2017-08-23 / Editorials

Don Lively


Reprint from 2008

Our old barn was a place of great adventure.

It was huge and already ancient by the time I came along.

It was built of weathered lapboard with a rusty tin roof.

The barn took on many incarnations from our farm kid imaginations.

When we were pirates on the high seas the barn was our tall ship. When refighting the Civil War it was our fort against the Yankees. Cowboys and Indians saw the barn become a mountainside with caves and canyons to hide in.

The top of the barn was the hay loft and held stacks of baled peanut straw that we fed the stock.

Before Daddy switched to strictly dirt farming we kept a few animals. Some cows. Several pigs. A yard full of chickens.

And one old goat.

His name was Billy, the same name given to every boy goat I ever knew. This particular goat I considered to be my pet. He wasn't overly friendly and was somewhat standoffish from the other creatures but I liked him anyway.

Billy spent most of his time in the barnyard. Other than the chickens who came and went whenever and wherever they pleased, Billy was the only animal that spent much time there.

On that same end of the barn was another enclosure. It was the pig pen and was separated from the barnyard by a four foot high wall with large openings into the pen.

There was once a real live hog stampede when one of us made the mistake of getting the corn buckets to them when they were way beyond hungry.

Famished pigs can be quite aggressive.

Occasionally one of the roosters would decide it was time to act like a rooster and would chase somebody around the yard for awhile.

But for the most part, the animals appeared to live together in semi perfect harmony.

That idyllic fantasy ended for me one Spring day.

Big brother Urb and I were in the barnyard with Billy when, for reasons known only to the goat, he decided to jump the barn wall into the pig pen. At the time, there was a large sow, a mama pig, living in the pen with a litter of newborns.

It was not a good time for Billy to get curious about what was on the other side of the wall.

I was close by and saw him crouching, getting ready to bound over the wall. I lunged toward him and grabbed him by the tail just as he went over.

That turned out to be an ill-fated decision.

Goats don't have much of a tail and what little they do have is not pleasantly located. Goats stink from nearly every angle but when you're in close proximity to the back end the results can be disturbing, even more so when they're scared.

As soon as Billy's hooves hit the ground the sow clamped her huge jaws down on his neck, just behind his ears. Suddenly I was in a tug of war hanging over the top of the wall with most of my body in the pen. When Urb saw what was happening he grabbed the seat of my overalls and tried to pull me out, all the while yelling for me to let go of Billy's tail.

"I can't let go! She'll eat Billy!"

It must have been quite a spectacle, Billy being chomped on at one end by the mama pig, me holding on to the other end, and Urb hanging on to me.

About that time Daddy appeared. He picked up a stick of wood and swatted the sow on the rump.

She immediately turned loose of Billy allowing him to break my grasp. Then Urb's strength gave out, or he let me go intentionally, I never knew which, and I fell face down into the muck.

You would think that Billy would have been appreciative of my noble gesture. Nope. Unscathed, he stepped on the back of my neck pushing me further down and vaulted back out right over Urb who was by now laying on the ground, the clean, dry side, howling with laughter.

Billy was no longer my pet.

I raised up my head wondering how I could possibly regain my dignity and looked directly into the face of the still snarling sow.

My leap getting out was not as graceful as Billy's, I'm certain, but leap I did.

I don't remember what became of Billy or the pig. Times were hard back then so for all I know they both ended up on the dinner table.

Good riddance to both.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

Return to top