Listen to my story about a man named Lee, a poor mountaineer but he kept his family fed ( one
wife, 70 goats, 4 horses, 2 mules, flock of chickens, gaggle of geese, 2 livestock guard dogs, 2
backyard dogs, 6 cats, and one guinea). Why the paraphrase of the Beverly Hillbilly song? We
decided over a month ago to head to Orlando, Florida, to visit Lee’s folks. And, to make things
more interesting, we were going to take our old 88 Astro van and on the way back from Florida,
stop and visit a friend and Boer breeder down south and pick up one of her baby fullblood Boer
Our goat farming is rather intensive at the moment with all the goats penned in a couple of pens
while we build new fence on our 107 hilly WV acres. The trick would be to find someone
innocent enough to live on and take care of the place while we were gone; we planned on a
four-day trip. My younger sister was sentimental enough to agree to do this so we can go see
Lee’s folks who are getting a little up there in years. She also enlisted the aid of her 18-year-old
son. She was all happy that she could do this for the dear old folks (both us and Lee’s parents)
and in spite of this sentimental nature, she’s a nurse that can give a patient a shot with a gleam in
her eye that says, "Don’t give me no nonsense." We knew she was the right one to train for the
After a couple nights training, when she got off work, on how to care and feed all the livestock
and to make sure she knew the proper use of a thermometer, Lee and I knew we were ready for
the trip. New tires were put on the van; air pressure put in professionally by the tire man himself,
windows on the van cleaned. We threw in our suitcases, shoved clean garbage bags over the
hanging clothes, packed the large dog cage for the goat, and put a cooler of snacks behind the
front seats within easy reach.
Now our old Astro van is built on a truck frame and can haul over 1100 lbs. of feed without a
whimper. Long ago we took out all the seats, except the two very comfortable seats up front, and
started using it for hauling things when it rained. The van rides a little rough, bucking over bumps
in the road, but the seat belts and the comfortable seats keep you in place. The air conditioning
still worked and the baby goat and us would be very comfortable in the hot weather.
We planned on leaving early Saturday morning, drive all day, stop at our friends’ farm to pick
out a baby buck and then on the return trip on Tuesday, pick it up for the trip back to WV. I
couldn’t sleep Sat. morning and got up at 3:30 a.m. and Lee and I started the morning feeding
and left around 5 a.m.
Things were going great, we’d had a good 5 hours of sleep, we were on I-77, and soon on the
WV Turnpike. The road turned from asphalt to concrete and the roughest concrete we’d ever
been on. The van was responding by bucking continuously down the interstate. We were
bouncing so vigorously back and forth in our seats that I thought we both were going to get
whiplash. I noticed everyone else just smooth sailing along, without one bobble, one buck, or
even one crack the whip of the neck.
I looked at Lee as we bucked on down the interstate and said, "I don’t see anyone else rocking
back and forth in their seats." He just shrugged and determinedly drove on down the Turnpike.
Finally, we got through the mountains of WV and went into Virginia. They had this place called
Fancy Gap that said it was at least a 7-mile tall slope. It was a pleasant little hill after the
mountains of WV.
At least we were off concrete roads and when we rolled into NC the winds picked up. The old
van shivered with each blast of the wind. Suddenly we heard a knocking underneath the van on
my side. Then it started knocking up near the front right tire, then on the right side of the van,
and back underneath the van, a steady "thump, thump, thump."
Lee and I looked at each other and we both said, "Is the faithful old van breaking down?" Lee
said, "Look out your window, Connie."
"What good would looking out my window do?" I asked in puzzlement. But, I looked out
because I do trust the wisdom of my husband, even when he doesn’t make a lick of sense. And,
lo and behold, some trim on my side of the van had blown off and got caught in the running
boards and was thumping the van for all it was worth. Lee pulled off the road and retrieved the
trim and threw it in the back, because you never know when you are going to need some trim
Lee climbed back into the van and headed on down the interstate. Between the van bucking most
the way out of WV, winds whipping us back and forth in NC, the trim trying to beat the van to
death, Lee looked at me and muttered, "I feel like the Beverly Hillbillies." I nodded in agreement.
After only five hours of sleep, we probably looked like them, too.
We arrived on our friends’ farm around noontime. They wanted to feed us, but we declined
because we had to be on the road soon. They showed us their handsome baby bucks, we picked
the one we wanted to load up on Tues., and careened out of their driveway to make it to
Orlando before midnight.
We arrived in Orlando at 9:30 p.m. and stayed two days. Tuesday came early and we were up
and gone by around 4:30 a.m. We rolled onto our friends’ farm by 11:15 a.m. to pick up our
new buck. They were inside eating that famous southern fried chicken, I believe the box was
labeled Lion King, and they insisted we should eat and stay a while.
We had been snacking all the way up from Florida to stay awake and had gone past full a long
time ago. I had even tried some of that new cherry flavored Mountain Dew that is supposed to
have 50% more caffeine in it. It didn’t phase me one bit. Half way to our friends’ farm I had told
Lee to let me out of the van and I’d run ahead and tell our friends that Lee was almost there with
the van. Of course this was when Lee was going 70 mph on I-77. He told me to put my seat belt
back on and stay put. I thought I’d better, because if nothing else, my lightning like chatter and
fast wit would keep him awake. He did take the cherry flavored Mountain Dew bottle and hide it
under his seat.
We thanked them kindly for the offer of food but we had better get on down the road with our
new buck. Our friend started filling out our buck’s papers and she and her husband made the
comment that we didn’t act like West Virginians. Interested, we asked why not.
There were West Virginians in their area and they did not take baths, they said. "Well," I said
bashfully, "Saturday night was only three days back and we haven’t been doing any work to get
Next thing, West Virginians weren’t smart. She must have caught me reading the buck’s papers.
"Well," I explained, "we did have a lot of Sears catalogs back home and you can’t help but learn
words after you sit out there a while."
No, they concluded, we just didn’t act a bit like the West Virginians they knew. She finished up
her paper writing and said, "You are good friends wanting to buy one of our bucks. Got cash?"
We loaded the much surprised baby buck into his cage. He stood there for a second and then
unconcernedly started eating his hay. Even when we were traveling down the road with
tractor-trailers whizzing by, he just lay down and chewed his cud, enjoying the air conditioning
after the ninety-degree heat down south. The only thing I can figure is why he was so calm about
the whole trip, was that our good friend must have taken him for a lot of rides in her car when
she had to go to town in order for him to get use to traveling.
The trip back was much better after we learned that our tire man had put at least 6 pounds more
pressure in the tires then even he recommended. The wild bucking over the WV Turnpike turned
into gentle little leaps every now and then, after we let some of the air out of the tires.
The only problem we had was stopping at rest areas. Usually we came back from the restrooms
and found a group of people looking into our van. The baby buck gazed at the crowd of faces
unconcernedly and sometimes would stand up to show how a real buck used the bathroom. I
was tempted to tape a box on the side of the window and write "$.25 a look", but was afraid the
state troopers would take it wrong, not realizing it was just a little baby buck in the van.
We arrived back on the farm around 8:20 p.m. My sister was so joyful to see us that she threw
the keys to the house in my general direction, jumped in her car, and floored it out the driveway.
Farm living must have been good for her. She was so energetic.
"Listen to my story about a man named Lee, a poor mountaineer but he kept his family fed," I
hummed as we bedded the new baby buck down in his stall. Nothing like being home again.