Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Ho hum.

Posted on | October 22, 2012 | 5 Comments

At first I thought I was getting old.  After all, there were some signs.  After years of highlighting my hair, God saw fit to give me some natural highlights.  You know, to save me the trouble and all.  Ask and ye shall receive, I guess.  Um,… thanks.

Plus there are many times when I enter the grocery store and only shop from the discounted bakery and close out product shelves.

The other day when I checked out at Lowe’s Foods the clerk kept turning my box of pasta around and around, looking for the red discount sticker. She knows me.  Finally she asked,

“Do you know how much this was marked?  I can’t find the sticker.”

“Oh,” I said “It’s not off the cheap rack.”

She paused and looked confused.

“Because I have a coupon,” I declared, handing it over.

She smiled and nodded, “Of course you do, sweetie.”

That’s the way I roll at the grocery store.

In addition, I have recently taken up knitting.  Or perhaps I should call it wrestling-with-yarn.  It’s not exactly knitting yet.

And if all that’s not enough, I just added glucosamine to the alarming number of vitamins and supplements kept on top of the fridge.  I remember when the top of the fridge was just used for keeping liquor bottles and mixers.

But most of all, I noticed that it takes a whole lot to get me excited or upset nowadays.  Spilled drinks have to be the super staining kind in order to get a reaction.  Like cherry KoolAid instead of plain old sweet tea.  Lunchboxes left behind just go in the fridge to be used the next day instead of rushed off to school.  Dead chickens, picked off by owls at night or loose dogs in the afternoon, are just an an excuse to buy a new variety of hen.  Wormy tomatoes are just another encouragement to make homemade pasta sauce.

The other morning when I drove past Hawfields General Store, I glanced at the old men gathering on the front porch for their daily congregation.

“That’ll probably be me in a few weeks,” I sighed to myself in the mirror.  Then I cringed.  Because I think talking out loud to yourself is another bad sign.

But as I sat at the stoplight, watching those men in their feed company caps and work boots, I realized I wasn’t that old at all.  I just have been a farmer long enough that I have almost perfected that sit-on-the-porch-and-watch-trouble-slide-by attitude.  Finally, after years of bursting into tears at massacred flocks and ripping up wilted and mildewed crops in a furious rage, having spent sleepless nights wondering if I should get up and check on a kidding doe again and furtively crinkling feed store receipts and burying them on the bottom of the trash can so I don’t know how much money I’ve lost in the pursuit of free range eggs and hormone free milk, I have finally accepted it.

It is what it is, people.  All the ranting and raving in the world isn’t going to change it.

I spent 45 minutes waiting for my eye appointment last week.  Ho hum.  Sitting in the waiting room, flipping through my Mother Earth magazine cover-to-cover, and waiting on the eye doctor.  The same eye doctor that would kick my butt to the curb and charge me $35 for a missed appointment if I showed up 45 minutes late.  But the upside was that since I was so late getting out of the doctor’s office, I got to have lunch with dad who had been watching the boys for me.

One morning The Other Half and I headed out to do the morning chores and found CC laying on her side in the barn.  Since she didn’t hop up for breakfast, we had to settle for dragging her to her feet and all our morning plans were nixed in order to keep her moving around.  Taking turns walking a colicky pony in the rain wasn’t on my To Do list.  But I had to smile at the sight of The Other Half jogging her up and down the driveway.

Is there anything sexier than a man taking care of his little girl’s pony?

And when it was my turn, CC and I trudged slowly up and down the road.   Ho hum.  Looking at birds eating berries in the dogwoods.

Admiring the neighbor’s persimmons.

And some morning glory brightening up a brush pile.

Until she finally perked up so much at the sight of the neighbor’s geldings, I figured she was safe to put back in the barn yard.

I went the wrong way on a trip to a friend’s house to borrow her tiller and drop off some female guineas.  But as we turned around and backtracked for 8 miles, Ghostbusters came on the radio. Ho hum.  Singing along to Ghostbusters with the kids as we drove through the country.

The farrier left a message saying he was going to be an hour late.  Which gave me an hour to spend mucking the barn.  Ho hum.  Mucking the barn, watching the goat kids gallivanting in the hay roll.

On the way to pick the kids up from school, discovered a storm brought down a tree on a section of fence.  Couldn’t lift the tree so had to slide it over just enough that the car could drive by.  Couldn’t pull up the squashed fence so had to attach a leftover cattle panel to it.  Ho hum.  Driving around that tree for days until The Other Half took the ax to it.  The cattle panel is still there.  I’m getting used to it.

