The first time we saw Mary, she was tied to a clothesline in front of a trailer on top of a mountain. The Mister swore he heard banjo music (think: Deliverance) as we drove the winding narrow road. I had decided I wanted a goat and a student had told me of one that needed a home as her owner was divorcing and couldn't afford to keep her.
"She's a goat," is all my student told me.
With legs no more than six inches long, she managed to carry her barrel-shaped body around as though she were a ballet dancer on pointe. She surveyed us carefully as we got out of the car, obviously shaping us up as novices in the world of goat ownership. I thought she looked pregnant and asked the owner. She didn't know.
"Bubba!" she shouted at her son (really, that was his name). "That there goat down the road. Hit's a boy goat or a gal gal?"
Bubba didn't want to leave the front seat of the car he was sitting in and listening to the radio. He rolled down the window to answer her.
"I dunno, Momma," he slurred. "Might be. Who can tell?"
I knew I had to rescue this gal from her life on the clothesline.
"How much for her?" I inquired.
We settled on $25. I got the best end of the bargain.
Mary was one of those goats who always knew she was in charge. Unlike the ladylike "baaaas" from the other gals, Mary sounded like Bea Arthur. She would stand at the fence, look at the house, and bellow "nnnneeeeeaaaahhhhh" as though she were swearing. When she would run, her tummy would rotate her trunk, while she tossed her head like a beauty queen and spritely twinkled to where you wouldn't want her.
She was just that way.
This past winter she kid, her second kidding. We didn't mean for her to be pregnant, but she had different ideas. She ended up with a c-section and one darling little guy with an Elvis curl. The surgery left her weak and lacking luster. After a week of forcing yoghurt and water into her, she rebounded and became the curmudgeon we knew she was. It was a frequent thing to see her little guy standing on her back, surveying "his" goat yard.
Yesterday, after a perfect first day of classes, we got home to feed. I headed to the milking parlor and opened the door to check the does. Mary was dead. Apparently, she had a heart attack early yesterday and just fell over where she was standing -- at the milking parlor door -- waiting for dinner.
This morning it was tough to not hear her call from the yard. But, she is buried next to her darling Maestro, the billy she loved more than anything. He, tall, magnificent; her, short, round. But, they were devoted to each other until he died. They spent hours next to each other, on opposite sides of the fence, rubbing, talking, and her adoring him. Now she is with him again, looking up at him, and saying, "What a goat! what a goat! what a goat!"