Trial Balloon

Marking Territory

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 3, 2010 by Dale Connelly (49 Comments)
Filed under: Goats, Poetry

Thanks to those who have volunteered to write a blog during my next scheduled absence during the weeks of March 29th and April 5th.

So far I've heard from Barb, Beth-Ann, Clyde, Barbara and Donna. That's five of ten slots spoken for. Old hands and newcomers are welcome. There are no rules or restrictions on repeat guesting. It would be rather silly of me to suggest that someone had posted too often, given that my personal count is approaching 400 entries.


Animals in the News

Earlier this week a goat led police on a chase that started in a Taco Bell parking lot and led to a dead-end alley in Odessa, Texas (thanks to Beth-ann for the tip). Also, bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation in Yellowstone.

These two stories are written from the human perspective, of course. Thus a goat at Taco Bell is a problem to be solved by police, and a grizzly bear out of his den is a threat and a reason to carry pepper spray and a gun, even though carrying the gun in Yellowstone is legal but firing it is not. Odd.

It made me wonder how an animal might view these developments, so I took a chance and sent a quick e-mail query to Billy Bovid Capra, America's Poet Ungulate.

Sure, he's a goat, but he's also a tenured professor of English at Barth College, and is as quick as Clyde when it comes to tossing off a few lines of verse. Here's his response.

Stand Off

Drop that chalupa, and put up your hooves.
You are going straight back to the pen.

At the Taco Bell drive-up a goat might get served
But I wouldn't attempt to say when.

Don't you bleat or try anything tricky or sly,
Just a flinch and my darts tranquilize you.

And don't fish for leftover food in the trash.
Quesedillas alone supersize you.

Over there! With the fur! Name is Yogi, correct?
I am not scared of you although I'm shaking.

See this gun? And I've also got peppery spray.
No, my beer and chips aren't for the taking.

I came to see nature and dine in the wild.
And not to be dinner instead.

If I were a bear facing me, as you are
I'd surrender and go back to bed!

All you four legged animals better stay back.
I'm a dangerous creature. Beware!

Stay away from the places I've marked as my space.
Over here. Over there. Everywhere!

What do you consider to be your territory?

Comments (49)

Making a land claim in the animal world
is not just having a flag and flying it unflurled.
But requires carefully and extensive marking
and not just be ferociously and constantly barking.
Claims are staked there in dribbles and drops,
Please excuse if I quibble and crop.
But old men may have some of theat skill
like those who pregnant or really quite ill.
But we lack the staying power
And for this we are often quite sour.
So my territory is the size of a kernel
only the space inside of a urinal.

Posted by cly de terre de moi | March 3, 2010 6:27 AM

thanks to your Poet Ungulate, Dale! great poem.
i don't think we can blame human territory grabbing on all of the animals. maybe just the predators? in my little goat-social system there is only one territory holder - Dodger. the area surrounds wherever she wants to be and the rest get out of her way. They occasionally test her with a few insincere head-butts. There are no outright wars, no tranquilizer guns.
can't say i'm not that way, especially owning 32 acres or beautiful land that i foster and protect. and then there are those *((&^%^%& rats!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 3, 2010 6:30 AM

Where did you go? No computer music. Not on Windows Media either.

I s someone marking this territory?

Posted by Beth-Ann | March 3, 2010 6:31 AM

My intellectual territory I marked in the last two posts.

Posted by cly de terre de moi | March 3, 2010 6:34 AM

Beth-Ann... my stream cut out for a bit. I just closed down Media Player and re-opened it from RH... now it's working fine.

Unfortunately that doesn't change the fact that I can't think of anything territorial to say this morning!

Posted by sherrilee | March 3, 2010 6:34 AM

Greetings! We live in a split-level house, so territory is easily divided. My husband and boys mainly occupy the lower level with their computers, TV, DVDs, game console, etc. It is a disaster area.

