When we moved from Michigan to Alabama in 2008, the auctioneer ran newspaper and internet ads for us that said:
“Everything for sale: real estate, art work and a three-legged goat!”
It all started the first Saturday in November, 2006. We were just about ready to leave home, in Morenci, MI, for the two hour drive to Detroit for the annual Family Harvest Dinner for my mom’s side of the family. In previous years, this dinner had been held on Thanksgiving Day. However, there were a number of relatives that couldn’t come or didn’t arrive until late because they had to attend Thanksgiving Dinners with their in-laws, cousins, and kinfolk on “the other sides” of the family.
Before the Family Harvest Dinner was changed to late October/early November, Thanksgiving was an excruciatingly long day for our immediate family. The routine started with a roasted duck breakfast at my dad’s mother’s house on the west side of Detroit.
Mom and Dad at his mother’s house for Thanksgiving Breakfast, circa 1990.
Then we went to the Family Harvest Dinner that was about 35 miles north. Then back to the west side of Detroit to Floyd’s (my husband) mother’s house for a family dinner with her siblings and then to Janet’s (Floyd’s sister) house for another dinner. Janet’s husband, Alfred, always insisted on her cooking a full dinner at their house…for the leftovers! THEN, we traveled another few miles to Frannie’s house (my father’s cousin) for another dinner – mostly desserts; Frannie’s husband, Lester, could throw-down on 7-up cake, and sweet potato pies. When the day was over, we were as full as a ticks and very tired.
I never paid much mind to the phrase, “full as a tick”. However, when we moved to Alabama in 2008, we all got bit by ticks; the cats and dogs got bit too. The fattest ticks were on the animals because they couldn’t readily get them off. The ticks looked to me that they had swollen 10 times their normal size when they were engorged with blood.
Now back to the story.
I was the last of the family remaining in the house. I heard commotion outside and then I heard Floyd yelling, “Shar, Shar! Come quick! Squanto is down!” I hurried through the kitchen and out the back door. I could see our white Nubian goat, Squanto, in a heap on the ground. Joel (eight years old) and Ruth (seven years old) were upset. Floyd was perplexed, wondering what to do.
These were some of our goats playing in the pasture.
I was the “country” person among us. Floyd and I were both born in Detroit. We moved to the country because we wanted an open safe place to raise children. Floyd was still “citified”. I had embraced the country life totally. Before we knew about eating according to Bibilical instructions, I had even approached Floyd about getting on the local police’s “road kill” list. Floyd was horrified, “You must be mad! You don’t know how long that meat has been on the ground!”
“We’ll only take meat in the winter time, that way if it’s on the road for a while, it will be frozen. We could get it ground up for hamburgers and meatloaf.”
“Shar, you’re crazy! I wish I would eat some meat off the road!”
You get the idea.
OK, now back to the scene with Squanto. I looked at Squanto and saw that his right hind leg was bleeding. Floyd and I went back in the house. I exchanged my faux fur, heels and “Sunday-go-to-meeting” dress for work clothes. We slid Squanto onto a tarp and lifted him into the back of our van. Squanto was a full size, heavy goat. He probably weighted about 120 pounds.
Joel and Ruth were very attentive to their beloved goat. Ruth kept Squanto calm by rubbing him and scratching him behind his horns.
Ruth, 8 years old; Joel, 9 years old.
The Vet said it looked like an injury from trying to jump over the fence and getting his leg caught. She gave him an injection and sent us home with four more daily injections to be given under the skin on his neck. She also instructed us to change the bandage daily.
If you have been following this story, you know who was giving the shots and changing the bandages.
Well, we had to cut our trip to Detroit short. We had planned to stay for three days, but now we had to be back after only one night.
The shots went well and the leg began to heal. After the last shot, I left the bandage on for two days instead of the daily dressing change. Well…, when I came to look at the leg on day six, it was turning black and had an awful smell. I yelled for the troops to come and put Squanto in the van. We had to go back to the Vet.
When I went into the house to get my purse, I hurriedly called the meat processor. I wasn’t intending to let all that meat go to waste. I wanted to have my ducks in a row if gangrene turned out to be localized and not running all through his body. By the time I got to the van, Joel and Ruth were pleading, “Mama, can we get a leg for Squanto?” I tried to be calm and realize that this was their pet, but no way was I going to pay for a goat prosthesis!
Goat Prothesis?!! I remember Mr. Tom in Jenkinsville, SC that had a “peg-leg”. He is standing with my Great-Uncle.
I had bigger concerns on my mind…trying to convince Floyd to eat Squanto. I calmly and quietly said (so Joel and Ruth couldn’t hear), “I wonder if gangrene is localized or systemic? (PAUSE….) If it is localized, I already called Pettisville Meats. They said they could process it , if we shoot it first.”
Floyd spun around in his seat with a wild look like he couldnt believe that he was married to me or much less know a person such as me. “You have lost your mind! I ain’t eating no gangrene goat.”
“We don’t know for sure that gangrene is running through his blood.”
“Listen, gangrene or not, I’m not eating that goat!”
The decibels were at a crescendo; Joel and Ruth were panicking. “Mama, Mama, we can’t eat Squanto!!”
Floyd lowered his voice and said with a citified finality, “If you take that goat to Pettisville Meats, I will never eat your ground meat again as long as I live!!”
I sighed, it was hopeless with Floyd .
Now to deal with the prosthesis, I told the kids that it would probably be too expensive, but we would see what the Vet had to say.
The Vet came to the back of the van and examined Squanto. She confirmed Squanto had gangrene. And yes, it was running all through Squanto’s body. Floyd looked at me like I was a nut case and he was the only sane person in the family.
Floyd had never said so, but he never would have purchased a “goat prothesis”. He had remained quiet and non-committal and let me take the heat from the kids.
Well, with some reservation, I asked about the prothesis. I exhaled deeply with relief when the Vet said there were no goat protheses. The kids were sad. She also said there was no guarantee that amputating the leg would solve the problem. She had known cases where the gangrene continues up the leg and several operations would be required with no hope the goat would survive.
I see that goats can get a “peg-leg”!!
I asked how much it would cost to put down the goat and dispose of him. The kids were yelling some nonsense about taking him home for burial. The Vet said $35.00.
Read Part 2 here