Fair time has wound down around the state, and with each passing year I am amazed at the number of kids who put the time in to take animals to the county fair.
It’s usually the sheep show that entertains me the most.
Some sheep have been worked so much that they could practically be present at the family table on a chair instead of a platter.
Others have to be dragged in and out of the show ring, head down and feet dug in, skidding all the way in and out. It’s reminiscent of taking my husband to the dentist, except for that “skidding out” part.
Our boys decided one winter they wanted to take goats to our fair.
Our farm at the time was indigenous to sheep, and as livestock went, had only otherwise seen hogs (not counting the mouse sightings in the house from time to time).
My husband really didn’t want to start raising goats but told them that if they could find somewhere to put them, they could do it.
It was the last anyone had ever spoken about it, that is, until the day of spring weigh-ins. My husband was on the committee, and was helping at the scale.
Someone backed a trailer up to the barn and unloaded some goats, and was talking to my husband as if they belonged to our sons.
Of course my husband disagreed, never having seen them before.
Enter our two (then) high school sons, who showed up to help unload the trailer. Turns out the goats were theirs indeed – and there was even a third one that belonged to a friend of theirs. They’d been keeping them at the neighbor’s instead of finding a place for them at home.
They really pulled one over on their dad, and everyone got a good laugh out of it.
By fair time, the goats were needing to be groomed. Never having done this before, our boys got the clippers out and went to work. The first goat (belonging to their friend, who was there with them) received somewhat of an Army-style ‘do.
The first pass, right down the middle of its back, was pretty short; almost down to the skin. After being horrified at their first pass at barbering, they conferred extensively and decided there was no hiding or fixing it, and that there was nothing else to do but to groom the rest of the goat in that same fashion.
Oh, the humiliation of that goat, having to go streaking at the fair in front of the judge.
They paid more attention to the clipper adjustments on their own two goats and continued on.
When the day of the goat show arrived, all three took their goats out into the show ring – the only goats of the show, wouldn’t you know.
The guys stood nervously in front of the judge, thinking about the bad clip job on their friend’s goat and feeling bad about it. They were lined up according to the judge’s approval, and he picked up the microphone.
Though he said many things about their goats, the only thing we remembered hearing was that he really liked the way their friend’s goat was groomed. Our family was all trying to suppress our laughter -in the show ring and in the stands alike.
It’s never been our style to have done something wrong and still have it be right. The next year, another friend of theirs also had a goat and came over to have it groomed during the week of the fair. Our sons got out their clippers once again – now that they knew what they were doing – and set up for the job.
When our son took the halter off of the goat, it took off running full speed ahead across the pen as they had all done countless times.
They usually stopped just short of the wall and would turn around. This one didn’t remember to stop, and ran head first into the cement wall.
The wall won.
“It was the danmdest thing I ever saw,” our son said, adding that they were all stunned at what had just occurred right before their eyes? And just days before the fair.
That goat was probably a kamikaze pilot in a previous life — or maybe just a scapegoat. Either way, it really got their goat.
On the other hand, maybe anything was better to that goat than the fear of appearing nearly naked before a crowd of scrupulous onlookers.
There’s more than one way to skin a goat.
Well, kind of.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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