This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.
For the past week, we have been at the Travel Lodge in Bridgend, Wales, and have been training at Bridgend College. The Travel Lodge has been very accommodating and very accepting of the clutter of cleats and gear or piles of food that are sometimes in our hallways and the smell from said cleats and gear. The people at Bridgend have been great as well. Our host, Gareth, has been especially entertaining.
One of the highlights of our trip has been our commute from the Travel Lodge to Bridgend and back. We've had to take a public footpath through a very nice and welcoming family's backyard and through a horse pasture and a sheep pasture. Throughout the week, we have become friendly with the horses and with the lovely family's animals. This family has chickens, ducks, bunnies, goats, sheep (black sheep), pigs, cows, horses, dogs, and who knows what else.
The enormous pigs, Ethel and Enid, with their under bites and heavy breathing, quickly became team favorites. The lady who owns them (and for the life of me I can't remember her name and feel awful about it) introduced us to them and the other animals. Among the animals was Peepers, a little chicken, with a rockstar ‘fro, Sam and Ella (say that fast), two chickens with awesome names, and Tony, the ringleader of the bunch. Though Peepers and I got along like old school mates, Tony and I forged a different kind of bond.
Tony, as I said, is the ringleader of the bunch. An old billy goat, he has learned to hop the fences meant to contain him (Tony obeys no man) and he always wants to be the center of attention, fretting the other animals if they try to nuzzle in for a pat on the head. Tony and I hit it off quickly, and from there, our relationship moved even quicker. We took a selfie together, he nuzzled my leg and nibbled on my finger (mistaking it for food, I'm sure), and, out of sheer jealousy, he gave the sheep a couple of head butts when they vied for my attention. Tony and I were getting along so swimmingly that he decided to make our bond a lasting one. Now, I'm not certain of the proper goat courting customs, and I may be misreading the signs here, but I think the sneaky little fella was trying to woo me when he contorted his little body and peed (from a good two feet away) on my leg.
Yes, yes, Tony peed on my leg, and though he barely got me, I do believe that I am now his goat wife. I realize that this marriage will never be recognized as legal, and I believe Tony has a lot to learn about hospitality and integrating that with the customs of other species. However, I will always have a place in my heart for that ole rascal.
We had to say goodbye, today, to all of the animals. Ethel and Enid woke from their naps and laboriously chugged out of their little pens to give us some farewell grunts. Peepers let me hold her one last time. Sam and Ella clucked by occasionally. And old Tony, who had hopped into the chicken pen, followed us around a bit, got a few ear scratches, and then turned over a wheelbarrow full of manure--a lasting image of his "rebel without a cause" spirit.