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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Callie - in Memorium

Fortune smiled upon us in the form of a free Spanish goat! Nearby college kids kept stealing her from the living history museum to guest at fraternity parties. The last time she was mildly hurt, so the museum folks decided she needed a safer home. Callie was spoiled beyond belief, and posessed bad habits we would discover within a week of her arrival.

Callie loved beer with single-minded fervor. Our animal guru, Butch had a bottle of beer on the ground next to his chair. He reached down for another sip, but the bottle wasn't there! Several feet away, Callie was nudging and licking that brown bottle. He shouted, she pinned back her ears, but kept after the remains of the "barley pop"!

Callie came to know Butch's voice. The sound of his truck as it pulled into our driveway spurred her to run to the house to meet her good friend. She already could identify a six pack or a beer bottle at a distance. She preferred Bud Light or one of the major brands: don't offer her a cheap beer! She had her standards, you know.

Art brought her a bottle of water once. After one sip, she looked at him in horror and curled her lip in a goat sneer. She did NOT think he was as funny as he did.

The next vice? Cigarettes! She wasn't a smoker, but she loved to eat them. In small amounts, tobacco is a natural wormer. Sadly, she leaned toward excessive consumption. Too much nicotine gives a goat the shakes. Callie lost the free run of the property when she picked up and ate most of an untended pack of smokes. Confined (more or less) to the goat pasture, she was allowed out on a cable or a leash.

Confinement was an insult! Her days were spent testing the fence for weaknesses. She found every single hole, and wormed herself under the fence when the holes were repaired. Revenge was sweet. She ate the strawberry bed, all the broccoli, and the brussels sprouts. Hooked to a cable, she learned to pop the clip to her halter and would gallop away, laughing demented goat laughter.

Fortunately, she was a sucker for treats. Cellophane crinkling, chip bags opening, she knew all the sounds. Children with candy found it delicately pulled from their hands. Then she ran. They couldn't catch her, and even if they did, the candy was defiled with goat slobber. Our white feed bucket had special allure. When shaken, the corn chops inside rattled enticingly, and the foolish goat would thrust her head inside. The hand not holding the bucket quickly grabbed her halter. Head still inside the bucket, Callie was pulled back to captivity. Temporarily.

We knew her to be sweet and gentle, but she could surprise guests unused to such a large goat. Maggie wore a beloved old sweater on one of her visits; Callie loved both of them at first sight. Somehow during the petting, Callie rubbed her head against Maggie and got her horns tangled in the sweater. Callie panicked and pulled. Alarmed, Maggie pulled back. We untangled the two before anyone was hurt, but the sweater had a sizeable hole. One of the things I love about our friend is her sense humor. She went home laughing, and in later conversations often asked about "her" goat.

The fireman's wife was terrified when Callie "treed" her in our bulldozer. Her husband was busy putting out a grass fire on our farm and never saw her clinging to the roll cage as Callie stretched toward her. When I found them, I explained that the goat was looking for a treat. "Check your pockets!" I shouted. She pulled out a granola bar. "Unwrap it and throw it,"I called. The granola arced through the air, hit the ground, and the goat pounced on it. The fireman's wife scrambled down from the dozer, ran to her car, and locked herself in. Not such a good sense of humor, I thought, as I dragged Callie and her granola bar back to goat jail.

We kept Callie more than six years, alternately aggravated at her and delighted with her. I think she enjoyed her life with us, or perhaps her time outsmarting us. One spring morning Art went out to check on her, and she didn't get up. We decided on a funeral pyre so the coyotes wouldn't get at her body. I wanted my memories of her life unscorched, so asked Art and our son, Matthew, send her to goat Valhalla. I'm sure she's there, planning her escape .



  1. I remember serveral times when Callie decided it
    would be fun to wrap herself around a tree. Her loud complaints just showed that she did this to get attention. She will be missed.

    Mrs. Hang

  2. Thank you! I miss her, too. I think Art misses wanting to strangle her (after untangling her several times a day). Some days he had to cut her loose because she was impossibly tangled in the brush she was supposed to be eating.