Animal farm

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 25, 2022

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Spring…mild sun, splashes of neon-intense color, rain.


And shedding livestock.

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Did I mention rain?


I could only nod bemusedly as a friend  muttered that from the waist up she is covered with horse hair, and below, mud. “Don’t worry,” I grinned, patting her shoulder in mock sympathy, “Soon it will be 98% humidity each morning and, instead, you’ll be covered in sweat.”


But I like living an outdoor life. It has its drawbacks, sure. Lots of hard work and constant ‘projects’ that need to be done. Little time spent on things that now seem trivial, say, bathing, or washing the car. Actually, I don’t own a car anymore but each summer corn tries to sprout out of the bed of my truck. It’s non-GMO, so all good.


At the end of a long day, which is pretty much every day, I tend to look like an extra from the film, ’The Grapes of Wrath.’ And luckily, our small town is full of other ‘extras’ who also don’t think twice about showing up at the grocery store with bits of hay in their hair and crusty muck boots to pick up something for dinner. These are my people—tired, sweaty, and chatting like drug dealers in the dairy aisle about a supplier who has hay which “weighs about 65 lbs and is 30% alfalfa. Listen, I can give you a bale and you don’t owe me anything. If you like it, then I can hook you up with a shipment…”


I can’t complain about being held captive by the critters of the farm when I freely chose this ‘lifestyle’ and am too neurotic to even consider taking time off and having this strange thing called a vacation, because I’m too neurotic about leaving my animals in the hands of anyone else. I have friends who don’t think twice about leaving their dogs at a kennel while jaunting off on a cruise. Who could do that, I think, horrified. My dogs would, I’m convinced, feel utterly abandoned and faint away from the depression of being separated. They’re used being cuddled. They’re used to having a bite of cinnamon flavored Pop tart in the morning….when the reality is that dogs sleep 18 hours a day and spend the other 6 looking for a place to nap, whether it be at a kennel or on our couch.


I’m afraid I shamelessly embrace anthropomorphism— attributing human characteristics or behavior to any other non-human entity. With me, it’s mostly just with animals. I’m pretty sure, for example, trees aren’t jealous of hedges, or other trees, but maybe they are. Maybe the magnolia behind our house thinks the pin oak has a big butt. And the loblolly pine is a pathological liar…


These are the things that keep me up at night.


And so I live my life, year after year, tending to the horses, dogs, cats, and whatever squirrel falls into the water trough or bird smacks into a window. As though when I’m not looking, they all don Beatrix Potter aprons and kerchiefs and we are all living together in the Victorian English countryside.


A friend once said she hopes when we die, we’re all met by our beloved pets on the other side. Me too. Although I’m sure mine will take a look at me, roll their eyes and sigh,


“We thought you’d never leave…”