Goats and Bugs

by Nick Brady

Chapter 3

After school, George shouldered his bag and followed Bobby to the row of yellow school buses. Seated side by side, they rode out to Bobby's farm. Both were quietly excited. The bus stopped at the dirt road that led to the house and barn. They walked through the tall pines to the small wooden farmhouse shaded by several tall pines. Just beyond the house was a faded red barn with a shed attached to one side. In the distance were green fields and a pasture with black and white cows grazing.

"Is that your farm?" George exclaimed as he breathed in the scent of the pines. "This is wonderful!"

Bobby didn't reply but was pleased by George's excitement. He loved the little farm but was keenly aware that it was modest by any standard. "Well, it's home. Come on. I'll show you around." Pepper rushed out to greet them and barked at George in a friendly way then led them to a gate in the fence that ran around the farmhouse and barn. Bobby saw Ely on the tractor so didn't go into the house but led George to the barn first.

The old barn smelled like dust and cow manure. There were a couple of stalls to one side where Bobby did the milking. On a bench were the big buckets wrapped in plastic and a short stool. A bag of cattle feed stood nearby. "Here's where I milk, and the chickens roost over here," Bobby told him, pointing to a series of wooden bins in which the heads of brown chickens peeked out of beds of straw. "We can pick up the eggs while we're here."

Bobby took a wicker basket and approached the nesting hens. Carefully sliding his hand under a hen, he extracted a warm egg and placed it in the basket. "You want to try this?"

George gamely stuck his hand under a chicken who ruffled at the unfamiliar touch and pecked at him. "Ouch! She bit me!"

"You got to sneak your hand in there," Bobby laughed. "Slide your hand down the straw without poking the chicken. Here, this is the easy way." He scooped up some chicken feed and tossed it on the floor. The hungry chickens abandoned their nests long enough for the eggs to be retrieved. They filled the basket and walked to the door of the barn where they were joined by a pair of gray tabby cats.

Bobby Banged the feed bucket against the barn door, and Pepper rushed out to bring the cows up from the pasture. To George, this was like the scene from a book. He looked at Bobby as a kind of heroic character who was fully at home in this rustic place. Without a word, Bobby heated water for the pail with a squirt of disinfectant and poured some feed into a bin in the front of the stall. He pulled in the first arrival, set down the stool and took a big bucket out of its plastic wrap. He cleaned the udder and began to pull milk into the bucket. The cats waited expectantly, and Bobby aimed a stream of milk at first one and then the other. They danced on their hind legs and scarcely missed a drop.

"What are their names?" George asked.

"They don't have names. They live in the barn and keep the mice down," Bobby explained. "They're mousetraps, not pets."

"But your dog Pepper has a name," George said as he rubbed the ears of the shiny black lab.

"When the cats bring the cows up I'll give them a name," Bobby smiled,.

In a few minutes, he shooed the first cow out the door and replaced it with the next.

"Won't the others wander off?" George asked.

"The cows all want their turn for the feed. Besides, when they're full, they want to be milked. I'm kind of the calf that empties them," Bobby explained. "You ready to try this?"

George wasn't sure he was but didn't want Bobby to think he was a wimp. "Uh, sure. How do I do this?"

Rinse your hands in the disinfectant and sit down on the stool," Bobby told him, "then grab two teats in your hand and kind of push up on the udder then squeeze it down from the top. That will bring the milk down. OK?"

George dropped the rucksack from his shoulder and took his place on the stool next to the waiting cow. "Like this?" He held a teat in each hand and tried to follow Bobby's instructions. The cow paused from eating to turn and give George a dubious look at the unfamiliar touch. Bobby watched closely and coached him while he fumbled then managed to extract a thin stream of milk. With Bobby's instruction, milk slowly began to fill the bucket one squirt at a time.

"That's it," Bobby encouraged. "You're getting there. We could make a farmer out of you."

