11.11.2008

Isaac and the Nubian goat

My “kid brother” Isaac, 63, and his wife Glo had the great good fortune of rearing their children in a bucolic setting.

At a recent family get-together in Mississippi, Isaac regaled us with stories of their farm animals, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard.

Son Van has returned to work at the D-Day Museum complex in New Orleans. When his and wife Anna’s St. Bernard Parish home was left under water in Katrina’s wake, they moved to Alabama, where Van worked for the State Archives. They are very happy to be starting over in the city they love. Daughter Kim teaches school. She and Dean have three boys and have adopted a fourth. Brad, the youngest, owns a successful business. He and Jessie have baby Ty.

A whole family of animal lovers! Brad looks to his daddy to board and tend his farm animals, and Isaac, though almost blind, has managed quite well, caring for them and keeping the fish pond stocked. Let’s say he managed quite well until Brad brought over a pair of Nubian goats – Billy Bob and Sally.

Nubian goats originated in the Middle East, Russia and northern Africa and were cross-bred with English goats to become the Anglo-Nubian strain. Noted for a sleek, elongated body; bell-shaped, floppy ears and a Roman nose, the Nubian is, by nature, a sociable animal. Most of them.

Shortly after their arrival, it became clear that no pen could hold Billy Bob, who preferred Sally’s enclosure to his own. One day while working in the barn, Isaac was caught unawares by the charging buck, who butted him four feet into the air. “I picked up a two-by-four and hid in a stall. ‘Come on, you SOB,’ I muttered under my breath. I heard him coming, cloppety clop, and just as he rounded the stall, I let him have it!”

Glo, always soft-spoken and calm, “came out to see what all the commotion was, and there laid Billy Bob, out cold on the floor. ‘Isaac, you’ve killed the goat!’ No such luck. He got up and took off.”

“After that, it was war.”

Nubians, like most dairy goats, are “disbudded” in infancy, a process which leaves them hornless. Not so with Billy Bob, who, sensing he could sneak up on him, targeted Isaac as the butt of his jokes..

Isaac and Brad built a new pen of solid wooden boards and seven feet high, the height Billy Bob could rise to while rearing up.

The next morning Isaac went out to the pen. “I told myself: ‘I’m not believing what I’m seeing!’ The damn goat was dismantling the pen, board by board, by hooking his horns under each and prying it loose. I took off for the house.”

“One day I decided to replace the window screens across the front of the house,” Isaac continued the saga. “I worked all morning. Then, I headed out to the road to get the mail. I turned around, taking a minute to get my bearings, and here came that SOB straight toward me, with a screen on each horn! I held out the mail, thinking he might stop and eat it.”

Airborne again.

After this latest confrontation, the goats were loaded into a trailer and taken to the sale barn in nearby Brookhaven, Mississippi. Sally romped down the ramp, but Billy Bob balked. The sale barn handler, with electric prod in hand, started up the ramp. “You’d better be careful,” Isaac told him. “I ain’t afraid of no goat,” the handler said as he disappeared into the trailer.

Out came the handler with Billy Bob in hot pursuit. “Prod went one way and handler went the other,” Isaac said. The guy jumped a nearby fence, gasping, “You weren’t lying about that goat, Mr. Isaac!”

I love you, Bro! Thanks for the laughs! We’ll save the tale of the fish pond trespassers, popping their beer cans in the middle of the night, for another day.

5 comments:

Betty Joe said...

Just keep 'em coming! I swear, I wish you would write a book of short stories...or just come out to Nebraska and sit a spell with me!

Eowyn said...

I have to remember my Romney ram Louis, excellent stock from great sheep with wonderful fleeces. So I had to work around his personality. I realized one day in heels and skirt that he was out of his pasture because I was airborne then on his back. The funny thing was that he would only exert force to match his "opponent", and I was shown a far lesser danger than a large guy, for instance. I hand-sheared him by cunning because he was challenging me the whole time. Trouble only came when I had to shear his butt--he was long, and I was no longer at his face so we had to go round and round til I had someone to hold him. But he would take down any gate. Finally my husband put up the gate to end all gates huge 4x4's with fence closure between--so he couldn't gain purchase on it, wouldn't see what to butt. But he simply took down the 4x4's . . . Oh, Lou, never have seen a fleece like that anywhere on earth--lustrous gossimer that spun like silk.

B.J. said...

I am loving your and Katherine’s sheep and sheep dog stories! I found out something I didn’t know. A male sheep is a ram, and a male goat is a buck. I thought both were rams. I also found out I probably don’t want either as a pet! Thanks for sharing your insight, Eowyn! Oh, and I'm sure I've mentioned before, I was named for my mother's pet goat, Betty. NO JOKE! Seemed a good spot to mention it. :-) BJ

Eowyn said...

We've got to get you to the country.

B.J. said...

Aha, my dear Eowyn! My happiest growing-up days were spent with grandparents or aunts and uncles in “the country.” You are not a country girl until you have found the King’s Nest of Easter eggs hidden under cow pods and eaten the eggs while licking the cows’ “salt lick.” You’ve never been scared unless you have been lost in a cornfield, left there by mischievous older cousins. You’ve never stared death in the face unless you have been astrice a mad, runaway horse and dragged through the town dump. You have never heard your heart beat so loudly as when snuggled in a feather bed, thinking of the ghost stories the adults just told on the front porch late at night. BJ