Randy Ansley

Last week I had the misfortune to have emergency surgery at the hospital. Spending a few days at Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City I had an infection in my foot and had to have it attended to. Although no trip to the hospital is any fun I found the staff to be friendly, professional and very helpful. I was only there for a few days but my care was exceptional. My visit brought to mind one of our favorite lighthouse stories.

Many years ago the city's hospital was located just north of the Battery Point Lighthouse. Growing at Battery Point were several interesting plants some of which are still growing on the island today. One such plant is Poison Oak; related to Poison Ivy this nasty little plant can make contact with it a miserable experience.

Goats will eat anything

To control the Poison Oak two goats were brought to the lighthouse. Goats will eat just about anything and the Poison Oak did not seem to bother them. Also growing on the island and the pathway down by the beach are wild sweet blackberries. The goats loved them; so did the lighthouse keeper. He would tether the goats in order to save his blackberries, but goats being goats found a way to free themselves within a couple of days. They had consumed all the berries and were still hungry. Now they were on their way off the island.

Goats on the loose

Following the houses along the edge of the Battery Point parking lot they found several flower beds to invade. Roses seemed to be their favorite. As they found their way down to the old hospital, they hit a bonanza. The hospital had several very nice rose gardens. At this point the lighthouse keeper discovered that his goats were gone. Following the trail of rose stumps the trail led him to the hospital. Knowing that the goats had to be around someplace he went into the hospital, his hat in his hand, looking for the hospital administrator. Much to his surprise the goats had gotten into the hospital itself and had been visiting the patients in their rooms. The administrator wasn't mad at all. He claimed that the visit from the goats was some of the best medicine the patients could get. The goats were welcomed into the patients' rooms and were fed cut flowers from the patients' vases.

You can't change a goat

The critters live among us and there is little point in trying to change them. They have their own personalities and their own way of doing things. You can take the goats out of the roses but you can't take the roses out of the goats. Over the years many animals have lived at the lighthouse, but the goats are among our favorites.

Randy Ansley, the Battery Point Lighthouse keeper, can be reached at