The upper level is mainly my territory -- kitchen, dining room and living room and does get cleaned to a higher degree than lower level. I do have to venture downstairs to do laundry, though. Because I'm at karate most evenings, I don't watch much TV -- plus the radio and my RH computer stream are upstairs. I have all I need.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | March 3, 2010 6:36 AM

One thing about ungulate poets,
and you will see their feet show it.
It's a nice thing too in this world of cares,
they split hoofs and not hairs.

Posted by Clyde | March 3, 2010 6:39 AM

dale the ode is priceless . well done. put me in line for blogmaster whne it comes around.
clyde that was quick and fresh. kernal and uniral. that will go down in history of clyde rhymes.
joanne i have a son who has the basement and it works out perfectly for all involved. my territiryuy are my gardens. i am tooling up for the spring fling here with seed in the starter trays and dalias on order. waiting for the hiostas to pop up and hoping to steal a few more merrineals from friends.
my wife claims the walls stovetops and carpets,
my daughters for entryway to the house as the stage for performing to their ipods with swirls and majesty.
Quesedillas alone supersize you.
i love it dale.
i am a 7 layer burrito man myself

Posted by tim | March 3, 2010 6:45 AM

Barb - regarding your question from yesterday -- I think the lamb pix from last spring were from Don in West St. Paul -- for some reason that sticks in my head.

My stream isn't working either -- arrgghh!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | March 3, 2010 6:46 AM

goat poems
thank clyde

Posted by tim | March 3, 2010 6:50 AM

stream alert
stream alert
me too

Posted by tim | March 3, 2010 6:59 AM

A friend once said to me "You need a lot of personal space" My reply: "Yes, 75 acres is about right." I'm with Barb from little 75 acre homestead in spite of swamp, snowmobile trails, too much traffic on the dirt road at times, too many feral cats from the neighbors...well, it has served me pretty well for 36 years.

Clyde and Tim, I feel the same about the mountains,...then tried living between mountains and I am rooted to the flat land. On the other hand, now that I have Radio Heartland and MPR on my computer, I might be willing to find other territory..

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | March 3, 2010 7:07 AM

At home, I have a sideboard that is in use to store all my negatives and Polaroids. Not very much personal space really.

At work, "my network" (both at the office and at the data center) represents my territory. This is a rather pragmatic territorial claim, however, since I'm really just afraid of others getting into it to "assist" and of their inadvertently breaking what is currently working.

I would be happy to write a blog entry during your next absence, Dale.

Have a great Wednesday, all!

Posted by elinor | March 3, 2010 7:20 AM

Tim, I like "merrineals" it reminds me of a friend who has the most beautiful garden and when you talk to her husband about it he always says something like "yes, they are lovely memorabilia aren't they?"

My territory is the kitchen and garden as well. My family knows not to get in the way when I'm in mid receipe, I must concentrate. But the 4 legged don't respect my space in the yard so this year we will try yet again to keep them out.

Posted by Kate soon in the garden.... | March 3, 2010 7:27 AM

I'm married...I have no territory of my own.

It -is- interesting that you're allowed to carry a gun in Yellowstone, presumably to ward off predators, but not allowed to discharge it. Apparently you're supposed to squint and do your best Clint Eastwood impersonation while asking the bear, "If he feels lucky..." To which the bear, if he/she could, would reply, "Let's talk 'food chain' now, tough guy!"

Goats at a Taco Bell? Really? guess they really will eat ~anything~... Makes me wonder if goats have a propensity for Americanized Tex-Mex or chihuahuas? Poor goat probably wasn't allowed to hang with the 'cool guys' (raccoons) at White Castle.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | March 3, 2010 7:27 AM

Good Morning All,

I read that when dogs pee to mark an area they try to pee as high as possible on a tree or post to indicate to other dogs that they are big. I guess the dogs are having a pissing contest.

Clyde, are you claiming the urinal as your territory by pissing in it? I think I have read that some animals will share their territories when resources are scarce. I assume you let other people use your urinal, Clyde.

