A few lessons on goats and toes

Published 11:25 am Friday, October 13, 2023

“As never before, our world needs warmth in its cold, metallic heart, warmth to go on and face what has been made of human life, warmth to remain humane and kind.” ~ Henry Beston

A year ago, I was unpacking late-show luggage from France; this year it was a flurry of unpacking from a week of goat-herding and playing farm girl. 

Friends asked me to house-sit home, goats, chickens and pets, so off I went like Mary Poppins. Growing up, there was always a menagerie of farm animals around our place, along with cats and dogs. Now and then, a boa constrictor that spent summers with us if his owner headed overseas, an orphaned squirrel, and more over the years came. 

If the pig dug out of her pen, my mother whipped up a batch of pancakes. Madame Pompadour would head right back home, her white and black snout quivering with delight—her mud bath awaiting after the feast.  

After a day of playing farm girl at my friends’ place, I’d renamed one goat, the biggest, “Greedy Gut” and a small one “Bashful.” Johnny-on-the-spot Greedy Gut would meet me at mealtimes at the gate—butting the others out of his way and about knocking me over to get to the feed bucket. 

Looking him in the eye, I told him not to mess with Taurus the Bull. “I’m meaner, Greedy Gut! If you butt ME, you might be goat curry tonight! Now, MOVE!” Sliding past him, I dispersed feed to the others quickly, keeping Greedy Gut doing the twist as he tried to shove his head in the bucket (he really didn’t have to worry, because I had no intentions of making goat curry). 

By the next day I managed to break a toe. Or at least, I thought I had—from the yodeling and yowling let out. Not my first rodeo on this, I said to the dog, his grizzled face quizzical as I reassured him it was NOT his fault, then asked him where to find duct tape and Advil. Tape it up, gulp Advil and hobble on, but don’t let Greedy Gut near! 

Happy hens would run to greet me at breakfast time, later singing about the eggs they laid. The dog helped me make rounds and the cat supervised as cats do, making sure things got done her way. In all this, as I puttered in the gardens and spent the sunny days outdoors, I found a peacefulness among sharing that time singing to the goats, hens and dog. Even with Greedy Gut. 

Obviously the cat really appreciated the extra entertainment, because I was gifted with a chipmunk for dinner. At least she presented it in one piece at the front door—I thanked her for the offering, and as soon she looked the other way, discreetly buried dinner under an azalea. 

In the evenings, my cat and dog friends gathered close as we inhaled October breezes,  gazing over ancient seas of mountain ranges unfolding into forever, stars peeping through the darkening veil. 

Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) has a “Walks in the Woods” on October 15 to Round Mountain where hikers can explore the site of the Battle of Round Mountain. Meet at Saluda Library’s parking lot at 2 p.m. 


Happy October Birthday to Cissy Thompson, Riley Thompson, Patricia Case, Gary Corn, Aaron Bradley, Amanda Anderson, Lisa Orr, Marilyn Prudhomme, Bubba Dawson, Kirby Jackson, Mary Ann Asbill, Sheila Billeter, Carol Thompson, Dean Bradley, Susan Wheeler, Brenda Craig, Becky Broadfoot, John Morgan, Bob Whitaker, Bonnie Williamson, Heather Case, Mary Scurry and Jeanie Bennett. Add your birthday to the list!

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Feel free to contact me at bbardos@gmail.com, (828) 817-6765, P.O. Box 331, Saluda, NC 28773, Facebook, or visit bonniebardos.com