“Curt,” Peggy hollered at me from the kitchen, “there is a goat running around in our back yard.” I looked out. Sure enough, a white billy-goat was dashing back and forth in the field above our house baaing like the Hounds of Hell were on its heels.
“Maybe tomorrow’s dinner has escaped,” Peggy suggested. Perhaps she was right. Our neighbors Margaret and Bryan were hosting a goat bar-b-que for Memorial Day. It’s something of a tradition, but normally they cook a lamb. This year, our next-door neighbor, Jim, had donated a goat. I could understand why it might want to get away.
While Peggy called Jim and grabbed a camera, I went out to have a discussion with Billy. I baaa’d at him. I often talk to Jim’s goats. And yes, they talk back. Sometimes we have extended conversations. This time Billy came rushing over to tell me his woes. I started scratching him behind the ears. It works for dogs, cats, and horses, why not for goats. Soon Billy was purring like a cat, or he would have been if goats purred. Jim arrived in his truck.
“Come on Billy,” I suggested, “let’s go see Jim.” Billy dutifully followed along.
“His name is Rambo,” Jim informed me as he beat on a can filled with goat food to entice his errant ram. Rambo wasn’t buying it. He was obviously irritated. At a minimum, Jim had interrupted a good ear scratching.
“Are we looking at dinner, here?” I asked Jim. His last ram had ended up in stew.
“Oh, no,” Jim told me. “That’s Pinky.” Pinky had been a bad goat in the spring and caused the demise of two kids from another Nanny. That had irritated Jim, which isn’t a good idea. “Pinky was Rambo’s companion, however.” Jim explained. “And now he is mad.” Apparently Rambo had escaped from his pen to mount a rescue effort. Back in his pen again, he sounded like an angry bull elephant on a rampage. The whole neighborhood shook from his complaints. Jim retrieved another nanny to put in with him. Rambo shut up— immediately. So much for true love.
The next day…
“Stop that,” Bryan’s father Bernard urged when Jim referred to the goat that was roasting on the spit as Pinky. Obviously Jim was having fun, teasing. A fair-sized group of neighbors, friends, and a contingent from Southern Oregon University had gathered for the feast. Everyone had brought food to go with the goat meat and several had brought wine. Fred, the brewer from the Caldera Brewery in Ashland, had brought a generous supply of the brewery’s award winning beers. I considered it my responsibility to sample a few.
There is something primitive about carving your meat off of an animal that has just been roasted over an open fire. It’s enough to make squeamish folks hesitate. Throw in the fact that it was goat, and even more people opt out. The real gourmet challenge, however, was the Kokoretsi Bryan prepared. He had taken a portion of the goat’s intestine, stuffed it with cut up pieces of the goat’s lungs, heart and liver, trussed it up, and cooked it beside the goat. The meal required a bold palate.
But the goat and the goat intestines were quite tasty. With the exception of a vegetarian or two (understandably), everyone lined up for goat meat and most people tried the Kokoretsi. I went back for second helpings of each. As for the vegetarians and the more dainty eaters, there were numerous options, including a delicious apple pie Peggy had baked for the occasion. No one went home hungry.