Today I had a heart attack. It’s only an expression; thank goodness I did not have a literal heart attack. If you’re old enough to remember Sanford and Son you’ll know what I mean when I say I thought it was “the big one”. My heart was beating so fast and fear had me in its claws so deep that I thought my heart was going to beat plumb out of my chest.
Before I began my tale, I should say this blog post needs to be filed in the “things I find under my hood” category—if only I had such a category. After today, I’m beginning to think I might need to create such a category. Usually the things found under a hood are mechanical in nature and not really worth talking about. Unless you’re me of course. Previously you might remember when I found the Rat Bastard and his nest under my hood with all his special possessions he’d hauled under there. Who knew I’d have 2 of these blog posts in as little as 3 months?!??? Well let’s get on with it, shall we?
About mid morning, I left our house with EK in tow in the back seat. She wanted to visit her Grandy across town. We were driving along, eating gummy worms, talking about colors that match the seasons and looking for budding fruit trees. Our car was filled with smacking and conversation so I don’t know how long the noise had been happening before I actually heard it. By the time it reached my ears, it was of such magnitude and intensity it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It wasn’t the clankety clank of saddle straps being flapped around put there by a dirty Rat Bastard, but rather it was an ear splitting screech. A SCRAWWWWWLLLLLL. The screams of a mountain lion couldn’t compare to the noise. The sound of a woman being murdered in the woods couldn’t compare.
“What is that noise?” I asked out loud. EK quietened her incessant chatter just a beat or two for us to tune our ears. The sound was so loud. It was terrifying. It was obviously an animal in much distress. Not just any animal but a cat. As loud as it was, it was still a far off muffled sound of pain and agony. But it made no sense to me. Why would I be hearing a cat in distress while driving 30 mph down Duncan street? Then the realization hit me.
It was under the hood. There was a cat under my hood. I had driven at least 7 blocks with a cat under my hood. In the 2.78957856748 seconds it took me to pull over and put the car in park, my mind was a racing mess of scenarios. I popped the hood and stepped out of the car. The screech and the scrawl and the screams were so intensely crazy I was struck with a fear of what I was going to discover. I moved as quickly as I could, but of course when you are in the throes of panic and rushing to rescue something that needs rescuing, it seems to take forever. I put my hand under the hood, desperately searching for the latch that releases the hood. From the left to the right more to the left more to the right. The whole while fearful of what I am about to discover. Will this by my cat Rocky Muffin? Is this a neighborhood cat? The cat obviously was still alive but in what kind of condition? Will it be mangled? Will it be limbless? Will there be blood spattered all over the roof of the hood of my yellow vehicle? Was I going to be able to stomach what I was about to discover?
I’m not mechanically minded a bit, but I’ve heard the stories of people who get caught up in tractors and lose their legs or those awful stories of kittens that spin around in the motors for a few seconds before there’s a thump and a wump and that’s the end of them. Let’s just say, I was expecting nothing less.
My heart raced for forever, but I finally managed to find the hood release. I opened the hood to find, yes indeed, my very own Rocky Muffin squeezed between the hood and the black tubes and tangles of the underneath of the hood. Her fur was matted and wet on her back. I reached for her and she began to calm some. I took hold and pulled but couldn’t pull her out. Her foot seemed stuck in something, but after careful observation and a little more tugging, she had just deeply imbedded her claws into something holding on for dear life I assume. If I spring a leak later I’ll know she got a good puncture in some hose or some sort. She had all four limbs and a tail in tact, and the wet fur on her back must’ve been from the sweat and fear that had soaked through her skin. I’m sure I looked a bit odd to the passersby pulling a black cat out from under my hood. One truck began to slow, I’m uncertain as to why. Maybe to help out a damsel in distress or maybe to take a second look to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him.
I put RM in the car and she quietened down, hid under the seat, and rode to Grandy’s house in relieved silence. After depositing EK, I got RM back home where she received special treatment after such a traumatizing experience. She curled up on the bed and bathed and licked every bit of axle grease that may have touched her until she is a fine black sheen again. My teenage niece doesn’t even take baths as long as this cat bathed herself. I guess she found herself deserving of quite the pampering.
I’m not sure how many of her lives Rocky Muffin has squandered thus far, but today she certainly used up one of her nine.
