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People with brains,  panache, or character. Sometimes all three.

or J. Alfred Prufrock in Texas

"Do not ask, "what is it"
Let us go and eat a biscuit."

by Norman Conquest
Goatherd and his goats
The Weimar goatherd and his drove. TE photo

We decided to take a break from our writing. We were running a slight fever and feared it might be the early stages of bucolic plague, which usually hits us every spring. It is frequently misdiagnosed as the bluebonnet plague.

We fed our medication to the dogs and bluffed our way past security. We found some overalls on a clothesline and just like in the movies, they were exactly our size.

We headed straight for Weimar, where it's still possible to get a 23-cent cup of coffee and sit at a counter.

How green was my arroyo

Near the center of town, we noticed a herd of goats, albeit a small herd. They were brunching on elderberry shoots and tender spring sprigs of blood weed. They had a weed-choked arroyo nibbled down to shallow-pile carpet. Exposed slugs and snails were immediately eaten by a pair of ducks. It's good to be a goat in Weimar in springtime.

Now for those of you unfamiliar with blood weed, it is only slightly less aggressive than kudzu*. If it were edible it would erase famine from the dictionary. Had Jack's beanstalk existed, it would've been blood weed. Only gravity and sap-flow prevent it from interfering with commercial aviation.

Goats, charming as they are, weren't given a huge cranial capacity. They don't know that blood weed is inedible. To their ample palettes and unample brains; they're eating snow peas or Belgian endive. Mulberry leaves, they do know, however. Mulberry leaves are to goats what catnip is to cats.

goast with harnesses
Goats with harnesses

TE photo

Anyway, there was a complete set of goats. The Billy had a set of formidable horns and was tethered to a tire. He looked unhappy about his mileage. His lone tire looked like it needed to be rotated, since it was worn a little more on its south side. Every one of the others had a small harness, which we're sure was helpful when the time came to practice for the Weimar Iditarod.

This pastoral scene was being directed by David Kraemer, who occasionally looked up from his (just barely overdue) library book to check for coyotes.

We introduced ourselves, not because of our love for goats (which is a strong love, we assure you) but because it has been years since we've seen someone actually consult a book without yellow pages. We had to know what it was.

To tell the truth, we had been to town earlier and had been told by nodding heads in Weimar that indeed, he has been seen reading in public before, and not always the same book! Strange behavior is common with foreigners. It's part of what makes them so - foreign. We were told he was English.

Armed with this knowledge, we confronted him. His smooth yet forced monotone led us to believe he was making fun of us. His American "accent" was well polished. But then, in conversation he said the word "drouth". We suddenly found ourselves talking to a Texan and not an Englishman.

Byron, get one free.

The ice broken, the conversation flowed like a globally-warmed glacier. He showed us the book's title. It was "Lives of the Poets." We couldn't make out the "Arthur," but we think it was Stephen King. Isn't that exactly what you would have a goatherd read?

Lives of the Poets, we mean. No one wants a Goatherd reading Stephen King. Or Henry Miller either.

A Fling in a Far Flung Place

David grew up in San Antonio and is well traveled. He has taught military dependents in as far-flung places as Crete (now known as Crete) where he met his wife Susan. When the Air Force transfered her to Germany, David transfered himself to be with her. She is now a Weimar Physician.

Convinced we were not advance scouts for a traveling cabrito restaurant, Mr. Kraemer proceeded to introduce us to Carlotta, Genevieve and the others. The Billy was Weed Eater, who was half of the Duo "Weed Eater and Round Up."

We didn't see Round Up. Naming a herbivore after a herbicide might seem prophetic to superstitious folk. We didn't want to know, so we didn't ask. David didn't tell.

ducks and goats by the bridge
Ducks among the goats

TE photo

The two ducks were year-old Easter survivors - former pets of a neighbor's children.

We spoke with David about the gliding ability of geese, and about fruit trees and pickle factory relics in the Weimar museum. Conversations like this are what we live for.

It's good to know someone is reading "Lives of the Poets" in Weimar, and it's good to know that Genevieve, Carlotta and friends have plenty to eat. We left Weimar knowing that David would soon return his book although he would probably read again. We also knew that Weed Eater would get a new tire eventually.

Weimar is lucky to have this herd of happy herbivores and if other towns would relax their animal ordinances just a little, we might just get out from behind The Bloodweed Curtain, to say nothing of the money to be saved on tractor blades.

Update: A recent drive to Weimar found the rotation of goats from the farm to town in progress. Round-Up is healthy as a horse and three sets of twins were frolicing as fast as they could. David says his route to the farm passes the Jeddo homestead of The Monroes, proving once again it may be a small world, but it's still a big state.

*Kudzu is a very aggressive vine that covers the states of Mississippi, Alabama and the scenic parts of Georgia. Imported from the Orient, it was supposed to be used as cattle feed. Why they didn't bring it to Texas, where the cows are, is beyond us. It has been known to cover entire communities like camouflage netting and there are rumors that descendants of elements from Hood's Brigade still reside outside of Chattanooga, under a blanket of Kudzu.

Copyright John Troesser
July, 2000

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