- I lost THE book. And the binoculars, but magnifying glasses for creepers can be replaced. I LOST the BOOK in the middle of a thousand acres of wheat stubble. Each calf’s color, gender and birth date are recorded in this book. Can you imagine if a hospital lost its birth records?
- I about tipped the ranger over. Not once. Not twice. THREE times. In a 60-second time frame. I’ll ride a horse across a canyon rock slide without flinching. Put me in one of these 4-wheelie mabobbers, and I’m a complete pansy. I was perched on the edge, ready to fling myself off if it tipped over. I swallowed my heart 18 times. It’s probably enlarged now.
- The ranger incident(s) is clearly why I lost the book and binocs.
- Returning to the scene of the crime revealed the lost treasures. I’m putting them in a steel briefcase and handcuffing it to my wrist. I’m also going to write “Actually I did not wear a pocket protector or fanny pack in high school.” in Sharpie on my forehead.
- I was holding an orphan calf on my lap while driving into the barn. Trying to navigate with six feet on the gas pedal? I dropped him like he was a year’s worth of recycled newspapers, and he fell under the ranger.
- But thanks to those years I never drove race cars, I had all my quick vehicle pedal reflexes saved up. I nearly shot through the windshield, but I didn’t run over the calf. I even had an inch and a half cushion. Plus he was stunned from his ungraceful dismount. Otherwise he might have flailed his way into a pair of broken legs.
- Then while I was tagging calves, I found one in Tumbleweed Draw. It’s a sandy descent, slogging through waist-high tumbleweeds. Mama started snorting and tossing her head. She’s bluffing. I moved in closer. She started pawing up dinner plate-sized chunks of dirt. Impressive. I’ll haul her over to rototill my garden. Steepest part of the descent, and she charged up the hill. Mayday! Mayday! This is not a bluff! Launch exit strategy!
- I’m sure I looked like an overweight marshmallow in my bibs and heavy coat, backpedaling out of that draw. I worked with an old Mexican cowboy in a corral once. “Oh she’ll stop,” he told me that day. “Just stand there, and hold your ground.” I’ll hold my ground, you betcha. From a place where that cranky old broad can’t eat my face.
- I really liked this philosophy from Larry Olberding on tagging calves. “Those ear tags are just something for YOU. They mean nothing to the mother cow. She knows who her kid is.”
- All of this happened yesterday, the day I’ve officially been living the dream for a month on an Oregon ranch.
- But even when you’re living the dream, you still get dumped out of bed. It’s life’s way of reminding you Madame Reality rules this side of the tracks, not some glitter-dusted wizard out of a Disney movie.
- It doesn’t mean the dream isn’t the dream anymore. It just means your dream is putting on some miles.
Is it weird that my mind immediately jumped to my tomato seedlings? It’s weird, I think. I’d just set them out to soak up some sun and warm temperatures, and that clatter-bang-boom…
I shot up from my chair, slamming the coffee cup on the table, and raced for the door.
Carnage. Dead bodies everywhere. Limp remains scattered down the stairs to the driveway. My border collie had just massacred my tomato seedlings.
I yelled! I lectured! I raged!
And then I buried the bodies of my little tomato troopers. I don’t hold great hopes of survival, but I tried transplanting them anyway. As valiantly brave as they have been, a border collie mauling is a war-ending battle.
The tomato attack wasn’t really about the tomatoes. Doc hasn’t – to my knowledge – been harboring any deep-seated rage towards tomato plants. He generally chooses to pick on things his own size anyway. However he DOES like to chew on plastic things, and my tomato babies were living on a plastic tray.
I may have slightly over-reacted at the demise of my tomato seedlings. I can get more plants. And unless I have miracle powers of transplanting that I don’t know about, then I will get more tomato plants when my seedlings die. But I won’t be able to start them from seed as the growing season is too short here, and – darn it – for a person who struggles to keep green things alive, it was a huge accomplishment to have those little buggers still with me.
When we first started dating last year, things were good. You started on the first pull. You chewed through ankle-high grass when the yard would get away from me once a month. You didn’t burn through oil. On a good day, you could even mow the whole yard on one tank of gas.
