Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Can’t say the word . . .

Bill and I have been helping an elderly friend with her goats. Even though she is the same age as my mother, being 80 hasn’t deterred her from keeping a small herd of registered Nubian goats. Our friend Martha is still very agile but lives alone and has no immediate family so there are a few things she needs help with. One of them is trimming the hooves of her male goats. Bucks, as they are called, tend to be a little more aggressive and they certainly are “beefier” than the females (“does”). Lucky for me, Martha’s bucks (she has 3 of them) are all sweethearts. Being gentle though, doesn’t mean they are not strong. These guys could pull a small car around all day long and not think anything of it so even though they have a calm demeanor, they are still quite powerful and don’t necessarily fancy having their pedicures done. We usually tether them to a strong wall and I pin them against the wall with my body while I shear their feet. After a short time they settle down and usually lean on me as I lift each foot in turn to complete the trim. It’s a backbreaking task but also very satisfying to be helping a friend in need.

Typical Nubian buck

I’ve known Martha for quite a number of years. My ex-wife and I bought our first goats from her soon after we bought our farm. She has seen my children grow and she has seen the dissolution of my marriage and throughout it all, she has remained a good friend. I mentioned earlier that Martha is in her 80’s. I’ve believed for years that an age demographic comes with certain preconceived notions and Martha is no different than anyone else. I remember her reaction when she found out I was dating Bill. It was one of “extinction”, in which she ignored the fact that I went from being married to a woman to dating men. When Bill and I got serious, she would refer to Bill as my “friend”. That was actually very progressive compared to my Mother’s reaction. My Mother, who after more than four years, continues “extinction” to this day.

Martha has gradually evolved her thinking and now seems quite comfortable with Bill and I as a couple. I’m not sure how she’d introduce us to a third party but she has no qualms about inviting us to her house for lunch or dropping by Bill’s house to deliver a loaf of bread. This past weekend we had arranged to do some hoof trimming again. We were running a little behind schedule on Friday morning so I called her to tell her we’d be slightly delayed. She asked if Bill had received an email she sent that morning. No, nothing had come through. Martha had recently taken the unusual step of acquiring her own computer and was learning how to use email. She seemed disappointed that the email hadn't arrived but she quickly told me the gist of it on the phone.

“There are some nice boys from up the road that just got goats and I invited them around to see how it’s done professionally”, she announced.

My mind stopped for a minute. Professionally? I can hardly lay claim to that description. Oh well, I don’t mind if a couple of 4-H kids want to come around and watch. I’m happy to show them what I know.

“No problem” said I, “although I don’t want them to think I am an expert”.

“That’s okay”, she replied. “They are a couple of really nice boys and I’ve invited them for lunch as well. I’d really like youse guys to have the opportunity of meeting some other . . . “, her voice trailed off. 

Some other “what” I wondered? Goat owners? Farmers? City guys wanting to be farmers?

When we arrived, Martha informed us that the “boys” had phoned to cancel because one of their mothers had unexpectedly dropped by for an Easter visit. “It’s too bad,” she complained. “They are very funny (humorous) and you’ll really like them”.

Wait a minute, they don’t live with their mothers? Just how old are these 4-H boys, I wondered. Well, apparently the “boys” are in their mid-40’s and aren’t in 4-H. It seems they are “another gay couple” who had recently moved onto land near Martha and had bought some goats as pets for their hobby farm. It appears Martha had become quite smitten with this pair and she wanted us to meet.

Even though Martha can’t quite seem to say the words “gay” or “homosexual”, no doubt as a result of her programming in early stages of life, she is nonetheless a good friend and is obviously very accepting of her new-found clump of gay friends. I’m good with that, even if she can’t say the word . . .



  1. This city boy had to goggle "4-H" :)

  2. Very cool, all the way around. I honestly believe that the best way for people to change their minds about gays is to MEET SOME! Obviously your friend fits that exactly.

    You guys are great to help her out. Now she knows you're not a "threat" to humanity, and obviously those feelings extend to others!

    Peace <3

  3. what a marvelous tale; thanks for sharing it.