Sometimes you can come within an inch of your life and not even know it.
And that is what happened yesterday.
Not to me, but to my Aunt Hannah Belle.
It was a red letter day. The farm had been rendered spotless. This was because the dairy inspector was coming for a visit. He came right on time and inspected all around the barn.
Even Walker the Talker, the little minimancha buckling who has something to say about everything, had been instructed to keep quiet.
The dairy inspector nodded at everyone in the barn. We nodded back, pretending to admire him. Then he put on a hairnet, which meant he was going into the dairy. The farmer went with him, and they were gone for about five minutes.
While they were gone Aunt Hannah Belle mysteriously appeared. She had been 100% banned from the barn during the inspector's visit, owing to her incorrigible behavior. In fact the farmer had put her down below with the fat girls and mended the little hole in the fence that Melly had made.
"That ought to hold you," the farmer muttered with satisfaction, having woven the field fence back together with an attractively rustic snaggle of baling twine.
Maybe the farmer shouldn't have said that.
We watched in shock and awe as she sashayed down the aisle toward the grain cans. She hannahbelled all three of them in rapid succession, spilling 150 pounds of dry cob and 14% dairy ration onto the barn floor in a seven foot swath.
She ate with lightning speed, like one of those people turned loose in a grocery store for ten minutes. Even Betsy was impressed.
Then for a change of pace she jumped onto my mountain of pea hay, knocking a few bales out of the stack while she searched for hay with the peas still on it. Even Winnie was shaken by her audacity.
A gasp went up as everyone heard the door of the dairy open. Aunt Hannah Belle scuttled away, moving like a worried crab with her feet seeming to rotate underneath her. She ran around the corner toward the pipe gate into the front pasture, and it seemed she had time to make a clean getaway, but then there came a familiar grunting noise.
She was stuck in the gate, too fat to squirt through from the angle she had chosen. Stone cold busted. The dairy inspector, three feet away, popped his eyes in surprise to see a fat little goat teetering between the pipes of the gate.
"What is that?" he said.
"Oh she gets stuck in the fence sometimes," we heard the farmer say nonchalantly. "She is a little bit fat."
"Isn't that cute?' said the dairy inspector.
"Yes," agreed the farmer grimly, looking daggers at Aunt Hannah Belle, who had shrewdly adopted the attitude of someone enjoying a nice relaxing pipe gate massage.
"Well, I better get going," said the dairy inspector. And he turned around and walked in the opposite direction. The farmer took a step into the barn, saw for the first time the hannahbelled cans and the wanton destruction of the one-goat buffet, and smoothly pirouetted back out.
"I'll walk you to your car."