When I first bought the farm, the previous owner was running about one hundred and sixty-eight head of cross bred goats. He told me that it was a guaranteed $50,000 a year if you worked at it. “
“ I am going to leave you five head free and clear to start your own herd. How does that sound?”
I was excited to the core. I am fixing to have a good start to my own herd of money makers.
“ Now that white one there with the big horns, her name is Babe Kay. See her ear tag? It’s marked right on it there in big letters. Now BJ, that girl is a keeper. She always has triplets for the most part. She is what we call a $300 dollar a year goat. Now, she is a little spoiled but that don’t matter none. It is them triplets that make you money. You can afford to spoil her. These three here beside her, they are her crop for this year. Good genetics. She likes a little corn every day in this coffee can and she will do good for you. She has a pretty loud bleat that you will come to know. “
And so, it began. The saga of “Babe Kay” and the goat herd to follow.
She certainly proved her previous owner correct. She would stand at the corral gate every morning and evening waiting for all of the other goats to leave. She would bleat loudly and wait. The longer she stood there, the louder the bleat. It was long and drawn out and very low and husky.
“ Your pet goat is hollering for you” said my wife.
“ First of all, she is not my pet and second of all, we are keeping her around because she is a money maker. It they don’t make us money; they do not stay. It is as simple as that. We are getting “return on our capital employed” with a little corn. ”
“ Yes, I know that is right. I see you feeding her corn out of that can every day, twice a day. I also see you rubbing her ears. I think you have taken a real liking to this goat and she has you wrapped around her horns, so to say. You talk a real tough game, but you are weak as a wet wash rag when it comes to that girl.”
Babe Kay was a farm fixture and remained that way. She quietly charmed any children that came to the farm. They could feel her velvety lips as she virtually sucked up corn out of their hands and then out of the coffee can. Never one to shy away from attention, she would stand there as long as there was a person around.
I brought an employee from Angola to the United States for process training for two weeks. He stayed with my wife and I on the farm for one of those weeks. We introduced him to several of the local sites around town and in the country.
One of my favorite photos is the one included in this article. It is of “OJ” feeding Babe Kay corn out of her beloved coffee can.
The previous owner of our farm proved to be correct for the most part on the yearly volume of kids she produced. There were two or three sets of triplets as well as doubles and a single of two.
One of the singles was nearly an exact duplicate of Babe Kay. I came in the door of the house shortly after she was born. “ Mama, we got us another Babe Kay. Maybe she will be another money maker like her mother.”
“ Well, let’s go see what all of the fuss is about.” she said. “ Maybe you can spoil this one as much as you spoiled her. “
“ I didn’t spoil her” I said. She came that way. There is a difference, you know.”
Her new kid was female and beautiful, just like Babe Kay. Her ears turned up at the tips and she looked like she was smiling all of the time. She did not make any effort to stop me as I picked up the new baby.
“ What do you think we should name this little girl?”
My wife looked at me carefully. “ I don’t think it is a good idea to be naming goats. I thought you were in this business to make money, not make pets. You already have one great big pet in Babe Kay. We certainly do not need another. Babe does not think she is a goat. She does not behave like the other goats in the herd, nor is she treated like the other goats in the herd. She is a spoiled barn goat.”
“ Well, what are we going to name her. She has to have a name.”
“ Ok, ok” she said. “ Let’s call her Lambchop. I bet Sweet Sugar Smith is going to get a laugh out of that. He does not name is goats.”
“ Sweet Sugar will not laugh at that. He may want to but he won’t do it, at least in front of me. Lambchop it is.”
When Lambchop was approaching thirty pounds or so, I made the decision that she and Babe Kay would be turned out to pasture with all of the other goats after spring drenching. She was a goat and she was going to act like a goat. No more special treatment. When it came time to push her into the drenching pen, she basically squatted down on her ample hind quarters and refused to budge. She was very heavy and refused to be moved and had to be drenched on the spot, as always.
She and lambchop were moved with the herd to the next trap from the house. When I came in the next evening, my wife was standing at the door.
“ Your pet nanny has been bellowing all day at the gate down there. I think she wants to come back to the barn. “
“ No mam. No mam. She is a goat and she will remain with the herd. I am tired of this.”
“ Just listen to her cry down there. How can you be so mean?”
“ Look, she is a meat goat, raising meat kids. I am done being a daily corn feeder.”
“ When are you going to go get her and Lambchop?” She said.
One hour had passed as the constant wailing continued.
“ Please go get her. How can you listen to that?”
We made our way down to the corner gate. Babe Kay and Lambchop stood there looking pitiful.
“ Ok, Babe Kay, you win. Let’s go” I said as I opened the gate. She never looked at me as she lumbered through the gate with Lambchop trotting behind. She sauntered down the fence line at a fast walk with her might bag swinging side to side, never looking back at me.
“ Now, don’t you feel better?”
“ I do not. She has won. I have lost.”
Lambchop was to be Babe Kay’s last kid. I found Lambchop with her head wedged in a gate with a broken neck. I never bred Babe Kay again, determined to let her retire and live out her remaining days in peace and eating corn twice a day out of a coffee can.
Babe Kay had a bad back. I began to notice that she would not venture far out of the barn corral to graze. She began to lose weight and I knew that the end was not far ahead. I came home one day only to find her standing wobbly on her feet in the barn. She refused the can of corn and water. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead. It took everything I had to end her misery but I had to do it. I lost all composure as the tears streamed down my face as I put her down.
On the practical side of things, we in the sheep and goat business are in it for a profit, not to make pets. On the human side of things, every now and then we have an animal such as Babe Kay show up in our lives. They refuse to be comply with the herd mandate. They are also the most memorable. I did something I never do with my herd animals. I kept her ear tag. It has no number. It is big and orange. In big black letters it simply says,” Babe Kay”. “ I smile every time I see it.”
Practical advice for the day
“ Never hide your green peas in a napkin and expect your wife not to find it”
Until next time