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Alaska is a beautiful place, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else, but the arrival of the annual spring mud bog always complicates my barn chores. It’s grueling enough to have to master the sports of long distance swimming and professional mud wrestling just to reach the barn alive, but this year the paranormal activity among my livestock has been giving me additional stress.  Let me elucidate.

I have 20 acres, 13 acres of which is field.  A field just doesn’t look right without a crop growing in it or livestock grazing on it, so I naively decided to acquire a horse and a few goats.  The really spooky part is that a month ago I had exactly 4 goats—a tidy, manageable quantity.  Today I have 7, but by the time this column goes to press, the size of my herd may very well have exploded exponentially.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like goats.  They give me milk, cheese and goat berries.  They attack any brush that attempts to trespass onto my field.  They also eat any of the neighbors’ dirty laundry that blows off of their clothesline and into my mud bog.  This saves me the time and embarrassment of having to return the neighbors’ prodigal underwear.  As a way of saying thanks, I try to keep my goats well fed. But about the time I thought they were starting to get pleasantly plump, I began discovering that at random times, within a matter of literally minutes, my fat goats were becoming skinny again!  Boom!  Just like that. 

That’s not the most unsettling part, though.  Not only are they performing a mysterious instantaneous weight loss thing, but each time one of them shrinks, I wind up with extra animals!  Not big fat healthy ones, mind you, but tiny, little, scrawny things.  I don’t know where they’re coming from.  At first the supernatural connection didn’t occur to me, and I took them for some sort of a dwarf or pygmy breed.  Now, I suspect far worse.

The first time I realized there were more bodies in the barn than normal was while I was examining Ruth, my gentle Toggenberg, to determine how she had lost 30 pounds since morning feeding.  As I was trying to coax her to eat some grain, I almost stepped on what I thought was a damp bundle of rags.  Upon closer inspection, I screamed like a woman to discover it was a goat-like leprechaun/creature/entity/thingy!  It lay in the straw beside Ruth, like it thought it belonged there.  

As little as it was, my first impression was that it must have crawled in under the fence, but I quickly revised that theory when it became clear that the being didn’t seem to be very good at walking.  In fact, when I attempted to shoo it away, it took a good ten minutes before it ever managed to stay on its feet.  It would get its front end up, but when it tried to get its back legs under it, it fell forward on its nose!  Then it would get its rear in the air, but the front legs couldn’t get traction.

When the puny little creature finally did stand on all fours, it was weaving and wobbling like a wino on a binge.  Then the thing took a single, tentative step and toppled onto its nose again.  You talk about frustrating!  I was nearly frantic with worry.  The trespasser was obviously diseased.  In fact, it was in such bad shape that both of its horns had fallen off!  I already had one sick goat.  I didn’t need another—especially one that didn’t belong to me.  I just wanted to get the stunted aberration away from my healthy stock and Ruth, poor girl. 

I was not inclined to make physical contact with the stranger, for fear of contracting mad goat disease or something.  However, it broke my heart to see Ruth bravely trying to chase it away by repeatedly spanking it with her tongue.  I knew that eventually I would have to pick the creature up and physically remove it.

As I was summoning my resolve to touch it, the unthinkable happened!  It attacked Ruth!  Boldly and shamelessly it plunged its fangs toward her unprotected underside, and with blood-curdling slurping and grunting sounds began viciously savaging my best milker’s valuable and vulnerable udder.  In that instance, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck leap erect.  A cold sweat trickled down my back. 

Was this the terrifying chupacabra; that paranormal apparition of Latin American legend and worst nightmare of Mexican goat farmers everywhere?  Ignoring the danger that I might be abducted to a mother ship, I leaped to the rescue.  With a desperate yell, I snatched up the little monster and dove for the door. 

What happened next will live forever in my nightmares!  From just behind me erupted an unearthly ear-splitting shriek.  It was raspy, quavering and full of unbridled rage.  Before my heart could extricate itself from my Adam’s apple and resume beating, I felt a sharp blow from behind that knocked me face first into the mud bog.

