keep boarded, and no one is buying horses right now, some people take them to the parks to ride them, and then just leave them when no one is looking.
And to put icing on the cake today, I had a visit from a very suspicious man. He called last week and asked a lot of questions about taking care of goats, then he said he'd stop by sometime and asked me for directions. I told him to call whenever he was ready to head over, and I'd give him directions then. Well, today my phone rang, and he said he was outside looking at my sheep. I told him I'd be right outside, and he said that I didn't need to come out. He just didn't want me to worry if I looked out the window and saw someone with my animals. He was just going to head back down the road so he could look at my goats.
"No, just give me a minute, and I'll be right out!"
"Oh, no, I don't want to bother you. You don't need to come outside," he said in this sweet grandfatherly-sounding voice.
"Well, you won't know who you're looking at or what if I'm not out there to tell you."
"Oh, that's okay. I just want to see what they look like. I don't want to bother you."
And we went back and forth until Jonathan saw him pulling into the driveway, and I blurted out, "Don't get out of your car! I have a big dog, and he hates strangers, and I don't know where he is! Don't get out of your car until I get out there!" He stopped arguing at that point, and I went out to meet him. (I knew exactly where both my dogs were, by the way.)
He was short and a little overweight with a long white untrimmed beard and no teeth. I took him into the barn to see the babies, and he said that he just wanted to see what they looked like so he'd know what size crate he'd need to transport one. Then he starts sizing up the adults, even though I never said the adults were for sale. He pointed to Coco and asked, "Is that one pregnant?" I said yes. And he started talking about what a good home they'd have and how they'd be in "goat heaven." That was a phrase he kept repeating -- "goat heaven." I know it's a metaphor, but somehow it was making me really uncomfortable. After he left, I realized he didn't ask any questions that buyers normally ask -- not even prices! He never asked any of the goats' names or production history or anything. As he went to leave, he never said anything about getting back to me, calling me later, or buying a goat. But he did keep talking about what a good home they'd have and how happy the goats would be in "goat heaven."
Okay, so, I suppose this man could be completely devoid of any normal social skills, but it's hard for me to believe that anyone could be so clueless. I had to practically threaten the man with being mauled by my dog before he would let me come out into my yard to show him my animals!
I asked him how he found our place, and he said he just went to the gas station in town and asked, "Where's Old MacDonald's Farm?" and someone gave him directions. That seems really strange also, but I don't think my physical address is on the net anywhere.
Needless to say, the barn is locked tonight! I wish I had a way to lock up the sheep. I am freaked out though, knowing two goat breeders who've had goats stolen, and reading the Shetland shepherd's story about her neighbor's cow being shot with an arrow and butchered in the pasture. We should probably be looking at how we can put all the animals behind locked doors and gates. The world is getting increasingly weird and scary.