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Benjy and the County Fair

By Bonnie Swinehart

The county fair could be Benjy’s ticket to a new bike…if only his ornery goats will cooperate!

Being a twelve-year-old boy in 1930s farm country means a lot of hard work…and plenty of mischief. Benjy is determined to earn enough money for a shiny new bicycle over the summer, but he’s not sure how he’ll have the time when his father presents him with three new responsibilities—a passel of ornery goats determined to make his life miserable. Then his mother mentions the money she earned at the county fair, and suddenly those goats and his garden patch become challenges Benjy’s determined to conquer.

But when his rival, local bully Bruce, shows up, Benjy might just lose everything he’s been working for. He knows he shouldn’t want revenge…but resisting it’s even harder than taming the cantankerous goats.

Chapter 1

Late May, 1935

Pennsylvania, Dutch town of Landisburg

Every student stared at the clock in the single room of the red brick schoolhouse. Benjy had trouble hanging onto his seat—he was ready to tear out of the room.

Miss Nettie, the schoolmarm, finally got up from her chair. Even her short, plump figure didn’t keep her from her own excitement.

“Children, thank you for a wonderful school year,” Miss Nettie said. “I wish all of you a great summer vacation, and I’ll see you in September.” She slowly and deliberately walked to the rope, where she rang the school bell.

Ding dong! Ding dong!

Children plowed out of their seats like a herd of wild horses. Tall and lanky, Benjy had no trouble keeping up with the rest of his classmates.

“Freedom!” Benjy yelled. Now he had the whole summer ahead of him to go fishing with his buddy, Old Albert, and to spend time with friends—especially Sarah. And he could work on his plan to buy a new bicycle.

“Hey, Benjy,” Sarah said.

Benjy joined Sarah and beamed a smile at the sight of her blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. She sure is pretty.

“My ma was going to visit your ma today and meet me there after school,” Sarah said.

“I smell some chocolate chip cookies coming our way,” Benjy said. “Maybe we should hurry.”

“Nah, let’s just enjoy this moment of freedom from the classroom,” Sarah said.

“And, homework!”

When they reached the point where they could see Benjy’s house and barn, he wrinkled his brows as he studied his father on the front porch. His tall, lean frame was decked out as always in his straw hat, red plaid shirt, and overalls.

“Something ain’t right,” Benjy said. “Pop’s pacing back and forth on the front porch as though he’s waiting for something or someone.”

“Let’s go see what’s happening,” Sarah said.

“You gotta be kidding, Pop. You want me to do what?”

No sooner did Benjy get the words out of his mouth than an old, rundown red pickup came shaking and rattling over every bump in the lane. The truck’s tires spewed out a dusty cloud that followed the truck and covered its wood-slatted truck bed. It stopped beside the Clemmons’ yard.

“That’s Mr. Haney with our new goats,” Pop said.

“Goats! We’re getting goats?”

“Sure are,” Pop said. “They’re special Saanen milk goats, Benjy, and it’s your job to take care of them.”

Benjy stared at his pop. “I don’t know anything about goats.” He turned toward the house and shouted. “Ma! Ma! Come quick!”

“Oh Benjy, you can do it,” Sarah said.

Ma and Mrs. Perkins, Sarah’s mother, dashed out the front door of the farmhouse one after the other.

“What’s all the commotion about?” Ma asked.

“Yes, what?” Sarah’s mom asked. Dressed in a plain grey dress and dark green apron, she was ready for the rest of the day’s work when she would return home.

Sarah stayed by Benjy’s side and stared at the goats right along with Benjy.

When Mr. Haney turned off the ignition, the goats bellowed and stomped their hooves against the wooden planks of the truck bed.

M-a-a! M-a-a!

“Those goats make as much noise as a thousand claps of thunder.” Benjy turned to Sarah, who stood wide-eyed and just plain speechless. “Oh Sarah, what am I gonna do? Pop wants me to care for these…these wild critters.”

Pop just folded his arms and grinned. “Now, Benjy, it’s not going to be that bad.”

“Maybe not, Benjy,” Sarah said, her blue eyes flashing. “They might even be cute.”

“Cute!” Benjy spurted. “Just listen to them hammering their hooves against the wood and bawling like a couple of little babies. And they’re stinky.” He turned toward his father. “What are we gonna to do with these critters?”

