Life lessons from Arturo the goat
A day in autumn a billy-goat arrived at our gate and though he was sent away from the people working in the property, he kept coming back for a few days. Finally, Olivier and I saw him and we allowed him to stay as he was so human friendly and he seemed to be lost and in need to put on some weight. Olivier suggested to tie him up to a tree, to avoid the garden devastation. We do not like to keep animals like this, so we started to walk him around the property with a rope. He followed like a dog and we immediately learnt what he liked: grape leaves, acorns, garden vegetables (he finished it off;-) and other greens. Arturo’s eating green tomatoes in the pic below.
Michele gave him the name Arturo and we all liked it, as it felt very appropriate to his character. Arturo liked to give headshots, especially to males, though Catherine was hit as well. I was lucky, I only got a couple of them in all the time he stayed, almost two months. I soon became his primary caretaker so he might treated me with a special regard;-) Oliver reported Arturo’s presence at the authorities so that we could find out where he came from. Then he left with Catherine to Belgium and I was in charge of Arturo with the help of Michele, a zoophile guard who lives in the village nearby. In the Chianti area of Tuscany, Italy, we do not have real “neighbours” as houses outside the villages are quite isolated and it’s a feat to reach them.
A fence was quickly built for Arturo so that he stayed at the tree only for a few days. Still, I did not feel good to keep him in the fence: he was so happy when I went there to free him up and it was hard to lock him again later on: he was crying whenever I left him. Weeks passed and nobody claimed him. The authorities came to see him and I made endless calls to farms near and far. We found many who would have made steaks out of him, but none would give him a home. Olivier wanted to keep him at Le Case, in the fence. I disagreed. I did not like the idea to keep him here alone. Moreover, I’ll not live here on a permanent basis and Catherine & Olivier only spend here a few months. Arturo would be all day alone in a fence hoping to see Michele who would come to feed him back and forth: not a great life for a billy-goat, I thought.
Of course, I’d have loved to keep him as long as I’ll be here but it did not feel it to be aligned to his highest good. An evening, after locking Arturo back into the fence, he knocked at my door. I was speachless and I went at his fence to check if he had thrown down the fence door. He did not and I could not see anything around. The gardener who build the fence was there and he put Arturo back to see how he came out. After a few moments we assisted at a circus performance: Arturo took a run-up from the highest part of the field and then walked up on top of the net and jumped from two meters high! OMG that was impressive and I was secretely cheering Arturo up;-)
But the garderner did not like that and he tied Arturo back in the fence. That was even worse that before! I already called Michele and he arrived soon after the gardner left. I told Michele what happened and that I disagreed to keep Arturo like that. Hopefully, he disagreed too and started enunciating all the infringed laws by keeping the animal in such a way. We called Olivier explaing it all and concluding that there was no other option than keeping Arturo free-roaming in the property. I felt so happy and a new chapeter started with Arturo: our relationship grew stronger every passing day. He knocked at my door and window several times a day, especially when the workers were around and shouted at him, sending him away. Except for a few lemon’s branches, that he used to scratching his head and later on were put in safety with the rest of the pots – Arturo did not damage much.
But he did something that I did not reveal to anyone (yet): he walked on the swimming pool’s cover! I saw him from afar and I froze, not knowing what to do if he would had fell in the water. He even walked the longest side! At first, he was walking but as soon as he realized what he was doing, he walked much faster and ran until the end. He immediately came up to me to search reassurance and I massaged his head, relieved that the worst had been avoided. Weeks later he also walked on the pool roof and I had to chase him away with the help of the gardners.
Life at Le Case with the free-roaming Arturo was definitely unpredictable, sometimes even too much!
A week-end my sister came to visit as she’s a great goat admirer and we went in the wood looking for mushrooms. There’s a gate that leads to the wood and I locked it as Arturo wanted to follow us. The day before we brought Arturo for the first time in the wood with the rope and he was happy. But going off the beaten track did not seem suitable for him (though I’d have brought him;-) The group decided to leave Arturo behind to concentrate on the mushrooms hunt and we started climbing the hill. Minutes later, Arturo was behind us! He must have jumped the fence, I was so happy he joined us.
