Sugar and Spice for the Old Timers
By Norris Chambers
Goats were not part of the animal population on our farm. Clifton and I knew what goats were and had seen them on other farms but our experience with country livestock had not included them. We were shocked, and a little pleased, when we heard that mama and papa were looking for a milk goat. My mother had heard that goat’s milk provided a good treatment for a stomach ailment that she was plagued with.
Someone told Mama and Papa that there was a good milk goat for sale near the little town of Grosvenor. They soon found time to crawl into our Model T touring car and go to take a look at it, leaving Clifton and me to hold the farm down while they were gone. We discussed the comics in the paper where kids rode goats, had them pull little carts and perform all kind of interesting things. We knew we would have a lot of fun with the new farm animal.
When we heard the Ford chugging down the road and saw it turn into our place we hurried to the driveway to see if they had the goat. There was a goat’s head looking at us over the back door. Actually, there were two heads staring at us. Neither head was adorned with horns. We had always thought of goats as having long curved horns. Farm animals that sometimes had horns but didn’t were referred to as “muleys” in those days. That name seemed to be appropriate because we had never seen a mule with horns!
On the passenger side of the Model T there was a large, crude table resting on the running board. It was tied securely in several places to the door handles and top supports of the vehicle. When I walked around the car and started inspecting it my mother explained that it was a milking table. Clifton and I removed the table and gave it a closer inspection. It was about 3 feet in height, 4 feet long and two feet in width. One side and one end were closed with thin wooden slats. The end opposite the closure had a couple of heavy wooden steps and the closed end had a wide opening and a small shelf about a foot above the floor on the outside. We learned later that the little shelf held the goat’s favorite food while milking and the fencing along the edge kept her on the table. The person milking stood on the open side and took the milk while the goat ate the food.
We were told that the male goat was offered at such a low price they had to buy it. The milking table was free! Papa untied the two goats and coaxed them from the car. He handed the female’s leash to Clifton and the male’s rope to me. “You might as well get acquainted,” he told us, “You will be seeing a lot of each other!” Clifton took the rope and reached out and stroked her on the forehead. She twisted her face into a goat grin and Clifton laughed. “She likes me,” he said and stroked her on the forehead again. He was rewarded with another goat smile. My mother said that she did not get names with the goats and perhaps we ought to name them. That sounded like a good idea but before I could think of one Clifton exclaimed, “I hereby name this one “Sugar.” With a name like that for the female I could think of only one name that sounded appropriate for the male, “Spice” – Sugar and Spice. My mother agreed. She said we would not be able to milk Sugar until her baby was born. She didn’t know how long it would be, but said we would feed Sugar in the milking station and when the time came we would begin milking!
Papa suggested we feed the new arrivals. “Put them in the calf pen and get out plenty of peanut hay. Make several wooden boxes and put oats, barley, wheat and cotton seed meal in them. We will see which food they like best. Tomorrow morning we will let them out of the pen and into the calf pasture. The next day we will feed Sugar on the milking stand. While preparing their meal we made an effort to get better acquainted with our new farm friends. The two newcomers moved around the lot from one box to another. They sampled the contents of all boxes and ate a big pile of peanut hay. When they finally finished the meal and began sniffing around the lot Clifton patted Sugar on the head again. It looked like they were going to be close friends. I tried stroking Spice on the forehead but he didn’t appear to enjoy it as well as Sugar did. Instead of smiling he managed to form a very realistic frown. For a moment I thought he might have in mind attacking me. When he snorted and lowered his head I quickly climbed on the milking table, expecting him to follow me. Instead of pursuing me he ran toward Clifton, who was still stroking Sugar’s forehead, and struck him from behind with his forehead. Clifton fell forward and looked up in time to see Spice standing on his hind feet and preparing to stomp him. He quickly joined me on the milking stand, uttering some ugly words. I had to laugh because I thought it was funny. Clifton didn’t agree with me! Sometimes I wondered about his sense of humor!