Chirp. Chirp. Maria shifted in her bed as she opened her eyes. Dawn was nearly here; already the birds were wide awake and singing their very best. She blinked a couple of times before she could see the faint light. Their family baled alfalfa till late in the night, they finally laid down to sleep a few minutes after three A.M. I’ll sleep a little longer.

It was well after dawn when an unexpected voice coming from her doorway awoke her.

“Maria! Maria! Can you help me real’ quick? I started sawing off Rachel’s horns . . . there’s blood everywhere . . . she’s bleating loudly out of pain. I can’t hold her and saw the horns off at the same time—come quick!” Mom was out breath, her shaking fingers cramped together, her face resembled a tomato.

“Okay I’ll be right there.” Maria propped herself up by her elbows, while nodding continuously.

In a rush she dressed, slid on her flip flops—they were the nearest things she could see that would cover her bare feet, and ran outside to the goat pen, not thinking to eat breakfast first, even though she had not eaten since six o’clock the previous evening. Maria found the poor goat standing there with her head stuck in the fence, and one horn half off. Blood ran down her face, while the other goats were eating their morning meal,

“Hold her head,” Mom said. Then she started sawing and Rachel, the goat, started bleating louder.

Maria firmly gripped the goat’s head, eagerly waiting for this terrible job to end! There. One horn was off.

“Hoof! Are you tired?” Mom sighed, while she stood up holding the saw in her hand.

“Kind of.” With those words said Maria’s eyesight went black causing her to lose balance. She leaned against the pen hoping to gain her sight back.

“Are you dizzy?” The words flew like the bird did that got startled by her mom’s scared voice.

“Uh huh,” was all she managed to say before she blacked out.

Moments passed before she regained consciousness, although what she saw when she opened her eyes wasn’t too pleasant. She saw her mom opening the faucet and dragging the hose nearer and nearer. Maria glanced around to see she was laying on the ground, with one foot completely bare. Where was her flip-flop?

“Mom, Mom that’s not necessary! I’m up.” Maria held up her shaking hands in protest.

“Oh, you’re up.” Her mom’s words came out slow and quiet as she put the hose down.

Maria’s mom helped her up and offered to walk her to the house. Maria protested, confident she could help finish their task. Her mom didn’t like the idea very much, but wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. Her mom nodded and picked up the saw. Maria grabbed the goat’s head firmly. Waiting, waiting desperately for the job to end. Hearing the goat scream in agony, Maria felt vomit crawl up her throat. Back and forth her mom sawed. Then the horn finally fell, and the goat was free. She no longer bellowed, but looked relieved. Maria understood the goat’s feelings completely.

“Okay Maria, you go eat breakfast and rest a bit. I’ll wash off the blood on the goat. And finish up here.”

Maria didn’t argue. A bowl of cereal and a banana sounded great. Once inside Maria opened the porch screen door to let in the fresh summer air. After she ate her cereal she decided she’d eat the banana on the porch, with a coffee to go with it. She sat down on the white woven bench and scanned over the scene in front of her.

By the barn Mom washed the blood off the goat. In the distance the corn stood, showing a promising crop. Birds curved their feet around the oak branches, singing their summer songs, while the branches waved in the breeze. It turned out to be a beautiful morning after all, once the goat settled down, and began eating. You never know what will come up on a farm, but for all the days ahead, Maria hoped she would never have to do that again!

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