“There are two insults which no human being will endure; the assertion that he hasn’t a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.” – Sinclair Lewis
As you can tell from the quotation above, I am rediscovering some old time authors, Sinclair Lewis being one of them. I wonder how many of you have read any of his novels … lovely tales of old time USA, before all this current craziness got a hold of us, set back in the early twenties and thirties of the last century. I have just re-read “Dodsworth” and re-played the movie made of the book – and got to thinking, these people were writers, and these people were actors!! If you can, at least get the movie, starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Mary Astor and David Niven…. All such great actors, and so well directed and produced. Ah well… I guess that’s a sign of age, talking about the good old days?
And talking of days, some time you just have days from hell, eh!! I have just enjoyed one such…
As I think I mentioned before, when Danny is here, I help him with the feeding – when he is off, I do the feeding and Jimmy helps me – meaning he drives the Polaris, and I pitch out the feed, a good division of labor. But before this can be done, there is the all important measuring out of the feed into various buckets and feed bags for those amongst us who need special diets – and on this ranch of geriatric horses, this seems to be more and more of us.
So a normal feeding session goes like this. We pull up to the feed shed and begin filling various receptacles with the special feed – so, first of all, grab the bucket wherein alfalfa pellets have been soaking in water since last night (for Tequila, who tends to get dry ones stuck in his throat, not a nice experience for any of us) – add a scoop of oats, and a half a coffee can of Senior and stagger out with it, to put into the feeder outside the feed room. This feeder has to be on the edge of a piece of plywood, as Tequila tends to lift his head as he chews, and scatters the feed all over the ground. Before we thought of the wood, he would scatter it amongst the gravel and then try to pick it up, along with the little rocks and all, so we installed a dining table in the form of large piece of plywood on which the scattered feed can fall, which he then cleans up after he’s finished the main meal. So – this plywood has to be well aligned and cleaned off before his honor dines.
Then a bucket of Senior and oats has to be taken out to Comanche, a feed bag of Senior and oats fixed for Sabino, who lost some weight over the winter, another feed bag with oats only for Waylon, who finally gained some weight since the winter….. then a can of Senior and oats for each of the two old mares who get this diet in the morning only – at night they get alfalfa, as against the grass hay enjoyed by the rest of the crew. Oh yes, and a smallish coffee container with Senior for the one remaining geriatric goat, plus a small mixture of oats and Senior for the donkeys…
And hereby hangs the tale. Since we have turned out the pregnant heifers into the Corner Pasture, we had to bring the residents thereof and house them elsewhere, so mare Isha is now in with Sassy and Bertie, all three girls getting along very well, so good to see! Then donkeys Miss Sarah and Miss Katie, and cows Clementine and her also geriatric daughter, Ginger, are turned out loose to eat the grass and the mesquite beans in the lane, just inside the main gate. Clementine is a venerable 15 or so, and Ginger, who had a calf every year of her adult life, is around 13, so also deserving honorable retirement. This is all very well, except that, of course, they have access to the barnyard, where they wander around at will, snooping around the barn gate, hoping against hope we left it unlatched, so making available to them the delectable contents of alfalfa and grass hay by the ton. Consequently all this loose livestock makes the twice daily feeding more complicated.First of all, Miss Katie knows very well that good things are kept in the feed shed and her ambition is to infiltrate it and get her face inside one of the bins containing goodies. The trouble is that once she is inside the shed, it takes an act of Congress and a troop of Marines to get her out. Ever tried to move a donkey that doesn’t want to move? Hence my day from hell. When you push on a donkey, it doesn’t move like any other living creature – it sort of concertinas in the middle, keeping its front feet firmly planted, so that the pushing does nothing except bring the back feet up against the front feet, making it look like a giant caterpillar, all humped up and going nowhere. Very labor intensive!
Next, suspicious Miss Sarah doesn’t want to go into the corral to get her morning bucket, but hangs around having to be coaxed and chivvied in there to enjoy some of her feed before it is devoured by greedy Miss Katie.
Talking about Miss Katie made me remember something my friend Debbie, who used to work at Grapevine, once told me about her mules, Chuleta and Taco. They were turned out in a big corral next to the house, and every so often, Debbie would special feed them a can of corn or some other goodie. In order to call the mules to get their treat, Debbie would ring a bell she had installed near the feed shed. Well and good – until the bell began to ring at add times, all by itself … and, on investigating, she found that the mules were cleverly ringing the bell themselves. After all, why not? When the bell rings, food comes. Ergo, ring the bell…and food will come? Elementary, my dear Watson! So who says animals don’t reason??
