We drove into the city the other day. Greg deftly pulled the pickup into a parking space next to a shiny black car with a chrome stingray emblazoned on its side. A gleaming SUV was our other neighbor.

I closed my door and smiled at the beautiful creek mud that gleefully adorned our truck. There was no mud to be seen on any other vehicle, anywhere in the entire lot. I will confess, though, that I do drive through our county car wash once every month or so, not so much for the shine that it bestows upon my vehicle, but more for the lack of mud or dust that I manage to get on my clothes as I climb in and out of my vehicle’s
doors.

I have tried the frontal approach to getting in, whereby I grab ahold of the steering wheel, step up on the step-up bar and turn to deposit my bottom onto the seat, only to brush the rear hem of my pants up against creek valley dirt.

I have tried the bottom-first entrance maneuver, in which I stand far outside the door, place my hands on the seat behind me and hop up backward while swinging my legs up and around, again, brushing the rear hem of my pants up against creek valley dirt.

The other day was just such a day. I proudly drove my vehicle home, marveling at how it glistened in the sunshine. I turned off on the creek road. No mud or dust was anywhere to be seen. I drove down the road, and when I got to where I knew there would be a long, but almost dry puddle, I slowed down to a crawl, so the tires would not sling mud up onto the sides of my vehicle.

When I came to the dusty patch where the road is falling toward the creek, I slowed again, so the dust would not cling to any wet from the previously passed puddle. Finally, I slowly made my way up our gravel drive, parked in my designated spot, opened my door and stepped out.

Alas, the back of my slacks rubbed against the not-so-clean step-up bar, and once again, beautiful creek valley mud was all down the bottom half of my legs. It occurred to me that this mud had really gotten my goat.

And then I saw a tall, dark and handsome fellow ambling across the drive toward me. He came right up and held out his cheek for a kiss. I bent down, and he breathed in my breath as only a goat can do. My sense of exacerbation completely melted away. Goat kisses are so special. I ran my hands along his neck and back, but only for a moment, as he was off, following his little herd of ladies over to the rock wall to nibble on vines.

As I watched him go, I wondered how the expression “got one’s goat” came to be. I went right inside to find out.

Well, it seems that at one time goats were kept with milking cows, due to their calming nature. It was said that the cows produced more milk with the gentle goats as their companions, and so, if someone wished to wreak havoc on a dairy farm, one would simply steal the goats, and the distressed cows would then produce less milk. Hence, to “get one’s goat” came to mean to cause distress, or so I learned on the internet.

Now, my research may or may not hold any truth, but I most certainly do know that our creek valley goats really are very calming. I could not imagine our lives without them. This time of year, I let them free range.

Every night they return to their yard, and when I make my evening rounds, I securely close the gate behind them.

Yes, the creek valley mud may have distressed me for a moment, but I know that if anyone happened to take my goats, well … that would certainly get my goat for sure.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.