Some days are harder than others. I sold Nineteen and Twenty-Two yesterday. I've known since I started raising goats that I would not be keeping the nonproductive males, hence numbers instead of names. After nearly four years, "Nineteen" is a name, usually followed by "pretty boy," or "sweet boy." Economics being what they are, intellect dictates that I reduce the herd. Emotion cries out that my boys are gone. Some time back I had been given the name of a man who runs a rent-a-goat concern; herds of traveling goats that are sent to clean property of brush and weeds. It would be infinitely better to find the boys a job than see them go to a barbecue, but I kept putting off making the call, always thinking, "Just a little while longer." At the feed store yesterday, the rising price of grain nearly made me weak in the knees. As I was leaving, I took a glance at the bulletin board and there was Goat Guy's name again. It was like an omen telling me that it was time. Before my resolve dissolved, I called as soon as I got home and Goat Guy said he had time right then and would come and look at my wethers if I would meet him at the little hardware store in Fair Play to guide him here.
Purse in my hand, there was a knock at the door and there was Tree Guy to tell me he'd be here tomorrow to work on the cut wood. I explained why I was leaving, and TG did a kind thing. He knows I'm reluctant to have strangers come here. It was a pretty transparent excuse, but he said he couldn't get a cell phone signal at his place, so he'd wait around until I got back and make some phone calls (reception is better up here on the top of the hill). Goat Guy was prompt and followed me back. TG made himself apparent, but stayed back as Goat Guy and I did a little hard horse trading, dickering over price. We compromised at less than I'd hoped for and more than he wanted to pay and shook hands.
While we were talking by the goat pen, Nineteen and Twenty-Two came alone to the fence to have their faces rubbed; it nearly broke my heart. How did they know? I kept thinking of Nineteen's empathy when the Lady Lucinda was dying and his muzzle in my hand every night, and Twenty-Two being such a feisty little boy with his pointy horns. Goat Guy and his wrangler put a rope on Twenty-Two and he pranced out of the pen as if he were off on a great adventure. Then it was Nineteen's turn and he fought it all the way. I felt like such a traitor...I was.
Watching the truck go down the drive, Tree Guy kept up a line of patter, telling me it was a good thing, that I'd be saving money, the boys would have a good life in a bigger herd...all the things I'd told myself and was having a hard time believing just then. Some days are just harder.