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 WELCOME TO MY BLOG! REFLECTIONS OF A SINGLE WOMAN'S LIFE ON AN OLD FARM.
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE

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Well, things aren't quite that bad, but they are indeed bad for old Kenny.  Now wanted by the law he a man is on the run.  You may recall that a couple of months ago he was picked up in a town about an hour away for driving erratically.  It was very foggy that night and he was lost.  The police officers were kind and understanding in that incident, but after that things began to spiral downward at an alarming pace.

When he drove through one of the buildings on his farm it wasn't against any law, but it did suggest his driving skills were on the skids, so to speak....  Details about him being a "suspect in a hit and run" in yet another town remain vague, but somehow his license was suspended after that.

So last week when the sheriff picked him up for driving too slowly and holding up traffic in town the suspended license status was discovered and now my old friend has to go to court.  As if this impending issue were not bad enough, someone alerted adult protective services and a representative from that agency has been to his farm several times only to find him MIA.  Kenny is a master of avoidance.  We hear that they not happy about driving clear out here only to find him gone, but they are in hot pursuit. 

Kenny isn't supposed to be driving, but of course he is.  His  unmistakable garbage truck seems to be everywhere but at home. He has been down here (he brought chittlins for my cats who do not eat such things, half a jar of some very old horseradish and a box of Thai curry sauce...), at the grocery store in town, at his buddy W's house and who knows where else?  He's on the move despite his ‘wanted' status.  He vanishes early in the morning and doesn't return until late.  Rumor on the road (and this is just a rumor...) also has it that the distant (as in no-show when Kenny has been in need) relative AKA the vulture who is counting on inheriting his farm says she is "taking care of things."  I'll just bet she is!  Like calling adult protective services maybe?

I feel a great sadness for Kenny.  He's never bothered anyone and would give the shirt off his back to anyone who asked.  He's a kind harmless old man who is now a victim of age-related frailty as well as being a victim of an unsympathetic society that will in all likelihood strip him of what little independence remains. 

But saddest of all is that he is a victim of what appears to be a bottom-feeder who will hasten his end for her own gains.  I don't know this woman, but those who do have nothing good to say about her.  She has already contacted a realtor to see how many parcels she can sell when she gets the farm.  I hope the rumors are false; that maybe she's a caring compassionate person who is genuinely concerned about Kenny, but you know what they say about actions speaking louder than words.  We'll see.  However, it's very hard to helplessly sit by and watch this disaster unfold.  Things on the road are worrisome.

9:51 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

KENNY.

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It was just about dusk when the phone rang.  It was Chuck, the farmer who transformed old Kenny's 100% organic fields into petro-chemical saturated plots of GMO corn and soybeans.  But Chuck isn't a bad fellow. He also looks out for our mutual friend.

"Hey, have you seen Kenny lately," he asked?  The answer was no I had not, nor had anyone else on the road.  I'd noticed the pie I'd left in Kenny's newspaper box (the designated spot for treats I take to him) on Monday morning was still in the box Tuesday afternoon.  This was indeed worrisome!  I called our police chief and explained that once again our old friend was missing in action.

"Do you think I should put out a missing person report," asked the chief?  I told him to hold off and that I'd go up to the farm and look around.  I picked up neighbor Sandy along the way and as we headed up the road I saw Chuck coming up behind us.  Pulling down Kenny's long dusty lane we all breathed a big sigh of relief when we spotted the red trash-mobile parked next to the house and the frail form of its driver leaning on the hood.  He's so thin these days it looks as if a gusty wind might send him airborne. 

I leapt from my truck and picked my difficult way through foot high weeds and foot deep ruts toward the surprised old man. He looked so fragile and lonely since the cows have gone. A few dried patties near the house were the only reminders of the bovine trio's happy years there.

"Where in the world have you been," I demanded.  "We've all been so worried about you!"  This seemed to delight him. His mouth stretched into a one-toothed smile as Sandy and Chuck made their way through the weeds and ruts toward the house.

Over the winter Kenny had grown a robust beard, but recently shaved it off.  Now his chin sported about three days stubble, sort of like the models in GQ.  He wore a shirt of tiny black and white checks, buttoned right up to his chin and new jeans so huge on his shrinking form that the belt cinching them made the pants look pleated.

