One cold day in March, as I hauled hay from the
storage shed to the goat pen, I enjoyed watching as my
three goats followed me on the other side of the
fence. The air was crisp - about 30 degrees at 4 p.m.
- and little Hershey Wizard (nearly one year old) ran
as fast as he could, kicking up his heels as if to
say, "I sure am glad the snow is melting!"
The snow had been too deep for frisking, and nearly
too deep for tromping through 1 1/2 feet of the white
stuff in order to bring hay to the goats. But bring it
I did! Like the mailman, nothing will stop me, neither
snow nor rain, sleet nor hail.
As in all herds of goats, no matter the size, there
is always a dominant goat. In our case, since
Fleetfoot died, Fawn has become the bossy one...and
how! As she had at times been picked on quite cruelly
by Fleetfoot, when Fawnís turn came to dominate, she
gloried in it. Both Blueberry and Hershey fear her and
"honor" her harsh buttings. She is the bossy
"Bossy." That was the name of my Uncle
Bartís favorite cow. Uncle Bart (Norman) owned a
farm in Westminster and raised milk cows and corn.
Gruff on the exterior, I knew that he had a soft place
deep inside for his animals and of course for his dear
wife Lucille. He was mostly a hermit type, and in his
own way was quite bossy himself. He was never really
appreciated by the women-folk in my family because of
his crude sense of humor, and his telling of gross
jokes around the Thanksgiving dinner table was never
However, he had one of the most beautiful
classically trained bass voices I have ever heard, and
Iíve heard many. Lucille, a trained classical
pianist, would accompany him on operatic arias, and
songs like "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless
Child." When I was a child, whenever we went to
their farm, the very first thing we were required to
do was to sit and listen to arias by Caruso on the
Victrola. Was my uncle Bart bossy? Iím kind of glad
he was. Thanks for the memories, Bart.
These were my exact thoughts as I delivered hay
that March day to my little threesome up on the hill.
I wondered about the cow named Bossy and how its
behavior was different from bossy goats. No sooner did
I throw an armload of hay over the fence at the far
end of the pen, than Fawn began to claim her
territory. Perhaps bossiness is a means of ensuring
oneís survival, especially in lean years, be it in
the wild or in the pen.
Moving on down the fence, I threw another armload
of hay, as is my habit, so as to have at least two
spots for the goats to eat, thus avoiding ridiculous
competition for the abundance of food. Abundance or no
abundance, the instinctive urge to claim it is alive
and well even in domesticated animals. No matter where
I throw the hay, the bossy one is there to claim it.
Eventually the three goats settle down into a
compatible compromise, especially when I leave.
But while I am delivering, there is the inevitable
Back down at my house, in the warmth of my kitchen,
I sat listening to classical music on the radio,
contemplating the nature of things. In some ways, I am
a lot like my Uncle Bart, except for the dirty jokes.
My goat Fawn must be a lot like his cow Bossy. I
imagined his interactions with his animals to be as
dynamic and as playful as mine with my goats. I talk
to them and they respond. I pet them and take care of
them, and in return they lavish me with their goatly
affection. As I raise my goats and my other animals I
realize that nobody, and I mean nobody, understands
the relationship that is born of raising oneís own
animals, whether for practicality or pleasure, better
than the caretaker, the tender of those animals.
other articles by Christine Maccabee