By Ann Sale
Daddy had one friend who was still a bachelor. He’d drive out to our place sometimes on a weekend, as he said to ‘regain his soul in the country’. Mama said it was to show off his latest girl friend. It seemed like those goats were more attracted to his Mercedes car than to anything else in the world. Since we never knew when he was coming, Lisa and Billy would be enjoying a wide-ranging freedom with no intention of giving it up. As soon as Graydon and the latest lovely were relaxed under the grape arbor, the goats would ease in close, spring up on the hood, and prance around excitedly.
Every time Graydon saw those goats standing on his car he was rendered speechless. He made noises in his throat all right; he just never said actual words. We’d hear him though and come running. Just seeing us charging their way was enough, they’d pitch themselves higher than you could believe, twist in the air and land running.
Many friends came and went and their cars were the least of Lisa and Billy’s concerns. They’d graze on by without so much as a glance. They never got on Daddy’s car either, at least not when he was looking, but we’d occasionally rub what might have been a tiny hoof print off as we passed on our way to school.
There was another company trick they’d perform for a selected few. We never knew what precipitated it or how to ward it off; especially we didn’t know what to say when it happened. It’s kind of hard to describe but it involved that jumping and twisting in the air only they’d do it up real close to certain people and it would go on and on. They’d cavort in front, then in back of them, they’d rub up against them and jump again like the rubbing was just too much of a turn on. You’d have to see it yourself, but it was almost obscene.
“Why I believe those goats are being seductive” was about the nicest thing that was said about that particular behavior and one salesman got real mad and began going on about another house, a dog, his leg and… Mama interrupted him with the reminder he was not an invited guest in the first place.
Actually the most memorable thing about the goats happened long before they took to cavorting on cars and decimating dogwoods. We’d had them several months when every evening Daddy took to saying to Mama, “Squat down so you can see under that goat and tell me what you see!” Each evening Mama would do just that and come up insisting what she saw protruding there was “a rudimentary milk bag of course!”
It didn’t take quite a month of this for Mama’s kind of snippy retort to begin to wobble and weaken. Eventually even she was forced to agree she’d been ‘took’ at the auction and as a pair, Lisa and Billy were never going to ‘make it’.
The maleness of our pets became a touchy subject for more reasons than one, and what made it even harder was explaining all this to the little ones who didn’t know much about sex in spite of living where free ranging chickens ran a perpetual peep show. Anyway, it taxed us pretty good trying to explain the goats. Jamy wouldn’t hear of changing Lisa’s name and we came real close to an unfortunate incident when the real Lisa heard about the mix up.
“Now you’re telling me that big ugly thing’s a boy!” she screamed while my sister rushed Jamy out to see some kittens. Lisa was beginning to warrant the description. She/he had outgrown Billy by a half and actually didn’t have a redeeming feature. Everyone agreed, it was the ugliest goat they’d ever seen and a few weren’t even convinced he was a goat. Jamy loved him. We all did by then so we just left the name alone and Mama made a few phone calls. A Vet was procured who only charged ten dollars to neuter a goat.
She took them one Thursday while we were at school. The whole world agreed we couldn’t keep unneutered male goats—we had already smelled the stench of goats about five miles past the hippy farm so with Lisa growing into a large animal and Billy sprouting sizable horns we couldn’t take any chances. When we got home the deed was done and it was hard to say who looked sicker, Mama or the goats.
After the little ones were in bed she told us older ones and Daddy that the Vet had given her a choice, surgery at fifty dollars a goat or the ten dollar procedure which involved using an emasculator. To top it off, she had to agree to hold them while he did the squeezing. She said it was incredibly awful. Daddy rushed off to bed without saying a word.
As time went on our yard looked like the surface of the moon, but the goats looked to the casual observer like cute (Billy) or interesting (Lisa) pets. Jamy grew up and needed more time for girls. Reluctantly he sold Lisa to a passerby who admired (!) him and wanted a gentle companion for a lonely horse. He promised a life of ease and pleasure but it was a sad parting.
Billy continued on with every evidence he enjoyed being an ‘only goat’. An Artist once asked to paint his picture but my sassy sister said with a perfectly straight face, “He charges to pose nude”. The man left in an understandable snit. When Billy got old and sick this same sister lavished such loving attention on him until he died I began to see she was going to turn out to be of some account after all. I can’t say all these shenanigans with our goats kept us out of trouble, but they made memories and improved our vocabularies. To this day I suspect Mama and Daddy still strike a deal while they’re dressing for an evening out. It has to do with whether he gets to tell the ‘rudimentary milk bag’ story or not.
© 2000 Ann Sale All
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