Taking a deep breath, I tentatively wrapped my trembling, prepubescent hand around the teat and then quickly jerked it away, shuddering. "EWWW!!" and that was the begining and the end of my goat milking experience.
Of course, the happiest part of raising goats was the kids. No, not the brood of snot-nosed little brothers that I had at the time, but the baby goats. From the moment each of them came into the world I felt an immediate bond; I felt much like Fern Arable. I would sit with them for hours. Sometimes my little brothers would toddle out to the goat pen and share these moments with me, albeit fleetingly. Look! I even managed to dig up a photograph of one of my brothers, Ben, feeding this baby goat.
My feelings of kinship with Fern continued to grow. Especially when I came home from school one rainy afternoon and saw a copy of this newsletter sitting amongst the sticky clutter on the kitchen countertop.
"WHAT?!" I shreiked. Nobody replied.
A few days later I came home from school and ran out to the goat pen only to be horrified by an image that was immediately embedded into my memory and has stuck with me all of these years. One of my friends that I had watched grow over the course of just a few months was sitting there, gasping for breath, with its throat slit.
"It's one third beef and two thirds goat meat. You can't even tell the difference, can you?" my dad announced one Sunday afternoon to my young, newly married Aunt-in-law Sue midway through the meal. Wide-eyed, mid-chew, Sue carefully put her fork down and wiped her mouth. Strangely enough, the goat loaf was made of two thirds goat meat from a goat named Sue.
Ahhh, the circle of life. When one life ends, another begins. How many sixth graders get to see this? It was gross, disgusting, nasty. But at the same time, riveting, and yes, at the risk of sounding cliche, even miraculous!