Goats in love

Story_squareI’ve decided to declare this time as Valentine’s season for goats because, well, if you have to ask you may not understand.

Of late, I’ve been seeing these adorable YouTube videos of baby goats cavorting with great joy. If you’ve seen those,  your appetite may be whetted toward goats. Well, you need to know more.

If you haven’t heard about goats in love, you are woefully deprived.

In our goat herd, we usually keep our buck – the future daddy – separated from the does so we can control when the babies come.

One bright fall morning, one of our girls had put on her high heels, lipstick, and Chanel before sashaying along the fence line she shared with Rocket the buck.

Rocket got the message: she was in the mood.  Rocket was always in the mood so he pushed his manly head through the fence to sniff her fragrance.

When I saw the hearts drifting into the air above those two, I collected Miss Elinore and brought her into Rocket’s pen. She wiggled her hips and lightly danced from the gate to the fence line so that she could lean against Rocket.

Just what he had hoped for, except for one thing.

Rocket’s massive head, and I could not make this up, was stuck in the fence.hearts

He pulled and twisted while Elinore was nearly doing a pole dance beside him.  His front legs were like pile drivers pushing into the ground. His cheeks would have turned red from the exertion if not hidden by that thick buck fur. No go. He was stuck.

The love of his life was at hand and he couldn’t get his head out of the wire.

I gotta tell you that it’s hard to cut fence wire when you’re laughing that hard.

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That pesky brother-in-law

SeasonsAgnes leaned over the lunch table, her eyebrows bent together.

“My brother-in-law is living here but he won’t speak to me.”

I had joined her table at the nursing home and glanced over my shoulder. “Really? That’s too bad.”

She nodded. “I’ve spoken to him several times but he turns away. And do you know what else? He’s changed his name from Bob to James!”

I knew her brother-in-law lived 300 miles away and so I took a deep breath. “That’s frustrating for you, I’ll bet.”

“Well,” she settled back in her chair, “You just go on.” She studied me for a moment and then leaned forward again.

“And then there’s a woman who denies her own children.”

How did I answer this one? “Really? That’s awful.”

Agnes nodded. “I know. I asked her one day about her children and she claims she doesn’t have any children. She even told me she had never married. How could she forget her own husband?”

“I can see that upsets you.”

“I went up to June and asked her, ‘Do you know Melvin Roberts?’ and she said she’d never heard of him. He was her husband for 40 years. How about that?”

I knew June, too. She sat at another table in the dining room, waving at newcomers and chatting happily with others at her table. And I knew she’d never married and her last name wasn’t Roberts.

“Do you think you’ve confused June with someone else?” I asked.

“Oh,” Agnes studied my face. “I can see they’ve convinced you, too.”

Once I would have defended my position. Once I would have tried to change Agnes’ mind. But I knew she’d forget our conversation tomorrow no matter what I said. Kindness won out.

“Well, family is important to you, isn’t it?” I said.

Her face relaxed. “I’ll never forget my husband or children.”

She probably wouldn’t. But the brother-in-law was in trouble.

Unfathomable

Story_squareThis is not another of those cute cat stories that make the Facebook rounds, largely because I think cats are as unfathomable as two-year-olds. Or teenagers.

Clara the cat joined our family as the responsibility of our teenage son. Somehow the connection seemed poetic.

We already had a cat.  Snickers was the responsibility of our college-age daughter who is moving out soon.

Maybe a little cat overlap could work as long as I had no responsibilities.

These cats’ problem wasn’t sashaying over my desk, waving a tail before my nose, knocking my glasses across the room, tromping on my keyboard — but I digress. Their problem was each other.

Neither liked the other.

Their owners thought they’d get acquainted and then play together.

Ha.

Responsible teenage son decided to comb and clip the tangles from Clara’s long hair. So he held her in his lap while he worked.

Clara growled at Snickers as though Snickers controlled the comb wirelessly. Every time the tangles were pulled, she snarled a little louder. When one tangle needed extra work, she suddenly launched a full-scale mauling on Snickers, who hadn’t bothered to ignore the hair styling party.

Bet he regretted that.

The cats seemed to like yowling at each other more than parading over my computer cables, scattering papers and nestling into the paper-thin space between my printer. Digressing again…

One evening we heard this now-familiar guttural noise rising from near the dining room table. Clara and Snickers were flopped on the floor just out of batting distance from each other. cat

You could hear cat swear words in those growls but neither moved.

My son wandered onto the scene, watching the two combatants throw insults and threats without shifting their leisurely positions.

“Weird,” he said. “That is the laziest cat fight ever.”

Wow. Even more unfathomable than teenagers.

A Trust

SeasonsMy dad’s financial ideas were good as gold – and carried him well in his older years.

When I left home for college, he told me, “Have a savings account. Treat it like a bill and put money into it every month just like every other bill.”

