Sunny Side of Spencer Butte
"Sounds like a workable approach," I responded. We have half a dozen wethers available at $10 each. "Do you need females?"
"We'd rather not," he said. The next day two men arrived in a flat bed truck bearing stock racks. Parking the truck about fifty feet from the barn, they got out ready to load goats. I had called the flock in from the pasture. We were milking a couple of older does, but the rest of the bunch mostly ran loose at will. They had been fed hay during the winter months and consequently were not particularly wild. Many of them, especially the wethers had not been handled much except as youngsters. Our children liked to bottle feed males who had been separated from their mothers
I was able to close those six males in the milking shed and shut the door on them. "You stand here by the door," I suggested. "I'll go in and catch them, one by one, and hand them out to you." I stepped inside and closed the screened door. Those young animals were nervous in that confined space and pretty wild to boot. Any one of them didn't weigh more than 120 pounds to my 170, so I was confident that I could hold each one singly. A couple had short horns which gave me a good handle.
They milled around, jumping up on a milking platform and down over each other. The little shed was about ten feet square, so most of the floor space was occupied most of the time, and I could easily get a grip on a goat. As I handed out the first goat those men were shaking their heads in disbelief.
"There's no way you could get me in that shed with those wild rams," said one
"What a woman." said the other as they gingerly reached for the squirming animal I held. Their combined grip successfully moved it to the fenced bed of the truck. This action was repeated, using a short rope halter on those without horns. As the truck drove off with its load of confused animals my thought followed them toward their arrival in a tropical paradise. What a change they faced from the seasonal pattern in Western Oregon.
Having goats in pasture we soon learned that stumps or big rocks against a fence provided goats with an exit from the fenced area. Up on the stump and over the fence. A piece of cake for a healthy goat, and not always so simple getting them home again.
One evening as I prepared supper, an expected customer arrived to buy one of the milk goats. I had just started the electric mixer to whip some cream. I went out to help the customer, forgetting the running mixer. The deal took a little longer than expected, and when I got back to the kitchen, the whipping cream had churned to butter. We must have acquired a milk cow by that time to have cream to whip.
I still treasure the memory of the flock coming to rest on the sunny hillside south of the house. They had browsed their fill in the upper pasture earlier in the day. Now at rest and chewing their cud, the older goats lay white against the green hillside. Their energetic youngsters cavorted among their mothers, butting each other and playing tag. That picture of domestic tranquillity enriched my satisfaction as a contented homemaker and chore girl for several years.
Lois Barton is an 83 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same
rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 49 years. All their children
learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and
garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982
when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter
of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept;
and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of
the Soil. Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood
association, a precinct committe woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane
County Historian, and a life long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in
1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director
of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.
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