Ranching I: Goat

A goat inside a barn.
Image via Wikipedia

The tomatoes live.

So does the pepper.

It’s a minor miracle. Sometime between Friday night and Saturday noon, the door to the bathroom, where the crops were hidden, was left open. I found the leaves on one side of the pepper in tatters.

Notice how gracefully I employed the passive voice in the preceding sentence. Not a whit of blame did I assign.

Both David and I admitted we might have left the door open.

I don’t know who ate the leaves.

I suspect William. He’s always shown more interest in plants. Ernest eats sweaters and blankets.

But I’m not sure, and I don’t want to be unfair, so I continue to speak of the incident in the passive.

Discovery of the serrations sent me running to the veterinarian, who said that, considering the size of the helping, the amount of time that had passed since its ingestion, and the absence of symptoms, the only consequence might be a tummy ache. No tummy ache ensued.

It’s possible, of course, that no one ate anything. There may be little bits of leaf drying up under the refrigerator. Everything else, including two flash drives, ends up there.

But back to the crops. When I wrote the post about farming, I didn’t mean to imply that I’ll be plowing and planting. I have nothing to plow. It’s patio farming or nothing.

Neither did I mean to imply that I’ve ever lived on a farm. I lived in town. The farm was several miles away, on the other side of the river. I did most of my work on the town side.

Our house sat on a quarter-acre on one end of the block; the other quarter-acre (and other half of the block) was fenced, and at one time or other over the years served as home to sheep, chickens, horses, and calves.

So instead of farming, I really ranched.

My pet goat, Whitey, lived there, briefly. A friend of my parents had given her to me, and she resided with the sheep (which were, I suppose, a holdover from World War II, when mutton was common in our area).

When my father and my uncle loaded the sheep into the trailer to transport them to new accommodations on the farm, Whitey jumped in, too.

Years later it dawned on me that no one took heroic measures to remove Whitey from the trailer or to snare her during the unloading and bring her home where she belonged.

I suspect the lapse was deliberate. The “patch,” as we called it, beside the house, was fenced with hog wire, which was just the size and shape for a goat with a fully developed set of horns to push her head through, but not designed to allow her to pull it back. Whitey would push through to get a bite of greener grass, discover she was stuck, and bleat until my mother appeared with the wire cutters. As soon as Mother got back into the house, the bleating would start again.

After a time, the fence looked shabby.

It’s no wonder, then, that when Whitey jumped into the trailer, no one tried to dissuade her from leaving. My father would come home from the farm and report that he’d seen Whitey teaching sheep to climb over barbed wire fences.

I was sorry she was gone, but I got over it. We had never been really close.

It isn’t easy to bond with an animal who butts you down every time you turn your back.

Image of goat inside a barn by jcfrog (IMG_5072) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

8 thoughts on “Ranching I: Goat

  1. Harold’s younger sister had a horse like that–nasty little critter. It was a Shetland and tried to bite me and eat my jacket the very first time we met. But then again, I wasn’t being singled out–he bit everyone he could. One wonders what function some critters actually have. Sigh…


    1. I’ve heard that Shetlands can be mean and shouldn’t be trusted around children. The horse people I knew preferred Welsh ponies for kids. Not that I ever had one. When I finally got a horse, she was a big, arrogant filly who let me know who was boss. As long as I wasn’t in the saddle, we were best of friends.


  2. Never had to deal with goats on a long term basis, although a woman stopped by the other day to announce that she’d like to by a piece of property that once belonged to this farm for the sake of her dozen goats and 20 year old horse.

    Beyond that, I only helped to milk them when I visited my grandparents’ farm.

    The bane of my existence, when I was very young, was the herd of pigs. There probably weren’t more than any of them. Five, perhaps…as many as the years I had been on the planet. All I knew as I carried the watermelon rind out to the pig house was that they were big, noisy, rude, and would probably eat me, too.

    Blackie, the steer ended up in the freezer after his third or fourth visit to the neighbors, dragging along the tractor axle to which he’d been tethered.

    The chickens….well, they taught me that sometimes carrying all your eggs in one basket is the only way you’re going to be able to get them back in the house.


    1. I’ve never milked a goat, but I have known several calves whose destination was the freezer. I enjoyed the acquaintance of piglets but kept the adults at a distance. I didn’t care to be devoured either. I really love goats, as long as I’m not responsible for keeping them from eating the neighbors’ fruit trees and jumping onto their automobiles.


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