Over-wintered baby spinach tastes like veggie candy. Sweet, tender. Standing in the greenhouse at Ghost House Farm, I’m enveloped in the warmth of the space where the smell of earth is strong. The structure survived winter, received a commercial heater, and already houses the first round of seedlings.
While we pluck leaves from the early greens filling the rows, my daughter filled me in on the latest farm happenings. My SIL has innovated several solutions and structures, including a washing machine he’s transforming into a giant salad spinner. Allison filled me in on the goat situation.
Chip has mites. If the days warm up, Drew will bathe Chip. I offered to help; I can’t think of anything worse smells than a wet goat. But I love Chip and I know how miserable a goat with mites can be.
Molly kicked Allison while milking last week. She had several bruises. Last year, when the farm kids went to Costa Rica for a week, I was Molly’s leg holder. She’s a two-person milking team kind of goat and Allison tried to go solo.
Belle is adjusting. She required a new home, never having settled down after all the babies were born. She and Molly had twins; Peggy had triplets. So, Belle got a farm of her own. But there’s more…Allison had that serious but sympathetic look she gets when she tells me which rooster or pig they butchered. Instead, she tells me about an old lady.
I’m relieved to hear Belle didn’t go the way of the roosters or pigs and I’m curious about the woman.
Once upon a time, an old lady was a young girl. She had a goat she milked every day. The young girl would rise with the sun and run with floppy red rubbers to the barn. She down her milk pail to get the oats. Sunny, her goat, leaned against the fence to get a few nibbles. She coaxed Sunny to the small stanchion and poured the oats into a small feeding bin. Sunny chomped, and the girl milked. She was never happier.
Turns out, a Keweenaw family had a dilemma. Their matriarch, Grandma, has advanced dementia and she’s become obsessed with the goat of her youth. When Allison and Drew were looking to rehome Belle, the family found a solution. They took Belle home to become the object of Grandma’s obsession.
The young girl fed the second goat, Sunny’s kid. She returned to her goats after delivering the milk to ma to filter into a jar. She put on their halters to walk the goats to the apple orchard and back. Mornings were the best part of day. Even in winter, she bundled up and went with pa to the barn. One day, she’d grow up and have a goat farm.
With the help of her grandchildren, Grandma milks Belle every morning. She can’t remember what happened five minutes ago but remembers how to milk a goat. Then, another dilemma. Grandma remembers the second goat. She settled into milking but grew fretful over the missing kid.
The family asked if they could have one of Belle’s kids. In the end, after much discussion, they decided the role was best suited for Beast. This was the reason Allison approached me gently. Beast. Her “baby” Beast. Belle’s eldest kid and the first goat born on the farm. They kept him to be a companion for the buck, Chip but saw this as an opportunity for Beast to live his best life.
The grandkids are halter-training both goats now. Grandma has a tangible outlet for her dementia obsession. Peace is felt across the farm. It is good to know that spring is on it’s though snow still covers the landscape. Somewhere a family is soothed by the reunion of an old lady and her beast. We are reminded that stories leave powerful images. The story of a young girl and her two goats might seem a little thing but it is all the happiness in the world of someone cut off from ours.
April 10, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the old lady and the beast.” What does age have to say about the story? Who is the beast and why? Go where the prompt leads!
- Submit by April 15, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
- Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
- A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
- Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
- Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.