In case you’ve missed the weather forecast lately, a “polar vortex” has descended upon Hot-lanta blanketing the region with temperatures we haven’t seen since 1996. In 1996, I still lived in my hometown: Bryson City, North Carolina. We didn’t have vortexes, we had cold snaps. Extended periods when the ground froze solid and your footsteps sounded with a crunch. I worried about cold back then. I knew to leave a trickle of water running (learned that the hard way). And my 1986 Dodge Colt stayed parked at the bottom of the hill. Except in extreme circumstances, work came regardless of weather.
The weather yesterday in Hotlanta was extreme, as was the day before.
Knowing that Billy’s family had departed, Nanny goats held a meeting, determined that the coldest day of the year (six degrees to be exact) was the perfect day to start birthing babies. Those who have raised livestock are nodding right now. Cattle, sheep, goats, all seem to wait until the coldest day of the year to birth. They kick down stall doors, head out toward the top of the mountain where they drop their young.
Between New Year’s Day and January 6, 2014, Billy Albertson welcomed ten new baby goats, with more expected.
I thought about calling Monday night, thought I should remind Billy that he should trickle a little water in the bathroom, just in case.
Naw, I said to myself, he knows to do that. He’ll think I’m an idiot calling with a reminder.
Note to self: Always, ALWAYS listen to your inner voice.
Arriving at 11:45 am, I noticed Billy in the laundry room. The outside water had long-since frozen solid requiring Farmer Billy to carry water to the nannies. Nursing mothers need a lot of water to keep their milk flowing.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with this water?” Billy said, “seems to be loosing flow.”
But I knew. Rushing to the kitchen, I turned the faucet on full force. “You didn’t run the water last night?”
I soon had my answer.
Enter Kelle Mac, her three boys, Tracy Hoexter, her son and her husband. Using any excuse to both eat AND see the baby goats, we determined it was potato soup-baby-goat lovin’ time. Neighbor Joe had stopped by, poked his head into the well house and determined that a doo-hickey-valve-a-ma-bob needed replacing and that if he and Billy lit out after “dinner” he could remedy the water situation.
As Billy says, “that Joe shore is good to me.”
As we crowded into the tiny kitchen for a pre-dinner blessing, Billy’s voice cracked with emotion. He thanked “Our Father” for the meal, for the friends, for the children who stopped by. I am confident that were he to meet you, he’d thank Our Father for you as well.
Read more about Billy by downloading his latest story titled: A Hardscrabble Christmas.
VIEW pictures Tracy took yesterday here. All Photo credits today belong to her. Thank you Tracy for sharing your gift with us.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Please download her e-book short story collection today. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. If you liked this recipe stay tuned. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com