“For now we’ll keep them in the barn, and this afternoon we’ll start building them a shelter.” He took off his straw hat and wiped his sweaty brow.

Benjy frowned as he and Sarah moved closer to the pickup.

Mr. Haney, a stout man with a beard and clad in torn denim overalls and a blue plaid shirt, jumped out of the driver’s seat and headed toward Pop. They exchanged some words, then Pop pulled some dollar bills from his wallet and handed them to Mr. Haney.

“Everything will be fine,” said Ma. She and Mrs. Perkins headed back to the house and sat on the porch swing.

“Benjy, let’s see if we can get a better look at those goats,” Sarah said. “Let’s crack open that tailgate just a bit.”

“Nooooo!” Pop shouted.

Too late!

Benjy and Sarah had already opened the tailgate, and the three white goats, all different sizes with fire in their eyes, leapt one by one onto the ground.

Benjy grabbed Sarah’s hand and pulled her to the side. “Run!”

He and Sarah took off like a streak of lightning as the goats chased them across the barnyard.

“Oh, now look what you’ve done!” Pop shouted.

“Them goats are fast!” Benjy yelled as one of them bit onto the tail of his shirt and another bit onto the back ribbon dangling from Sarah’s dress.

Sarah stopped and pulled on the ribbon.

The goat tugged back.

Benjy came to a screeching halt and yanked at his shirt, trying to get the goat to let go.

Sarah screamed, and her face turned white. Benjy’s shirt ripped as he tried to push Sarah’s goat away from her. But both goats refused to let go.

“Yeehaw!” someone shouted from the nearby field.

Benjy glanced over and saw someone on a bicycle. “Oh, no. What’sBruce Yeager doing here? And the big bully showed up on his shiny new bike.” Bruce laughed so hard his jelly belly shook. His freckled face turned beet red as he just laughed and laughed.

“Look who’s gonna be a goat farmer. Looks like you’re doing a mighty fine job of controlling them goats.” Bruce parked his bike and keeled over as another big chuckle roared up from his belly.

“Get off of me, you feisty goat,” Benjy sneered, but his shirt was already torn.

Sarah yanked her frayed ribbon and sobbed. “This is my favorite dress. Let go!”

After a tug of war, Pop and Mr. Haney rushed to help get the biggest goat to release Sarah, who then ran toward her mother standing on the porch.

Mr. Haney grabbed the goat around her neck until she settled down and stopped kicking and biting. Meanwhile, Pop reached Benjy just in time to tackle the goat that now had a piece of Benjy’s plaid shirt hanging from its mouth. That left the smallest goat, still running wild and free.

Benjy chased it, grabbed it around the neck, and held on with an arm lock as the goat struggled and then finally calmed down. “I got ’em, Pop, I got ’em!”

The two men and Benjy circled, waved their arms, and shooed the goats into a fenced-in area of the barnyard.

“Them goats sure got some spunk,” Benjy said, his face dripping with sweat. “Look at my shirt. It’s ruined, and now I gotta go settle the score with Bruce.”

Benjy looked toward the field and saw Bruce riding away as fast as his bicycle wheels could turn.

“I’ll get even with him.” Benjy stomped his foot and clenched his fists. “Someday I’ll have my own bike.” He turned toward the house and noticed that Sarah, her mother, and Ma had disappeared into the house. But then Ma, in her everyday house dress and flowered apron, came back on the porch and yelled, “Lunch is ready. Come and get it.”

Benjy hurried into the house and bit his lip when he noticed the color still drained from Sarah’s face. “It’ll be okay, Sarah. Let’s get ready for lunch.”

By the time everyone piled into the kitchen to wash for lunch, Sarah seemed to have regained her composure. Benjy’s family with their friends, including Mr. Haney, all sat around the big oak table while Pop said the blessing. Benjy added a silent prayer of his own: “Dear God, help me with them wild and wiry goats ’cause I ain’t got a clue of what to do with them. Amen.”

A fine, homecooked meal of ham boiled with green beans and potatoes, homemade bread and apple butter, cherry pie, and chocolate chip cookies took thoughts away from those ornery goats. Benjy ate until he thought one more spoonful might cause his stomach to burst.

Mr. Haney thanked Ma for a delicious meal then drove away in his rattling pickup truck.

After helping to wash and dry the dishes, Mrs. Perkins and Sarah decided to go home to see if Sarah’s dress could be mended with some new ribbon.

