A few years ago, I was kidding a friend who was complaining about his wife. I told him that if he and his
wife did not work out, that Grace-the-goat would have fallen for him with no concern for pre-nuptial agreements, unless they tasted good. Another goat, Matilda, would have fallen for him too, but instead she fell over dead. I would have noticed something was up if she didn’t always act that way. She was the one that I thought was brain damaged from late horn removal by a previous owner.
main criteria for determining a brain-damaged goat was that whenever
the whole herd went right, this one stupid goat went left. When they all
easily came in for grain, she stood outside in the rain. When all the
other goats were eager to be milked, this one made an event out of it.
Anyway, we did not expect to lose her and it was a shock to my daughter,
Heidi, and probably to Matilda, too!
It also brought up that our resident farm funeral director, Dad, was unable to complete the normal dad-duties of disposing of dead livestock with the tractor claiming “I had a massive stroke. I cannot do it.” We all know this is a lame excuse, but since he can get half of his face to droop, when none of the rest of us can do that – despite valiant attempts – he succeeded in avoiding the duty. Now, looking back, I think he would reconsider and the rest of us would have tried harder to mimic a stroke.
I thought applying for this position would be highly competitive, so I admit I glamorized my resume. Yes, I have driven the tractor on a number of occasions. No, I do not rev the engine for grins except in extreme cases. Yes, I know where reverse gear is. Apparently those were outstanding skills for this position and I, over my husband and son, was promoted. Funny thing…I caught a glimpse of my husband’s resume and he denied ever seeing a tractor before. Said he had a hair appointment and was prone to driving on two wheels. Only the last part is true. Clearly he preferred his day job. My son was little at the time, so the qualified applicant pool was disappointingly narrow.
funeral director promotions apparently do not come with balloons and
supermarket sheet cake. The announcement was met with dread by all who
attended. Mom seemed to think that my lack of tractor-bucket operating
skills would be a disadvantage. The only one really excited about the
affair was the family dog, but, in fairness, she gets excited herding
ants on the sidewalk. A farm funeral was a definite upgrade for her.
Sensing the promotion ceremony had ended, I went out to the pasture and attempted to scoop Matilda up into the bucket no less than three times when, in a fit of anger, I backed up the tractor, put it in high gear and charged toward the dead goat with the bucket in low position.
heard the commotion and arrived just as I sent the dead goat flying –
still unloaded in the bucket. She then insisted on helping Heidi and I
manually load Matilda into the bucket. It’s a good thing there are no
funeral requirements regarding compassionate care toward this client
because if there were, I violated most of them.
Once loaded with legs bouncing from atop the rim of the bucket,
Heidi and I proceeded to drive the tractor up to the old animal cemetery, where for convenience no holes are dug. Digging holes required more tractor skill than I had amassed. As the tractor groaned up the hill, I found a slight ravine which looked perfect to dump a goat. I noticed that the tractor gained momentum down that slight grade and worried a little about getting back out. I remember old man Whittaker getting pinned by a tractor and yelling for nearly the whole day before his wife found him. Why do thoughts like these always come up when you would least like to think about them?
Anyway, I “layed to rest” Matilda with a thud and I attempted to back up. Before I was done, I had nearly pulled a Whittaker myself. I hated this new position of mine, vowing to give multi-vitamins early and often and to haul any wistful looking animals to the local livestock auction quickly to reduce future funerals on my shift.
In all the years of living on the ranch, I never knew that Dad’s job as funeral director of the animals was so terrifying, or that it required so many skills. I stand impressed at his talent and would gladly pass the baton to some other willing funeral director. The entire family would probably agree that would be a good idea.
If interested in the position, apply with tractor and nose-plugs to our
living room and don’t expect a lot of pay. Bring your own supermarket sheet cake and balloons because I will celebrate!