That was the first time I brought Arturo in the wood without the rope. I immediately called Michele who was olive picking in the estate but he did not answer. Arturo was with him before so I had to let him know where he was. I sent him a text message. (Michele does not check much his phone so he later told me that he was desperately calling Arturo). Arturo followed us like a dog and we had a fantastic adventure together, though he was not interested in mushrooms. We even met a potential Arturo’s adopter, Andrea, a mushroom man who was impressed when he saw the beautiful billy-goat and wanted to convince his wife to adopt him (it did not work in the end, but a much better option was waiting for Arturo…)
Back home we got a tea with Arturo: he really loved being around people. Since that day, I started asking Arturo to join me in my wood walks and he did not skip one. We used to go to the stunning centenary oak, also called La Casaccia, 30 mins up from Le Case di Livernano. That became our favourite route since it’s home to amazing brown trees. Chestnut picking & eating right on the spot for Arturo, soon become our most recurring activity. Arturo ate chestnuts at light speed and I had to be quick to pick them up for him. He could manage somehow to get them on his own but I was sorry he would prick his mouth with the chestnut husks. Besides, feeding an animal feels like a sacred ritual to me and I adore it. I missed feeding my pets who already made their transition in the Non-Physical and I secretely wished to foster a pet. I did not expect to take into custody a billy-goat, though family comes in varied, unexpected forms. I felt Arturo as part of my animal family and he felt cared for. At night, if I did not see him next to my door and called “Arturo”, he used to reply with “Beee” from wherever he went to sleep. The very first time he did it was touching… One day during a chestnut expedition at Livernano – the first and last time I brough Arturo on a different path – while I was picking chestnuts he left. I was glad for him he felt enough safe to explore the wood on his own, so I did not mind: I’m an avid explorer myself and always encourage others to do what they feel. Soon the wood would get dark and I wanted to go home: I called Arturo for ten minutes and he did not show up. I sat on a rock thinking about the options… I was not sure he could remember the way home being a new route and I thought “Damn, Helen, you’re always too risky in the name of freedom!”. Right after, Arturo appeared on top of the hill and ran towards me. I caressed him on the head as he liked it so much and kept contact for a few minutes: he felt relieved he found me again and I felt the same. That was the first time of a series of lost & found.
The rainy season started in November and we had to move the straw that Michele put in Arturo’s fence as bed, since he never ever went back there, even if we put some food. Arturo was a true freedom lover! His home was recreated in the verandha next to my home, since he was around there most of the time. When the rain started, Arturo disappeared. I did not see him for half a day so I imagined he did not like the rain. I opened the high window that connects my hall to the verandha to check on him. He was in the corner and did not move from there, even when I threw him chestnuts. They fell too distant and under the rain. You’re so courageous and you fear raindrops:-) So I passed through the window to feed him by hands: so funny! Another time at La Casaccia he disappeared again, I called him a lot and then headed home. When I was almost at Le case di Livernano he arrived from behind, breathless and searched for his usual head massage. He was so tender, while walking down he could not leave my side. Another day happened the same thing and I found out later he was already at home, while I was calling him in the wood. He learnt the path very well… One morning I did not see him and wondered where he was. He used to say good morning from the terrace behind my kitchen door – he stood up there like he was a king, King Arthur I called him sometimes – and I used to greet him with head massages and chestnuts for breakfast. At night, when I closed the shutters, often times he was still there. Not that day. But I had a busy morning and had no time to look for him. In the afternoon I went up the hill hoping to find him. At La Casaccia there was Giuliano picking olives and he asked me smiling “Have you lost the billy-goat?” “Yes, is he here?” Arturo was there since 9 AM joining a group of olive pickers: he definitely enjoyed company! I was not with him at all during that week-end. Lorenzo did not get involved with Arturo and we spent the week-end away. On Monday Arturo went looking for company else where.
I found out Arturo was such a curious, sensitive and intelligent animal. Once I had an unusual backache that I could barely walk. I still managed to go out to feed Arturo and I talked to him, letting him know how I felt. I did not need one of his headshot and I did not get one. Not even he asked for his favourite head massage and pressure on my hands: he sensed I was not well and he was very respectful and gentle. Michele found someone who wanted to adopt Arturo in a farm in Buonconvento, south of Siena, and we were all glad. I started counting our remaining time together…The adoption proceedure needed to be completed first and this included also someone collecting Arturo’s blood sample (this happened with the help of three of us) with the possibility that, if found ill, he had to be suppressed by the health authorities. I did not sleep much those days, until the good news arrived: Arturo was healthy and ready to move on with the other goats. Since Arturo arrived, I had several nights with little sleep: at the beginning I had the fear of wolves entering the fence to eat Arturo (it happened to many locals) and when he was free-roaming, what happens if he meets hunters in the wood? Arturo not only had any of my fears – thanks God – but he could feel things and act accordingly. He never left the property during the week-ends, when most hunters were around: very clever. Arturo thought me to align and trust the process of life… Michele informed me that he was about to rent a van to transport Arturo: all his papers and authorizations – from the mayor of Radda in Chianti, since Arturo risulted to be an orphan billy-goat after all – where in place and he was ready to go.
