Buttercup was crying the other morning out in the corral. Well, actually, she was bleating. Because Buttercup is a really old rather broken down black and white horned pygmy goat.
My “critter mom” “spidey senses” went off and I got up a couple hours earlier than usual to check on her. She was inside the connecting old puppy pen next to the corral. It’s really just a portion of the corral separated by an attached portable kennel fence, a necessity when we had 10 big white floofy pups next to the horse and two goats last year. I carefully ninja’d my way in to reach her. She couldn’t get up. Here we go, I thought. With old animals, any anomaly is a red flag. I helped her stand. And was surprised when once standing and with a little encouraging push, she hip-hopped her arthritic way back to the main corral. She just needed a jump start, something I am sure we can all relate too.
I kept my eye on Buttercup, because after breakfast between the rains, she went over and plopped down and stayed in the center of the corral hill all day. Completely unusual behavior for her. She usually commandeers the stall dog house. When your goat is years older than her expected life span, anything out of the ordinary is cause for concern.
It was later at the evening feeding time when I saw Fern the big Nubian goat aggressively jump on Buttercup’s back. Then it all came together. Fern was attacking Buttercup! That’s why Butter was staying in new spots of the corral, to hide. I realized that it was because even though the goats had plenty of food, we had run out of Fern’s special hay the day before. Fern has a condition that makes her believe she is always starving. I have become overly adept at goat psychology over the years.
Fern came to our rescue called Pixie Dust Ranch one night in 2011. She was a young goat being raised as Christmas dinner in South-Central LA. She escaped from the laundry room where she was being kept, fell down some stairs, and was injured. She couldn’t open her jaw anymore to eat, started losing weight, and was kicked out into the streets of the city. By the time we got her, I worried she was dying. I kept her alive with some Gatorade and soft foods and put her in our make-shift animal hospice while we waited for local “goat people” to respond (why do rescue animals always arrive on Friday nights?). We did what we could for Fern, giving her applesauce and blended up lettuce. On Sunday, she was desperately drinking her Gatorade and it sparked her hunger, and she just OPENED her jaw wide, reset it, and proceeded to devour every dead leaf in a 6 foot circle around her. And she’s been kind of “off” and crazy about food and hasn’t stopped eating ever since. So I realized, now Fern (though she is eating goat pellets, hay pellets, greens, etc.) was Hungry again for her usual hay and was taking it out on Buttercup.
A quick trip to the Anderson Valley Farm Supply the next morning solved that hay crisis, and now everything is fine again. Buttercup wasn’t dying after all. She realized Fern wouldn’t cross the mud to attack her, and that is why she was hiding in some weird places. Whew.
You see, Buttercup is not your average pygmy goat. In 2016 a fun friend of mine from the LA music scene asked if she could “borrow a goat.” Without even flinching, I told my friend Cassie Dee I had access to a few lifesize cardboard “standee” goats I was pretty sure I could get ahold of, as two of my friends were storing leftover props from my ice show producer days. In a weird twist of fate, neither friend harboring a standee goat was around that week.
So I asked Cassie, what exactly are your plans for the goat? Buttercup had done a lot of public appearances: Preschool show-and-tell, the local Pet Shop “Pet a Goat” fundraiser, our street’s annual Labor Day Parade, a holiday horse show dressed up as Santa’s Little Helper. She was even part of a stunt for a hopeful teen asking his potential date, “Will You Goat To Prom With Me?” For a goat, Buttercup gets around. So I figured, okay, if for some reason they really do need a goat, Buttercup’s your girl, always up for an adventure.
Cassie said that she and her husband Dave are from Chicago and they wanted to break the Cubs Curse. I didn’t know what that was, but it sounded intriguing. I did some research and discovered a cranky old man named William Sianis cursed the Cubs baseball team on behalf of his billy goat, Murphy, a beast he liked to bring to Cubs games until management complained and kicked the goat out of the stadium. He apparently said upon leaving in a huff with the rejected Murphy, “Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more.” This statement was followed up with a telegram by Sianis to the Cubs owner that supposedly read: “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.” Hence the curse. Hence the need for a goat. For over 70 years, rabid Cubs fans have brought goats to games in an attempt to break the Cubs curse, but all have failed.