And took a few years of my own along with it! Whew, isn’t life a fun adventure?
We had to say good-bye to one of the finest dogs there was.
Our Drew Miller.
Our Drewby Dooby Doo.
He was somewhere around 11 years old. Give or take a year. He was named after a preschool classmate of Ashlynn’s. He was her second puppy after her first Drew Miller met an unfortunate end under a car tire. So when asked what to call the new puppy, he was Drew Miller too. Or Drew Miller #2. I guess technically he was Drew Miller #3 if you count the classmate.
He had the manner of a cat, not giving a flip if you pet him or not. or if you liked him or not. He was not a man’s dog. He was not a companion dog. He was a dog’s dog. Unlike most dogs that eagerly run to greet you, if he was feeling generous he might raise his eyebrows and thump his massive tail no more than four times on the ground in greeting. That was as good as it got. He wasn’t one to be bought or tricked or persuaded. Not even with steak.
He was a large fellow, narrow through the hips and broad in the chest. Built like a Marine but with an awkward gait that showed something wasn’t quite right in his hips. He never allowed that to stop him on our outings and he would run as far and as fast as he could before slowing to a crawl and lagging far behind. Tongue lolling. Then when you least expected it, here he’d come blasting past with renewed energy. He was rescued from the humane society and was labeled part border collie, which couldn’t have been the farthest from the truth. Part beaver and part killing machine was more accurate.
He was a wood chewer and loved a good stick to chew although fetching one was out of the question. He practically ate our house down to the shingles as a puppy. “You can’t fault him for being a dog,” my dad replied after my complaints
He loved to be outdoors in any weather and often had to be dragged inside with a leash on a frigid night.
He had the heart of a warrior, fighting anything that threatened his territory. Porcupines, badgers, skunks, possums, and rats. He was proud of his kills and laid beside them until we took notice and patted him on the head. He alerted us to snakes and strangers; yet was gentle around all things important: chickens, cats, and kids. His tail was a weapon in itself if he ever whacked you alongside the thigh on his way to chase a rabbit.
He was a country dog to the core. He lived a good life on many adventures with J-dub and me from the prairies of Texas to the mountains of New Mexico. He spent his golden years running, chasing, and occasionally catching out in the open range. The wind in his face. Untethered. Just being a dog.
He will be missed.
I live in a very cool place. Not braggin’ or anything, just stating facts. I have come to really love it here, and why not? I am in the midst of the Creator’s glory. Truly. Mountains, streams, wildflowers, and trees. One of the perks of living in a very cool place is that sometimes I look out my front door and see cool stuff. And sometimes, I see not very cool stuff, like bear trash. Among the cool stuff are two big bucks that came to say hi the other day. If I knew anything at all, I’d be able to tell you what kind of point system these dudes were on. But whatever. Sidenote: I may or may not have a thing for yellow vehicles. So do the deer. Not gonna lie, I was a little bit leery of being this close, with my little EK by my side and all. Those are really some big antlers and I’m not real sure if they would charge, but of course the vision of being gored by deer entered my mind. A reel of every episode of “When Animals Attack” shortly followed. Our cat was very curious too. You can see her photo bomb in the lower right corner of the second picture. Speaking of very cool things: I have a black cat and it’s October!!! October means Halloween! Does anyone else think that’s awesome besides me? No? Well I think it’s very cool. The leaves here are in an array of colors and taking a picture of a black cat in fall leaves is currently on my bucket list. Y’all remember this cat? Isn’t she a beauty? I have come to adore her. It is definitely a ‘she’. And her name is Rocky Muffin. But sometimes EK says, “I changed her into a boy” so then we call ‘him’ Bagheera. As I don’t have a ton of cat experiences, I really have nothing to compare this cat to…..except a dog, and let me tell you, she is just like a dog to the point of jumping in the car to go for rides and following us on our walks. Yesterday, I tried to get some cool pics of ol’ Baggy, but didn’t really succeed. It just so happens, unlike a dog, she doesn’t know how to sit or stay. It’s still a lot green here, mostly because we have some cool season grass, which unlike normal grass, stays green until Spring, then it dies. So there’s more summer than autumn in my pictures. But whatever. I’m not giving up yet, so be on the lookout for more pics of this cat. Maybe shoved in a jack o’ lantern? Maybe being gored by a buck? The possibilities are endless.
