In the late 1970s, farmers from all over the country made their way to Washington, D.C. in a “tractorcade” comprised of nearly a thousand tractors. It was a demonstration by the American Agriculture Movement (AAM) against the government’s interference in livestock pricing. Some disgruntled farmers delivered a “gift” of live, mostly unwanted animals to the White House lawn.
In the clean-up process, the officials sent the larger animals to a slaughterhouse in the Shenandoah Valley. The Department of Agriculture employed Lloyd Earles as a meat inspector there. As soon as he spotted a particular goat with an amazing set of spiraled horns, he knew he could not bear to see it killed. Lloyd bought it for $15 and put the animal in his truck until he finished work. By the end of the day, the billy goat and the truck smelled, as they say, “ripe.” Lloyd’s wife wasn’t pleased with the stench.
Fortunately, a neighbor, Ben May, took one look at the goat with the majestic horns between 16 and 18 inches all and offered to buy him and put it in the field with his cattle. Ben was also fascinated with its weathered, off-white fur, which appeared to be mohair. For $15, it was Ben‘s. Since it came from the White House and was a male, they agreed to name it “Jimmy Carter” after the President. No disrespect intended, just a connection from where he came.
But, with his glorious set of twisted horns, Jimmy did not get along with the cattle. Ben recalls that a war broke out. His bull was so frightened that he jumped the fence to escape.
Ben’s neighbor, Davey Dellinger, offered to take the goat. Ben doesn’t recall any money crossing hands, but he remembers grabbing Jimmy by the horns and walking him over to Davey’s farm with great relief. There he joined the old Dellinger pigs. It was not love at first sight. Jimmy was so eager to escape that he leaped onto the roof in the hog pen, jumped the fence, and headed for the hills.
About six months later, Jimmy showed up on Bennie Carr’s property, known as Bennie’s Beach. There was a steep ledge protruding about 100 feet above route 259 in Fulks Run. People would park in the lot of Bennie’s business establishment, waiting for a glimpse of this goat. It would regularly stand on the ledge, showing off his extraordinary horns. Some admirers would take pictures, and others stopped in at Bennie’s place to have a beer or two and purchase hunting supplies. The attraction spread and boosted business.
One day, Ben May stopped by, and when he saw the goat, he recognized it as Jimmy. Bennie said it was his goat. Ben told him that it had been his and its name was Jimmy Carter. There might have been another swap of $15 bucks to make it legal, but this is sketchy.
Things went well for a year or two until that fateful day when a trucker stopped in at Bennie’s. He announced that he had just shot an albino spiked buck. He wanted permission to go up on the mountain and collect his trophy. Bennie’s face went pale, and he hollered at the guy, “You idiot, you shot Jimmy Carter. That’s my goat!” There was such a ruckus in the place, the trucker left and never returned.
When word got around, as bad news always does, people came to check on Jimmy. They located him in an area on the side of the mountain out of reach to help. Visitors added bits of information daily. Using binoculars, one could see that there were blood marks behind the shoulders. It became a daily vigil as concerned admirers watched and waited. One day brought word that he was dead, then the next was positive that he had moved a little. This drama continued for what seemed to be weeks.
Miraculously, Jimmy recovered. In the spring, he made his way down from the mountain onto the property. Bennie was tickled and very protective of “his goat.” He would caution people to drive slowly and watch out for his goat. Unfortunately for Jimmy, he developed an appetite for Charlotte Carr’s flowers and other gardens in the area.
It wasn’t until Bennie bought a new car and Jimmy jumped on the hood and damaged it that Bennie’s fondness died. Roger Dove was the next proud owner. He had many lonely nanny goats who needed a Billy.
My research uncovered that Jimmy was from the breed of the markhor goat originally from Pakistan. Their straight horns were used for digging in the ground and for removing bark from trees. They often stood on their hind legs, and their odor exceeded regular male goats. Either trait could have contributed to the war in the barnyard. Their uniquely twisted horns were formed in layers like rings in a tree trunk. And like trees, the rings in a markhor goat’s horns coincide with its age.
In the sports world, the acronym GOAT stands for “Greatest Of All Time.” Most locals who knew this goat agree that he earned that title naturally.
Special thanks to Ben May, who, to the best of his memory, shared this legacy of Jimmy. Both Ben and I are open to any comments or corrections.