I got to work ten minutes late yesterday after checking on the well being of the lambs and ewe throughout the night. Then I spent the entire day at school with a screaming, kicking, temper-tantruming child. She was screaming in that high-pitched register that would send dogs into a howling frenzy and my head felt about ready to split. I went out of the way to treat myself to a giant Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Have you ever had a day that has so kicked your butt that you just need some liquid energy to replace the life that the little vampires have sucked right outta your body? I kinda figured I deserved it even if it was pretty pricy on account of I hadn’t killed anybody yet today. I was really looking forward to getting home to the relative quiet of dog, cats, horse, pregnant ewes, chickens, ducks, and newly hatched chicks, all neighing and barking and meowing and squawking and baaing for attention and food.
When I got home, Puppy was waiting at the gate, crying. I looked down at him in alarm. His head had a deep gouge in it, and his eyelid was raw. His front leg was all swollen. I immediately started checking him over for more wounds, wondering if the pit bulls had been back. After ascertaining that he had nothing life threatening wrong with him, I doctored his wounds, then checked the other livestock. They seemed okay. The new lambs were okay. The chickens and ducks were okay. I checked the yard for a dead possum or raccoon or fox. Nothin’.
When SwampMan got home, I rushed to his truck door. “Something tore up Puppy! I could swear he was okay when I fed him this morning, but it is still dark when I leave. Did you notice anything?”
“Yeah, I know what happened to him. I ran over him this morning.”
“WHAT!?” I think my voice, too, might have reached that high register only audible to dogs. Maybe it’s catching, like a virus. An incredibly annoying virus. “HOW?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. I was late and….”
“Did you even LOOK for him?”
“Well, the answer would appear to be no, wouldn’t it? I feel like dog crap. I couldn’t possibly feel worse. I thought I’d killed him.”
“Why didn’t you call? Why didn’t you email?”
“I knew you’d freak out and get all upset.” Well, he got that right!
“You backed up over him, didn’t you?” This was not a stab in the dark on my part. SwampMan has backed up into the gate. He had backed up into my vehicle because I was parked behind him, and he didn’t bother to look. Since nothing was supposed to be there, he didn’t bother to check. I don’t really know how he missed the gate being there on account of it has ALWAYS been there. It didn’t just materialize on its own one morning. Nobody sneaky installed it while he was sleeping. It must be nice to live in his world where everything is right where it is supposed to be and nothing ever gets moved or falls asleep behind his truck. My world is more disorderly.
“Well, he’s never been there before!”
When I finished feeding, I was tired, grumpy, emotionally drained, relieved that Puppy was alive, but I really did not feel like cooking. SwampMan took me out for fajitas. Well. THEY certainly hit the spot! When I walked in the door, the message light was blinking on the phone. I punched the button, and Newt’s campaign wanted to let me know that Mitt was a lying bastard, and Mitt’s campaign wanted me to know that Newt was a slimy sumbitch, then my son’s voice said “Hey, Ma! You still workin’ on the other side of the county? Gimme a call!” Wuh oh. Son has never called me asking about my job situation before. Sumpin’s up.
I called. “Hey, Ma! I gotta go down south for a few days and won’t get back until Monday or so. Could you feed the chickens while I’m gone?” I allowed as how I could, considering that two days ago they had been my chickens, and wondering what this had to do with where I worked. “Oh, and the SwampGirlfriend has been hired for this job, and we need you to take care of her dog and her cockatoo. It’s on your way to and from work.”
“Is that the cockatoo that tried to bite the shit outta me when it was at your house?” The bird stood on top of his cage and LUNGED his whole body at me. I tried to teach bird to call “Here, kitty kitty kitty!” Bird was not tricked.
“If that bird bites me, I ain’t feedin’ it.”
“C’mon, Ma, he’s SLOW. You lure him to one side of the cage with your left hand, and with your right hand, you take out his birdseed holder, and put in some seeds. Then you distract him again.”
“Really. He’s pretty slow.”
“Unh hunh. Um, is that dog gonna be able to cross its legs and not potty on the carpet for 12 hours?”
“Oh, well, that’s good, because I probably won’t be able to walk the dog until after work every day. There’s no way I can get there before work. That will be, let me count it up in my head, about 24 hours between walks. If it’s going to make a few accidents on the carpet if I can’t be there for 12 hours, well, I suppose 12 more won’t hurt.”
