Saturday, April 11, 2009
This week, on a day that Dean had off, we packed up one crabby and overtired child (Molly) and one child with a raging case of conjunctivitis (Frankie) and set out on an adventure to a place called The Critter Barn.
It's a tiny little farm, sort of wedged between a two-lane highway and a new subdivision of mini-mansions, with goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, rabbits, etc. The woman who owns it always wanted to be a vet but her parents would only pay for college if she did something else, so she chose music performance and then ended up with this little farm, elbow deep in manure and sheep placentas. On the day we visited, she was literally elbow deep in sheep placenta because one of the sheep had given birth a few minutes after we got there and was still wandering about with an unsightly sac of afterbirth swaying between her hind legs. There's a reason why we are kept occupied examining the baby on our chests well north of that process going on, let me tell you something.
My mom was in hog heaven since her fondest dream, besides one day having a wig, is to have chickens and goats. She and Dean were busy fantasizing about how fun it would be to have property in the country stocked with animals and coops and pitchforks while I was envisioning scraping the sheep crap off my new patent leather wedges and getting up at the crack of dawn to follow a guide rope to the barn in the blustery snow to do the morning chores. I think I read that in the Little House on the Prairie series. You had to tie a rope from the house to the barn and hold tight to it during the blizzards or else they would be chipping your frozen dead body from the melting snowbanks when spring rolled around.
I digress. Aside from the overpowering ammonia stench of many farm animals urinating in one place, it was a fascinating endeavor. Frankie took quite a shine to the rabbits, especially one really huge fluffy one that was such a mass of white fur that I couldn't quite make out where its head was. It kind of gave me the willies, but Frankie laid her head right down on it and pronounced her desire to have a rabbit live in her room. Molly thought the animals were semi-interesting but had a hard time with the concept of gentle touching and more than once we had to step in to prevent her from poking the tiny eyeballs out of a baby chick with that ever present pointing middle finger.
I concluded, not for the first time, that I am an animal sympathizer, not an animal lover. I can't stand the thought of an animal suffering or in pain, and, like my parents before me, will go to great lengths to prevent it. We have rescued our share of turtles and baby raccoons and German Shepherds with diarrhea and kittens crossing four lanes of traffic and, I think this is proof enough, we have two fat, elderly, vomit prone felines who make their residence with us. But an animal lover? A curl up in the bed with my arm around a big black dog? A muck out the feed trough for the pot bellied pig kind of girl? Nope. Not me.