Political movements in Deerton had a way of being triggered by the oddest occurrences. There was the time Angus McPherson took his S-10 through the Deerton Wash & Wax without removing his rod and tackle from the bed, for example. The gear had been plucked out by the washer arm and tangled in it, so the next three cars through the wash were scratched and pummeled by whirling hooks and sticks. The Wash & Wax’s owner refused to pay damages, and her husband was the mayor; before long the entire administration was swept out of office.

The turmoil of ’05 began when a ram escaped from Casey Winterburn’s goat farm on US 313 and made its way into the Mountaintop and Pinewood apartment complexes. Both were cul-de-sacs surrounded by drainage ditches, leaving the animal with no way out, and were peopled by commuter students from Osborn University. Most of the students were out-of-staters or from one of the big east state cities–not the sort to take meeting a ram in social settings well.

At the time, Tecumseh County Animal Control was run by Mayor Routon’s brother-in-law. They received dozens of calls from Mountaintop and Pinewood, some from panicked big-city folk who’d barricaded themselves inside, but took their sweet time responding. TCAC claimed overwork at the time; scuttlebutt later had it that the truck was being used to move furniture between houses and wasn’t dispatched until that task was done. Even then, the situation was handled in a way guaranteed to provoke the complex residents: rather than using a tranquilizer (which would have cost $10 per shot), the TCAC used a .22 caliber rifle and took three shots to down the ram. Residents emerging afterward found bullet marks in the wood exteriors of their buildings.

The mayor refused to force TCAC to issue an apology, despite the fact that Casey Winterburn had made the rounds the next day doing just that. And the stage was set for confrontation.