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Steve was out in the Mule Barn truck stop parking lot the other day, tightening something with his wrenches under the hood of his pickup truck. The rest of us stood around looking wise.

“You sure it ain’t the solenoid?” said Bert.

“I don’t think they make them anymore,” said Doc.

“It’s usually the solenoid,” Bert said, with finality.

Out of self defense, Steve emerged from his cavern of wires and metal long enough to say, “Didn’t I see you have a goat now, Bert?”

Bert nodded. “That’s why I hate allergies.”

We waited. We stared.

“Well you see, Maizie’s allergic to cow’s milk, so we bought Ernestine for her.”

“And Ernestine is ….?”

“The goat … right. So what happens is somehow I have to milk Ernestine. Twice a day. We wanted to go overnight to the city last week. Ever try to find someone who will babysit and milk a goat?”

“I won’t do it,” said Dud.

“Neither will anyone else,” said Bert, sadly. “So either we stay home, or take the goat with us. Ever try to find a motel that takes goats?”

“Not recently,” Doc said.

“So we stayed home. Oh, it wouldn’t be so bad if she liked me …”

“Maizie?”

“Ernestine. See, she waits until I have her almost milked out, then she’ll stick her foot in the bucket and kick it all over me. The other day, I was standing in her pen and talking with Mrs. Gonzales next door, and Ernestine came running up behind me and ran right between my legs.”

“Did you fall?”

“Of course. And Mrs. Gonzales tried not to laugh, but it didn’t work.”

“Bert,” said Doc, “why don’t you just buy goat’s milk at the store?”

“Maizie says she needs it fresh, because it’s better. You guys ever notice how a goat has horns and cloven hooves?”

We nodded.

Then Bert said, “I don’t think I need to add anything to that.”

Brought to you by “Ol’ Jimmy Dollar,”

Slim’s children’s book about a happy hound dog man and his “kids.” See it

at riograndebooks.com.

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