After a minute or so the cow began to get restless, and Bobby replaced George on the stool to finish the job. When the last was sent back to pasture, Bobby handed the basket of eggs to George, picked up the buckets of fresh milk and led him up to the house. "We need to put these in the cooler then I got to find something for supper."

They went up the steps to the back door of the house and stashed the milk and eggs in the cooler. George looked around at the kitchen and the sitting room beyond. It was cluttered and sparsely furnished. The walls had been papered at some time in the past but were faded, and the woodwork was peeling. The place obviously lacked a woman's touch.

Bobby looked in the refrigerator. "We eat a lot of chicken," he explained. "When we hatch a bunch of chicks in the spring, we keep the hens to lay eggs and eat the roosters. But I got some ground meat in here if you like spaghetti."

"I don't care," George assured him. "I'm not picky; I just like to eat. Do you do all the cooking?"

"Yeah, most of it. My daddy just cooks eggs. Can you fix us a salad?"

"I do that at home. What do you have?"

"I got half a head of lettuce, some tomatoes and whatever else you can find in the fridge. Chop it up," Bobby said and took out a package of ground beef and dropped it in a skillet. When it started to sizzle, he put a pot of water on the stove to boil, chopped up an onion, stirred it into the hamburger then opened a jar of spaghetti sauce. When the water started to boil, he put in a pinch of salt, opened a package of spaghetti, dropped it in the boiling water then dumped the sauce in with the meat and onions. "Won't be long now," he said, then went to the back door to look for Ely. "My father should be up here pretty soon. You got that salad ready?"

Bobby went to the back door to see Ely parking the tractor next to the barn. He waved at his father and Ely waved back. He filled their toaster oven with six thick slices of bread, set the timer then took a slab of their homemade butter from the refrigerator and put it on the table, laid out knives and forks and a roll of paper towels. "Can you drink ice tea," Bobby asked, pulling a jug out of the fridge without waiting for an answer. He set out three tall glasses and added some ice cubes from the freezer. "There. That should do it." He stepped out the back door and sat down on the top step to wait for Ely. George sat next to him and looked out to see the old man fiddling with the tractor.

"You don't mess around," George said. "My mother doesn't get dinner together that fast."

"Yeah? Well, I can't cook anything fancy, but we get by. You wouldn't want to eat my father's cooking."

"Does he cook sometimes?"

"If I don't cook, it's peanut butter and jelly," Bobby chuckled. "It's better that way."

Ely got up from the tractor, wiped his hands on his overalls and started for the house. They stood when he got to the porch. "Well, well. Who is this?" he said looking at George.

"This is my friend George," Bobby said. "He helped me with the eggs and the milking. I'm going to help him make something for his 4-H project. Bobby, this is my father, Ely."

"Nice to meet you, sir," George stuck out his hand.

"Nice to meet you, George." Ely looked at his greasy hand and said, "Let me get cleaned up." He stepped into the house and sniffed. "What's for dinner? It smells good in here."

"George made the salad," Bobby told him.

"That's usually all Bobby will let me do. We'd starve to death if it weren't for his cooking," Ely admitted.

"I think Bobby can do anything," George said with admiration.

Bobby started pouring tea into the glasses. "We ready to eat?"

They served themselves from the stove then sat down at the kitchen table. "This is good spaghetti," George said as he buttered a piece of toast.

"Bobby's a pretty darn good cook," Ely mumbled with a mouthful of spaghetti.

After dinner, Bobby and Ely made quick work of the dishes then Ely sat down at the table to juggle the books. "Let's go to the bedroom," Bobby said to George and led the way.

Bobby's room was as sparsely furnished as the rest of the house. There was an old double bed next to the window, and a chest of drawers on the other side next to a folding card table that served as a desk with a lamp and table radio on it. On the side opposite the door was a small closet. On top of the dresser was an assortment of things including a football and a framed snapshot of a young couple with a small boy. Bobby set his book bag down on top of the desk and turned the radio on to a pop music station.

