She'd been checking around about getting organic, unpasteurized whole milk (you know, from the cow to you), wanting to find a source a bit closer to Oneonta. Finally, she heard back from a farmer not far away.
He said his farm couldn't sell unprocessed milk because the Health Department or Ag and Markets or somebody would come down on him. He apologized and suggested that we ``just get a goat.''
We looked at each other for a moment, thinking of all the other critters in the neighborhood and how a goat would hardly be noticed among the deer, groundhogs, opossum, squirrels, skunks and raccoons.
Then it hit us. No, not goats, as the memories simultaneously erupted of our weeklong goat-sitting experience years ago. Since then, neither of us has had much of a taste for goat milk or cheese.
It was early summer on the Niagara peninsula when a fellow grad student asked if we wanted to stay at their farm for a week while they had a little vacation.
All we had to do, she said, was look after the chickens and goats, keep the gardens watered if necessary and enjoy the country living. Sounded great. We were excited and looked forward to a week of relaxation.
Our elation began to wane, however, when we made a ``here's what you have to do'' visit to the farm a few days before we moved in.
It was a beautiful spot, on a private country road, with an old farmhouse, a barn, chicken coop and a few other outbuildings. There were flower gardens, blooming shrubs and a vegetable plot.
And there were two goats, a she and a billy, who had a pen, a goat house and their run of part of the barn.
After a slow stroll around the property, Adele introduced us to the goats. They were no trouble, she said, but Gert had an infected teat, so we had to apply a salve to it each night. That was no trouble, she said, except that Billy didn't like people messin' with his mate.
All we had to do, Adele explained, was get Gert into the barn and close the doors so Billy couldn't get in while we took care of our nursing duties.
Oh, OK, no problem, we said, while privately getting a little nervous in anticipation of that nightly task.
We moved in a few days later and enjoyed walking around the gardens and woods, feeding the chickens and goats, relaxing on the porch and generally feeling how great it was to be in the country for while.
When evening came, I occupied Billy while she took Gert into the barn. But Billy lost his cool and I was barely able to get into the barn and shut the door behind me before being butted. I held Gert while she put the stuff on her teat and it went off without a hitch.
That wasn't bad, we said, feeling much better about having to do it each day. The next evening, Billy was even madder and kept butting the door during the project, which was nerve-wracking. Apparently Gert picked up our vibe and she wasn't as docile, but we got it done.
About the fifth day, however, I forgot to latch the pen gate. After getting Gert into the barn, Billy started butting the door as usual but then it suddenly stopped. He got out of the pen, dashed to another door and started pounding his noggin against it so that it seemed like the whole barn was shaking.
And, unfortunately, that door wasn't shut securely.
We were a little uptight trying to relax Gert so we could apply the salve when, in an instant, Billy came charging, head down, across the barn. So long, Gert. We dove behind some hay bales and did our best to verbally calm Billy _ and his precious bride. It wasn't easy.
So, Gert didn't get her medicine that night, and I had just about had it with Billy. It took a few days, but I realized definitively that night that I didn't like him and he didn't like me. Little did I know that his malicious work was not complete.
The next day, our last full one, we were sitting on the porch in mid-afternoon, me with my thesis and her with a novel, when I thought I saw a goat out of the corner of my eye. It took me a few seconds to come down to earth enough to realize the goats were supposed to be in their pen and that it was in the other direction.
That's right, the flowers on the shrubs were devastated; the blooming beds looked barren. My last fight with Billy wasn't pretty or graceful, but I finally got the pair back to the pen.
The next day, we tried to leave before Adele noticed her missing blooms, but we had to face her disappointment.
We didn't say goodbye to the goats.
So, no, please don't pass the goat cheese, and I think we'll stick to cow's milk.
Cary Brunswick is managing editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at (607) 432-1000, ext. 217, or firstname.lastname@example.org.