I have become a little up set and had words with a nieghbor who started making use of part of my yard. However, I didn't pee on my nieghbor. I was peed on by a cat once which I suppose indicated that it wanted me to get out of it's territory or was claiming me as part of it's territory.

Posted by Jim | March 3, 2010 7:35 AM

There was a big ruckus recently in the Duluth-Superior area...a goat loose in a Wallmart (correct me, Barb, if it was some other store) parking lot...then a bigger ruckus when it was found out to be the future dinner for some ethnic group.

So...a goat at a Taco Bell...hey, better choice than Wallmart.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | March 3, 2010 7:35 AM

goats don't like chihuahuas, at least mine don't - not for food or friends. and that old myth about them eating anything is pretty much a myth, TGITH. that's what i thought since mine are so picky; but yesterday Dodger ate the plastic slider-knobs off my parka (i put it down because i was warm) while i cleaned the kidding pens. so guess i have no territory at all. animals and kids - we lose our territories to them.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 3, 2010 7:45 AM

oh, i just love this piano player! sounds just like me! fingers don't work anymore.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 3, 2010 7:48 AM

When I was married, my territory was mostly limited to the rec room in the basement, although I was allowed in the more respectable parts of the home if I was well behaved. I scent-marked the basement room with big black cigars. That was easier than drinking so much coffee.

Interesting goat stories. Since you guys are so goat-wise, I'm sure you took note of the goat that turned up in a car trunk. The trussed-up goat was painted in Vikings team colors and had Brett Favre's number shaved in its side, proof that life is always daffier than anything we can make up.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 3, 2010 7:53 AM

So, the old myth isn't true? Fair enough. But they're willing to eat plastic? Again, I rest my case as far as their choice of eatery. I wonder if this goat was trying to get through the drive-through. And if this goat couldn't get his/her order, due to a goatlingual deficiency, if that qualifies as an ADA violation. (That's 'Americans with Disabilities Act,' not the American Dental Association).

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | March 3, 2010 7:57 AM

Steve - That was a goat hazing.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | March 3, 2010 7:58 AM

Goat hazing? I think not.

The goat was on its way to be the featured attraction at some kind of outdoor meal. If this is hazing, the whole thing has gotten out of hand. The worst fraternity stunt I've heard about still stopped short of eating the pledges.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 3, 2010 8:11 AM

Animals in the News

I read this morning that the highway patrol guys in El Paso had a real mess when a mad emu caused a traffic tie-up at a freeway intersection. The news story didn't mention why the emu was mad. One cop making a move on the big bird got his pants ripped.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 3, 2010 8:14 AM

Since I haven't been able to convince Husband to buy the sustainably produced meat and eggs, etc, that I want to eat, I've divided the refrigerator into his and hers sections. I know this is a little ridiculous, but now I can find my grass fed meat easily. I've probably escalated this "discussion" to the next level...

Otherwise, my territory is anywhere that I'm willing to keep clean (everywhere), but I'm not allowed to use my organizational skills in the workshop or the garage.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 3, 2010 8:19 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone!
I'm making progress on surrendering my digital territory for the weeks of March 29 and April 5.

Tim, Elinor, Anna and Ben have graciously added their names to the list, bringing the total number of guest bloggers to 9. One spot remains!

Posted by Dale Connelly | March 3, 2010 8:19 AM

Boy, you leave for a bit to get the (human) kid off to school and come back to goat hazing...

Much like my basset hound, I am not very territorial. I am, however, very protective of my toys (Barney gets nylabones, I get power tools and kitchen utensils). To some extent, Daughter has declared the virtual borders of the house: Mama fixes things, cooks/bakes, and reads stories (and provides a good lap). Papa gets extra silliness, bath time, and any outside play that might require running.

