As our livestock population grew, I wanted to add a miniature goat. I truly wanted a fainting goat even though fainting goats have a genetic defect. If you made a loud noise or clapped your hands, they fainted. I wished that I could do that to my boys if they misbehaved. I envisioned having a picnic on a Sunday afternoon, company over visiting, and just clap your hands or make a Razorback sooie call and we could watch all of the goats faint in the pasture. This sounded like a new pastime on Linker Mountain.
“What did you do this weekend?” “We went over to our neighbors and let the kids scream and watched the goats faint while we were eating pork chops.”
We never did find any fainting goats, but we did find a miniature goat with three inch horns, and black and gray in color. He measured about 18 inches tall and was a very independent little creature. Goats have a mind of their own. I think they are on a natural high and can’t be taught anything. I don’t believe in evolution, but if I did, I would think that goats never completely evolved.
Buckwheat followed me everywhere. He would even follow me into the house. He was so quiet I would close the screen door and there he would be nudging my leg. Susan never liked Buckwheat after he followed me into our kitchen. She said, “I followed you to Arkansas but we are not going to have a goat in our house! Period!”
I chained Buckwheat to our doghouse and painstakingly constructed five-foot hog wire fencing around it. I put my tools in the barn, walked back to the house, and Buckwheat was already loose and following me back to the house.
So Buckwheat had the run of the property while we were at work. One particular day I arrived home only to find that he had eaten all of the leaves on every plant in our garden. Have you ever seen a tomato plant with no leaves just tomatoes? It looked like napalm had hit our garden. Our nosy neighbor came over, and exclaimed when he saw the state of the garden, “My God! What has happened to your garden?” Yes, I was upset and humiliated at the way my garden looked. I just crossed my arms and replied, “it’s a new tomato hybrid. I got the seeds out of a new seed catalogue. The plants only produce tomatoes without leaves, less water and faster bearing tomatoes.” My neighbor was very impressed. Looking back, I think I could have sold him ocean front property in Arizona that day.
Now Buckwheat had jeopardized my only cash crop. Men of the South, take great pride in their tomatoes. If you were broke you could always sell tomatoes at the local farmer’s market. So I decided to grow them at my sweet mother-in-law’s place. Joyce lived too far away for Buckwheat to visit.
Joyce was excited at the thought of fresh tomatoes so I, being the loving son-in-law that I am, gave her a potted tomato plant. I thought it was best to start her off with just one. The next time I went to visit her I checked on the plant and it had an inch of water in the pot. I had told Joyce that tomatoes needed a lot of water but we weren’t growing water lilies. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but the tomato plant struggled so whenever I went to visit Joyce I would take one of my ripe tomatoes and lodge it between the branches on her plant. I carefully changed the location of the tomato each time. The next day Joyce always called so excited, “Otis, you won’t believe it! Got another tomato last night! I sliced it and put in on my BLT sandwich. Delicious!”
I continued sneaking tomatoes to her plant that entire summer. The pathetic stalk never even had a bloom. But, thanks to me, she had plenty to harvest. I never told Joyce, just enjoyed her excitement.
After Buckwheat’s tomato escapade, he continued to wear out his welcome. That mischievous little guy wreaked havoc everywhere he went. Buckwheat tried to climb up the side of the barn almost every day. Whatever he didn’t butt with his horns he kicked with his hooves. I don’t think that goats have a memory. If we tried to enjoy a meal out at the picnic table, he would always have to be on top of the table after I repeatedly scolded him. At best, Buckwheat had become extremely annoying.
The sultry summer passed and a wet fall led us into December. We were going to have a Chevy Chase Christmas. My goal was to illuminate our end of the mountain. We strung multicolor lights along our barb wire fencing, but we didn’t hang them high enough. Buckwheat ate them. It’s true. Goats will eat anything they can get in their mouths.
I knew people in Pope County who ate goats, but Buckwheat was not on our menu. I probably should have bought a nanny goat. We could have produced organic goat milk or cheese. We might have made the cover of Organic Homestead magazine. As always, you learn from your mistakes.
Finding a new home for Buckwheat became my obsession. I finally gave him to Martin, a friend of mine that I work with at the Chevy store. Martin was excited to have the infamous Buckwheat, and I was jumping for joy. But at work the next day, Martin rushed up to me, “ Buckwheat got out of his pen on his first night!“
“Well, imagine that,” I thought to myself.
Martin said is neighbor’s dog took delight in chasing Buckwheat. The dog wouldn’t stop, so Martin had to shoot the dog. “So sorry. I’m just sick about that,” I replied.
Looking back, I should have made Martin sign a disclaimer form when he took Buckwheat. It would have read as follows: Not responsible for eating bushes, small trees, flowers, light bulbs, picnic foods, beverages, climbing up the side of your house or barn, following you into your home or truck, butting small children, and lastly, many a sleepless night. Sign here______________Non Returnable.