There is an old, broken down dock on our pond that I really need to tear down. Problem is, there is an equally broken down old goat on our farm who loves that dock. Her name is Loretta.

Every day, fair weather or foul, Loretta wanders out to the end of the dock and sleeps in the sun. Good goat that she is, she’s willing to share her spot. Sometimes I walk out there with her and fish while she dozes. Other times we both just sit there and watch the world go by.

Since I am the one who pays the mortgage on the farm, there for a while I sort of had it in my head that the dock belonged to me. But now I know better. It’s her dock. As long as she’s around, it will stay hers. I’m just the guy who pays for it.

At least she shares. The snake that lives in the brush pile in the corner of the pasture does not. We call him “Slick.” He is a five foot black racer and he, like all black racers, is as ornery as they come.

Despite a deed that says I own the pasture, Slick has it in his head that the brush pile belongs to him. Whenever I get too close, like when I am adding brush to the brush pile, he coils all five feet of himself into striking position and lifts his head eight inches off the ground. He opens his mouth wide. It kind of looks like he’s grinning, but he’s all business. He’s not venomous, but, what he lacks in venom, he makes up for in just plain ornery. He makes it clear that this is his patch of ground and he is not about to share it.

His property line doesn’t end at the brush pile either. Every now and again I walk up on him in the tall grass of the pasture. Up pops that head again. Out comes the teeth. We have a bit of a stand off then off he slithers off once he figures he got his point across.

“I ought to shoot you,” I holler at him as he glides away, but I never will. You don’t shoot neighbors over a property dispute. Besides, he is willing to take on rodent management of the area and I am not.

The Canada geese who stop by every year to raise their offspring don’t seem to mind us sharing the pond with them for a few months. Of all the places to build a nest, they pick the dam. They make shallow nests out of pine straw and there they sit until a bunch of little yellow balls of puff appear. When the balls of puff get big enough to sleep somewhere other than the nest we get our dam back.

I’ve caught some mighty big bass standing on that dam. One weighed just short of ten pounds. But until the the babies are hatched and the families move off, that dam is off limits to fishing. Odd thing is, the goats get a pass. They can walk within a foot or two of the nest and the worst they’ll get is a good hissing at. If my wife, Marianne or I wander down that dam during nesting season, we better have our running shoes on.

Speaking of the pond, for the longest time, I sort of thought the fish in it belonged to me. I paid to have it stocked.

The osprey’s disagree. They swing by from time to time and dive bomb the water. Whoosh! they go completely under the water then they fly off with a fish. Four foot tall cranes stalk the bank. I’ve seen them catch bream that you think: no way is it going to be able to swallow that thing. But swallow it they do. I’ve seen their necks stretch out three inches on either side. Down it goes until its gone, then they are hunting again.

Turtles and water snakes consider my pond and all you can eat fish buffet, too. I’ve even seen some of our muscovy ducks help themselves to a small bream or two.

I take it in stride. Everyone’s got to eat and we have no shortage of fish.

Yeah, for a while there, I thought I owned the land. Now I know I share the land. Just ask the deer who help themselves to my garden all the time.