I dedicated all my free time to Arturo: chestnuts were still abundant at La Casaccia and I never ate more chestnuts like in 2022: I bet it was the same for Arturo! One day during our favourite activity, Arturo left for one of his solo tour. I saw Giuliano in the distance and I wento to inform him about Arturo’s epilogue. He was very happy to hear and then we greeted. Arturo did not come back yet, though I was sure to find him at Le Case, as it already happened. Not this time. I waited for him at home but it was already twilight and I decided to head back to the wood. Nothing. I called Giuliano but he did not see Arturo. I informed Michele and Olivier that for the first time, Arturo did not sleep at Le Case. I barely sleep, the images of him facing wolves and hunters was present. Lorenzo reassured me that he’d be back soon. The following day I went searching for him but I only found mushrooms and more chestnuts: I kept them for his return. It was the week-end and Michele had booked the van for Monday: he had to cancel it and inform the farm in Buonconvento. I prayed for Arturo under the majestic chestnuts trees around the centenary oak. I only wanted him to be safe and well, even if he did not return. The three musketeers – Michele, Helen & Olivier – who took great care of the lost billy-goat and found him a new promising home, could not believe that it was over in such a way. We all loved him so much that we could not believe this story was ending in such bitterness. Lorenzo wanted to distract me and proposed a tour by the sea on Sunday: it was such a sunny day that it was hard to say no. We went, hoping the water would help me to feel better: it was already three days since Arturo went missing. Number three is considered a divine symbol and indeed it worked its magic.
Number three is considered a divine symbol and indeed it worked its magic. I was having launch in a sea front restaurant when I received Michele’s call. “Did you find him?” I asked him, even without even saying hi. “Yes”. I felt already relieved! “Where is he?” That morning Michele went looking for Arturo by car and he found him at Palagio, a hamlet on the other side of the mountain, well and safe.
Actually, he was more than well, he jumped (again) a two meters fence to join a goat, Donatella! God bless Arturo & Donatella;-)))
I thanked Michele a lot and told him that on Monday afternoon I would go by foot to collect Arturo: he sent me the contact of the person keeping the goats in Palagio. I felt so joyfull and I was smiling all the time during our stroll along the beach that afternoon. On the way home I called Maurizio: he told me that Arturo was after Donatella all the time. He already saw him the night I lost him but at another farm and he did not pay attention. So Arturo slept in the wood that night (guarded by the angels) and the following morning he appeared in his henhouse with Donatella, rabbits, gooses, hens and more.
Maurizio was not bothered at all by Arturo’s presence and he said he could stay there for a few days. Arturo worked his magic again: he attracted the ideal carer and he was very welcomed.
Arturo really got how to live life, I thought! Maurizio almost had to keep his laugh when I stated that I could come by foot to collect Arturo the day after. He told me that he might follow me if I had a rope, but for sure he will go back to Donatella: he was in love! Wow I did not think about that:-) He suggested to keep the goats together and come to pick up Arturo with the van directly there. I found hilarious that Arturo – despite my nightmares involving hungry wolves and horrific hunters – ended up with a beautiful three years old balck, single goat! Maurizio had twelve goats at the beginning but unfortunatelly, eleven had been eaten by wolves and Donatella was the last one. So he was going to kill her before Christmas to avoid it. I shout out “Nooo!” It came out before I could rationalize it. He asked me if I wanted her. I said that yes, we had the fence built for Arturo but we’re giving him away and I cannot adopt another goat and keep her alone…
A light bulb lit up: “I should ask to the farm in Buonconvento if they could take also Donatella!” Maurizio agreed and I immediately called Michele to share the news. “Michele we’re about to save two goats instead of one!” Of course, he immediately agreed.
On Monday Michele called me to share the verdict: “He takes goats and gabbages!” This is an Italian way of saying that he takes it all: “Prende capre e cavoli”. I was over the moon!!! This end of the story even surpassed my best imaginations.
