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Goat Ladies, continued ...

At least pygmy goats are good for giving back massages. Just lie down and the nearest pygmy with automatically dance on your back.

Now, let's consider a boy dairy goat as a pet. He's as large as a Great Dane and willful as a pygmy. No milk, of course. Oh, but those big, trusting eyes. How could we not find them good homes?

Wethers (the castrated males) make great pack animals. A dairy wether can carry 50 pounds. Unlike horses, mules, llamas or donkeys, a wether will stick to your heels like a dog. He'll also spend all night trying to sneak into your tent. That is, unless he decides he'd rather prove he's better than a bear at getting into your grub. Oh, yes, goats can climb trees.

 Virginia getting a back massage.

That was where Christine McCoy came in. Marcie Dark told me, "She knows how to find homes for them all." Or so us goat ladies hoped. We weren't real anxious to find out what McCoy really did with them.

As November neared, I thought about the skeletal Arabian at McCoy's. If he was even still alive, if he didn't get shelter, it wouldn't be for long. Then there was Marcie's horse, Dudley. Even if well fed, it can be hard to endure an Estancia Valley winter with not even a bush to break the wind.

At our 6,500-ft elevation it can get way below zero. In 1983 it fell to almost 40 below. One fellow in the Estancia Valley had 200 hogs housed in barns with lots of straw for bedding. When the cold hit, he added heat lamps and every other kind of heater he could scrounge and a generator to power them. Nevertheless he lost 120 of them.

Out here, it sin't unusual for a storm to bring two or three feet of snow. Sometimes hurricane-force winds follow the snow, packing it into 20-ft-high drifts, hard as cement. It takes front-end loaders and backhoes to dig out the roads. At times like this the GOvernor will call out the National Guard to air drop hay to the livestock that survived by sheltering in arroyos and thickets of pinon and juniper

So one day as we spun woll together, I asked Marcie, "Why are you keeping Dudley at McCoy's?"

"I don't have a barn for him. Christine had a good barn."

"Since you saw it, she's packed it solid with junk."

After we talked awhile, the main reason came out. There once had been a working stallion named Studly. His owner gelded him, renamed him Dudley, and sold him to Marcie.

Dudley had a habit of bucking off people. One time he threw a friend of Marcie's and then trampled him, breaking his arm. Christine McCoy came to the rescue. She promised to train Dudley so he would never hurt another rider. Just let her ride him for a year or two.

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© 2004 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.