Kumasi Our Life

Adventures in Housekeeping: Who ate the soap?

Innocent-looking (possibly soap-eating) Nigerian Dwarf Goats Aponche and Go-At

I just looked out the kitchen window and saw Jeremy’s buff-colored goat, Go-At licking the soap we keep in a mesh bag beside the outside water faucet. The soap is there primarily so we can wash our hands before coming inside, if for instance we’ve been gardening or petting that funny Nigerian Dwarf buck on his musky little head. I was reminded that I have yet to find the orange sliver of soap I set down outside for a minute yesterday.

Yesterday I had a housekeeping triumph. Until that bar of soap disappeared, that is. For a short time we were lucky enough to have a ladder at the house and took full advantage of it to address our lighting situation. Andreas had pointed out that the two dull bulbs over the front steps were not sufficient to deter would-be robbers. And he should know after being robbed at home twice himself. He felt we should get also ourselves a night watchman and since that idea doesn’t appeal to us, we decided to at least replace the burned out bulbs around the periphery of the house.

Bob climbed up that ladder and replace all the burned out bulbs and our house is now lit up at night on five different outside walls. When the power is on, that is.

But one bulb, the one hanging over our side entrance steps still needed attention. I couldn’t find the correct outside bulb even though Bob remembered buying one months ago, so we used an inside bulb. And while that worked, it nagged at me that the bulb was not designed to handle extreme weather.

For a week I searched for a replacement. The folks at the shop in our neighborhood were hard pressed to understand what I was looking for, an outdoor bayonette or clip-style bulb. After two visits and much discussion and viewing of screw type, indoor bulbs it was agreed that they didn’t stock what I was looking for.

To some, this may look like something good to eat…

So I walked over to Atinga Junction where I knew there was another light bulb store. Sure enough they had what I was looking for, but only one. They removed the bulb from the display out front where it had been lit up for who knows how long. I was so happy to get the correct bulb that I didn’t ask. When I got it home, the inner parts of the bulb had shaken loose from its moorings. Probably a combination of putting the hot bulb into my purse and carrying it on my shoulder for half an hour did it in. So we were back to living with the wrong bulb and ladder time running out.

The morning Bob intended removing the ladder to the work site, I was cleaning the bathroom and decided to replace the sliver of orange soap on the sink. I knew there was a half a piece of white soap that would do nicely for that spot, since its brother half was doing so well on the kitchen sink. And the orange soap would replace the dwinding slivers in the mesh bag beside the outside faucet. Through the drawers I foraged until I pulled open one and WOW, there was a box with the image of the right bulb on it. Daring to hope that we hadn’t just used this box to store another bulb, I opened it. Sure enough, this was what we wanted!

When I showed Bob he said, let’s do it now because Eric is coming to take that ladder in half an hour. With the orange soap still in hand, I went outside to help with the ladder. I put the soap down. We changed the bulb. I looked for the soap and it was gone. They took the ladder away and I have not seen that piece of soap since.

I worried about the possibility of the goats eating that soap and kept an eagle eye on them the rest of the day. Jeremy reported after putting them to bed that they seemed fine. It crossed my mind that this is one of the reasons people put fences around their animals – not only to keep their excrement contained but for their own safety. I couldn’t help but think about poor Rusty and that bar of flea soap in Belize.

Sixteen years ago, in preparation for moving outside the United States, we flew to Belize and stayed with Jim and Marguerite for nine days so they could show us how to run Mountain Equestrian Trails. We would return later and run the lodge for fourteen months.

While there, Bob and Marguerite dove into accounting land so I looked for something to do. It seemed like a good idea to join their three children in bathing their dogs, Gringo, Rusty and the lap dog they affectionately called Rat Dog. These three dogs, after all would soon be our dogs after the family moved up to Texas and we relocated ourselves in their home. Soon enough, the dogs were squeaky clean and romping on the lawn. I placed the bar of flea soap against a post to dry in the sun. We were amazed to see Rusty lining up stuffed animals and running at them one by one to knock them down – something I’ve never seen any dog think of doing. We were smitten.

We returned to Virginia and started packing. The next time we heard from Jim and Marguerite, they said there had been a small change of plans – we would be inheriting only Gringo, the big white lab. Poor Rusty had died after eating that bar of flea soap and they decided to take their small dog to Texas for safe keeping. Jim buried Rusty underneath the breadfruit tree. Around Christmas time we wrote a politically incorrect and irreverent song about Gringo which included the line, “Go lay down with Rusty, you know that you should” and sung to the tune of “Away in a Manger.”

But back to the present. I later found the white soap I was looking for and added it to the mesh bag. The very bag I saw Go-At playing with this morning, nibbling on the mesh and licking the soap. None of us have ever seen him do this before and so it appears that he has acquired a taste for soap. I hate to think that the goats ate the orange soap but evidence speaks for itself.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.