Sunday, March 29, 2009

Billy the goat

Dad ran his business, a feed mill/farm store like ringing a bell, he had built it, nurtured it, poured his soul into it. He grew it every year, took no prisoners,the rhythm of his life was a constant drum beat of projects and deadlines. He vacationed poorly, seldom had time to relax.

Which is why I can't figure where the idea to get a goat came from, guess he just figured we needed to have some fun, that it was time to lighten up. He spoke of it several times, we pretty much all thought that was as far as it would go. Then one morning he comes waving around a classified ad from the Sioux City Journal, goats for sale. He motions to Leonard the bulk truck driver, gives him the address and a check. Just like ringing a bell, Dad was getting us into the goat business.

The laughs start right away, Marv, the feed mill operator didn't like the idea of goats, every time the subject had came up he would snort and say “you get goats next thing you know they will be shitting and pissing on the floor”. He was pretty adamant about it. Like I said, Marv didn't think much of goats.

So Marv had missed out on Dad's big conference with us about the Sioux City goats and sending off Leonard to fetch them, about 9 AM he asks “where is Leonard”? So, we tell him, “ he went to Sioux City to get goats” Marv thinks we are kidding him, asks again, we tell him again, Marv sputters something about being us being smart asses and goats shitting and pissing on the floor, giving up he stalks off..

.A hour later, in his best and most sincere voice “ no really, where is Leonard today?” we wince as we say it, “he went to get goats Marv, honest”. Marv walks away muttering to himself still convinced we are teasing him. Now down to a routine we go through it once more before the little one ton GMC with the flat bed bounces into the yard with a Nanny and Billy tied up in the back. Marv was speechless.

If this story was about nanny goats it would be a short one as she was sick and died shortly after coming to her new home. Billy on the other hand was not only healthy, he was full of piss and vinegar, the goat of Dad's dreams, just what our feed mill needed.

For starters he was friendly, had no fear of people, would follow you around like a dog, loved to get his ears scratched. We soon found if we wished to get him out of our hair all we had to do was bend over and pick up a rock or dirt clod, he would take off like he was shot from a gun kicking and skipping sideways as he scooted from view. We never threw a rock at him, guess the people at his old home had and he had just learned real good to scram.

There was never any attempt made to fence him in, Dad's shop, we always called it the shop, was on a couple acres of land west of town on highway 9, in all the time Billy was with us I never saw him venture on to the road, he just roamed around checking us all out. He would wander around here and there, loved people and very curious, any project he was in the middle of it, forty years later I ran into a fellow from Ireton, Iowa at a booth over at the Clay County fair. We get to talking and mention I am from Lester, he perks right up, yes yes he knew Duane Gage, yes he and his partner put up some steel bins for Dad. He then tells of his partner bending over to drive in a wood stake when Billy comes around the corner sees his butt sticking up in the air nice and pretty and pops him one. His partner jumps up and starts waving his hammer at Billy, Billy just backs off a little, sticks out his tongue and makes this bleating noise, sounds for all the world like he is laughing at him. Then the fellow looks around to see not only had his coworker witnessed the whole thing but Dad had just come around the corner and seen it also, both were laughing pretty good. He was pretty steamed by the incident, Billy just sauntered off looking for something else to get into.

We were getting our power service worked on, a lineman from the local REC had showed up, of course Billy wandered over to see if he could help. The fellow was surprised to see a goat and pleased when he turned out to be friendly, at any rate he was petting him and giving a him a good ear rub, finding it to his liking Billy jumped up and placed his hoofs on the fellows chest and was pretty much eye to eye with him when Dad walks by and says,” he will eat that cigarette your holding lit if you let him.” And he would, given a chance Billy would stick out his tongue and take short quick licks at a smoke until the fire went out, then gobble it up. Thinking this was just to cool not to try the fellow held out his smoke and Billy went to work on it. Some smoke got in Billy's his nose and he sneezed blowing goat snot all over the guys face.

Hung like a Billy goat, horny as a Billy goat, stinks like a Billy goat. We had all grown up with these phrases, used them even yet none of us really knew much about goats except Marv and he wasn't talking. If we had we would have got Billy fixed and this story would have had a happier ending, as it was our ignorance although it served Billy poorly generated some good stories.

Billy's first love was Arie who ran the portable mill, most days Arie would pull back into the yard at quitting time, often the rest of us would be standing up in the office watching him park at the bottom of the hill and make his way across the yard to the shop. I guess maybe his absence made Billy's heart grow fonder, anyway Billy sporting a full erection would try to chase him down, Arie would take off for the office turning and slapping at Billy with his hat, this seemed only to fan the fires in little Billy and by now he would be sticking out his tongue making his frenzied bleating “I will still respect you in the morning” noise. We used to laugh so hard the tears would roll from our eyes. Oddly Arie never saw the humor in it..