Sad that Sarah had to leave, Benjy focused on doing his regular chores. With his faithful dog beside him, Benjy kicked the dirt with the tip of his shoe. “Gee whiz, Mutt. Can you believe I’m gonna have to care for them goats? I’m even gonna have to milk them. Sounds yucky to me.”

Ruff! Ruff! Mutt, with his big brown eyes, floppy ears, and long, shaggy tan and white hair, barked as though he agreed.

“I hoped to get a part-time job somewhere so I could earn money to buy a bike. Heard they were hiring a few boys over at the mill for the summer. Now my plans are all ruined.” He kicked the dirt again only this time much harder. How am I ever gonna get a new bike now?

A short while later Pop announced that he and Benjy would start on the goat shelter.

“I’m counting on you, Benjy.” Pop handed him a book on goats to learn more about taking care of them.

Benjy knew his father meant business and prepared himself for some intense work. Over the next several days Benjy measured, cut lumber for stakes, uncoiled fencing, and staked it in place.

Ouch! One day he pounded his thumb instead of a stake. With his thumb bright red and throbbing, he continued to use his hand anyway until he and Pop finished the shelter, mangers, and a milking platform. Trying to ignore the pain, Benjy gathered sweet-smelling alfalfa hay and rode along with Pop to buy grain pellets as small as peas for the goats’ food. They also sawed boards to build a wooden trough.

In three afternoons, Pop and Benjy finished the goat shelter. Then they tied a rope to each of the goats and led them to their fenced-in yard and welcomed them to their new home.

“This type of goats with their stand-up ears were originally from Switzerland,” said Pop. “They’re among the top milk producers, and tonight you get to milk them for the first time.”

Eww, I’m gonna have to touch them teats. He’d think about that later. Right now, his stomach was growling. “Hey, Mutt, let’s go find Ma.”

Ma was making sandwiches when Benjy sped into the kitchen and plopped into his chair. Pop followed, hung up his hat, and washed his hands. With one look from Pop, Benjy washed his hands too.

Ma opened a jar of her pickled red beets.

Benjy rubbed his belly. “You make the best red beets, Ma.”

“This is my last jar from the batch that won the blue ribbon at the county fair last year.” Ma handed the jar to Benjy, his mouth watering for a bite.

“Pop and I cheered when you won first place,” Benjy said. “Where’s your ribbon now?”

“It’s in the parlor buffet, along with the seventy-five cents I won for having the best red beets in the county.”

“Wow, I forgot you won money too.” Benjy’s mind started spinning dollar signs. “You reckon I could grow some things to enter in the fair this year?”

“Why, sure. You always help with the garden anyway. I could set aside a patch where you can grow your own vegetables, if you’d like. I have lots of nice tomato plants I started indoors. You’re welcome to some of them.”

“How many things can you enter in the fair?” Benjy asked.

“As many as you want.”

“You take good care of them goats and you just might have a good show goat too,” Pop said.

Wow, I could really make myself some money. Even if I have to take care of some yucky goats.

After lunch Benjy watched while the goats checked out their new home. He placed some alfalfa hay in the trough. Soon, one by one, they headed for the hay.

Chomp, chomp!

The goats ended up with as much hay on the ground as in their mouths.

“Look at that, Mutt.” Benjy shook his head. “Those messy goats are trampling all over their hay when they’re supposed to be eating it. I gotta go get Pop.”

Benjy turned and saw his father approaching the pen. “Pop, what am I gonna do? These goats are messy and wasting all this hay!”

Pop looked at Benjy and started to laugh. “I should have told you the trough is for their water. Each goat has its own manger. Remember the wooden stands we built with a hole cut out? The goat puts her head through the hole and eats her alfalfa hay and grain pellets from the wooden mangers we attached to the stands.”

“Shucks! You sure you want me taking care of these goats?”

“You’ll get the hang of it,” Pop said. “If you gave them food and water, you don’t need to tend to them again until early evening.”

“I don’t know how to milk those stupid goats.”

“Don’t worry, son, you’ll catch on. I’ll show you later.”

Benjy headed to his vegetable patch. He got busy digging up and turning over the ground with a shovel. He broke up the clumps of ground and raked the garden until it became fine, tillable soil.

After supper he headed back to the goat pen.