I’ve got a broody hen. In other words, she wants to be a momma.
This hen in particular sits in a wheelbarrow. Day after day. Night after night. She won’t eat. She won’t drink. And if you go near her, she puts her hackles up and makes a noise that frightens me. I’ve never been harmed by a chicken, and yet I still am frightened. It is an unwarranted fear that I can not explain, especially considering the fact that my hens are darlings. Perhaps it dates back to when I read a children’s book, “Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in her Pocket” and Junie B. was worried that the chickens were going to peck her head into a nub, and she would have to walk around in a pair of overalls with a nub as a head. I’m sure that is it, since that is so very logical.
So day after day, night after night, this yellow chicken sits in a red wheelbarrow hoping beyond hope that the egg she ISN’T sitting on will hatch. Crazy chicken.
It is impossible that she will ever set a nest and have a baby chickie because:
1) there is no rooster here to fertilize her egg, so no matter how long she sets a nest, it will still just be an egg.
2) There is no egg that she is setting since we removed it from underneath her weeks ago, hoping she would be about her business.
No such luck.
Day after day, one of us, (mostly Ash, but sometimes me if I’ve had a shot of whiskey first) will pick up the hissing, pissed off chicken, afraid that her head is going to spin around and start pecking me to a nub and throw her out of the wheelbarrow, so she can get a drink of water and maybe a bite to eat. And as soon as we do, she lets us know she is not a happy chicken. And as soon as she can, she makes a run for the water trough, gets a drink, and before you know it, she is back in her wheelbarrow on her imaginary nest, dreaming of waddling babies.
But if you were ever wondering where the expression “got her feathers ruffled” originated, my belief is it came from an insane broody hen after she was tossed from her wheelbarrow.
Today the weather is agreeable. The skies are a cobalt blue with an occasional fluffy cumulus cloud in the distance. The wind is slight. It’s still chilly enough to need a coat, but when you find a good place to sit in the sun, your insides begin to warm and your heart smiles.
As does your mouth. Me and little britches went outside to enjoy it for a while. The chickens were making an awful ruckus earlier in the day and I thought we’d better scout for eggs in case they’re laying willy nilly as they are prone to do.
In case you’re new here, my backyard is home to 5 wonderful chickens, two dogs and an occasional visit by me and my girl, EK.
That’s Drew, wanting his belly rubbed. It’s a dog’s life.
The dogs are sweet, albeit a bit rambunctious. And EK is a bit leery of their wagging tails, licking tongues, and overall ambitious nature.
Our girl dog, Grace, is a heeler/shepherd. A tad on the hyper side, a herder of all chickens, and may I add that she also is in heat. It’s important to the story, trust me.
She loves Emma. She just doesn’t understand her boundaries.
She wants to love on her but outweighs her by about 25 pounds.
Emma is always glad to see the dogs, as long as she’s in someone’s arms, safe and protected. I set her on the ground and told those dogs NO, and allowed the morning to progress. Drew is content chewing on a stick but Grace wants to see EK up close and personal and Emma was happy to see her.
Right until Grace rolled over on her back begging for a belly rub, bumped Emma and made her fall down. I of course, did my parental duty and ran right over to brush away the tears and scold the dog, but not before I snapped a picture or two. Not to worry, she was unscathed.
Time passed. A chicken wandered over, Grace followed.
Emma fretted, but was relieved when Grace herded the chicken along and ignored the need for a belly rub.
It’s okay, Emma. It’s ok.
Later, a new dog entered our backyard through a bad spot in the fence. A small black, high jumping dog.
We had gone inside but spotted him through the window. Was he after the chickens?
Nope. Just Grace.
We (as in J-Dub) ran him off twice, then we (as in J-Dub) fixed the bad spot in the fence.
Who knows. In a few months, the backyard may be home to five wonderful chickens, two dogs, and a passel of puppies.
All wanting their bellies rubbed.
Authors note: I started this post when EK was asleep, then she woke up and sat in my lap here at the computer. I showed her the pictures and she said “Emma” “bock, bock” “Drew” and when she saw Grace she said, “NO, NO, NO”. And then “night night”. She’s so precious.
