Brody: The great bear affair

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The day was finally over, and everyone was in bed.

My daughter Phoebe and her family live in the mountains of Conifer, Colorado, and everything they do is a long commute to work. Once they get home, they have horses to feed, stalls to muck, dogs to tend, three cats and three Nubian goats to feed.

The list is endless, and I didn’t even include the household chores But the point of all of the above is to tell you that once all is done — plus three children’s homework — at bedtime, sleep is welcome, needed and instant.

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But one night, before Phoebe fell asleep, there was this loud noise. It was so loud she sat straight up in bed, and when it happened again, the entire house shook.

Now, Phoebe, who is fearless but petite and feminine, slipped out of bed to look out their floor-to-ceiling window. As she parted the drapes for a look, there, passing her view, was the most unbelievable sight she had ever seen.

One of her little goats ran by, panting, eyes ablaze with fear, and not three feet behind her was this huge male black bear.

Round and round the deck they ran, and the bear was gaining on her. Even then, the bear, with one good swipe of its front paw, could have killed the little goat.

Phoebe sprang into action. She ran to the front door, and, en route, she grabbed a big mop — Yup, a mop. It is against the law to shoot a black bear in Colorado beside which she’d rather not, so her somewhat insane and dangerous plan, “at least to her mother” was to go after the bear and chase it away with the mop. Good Lord have mercy.

Later, when I expressed my utter horror at her plan, she sweetly explained to me bears are dumb and easily diverted. Of course, this made me feel much better.

So, Phoebe went out onto the deck. The only light to help her see was the outdoor barn light. Can’t you see the procession: A frantic baby goat, a giant black bear and a petite female wielding a big mop and yelling her bloody head off to scare the bear.

The twosome had made it around the deck four or five times, and the baby goat was about to collapse. Phoebe decided to follow them down the staircase, but before they could go back up, she would, with her trusty mop and with wild behavior, drive the bear to turn right, right into the woods.

It worked. However, instead of the goat going back up the deck, or to Phoebe, he too ran into the darkness of the woods.

Phoebe, feeling sick, and knowing how bears are persistent, grabbed a big flashlight went into the woods to look for the baby. She failed and finally went back to bed, worried to death about the goat.

You won’t believe the ending of this true story.

About 7 a.m., a man in his truck came to their road, got out and was going door to door asking, “Are any of you missing a young goat? I live one and a half miles from here, and this morning, I found an unconscious goat in my yard.”

Phoebe, still in her pajamas, screamed, “It’s mine; it’s mine!”

Thrilled, she followed the man home and collected her baby, who was thoroughly exhausted. I mean, he ran one and a half miles in the dark. I don’t know why it didn’t kill him. As they drove home, he cradled in her lap.

Arriving back home, she put the baby back with her litter mates. A vet came and said he could not believe the bravery and the tenacity of both the goat and Phoebe. He also told her to be sure to make the barn door bear proof before nightfall. Most likely the bear would return. But so far he hasn’t.

I’ll tell you one thing. I will never get the image out of my head of my little daughter running after a full grown black bear with a mop.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.