"I see you're all dressed up," said Chuck.  "Where have you been?"

In his inimitable soft drawl Kenny informed us that he's been "...down in Amish country."  We never ask, but all wonder just what he does down there.

"I left pie for you two days ago," I reminded him.

"Yes, I ate it tonight.  It wasn't too bad."

Well, considering the rhubarb pie (one of his favorites) had set in a hot newspaper box next to a dusty road for two days, I guess "...wasn't too bad" was a compliment.  Kenny may not know it, but he is loved.

 

2:03 pm edt          Comments

Monday, May 11, 2015

WHY I HATE BUGS!

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Who could have guessed that the miserable hornet/wasp/ whatever the hell it was that crawled up my pant leg and stung me last week could have inflicted such serious injury!  It wasn't too surprising when I developed chills, headache and nausea shortly after the attack as I'm very susceptible to allergic reactions, but by evening the back of my calf was inflamed, hard and hot to the touch coupled with the aforementioned symptoms.  A nurse friend diagnosed ‘cellulitis' and advised getting to the doctor ASAP.  I heeded her advice.

At the doc in the box (STAT care) the physician said my friend was a very good nurse to have diagnosed the problem which he said was quite serious.  I had no idea what cellulitis was, but learned that it is a bacterial infection (usually staph) in the deep layers of the skin.  As if it weren't bad enough to suffer the painful stings, the evil creature had injected an ugly bacteria.  I've been on heavy duty antibiotics since the clinic visit.  The drugs cause terrible headaches, but the course of treatment must be continued as "hospitalization could be necessary..." as per the clinic.   YIKES!  I'll deal with the headaches.  The swelling, redness and inflammation are slowly diminishing.

All in all, the weekend was very unpleasant.  Losing a contact lens is not only costly, but blinding, so in addition to the drug-induced headache I have been stumbling about in an unfocused haze since Saturday.  A new lens is being ordered this afternoon.

The chickens gleefully discovered that the vegetable garden was thriving, so they immediately set about destroying it.  While their ‘chicken tractor' efforts are great for initial soil prep, unless every bloody plant is surrounded by a cage of chicken wire ‘gardens' resort to a barren plot of finely-tilled soil within minutes of discovery.  Are the free-range eggs produced by this band of roving marauders really worth it?  I'm having doubts.

Siding this old farmhouse with cedar shakes and cedar trim seemed like a good idea way back when, but that was before the onslaught of carpenter bees that are now turning my home into what looks like a giant block of Swiss cheese.  The army of giant, black and yellow insects sends showers of sawdust upon porch sitters.  Inside the perfectly round holes drilled by the aerial carpenters they lay eggs which are eagerly sought by woodpeckers who, aside from making a distracting racket as they peck their way into the smorgasbord enlarge the existing holes in my house.  An exterminator is coming tomorrow.  This costly treatment should also take care of the attacking hornets/wasps one of which attempted another attack yesterday.

As a live and let live advocate, resorting to spraying my abode with poison is disturbing.  I don't want to resort to chemical warfare, but in the current situation I see no option.  No doubt someone will contact me and advise planting "natural deterrents."  ‘Already did that.  ‘Didn't work.

The animals and I are under siege and until the exterminator does his nasty job I will be armed with a can of Raid each time I head outside.  I much prefer the company of critters like this handsome garter snake to the destructive bugs that are making my small country life miserable.

 

11:35 am edt          Comments

Monday, May 4, 2015

UNCOVERING THE PAST.

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I don't know Rattycat's early past for when the feral fellow first showed up here he wasn't a kitten, but he wasn't fully mature either.  It was late fall when the ragged bum appeared half starved and wild as a hare.  After devouring the bowl of food I put out for him, he shot off like a rocket.  He reappeared a few more times before winter set in and I fed him each visit. Then he vanished and I really doubted he would survive in his fragile wild condition.

No one was more surprised than I when he showed up on the porch about the same time the coltsfoot burst into bloom the following spring.  Where had he spent the brutal winter I wondered?  There had been no sign of him, but since he had decided to come begging again I set about trapping him.  Once in the trap he looked even worse than I remembered.  He protested loudly on his ride to the clinic where he was to be neutered, vaccinated and tested for dreaded feline diseases.  The test for FIV came back positive.

