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Bubba’s pet billygoat was black and
white and stank to high heaven.

By Bill Leftwich

Other places start a story with “Once upon a time,” but here in Texas we say, “You ain’t going to believe this!” Shore ’nuff, you ain’t going to believe this one.
A West Texas rancher had two sons, one named Junior, and the other was just called Bubba. I’ll not name the rancher ’cause you might have known him.

Junior was very intelligent. He did well in high school athletics and made good grades. He went on to the state cow college in this area and did well. He was on the judging teams for cattle and horses and graduated with honors.

Bubba was a little slow...had a learning disability and a slight speech problem. The high school finally graduated him just to get him gone. He was strong and enjoyed working on the ranch. Everyone said he had a way with animals. He learned fence building, windmill repair and maintenance, roping and doctoring cattle and all the chores around the ranch. He just wasn’t capable of making important decisions in ranch management. Bubba was good natured and didn’t seem to mind that Junior was gradually taking over the buying of new bulls, culling the herd and making all of the important decisions for the ranch.

Bubba had an older pickup full of tools and seldom went to town. Junior drove a new pickup; spent time in town with some amigos; played golf; but did a good job of keeping up with the cattle and feed markets. The old rancher was very proud of Junior and finally turned the ranch over to him as foreman. Junior would line out the work every day and Bubba would go about his work with the Mexican vaqueros as happy as could be.

Bubba had an old pet billygoat called “Billy.” He had big horns, was black and white and stank to high heaven. Billy was the head man of the goat herd Junior kept on the ranch so they could let the Mexican hands barbeque a young chivo on weekends. No matter where Bubba was working on the ranch, Billy would usually show up and hang around him while he was doing whatever his job was that day. Fences didn’t mean much to Billy. He would jump them and go where he pleased. Bubba would let him ride back to headquarters in the back of the pickup when the work was done. Bubba and one of the vaqueros would leave the ranch at various times to pick up some new piece of equipment Junior had ordered to upgrade the ranch operations: a solar motor pump system; a new calf tilt table; a bulk order of salt and mineral blocks bought at a discount; and other items to make things more efficient. Everyone liked to watch Bubba and Billy greet each other on his return to the ranch from El Paso, Fort Davis or San Angelo. Billy would stand up and put his forefeet on Bubba’s chest or sometimes push him with his head but never actually butt him or hit him with his horns. They would romp and play while Bubba would be telling Billy about his trip.

The rancher passed away and the will was read. Junior was somewhat upset that the ranch was to be divided equally and each son to receive half of the livestock. Junior felt he should have more than Bubba since he had been ramrodding the outfit for the past eight years. He figured out a plan that would give him an advantage, and told his town amigos to come out to the ranch to see him pull it off.

Junior put all the younger cows and bulls in one pen and the older stock and sick in another pen. He put Billy in with the smooth-mouths and cancer-eyed herd. He called Bubba over and said, “The ranch is half yours; the surveyors have separated it equally as to grass, creek frontage, windmill wells, barns and houses. The cattle have been equal amount in each pen and I’m going to give you first choice to show you my heart is in the right place.”

Junior’s friends were opening beer cans from a cooler they had brought from town and they winked at each other and laughed behind Bubba’s back. The ranch vaqueros saw what was happening but were reluctant to say anything.

Bubba climbed up on the fence and looked at the pen of good cattle. He didn’t say anything, he just hummed a little tune and smiled at everyone. He then walked over to the pen holding the culls and Billy. He climbed up on the fence’s top rail and looked them over real good. Billy saw Bubba up on the fence and he ran over and looked up at him as if to say, “Hello Bubba.” Everyone was waiting for Bubba’s decision and he finally said, “I wove you Billy; but you in de wong pen.”

Bill Leftwich, of Fort Davis, Texas, says he’s a “western artist and shade tree historian.”


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