And I imagine you are all thirsting for news from the trenches in the Puppy Wars. I guess I could summarize it by the score, which is Puppies 10, Eve 1 – maybe 1 and a half. Puppies are almost whole, after Tuesday’s snips – that is, more or less in one piece, as they had been to the vet hospital to have the necessary surgeries done – but I look like I’ve been through the Apache wars. My arms are full of cuts, scratches, bloody and scabbed – the puppies, in spite of the atrocity performed on them the other day, are hale, hearty and full of the devil. The vet’s office said they had to wear those lampshade things for – I forget now – several days – they had to be kept indoors – they had to be kept quiet…. Theories, dreams…. The puppies beg to differ. From the moment they came home they decreed that the lampshade things were garbage and to be trashed, and, as for resting – bah! Today is day 3 after the surgery, and there they are, in the backyard, tussling with each other, running, digging and generally doing what they do best, which is raising hell. I have kept them in their puppy crate in my bedroom for most of the last two days, in the belief that at least two days’ rest will help them to heal, but tomorrow, after Danny and I take a good look at them (because have you ever tried to look at the bottom end of a wriggling, struggling, biting and jumping whirling dervish all by yourself?) if the surgery sites look good, I am for turning them out to do their worst on the surrounding countryside.
And oh yes – a couple of days before the surgery they discovered the wonders of the doggie door – what fun!! So then it was in, out, in, out, slam bang, halfway in, back out – amazing what a feeling of power a dog can get with the freedom of entry and exit at will! No more depending on the human slave to open the door and let one in …. Just barge through the doggie door and bingo! The wonders of the bedroom are at your feet – jumping on the bed, chewing up the slippers, tangling up the phone and Kindle recharging cords – the possibilities are endless!
And then this morning Bella discovered the strange dog in the mirror of my walk-in-closet door. Amazing! Transfixed, she stood there staring at this interloping canine whom she had never noticed in the house before! She wasn’t sure she liked it – but it seemed big enough for her not to attack it without reason …. Then, as the dog in the mirror just stared back and didn’t offer any belligerent action, she finally lost interest and wandered away.
But Bella has other, somewhat questionable, inclinations. Last night, while I was distracted watching the garbage on television, she discovered my wine glass, and had herself a good sip of white. After I pitched out the rest of it, washed the glass, and refilled it, I carelessly left it on the sofa side table again – and, you guessed it!! Another doggy sip was enjoyed – so do I have a lush for a dog??
And, as this is the rainy season, it is incumbent on me to bring you up to date on the condition of the pasture and the tanks. The tanks (ponds, in case you’ve forgotten) out in the Flats are all but empty – the only one that had a bit of water left in it is Bones Tank – and there was a bit in Twin Lakes, going fast. But the God of Rain was good to us – the other night it clouded up and dumped a total of about an inch over two nights on the headquarters, and more, we think on the Flats, by the look of Twin Lakes, which filled up halfway in just that one rain. The same storm produced horrific winds, estimated by Danny, over whose house they raged, to have been around 80 mph in gusts, taking off a part of his sunroom roof. The same winds, he told me, turned over a trailer in someone’s yard – it sounded like an equipment or horse trailer – and another person had a whole truck tip over. Luckily, Danny’s roof was all the damage he sustained, and the headquarters here didn’t get too much of that wind at all … and we only some 3 miles apart! Truly, weather in Arizona is a book in itself. But that same storm produced the needed rain that filled the tank, so, as sorry as we are for the owners of the trailers and trucks and other sundries, I am not complaining! Now it is two days later, and we are ready for more … rain, not necessarily the wind. And already the green grass is peeping out in the Flats, and already the cattle look happier. But I must say that I didn’t totally escape the winds this year – a few weeks ago a huge branch of one of the big trees in my backyard broke off and fell on the roof, partially demolishing the skylight and causing damage to the tune of about $1500. The insurance man just left – I wonder how much of that amount they will manage to wriggle out of?
But to finish the bovine report, remember that stuff we are feeding the cows that is supposed to control the horn flies? Well, it sure looks like it’s doing the job! So far, we haven’t seen a single fly on any of the cows. That will change, I am sure, as with the rains there are sure to be at least some of the little devils, but what a change from past years! We used to feel so sorry for the cattle – endlessly tossing or swinging their heads, with swarms of flies buzzing off and immediately resettling on them, chewing and sucking blood. I would estimate that one cow could have up to several hundred – perhaps a thousand – flies on her at any one time, so imagine the stings, and the loss of blood and condition. So nice to look at them now, peacefully grazing or lying down, without any of that frantic head tossing!
And I am continuing this next morning, that is Friday morning – we had another lovely rain last night, albeit only 30/100 inch – but it all helps, especially on top of what was there already. Nice, soaking, grass rains, we call them. Danny said he had seen on the news that this was a rain storm that covered all of Cochise County – and nowhere else – just a vast cloud cover of rain, slowly moving east. Lovely, lovely… More please!
And now, to end this with a good, cowboy farewell …”till next time, be a nuisance to the devil, and don’t forget to check that cinch!!”