We haven’t had any chicken killings, no wild horse escapades, nary a snake has snuck up on me of late. The dogs have been calm, the skunks have been distant, no electrical or water outings to speak of. Save my 9 month old causing a ruckus, it’s been relatively quiet here at the J & A Chicken Ranch.
The weather is turning cooler, and if you live in the country, inevitably means the mice try to scurry inside.
For the record, me and mice, we don’t jive. I usually keep poison out in little hidey spots and have a trap or two set, but now that our little EK is crawling and nosing around, neither poison nor traps are a good idea.
In case it bears repeating, me and mice, we don’t jive. So I couldn’t just live with the nasty little varmints. I knew they were around, being the light sleeper that I am, I could hear them in the night and quite frankly I was just a tad creeped out. My mother told me she heard that rats ate a baby in New York City once and I just couldn’t bear the thought of mice nibbling on my tot’s ear or at the very least scuttling about throughout the house.
I had to do something, so do it, I did.
I brought home some cats.
Two little kittens were born under my mom’s house about 3 or 4 months ago. My mom and my niece worked diligently taming the little cuties, feeding them saucers of milk, getting them to come in the house, until they were just almost pets.
One is a little gray and white one that Ashy mistook for a girl and named Flower and the solid black one is name Bandit, Bandi for short. He’s a bit wilder.
I had to bring Flower out first, as we only had one cat carrier, and couldn’t fit them both in the carrier, much less catch the little black one. As soon as the door was opened, Flower was MIA. He took off and I didn’t hear from him for 3 days. The food was eaten each night, but I wasn’t sure what exactly could be chowing down in his absence. Finally on the 3rd night, we heard a meow coming from the tree so we knew he was still hanging around.
The next day, I quickly went to my mom’s and got Brother Bandi. Now this little wiry black kitten is skittish and wild acting, but when the door to the carrier was opened, he just stayed put for a while. Then he nonchalantly walked around the yard, sniffing around, venturing out of the front yard fence momentarily. I was pleased to see that he wasn’t going to run and was hoping that he and Brother could reunite shortly.
I sat out and watched the reunion closely as they began mewing at one another. Slowly the little gray kitten tiptoed off the haystack where he had stayed hidden and they scurried off together running underneath an outbuilding. I sat on my bucket on that beautiful fall afternoon smiling at how grand life is. Then I went in the house.
It wasn’t much later that the quiet, grand life was interrupted with yelps, and barks, and bangs, and growls. As I ran to peer out the back window, I discovered that Bandi had found his way into the backyard and the two dogs, Drew and Grace, were not appreciating their intruder. The backyard had turned into a boxing ring with 2 against one and the dogs were winning. I ran out there screaming and shouting, but our dog Drew will fight to the death and refuses to be called off of anything he has cornered. The only way was to open the gate and convince them to go outside where Drew could go chase invisible rabbits and dig holes under pipe.
Once the dogs were gone, the little black cat pressed himself against the back screen door, wide-eyed and panting. His fur was matted and wet from the battle and his heart was pounding. He stayed there frozen. I went to him to try to help him, but he ran away and climbed into a bush in the backyard where he stayed perched for at least an hour.
Finally, with EK in her stroller, I got a chair and stood atop to reach up and remove the little fellow. He quickly hopped down, found his way out of the dog’s backyard territory and has stayed hidden every since.
My mom and Ashy came out that evening after I called and told them the story and were able to woo the frightened little guys out of hiding for a few minutes of reassurance.
Needless to say, the dogs are back in the backyard, one cat stays hidden on top of the stacks of alfalfa, the other stays hidden under an outbuilding.
I don’t think they like their new home much, but on a good note, I haven’t heard from the mice lately.
It’s a peaceful kind of morning. No hustle, no bustle.
There’s a cool breeze, and it’s a nice respite before the West Texas July sun follows it’s usual path in the cloudless sky and the daytime temps rise to scorch and wither. But after all, it is summer. What else do we expect.
EK and I sat outside for a spell. Me with my coffee, she with her glee.
Watching the world through the eyes of a baby brings on a new light. I read that every day to a baby is like a visit to Paris for the first time for us. The new smells, the new sights. We would be on high alert, taking it all in.
Her yard is a far cry from Paris, I would have to imagine since I’ve never visited there. But oh, how she takes it all in. She notices the smallest things. A leaf blowing across the yard, a black bird flying to rest in a tree top, the bark of Drew and Grace from the backyard saying, “We want out, let us out, we want to see you this morning too”, the choo choo whistle as it rolls down the tracks.