He stroked the goats’ warm, soft fur. “Don’t know who has the most to learn, the three of you or me, but I guess we’re about to find out.”

Benjy washed his hands at the pump. He grabbed a clean, stainless steel bucket, filled it with water, grabbed a wet rag, and headed for the goat shelter.

“I guess if we’re gonna get well acquainted, ladies, I should give you some names.”

He started with the biggest goat and named her Hazel. The smallest one he named Sadie, and the one in the middle he called Lucy.

“Okay, Hazel, step up on the milking platform here and let’s give this milking thing a try.” Benjy thought how proud Pop would be that he read the book to learn about the milking process. Pop will see that I milked Hazel all on my own. He sat on the milking stool, cleaned Hazel’s udder with a wet rag, and placed the bucket beneath her teats.

“Well, here goes nothing.” Benjy grabbed hold and pulled. Nothing happened. He tried again and again. Nothing happened.

Hazel started prancing, almost knocking over the bucket and stepping on Benjy’s feet.

“Come on, Hazel, you gotta cooperate.”

Soon the goat bleated like a baby as Benjy tried and tried to get her milk to come out.

“You’re supposed to be a milking goat, aren’t ya?” No matter how hard he tried, Benjy couldn’t get any milk from Hazel. Not one drop. He thought he could do this on this own but was glad when Pop entered the pen.

 “How’s it going, son?”

“Ain’t going at all. I don’t think she has any milk to give.”

Pop came over and showed Benjy Hazel’s udder. “See how swollen it is? She’s full of milk.”

“Well then she just doesn’t like me because she won’t let it out.”

“Here, let me try.” He motioned for Benjy to give him the stool. One pull and out came a stream of milk.

“How’d you do that?”

Pop got up from the stool. “I planned to teach you, son. Here, sit down and let me show you something.”

Benjy watched as Pop placed one of Benjy’s thumbs and the next finger at the top of the teat then told him to pull down and squeeze with the last three fingers. A stream of creamy, warm milk came out…and squirted right in Pop’s face!

“Whoa!” Pop yelled. “Slow down, son!”

 “I think I got it now.” Benjy bit his lip, but the laughter burst out.

“I reckon you do.” Pop laughed too and wiped away the creamy milk with his handkerchief.

Benjy couldn’t help himself—he roared with laughter.

Pop reached over, took Hazel’s teat and gave it a squirt…toward Benjy. Now Pop was the one laughing.

Chapter 2

Tick tock, tick tock.

The rhythm of the clock that put Benjy into a peaceful sleep the night before startled him at six o’clock the next morning with its clanging alarm rattling the nightstand. He sat up, raised his arms, and quickly rubbed his half-closed eyes.

“Six o’clock!” Benjy stretched his legs. “Mutt, I might as well be back in school if I gotta get up when the sun’s beginning to light up the sky.” He plunged his head into the pillow and muttered, “I gotta get up and milk them stinky goats.”

He dragged himself out of bed and got dressed. With Mutt by his side, he headed for the goat pen. Sure enough, straight ahead he spotted trouble already!

“Lucy, get out of the watering trough!” Benjy shouted.

Lucy jumped down, and Sadie jumped up. Sadie jumped down, and Hazel jumped up. Splashing and kicking, Mutt soon joined the fun. They took turns leaping on and off the trough while Benjy stood scratching his head.

“Come on, Hazel, you’re going first.” Benjy waited for Hazel to jump down then led her onto the milking platform. When finished, Hazel hopped down from the platform, and Sadie climbed up. He milked both goats without much trouble and sighed with satisfaction.

“Two down, one to go. Come on, feisty Lucy. You’re next.”

But Lucy wasn’t done playing her jumping game and leapt back up onto the trough.

“Get down, Lucy, and hop up on the milk platform.”

M-a-a! M-a-a! Lucy flopped out her tongue, giving Benjy a high-pitched bellow.

He stomped his foot.

Lucy jumped off the watering trough with a wicked look and head-butted Benjy in the stomach.

“Ouch!” He held his belly and curled over onto his hands and knees. “You crazy old goat!” He grabbed hold of her, pulled her down to the milk stand, then bent over to place the milk bucket under her teats.

Thump! Lucy jumped onto Benjy’s back.

“Ow!” Benjy hollered, staggered backward, and landed on his bottom. “Lucy, you are the most contrary goat in the whole world.” He tried to get her situated on the platform, but she jumped off and bit into his shirtsleeve.

