‘OK, it’s time,’ I say to my husband and my dad. The three of us walk outside to the pen where our three baby goats live. We pull out Mama’s Boy and I look into his sweet, unsuspecting eyes. I think about all the times I swore I would never do this to any animal. Things change, time goes on; all I can do is try to keep up. ‘Hold him down for me guys…’
We had hoped to only have female kids, but of course, we had one of each. Killer came first. We had a hard time getting her to eat; we almost thought she wasn’t going to make it. Then Mama’s Boy came and suddenly Killer was fighting him off of her food – hence the name. Well, that and the fact that she had the markings of a Rottweiler. Mama’s Boy was, well, a mama’s boy. Aside from being born on Mother’s Day, he thought I was his mama. His mother abandoned him in a slimy little ball on the straw in the barn. We picked him up, suctioned his nose, wiped him dry, and gave him a bottle. Since that day, he has been following us around wherever we go.
Our third baby goat wasn’t actually born on the Acre. Funny story. My husband and I went to visit the local goat dairy to see their new digs and get some advice. My husband (foolishly) leaves me alone with the owner for five minutes. We drive home with a new baby goat. True story.
It reminds me of the time my parents and I moved to the ‘country.’ It was actually a suburb of a suburb of a suburb of Atlanta. Our realtor found a kitten on the side of the road on the way to our closing and gave it to us as a housewarming gift. We didn’t even know the cat had gone into heat and then one night, she went into my parent’s closet and we woke up to five times more cats than we’d had the night before. My dad worked tirelessly to find homes for all five kittens. Before they were almost too old to be referred to as ‘kittens’, he found a home for one of them. As my dad was driving the eight hour round trip to drop off the kitten at a buddy’s house, my mom and I went to the grocery store. Out front, a guy had a shopping cart full of kittens, really cute kittens. We couldn’t resist. We brought one home. We thought my dad might not notice. But he did. We thought he would eventually forgive us. But he didn’t.
After arriving home with our new baby goat, my husband pulled me aside. With a very serious look on his face, he told me something had to be done about the current goat population on the Acre. After a few weeks of trying (unsuccessfully) to find homes for our two original babies, I realized there was one thing we must do in order to at least keep the current population consistent. I walked up to my husband and said one word: ‘Elastrator.’
The color drained from his face. I might as well have sucker punched him in the gut. The Elastrator. The one item in the goat supply catalog I had not been allowed to purchase. Oh sure, go ahead and get the twelve foot long plastic gloves and lubricant for the girly goats (god, don’t forget the lubricant) – but we will never, ever, under any circumstances, allow anything on this property that combines the worlds of castration and elastic rubber bands. ‘We can’t do that,’ he said. He pointed over to Mama’s Boy, whose testicles had begun to drop and said, ‘Look, it’s like a ‘W’ for Welch.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I know you don’t want anymore ‘Welch’ babies roaming around this property, so you have a decision to make.’ I half expected my husband to go over to Mama’s Boy, hug him, and tell him that he was sorry, but that he was going to have to take one for the team. Instead he lowered his head, reluctantly agreed with me, and slowly walked away.
A few weeks later, we stood in the same spot, all hands on deck, elastrator at the ready. With my dad at one end and my husband at the other, I quickly slipped the rubber band over the, um, ‘W.’ The first 24 hours seemed touch and go – not that we wondered if Mama’s Boy was going to live, but if he wanted to live. He ate his food and drank his water, but he had a look on his face that would break anyone’s heart; like all the beauty had been drained from the world, like he had lost all hope in humanity.
Mama’s Boy has since recovered from his encounter with the elastrator. After the first day, he seemed back to normal for the most part. His back legs are still a little stiff when he first begins to walk, but the way I see it, that is a small price to pay for ensuring he doesn’t experience undesired fatherhood. My husband, of course, doesn’t entirely agree. I’m not sure if he’ll ever fully recover from the events of that day. Maybe I’ll go to the store and get the fixin’s for his favorite dinner and, good wife that I am, if I see any really cute kittens, I’ll pick up one of those too.
Jennifer Welch lives and writes in the Arkansas River Valley and does NOT currently have an elastrator on the premises. You are welcome to send thoughts, inquiries, and suggestions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org