"The TV Doesn't pick up much out here, but I like to play the radio," Bobby explained. "I usually do my schoolwork on Friday evening, so I don't have to worry about it over the weekend. Did you bring your books?"

"No. I guess I do that on Sunday night," George admitted.

"All I got is the English assignment. We have the same class. You want to knock that out?"

"Sure. I guess so. We're supposed to do a biography, right?"

"Yep. It doesn't have to be very long. I got a computer, and we can take turns," Bobby suggested.

George shrugged. "My life is short and boring. Shouldn't take long. It's just me and my mom."

Bobby nodded expectantly.

"I guess it would help if we talked about it first. I was wondering about your mother," George said, looking at the photo on the dresser.

"That's of me and my mom and dad," Bobby told him. "Mom died when I was seven."

"Yeah. You told me. Do you remember her?" George asked, looking at the picture.

"A little. I remember she had red hair like me, and that she was real nice. Ely says they wanted another kid and she sort of died trying," Bobby recalled.

"That's sad."

Bobby shrugged. "I don't remember that part of it. What I know is mostly what my father told me. I don't think about it a lot. It seems like its always been just me and my dad."

"There's a lot of work here for two people."

"Dad does most of the farming. We rotate corn and soybeans, and a vegetable garden for the house. I help some with that, but I mostly do the cows and chickens," Bobby explained. "I get part of the money from the eggs and milk, so that part's good."

"I guess you have lived here your whole life."

"Yep. Have you always lived in Magnolia?"

"Yeah. Well, for as long as I can remember. My mom moved down here when she married my father. I guess that didn't work out. I don't remember him at all," George said.

"You never had any brothers or sisters either?" Bobby asked quietly.

"Just me and Mom. I wish I did."

"Me too. I always wished I had a brother. That would be kind of neat."

"You plan to stay on the farm forever?"

"Probably. I like it here. There's a lot to do and nobody else to do it. My grandparents built the farm and passed it to my father. I guess it'll be mine someday."

George thought about that. "Could you run it all by yourself?"

Bobby shrugged. "It'd be hard, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. At least I hope not."

"Maybe you'll get married and have a bunch of kids to help out."

"Maybe," Bobby looked away. "We should write this stuff down and get finished. Can you use a computer?"

"Oh yeah. I have a computer at home," George said. "You want to go first? It's your computer."

Bobby shrugged again and sat down at his laptop. He paused for a minute to get his thoughts in his head then began to click on the keyboard. He looked at his hands while he typed but went quickly. He stopped a couple of times then finished in twenty minutes. "Two pages is enough," he said. After running the spell checker and reading through it, he copied it to his thumb drive and yielded the computer to George.

George wasn't as focused as Bobby, and it took him a little longer to put his thoughts into words. He was also aware that his farm friend could type faster than he could. But before long both essays were on Bobby's thumb drive to be printed at school.

"You're good with your computer, and I know you make good grades in school. Do you plan to go to college or will you just stay on the farm?" George asked.

"I'll go to college for sure," Bobby said. "My dad is set on my going to the college in Magnolia at the school of Agriculture. Dad never went past high school, and I need to learn a lot more about farming. We could do more with this little place if we knew how. What about you?"

"Gee, that seems like a long way off, but I want to go to college somewhere. My mom works for Weyerhaeuser. I've thought about Forestry."

"That would be good. You could find a lot of work around here if you wanted to stay."

"I guess. I haven't thought that far ahead to tell the truth," George admitted.

"Well, I need to get to bed so I can get up with the chickens tomorrow. I usually turn in about nine. Kind of boring, sorry."

"That's OK. Uh, where do I sleep?"

Bobby hesitated. "I never had anybody stay over before. You can sleep on the sofa or I can fix you a pallet on the floor. If you like, you can share the bed with me. It's big enough."

"The bed would be more comfortable if you don't mind," George said. The idea of sharing the bed with Bobby appealed to him.

