Down in a sleepy hollow beneath surrounding mountains laid an area of thick green grassland. So think was the grass that the smaller animals were rarely seen. Wooden fences enclosed nearly all of the grassland with the exception of a small portion on which stood a log cabin and a big brown barn. Inside the fenced in area were horses of all colors, white wooly sheep, several dozen cows and half a dozen goats.
The barn provided food and shelter for an assortment of chickens. Dozens of ducks wandered in and out at will wagging their tails from side to side. Baby ducklings with downy plumages followed like a string of stars behind the mother ducks and tiny yellow chicks ran quickly to keep up with the mother hens. They considered the barn their haven from outside intruders and they all nestled under the fresh hay for comfort.
The horses and cows only came into the barn at night after they had filled their tummies grazing the fresh green grass from the pastures. The sheep followed the goats inside after a long day in the warm sunshine. Several of the nanny goats watched closely over the young kids. The goats being very curious creatures spent most of their days tasting all the weeds and bushes that grew close to the fences rather than consuming all the tall grasses. The alfalfa hay inside the barn was their most favorite food so they often just browsed about over the fields during the day.
Short and tall containers stood against the back side of the barn containing water. The tall barrels were for the cows and horses. The smaller ones were designed to water the younger animals as well as the birds on the yard. So the barnyard was well stocked for every animal large or small.
Now there was one goat named Gadzook who was a very intelligent goat. He longed to be free to roam the mountains and was willing to do whatever it took to do so. Each day he would test the fences by intentionally pushing on them with all of his might. He knew if he could keep doing this sooner or later there would be a weak place in the fence. Once a weak place was made he would simply climb over it and escape. Each day he dreamed of climbing some of the leaning trees on the side of the mountain. He would stand and bleat for hours on end expressing his desire to the entire world.
Gadzook was unfamiliar with everything outside of the fence but willing to do almost anything to be on his own. He practiced each day jumping and was very coordinated. He could stand on two feet for long periods of time. He knew this would help him to climb on the side of the mountains once he escaped. Gadzook wanted to be an explorer just like Christopher Columbus. He knew he could use his upper lip and his long tongue to investigate everything. His heart raced and his eyes grew wide each day as he gazed from the bottom to the top of each mountain. It was as if they were calling him to come and see what was out there.
The goats did not behave like the sheep. Each day the sheep could clump up and stay together as they grazed over the fields. The goats however spread out all over the fields and this made it very easy for Gadzook to test all the fences. None of the other goats seem to share his willingness to be on their own and he was not about to share his secret plans with them. Besides he felt it would be much easier for one goat to escape without being caught than several goats. He had watched daily as the owners milked the other goats to make cheese and collected their soft hair to make clothes for the rich people. He just knew he was tired of his hair being taken from him about the time he thought it looked rather nice and that was twice a year.
Gadzook had listened to tales from the other older goats for years. He knew that some of his uncles and aunts had been sold to people who used them to provide milk, cheese or butter. He also knew that owners often used goats for their meat as well as for their hides and manure. He certainly was not prepared to be ground up and spread over some woman’s flower garden. He had bigger ideas and far greater challenges. He would wait until he was at deaths doorstep before he would give up to be used for “catgut” or strings for a musical instrument.
“I just can’t imagine people taking goats intestines and using them for surgical sutures!” He gasped just thinking of the horror of the event. “I’d much rather be used for driving or packing. At least I’d get to go places.” He sighed in desperation. “I must work harder pushing on these fences for my entire life depends on me getting out of here! I’ll keep pushing until I have massive muscles or until I find a weak spot in this fence!” He whispered softly. “I plan to out live all my predecessors. I’ll live to be forty.” He said displaying a sly grin across his face.
Gadzook had always known he was different from the other goats. Some had white soft angora hair and some had darker stiffer mohair. Gadzook’s hair was jet-black and hung in long locks. He was referred to as a “Salem Black Goat” though he didn’t really know what the name meant. All he knew was that his greatest desire was to roam free all over the mountains. He had no desire to have a mate or be kept penned up within the boundaries of a fence. He wanted to see what was on the other side of those enormously tall mountains standing before him.
It happened one day as Gadzook was leaning against the fence to taste a wild plant he had missed earlier. As he leaned forward the fence moved forward. Gadzook could not have been more surprised if he had been hit by lightning. Looking down at the ground he noticed the fence post had rotted in the ground and was about to break. He figured if he pushed really hard with his two huge horns he could break through. He looked around to see if he could see anyone near but no one was around. He backed up and with all of his might he rammed the fence post with his horns. Sure enough the post went down and the fence pieces fell like he had dreamed about. Quickly he jumped over the pieces on the ground and ran as fast as he could towards the mountains.
Now most folk know that the pupil in a goat’s eye is rectangular in shape instead of being round like those of other animals. Most folk also know that goats have excellent night vision and this was something Gadzook would need to use now for it was about time for the sun to set.
He took a deep breath, looked upward into the mountains and set out to see what life had in store for him.
His adrenalin was at its highest level so nothing could stop him now.
“Look out mountains for here comes the new Christopher Gadzook Columbus and I’m seeking my destiny!” He sang out in a tune only a goat might approve of or even understand.