“Stop that! Come on, Lucy. Ma won’t be happy if you ruin another shirt. And I’m getting tired of your antics…and your goat slobber.”

But Lucy held onto his shirt and wouldn’t let go. Benjy tugged…and tugged…and tugged until Lucy finally released him. At last, he managed to get her back onto the platform where he finally milked her. He placed fresh hay and grain pellets in the goats’ mangers and carried several buckets of water to the watering trough.

“I’m done with these nanny goats for now,” Benjy said. “Come on, Mutt, it’s still early morning and we’re going fishing. Hopefully we’ll see Old Albert.”

Benjy grabbed his fishing gear and worm box from the barn where Pop was feeding the horses. “Okay if I go do a little fishing?”

“If your goat chores are all done then go on ahead,” Pop said.

“All done!” Benjy headed with Mutt through the forest to his favorite fishing hole. Sure enough, Old Albert, an older man with grey hair and whiskers, had parked himself on a big ol’ log surrounded by cat-o-nine tails.

“Hey, Old Albert, how’s the fishing?” Benjy scrambled to get his rod and squeeze a squiggling worm onto his hook.

“Just got here myself. It’s good to see you. I wondered if you’d be here. How’s your summer vacation?”

“Huh…some vacation. Ma and Pop bought three goats for me to care for. Can you believe that? Goats!”

“Sounds like your parents feel you can handle the extra responsibility. My guess would be they believe you’re growing up.”

“Well I’ll be twelve soon. But goats!” Benjy flopped down on the log beside his fishing buddy. Together like two old friends, he and Old Albert cast their lines into the water.

Plunk! Plunk!

They waited in the woods, hearing only the singing birds and croaking frogs for thirty whole minutes. No nibbles. Fifteen more minutes passed while Benjy daydreamed about the day he would get himself a bicycle.

“Ain’t a very good day for fishing, is it?” Benjy pulled in his line.

“Can’t all be good. Don’t you worry. There are plenty more days this summer when the fish will be jumping onto our hooks.”

“Old Albert, I need to raise some money. I got my sights set on buying a bicycle this summer. Ma said she won money with her blue-ribbon red beets last year, and Pop said maybe I could show one of my goats.” Benjy could hardly get the words out fast enough. “I figured I’d grow a bunch of vegetables and show off one of my goats to earn some money toward that bike.”

“Sounds like a mighty fine idea. It’ll keep you busy, but you might just earn some money to put in your pocket.” Old Albert dropped his line back into the water.

“Did you ever enter anything into the fair?”

“Sure enough did. Won me first place for growing the biggest pumpkin a couple of years ago.” He held his arms out in a wide circle. “Remember the fair’s always held in late August, just before school starts back up for the year. You have plenty of time to get ready for it.”

“Guess I better hurry and get started on that garden and pumpkin patch.” Benjy gathered his fishing gear. “I’ll be seeing you again. Next time we’ll catch us a big batch of fish. Come on, Mutt. Good-bye, Old Albert.”

Mach’s gut,” Old Albert said in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialogue.

“You take care too, Old Albert.”

I gotta get started on my garden today. Benjy grabbed the hoe and Pop’s 1935 Farmers’ Almanac, which he had found the night before when looking for tips on plentiful gardening. He headed to the other side of the house and leaned the hoe against the clapboard siding.

“I don’t know, Mutt.” Benjy held the almanac in his hands. “It says here that digging in the garden will bring bad luck, but planting seeds will bring a plentiful harvest. What does that mean? How can you not dig in a garden?”

Mutt woofed and turned his head to the side.

“Well…guess I did most of my digging yesterday, so it must mean I should plant some of these seeds. I got me some string beans, peas, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, and nice hardy tomato plants from Ma.”

Flipping the pages of the almanac, Benjy read about peas and beans growing as vines. They had to be planted when the horns of the crescent moon were turned up, so they would grow strong. If planted when the horns of the crescent moon were turned down, they would remain low and little.

Hmm. A crescent moon with horns, its end parts turned up, would look something like a smile. Turned down, it would look more like a frown. Benjy tried to picture the moon looking both ways.

“Golly, this whole gardening thing turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought. I don’t even remember what the moon looked like last night. Now what do I do? I can’t just wait around every night to see what the moon looks like.”