Thinking on a goat at the drive through - I knew a woman who would go through the McD's drive through with her dog to strictly to buy the pooch a soft serve cone (he loved 'em - and was, apparently, very neat when he ate).

Posted by Anna | March 3, 2010 8:27 AM

...more animals in the news: Sunday's Strib had an article about coyotes now regularly seen in the metro.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 3, 2010 8:28 AM

Yes, I am claiming the urinal as my territory, a claim pretty well conceded. It's a joke in tne mens' bathroom I frequent. You see, when you are 65 . . .
I said yesterday that my wife, who turns 70 at the end of this month, now has her 20th active prescription. Want to guess what it is for . . .
It did not occur to me Dale meant aything like my territory in our house. In 44.7 years of marriage and 7 different homes, I have never had a territory. To my wife everything in the house, except me, is a design element. In our last house I had a little corner in the basement for my art table. We tried it in this small patio home, but it ended up in the closet. So a week or two ago she bought me an easel, a nice one, because she was hoping I would do art work again. But I cannot use an easel because of my shoulders, which she does not know. But within a week the easel had become the center piece of a corner of the room as another design element. To use it I would have to undo all of that. I am not complaining, laughing. Our grand daughter everytime she comes over decides to rearrange some of the elements, which my wife does not know quite what to do about, encouragve it in pride or snuff it in despair. We have in this house a pantry, which is not full of food stuffs, but design elements.

Posted by Clyde | March 3, 2010 8:30 AM

Dale I will claim spot number ten

Posted by Aaron | March 3, 2010 8:38 AM

Thanks Aaron! The guest blog line-up is complete!
Aaron, please send me an e-mail ...

Posted by Dale Connelly | March 3, 2010 8:51 AM

"Mad Emu's in El at 11."

It was probably emu 'road rage.' Emu's are known for being excitable and temperamental drivers. The emu in question was probably on his/her cell phone too. Emu's are usually driving VW Jetta's.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | March 3, 2010 8:57 AM

the fresh blood in the group. welcome and i look forward to the blog.
clyde and the guy in the hat, space in our homes? i get the half of the refrigerator after the wife and kids have theirs spoken for too.
just had breakfast with a guy back from dogsledding adventures in alaska where he lives in a two room cabin in homer. it is just right. he comes back and wonders what all this stuff in his house is and what he needs with it.
i guess it depends where you are. the old native americans didn't need deeds for the land they just kept moving around as the needs changed. then culture showed up and started dibbsing all the good places and infringing on territiries. you only need them when they are in jeopardy. otherwise the universe is a big open space where there is room for all of us.
one more shelf in the refrigerator would be nice though.

Posted by tim | March 3, 2010 9:33 AM

Tim, I'm laughing about the one more shelf.
Boy, I envy your Alaskan friend. I have a high school friend in Homer that I would really like to visit some day.

I have dreams of living with only two rooms of stuff, then get ready to completely purge this or that area, then life interrupts it and I lose steam. But gradually I'm going to move a lot of it out of here.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 3, 2010 9:52 AM

Barbara--when I am done with this book I am reading about the man claiming his space by building a small office behind his house, I am willing to send it to you if you want. It is a Barbara book.

Posted by Clyde | March 3, 2010 9:59 AM

Mike, are you still there? I have a technical problem. I don't get a sound on the livestream player after the sponsor announcement when I try to get RH or the classical broadcast, but I DO get sound on the News and the Current streams. I tried the Windows Media Player with no luck and the MP3 player insists I am not connected to the Internet. Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by Lu in Plymouth | March 3, 2010 10:21 AM

Mike, are you still there? I have a technical problem. I don't get a sound on the livestream player after the sponsor announcement when I try to get RH or the classical broadcast, but I DO get sound on the News and the Current streams. I tried the Windows Media Player with no luck and the MP3 player insists I am not connected to the Internet. Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by Lu in Plymouth | March 3, 2010 10:23 AM

