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Sunday, March 16, 2014



            Days here used to begin with a cup of coffee for me, but now they begin with Ernie's thyroid meds which are delivered barely-concealed in a glop of canned dog food.  His friends who are not afflicted with faulty thyroids nevertheless demand that they too get a glop of the good stuff in the can.  Next is Ernie's big wafer that the manufacturer claims tastes like a treat.  This one is for his creaky joints.  He politely takes the big round tablet, but his expression tells me that it's no treat at all.  He says it tastes like medicine.

            Then it's time for Rattycat's antibiotic.  RC has a chronic condition that periodically flares up with pneumonia-like symptoms which require expensive antibiotics from the pharmacy which thankfully now gives a discount for "pet meds."  RC is docile and does not resist the pink syrupy stuff I shoot into his mouth with a syringe.  RC says he is feeling much better, thank you.

            Peggy Sue has been to the vet three times for a mysterious hair loss.  The first time the vet did skin scrapings to rule out any parasites.  She has none, of course.  He gave her a shot of prednisone and sent her home.  The hair loss intensified although her skin is perfectly healthy in appearance.  It's just that her hair/fur has become as skimpy as that of one of those old ladies whose pink scalp shines through what remains of wispy white fluff.  The second vet scratched his own head, perplexed by Peggy's condition.  He gave her another shot and some liquid steroids which did nothing, but her most recent visit was conclusive. 

          Peggy Sue is "...suffering from alopecia caused by stress and hormone disturbance...." This has caused her to lick constantly because she is nervous (good grief!) and since cat tongues are like sandpaper, she literally sanded her fur right down to the skin.  She is now on tiny tablets of a hormone/happy pill combination.  (I wish I could get some of these for myself!)  These magic pills are working and her coat is starting to look better. 

            Next, it's off to the barn to administer Gladys' big pink poultry pill.  She's always the first one out of the coop in the morning and predictably hurries into the stall where she hops on Corky's back for her daily dressage workout, so she's easy to grab and carry to the workbench.  I was amazed at how simple it is to pop a pill-- even a big pill, into the gullet of a chicken.  The only tricky part is prying open her beak, but since chickens are such gluttons, the pill goes down as easily as a kernel of corn.  Gladys is released and returns to her equine exercises.

            In the coop I find that a mouse that had sought to sate his thirst during the night had fallen into the chicken's water bowl and since no life guard was on duty the little guy drowned.  This proved to be a special treat for one of the hungry birds who upon spotting the victim immediately snatched the corpse from his watery grave.  I watched in amazement as the hen repeatedly slammed the already-dead rodent to the floor, and then with a good bit of difficulty ate the little fellow.

            It feels as if I'm running a nursing home here, but since all patients are responding favorably to their treatments, this morning routine will eventually end (except for Ernie who will be on his meds for life) and I'll again be able to grab a cup of coffee instead of a bunch of pill bottles.

           If I could have just one wish it would be that my Peaceable Kingdom Farm soon returns to the state that inspired the name.

1:23 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My small country life.


The box on the patio bench was big and heavy.  It rattled and it smelled funny, but the label (spelt bread bakery) told me that whatever it was came from Kenny.  I opened it with trepidation.

How Things Work was the title of the book on top of the ‘stuff.'  It hadn't been on my ‘to read' list and I don't recall seeing it on the NY Times bestseller list, but....  Under the book was one ugly dinner plate, vintage 1960.  ‘Guess it might be useful under a flower pot....  The plate sat inside a lovely, big, pasta bowl still bearing remnants of the last meal.  Kenny's rather casual about cleanliness.

But the real prize (not counting the wooden turkey puzzle part) was the photo history of the P. family, dating from the Civil War right up to 1987 when the family took a trip to Germany.  Every hotel receipt and ticket stub was preserved in huge plastic albums that had gone moldy (hence the smell).  There were hundreds of turn of the century pictures of homely children and stoic sinewy farmers who looked ready to drop in their tracks.  A dog, a cow, some kids on a spotted pony, the usual fare from that era.  And in the bottom of the box, a  half-dozen tintypes jumbled together with a shattered bottle of white vinegar.  So many lives that no one wanted to remember. 

I have a pretty good idea of where this P. family history came from.  Kenny and his buddy go to the weekly country auction and bring home whatever bidders leave behind and I guess Kenny thought this looked like a box of merchandise I might like.  While the box and most of the contents have been discarded (I gave the pasta bowl to neighbor Sandy and kept the really old photos and tintypes), I'm happy that Kenny brought this latest present. I thought he was mad at me.

Last week he told Farmer Chuck that he suspected it was I who had broken his barn door; knocked it right off its track.  Of course I had not.  I haven't even been near the barn for months.  The door was broken when his current cow decided to take a stroll down the road and someone called the police who then recruited another person to wrangle the cow back to the barn.  Not being cowboys or farmers these two knocked the barn door off its track and left without a note of explanation. 

I think the quirky box of goodies was Kenny's way of apologizing for unjustly accusing me of vandalism.  How many are lucky enough to have a neighbor like Kenny?  This wagon wheel was something he thought I might like a couple of years ago.  My small country life isn't so bad, is it?

6:28 pm est          Comments

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