New Horizons Writers’ Group


Billy the Kid

Bob Hirt

It seems that when there are animals on a farm there are always issues to contend with, be it dairy cows, chickens, pigs and horses. Then, of course there are the odd-ball, uniquely different animals such as goats. The IQ, the intelligence quotient, of goats is considered very high and much of their behavior seems to attest to that well-known fact.

Our goat, Billy, was no different. He was bizarrely aggravating as well as unpredictable, and he was funnier than any circus clown could ever dream of being. He had no fellow goat buddies to hang around with on our farm so he found the perfect “sometimes-friend” with our dog, “Sporty.” Now, Sporty was not exactly a push-over when it came to dominance, especially where seniority came into play. He had been around for nine years, and no goat with a silly little beard and crazy horns, was going to be in the spotlight on this property; or, so Sporty thought!

Billy seized the opportunity one Sunday morning to even the score about authority while Sporty was involved in digging up a hidden bone near the front yard. There was about a 40-foot distance between them when Billy, for whatever reason, decided to charge Sporty. And charge him he did, full-speed ahead. Sport was totally engrossed in his project at the moment and Billy hit him full broadside with an enormous wallop. The dog let out a gut-wrenching yelp but he was apparently not seriously hurt, as he landed no less than five or six feet from the point of impact. Billy, then quickly turned on his heels and ran off toward the cow barn, down a small path and into the slightly open double doors. He knew the layout inside the barn as he instantly clambered up a five-high stack of bags of cow feed with no hesitation whatsoever – with Sporty now closely on his heels. And there “Billy” stood, looking down, almost tauntingly, at poor infuriated Sporty, unable to get his revenge.

We boys saw the last part of the episode as “Sporty” barked in a tone that we had never heard before or ever again. It was a bark of rage, and of frustration, all at the same time and it lasted a full five minutes until we yelled, not at Billy but a “poor” Sporty! Totally exasperated, he slinked out of the barn and completely forgot about his earlier project.

At another time, and most likely an influencing factor in the career of Billy on our farm, was the day my brother Al, proud owner of a fairly new Ford car, saw Billy where Billy should definitely not have been. It was on the roof of Al’s 1949 four-door beauty, a car that he seemed to prize almost more than life itself!

We were at the breakfast table at the time and, for whatever reason, Al quickly jumped up from the breakfast table, sprang through the dining room to check on a noise that came from outside. It seemed to us to be a loud metallic sound. We heard that sound only once because any more were likely drowned out by the screams and swearing, the guttural sounds, almost cries, coming from my older brother. There, outside in the driveway stood Billy, on the roof of Al’s car. When he heard Al’s screams he perked his head up, let out a small bleat and raised his chin in feigned defiance and then looked away. As Al jumped from the front porch toward the car, Billy leaped off the side of the vehicle and headed toward the barn with Al behind him. More swearing followed but then Al just gave it all up knowing any attempt at reprisal was useless. For Al, eating breakfast was totally out of the question at that point and he spent at least the next 20 minutes examining the scratches of his prize vehicle.

Billy’s future was clearly at stake. He was still around the farm for a while but one day when we boys were at the county fair my Dad gave Billy away, free-of-charge to a willing neighbor. It was to Joe French, the neighbor who always laughed hysterically when he came to our place and heard of the antics and stories that Billy got into most recently. We hoped the last laugh was on Billy.