It is no easy task to leave the farm. The dogs need to be delivered to their doggish hotel across the river. We need to make sure that there are sufficient food supplies to last the duration of our departure for all of the hungry rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks, pigeons, horses and cattle.

We need to run through the daily chore briefing with our farm-watching neighbors, and only then, finally, are we ready to pack our bags and fly away.

This last trip west, to our youngest son’s wedding, was no different. I smiled nonstop as I puttered through my pre-departure chores. I was so excited that I felt as though I could hardly keep my feet on the ground.

Finally, Greg and I met on the cabin’s front steps, ready to head in and pack our bags. I was amazed how eerily empty our world seemed without the dogs by our sides, ready to follow us inside.

Just as I was reaching out my hand to open the cabin’s front door, I heard Greg’s voice behind me. “Now what do you think of that?”

I turned to follow his gaze. There, just past the pigeon gazebo, were our three goats, contentedly grazing. They had somehow escaped from the confines of the goat yard. Packing would have to wait. We walked out to the yard to investigate.

The mechanics of the escape were immediately apparent. A large ash tree, the favorite high perch of our pigeons, had fallen across a section of the goat yard fence, but as we surveyed the damage, we quickly came to realize how fortunate we actually were.

Thankfully, the tree had fallen while we were still home, allowing us the opportunity to repair the fence and corral the goats without having to leave an awkward situation to our farm watching neighbors.

The 60-foot tree had also fallen across the hill, not down, and so had not taken out any of our goat houses. It had also fallen very neatly behind the row of beehives, sparing their destruction and even more remediation.

And finally, only one section of the goat yard fence was down, though that section was quite crushed by the almost three-foot diameter trunk of the ash tree. Greg retrieved the chainsaw from the barn as I lured the goats back inside their yard. It is uncanny how easily they follow a bucket of feed. They bleated and pranced along behind me, acting as though they hadn’t eaten in weeks. As soon as I spread the feed across the bottom of their troughs, they immediately began to whisper up their late day treat, and yes, I use the word whisper to describe their eating because they have an odd way of gathering up the feed with their lips.

Greg proceeded to saw large rounds from the toppled tree trunk, and as soon as the fence was clear, we pulled it back up into place.

The T posts either side of the fallen tree were amazingly solid, though the wire fencing itself was quite twisted. On Greg’s suggestion, we took an unused section of hog panel, wonderfully versatile stuff, and zip-tied it along the twisted fencing. The goats, still eating, did not even glance our way.

Finally, Greg was able to push over the rotted base of the tree so that it would not provide a platform from which our starving escape artists could jump the fence to the greener pasture beyond, and we were done. The sun was just beginning to set behind the hill.

As we returned once again to the cabin, Greg turned to me with a smile. Yes, there was one more bit of good fortune. The fallen ash would certainly provide us with quite a bit of easily accessible firewood for the next winter. Accessibility is always a good thing, and yes, when least expected, good fortune on the farm greets us in many forms.

We easily finished off our packing and climbed the loft stairs for a short night’s sleep, excited to be leaving, but thankful to know that we would soon be returning home.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at