A chicken flew up on the arm of our chair with her beady eye and pointy beak. Me, I’m a bit intimidated. I don’t know why I suddenly became afraid of my chickens, as if they could peck me to death or something. I usually shoo them away afraid they might peck EK, but today we just sat. The chicken jerked her chicken neck around studying us, and EK stared back. I put EK’s hand on her feathers to let her feel.
The other day my mom mentioned how the baby needs one of those toys, you know the kind we used to have as a kid. Where you pull the string and the animal makes it’s sound. I said, “Mom. Look around. Why does she need that? We have horses that say neigh, dogs that say ruff, chickens that say bawk, cows that say moo, right here.”
That seemed to satisfy my mom, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she pulls up with a pig in the passenger seat one day.
Lightening, thunder, wind, and RAIN greeted us this morning in the Texas Panhandle. It has been so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs. Here in my little town we only average 21.16″ of rain annually. So far this year, we’ve received seven drops. Okay, maybe eight.
Technically, we’re in a drought. We haven’t been this dry since the 1960’s.
So every teensy, tiny little drop of rain helps. Even if it is a couple hundredths of an inch. My husband is still having to cake the cows, which has nothing to do with chocolate in case you’re wondering. Usually by this time of the year, they are able to graze, but since it hasn’t rained, the grass hasn’t grown. Something about that whole cause and effect thing.
Just so you can feel a tiny bit sorry for me, I’ll tell you how hard it is to go to work while it’s raining out here at “the Place”. I gather up my purse, my lunch, my phone, and my coffee cup and hit the door running. I don’t have a garage. Nor do I have an umbrella, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have a hand to hold it. So I must run to the car while the rain comes at me sideways pushed by gusty winds and plops in my coffee. I also don’t have a paved driveway, I have a dirt one. Nor do I have an electric gate opener. So my flipflops become soaked and muddy, and my clothes become wet, and my hair sticks to my head as I get out of the car to open the gate, step in a puddle, get back in the car, step in a puddle, drive through the gate, get back out of the car to close the gate, step in a puddle, get back in the car to head to work.
But I’m thankful for the rain. I’m not complaining. Really. Please don’t mistake this for complaining. It’s just something new I’ve had to learn since I was used to garages with openers and paved driveways. Ah, the country life.
Perhaps the rain is what brought a friend into my yard this evening. He’s from the reptile family, but don’t worry, it’s not a rattlesnake. You know, the first time I see a rattler in my yard, I’m liable to sieze up and piss myself. It was only a little turtle. I took a picture, but it wouldn’t load, so nevertheless you have to take my word for it.
The turtle fellow kinda caught me by surprise, nestled up against the chicken pen. He’s probably a harmless welfare case out begging for some free chicken scratch or something.
Actually I have no idea what turtles eat.
We found a turtle one time a couple of years ago and my niece Ashy tried to feed it some grass and leaves,
but it wasn’t having any part of that.
I guess it doesn’t matter what he eats, as long as it isn’t chicken, we’ll get along just fine.
Earlier I introduced you to my friend, the guinea bird.
Unfortunately I must report that he fell upon a tragic accident.
My husband found him hanging upside down on the fence with one of his legs caught between two pickets. We don’t know how long he had been that way. He was still alive and Jason rescued him from this position. But his leg or hip was obviously broken and was dragging behind him. He couldn’t fly, and could barely hop. When we tried to get near him, he flapped his wings furiously, and attempted to run, and usually fell on his face. Jason thought we should just shoot him, but me being the optimist thought maybe he’d recover. So we placed him in the backyard and shut the gates so that nothing could get in there, like a coyote. I bought some food, and we watered him.
He lasted like this for three days. And then I didn’t notice him in the backyard. Come to find out, something got a hold of him and killed him. Jason shielded me from awful images, and had disposed of his body before I noticed it. We are suspecting it was a hawk that we’ve seen around there a couple of times. Please don’t dwell on his last moments. Don’t picture it. Don’t think about it. Go to your happy place.
It’s a hawk eat guinea world.
As my niece Ashlynn would say, “When it’s their time to die, it’s just their time to die.”
Aint it the truth. Aint it the truth.