“I’m Gadzook the bad Buck and I’m gonna roam all over these mountains!” He continued almost out of breath. “Yes! I’m Gadzook the big bad Buck and I’m gonna roam all over these mountains!”
Gadzook had never been free before and it felt so very good. He climbed higher and higher until his legs trembled beneath him.
“I must find a place to rest for a little while. My legs are strong but I need time to catch my breath. Maybe there is a stream nearby or some juicy green leaves to munch on.” He said out loud. He looked all around him and for the first time since he was born he saw the pasture far below him. There were no sheep or horses inside the fence. The cows and other goats had gone inside the barn for the night. He noticed a bit of chill in the night air and quickly gave up the idea of searching for food. Instead he cradled himself among the needles of a tall pine tree for warmth. It was very quiet! He could NOT hear the sounds of the other goats or the clucks of the chickens as they gathered their young under their wings. He could NOT hear the horses snorting or the cows mooing. What he DID hear was the sound of some wild dogs and coyotes in the distance. Would they be able to trace the smell of a single goat? Suppose there was a pack of wolves? He shivered at the thought and wiggled until he had nearly covered himself with pine needles. Exhausted, Gadzook fell fast asleep. Tomorrow would be a new day but rest for his weary soul was needed right now.
Gadzook dreamed all night of his grand adventures just ahead of him and the mysteries on the other side of the mountain.
Days passed and Gadzook roamed about finding new leaves and flowers to nibble on. High and low he searched for new and exciting things. Days turned into weeks and Gadzook began to feel a great sense of loss. A feeling of deep sadness began to invade the area which had not long before held his vibrant heart.
So it was that this mountain which had so filled him with joy was beginning to lose its enchantment.
Gadzook spent long days wandering its steep rocky cliffs a sad lonely creature. His hair that had once hung in locks was now matted with briars. His large sparkling eyes lost their glimmer. There was no safe place to sleep and the rain had soaked his coat through and through.
Now everyone knows goats do not smell like honeysuckles or rose buds but Gadzook was beginning to notice an obnoxious odor about him far greater than normal. He really needed a bath and his coat needed to be combed or cut. Feeling lost and undone he sat down upon a huge rock that lay near an opening. His countenance had fallen and his eyes swelled with tears. He sat there wondering what would happen to him now. Now that he was free and the fences were gone where would he find at least someone to talk to?
And then as if out of no where there came a strange voice.
“Excuse me! Are you up here walking all alone?”
The voice sounded kind and caring but Gadzook was afraid to even look for fear it was some dreadful creature with not so good intentions.
“Oh no, I’m not alone at all. My family just walked ahead of me.” He replied, hoping his answer would be enough to thwart any harmful plans of the enemy.
“Well I’m sorry but I was alone myself and was hoping to find someone who would allow me to tag alone for a while.” The voice replied softly.
Gadzook lifted his head to see who was talking to him.
His eyes widened quickly as the face of a beautiful white doe (a female goat) came into focus.
“Oh! Well yes of course you are very welcome to come along with me.” He stammered trying hard to stand upon his suddenly weak legs.
“I have been walking for a long time at night because there are lots of wicked creatures roaming about in the daylight. I’d feel much safer if I wasn’t so alone.” She said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Oh my Yes of course you would be and I too have been walking more in the darkness.” He said knowing full well his words were not the least bit accurate.
“I’ve come from the other side of this mountain and it is so steep and rocky. I nearly lost my footing several times. My parents and I were loaded into a truck and were on the way to a diary farm when the truck ran into the ditch turning over. My parents didn’t make it and I hid in the tall grass for what seemed like forever until the driver finally left. I’ve been walking alone ever since.” She continued.
“Oh dear I’m so very sorry to hear this. You say you came from the other side of this mountain did you?” He asked curiously.
“Yes! It is not nearly as beautiful as this side. In fact the highway below on the other side is filled with all sorts of racing vehicles. It’s just not safe over there at all.” She replied revealing the not so good news to Gadzook.
“My name is Parula. What is your name?” She asked hoping to become at least a friend.
“Oh excuse me! I didn’t mean to be so rude. My name is Gadzook but you can call me Gad.” He said with a mile long smile spread across his face.
And so it happened, as it often does, that Gadzook learned a very important lesson in life. He learned that sometimes things appear to be much better on the other side when really that is not always the case. He also had found a girl that made him go weak in the knees and that had never happened before.
Gadzook and Parula spent many days roaming over the mountains just enjoying freedom. They laughed and kicked up their heels as they left one mountain only to climb to the top of the next one. They shared their desires and their dreams.
The next spring Parula gave birth to a baby kid. She was all white except for her tail which was as black as midnight. It was after the birth that Gad and Parula decided to go back to the barn and enjoy sleeping on the fresh hay. The thought of alfalfa made Gads mouth water. He had enjoyed roaming over the mountains but now that he was a father he needed to be more responsible. The barn was not the greatest place on earth but it was home. It was also a safe haven for two adventurous goats and one baby kid named Kunala!
So Gadzook and Parula spent the rest of their days tending to their ever increasing family. Gadzook lived to the ripe old age of twenty-four. His children multiplied and spread over many mountains providing thousands of children with milk, butter and cheese. Gadzook’s handsome locks were made into beautiful coats for ladies to wear so he still contributes to others.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question? What are goat intestines used for?