I did. He was right. Whenever I needed a new tire or a root canal, I always had funds.

But the best financial legacy he left his family was his trust fund. He and Mom set up a simple revocable trust about 10 years before he passed away.

They changed their checking account, their deed to the farm, and their vehicle titles to the name of the trust.

When Dad died, there were plenty of difficulties but one we didn’t have was with his finances. The trust has provided for Mom since he passed – and without probate or any complications.

Some parents are slow to face their mortality so I’m glad my dad set things in place to make the transition a smooth one.

If you can’t convince your parents to make plans, do it for your children. They will rise up to bless you in yet another way.

The Sherwood twins

Story_squareIt’s taken an amazing amount of time for me to realize that my sister is my twin.

There are eight years and two brothers between us – which explains why this took me so long to figure out.

I overlooked the more obvious: we’re the same height and our eyes are the same color.

And the fact that we both like to be unique and unusual could be explained away for a time.

The most glaring piece of evidence to this point had been our frustrating tendency to order the same food at a restaurant.

We do not like this.

We want something unusual so, when we both study the menu and come up with the same selection, we glare at the other. This even happens when each tries to avoid what we’re sure the other will order.

But the final straw came last week when a text message alert blew on my cell phone.

Among my choices for a text message alert sound is one entitled Sherwood, which is supposed to sound like a horn blown in the forest.

You know, Robin Hood and all that.

It’s not the most obvious of choices for texts, which was why I chose it.

But when I checked my phone, I didn’t have a text message. I was busy so just stowed the phone and went on.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my sister was with me.horn

We were both busy.

And then Sherwood announced that I had a text message again. I checked and I did have one this time.

My sister narrowed her eyes. “That was your text message tone?”

“Yes.”

“The same one I picked?”

Well, that explained the earlier Sherwood tone I had heard and ignored. It was on her phone.

I stared at her and it finally came together. We were twins.

How else could you explain this?

Myrtle’s memory

SeasonsMyrtle’s eyes lit up when she saw me standing outside the door to her room at the nursing home.

“Are you here to visit me?” she asked, a smile sloped across her face.

I really wasn’t but the door to my mother’s room was closed and I was waiting. So why not?

“I can visit with you,” I said and stepped into her room. “I’m waiting for my mother.”

“Who is your mother?”

I pointed to the wall and told her my mother’s name. “She’s your neighbor.”

“Oh.” Myrtle drew out the word as she considered my information. “That’s nice.”

Her eyes told a different story: she didn’t remember my mother.

No big deal. I asked Myrtle about her hometown. About her family.

Her face lit up. She had three sons living about a half hour away. “They are so busy,” she said. “They come to see me on Saturdays. And I get to see my—“ She stopped, considering information. “I can’t remember if she’s my granddaughter or what.”

I thought I could help. “How old is she?”

“Eighteen months.”

“Probably your great-granddaughter then.”

Myrtle nodded. “She visits me sometimes. I love to see her.” She shifted her weight in her wheelchair. “My husband was here when he had Alzheimer’s. I took care of him as long as I could.”

“You are very loving,” I told her. “I see you smiling at everyone here. I see you talking to people at the table at mealtime. You are very kind. You still have purpose, you know. To love people.”

Her eyes teared up. “Oh,” she said, putting her hand to her mouth. “Oh. Thank you. I needed to hear that.”

“I’m glad to say it.”

Then she lifted her head. “Are you here to visit me?”

“I’m here to visit my mother.”

“Who is your mother?”

And we settled in for round two.

But I believe that Myrtle, who is very loving and smiles at anyone who crosses her path, stored those words somewhere inside. She may not remember but I think somehow she knows.

Lord Scooter

Story_squareAfter we moved onto our first little farm, we went shopping for a dog. Every farm needs a dog.

Lord Scooter of Fairfield was our pick – a registered Cocker Spaniel offered free by the breeder because he was the last one left in the litter and she needed him to go to a nice family.

You know how sirens should go off with the word free? No sirens.

We were told we could register our puppy and received the paperwork which we completed – including his name – and sent it off. The paperwork was only $25 and worth it, right?

Scooter was a sweet little brown dog and, as he meandered his way through puppyhood, we began to wonder when his long cocker spaniel coat would come in.

One of the boys on the school bus informed our daughter that, “That ain’t no cocker spaniel. He looks like a Labrador.”

Well, she sniffed when she told him that we had the paperwork to prove he was a Cocker Spaniel. AKC registration. The real deal.

And we waited for the beautiful hair to come in.

Which never happened.Ppuppy

We had, I am pretty sure, the only registered AKC puppy in the county who was officially a Cocker Spaniel but who looked an awful lot like a chocolate Labrador.

We learned later that the neighbor’s dog may have scaled the fence a couple of months before the puppies were born. Maybe.

Well, Scooter was free. And we were a nice family. Gullible but nice.