Week 20 of the 52 ancestors challenge is themed “black sheep”. I come from a family of doctors, politicians, preachers, and a lot of farmers. I’ve not found a black sheep among them. Okay, the politicians might be questionable.
So, instead of writing about skeletons in closets or general bad behavior of black sheep ancestors, I’m sharing a story about a black goat that my great-grandfather, George Melvin Moore, had when my dad was a kid. It didn’t like my dad … and here’s what happened.
The Old Black Goat
Dressed in hand-me-down coveralls, a plaid jacket and cap with flaps snuggly covering his tender ears, the young boy set out to find the adventures of the day. Weekend visits to his grandparent’s farm were always a treat. He was only six years old, but passed the late autumn days running through empty fields and playing among tired farm equipment. He didn’t have a care in the world and loved the freedom the old man’s land provided.
After hours of romping in dirt and fallen leaves, the boy made his way to the barn in search of the orange tabby cat he befriended on a previous visit. The cat, being an uninterested playmate, sauntered off and disappeared through a broken slat in the side of the barn. A group of hens had gathered in the corner in retreat of the young intruder. A curious white one looked up, jerking its head to and fro, then resumed preening. The boy, being a boy, launched into a full sprint toward the hens, forcing them into a frightful flutter of brown and white feathers. They scurried off in all directions and the boy, smiling, moseyed on to his next adventure.
As he walked out through the doors of the barn, he saw the old goat. The wiry black fur was giving way to grey, showing the goat’s age. It was big in comparison to the small stature of the young boy. The boy’s heart was racing as he looked around, trying to determine the best route to safety. He wasn’t usually scared of animals, but the big goat seemed more wicked than usual.
Walking to the left, he began to make his way around the goat; it lunged forward just slightly, then stood there, mocking the boy. He looked around, hoping the old man would be in ear shot. He wasn’t. The boy yelled out anyway. He heard the old man’s voice; it was getting closer, but the man wouldn’t reach him in time. He yelled again as he bolted to the right in hopes of confusing the goat and reaching the safety of the old man’s arms. Seeing this sudden movement, the goat launched forward and smashed its head into the boy’s abdomen, hurling him through the air. The boy landed in a thud, bounced, then banged his face against a small round rock.
Startled and bleary-eyed, he reached out to the old man who scooped him up and carried him to the safety of the farm house. The boy’s grandmother tended the cuts and bruises on his face, fed him supper, and sent him to bed to rest. Within moments, the adventures of the day faded to dreams of the night and the boy slept soundly.
The next morning, he awoke, breathing in the icy air that lingered in the room. His body ached and his face was blue and swollen. He was hesitant to throw off his covers and stick his toes out into the bleak morning. The sound of his grandmother in the kitchen crept up the stairs followed by the aroma of frying bacon. He slowly uncovered his legs, moving so they hung of the bed’s edge. He cringed in anticipation of the cold wooden floor that would greet his feet as it did every morning. This morning was different, though. Instead, his toes nestled into the soft, albeit wiry, warmth of a new black and grey rug.