My dog and 3 cats have an escalating territorial conflict. Our bossy terrier is very teritorial, and views the cats' use of their litter box in the basement as a challange to her authority, so she marks the basement every opportunity she gets (hence her banishment from the basement). Our orange cat, Ginger, (he of the stub tail and 7 toes on each front foot)retaliates by peeing on the dog's bed upstairs (hence the constant laundering of said dog bed). The only way I can keep the orang cat happy is to allow him access to the guest bedroom upstairs, where he and the other two cats have claimed the double bed as their napping place. There is no marking behavior when Ginger can sleep where he wishes. He doesn't care that my daughter in law is allergic to cats, and that she sleeps in the guest room when she visits, and that I have to launder and vaccuum like a fiend prior to a visit so that she isn't sneezing and crying all the time she is in our house. The animals have also claimed me as their personal heat source at night, so if they aren't in the guest room or the dog bed they are plastered to me in my bed. I think I have a problem, since I seem to be a territory to be claimed.

Posted by Renee | March 3, 2010 11:57 AM


That's a wrinkle I never considered - the person as a territory for pets. I suppose we must seem as large as the Louisiana Purchase to them ... or "Space - the final frontier".

Lu, sorry about the delay on your question. Mike has been on vacation for the past 10 days (but he'll be back in the office tomorrow). I've noticed other complaints, and I've discovered some problems at my desk.

Anyone else having trouble with the stream?

Posted by Dale Connelly | March 3, 2010 12:06 PM

My stream (and I do mean my Internet stream) is a little bit jumpy today every now and the, only slightly worse than the norm. Most of my interruptions are timed to a draggy response on my other computer here at work. So I assume it is a local access iss ue for me.
My wife says we are both so slow moving we are both closer to design elements than humans.
I have to post a story from my wife after I process orders.

Posted by Clyde | March 3, 2010 12:10 PM

I have had more trouble keeping a consistent internet stream these past two days.

Posted by Renee | March 3, 2010 12:51 PM

No problems whatsoever for me, but I have a mac.

Posted by Donna | March 3, 2010 3:37 PM

Donna-brag, brag, brag.

Posted by Cly de envee | March 3, 2010 4:09 PM

I had trouble this morning keeping a stream, but it seemed better when I used Mozilla instead of Internet Explorer. Go figure.

Clyde - what is the name of this book? Do i need to read it in order to keep up with my Space Wizard business? I have one called Radical Simplicity, by Dan Price, about a guy who ultimately lives in something like a teepee.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 3, 2010 5:28 PM

Everything is better on Mozilla, except for the fact that in this country we have allowed the Bill Gates anti-user monopoly of the IE browser and many places believe they have to give in to that and thus he rules. IE by the way comes pretty close to the definition of a virus.

Book is A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan

Posted by Cly de Mozilla | March 3, 2010 5:43 PM

But even better, Clyde, is Mozilla on a mac.

Posted by Donna de peacock | March 3, 2010 7:29 PM

Brag Brag Brag (but you're right).
He, my future daughter-in-law repairs Mas, so there!!

Posted by cly de envee de verde | March 3, 2010 8:25 PM

I agree, Donna, it's all better on a Mac, wish I still had mine...

Clyde - We have a couple of M. Pollan's other books here, which Husband has read, and I meant to. Now I'll find this at the lib, thanks for the title.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 3, 2010 9:49 PM

you never got back to your wife story. you have me chuckle with your design element association. i think was are all a little more like design elements thatn we would like too much of the time, and thejumpiness of your stream (audio stream that is) barbara as a territory and the mac heads of trial balloon baggadicio.
i will look up michael pollen
dale i think you missed your chance,,, we should have given mike pengra at least on day of guest blogger whan he was not here t defend himself. kind of teach him what can happen when you take a vacation.
the show is better with sound by the way. i missed that too on the show, notavailabke on any of the three choices regular mp3 or windows media. hope it is fixed for today.

Posted by tim | March 4, 2010 5:09 AM

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