I rolled into the fetal position, arms thrown up to protect my face, ragged hyperventilated breaths tearing at my lungs, heart thrashing around in my chest like a 3-pound grayling.  I knew that death was upon me.  I squeezed my eyes tight and waited for the chupacabra to devour me.  The quavering shriek continued, persistent and very close, but I felt no more pain. 

With great trepidation I allowed one eye to squint partially open.  Ruth was standing over me, a shred of the seat of my pants dangling from her left horn.  Between quavering shrieks, she was nuzzling the chupacabra that I had dropped in my terror.  Clearly, the thing had bewitched her.  I felt blindly about in the mud until my fingers closed on a broken pitchfork handle.  Trying not to attract attention, I slowly tightened my grip.  Ruth and the chupacabra watched me suspiciously.

Then my chance came.  The evil little interloper attempted to disembowel Ruth again.  Ruth swung her head around and nuzzled it, no doubt pleading for mercy, or at least a quick death.  For the instant, neither of them was looking at me.  Coiling myself like a lion, I sprang to my feet, brandishing my makeshift weapon.

At least I attempted to.  Embarrassingly, I had lain quivering in the mud bog so long that it had quietly sucked me into its oozing embrace.  I was stuck like a fly in molasses.  When you’re in a vulnerable position like that, I’ve read that you never want the enemy to see your weakness, so I assumed the most intimidating expression I could muster and in a ringing tone of authority, barked out, “Help!  Somebody please heeeeeelp meeeeee!”

It was a tremendous relief to hear my wife respond.  She had just arrived at the mud bog, her curiosity aroused by all the strange sounds.

“What on earth are you doing, George?  I certainly hope you don’t thing you are coming in the house looking like that…OH!  A baby goat!  Isn’t it precious?  Ruth, what a good mama you are!  Yes you is!”

I shouted a warning.  “Gaylene, stop kissing that thing.  Put your hands on your head and slowly step away from the chupacabra.” 

She gave me a weird look.  “Yeah, whatever, Mr. Rolling-around-in the-mud-when-you-are-supposed-to-be-doing-barn-chores.  Why didn’t you tell me Ruth had her baby?  Is there only one?”

“A baby?  Oh, a baby!  A little baby goat.  Yeah, isn’t it a barrel of monkeys?  Cute as a curtain, that one.  You know, Darling, I was so overcome with the miracle of new life, and the wonder of its delicate trusting nature, that I became weak in the knees and collapsed blissfully into this soft bed of mud here.  Uh, not to interrupt your cooing and cuddling session, but when you get a spare minute do you think you could help me out of this mud?  I think I’m still sinking.”

You know how women are.  Some facts are just too harsh for them.  I learned a long time ago, that it’s better to cater to their whims and fancies than to try talking cold, hard logic to them.  She still thinks the creature is a baby goat. 

I’ve decided not to push the issue for now.  It seems that the chupacabra’s enchantment has convinced even Ruth that it is her newborn goat kid.  So far, the udder wounds seem to be superficial.  Evidently the chupacabra has taken a liking to milk and is actually drinking more of that than Ruth’s blood, so Ruth’s okay with it, and my wife is okay with it.  The only one that isn’t okay with it is me.

The writing is on the wall.  Each week, the imposter summons more of its kind, and another fat goat goes skinny.  I think they’re settling a colony in my field.  The human race is doomed.  Skeptics cannot be reasoned with, however.   My only hope is for undisputable proof that will convince my wife before it is too late.  I know what to do.  I’m sleeping in the barn these days with camera and shotgun at the ready.  I want to be there when my Billy goat goes skinny. 

As soon as he does, I’ll take a picture of it and show my wife.  Then I’ll shoot all the little chupacabras with the silver bb and garlic clove shot shells I’ve loaded.  Finally I’ll send the picture to the National Enquirer.   When I get rich from my brilliant photojournalistic coup, I’ll buy a real farm without a mud bog.  Then I’ll grow old, happily breeding a fine line of champion sasquatches.

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