It Happened to Me

A Forgotten Story from Austin: Pokin’ a Dead Goat with a Stick

I’ve mentioned in earlier entries that my first week with b5media wasn’t spent at the office; rather, it was spent at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas. Since around a dozen of us were staying, it was decided that it would be cheaper to rent a ranch (which we found via Craigslist) with a house with a large number of rooms and couches on which to crash. The house was gorgeous and roomy; it also came with a couple of interesting amenities.


Teaspoon by the ranch house door
Teaspoon, the dog at the b5 ranch.

One of these amenities was “Teaspoon”, an older black dog with a friendly and mellow disposition. He was quite happy to spend most of the time lying down, keeping our feet or the couch warm.

Close-up of Teaspoon
Teaspoon, close up.

We didn’t have to look after Teaspoon at all — someone fed him, and he knew how to open the doors (which has lever-style handles) to let himself in or out.

(It has been quipped that now that he’s an older dog and putting on weight, he should be renamed to “Half-cup”.)

The Grounds

Another amenity that you’d never get at a hotel were the 26-acre grounds that surrounded the ranch house. It was mostly brush with some trees, on a hill overlooking the area.

The grounds around the b5 ranch outside Austin
The grounds outside the b5 ranch.

The guy who owned the ranch kept some goats on his property, so we took a walk to get a look at them. We took the path leading from behind the ranch house and followed it downhill, which led us to this old structure.

The grounds around the b5 ranch outside Austin
Farther outside the b5 ranch.

We asked out resident Australian blogger Darren “Problogger” Rowse if the grounds resembled “Oz”. He said, after taking a swig of beer, “In some ways, yeah.”

Darren Rowse on the grounds around the b5 ranch outside Austin
Darren Rowse, with beer.

The Dead Goat

Mark Jaquith was walking a good distance ahead of the group, so he was the one who turned around and came back to us with “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I found a goat.”

The bad news was that it had been dead for a little while.

Brian, Jeremy and Darcie around the dead goat
Brian Layman, Jeremy Wright, Darcie Vany and a dead goat.

The goat was already a meal for a horde of flies. I looked up and sure enough, there was a lone vulture circling overhead, probably waiting for us to go away.

Darcie (shown below) gave in to that natural instinct that seems to overtake people when they encounter something dead in the woods: to poke at it with a stick.

Darcie Vany pokes a dead goat with a stick
Darcie poking the dead goat with a stick.

“Yup,” I said, taking in the whole scene. “We’re in Texas, all right!”

We told Eric, the ranch owner, about the goat. He said that something, probably a dog, has been sneaking onto his property and killing goats. He also said that the one we found wasn’t his.

The last I saw of Eric and his dog was when he stepped out of the house just before Joe Ruiz gave me a ride to the airport.

“C’mon, Teaspoon,” he said. “Let’s go look at the dead goat!”

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