My Bennett family friends had given my wife a tape of a minister delivering the African-American version of a hellfire and brimstone sermon using the story of a goat that had fallen into a well to provide an example of “shaking bad things off and then stomping them down.” The old farmer, not sure of what to do, had decided to bury the goat where it was but the old goat had other ideas. As the soil landed on the goat’s back, he would just shake it off and then stomp it down until finally he had raised the level of the bottom of the well so that he could jump right out. The morale of the story being “No matter how bad things are, just shake them off and stomp them down.” As a child I had heard a variation involving a frog that had fallen into a milk pail and saved himself by kicking so hard he churned the milk into butter. Since then I have heard similar stories using a donkey. For my purposes, I’ll stay with the goat because, for a short period of time, we decided to raise goats.
Linda Gail and I did not actively think out the process and say, “We need to go out and get a goat.” No, as you can tell from my other stories, rarely do we think out anything. A friend of my wife had a goat but because of an impending move, he needed to find a home for the aptly, if not creatively named, Nannie. Nannie, a pet from birth, had been imprinted upon by humans and could not understand why she wasn’t included at the dinner table. There were many times she would startle us. After having found a way out of her little compound and seeing the back door open, she would push her way into the kitchen and say hello. Hello!
Later, when I decided that putting a goat on a leash was not a good idea, I created a fenced-in paddock around a stream covered in briars, small trees and Kudzu and complete with a little goat lean-to. We purchased two Alpine milking goats and stood by watching our new acquisitions in the middle of their plush pasture…starving to death. They wouldn’t eat. A local goat authority, and character in his own right, told me they were too “high fa lutin’” and needed a briar goat to teach them what to eat. He didn’t say, “briar”; he said “Brraaaaar goat.” Then he sold me one for thirty-five dollars. Enter Newt, as in neuter or what is known as a steer goat. It was Newt’s responsibility to teach Nugene and Nicholette what to eat…which turned out to be pretty much anything. Did you pick up on the “N” names? Blame my wife.
Newt was a goofy looking thing. Gray in color, heavy bodied with the skinniest of legs, he had two misshapen horns that gave him an expression of perpetual awe. Turning his head to the side, he always had the look of someone who had a question…like maybe “Why did you cut them off?” Also, he was, first and foremost, a pet. Like Nannie, Newt believed he should be included in all family activities… and in many cases was. Our briar goat was more curious than most cats and this sometimes got him into trouble without the safety net of having nine lives. Once, while staked out in a specific area to eat kudzu, he decided to stick his nose into a hornet’s nest. When I saw him next, his head was the size of a basketball. He was about to choke to death because the dog collar tightened due to his rapidly expanding neck. I quickly released him and then waited for him to die when all of the poison from his head reached his heart. I watched his head literally deflate like the oft spoken of “nickel balloon.” After all of that trauma, he still survived!
One of our Alpines once needed a transfusion…at three in the AM. I was sent home to retrieve Newt to bring him back to the animal hospital so he could supply the blood for the transfusion. With no way to actually transport a goat, I stuffed him into the cab of my pickup and off we went. Thank goodness there were few vehicles on the road at three o’clock in the AM… but there was this one drunk. The look I got from him as he eyed the cab was “Son, that is one ugly closing-time honey!”
Periodically, the old cistern that served as our water source needed to be cleaned and serviced. I discovered the hard way that if the level of sand in the bottom of the dyke accumulated too high, that sand would get into the backflow valve causing it to stay open and the pump would lose its prime. One summer morning I found myself having to clean the dyke and to replace the aforementioned valve. Newt decided he would join me, lending whatever “moron” support I might desire. I thought it was cute but would not think so a few minutes later.
My guess is that Newt’s lineage came from a mountain goat because he always liked to climb to the highest point – up onto a stump, or up onto a rock or into the back of my pickup truck and once even onto the cab. As soon as we got to the cistern, he hopped up on top of the corrugated metal sheet cistern cover and disappeared, in the blink of an eye, when the metal sheet gave way. The look on his face was priceless as was mine I am sure. He was a tall goat and I could clearly see his head peering over the top of the cistern, his face mirroring the “What the f…?” question running through my mind. I remembered the story of the goat in the well but decided burying him was out…although when he decided to explore the hollowed out cave behind the dyke I thought I might have to. When he came back into sight, he stumbled and broke off the backflow valve. For a moment, I dared to ponder how goat BBQ might taste.
All’s well that ends well, I guess. With a lot of straining and pulling, I extracted the hundred and fifty-pound goat from the well and then replaced the backflow valve. Later I had to make an uncomfortable phone call to my wife explaining why she might want to boil any water we might drink or cook with for a while. I understood salamander pooh was okay but just wasn’t sure about goat pooh. Was it my imagination or, for a while, did our drinking water taste a lot like a wet wool blanket smelled?
If you enjoyed this story you might also enjoy:
Inspirational true stories in WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING by Don Miller #1.99 on #Kindle goo.gl/DiO1hcX
“STUPID MAN TRICKS” explained in Don Miller’s FLOPPY PARTS $.99 on Kindle
“Baby Boomer History” in Don Miller’s PATHWAYS $3.49 on Kindle http://goo.gl/ZFIu4V