The other day we were at the lumberyard and I noticed a young man with tattoos all up and
down both arms. Being a tattooer myself, I was fascinated. I kept sidling up closer and
closer to him to study them. I believe they were pictures of deathís heads, skull and cross
bones, knives and chain saws, graves, things like that, but what I was fascinated with was
the technique. Here was some quality work.
He had been nervously glancing down at me as I kept sidling closer and he had kept edging
away. But, he wasnít going to get away from me that easy. I had to see these tattoos closer
as I had forgot to bring my glasses. Finally, he just turned tail and ran. Tattoo man has left
the building. I let out an exasperated puff of air. Well, if Mr. Skulls and Crossbones and
Opened Graves was such a nervous Nelly to let a middle-aged woman spook him, he
should have had "Sissy" printed along with those pictures, I huffed.
If only he had stood his ground and growled, "What do you want, old woman?" Then, we
could have had an intelligent conversation on his tattoos, how the tattooer achieved such
clarity, how long the tattoo had been on his arm, how long he expected it to stay, and
particularly what kind of ink the tattooer used. But, no, Mr. Skulls and Skeletons got the
vapors and had to leave because of a little scrutiny.
What did Lee think of me trying to chase this young tattooed man down? Lee and I have
been married so long, he almost has all my thought processes down to a fine art. I came
stomping back to his side while he was waiting in line. He glanced down at me.
"Excellent," I answered.
"The nervous type?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, disappointedly.
"Should have put ĎSissyí underneath the pictures," he commented.
"I know," I said.
When Lee and I got into the Boer goat business, we discovered we had to tattoo most the
goats. Heavens. I couldnít stand the thoughts of getting my ears pierced and Iím supposed
to tattoo some innocent little goat? Not only were we suppose to tattoo them but it had to
be in the ears, both ears. This was just getting worse and worse. Now, I could have not
done it, but so many people asked about papers and you had to tattoo to register the little
dears (the goats, not the people). Maybe, if all people who wanted to buy Boer goats had to
be tattooed themselves with their farm name and the number and year they were born in
their ears, maybe this notion of poking little holes in kidsí ears would be forgotten. Since
that is not likely, we breeders who want to register a kid every now and then have to learn
how to tattoo.
We checked around with different breeders and some said in order to make the tattoo last
longer, to wait and tattoo when the kids were older, like 3-6 months of age. So, we waited
and we waited and finally the day arrived.
We figured out a plan of action. We would put the kids in a stall and catch them one by
one. Lee would sit on a bucket with the front legs of the kid on one side of his legs, and the
hind legs of the kidís on the other side, and the kidís belly resting in Leeís lap. Lee would
bend over the kid to hold him in place. I would have all the things set up within easy reach
to start tattooing.
We caught a kid. Lee sat on the bucket and started putting our plan into action. He was all
set and ready for me to tattoo when the kid gave a mighty kick, knocking Lee off the
bucket. He found himself lying on this back holding tightly to a kid on his chest, who is
kicking and screaming. The rest of the kids are stampeding around, doing leaps over Lee
and the trapped, thrashing and screaming kid.
I grab hold of the kid and Lee rights himself and gets back on his bucket. One thing we had
totally forgotten, Boer and Boer cross kids this age are much stronger then what our dairy
and Angora goats had been. After he gets back on his bucket, Lee changes his mind and
backs the bucket up against the wall so he can brace himself while holding the kid in his lap.
Now, itís my turn. At the suggestion of several breeders I bought two tattooers. One is
permanent one with our farm name on it and the other is one we change each year for the
letter that represents the year and what number this goat is that is born in this year. They
said it would make things faster and easier. Thank you, whoever you are that suggested
this. It worked.
The right ear will have the farm letters in it. I slip on my plastic gloves to protect myself
from the ink, use the roll on ink to coat the inside of the ear first. So far so good. The kid
has gotten relaxed in Leeís arms and is starting to fall asleep. I pick up the farm name
tattooer, slip it on and clamp down quickly.
The kid shoots straight up in the air with a mighty yell, cracking Lee underneath the chin. If
it hadnít been for the wall, he probably would have fallen off his bucket from the surprise
upper cut given by the kid. He still holds onto the kid with a death grip, though he is looking
a little woozy in the eyes. I wait a minute for him to get his bearings as to where he is at.
"Lee, I canít find the tattoo," I said, checking the kidís ear.
Lee looks down and focuses.
"Uh, Connie, look on top of the ear," he says.
And, there it is. I had the tattooers turned wrong and had tattooed the top of the kidís ear
instead of the underneath part. Bummer. I have to do it again.
After I do the tattoo correctly this time, I rub the roll on green ink on the ear and then rub
baking soda into that to make the ear heal roughly and be easier to find the tattoo. I put the
tattooer into a clean peanut butter jar filled with alcohol to disinfect the tattooer for the next
kid. I have a thing about passing germs on from one kid to another. We do the next ear, this
time I remember to hold the tattooer correctly and everything is finished before you know
I noticed my hands were sweating like crazy in those plastic gloves and I couldnít change
the numbers as easily as I liked with them. I tossed the gloves aside.
As we go from kid to kid, I notice my hands getting greener and greener. Not only that, but
in turning the kids loose and catching new ones, neat green hand prints appear on their
sides. I have discovered this is indeed helpful in knowing which kids have already been
tattooed and it only takes a week or two for the ink to wear off on their coats. Iíve also
discovered that if you go in and do dishes a couple of times, the green ink will also
disappear from my hands. The clerks in town donít even bother to ask me why my hands
are green. They have grown accustomed to it.
We also have decided to tattoo the kids much younger now. They arenít as strong and,
besides, Lee is getting tired of being knocked off the bucket. Now, if that cross and bones
timid young man had only stayed put, Iím sure I could have found out where he had his
tattoo done and could have gone and quizzed that fellow. Thereís always room for
improvement. I suppose the young man had never met the determination of a professional