Bobby stood up as if the matter was settled. "I need to take a bath," he said. "You can go first if you want."

"That's OK. You can go first."

George sat on the bed and watched as Bobby undressed to his undershorts, took clean boxer briefs out of his dresser and walked to the bathroom. The sight of his friend semi-naked made him feel short of breath. He had never seen Bobby without shirt and pants before, and he was struck by how muscular he was. The years of farm work had sculpted the red-headed boy with firm arms, shoulders and cut abdominal muscles. His fair skin was spattered with freckles across the top of his shoulders, and his calves were sprinkled with fine red hair. To George's mind, he was beautiful. Bobby seemed to be unaware of himself and disappeared across the hall without a backward glance. George crossed his legs and hoped that his reaction was not obvious.

If a few minutes, Bobby returned wearing the clean underwear. "Soaps in the dish and I left you a clean towel," he said as he toweled his curly red hair. George thanked him and hesitated before he undressed and pulled clean underwear out of his pack. He was keenly aware of the difference in their physiques. George was somewhat puny by comparison although Bobby was not disappointed with his slender friend. Bobby found George strangely attractive as he walked across the hall to the bathroom.

Bobby had not given much thought to matters sexual. He realized that he was less fixated on girls than most of the boys at school who seemed to think of little else, but had not drawn any conclusions from that. George had determined from his exploration of the internet that he found males more stimulating than females and had some idea of his sexual preference. Assuming that Bobby would find that problematic, he was determined to hide the fact from his masculine friend. He was accustomed to taking a shower at home but knew to draw water in the tub and soaped himself up, rinsing with the strategically placed plastic bowl. He found the thought that Bobby had just been naked in that same bathtub quite exciting, briefly considered relieving his tension in the privacy of the bathroom but decided that the towel would conceal his arousal. He pulled on his underwear and held the towel in front of himself as he returned to Bobby's room.

Bobby was already in bed and motioned for George to turn off the lamp before he joined him carefully leaving some space between them. Bobby did not speak, and George took it that he was quickly asleep, although that was not so. Both boys lay still and pretended to sleep. Both were aware that they were sharing a bed with someone they found attractive. George briefly entertained the notion that he might 'accidentally' touch the body of his sleeping friend but thought that was too risky. Before too long they both drifted away.

In the morning George was awakened by Bobby easing out of bed and sliding open the dresser drawer in the dim morning light. He opened his eyes to see Bobby dressing for his morning chores and coughed to announce that he was awake.

"Sorry," Bobby said softly. "I was going to let you sleep."

"That's OK. I'm awake. Can I go with you?"

"Sure, if you like," Bobby was pleased. "I'm going to get the eggs and milk."

"I know. You do this every morning, don't you?"

"Every morning of the world. You sure you don't want to sleep?"

"No. We went to bed early, so I'm ready to get up. I want to do whatever you do."

Bobby smiled to himself and turned on the light. He pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt. George put on the clothes he wore from school and followed Bobby out the back door. They walked to the barn to be greeted by the ever vigilant Pepper who bounded ahead and led them to the barn. It was a warm September morning.

When Bobby switched on the barn light, the cats walked up and stretched, hopeful for some milk.

"Do you feed the cats? George asked.

"They eat mice. If we fed them, they'd get lazy. "I usually give them a squirt though."

This all seemed very romantic to George although he wondered if Bobby grew tired of it. He asked as much.

"It's just what I do," Bobby shrugged. "It keeps me from getting bored. If you like, you can get the eggs, and I'll start the milking. The hens are sleepy and stupid in the morning. They won't peck you if you throw some feed down for them."

George realized that the thing Bobby had that he lacked, was a sense of purpose and he admired that. He took the basket and slipped up on the drowsy chickens who murmured some protest but gave up their eggs without much struggle. Meanwhile, Bobby banged the feed bucket on the side of the barn and Pepper ran down to hurry the cows along. The cats stood at attention and the day was underway.

