A few years ago I found a rather lovely Portuguese saying about goats, and so I was delighted this week to find something even better on Portuguese goats, a folk tale from the Azores. I came across it in Elsie Spicer Eells’ The Islands of Magic, published in 1922. Ms Spicer Eells was an American Author who collected legends and folktales from South America, Spain and the Azores, and then adapted them for her American audience. The goat in her tale doesn’t appear for long as the story is really about Manoel Littlebean and how he discovered gold treasure. However you will never forget the goat as;
“The fact of the matter was that Manoel Littlebean was swallowed by the goat”.
Manoel Littlebean was a tiny boy, no bigger than a bean,which probably explains how he came to be swallowed by a goat. Manoel didn’t die though after this awful event. Instead it was the poor goat which got terrible indigestion. The goat became so unwell it was killed by Manoel’s father. His father understandably didn’t know Manoel was inside the goat, he simply wanted to put the goat out of its misery. Luckily in killing the goat the father did not kill his son. Nor did Manoel die when the goat was later eaten by a wolf, the father having left the goat’s corpse outside on the street. Instead Manoel was carried off inside the wolf. The wolf didn’t go far as it too became sick. At which point you think surely Manoel will die, but no Manoel is still full of beans! He had realised the wolf was sick, and so jumped up and down inside the wolf’s stomach to make the wolf even more unwell. Eventually the wolf threw him up, and Manoel was able to run all the way home to his parents. What a tale!
Manoel’s goat is not alone in tasting anything that comes his way. The goats we met last week were happily sampling stale bread left out for them. The bread didn’t look that tasty or healthy to me. However apparently, unlike swallowing a boy the size of a small bean, eating small quantities of whole grain breads, or in this case sour-dough, shouldn’t cause goats indigestion.
Plastic though is not to be recommended. Adjacent to these free-roaming goats were kids in the pen. One of them had obviously decided there was something tasty inside a large bottle. Unfortunately it had put its head in so far it had managed to get the bottle stuck on its tiny horns. It didn’t seem distressed by its headwear, but it couldn’t see very well and was stumbling around. I was also worried that in the heat of the day it might become as unwell as Manoel’s goat. So I set about trying to befriend it so I could do something about it.
The good news is that we made friends quickly. So focused though was I on the rescue that I forgot to take a shot of it with the bottle stuck. However I know none of you will mind as the even better news is that I managed to remove the bottle. But what is it with goats and sampling everything they see? Have they not learnt from Manoel’s goat that curiosity can kill the goat as well as the cat!
PS If you are wondering about Manoel’s gold treasure, here’s the link to the full story.