"He's a nice cat," said the vet tech. "FIV cats can live long healthy lives.  I hope you will keep him."  And so I did and after his ‘procedure' he proved to be a perfect gentleman who was content to call the garden shed his home until winters became especially harsh.  I installed a kitty door to the cellar and outfitted a comfy apartment for Rattycat in the landing and until this morning the big cat had the best of all possible worlds.  He could spend his days and nights inside or out and know there was always something good to eat and feline friends with whom he could discuss the weather. 

Never interested in hunting or fighting or wandering off, his life passed uneventfully, but as he grew older FIV reared its ugly head.  Periodically he'd get upper respiratory infections, get shuttled off to the vet for antibiotics and within a week he'd be back to normal.  Recently that changed.

Eating became difficult, so he got special food and what vets call "a dental."  Several teeth were removed, but during the dental other problems were revealed.

"He's developed some tumors in his mouth, common in FIV cats," said Dr. W.  "At some point soon we aren't going to be able to keep him comfortable and when that happens I strongly recommend euthanasia."  Such a grim prognosis.

Like a phoenix Rattycat rallied.  He got his annual spring haircut and even a bath and it was obvious he felt great, even chasing leaves and romping like a kitten.  It was the calm before the storm that hit over the weekend.  He'd been sleeping a lot, but by the weekend he refused food and water and seemingly-overnight went totally blind.  In his disoriented state he wandered repeatedly into the pond.  He cried pitifully when I picked him up and desperately wanted to be touching something; me, a dog or another cat, just to know he wasn't alone.  The writing was on the wall.

Restricted to his ‘apartment' and safe in his soft bed with food and water nearby he spent the night.  Several nocturnal checks suggested he might not make it until morning, but he did.  At 8:45 today Dr. W. literally put Rattycat to sleep.

"It's an anesthetic.  We just give him an overdose," he explained as Rattycat's eyes closed for the last time.  Close post-mortem examination of the tumors which had grown considerably led the vet to believe the cancer had spread to his brain, thus the sudden blindness.  He was put in a body bag and I brought him home for burial. 

I was sad, no doubt about it. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went to sit on the porch and reflect on the lives of so many beloved pets now gone.  The sun was warm.  Henry, the new one-eyed cat crawled up on my lap as if to comfort me.  Then it happened.  The hornet that's been buzzing around the back door for several days decided to sneak up my pant leg and sting me repeatedly on my calf.  I leapt from my chair, slapping madly at the pain in my leg and the evil insect exited my pant leg as if to say, "La la la" and continued buzzing about the door.  My leg felt as if I'd been shot with flaming arrows.

After ice and sting salve I returned to the porch armed with Raid and shot the devil right out of the air.  He fluttered to the porch floor like a plane with one engine and as I stomped the remaining life out of him I felt no guilt.  I'm allergic to stings and soon the chills, headache and nausea set in.  My day was shot, but a storm was brewing and Rattycat was still in the back of the truck, so with a pounding headache I retrieved the corpse and a shovel and headed to the cat graveyard at the near end of my nature trail.  Each grave is marked with a humble stone bearing the name, date of birth if known and date of departure.  Today the line of graves leading east would grow a little longer.

Plunging the shovel into the earth revealed a plethora of worms, much to the delight of Gladys, the assistant undertaker.  As each shovelful of soil was heaped onto a growing mound the enthusiastic hen snatched the squirming prizes.  My goodness, I thought, this soil is so fertile....  The wind was picking up, and Rattycat's grave was almost deep enough to inter the body that lay in the wheelbarrow/hearse.  That's when the head of dear departed Booger appeared. Booger had been buried a couple of years ago!

How could that be?  I thought the new grave was surely a safe distance from the last headstone, but maybe I'd bumped/moved the stone with the tractor?  I moved Rattycat's grave a bit to the north and interred him with his late buddy and called it a day-or so I thought.

It's now 8:00 pm and I'm covered in itchy hives.  After this blog post I plan to take some Benadryl, go to bed and hope that tomorrow is better than today.

 

8:20 pm edt          Comments


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