Ran out of time to make sugar cookies with Middle so we settled for caramel apples instead.  Ho hum.  Stretching caramel over apples.

Only getting 3 eggs a day from 2 dozen hens due to the molt.  Ho hum.  Time to break out all that Papa Noel sausage for breakfast instead of eggs.

But I am not quite ready for the bench at the general store yet.  Because there was a day last week when one of our ducks was hit and killed on the road.  When I got home from the work, the kids told me Cookie Dough was dead.

“Oh, that’s a shame,” I said as I poured my coffee.  “She should really have stopped taking her ducklings across the road.” Ho hum.  Where’s the creamer?  After breakfast I went down and tossed her body off the side of the road and into the ditch.  Because vultures have to eat, too.

Only a few days later we were headed down the driveway, when Cookie Dough crossed in front of us with her brood of ducklings.

Fresh off a month of revival at church and the previews of Frankenweenie, the kids began jumping around in the car.

“Cookie Dough came back from the dead!!  Cookie Dough’s alive!  She’s back from the dead!!”

I slammed on the brakes and peered at her through the window.  My heart was pounding wildly and my mouth went dry.  It took me a minute to catch my breath.

“Stop it!”  I hollered. “Ducks don’t come back from the dead!”

I repeated it quietly to myself as I got out of the car and headed for the ditch to check for her body.

“Ducks do NOT come back from the dead.  Ducks do NOT come back from the dead.  Ducks do NOT come back from the dead.”

I’d like to say that I felt positive about that.  But between 7 years of farming where anything can happen and 2 readings of Pet Sematary in my teens, I was pretty nervous.  I reviewed the duck CPR I had completed on Cookie Dough in my head:

1.  Check for death by gently nudging the body with your foot.

2.  Pick up duck by tip of wing or tail feathers and see if it moves while being dangled.

3.  Remove body from scene of incident and place on Sacrifice Stump or other area suitable for body recovery by nature’s scavengers.

I was sure Cookie Dough was dead.  Kind of sure.  But I held my breath as I peeked over edge of the ditch.  The body was still there.

I exhaled and returned to the car.

“The body is still in the ditch,”  I told the kids.  “Apparently a duck that looked just like Cookie Dough was hit and killed.  Cookie Dough’s been fine all this time.  She must have been at the neighbor’s pond.”

They murmured amongst themselves.

How could there be a duck that looks just like her?

Where did it come from?

Wouldn’t we have seen it before?

If it wasn’t our duck, whose duck was it?

How come Cookie Dough was missing for so long after that duck was hit?

“Don’t you think it’s weird that there was an identical duck living around here and we never saw it?”  asked Pretty.

I tried to recover my Ho Hum.  I couldn’t find it.  I was still thinking of Pet Sematary.

Finally I managed an answer.

“Not as weird as a duck that came back from the dead.”

“Good point,” she agreed.

It took days for my Ho Hum to return after that.  I guess that means I’m not so old that I can take anything in stride yet.  Also, it’s hard to get your Ho Hum back when you aren’t sleeping well at night.  Because of your nightmares of maniacal resurrected ducks.  Stupid Stephen King.


5 Responses to “Ho hum.”

  1. lin
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

    Hooray! Another animal saved at your place!! well…okay, so Cookie Dough is officially a zombie duck….I’ll take it. 🙂

  2. Anne Kimball
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 4:35 am

    Love it. Love your duck CPR. That’s pretty much my method, too. Years later, I still sometimes wonder about that dog I buried. Nahhh. I’m sure he was dead. Or was he…..?

  3. Jill
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 5:04 am

    Ok, Pet Semitary was totally scary, but two Cookie Doughs and you only had to feed one? Score! Take the win!! Pretty has her Ho Hum at such a tender age…

  4. Lisa D
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 5:29 am

    Just another special effect at your place. You really go all out to make those kids’ Halloweens special!

    I would also like to point out that you are quite advanced in your practice of Mindfulness. You may be able to find a part-time gig teaching it at Duke 🙂

    Finally, who doesn’t perk up when they cross paths with a couple fine looking geldings? It’s motivation to look your best!

  5. Kim
    October 24th, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Ew – Pet Cemetary, scared the living daylights out of me aged 32! The film? Not on your nelly……. Glad the critters are all OK though, even if one of them is in a film!

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