Our curious and semi-reclusive neighbor, owner of a small herd of goats, amateur pipe organist, and proprietor of Our Creator School of Surviving Skills (among many other businesses) has apparently been evicted from his property.
I came home from work today to find the road adjacent to ours blocked off by a police car, and a HazMat truck, along with several other official vehicles, lining the road. I snagged my camera and came outside to join my neighbors and a gaggle of onlookers from the nearby tattoo shop as they watched the proceedings from a rise overlooking the property. It had been snowing off and on all day, with more snow in the forecast later that night, and the sky had the heavy quality it takes on before a storm. The wind was up, and I had left my hat and gloves inside in my hurry.
Rumors that the property had been sold have been circulating in our neighborhood since we arrived in mid-2006. "He should be gone any day now," our landlord told us when we toured the house.
"I heard he hasn't paid his taxes in years, and the city auctioned off his property," one neighbor told us.
"He's armed to the teeth in there," another neighbor said. "He threatened to shoot my dog."
Despite the unsavory rumors circulating about him, we never had any trouble with the Goat Man. We waved when we saw him, pointed out goats that had escaped, listened through our open windows to his organ music in the summer, and sometimes wandered into the kitchen at 1:30 a.m. to find him welding something in the far corner of his yard.
For us, he was a harmless curiosity. But for our neighbors, who have their property values to think of, and for the city, which is missing out on some serious revenue for a prime piece of real estate, he was a menace and a nuisance.
Our neighbors were in a celebratory mood. The woman who owns the once-threatened dog chatted with the police officer stationed in the corner of the yard nearest her house, the young couple across the street smiled in anticipation of no longer smelling the goats, and our downstairs neighbor called our landlord to share the good news.
I arrived on the scene just in time to see a tow truck haul away a large silver bus, which I previously thought had been permanently immobilized. After that, an Animal Services officer retrieved a large white cat from the house. The coup de grace was the removal of the goats (not pictured - my camera ran out of batteries and my fingers were numb), which were loaded into a livestock trailer.
Jeremy and I were feeling a bit more melancholy and wistful about the goats' departure. As I said, we've never minded them. In fact, I liked watching them on summer mornings as I drank my tea, and I looked forward with an anarchic glee to shocking new house guests with the view from our kitchen window. In a way, I knew the goats better than some of my human neighbors, so I'll miss them now that they're gone.
I suppose the goats really will be better off once they're moved to a farm where they'll have more room to graze and roam. And I suppose the city and our neighbors will be better off with someone more stable and conventional living next door. Still, I can't help feeling that our neighborhood has become a bit more gentrified and a bit less singular with the departure of the Goat Man and his herd.