Levi Kalbach, of North Heidelberg Township retired from farming early in the present century. He became a town-dweller in nearby Bernville, and, for the most part, he took life easy. But the love of the soil was in his blood, calling, calling him back to the acres which he had tilled for many years. The tenant who operated the Kalbach farm was glad to have Levi lend a hand now and then to lighten the chores.
It was September. An early frost had put a nip into the morning air when Levi set out from his Bernville home one morning to lend a hand in the task of cleaning seed wheat. Yes, the morning was chilly. It called for a coat and a vest to be worn.
The brisk walk of two miles from Bernville, combined with the effects of increasing power from the sun’s rays brought too much warmth to Levi, so that when he reached the threshing floor where the seed cleaning was to be done he removed both coat and vest and hung them on a peg of one of the barn floor partitions. True, he had a large wad of money in paper bills tucked away in the pocket of his coat, but everyone was honest and Levi need fear no thief.
Now, the tenant farmer owned a pet goat, Nan. Nan had the run of the premises. The whirring sound of the fanning mill and the rustle of sliding grain brought Nan to the barn in search of adventure—an adventure which proved to be her undoing.
The turning of the fanning mill did not hold the she-goat’s attention very long. But ah! There was something else, more to her liking. A coat and a vest suspended, and within easy reach. Nan went to work, munching, crunching, and devouring the woolen fabrics. This was so much fun!
Levi and the farmer paused for a brief rest. A grinding, crunching noise attracted their attention. There stood Nan, grinning as goats can grin after perpetrating their crimes.
“Donnervetter!” We don’t know which of the men said it. Both made a dash for the scene of destruction. The vest was in shreds, one sleeve of the coat was gone, and the pocket, yea even the pocket in which the money was, or had been, was no more to be seen. It was inside Nan.
It was a moment for decision. Levi Kalbach thought fast.
“Hol’s Butcher Messer.” He commanded his farmer. Without delay Jim Brossman hurried to the house and brought with him a huge butcher’s knife as commanded. Nan’s days were ended. The incision was swift and sure. By probing all of the goat’s entrails every bill was retrieved, wet, battered, punched and torn.
With no obsequies for the goat Levi Kalbach hurried to the bank in Womelsdorf, where he plied the crumpled mess of bills on the cashier’s window. Mr. Charles P. Schaeffer, cashier of the bank, reconstructed the pattern of each piece of money; identified each serial number and credited Levi Kalbach’s account with the full amount. Later the federal treasury redeemed each bill and tragedy was averted, that is for all except the mischievous Nan, the she goat, and Levi’s outer vestments.
Goat Milking. Image courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
Goats. Image courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.