Right across the road from our house we had several acres of woods. They were filled with groves of hemlock trees, a pleasant little creek ran through it. There were loads of elderberry and blackberry bushes through out. Near the front stood what used to be my playhouse but it now served as a phone shanty ever since the church had decided to allow community phones. Towards the back of the woods green briers had started growing and were fast becoming a big nuisance. Daddy spent a lot of time in the evenings trying to rid the woods of the briers but it seemed like he was fighting a losing battle. Until one day a friend stopped by and offered to let us put his herd of thirty goats into the woods and let them take care of the briers and all the unwanted undergrowth.
Daddy accepted his offer and after adding a few more strands of wire to the fence to insure it was goat proof we were ready. They came on a Saturday afternoon. As the trailer backed into the pasture and the goats hopped off and went to investigate their new surroundings we watched them from the kitchen window. There were goats of all colors, but one of them stood out from the rest. He was a dirty yellow, his horns looked intimidating even from a distance and his long beard dangled impressively from his chin. He surveyed his new home with an air of disdain and shaking his head he stalked after the rest of the herd into the woods.
Monday arrived and once it was time to sit by the phone for the daily half hour in case any customers wanted to call. I walked to the gate and noticed most of the goats were near the phone shanty including the yellow billy. He looked even uglier than he had from the kitchen window. As I closed the gate he bleated and lowered his head and came charging right at me. I darted into the phone shanty and locked the door. He bumped his head against it several times for good measure and then returned to the rest of the herd who had continued eating very unconcerned about what their leader had been doing.
Once it was time to go in I carefully checked my surroundings before running to the gate and hurrying to the other side safely. It wasn't long before the billy was there every day to greet me with his lowered head. I armed myself with a big stick and most days managed to ward him off. My little brother Mahlon, enjoyed going to the phone with me and I would often take a book along to read while we waited for customers to call. Ever since the billy was lurking around the phone shanty he had been hesitant about joining me but since I was successful in keeping him at bay with my stick he wanted to join me so we could resume our story time again.
As we entered the gate the billy came charging at us. I swung my stick and yelled at him. Mahlon ran for the shanty but before I could do anything the billy had turned and run after him and knocked him down. I ran over to Mahlon and wielding my stick I chased the billy off for a few yards and we went inside the shanty. Once we got settled Mahlon said "I wish we could throw a five gallon pail over his head! That way he couldn't see where we are."
I loved the idea and the next day when it was time to head for the phone Mahlon carried the stick while I carried a nice white five gallon pail. As usual the billy came charging toward us and I swung the pail and to my utter delight it slipped over his horns and stayed stuck on his head. He looked ridiculous as he shook his head trying to get rid of the pail. The other goats stopped feeding and came closer to get a better look at him as Mahlon and I went gleefully into the shanty. Once our half hour was up the billy had still not been able to rid the pail so we stopped in the shop on the way to the house to tell Daddy about it.
Daddy went out and managed to remove the pail and from that day on when ever it was time to go to the phone I armed myself with a pail. All the billy had to do was see it and he stayed a safe distance. He was still mean and ugly and would still charge anyone who dared venture in without a pail. But my days of having to worry about being butted by him were now over.