Caleb was at the door the next morning at 7:00 while the three were having breakfast and joined them for a cup of coffee. "So, Caleb, you are not adverse to moving?” Jamie asked.
“You saw where I live and know what my future here looks like; of course I am not adverse to moving. I can't wait to get out of here.”
“Before we talk about your coming to Bragg county, you need to have some understanding about what's going on there,” Andy said.“
I can talk about it a bit as an outsider coming on board; Jamie has been part of the transformation from the beginning.
“My dad and I became part of the Arkadelphia crew early, just after a transformation was underway, but we had no part in the development of the original Arkadelphia Plantation Dream.” Andy then told Caleb about the Arkadelphia Dream. “While Philos, Jamie and my plantation, is not technically part of Arkadelphia and Pleasant Grove, we are a part of that dream. If you go to work for us, you can expect to be treated as a member of the Arkadelphia extended family. Finally, while you'll be working for Jamie and me, there will be times when you'll be called on to work on Arkadelphia and Pleasant Gardens. Jamie, talk about wages and benefits.”
“Actually, let me just say both are better than on any other plantation in the area and have Ethan or Molly talk to you in detail. They know all about that since our package is the same as theirs. I will add that we will expect you to enroll in either the community college or Audubon State University come fall. We'll all be so busy until then that none of us plan on doing summer school. You pay for school out of your earning. Something we haven't settled is housing. Andy and I will have to discuss that. What I propose is that if you are interested, you come back with us and spend a few days. That way we can both decide if we have a deal.”
“Sounds good,” Caleb said.
“Fine, we need to get going as soon as possible. We have to get a place ready for goats and make arrangements to move them.”
“If one of you can take me home,” Caleb said,‟I'll get what few things I have, come back and we can load as much temp fence as the truck will carry and be on our way.”
When Jamie took Caleb to get his things, he saw Cade and asked if he would take care of the goats while they got ready for them. When he told him what he’d pay, Cade grinned and said, ‟Maybe I need to become a goatboy instead of a jarhead.”
Three quarter of an hour later the three were loading temporary fence, posts and chargers. “We'll need to rent a large truck and come back,” Andy said. ‟There's miles of this stuff.”
Caleb laughed. “You'll need miles. You own a lot of goats and there are more on the way. All twenty-one of the nannies been bred. They are in two groups, twelve in one and nine in the other. The twelve are due, starting in three weeks, the nine start toward the end of summer. They are bred in batches of three with two weeks between batches, otherwise we'd have utter chaos. Since a high percentage of the births will be twins, we are talking lot of goats!”
On the way home, Andy said, “Jamie, I think Caleb should stay at our place. We had room for him and there are no babies.” Jamie nodded agreement.
“You have babies, Jamie?”
“Yeah, twin boys.”
“Damn, you are in a rush—plantation, babies, I assume a wife.”
The next morning found Caleb meeting the crew at Arkadelphia and everyone was making him feel welcome.
“So I hear Andy is about to get a whole bunch of kids,” Ash laughed. “Glad I only have one who, thank God, has discovered the joys of sleeping through the night.”
“I'll be like Ethan,” Andy chuckled. “I'll sleep and let their mamas take care of them.” A normal rejoinder, but suddenly Andy remembered Caleb didn't know all about Arkadelphia. Everyone got very quiet and then all started talking at once.
“Hell, Caleb,” Ash said, "if you're going to be part of the Arkadelphia family, you're going to be part of the family. My partner Kathy and I have babies—boys.” She looked at Ethan who nodded. "And Ethan is their father. And in case you're interested, he fathered them the same way that ewe in Texas has kids by the billy in Hubert county.”
“You mean by UPS overnight,” Caleb said and laughed.
“Well,” Ethan said, ‟The time has come the Walrus said, to speak of many things . . . . Before we get started with Arkadelphia, Andy, Jamie, what's happening at Philos?”
“As I told you, we're in the goat business. We bought two billies and their wethers—goats are very social and need other goats so there's one or two neutered males with a billy—twenty-one nannies and ten virgins. The seller tossed in anything dealing with goats which included lot of temporary fencing, chargers and such. We've got to get a place ready for the goats—and Caleb tells me we have between twelve and twenty-four more coming over the next few weeks. For the time being, we'll put a temporary fence around the compound area since there's shelter and water there already. So putting up fence, lots of fence and going back to Hubert county for more fence is on the docket.”
“There is nothing pressing here. We do need to complete soil and foliage sampling. Ash, Davis, if you'll handle that. We can postpone the second fungicide application a few days. Randy, what do you have going on?”
“I haven't vaccinated that last bunch of calves and have some fence to check out, that's it. I can handle that.”
