Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bad Reputation

Tonight I officially can say that every bit of the old house is empty of those items I want to bring out to the country.  How did this happen so quickly - you might be asking?  After all, it was a mere five months ago that we began the process of moving!  Our speed and efficiency with such endeavors boggles the mind, this is true.  Try to keep up.

So, what's obvious, is that it took us about five months to move out of the house.  There are several reasons for this, some justified and some?  Not so much.  Regardless, five months is a long and ridiculous amount of time to stretch this process.  It felt rather monumental to shove "the last of it" into the back of the car and step onto the back porch, surveying the freshly mowed lawn.  For the first time - ever - I felt a tad weepy about the whole deal.  We've lived in this house for a long time.  It was into that backyard where our first chickens literally came home to roost.  That backyard is where we entertained friends, trained the dogs, dug our first garden.  On that very porch we spent countless hours scheming under the stars about how to get out to the land.  Luckily the weepiness was fleeting and quickly replaced by a distinctly smug sense of - how to put this?  Sympathy.  There, I said it.  I honestly had a moment looking at the houses clustered around ours and thought, "Goodbye all of you poor souls, stuck in this cul-de-sac in the city!  I hope you can find happiness here.  I'm off to my dream life in the country!"  (Of course I understand that many, many, many people find lots of happiness and contentment in the beautiful neighborhoods throughout this great city and that it's probably me who's the weirdo for needing to leave all that).

I walked my smug, smiling face back out to the car, surveyed the neighborhood once more and drove into the sunset back towards my "dream life in the country."  'How lucky am I - right?' is what I thought all the way home.  This thought carried me out east, filled my head as I bounced down the deteriorating driveway, was singing in my ears as I came inside and sat down with a nice cold beverage.  In fact, I was wrapped so comfortably within my smug thoughts that it took a while to recognize that the sounds from outside were my two great pyrenees pups barking furiously.  Up until this evening, the littlest puppy - Betty - has never made a peep.  She yips at Bruce occasionally but is otherwise completely silent and contemplative (or something).  It was the moment I realized that both dogs were barking that I knew something must be horribly wrong.

I ran outside onto the dark porch and saw the unmistakable form of my cows at the edge of our porch on the wrong side of the fence, their white horns glowing against the backdrop of a moonless night.  Matilda bellowed in that distinctive way which means she has a wild hair and that nothing and no one should try to separate her from what she wants.  At that moment what she wanted seemed to be a good long gallop and kick around (and around and around) the house - weaving in between the tractor and car, knocking over freshly purchased goat hay.  I called Jer, who was about two miles down the road, and frantically described the situation.  He listened carefully, then said, "I have a plan."  I grabbed a flashlight and a stick (knowing full well that a stick = toothpick against Matilda's wild hair) then paced the porch.  By the time Jer's headlights were visible, it was clear that the donkeys had trickled out from wherever the fence was broken.  Now the front yard was chaos.  The cows took turns eating and then tearing at the new goat hay with their horns.  The donkeys were scattered about the front yard.  And the goats were "baaaaaiiing" and spinning in their yard, the puppies barking and jumping behind them.  Jer tore down the driveway, stopping long enough to open a big pasture gate, pulled up to the house and shouted at me to jump in -grab some feed he'd tossed in the bed - and lure the cows.

Oh.  Is that all?

Optimism has historically been the best policy in such a situation so I followed his instructions.  Once I was perched precariously in the bed of the truck (on top of a pile of trash he'd just hauled from the old house), I tentatively shook the bucket at the badly behaved cows, "Heeere cows!" shake, shake, "Here, stupid, idiot, cows!!" shake shake.  Matilda finally looked up - wild eyed and curious -  hay sticking out of her mouth, clinging to her horns.  Suddenly it clicked that whatever the human was holding was possibly more delicious than what she'd just destroyed, and she bounded over with Seamus on her heels.  Once I had them both at the edge of the bed I shouted "go go go!" to Jer who started to rumble down the road and turn into the pasture - the cows jogging and screaming behind us.  Once the cows were deep into the pasture, I tossed the feed cubes onto the ground and shouted "go go go!" which sent Jer speeding back through the gate.  I can only imagine the scene: A lady standing awkwardly atop a pile of brush and trash bags, plastic bucket dangling from her right hand, left hand wrapped around the metal supports above the bed, debris flying, all the while shouting "go go go!" nonsensically when, actually, not much was happening anymore.

What ensued at this point was individual donkey wrangling - a feat not to be downplayed and one that should be considered as a rodeo event.  Like my heifer Matilda, the donkeys also have bad reputations.  Donkeys in general are known for being stubborn, and mine have proven this stereotype repeatedly.  The cows were easy.  The donkeys were, really, asses.

Approximately one hour after the debacle began, it ended abruptly with the successful pushing of Boo (king of asses) through the pasture gate.  It's two hours since these events unfolded.  About three hours since I was last at the house in Austin where I stood smugly on the back porch and looked sympathetically upon my neighbors' houses for whom I felt such pity.  I suddenly forget where that sense of smug superiority came from.  But what I do know is that it sure goes away quick when, at 10pm, you find yourself chasing cattle off the porch, sweet-talking donkeys, and removing dirt from between your toes.