Odd to me, that is. I don’t quite know why.
You don’t see a lot of them, these days, at least not in my part of the world, sheep and cattle in abundance, even the odd bull.
There’s a fine bull less than an hour’s walk away. The first time I saw him, I didn’t notice him as I glanced over a hedge into a field where a cow and her calf were standing. I thought he was another cow until he is bull-ness drew attention to itself. He seemed an amiable enough fellow, took a steady look at me and then went back to munching on a cage of hay.
But, a goat? Well, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.
This long white-haired specimen was corralled in a makeshift pen just inside a large barn by the side of the lane, being attended to by a farmer and I took it upon myself to have a closer look.
The farmer was an amiable enough chap. Not very old but it’s not an easy life, farming and he probably looked older than he was.
It turned out that the goat’s name was Milly.
She was in a pen of her own. Over against one wall of the barn was a row of four other pens, each with a ewe and lamb in it.
Milly was a fine specimen. Getting on a bit. The farmer told me that they’d had her over 10 years and he wasn’t sure how old she was. It would seem she becomes a bit of a problem in the lambing season when, if she’s left out to graze with the sheep, she takes it upon herself to tup the lambs all over the field.
The farmer had no explanation for her behaviour. She never did it at any other time of the year, only at lambing.
I don’t know much about the size of goats but she didn’t seem small. While the farmer and I talked she stood on her hind legs with her front hooves over the waist-high, metal barrier of the makeshift pen, demanding the farmer’s attention.
As we talked, he absent mindedly stroked her head and patted her curved, heavily ridged horns.
We talked about lambing and how it was going. Not bad, considering the weather was the farmer’s estimation. But he wasn’t too happy about the cold spell, he told me.
“Gets into the bones,” he said, showing me large, pink rough fingers and flexing them.
At this point, he reached into the pocket of his overalls and produced some blue paper towelling which he proceeded to tear into small shreds and feed to Milly.
“She’m’ll eat anything,” he said. “Paper, cardboard, you name it.”
Over the years, she’d become a family pet and slept outside the door to the farmhouse. This caused a few problems when a relief postman, on his first day on the job, and a little concerned about receiving a prod from Milly’s fine set of horns, quickly shoved the mail halfway through the letterbox before scuttling off down the path to safety.
Being of a goatish disposition, Milly took it upon herself to retrieve the mail from the letterbox and eat it.
“The family calls her Milly,” said the farmer, feeding her more paper towelling,”I just calls her, nuts.”