With the basket of eggs and two buckets of fresh milk in hand, they walked back to the house to find Ely cooking eggs and making toast. "Here are the hands," he called to them as they loaded the days harvest in the cooler. "I'll have breakfast for you in a minute. It's all Bobby trusts me with."

The eggs were scrambled with chunks of yellow cheese and served with sliced tomatoes from their garden. The toast was coated generously with their freshly churned butter and sweetened with honey from the hive. It was good. "You make a fine breakfast, Mr. McGregor," George said sincerely.

"Thank you George, but you must be the only person in the world who doesn't call me Ely. That would suit me better."

"He's trying to be polite," Bobby said.

Ely laughed. "Tell your mama I appreciate your good manners, but I'm just Ely."

"What do you want me to do today?" Bobby asked Ely. "I thought I would show George around the farm then I want to help him with his 4-H project if that's OK.

"Sure, that's only fair since he helped you with your chores. I'm going to run into town to the hardware store today and maybe talk to a guy I know about some goats, so you boys can have the run of the place."

After Ely left them alone, Bobby led them back to the barn and climbed up on the tractor. Bobby slid up on the seat and motioned for George to sit behind him. The feeling of Bobby's firm butt against his crotch brought George some pleasant sensations. The old tractor roared to life, and they lurched forward.

"I'm going to run around the fence to be sure it's not down somewhere. It won't take long, and you can see everything." George wrapped his hands around Bobby's firm waist and held him a little tighter than need be. The tractor bucked along over the rough ground as they drove the perimeter of the farm. The fence looked tight. "You remember my telling you I got some staples the other day?" Bobby shouted over his shoulder. "We replaced part of the old fence over there, and it looks pretty good now."

"Looks great!" George grunted as they bounced along.

"There's our pond," Bobby told him as they passed the low side of the pasture. "That's where the cows hang out during the day. There are a few catfish in there, and I swim in it sometimes if Ely isn't watching. Do you like to fish?"

George hesitated then replied honestly. "I've never been fishing."

"Never? We can fix that." Bobby enjoyed having company and was feeling chatty.

In thirty minutes they were back at the barn and the day was growing warmer. Bobby went into a shed built on the side of the barn and returned with a pair of fishing poles and a burlap sack. "Come on. You're about to go fishing." He whistled for Pepper, and they rode the tractor back down to the pond.

They parked the tractor in the shade of some willow trees, and Bobby took a small spade from a bag behind the seat. "We need some worms," he told George and quickly found some in the soft dirt under the trees.

"Where will you put them, so they don't run off?"

"Usually I keep them in my mouth, so they stay warm," Bobby said with a straight face.


Bobby laughed and found a tin can in the tool bag. "How about this?"

"I told you I was gullible," George sighed.

"You're OK," Bobby assured him, slipped worms on the hooks and handed a pole to George. "Throw it out past the willows." Thus equipped, they sat down on the bank to watch the corks. "If the bobber goes down, jerk on it."

George did as he was instructed and sat next to his new friend. "I can't believe you get to do this all the time."

"Not much else to do out here," Bobby admitted. "Besides, we get tired of eating chicken."

They sat quietly for a time then George said, "You might not think this is a big deal, but it is for me. I'm really enjoying this."

"It's fun to have you here. You living in town and all, you probably have lots of friends, but I get kind of lonely out here by myself. You're the first guy who has come out to spend any time with me."

George was surprised by the admission. "I really like being with you," he said softly.

Bobby glanced at him and replied, "Yeah, me too. I mean, you know."

After a few minutes, George saw his cork disappear and yelled. "I think I got one!"

"Jerk on it!" Bobby cried.

George did as he was told and the pole bent down sharply.

"Bring it in!" Bobby said, and George fumbled with the reel.

"Here! You do it!" He handed the pole to Bobby who quickly brought in a respectable catfish.

