The only deaths that occurred on the family spread that he was given reprieve from were horses. Their funeral preparations were thanks to the local sewer construction business and a backhoe.
Digger Dave's job was never an easy one. It has been painfully learned over the years that goats and large dogs do not die on fair weather days in late May and early June when the ground is soft and the outside temperature is pleasant. No, such deaths occur on the bitter days in January and February, when the air is in the single digits and the rain comes down sideways.
It was on one such day that my compassionate and tearful mother informed us that a large goat had met its natural demise, a vicious February afternoon when the ground was rock hard and required a severe beating with an axe before any work with a shovel was even considered. Digger Dave, my brother, and I all huddled around a newly created hole, taking turns whacking at it as the dead goat stared us all down. The deeper the hole got, the harder the ground became, and each blow with the axe or shovel shot pain through our frozen hands and arms.
Once it looked as if the makeshift grave was big enough, the goat's body was not-so-lovingly tossed in along with the loose soil. It was all patted down. When the job was complete all three of us shivered in the cold and surveyed our work.
A very visible and obvious goat leg stuck straight out of the ground as if we had just planted a sapling. I did not know much at my age, but I knew that this would not bode well with Mom. I also knew that this meant more work for us in this godforsaken weather.
Thankfully, Digger Dave is a man of experience when it came to such dilemmas and took charge.
"Give me the axe."
My brother dutifully handed it over to Digger and we watched as he took a mighty Paul Bunyan swing and cut the disobedient leg clean off at ground level. He then picked the leg up and slung it into a far-away brush pile and turned to begin the walk back to our house and its warmth.
"Don't tell your mother" was how he left it. We obeyed and silently thanked him for his command decision.
God Bless you, goat. May you rest in peace pieces.