Benjy read another prediction about beans. “‘If planted in the morning, they will come two weeks sooner than if planted in the afternoon.’ Well, it’s still morning, I’ll plant string beans. And it also says if I don’t finish the row, I’ll have bad luck. Mutt, I’m planting me a whole row of string beans!”

Benjy used the edge of the hoe to make an indent in the row of soil, where he placed the seeds. He then scraped the ground back over the seeds.

Hopefully that moon’s horns are facing up soon so I can plant my peas.

Fearful he’d make some kind of mistake, he didn’t read anything about tomatoes or carrots. He simply stuck a few tomato plants in the ground.

“I gotta finish out the row, so for better or worse I’ll plant my carrot seeds too.”

Benjy knew he had to get his pumpkins started or they would never be ready for the biggest pumpkin contest in late August. Without looking for any more advice, he planted a small patch of pumpkin seeds.

If Old Albert won the biggest pumpkin award one year, ain’t no reason I can’t do the same.

“Benjy!” Ma yelled. “Come inside!”

 Benjy put his hoe back in the tool shed and hurried into the house. “What’s up, Ma?”

“I haven’t seen you all morning. It’s almost lunch time, and I don’t think you ate any breakfast yet.”

“Nah, I’ve been busy milking goats and did a little fishing. Then I tried to make sense out of Pop’s Farmers’ Almanac so I could start my garden. How do you do it, Ma? There’s so many rules!”

Ma burst out laughing

“What’s so funny?” Benjy asked.

“I work in the garden whenever I find the time, but a lot of people swear by those predictions or superstitions.”

“I sure hope you finished your rows, or you’re in for some bad luck this year,” Benjy said.

Ma laughed again as she handed him a plate with toast, bacon, and wobbly eggs, sunny-side up.

“Thanks, Ma.” He then rushed off to first wash up before gobbling down a few strips of bacon and his toast and eggs. “Lucy acted crazy this morning, jumping up and down on the water trough. She even jumped on my back. She was heavy and knocked me over. I think I got footprints on my back.” Benjy ate another piece of bacon. “She head-butted me in the stomach too. Then she made me drag her to the milking platform.”

“Lucy? So, you picked names for the goats, I see.”

“Yep. She’s the contrary one. There’s also Hazel and Sadie.”

“Sounds like you’re getting to know those goats pretty well.”

“I read where they like to climb and jump. I think I need to make some things for them to play on.”

“I’m glad you’re reading a book and learning as much as you can.”

“I’m gonna go find Pop to see if he can help me make some playthings for the goat pen.”

Benjy headed to the barn, where he found his father working on the tractor.

“Anything wrong, Pop?”

“Just giving the tractor a little tune-up.”

Benjy saw a couple of gigantic old tractor tires propped up against the wall of the barn and got an idea.

“Hey, will you be needing them old tractor tires?”

“No, son. They’re worn out.”

“Think we could use them in the goat pen somehow? The goats need some things to jump and play on. Lucy stood in the watering trough this morning. The three of them kept jumping up and down.”

“I reckon we could figure something out. I’ll help you roll them down to the pen.”

Benjy crawled inside one of the tires, and Pop started rolling it until they reached the goat pen.

“Whoa!” Benjy wobbled sideways inside the tire. His head was spinning so fast he flopped out of the tire and rolled a couple of somersaults until he landed firmly on his back.

Pop finished rolling the tire and laid it down flat in the goat pen before heading back for another one.

Benjy, still trying to regain his balance, waited inside the goat pen. He studied the flat tire lying on the ground and waited for Pop to come back with the second tire.

“I’m afraid this ain’t gonna give them too much to jump on.”

“Let’s try something.”

Pop rolled the second tire up over the first one and stood it up. It fit inside the flat tire and now gave some height to the tires and created a crawl space.

“Let’s see how this works,” Pop said. “Meanwhile, I have a couple of empty barrels they might like to play with. I’ll bring them around to the pen later today.”

“Good idea.”

His father clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Glad to see you’re taking an interest in caring for the goats.”

“They got names. The big one, the leader of the bunch, is called Hazel. The spunky one is Lucy, and the little quiet one is Sadie.”

Pop grinned. “I’d say those are pretty good names.”

“Ugh, thanks.” Benjy held his nose. “But tomorrow those stinky critters are getting a bath.”