Monday

Belize Survivor, part 72

By noon, Max and Alexis had purchased a large washtub, a corrugated glass washboard, some half-gallon Mason jars with glass lids and wire clamps, some Tupperware, four cans of thirty-weight oil, and two female Nubian goats whose previous owners had named them to match their personalities. Fine-goat was sweet and well-mannered with a quiet disposition. From all indications, Space-goat seemed to be the stereotypical irascible goat with an attitude problem. Both had the long droopy ears and huge udders for which Nubians are known. Fine-goat was said to be a particularly good producer, yielding over a gallon a day when she freshened. Both nannies were already pregnant, and since goats usually give birth to twins, Max figured the purchase guaranteed an instant herd.

Getting the goats back to Michael’s property had been no easy task, and a month later Alexis was still not doing well at the not-so-gentle-art of goat-milking. Both nannies had given birth since the purchase and were newly freshened. Space-goat bleated and stomped the ground and turned with a baleful look in her eye.

"Hold still, you bitch," Alexis yelled. Grabbing her udder again, the nanny lashed out and knocked over the bucket of milk, turning her head a second time and glaring triumphantly. "Now look what you've done! Of all God's creatures, I have never known a more cantankerous animal."

"What's going on down there?" Max yelled from upstairs. The goats mostly lived outside within the fenced-in property, but Max had created a straw-lined quadrant under the house especially for milking.

"Space-goat kicked over the milk again," she yelled back.

"Damn it, Alexis. Can't you do anything right? That's the third time this week. For heaven’s sake, control the animal."

"This goat is making it personal. I never have trouble with Fine-goat, except that her bag is harder to squeeze. She's got the upper hand. She knows she intimidates me. No wonder they say goats are evil," Alexis muttered. "With those horns and that beard, they have the silhouette of the devil."

The goats had been nothing but trouble since day one. Originally, Max had been concerned with keeping the goats from wandering off. The problem turned out to be just the opposite; they insisted on wandering IN, wanting to be part of the family. Being fond of animals was one thing, but finding a goat in the living room was something else. With their love of climbing and natural affinity for high places, the goats had simply mounted the steep front stairway, knocked over the precious tomato and pepper seedlings on the verandah, scattering the dirt everywhere, and then walked right into the house. In that particular instance, they found Space-goat on her hind legs amidst the ruin of pots, pans, and broken dishes, with her hoofed forefeet on the kitchen counter.

Stories and jokes about goats eating anything were also well-supported by Space-goat's capricious habits. Over time, she ingested one of Jordan's baby rattles, a small Tupperware lid, several crayons, and had actually chewed on tins cans and the clothes on the line in the yard – just like in the cartoons. But a few days previous to giving birth, the situation had turned serious when Max discovered Space-goat had eaten a tube of epoxy resin. She had been due to deliver at any time. As much as Alexis disliked the goat, she didn’t want her to die.

"I don't know; she doesn't look sick, but I definitely saw her grab the tube from the workbench. See?” Max said, opening the goat’s mouth and pointing. “She still has paint flecks from the tube label on her tongue. Maybe we should make her throw up."

"Good idea,” said Alexis. “I’ll go check natural medicine book." Ten minutes later she came back with a vile-looking concoction. "It's an emetic. Warm water, salt, and mustard. I thought this old glass coke bottle might give us the best chance of getting it down her throat."

Max nodded. "Good. Okay, I'll hold her head back and you shove it in." Together they forced the foul mixture down the throat of the struggling goat. After a half hour, still nothing had happened.

"I hate to do this, but I guess I'm going to have to go see the vet at the agricultural station at Central Farm. It’s time to take action. Epoxy is highly toxic. We can't afford to lose her or the kids." Fervently, they hoped that Space-goat didn’t have boys. Uncharacteristically, Fine-goat had delivered triplets, except they’d all been males. Yikes! Three billy-goats-gruff.

"It's still weird that she doesn't look sick." Alexis commented.

"Yeah, but we can't take a chance. You stay with her; I'm going for the vet."

It took Max a full two hours to drive to the agricultural station and back. And yet, when he returned, he was alone. “So where's the vet?" she asked as Max got out of the truck.

"He said it was pointless to come. The goat will either live or she'll die. The emetic was a waste. Goats are ruminants; they can't throw up."

At that, Alexis broke into laughter and then Max did too. "So she's got all that stuff inside her? The kids, plus the warm water, salt, mustard, and epoxy resin? Did the vet have any advice at all?"

Now Max could hardly get the words out, "Well, he did suggest that we feed her the other tube, the epoxy catalyst, so it could just mix together and she could hopefully poop out the whole thing."

Strangely enough, Space-goat had suffered no ill effects from the epoxy glue or the intended cure, thus confirming that goats really do have cast-iron stomachs. A few days later she gave birth to a single healthy kid. Unbelievably, it had been another male. In keeping with tradition, they had named the little billy, “Scapegoat.”