Tryon to wipe the egg off my face

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2020

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Larry McDermott

Life on the farm


My Daddy used to say, “Son, don’t ever think you know it all.” I should have listened better.

I think what he really was telling me was that I should be careful not to become a “know-it-all.” That’s what happens when you forget the advice of your parents, only to remember it when you get your comeuppance.

I am in the position now of having to confess to you because I wrote about Lucille’s imminent kidding that my skills and knowledge of dairy goats have failed me. I thought after six years and numerous goat breeding’s and kidding’s that Lucille was pregnant. A few days ago, I learned that she’s no more pregnant than Betty White. She’s just fat.

There is no excuse for that dumb mistake. I failed to do what I have done in the past. Draw a blood sample and have it tested. It’s like that carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once. I didn’t measure.

I put our buck with her when she showed me signs of being in heat. They were together for a week, even though a heat cycle usually lasts no more than three days. I observed so many mountings I found myself wanting to offer tips.

Two months into what would have been a five-month pregnancy, I adjusted her feedings protocol as I always have with a pregnant doe. You don’t want them to get fat, but you want a proper diet for the development of the kids.

Looking back on it now I should have noticed how pleased she was with this new feeding regimen.

And then she began to “show.” As the months passed, her belly bulged. Then I saw what I was certain was movement by one or more kids. Something I had seen many times in the past.

But when her due date finally came and went with none of the visible signs leading up to labor, we called in Dr. Rachel Butterworth of Rutherford Large Animal Mobile Services. She has been to our farm a few times for goat issues. When we described the situation, she said she would come out “to see if Lucille is pregnant.”

Now I must tell you that despite the tremendous respect I have for her, I was a little incredulous. What did she mean, I wondered, thinking Lucille might not be pregnant. I knew she was pregnant.

After poking, pushing, prodding, X-raying, Ultra sounding and maybe even using a forked water dowsing stick, Dr. Butterworth rendered her diagnosis.

“She’s not pregnant,” she said with a face as stoney as Amarillo Slim at the World Series of poker.

“I should have done the blood test,” I said as I hung my head.

“Hmmmmmm,” was Slim’s diplomatic reply.

I’m sure I won’t soon forget the whammy of embarrassment I felt.

But give me this: I know when it’s time to make a change, and that’s what I am doing. My goat herding days are over. No more breeding or kidding by this know-it-all.

Lucille is now on a keto diet in a far pasture, and while I’m still trying to get the egg off my face I’m practicing saying, “I don’t know.”

Larry McDermott, a retired journalist, owns a 40-acre organic farm in Rutherfordton, where he grows blueberries, keeps bees and raises horses, dairy goats, and chickens. Email: or see farm happenings at