Bucky was our pet goat. We kept the brown and white, slit-eyed, non-horned bovine chained like a dog to a large wooden box in the woods, near our woodpile. The goat box was large enough for Bucky to move about comfortably inside. He had a trough built under a window that my step-father cut-out with a round saw after twisting the last screw into perfectly measured two-by-fours and plywood sheets that formed the goat cottage. The stabled house had shingles on the roof too. My brothers wanted what our step-father, a professional carpenter had crafted in one weekend for a family goat, as a private play-house. Bob, our step-father, brought Bucky, a little kid, home in the back of a blue and white pick-up truck, soon after he finished crafting what was, on carpentry standards, a masterpiece. Bob was a master of woodworking; our family goat and dog boxes were more like doll houses than mere pins.
After the little goat house was built and we adopted Bucky as a pet, our family seemed complete. Bucky’s sad and guttural ‘bah’ reminded us of a baby crying in a crib at night.
Fresh oats were carried in a plastic ice cream bucket to Bucky’s trough at daybreak, an hour or so before a yellow school bus stopped to pick us up for school. The three oldest boys in the house took turns feeding Bucky and watering the dogs, Brandy and Dusty. The mutts slept outside next to Bucky and were fed in the evening, after we picked up a coffee can full of leftovers from Miller’s Diner, a small town restaurant, a Whistlestop Café of sorts, that still serves the little Appalachian village, across the street from my childhood home. The dogs ate like kings ib scaps from Miller’s diner.
We lived in the green and white trailer that was later sold to Denny and Janet Brown and their daughters, Sally and Claudia Benson. My parents, after having their fourth boy,decided that it was time to sell the mobile home, so at least they could still try for a girl.
Bucky arrived a year or so before we moved into the big gold house. We didn’t have a front yard then. Trees grew everywhere out front. That is why we got Bucky so that he could eat the shrubbery that covered the forest around our less than double-wide, mobile, yet stationary upon a big foundation, home. There was no pretty front yard then. Three Springs was still being settled. Bucky mowed the front forest.
Bucky lived a long time. He stayed in his comfortable little house day after day, season after season, receiving fresh straw on Saturdays during the winter.
Bucky lived a comfortable, pampered life in town. He must have thought that because there was a kitchen with a trough in his pin, that Bob built him an indoor toilet too. We scraped out Bucky’s black pellets every Saturday morning, if it stunk or not. We attempted to teach Bucky to go to the ‘bathroom’ outside his snug home, but ‘Naah’, he simply shook his head with bent ears and seemed to smile as we cleaned up after him.
There were several break-frees that occurred over the ten or so years that Buckly lived on a chain. After we built the big, gold house, Bob excavated the woods out front and planted a real yard. We had perfectly mowed grass that Bucky seemed not to care for. Bucky no longer had grazing privileges. He served his purpose, yet he continued to live as a part of the family in his own house. I didn’t even have my own bedroom.
Bucky licked our faces, just like Brandy and Dusty when we fed them. His goatonality was more like a dog than a goat. He seemed to turn into a dog and sometimes heeled when we brought him the weeds we cut down with a weed-whacker.
When Bucky managed to break a thick-steel chain and run free, he went directly for Bob’s blue and white Chevy pick-up truck and stood like an animal-god for hours, refusing to get down from the truck and often usied his hind hooved legs to deflect any little arms trying to pull him down.
“Keep that goat from down here,” Aunt Cathy screamed from under a bee hive, next door.
“Your Uncle Daryl just washed my car and Bucky looks like he is putting dents on Bob’s truck,” Aunt Cathy hollered.
Bucky leaped from the truck and charged directly for Aunt Cathy. She ran inside her back porch and slammed the screen-door shut hard and locked it. She bumped her hair on a wind chime and screamed at Uncle Daryl who was busy making shotgun shells in their kitchen.
As soon as Uncle Daryl came outside, Bucky ran at top speed towards their home. Aunt Cathy stood behind Uncle Daryl who shouted “shoo” but Bucky just ‘nahhed’ at them and went around the other side of their house.
Bill and Barron were laughing loudly. I chuckled inside.
Rather than jump on Aunt Cathy’s Plymouth, Bucky went directly to her flower bed and ate her expensive shrubs, roses and flowers.
“You kids are bad,” Uncle Daryl yelled. “Git that goat.”
“The chain is broken. What are we supposed to do,” I yelled.
We captured Bucky as soon as humanly possible, but much damage was done to Aunt Cathy’s plants. Aunt Cathy, as always, was cool with the drama. She didn’t seem to mind that her flowers had been eaten by Bucky. Her car was safe. Such is life in a country town when it comes to pet goats and having relatives as neighbors.
Bucky lived long enough to discover that the grass is always greener on the other side. Fine shrubs and trees that were planted in our front yard were never good enough for our pet goat. Bucky managed to break free several times over the years– always running to Bob’s pick-up truck first, even after Bob traded in his Chevy for a Ford.
We permitted Bucky to run free, long enough to visit Aunt Cathy. Eventually, our Aunt caught onto our game of setting Bucky loose. Aunt Cathy ignored our mischievousness and the goat that couldn’t seem to stay out of her front yard.
“Just let him eat,” Aunt Cathy yelled from her back porch on a swing. “It’s Fall now– less for me to tend to.”