Michele was trying to rent another van but there was always something preventing it, so the days passed and I could not resist visiting Arturo and Donatella. I called Manuela, Maurizio’s neighbour, as he told me he was not at home that day. I told her about my desire to come over and she was happy to show me around, though a bit worried as I was walking alone through the wood. I know how much safer it felt when walking with my dogs. When they crossed the rainbow, I had some resistances walking alone in the woods at first. Then I started feeling their presence and in the end, I’ve always been a kind of adventurer. So I could not back out in front of one hour and a half walk up to the mountain alone, as it became the norm in recent years. I went and I collected even more chestnuts for Arturo along the way.
Maurizio was back at home earlier and greeted me in front of his house and he showed me the two lovers. Indeed, they were totally in love! So much that Arturo hardly saluted me when I entered the fence. He was Donatella’s shadow. After a little while he came over and I stretched him his favourite treats. Manuela invited us for a very classy tea and, thanks to Arturo, I had the chance to know our great new neighbours. After the tea, we went to say goodbye to the fiances and I was kidding that soon they’ll will go honeymooning in Buonconvento! I was about to leave when Arturo came closer as in the old days, asking for a head massage. I told him that I was so happy for the magic he had just co-created. The week where Arturo & Donatella were in pre-honeymoon at Palagio had been quite hectic as there was no van available for their transportation. I even called the various neighbours but nothing happened. On Thursday morning, December 1st, Michele got the confirmation for the afternoon and we went together to Palagio to pick up Arturo & Donatella, with the van already almost full of Arturo’s food and goat salt block. In one hour drive we arrived at the destination but it was dark already so I do not have good pics to show. Domenico was waiting for us and I immediately started to ask him questions to make sure he was a true animal lover. Being someone found through Michele’s connections, I had not doubt but I felt like a mother dropping his kids at school on the first day and just talking to the teacher to release some anxiety. Michele pulled down the goats with some effort: Arturo came down first and I feeded him with the very last chestnuts I had with me as a sweet farewell. Meanwhile, Donatella was down and we opened the gate of their new home: 17 goats were waiting for them, all females, except one. I felt the sadness of physical separation and at the same time the relief that came up with the happy ending of such an epic story.
Arturo picked the most loving place to call home – Le case di Livernano – where he found the food, the love and the freedom he was seeking. When he just arrived he seemed to be happy to be tied to a tree but he quickly climbed his ladder to freedom. One day he stood up on his paws to scare me (and indeed, he did) when I was about to lock him back into his fence. I understood the meaning of such act and I honoured it: I would do the same if I were him. That night was the first as a free-roaming animal at Le Case and our relationship deepened a lot as it was like we were on the same level. Though he was a happy goat here, he did not just co-created this safe haven for him, he also saved Donatella bringing her with him. When I lost him in the wood, I wonder if he really got lost. I do not think so, he knew the path very well. I believe that he sensed something – what I call inspiration, that could be an instinct for an animal – and acted upon it. He did not know that Donatella was waiting for him at first, he just felt the instinct to go and off he went. I find this miracolous as it’s the very essence of life: do you trust what you feel and respond to that feeling, even if you do not know where it will bring you, or do you prefer to remain in your safe heaven which, in this case, can become a fence that prevents you from exploring your highest potential?
Arturo answered that call and took the risk: he actually faced life-treatening risks like wolves and hunters. He was aligned and acted upon his instincts in a flawless way. Yes, he might have been scaried the night he spent alone in the forest before landing at Palagio, as he probably was when he first walked in at Le case: “ Are they going to feed and love me?” He was probably wondering. Deep down he knew he had to navigate uncharted territories to live something different from what he had lived before. And, if Arturo arrived here, he definitely wanted something more for his life. Life is calling in many ways: do we answer her call? Life calls us to experience, be and love more. We have an unlimited potential and we’re the only ones setting the ceiling.
Arturo thought me to trust life and see it as generous, aboundant and forever expanding. I knew it, though Arturo remembered it to me throught his magnificent example. “Appreciate where you are and ask for more”. Arturo loved being here with me at Le Case, but for sure he loves even more being with other goats (and being asked by his new neighbours in Buonconvento to breeding with their goats, as they find him wonderful:-) All the goats in the Buonconvento farm are pregnants with the male goat, except for Donatella that is about to mate with Arturo. What more could happen to Arturo?
Arturo is a great life adventurer and he knows exactly what he wants and how to allow it into his life experience. I wish you the same clarity, alignment and connection to live an unforgettable 2023 and beyond, to tap into your wisdom and inspiration, and then act upon it, as Arturo taught to us all.