- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

DOVER, Pa. (AP) - Week before last, on a Friday, as the grim search for a missing boater on the Conewago Creek downstream from the Davidsburg Road bridge continued, two volunteers from New Cumberland’s water rescue crew had to leave early to go to work.

Problem was, they forgot where they parked their truck and asked Dover Deputy Fire Chief Brian Widmayer for help.

Widmayer asked them: What did the road look like?

The one guy said: It was a rural road.

Widmayer said: They all are up here.

The guy said: It was a narrow, winding road.

Widmayer said, again: They all are up here.

The guy said: It was near the creek.

Widmayer said, well, you know what he said.

They got into Widmayer’s truck and drove around the narrow, winding, rural roads by the creek for a while. No luck. They couldn’t find the truck. So they returned to the staging area where the firefighters were gathered and another volunteer from New Cumberland, who had ridden in with the other guys, said she remembered they parked near a bridge abutment, downstream.

Widmayer asked: Did you see a goat there?

The woman replied that she had, that it was standing on top of what appeared to be a doghouse.

Widmayer said, I know where you’re talking about, and drove the guys to their truck, parked near a bridge abutment that stands as a memorial to the now-torn-down Detters Mill Road bridge.

The goat is a landmark around Detters Mill. It’s one of those things that happens in York County, a goat becoming a landmark, as in, “If you pass the goat, you’ve gone too far.” (Another York County thing is people mentioning landmarks that no longer exist when giving directions. “Just head down here to where the Miller’s barn used to be…”)

His name is Leonard.

He didn’t start out to be a landmark. He started out being a weed whacker.

It began when the low-head dam was taken out at Detters Mill. John Baugher, a 55-year-old electrical engineer who has lived on Detters Mill Road along the creek for 34 years, wasn’t crazy about the removal of the dam. Before, he kept the area across the road mowed, almost park-like, leading down to the water. You could boat and fish, he said. It was nice.

After the dam was taken out, though, the creek changed, the recreation area was gone and he stopped mowing the bank, allowing it to return to nature. But weeds took over, growing out of control, and he had to periodically venture over there with a weed whacker and cut them down. After a while, he got tired of weed whacking the creek’s bank. It was a chore.

So, a goat.

He figured a goat would eat the weeds and save him the trouble of whacking the weeds.

And that’s how Leonard came to Detters Mill about eight years ago. He arrived as an anonymous goat and Baugher named him Leonard. “He just seemed like a Leonard,” Baugher said.

Baugher built a pen and a little lean-to for the goat. The lean-to evolved into a little house, which has been expanded several times to include a storage area for Leonard’s food and a deck atop the house. The pen also expanded; Baugher added some steps and a little platform by the side of the road. A while back, Baugher put an umbrella atop the deck to give Leonard some shade. “He didn’t like it,” Baugher said. “He kept butting his head into it.”

Baugher figured, all told, his labor-saving move has cost him several hundred hours of labor and a few thousand dollars.

It’s worth it, though.

Leonard has developed into a kind of local celebrity. Neighbors would bring their kids by to see him and feed him animal crackers. Feed him an animal cracker, neighbors say, and he’s your friend for life.

He’s very friendly and likes people, which is odd because goats can be ornery. Sometimes, at least in the past, he was anxious to spend time with the Baughers, so anxious that he was able to escape his pen and cross the road to the house. Baugher feared that Leonard would get hit by a car so he electrified the fence. It only took a couple of shocks for Leonard to learn not to mess with the fence. Now, Baugher said, Leonard doesn’t even try to get out, and he doesn’t even plug the fence in.

Leonard definitely is a landmark, Baugher said.

“Whenever people give directions down here, they say, ‘Look out for the goat,’” he said.

He’s hard to miss. Leonard spends most of his time on the deck atop his house, butting the railing.

And he serves his original purpose.

“He does keep the weeds down,” Baugher said.

But he’s not a lawn implement.

“Leonard’s more like a pet,” Baugher said. “He’s a very unusual goat.”






Information from: York Daily Record, https://www.ydr.com

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