"You caught a nice one!" George yelled with excitement.

"You caught it, I just reeled it in," Bobby told him and stuck it in the burlap bag, dunked it in the water then tossed it on the bank behind them. He checked both hooks and put on fresh worms then threw them back out. Before long they had a bag full of catfish.

The day had grown hot as the sun rose overhead. Bobby pulled off his sweatshirt to enjoy the cool breeze. George looked at his handsome friend with admiration. He was sweating too but was shy about his body. "Take off your shirt. It's getting hot out here," Bobby told him.

Needing little encouragement, George stripped to the waist and enjoyed the feeling of fresh air on his skin. The hot sun felt good on his back. They fished for another hour, but as the day grew warmer, the fish stopped biting.

Bobby put down his fishing pole and said. "I think they've quit. I'm hot. Before we go back, I want to jump in for a swim."

"I didn't bring a bathing suit," George said.

"Don't need one out here," Bobby told him. "Haven't you ever gone skinny dipping?"

"Who me? No, never."

"Well, I'm going in," Bobby said, stood and shucked his clothes. He walked barefoot and naked over to a flat rock at the edge of the pond and turned to George. "You coming?"

George looked at Bobby with amazement. There in front of him was the most perfect specimen of youth he could ever imagine. There was no fat on his muscular body. His chest and arms were full and firm, his belly was ripped with firm abdominals. Between his legs was a thick uncut cock crowned by a bush of orange hair. As he raised his arms, there were tufts of red hair under each armpit, and he wore a big grin on his handsome face. How could he resist such an invitation? Despite the reservations about his own physique, he undressed and joined Bobby on the stone.

In fact, George was not an unattractive boy at all. He was tall and slender. Not as muscular as Bobby, but by no means scrawny. His cock was circumcised and probably a little plumper than usual because of his naked friend. His hair was black as were his pubes and the sparse hair in his armpits. His narrow waist made his shoulders look even wider. As he grew and filled out, he would be a fine looking man. Bobby thought he looked good and was more attracted than he was ready to admit. Bobby had skinny dipped in his pond many times although this was the first time he had done so with a companion.

"You ready?" Bobby shouted and leaped high in the air folding himself into a ball to shower George with a spray of water. George was right behind him. Bobby had taught himself to swim a long time ago when he had enticed Ely to come with him to the pond. George had taken swimming lessons when he was younger so that both boys were capable swimmers. They raced around in the cool water, splashing and trying to dunk each other. The activity resulted in a lot of skin to skin contact although innocent enough from the surface. Beneath the surface, both were erect but attempted to conceal the fact. It was a new experience for Bobby and George had never frolicked with such abandon even with his friend William although they had played in other ways on sleepovers.

After several minutes of this play, they hung on the edge of the rock and stopped to catch their breath and to allow the cool water to subdue their excitement.

"Oh man! This is more fun than anything!" George exclaimed.

"Yeah, it is at that," Bobby agreed. "Do you know you're the first guy who has ever swum with me in the pond?"

"Really? That's kind of cool. I figured you had lots of friends."

"Not like you. I mean you're a lot of fun, and I'm kind of boring."

"You aren't boring at all. You can do anything. I wish I were more like you. I've never known anybody like you. I talk too much, and I'm kind of goofy. You're like, cool, you know?"

Bobby looked serious. "Maybe what is cool to you is boring to most people. Maybe I like goofy."

George took a deep breath. "I think you're really a neat guy. And I just wish I was as good looking. You look, uh, you look good, you know?" Without thinking, George passed his hand over Bobby's muscular chest. His fingers touched his nipples.

Bobby was both embarrassed and excited. After a moment he said. "Don't put yourself down, George. You are a good looking guy. At least I think so." Bobby glanced away then looked back. "I never had a friend like you. I hope you don't get tired of me."

George laid the palm of his hand on Bobby's chest then slowly pulled it away. "I won't. I couldn't do that."

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