“Looks like the rest of us are going to help out the neighbors. In exchange for our help, Brother Mine, you are going to put a few miles of that fence around a kudzu patch on Pleasant Grove.”
“Delighted. Caleb needs to go to Hubert county with Andy to pick up more fence and whatever else will fit in a truck. I reserved a UHaul in Audubon. I think it will take more than one load . . . ”
“Think several loads,” Caleb said.
“ How about you show us how this temp fence works, Caleb, then you and Andy take off. Take Christopher with you. Troops, to the van.”
On the way to Philos, they went by Pleasant Grove and showed Caleb the area where the goats would be, then went to Philos and showed him the compound area. "Mr. Blount had chargers with batteries and solar panels. We'll need those at Pleasant Grove. Here at the compound, you have electricity which is convenient. I'd say do ten to fifteen acres at Pleasant Grove and all you can enclose with the remaining fence here for starters. Put a billy pen at both places. Now, let's get some fence unloaded and I'll show you how to set it up—I'm sure you could do it without any help.”
Half an hour later, Andy, and Christopher were on their way to Hubert county and the crew was busy putting up temp fence around the compound.
It didn't take long to get the fence they had up. Seeing how simple it was to put up a temporary fence, Ethan said, “Jamie, I think you and Alfred can get the fence up without help. Dek, you and I will get on the fungicide. Michael, if you would check out the irrigation. If you find problems and need help, yell and we’ll get you help. It's been a very dry and it doesn't look to change.”
The crew from Hubert county were back just after twelve and the truck was unloaded before they went to lunch. After lunch, Kathryn fed the twins and after they were finished, Jamie changed their diapers and put them down for their nap. When the babies were down, Andy said, “We've got a week, week and a half, before the goats have to be moved. Right now we need to get everything except the goats moved.”
“You're overlooking the fact that things like watering troughs can't be moved until the goats are moved,” Caleb said. “We need to get what can be moved moved, then get on the fence. The rest we can load and get back here before the goats arrived.”
Accordingly, the three young men headed for Hubert county. It was 7:00 when they got back and got the truck unloaded. Two trips the following day had all the fence, chargers, automatic water troughs and other goat equipment that could be moved at Philos.
By Friday quitting time, there was a temp fence with solar chargers to electrify it around fifteen acres of kudzu-infested land at Pleasant Grove. A temporary water line fed an automatic watering trough and a small portable metal building to provide shelter for the goats was in place. At Philos, the perimeter of the compound—Joe estimated it at ten acres—was now enclosed in temporary fence. Both places also had a billy pen.
Jamie contacted the goat hauler and the goats arrived the first of May. What a May Day!
Two weeks later Jamie and Andy asked him if he wanted to work for them. “I'd stay at half the wage, but don't try me!” he laughed.
The six in school in Audubon—Ethan, Jamie, Kathryn, Andy, Michael and Christopher—finished spring semester in mid-May with Bs or As and after talking together, decided they'd not do any on campus classes summer session. Michael, Kathryn and Christopher signed up for a couple of online courses, Jamie, Andy and Ethan signed up for independent study with Joe. Caleb enrolled in summer school after being accepted for admission to the university and signed up for a couple of on line courses. Since he was an entering student, he was not allowed to take an independent study, however, he participated in Jamie and Andy's study sessions and did the reports they did for their study. “Do it now and when you can sign up for independent study, you'll have the work done,” Jamie had said.
Joe had agreed to switch their study to goats and often Caleb knew as much as the writers of the journal articles they were reading and not infrequently he stated flatly an article was wrong. The first time an article was wrong, Jamie challenged him and Caleb took him to the pasture and showed him he knew what he was talking about.
Jamie had asked Andy a couple of times how having Caleb living with him and Dek was working out. Andy said Caleb chipped in on the groceries, took his turn cooking and cleaning up and gave Dek some money toward the electricity. “Having him in the house is fine short term—six months or so—but eventually other arrangements need to be made.”
“I've been thinking. The area we intended to make into pasture is a good distance from where our house sites are and is across the river. I don't think we want goats there without someone closer. Think about putting a house trailer over there. The power company would have to run a line in and we'd have to have a well dug and road cut in, but Caleb could live there.”
“Sounds good. In fact, it's a damn good idea. I figured it up. We got the goats for about what the fence we were given cost. We haven't spent anything like what a herd of cattle would have cost and we're soon double the size of the herd. I say we check out a trailer and get it in place soon.”