I liked you. We went steady. You didn’t let me down like so many of your kind have in the past.
So when I called you up for the first dance of the spring, I thought we would pick up right where we left off when we said our goodbyes last fall. I know it’s been a few months. I know I didn’t write letters or send flowers. But you were so reliable when we dated last year, and I did put you in a shed for the winter. I naturally assumed you’d just – be there.
And you aren’t. Oh in body you are. Every last iron bit of you is very much there, but where is your spirit? When I called you up to go to the first spring cutting with me, I expected you to actually spin your blades around the yard a few times.
I mean, criminy, I nearly pulled my arm off trying to get your motor going this weekend and I completely failed. That doesn’t happen very often.
To make matters worse, when I finally cried defeat to Jay, he came to the rescue and what did you do? You started. You traitorous hunk of whirly-bladed metal. I was dutifully embarrassed, mowed most of the yard and then shut you off to move pine cones.
Why? Because they were there. And you’d started for Jay; you would start for me.
I’ve nearly dislocated my shoulder pulling your rip cord since then, because if Jay could bring you to life then I sure as heck could too. And no, I will not apologize for ninja-kicking your handle. If you would have started, I wouldn’t have had to go all Chuck Norris on you.
But now you’re dead, and I’m calling in reinforcements. If you think Chuck Norris is bad, wait til you meet these guys. The humane thing might be to just let you go to your grave in peace, but no. dad. gum. way.
Lawn Mower, you have fully and completely turned the faucet wide open on my rage. The smart thing to do would be to go to a store and purchase a new and improved version of you. But I won’t. Because I plan to bring you back from the dead and escort you to as many grass cuttings this year as I possibly can.
See you soon,
I think it was a mouse. I swear it was, but I can’t say with absolute positivity because it was dark. And because I was running the other direction. I hate mice.
The laundry piling up in my bedroom was demanding I no longer put off leveling my washer and dryer. So I yanked on my mud boots over my sweatpants, shrugged into my Carhartt and went to the woodshed at o-dark-thirty to look for some boards. Most normal people do something else at that hour – like sleep – but after this morning, you might be able to make a case to certify me as crazy. Certainly as “not normal”.
I rummaged around in the woodshed after sending Doc in first to make sure I wouldn’t surprise any little people. Though I am a licensed Iowa coon hunter, I didn’t want to tackle one this morning. And I say “licensed” in the very loosest sense of the word.
I found some boards with potential and was crunching my way back through the snow to my house when I felt it – something bumping into my leg. “Doc, stop it,” I muttered into the dark, knowing it was him bumping his nose into my knee. It continued, and I circled once…twice…another time for good measure… No Doc. So, if it wasn’t my dog…
“MOUSE!” I shrieked. At decibel levels an opera singer would have been jealous of. Dogs for three counties were momentarily silenced. And then I went…crazy? A little bonkers? Off my rocker and into the fire?
As I said, I hate mice, and the thought of having one sharing my pants was a little more than my nerves could handle. I hopped around in the snow, jerking my gloves off and yanking at my sweatpants. One boot flew through the air, and the second one joined it. A second later I was standing there in my socks, underwear and Carhartt. I whirled around like a mad woman looking for the mouse I’d just set free from the confines of my pants. Looking…looking…it was going to be a little embarrassing if there hadn’t been a mouse running up my leg. As if it already wasn’t a turn-your-cheeks-red type of situation.
A few moments later, my nerves no longer strung so fine, I sheepishly started to chuckle. And then I started to laugh in a way I haven’t for far too long. There I was…standing in the middle of my yard in my sock feet with no pants…on a morning when the thermometer read 10 degrees.
I have two bachelor degrees. I am working on my masters, I am gainfully employed, and I do have higher brain function on most days. I even have friends! But this morning, as I walked through half a foot of snow in nothing but my underthings and a Carhartt, I began to seriously contemplate the possibility that I might have been dropped on my head as a baby. I also became seriously thankful I live on a ranch with my closest neighbor a quarter mile away. And that it was dark so no one driving by could see me. And that I have a good enough sense of humor to share this with you all.
And there was something inside my pant leg. I’m telling you, there was! REALLY.