Down a dusty dirt road circling this way and that through the fields of pasture there was an old farm house.
Its white paint had chipped over the years leaving its appearance quite unseemly. It was a large two story house that housed eight children over the years and now was left showing its wear well. Tire swings still hung from the huge oak trees where children had spent many days enjoying the summer sunshine.
There was a huge barn that still housed a tractor and plow equipment. The pastures were still filled with animals of all sorts. The house belonged to a man called Willie Caudle and his wife Sadie. Willis still tilled the soil for fields of cotton, wheat and corn. He kept a large section for a vegetable garden just for Sadie to keep her jars filled with all sorts of food for winter.
It could be said that Sadie rarely went into town to the grocery store for she grew most of her food at home. Cows provided milk, butter and cheese. Goats provided milk and cheese as well. Chickens ran freely providing eggs and meat. The unsavory pig pen was located in the farthermost corner of the field but provided all the pork the family could use. Occasionally a cow or bull would be slaughtered for beef and the vegetable garden provided all the fresh veggies any family might want.
All eight of the children had grown up and married or entered the military as was typical for the family. This left a great deal of work for Sadie and Willie so the day began at 5:00 sharp and ended when darkness fell.
Willie believed in having a full assortment of animals so there were cats, dogs, roosters, and horses in all sizes. Then there was the one and only pair of goats named Otis and Buttercup. The two had been purchased as infants and raised with care by Willie. I suppose it was an animal he was always curious about or just simple fascination about the breed that caused him to spend extra time with. The two goats quickly multiplied into twelve of the cutest goats anywhere around Mount Airy. Willie’s goats were not just useful livestock; they also made highly entertaining pets, sometimes mischievous and great companions that would follow you anywhere at anytime.
Originating in Great Britain, Nubian goats are one of the most common breeds of dairy goat in the United States. A medium-large breed, they have short, glossy and fine coats of any color or pattern. Under ideal conditions, they can produce over 3,000 pounds of milk a year and are meatier than other dairy breeds. Nubians have long ears, ideally reaching half an inch past the muzzle. It appeared the long ears attracted Willie to the infants and so the rest is history.
Now it came to be that Otis became fond of an old trench coat that had hung in the barn for years and decided to wear it in all sorts of ways. It was a common site to see Otis with the arms hanging around his neck and the coat spread over his back. He was a comic and everyone loved to watch him show off his array of talents.
If that were not enough Buttercup had adopted a faded red hat that Willie had fashioned for her by cutting holes for her long ears. It was made to tie under the chin but Buttercup preferred the ties to swing loosely under her chin. I suppose it was her fashion statement for the community and she wore it with pride; after all red was her favorite color. The two goats had several stalls full of little bundles in an assortment of colors inside the barn or following them around the barnyard.
Otis had never met anyone that he did not like. It was quite the opposite for he would quickly approach any visitors and check them out from head to toe. Until one day….a very heavy set man with strawberry-red hair came to look at some roosters for his chickens. No one knows if it was the overalls the man wore, the strawberry-red hair or the loud obnoxious laugh he bellowed out that caused Otis to become unglued.
He stood very still watching the over-weight man, his ears began swinging back and forth and his front feet began to slowly dig up the loose dirt underneath him. Obviously he did not like one or more of the above mentioned things but something surely set him off. This was a man Otis did not like at all for whatever reason and he was about to toss him butt first into the next county.
Willie noticed the odd behavior as he stepped off the front porch and went running to the man’s defense. He was however just a few seconds too late. Otis lowered his head and in a full-run butted the visitor up into the air amid the lower hanging oak tree limbs. The obnoxious laugh ceased instantly and was replaced with loud groans.
Now everyone knows this type of behavior is not acceptable and must be corrected but what type of correction could be used? Willie thought all day long how he could punish Otis and teach him not to behave in such a fashion again. At last he decided to take the one thing Otis loved the most away from him for one week. It was the assortment of tin cans that Otis loved to crush, eat, and toss around that was one of his favorite things to do. So Willie decided to allow Otis to watch him put all the cans inside a burlap bag and put it in the back of the farm truck along with other rubbish to be taken to the dump.
It didn’t take long for Otis to get the picture and depression set in. He watched as his beloved cans left the farm. He realized he must have done something terrible for his owner to take away his favorite toys. He turned around and headed towards the barn. For days he would not eat and only lay stretched across the fresh hay in his stall. He did not come outside once. Otis feelings had been terribly hurt and the tears ran down his face onto his nose. He wanted his beloved cans back and he wanted to feel Willie’s hands caress his ears again. Otis began to pray and serious praying he did. He had learned that it was not a good thing to become angry at someone else and take measures into his own hands.
“God I am only a goat and I just do what is common for all goats. Can you please forgive me and let things return to normal around the farm once more?” Otis pleaded earnestly.
God answered Otis prayer as He does all prayers and things returned to normal on the farm. Oh, Otis was tempted many times to butt the ole man with the strawberry-red hair but he remembered the tin cans. Most of all he remembered the loss of Willie’s affection. His love for Willie was stronger than his desire to send an ole fat man into the tree tops and so it continues to this day.
Question: What caused Otis to react the way he did?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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