A barn had been built across from the site selected for Caleb’s trailer and a five acre area behind it fenced. A kidding shed was built in the pasture and the nannies moved into the area a week or so before they were due. They stayed there with their kid or kids until time to move them out and move the next expectant nannies in. Caleb set up a tent and stayed in the area when nannies were due. Goats seldom needed human help to kid, but Caleb wanted to make sure all was well. At the end of eight weeks, the bucklings had been castrated and several were in much enlarged billy pens. The billies were very happy to have more companions. By the first of June, the last kids had been born and eighteen kids romped in the pastures with their mothers. Of the eighteen, six were now welters, nine were doelings and three were waiting to be castrated.
Ethan sent out an 'all hands on deck' call the first week in June when there was an outbreak of fungus at Pleasant Grove and a break down of the irrigation system at Arkadelphia. It all happened when Randy was on a trip to check out some Angus/Brahma cross calves which when bred to their bull would produce Brangus calves which could be registered. When they were all cleaning up in the equipment shed, Andy said, “We've decided to cut a road from the Philos entrance road to the river, build a bridge across to the site of Caleb's place. Jamie is uptight about getting the trees cut before the graders arrive, but it looks like there is no rush. Seems no one knows when we will be able to get the equipment in to do the work. The excavation company has the equipment, but no operators are available.”
“That's no problem,” Christopher said. “I have a Texas operator's license and that should be good in Georgia.” It was and rental of the equipment cost less than a third what the equipment plus operator cost. With everyone pitching in to clear the roadway, they managed to stay well ahead of Christoper. When they reached the river bank opposite the selected sight, they poured three concrete abutments for a bridge.
One late July weekend the young bucks as they were called—Ethan, Jamie, Andy, Christopher, Michael, Alfred and Caleb gathered at the bridge site to build a bridge across the river. Christopher again came to the rescue with his skill with heavy equipment. When they finished, four massive steel I-beams rested on the concrete abutments. The floor of the bridge was made from ten by fours. It was a bridge more than adequate for a car or truck.
When the bridge was complete, the guys fired up a grill and while they were waiting for it to get hot, were drinking beer. Ethan was standing to one side thinking back to the moment when the young guys drinking beer knew they were all brothers:
It had been hot and dry and looked to continue that way. That particular day, the high temperature set a record and the work in the groves was all unpleasant. Caleb had become as much a part of the Arkadelphia-Pleasant Grove crew as anyone, often working in the groves. The only part of the work at Arkadelphia he hadn't participated in was anything to do with cattle. In the first instance, he was never called upon to do so because he wasn't needed and in the second, he not only disliked the animals, he was also somewhat afraid of them. But he did work in the groves when needed. All hands was called on deck that day to spray the trees with fungicide, use a foliar zinc on two groves on Pleasant Grove and apply fertilizer. After they had spent the day with fertilizers and sprays, Ethan suggested they all go swimming. Ash begged off as did Dek, but the rest were all for it. Caleb said he guessed he'd have to skip as he didn't have a swim suit.
“Hey, Ash took off for home,” Jamie said. “We'll go skinny dipping.”
Caleb seemed hesitant and turned bright red.
“Never been skinny dipping?” Andy asked.
“Only with Cade.” Caleb got a frighten look in his eyes at the mention of his brother's name. Cade had been home—well, to Caleb's home—for a thirty day leave before going to Afghanistan. He had been gone almost three weeks and Caleb had not heard from him.
“Well, we're all brothers,” Alfred said, “Right, Ethan?”
“Right you are, Alfred. Right you are.” Alfred beamed.
When they got to the pond, Caleb was very shy undressing and everyone was very carefully not looking at him, well everyone except Alfred. As everyone else paid attention to their own undressing and avoiding checking out Caleb, Alfred asked in a loud voice, “Hey, Caleb, what's that on your dick?” Which, of course, meant eight pairs of eye focused like a laser on Caleb's cock. Caleb had a full body blush going as he hid his junk with his hands. “Caleb's got something on his dick,” Alfred announced again.
In a small, shaking voice, Caleb said, “Just a foreskin. I'm not circumcised.”
“Alfred, you're embarrassing Caleb,” Michael said in a stern voice.
“I'm sorry, Caleb,” Alfred said and the tears started.
Everyone liked Caleb. He was somewhat shy and not as outgoing as the other Arkadelphia men and because of his responsibilities with the goats was frequently not working with the others. To be honest, the others were a bit standoffish as well. But that all changed in a flash. When Caleb saw Alfred's tears, he forgot their state of undress and all else as he walked over and embraced the gentle giant. “No big deal, Alfred. Don't worry about it. When most boy babies are very, very young, a doctor cuts off the foreskin. The granny lady who birthed me didn't and wouldn't, so I still have mine, see.” Caleb pulled his foreskin forward, then back. “It's just extra skin.”