Another favorite of Billy's was Gary the Kent feed salesman, if he caught Gary in the open he would come up behind him stick his nose in the seat of his pants and take a couple good deep whiffs, as Gary said on more then one occasion ”it's none of that damn goats business if I use Preparation H.

Lavonne was was perhaps the most beautiful woman in our county, our state even, she had such rare beauty that most men, and I might add teens like myself were reduced to blubbering fools in her presence. To walk around a corner and bump into her was like having the brain plucked out of your head. You just knew something dumb was going to happen and there was nothing you could do about it but flee. She drove a dark colored Ford LTD four door,white top, in my minds eye I can still see her swinging it off the highway making a big loop in our yard then hitting reverse to back up to our dock to get some bag feed. And I can still remember the frantic sound of Dad scrambling out of the office running back to the feed room yelling in panic,” Lavonne's coming, Lavonne's coming, where is that damn goat, get him tied up!” I think Dad's worse nightmare was Billy would come around the corner see Lavonne and be smitten, unlike us mere mortals Dad knew full well Billy would act on his impulses.

Marv never did warm up to Billy, it was awkward, like having two friends that didn't get along. Wasn't Billy”s fault, he got along with everyone. Billy would wander over to Marv's world every once in awhile, Marv's world being the feed mill control panel and scale beam. You could hear it from quite a distance, a whooping noise not unlike Indians on attack in the movies, you would look up to see Billy tearing out of the feed mill at full tilt his little butt just a humping, Marv hot on his tail broom always raised up over his head, there are rare moments in life you really get to laugh, from the belly, from the heart, half of mine were compliments Billy.

The hardest we ever laughed though was the day I set Marv up. I was back to the shop early that noon, Leonard had ate in, Clint was back early too. I grabbed a cup of coffee and some goat turds and made my way to the scale beam and control panel. Right where Marv stood while he weighed the feed batch's I piled up the goat turds in a nice little natural looking pile, then spread the coffee out on the floor in three distinct lines. Any half blind tracker could clearly tell a goat had stood right there with a full erection, pooped on the floor and turning twenty degrees at a time sprayed out three good four foot squirts of pee. We go back to the office and to await Marv's arrival. Marv comes in a whistling and how do you doing, marks down his time and heads back to his control panel. It's not long and he is back, sticks his head in the door and looks at Leonard real serious and says, “ you come with me Leonard and let me show you something” with Leonard in tow they head back to the control panel. Clint and I sneak over to the window and watch, we can not hear them but can see Marv is serious as hell pointing at the mess on the floor, I don't know how Leonard kept a straight face, Clint and I are laughing so hard watching Leonard nod his head as Marv talks to him. We can almost read his lips, “ I told you Leonard ,get a goat and first thing you know, shitting and pissing on the floor”.

Poor Billy, he deserved better then he got, all that peeing on his face took it's toll and wasn't long he stunk so bad he brushed up against you had to burn your clothes. We had him staked out on a rope all by himself, at one time the offers to take him in would have been plentiful, now no one wanted him. Dad was working late one warm summer evening when some young kids pulled up all dressed up for a night on the town, told Dad they had heard he had a goat he wanted to give away, Dad pointed to Billy and said there he is, figured they would be back later in work clothes with a pickup, instead they put him in the trunk and drove off.

According to the police reports they dumped him in downtown Rock Rapids right in front of the bar, Billy fell in love with a gal walking down the street, whipped out his tiddlewhacker and treed her on top of a car, the cops got called and the chase was on, Billy gave them a good run by all accounts, nearly made it into the IGA food store before they tackled him. They threw him in the back of the squad car and hauled him off, end of story, almost.

Dad sort of winced when he heard about it, I am sure he felt bad for Billy, not bad enough to call up the cops and fess up to owning him though. One rumor had it he made it to a farm, we all figured we could live with that. Couple months later the gal did the Rock Rapids news for the radio station came on telling about how she heard a noise in her garage while making breakfast, opened the door to see a goat standing on the seat of her snowmobile, eating it, last we ever heard of Billy.

Several years ago I got thinking about Billy and all the fun we had and got a couple goats, one, Red, reminds me of of him, friendly and full of life. Wish I had known enough to take care of Billy as well as I do Red. Another of life's regrets.

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