“That’s okay. It’s not MY carpet.”
Oh, well. It wasn’t my carpet, either. “So, where does she live?”
“I’ll tell you when I bring over the key.”
So, he came on over and I met him at the gate.
“So, what’s the address?”
“Well, she lives down a road next to the convenience store, then you turn right onto a road called something Lake road, then you go around a couple turns, then her place is on the right. It might be the third one. Or maybe the fourth. You can’t miss it. It has a motorcycle and a truck up on blocks in the yard.”
“That describes 3/4 of the houses around that neck of the woods. What’s the address?”
“I don’t remember. You’ll know it when you see it.”
Those directions would drive my husband and daughter crazy. They would want the GPS location as well as the address. For me and the son, those directions make perfect sense.
I spent another day at work today, the high point of which was running screaming out the door at the end of it. Well, maybe I walked in a dignified adult manner out the door, nodding pleasantly to people and saying things like “Isn’t this beautiful weather! I love it!” Inside, make no mistake, I was screaming and running. And possibly mentally stabbing people through the heart with a wooden stake that were impeding my egress. “You’re always so happy and smiling!” remarked a coworker. “What are you up to, really?”
“I’m mentally burying people in the playground!” I replied cordially. She thought I was kidding. Ha! Little does she know.
I found the SwampGirlfriend’s house without much difficulty. Yes, those really were the directions. He wrote them down for me. I could hear talking inside, but the key fit the door. I went in. He said that everything would be where I could find it. I found the bird food. I found the bird which wasn’t difficult, as he was talking back to the television from his cage. As soon as he saw me, he climbed on top of his cage and started lunging for me, clearly out for blood. I distracted him with my school I.D. While he was viciously biting it, I gave him some sunflower seeds, then changed his water. While he was hurriedly climbing the cage to bite the hand that was putting in the water, I retrieved my I.D.
That done, I called the dog. I did not know the dog’s name, so I just stood in the middle of the house and yelled “Dog! Are you here, dog?” No dog barked at me or bit my ankles. I didn’t see his leash to walk him. There was no dogfood bag. Dang. I started wondering if I was in the wrong damn house feeding the wrong damn bird, and how would I explain THAT to the police? I know a person that’s been in jail for two years now waiting for his trial. Oh, well. I’m pretty sure SwampSon would bail me out. Eventually. I checked to see if maybe it was locked in the bathroom. Nope. Shrug. Maybe they took it with them.
After I got home and fed most of the chickens, I had to run to the feed store and pick up a little more feed to last until the end of the day Friday. SwampSon also wanted me to put a bigass tarp over his chicken pen so the chickens wouldn’t get rained on. SwampMan grumbled about how I probably wanted his help. Well, I could use the help. We grabbed the feed right before the store closed, then headed out to SwampSon’s place. I couldn’t find his chicken feed, so I opened up my 50 lb. bag of scratch feed and threw some in. We put the tarp over the pen which terrified the chickens. SwampMan and I had an animated conversation while putting up the tarp which consisted of things like aspersions upon my tarping ability or lack thereof, and my aspersions upon his general demeanor. I think the pertinent phrase was “grumpy bastard”.
Then we got home, I finished feeding the livestock, then came inside to call son on the job. “I don’t wish to alarm you, but the dog was not present. Is it hidden somewhere?”
“Oh, I meant to call you this morning, and forgot. She got somebody to pick up the dog this morning. Did you see the aquarium?”
“Well, yeah, I saw the aquarium.”
“Did you see the newt?”
Sometimes I feel like I’ve landed in the middle of a Monty Python movie. “No, I did not note a newt.”
“Well, he’s hard to see.”
“Yeah, especially when you are not aware that you are supposed to be looking for a newt, and you’re looking for a DOG. I did not look for the dog inside the aquarium. Am I supposed to be doing something about the newt?”
“Well, just make sure he’s okay.”
I have a confession to make. I do not know how to tell whether a newt is feeling okay or is in the midst of a suicidal depression. Nor do I care. I do not know if a newt in an aquarium is supposed to be on top of or underneath the water. I suppose I should research it. However, it is time to check the ewes again. It’s supposed to be stormy and unpleasant here tomorrow. From experience, I know that means that at least one first time momma is going to go into labor out in the middle of a field in a driving rain, and I will be out in my soaking wet, cold pajamas with a flashlight trying to find her and/or the lambs.