Alfred, in a perfectly natural, but much younger, boy move, reached down and started pushing Caleb's foreskin back and forth. Caleb immediately, of course, sprung a boner. “Ahh, Alfred, I think you better stop or . . .
“You're gonna cum!” Alfred laughed.
He stopped, them looked at Caleb and said, “I think I wish I had a foreskin.”
“Well, ours are gone forever, Brother,” Michael said. “Let's swim.”
Caleb, and the others, had thought he was fully a member of the Arkadelphia family before. They, and he, realized that if he was, he was a cousin before the incident at the pond. Afterward he was a full brother.
Ethan was called back to the present when Christopher, who was acting grill master said,“Well, Brothers, let's eat!”
Molly had asked Davis if Christopher could really operate the heavy machines. He told her the boy could fill flower pots and not spill any dirt. The roads cut and graveled uniting the three plantations, a bridge across the river and a prepared trailer site all witnessed to his skill.
With a site ready, Jamie, Andy and Caleb shopped for a house trailer. Jamie and Andy planned eventually to replace the trailer with a house, but both knew that was in the future, so they wanted a really nice trailer. They finally found one the first of June, but were shocked at the price. They debated spending that much—their reward account didn't seem huge any more—but were ready to go ahead when Ethan said, “That's a hell of a lot for a house trailer. Have you talked to Francis? I know his outfit couldn't handle your house, Jamie, because of the stone work and glass, but I'm sure he could do a small house for the same or little more than the cost of the trailer since you can furnish the lumber.”
Jamie went to talk to Francis and asked him to come out and look at the site see what he could come up with. Two days later he called and made an appointment to talk about a house. Jamie told him he would meet him at his place. He called Andy and Caleb and all three were waiting when Francis arrived.
“Jamie, you sure have a grand place here. I glad you had Clayton build this for you. Nobody I know could have done this job as well as I knew he would. Beautiful, beautiful. What's you mansion going to be like, Andy?”
“Nothing like this. I want a version of a Georgia farm house, you know, porch across the front, plain wood and really nicely finished.”
“Not a lot of stone or glass?”
“No. If I wanted to live outside I'd get a tent!” Andy had kidded Jamie and Kathryn about wanting to think they were living outside ever since he saw the architect’s drawing.
“Give me a chance to look at it when you're ready,” Francis said, “if you would.”
“Sure,” Andy replied, thinking, 'After I see the job you do on Caleb's house.'
Francis said, “Back to the house you want built here. We are talking a small house, well-built, for one person, correct?
“I guess that's correct,” Andy said.
“Looking at the future, maybe a couple,” Jamie suggested.
“My impulse was to grab a book of stock plans and let you pick out one. Unfortunately, most plans these days are, to be honest, pretentious. They have lots of wasted space, dormers all over the place and other nonsense. They’re miniature McMansions. Putting on my thinking cap, I came up with the idea of going back to when small houses were the rule, not the exception.. The problem was back then closets were nonexistent or very small. Nonetheless, a good plan from then would solve a major problem and I think I have found one.” The floor plan he spread on the table was for a small house with two bedrooms, kitchen with dining and living area and utility area. “In order to add closet space, I'd extend the front by eight feet. The extra floor space in the bedrooms would provide for closets and an extension of the living room. Finally, I’d add a porch across the front and a deck across the back.
“Looks good to me,” Andy said. Jamie nodded in agreement.
“I like it,” Caleb said. “I like it much more than the trailer, but there’s no need for the garage.”
“Might leave it off, then,” Francis said, “but I’d put the foundation in. Wouldn’t add much to the cost and if you ever wanted to add the garage or whatever, it would be there and save a lot of money and trouble.
“I love Jamie’s deck. Could the one on the house extend over the river?” Caleb asked.
“No problem,” Francis said. “Something else I'm sure you two will like, Jamie, Andy. Using your lumber, I can build it for what you would be paying for a trailer and you’d have a real house with quality materials and quality construction. I'd use a bleaching oil on the outside, use a metal roof, double pane windows. Not large, but a great small house.”
“How long?” Andy asked.
“Four months max, maybe as little as eight to ten weeks. Lot will depend on the weather.”
Andy looked at Jamie who nodded. “Make it happen,” Andy said.
Caleb's house was near completion and would be ready for him to move into the last Saturday in July. The house was set back in trees along the river, so although it faced the pasture area, the back deck extended out over the river. It was a wonderful house in a wonderful location, a nicer house than Caleb could had ever dreamed of. When he told Ethan that, Ethan said, “Dream high, if you dream high, you may not reach your dreams, but you're reaching. Dream low and you may reach your dreams, but what are they worth? Dream high.”