Since the stand-in cardboard goats weren’t available, I began arranging an unprecedented Pixie Dust Ranch trip to Downtown LA, to break a decades old curse caused by a goat in 1945. What could go wrong?
I arranged to get our travel rig, a “short bus” skoolie called Sunshine the Bus ready, and on October 18, 2016, we loaded up our crew, which included a long-haired werewolfy-looking driver, a tame traveling peacock named Rad, my big white dog named Drinian, and my feral cat, Athena, who goes everywhere with me. The Cubs were playing the Dodgers that night. That afternoon we brought the skoolie through LA traffic about 45 minutes away from the ranch to Elysian Park, up on top of a tall hill which overlooks downtown LA and Dodger Stadium. Though Sunshine the Bus had trouble climbing the hill, we made it! We unloaded critters, and dinner fixins, and enjoyed a potluck. Our friend Dale showed up in his DeLorean (referencing the movie Back to the Future, and specifically the scene in Back to the Future II when Marty discovers in the film that the Cubs won the World Series in October 2015). For us, we were all poised to make it happen, though one year later than the movie predicted.
We ate Chicago-style pizza and other delectable food and I guess because I am a non-denominational minister, I felt compelled to “do something” regarding the curse, which I was starting to take seriously. I walked around the park as my lovely friends gathered on the hillside overlooking Dodger stadium. The sun was setting, the stadium and city lights were coming on. I got the curse-breaking crew to join me in a circle. We put Buttercup, who was wearing a collar and leash and running around with her new human friends, in the middle. She liked the attention. I said something like, “If there is a curse, let’s end it now. Because we are all here together, and some of us like the Dodgers, some like the Cubs. But none of us like curses. Especially Buttercup.” And we all kinda cheered and howled and broke it up and went our own ways soon after. As we watched the heartbeat of the city of lights flash beneath us, the Pacific Ocean a black ribbon against an orange sky on the far horizon, we felt like we had done something important. Until the Cubs lost that night, 0-6. We had made a pretty big deal about the curse breaking party and invited a lot of our mutual friends, and about a dozen made the trek. So we felt a tad — (please don’t hate me) “sheepish” about making a big to-do, only to have the Cubs lose so wretchedly that night. We packed up and got the critters home. Daisy and Fern, the other goats, must have questioned Buttercup about her whereabouts, though I doubt those two would have believed Buttercup’s wackadoo story about a schoolbus, Dodgers’ stadium, and a curse anyway.
We were not feeling as (I won’t say sheepish again) down and out the next night when lo! THE CUBS WON! We jested, “see? We broke the curse!” And then the next night — they won again! And again! Every day the Cubs won, we became more and more surprised. Did our Elysian Park journey to break the curse work? After all these decades, and after all the people and numerous goats that had tried to break the curse before and failing, had we found the perfect DeLorean/pygmy goat combination to actually finally break the Cubs Curse?
YES. The Cubs won every other game they played after that, and of course, they went on to win the World Series. The curse was officially broken after 71 years. I’m just going to say it. Buttercup is a damn cute and spunky little goat so I’m not really THAT surprised. Apparently, she is a little bit magical too.
Now Buttercup is living out her last days in Philo. No one here knows she is somewhat “famous” for her participation in breaking the Cubs Curse. She’s just a little nanny goat who gets upset when the dogs run free around the corral, who loves treats and going for walks, and who is smart enough to hide from her bigger tormentor goat by staying on the other side of a mud puddle. To us, she is just a sweet addition to our wacky little family and we love her. Cheers to our lovely Buttercup, the Curse Slaying Goat. I’m glad she’s okay.