Thunderhead Sugar Violet

by DRM

When I was 11 I cashed in my savings bond and bought a goat.

I already had about 30 hens and a few roosters that we kept in an old shed at the corner of our property. I sold fresh eggs in the neighborhood and loved to hear the roosters crowing in the morning. But being a poultry kid in the local 4-H chapter was a pretty lonely existence, so I decided to make the move to livestock,

My grandparents had bought me a $50 savings bond when I was born. With interest, I had about $56 in total. My dad took me to the bank to tender the bond and then we drove over to Whitman to see a man about a goat.

She was little and cute. She came with papers. Her purebred name was Thunderhead Sugar. When I got home and put her up in the pen we’d built off the chicken shed, I figured she needed an extra name. I walked around the house three times, looking for inspiration. I called her Violet. That was her name: Thunderhead Sugar Violet.

We moved down to Rhode Island the next year and I got caught up in being a teenager and going to high school. The egg business languished and the hens died off, ravaged by stray viruses, insistent foxes and the bitter cold of a New England winter. Violet prospered, but lived a lonely life in the little barn we built back behind the house.

We bred her one summer and the pregnancy didn’t seem to take. We didn’t know much about getting goats pregnant. We figured that she wasn’t fertile.

One winter morning I trod through the crisp snow to change her feed and break up the frozen water in her pail. She was dead.

The vet told us that she’d miscarried and then contracted an infection that had finally killed her.

I didn’t know what to make of that, but felt guilty that her life could end with so little fanfare. We had to wrap her in a tarp and put her frozen body up on the hayloft to wait for a warm spell so we could thaw her out and break the earth to dig a grave. We covered her body with rocks and a tin garbage can cover so the wild animals wouldn’t dig her up.