Friday, June 29, 2007

As lawn mowing implements, our goats are worthless. Well maybe not worthless, just selective in their application.

I take full responsibility for their selectivity.

When we first entertained the goat proposition, neither of us had ever owned livestock, much less goats. We researched them on the Internet. We read books. We interviewed goat owners. In accordance with the instructions provided, we erected a barn three times the recommended size. We established a pasture six times the recommended size. We built them a homespun jungle gym. We tried to introduce native habitat by building a stone mountain. And here is where were the folly of errors begins. We set up feed bins, which we faithfully place food in on a twice daily routine. We learned that they liked the delicacies of animal crackers and raisins. Given these delicacies and the ease of access, why toil with the bothersome task of wandering around, eating grass?

The animal crackers, raisins and twice-daily sweet-feed deliveries likely account for some degree of selectivity.

My extraordinarily precocious six-year-old nephew was not impressed with or amused by the irony of goats eating animal crackers. I swear they don’t teach kids anything in the Second Grade these days. When you find yourself saying to a six-year-old, “Get it? Animal crackers? Animals eating ANIMAL crackers? Look – there’s a goat shaped one, let’s see if Bam-Bam will eat it. . .” you know that your life or at least your sense of humor has dropped to a subterranean level.

About every six weeks or so, I bring the garden tractor down and spin through to knock back the pasture a little. After all, I wouldn’t want the goats to get chiggers from the tall grass. They seem to appreciate this and do save me the trouble of raking or baling, as they are content to trail me around and eat the clippings.

I have tried a Weight Watchers © version of the twice daily goat feeding, but they seem as aversive to the silly notion of self-restraint commonly referred to as a “diet” as the bi-peds here at MisFit Farm are. Days when goat feed is rationed or minimized, they loudly proclaim their displeasure, chasing along the fence, looking accusingly at me with those keyhole eyes and bleating, “heeeeeyyy, you forgot to put the rest iiiiinnnn. Baaaaad mommmmmy.”

I was at the feed coop several months ago when the fellow who runs the place remarked that I could save some change by just buying the pellets instead of the sweet feed. How to explain to a man who was practically born wearing those overalls that the goats prefer sweet feed?!?!

In their defense, they are wonderful with children (holding animal crackers), and have selected quite a bit of the undergrowth on the island for consumption. And the sound of their hooves trip-trapping across the bridge brings a smile every time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Azure's Revenge

Now that K has finally forgiven me for not having the stomach to authorize administration of the sleepy shot to Azure, she has found herself the recipient of Azure’s peculiar form of psycho-love. And the adoration is wholly reciprocated by K.

Azure can be sitting perched at my shoulder, licking her chops, preparing to eat my face off, and K will look lovingly at her and say, “Awwww. . . isn’t she the cutest?”

I laugh nervously, and agree. I have learned better than to get in the middle of this love fest.

This lesson was reinforced last week. Azure was sitting on the non-bedroom side of the baby gate, gazing longingly through at K lying in bed drinking her morning coffee. Azure was vociferously expressing her displeasure at this arrangement, her on one side, K on the other with me, when I got the brilliant idea to engage in a little game called taunt the psycho pup.

Here’s how the game worked:

I caught Azure’s eye through the gate, walked over to K, leaned over and planted a kiss on her forehead. I looked at Azure, who was staring at this activity with ire. I caught her eye again, and bent down and kissed K’s chin. Azure howled in disgust and looked at me with the contempt of Jerry Falwell shaking Anna Nicole Smith’s hand. Catching her eye again, I smiled at Azure and then stooped at the side of the bed, laying my head on K’s chest, looking Azure in the eye the whole time.

I needed to get to work, so I scrambled up, opened the baby gate to allow Azure entrĂ©e, and finished my workday preparations. Azure promptly joined K in bed. As I bustled around the room, Azure caught my eye. She looked right at me, stuck her snout up, and kissed K on the chin. I laughed and patronizingly patted Azure’s head. Azure then curled up in my spot in the bed, as close to K as physically possible without an umbilical cord, and suspiciously eyed me as I moved about the room.

Later that day while I was at work, Azure carefully sorted through a heap of dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, separated my clothes from K’s, and deposited a smoldering pile of poop on my clothes.

“Awwww. . . isn’t that the cutest?” Did I mention that I don't do laundry?


Six. The number of beers in one of those handy holders.

All the fingers on one hand, and then another for good measure.

A half dozen.

A boundary shot in cricket; where the batsman hits the ball over the boundary without the ball touching the ground (analogous to an automatic home run in baseball).

The name of a race of superhumans in Philip K. Dick’s sci fi novel “Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said.”

And courtesy of our friend, Kathleen, six is:

* The number of feet below ground level a coffin is traditionally buried; thus, the phrase "six feet under" means that a person (or thing, or concept) is dead.

*The number of strings on a standard guitar.

*The name of the smallest group of Cub Scouts, traditionally consisting of six people and is led by a 'sixer'. Logically speaking, this isn't always the case, particularly in packs with less than 6 Cub Scouts in it.

*The atomic number of carbon.

*The number of tastes in traditional Indian Medicine called Ayurveda. They are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. These tastes are used to suggest a diet based on the symptoms of the body.

*Bert of Sesame Street’s favorite number.

Six is a number three times the maximum number of dogs I set on our first date as a household limit.

Six is the number of dogs we now own.

Welcome home, Emmett.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Score: Humans: 9; Azure: 27

Somewhere along the way, Azure has developed what is, as best as we can tell, an ear infection. An interesting conundrum, what to do with a Deaf dog with an ear infection? Even though she can’t lose her hearing from the infection, it needs treatment. Let’s refine that question: what to do with a psychotic Deaf dog with a bizarre form of reactive attachment disorder who has an ear infection?

The problem is this: Azure does not like to be messed with. The other dogs will allow me to manipulate their body parts; I am given absolute license to poke, prod, pull, snip and squeeze. But of course, not Azure. The administration of monthly heartworm preventative and Frontline leaves the trailer looking like a WWF wasteland after Azure’s turn. At toenail clipping time, as I take her paw into my hand for trimming, she gently takes my forearm into her mouth. She exerts no pressure, just offers a gentle reminder to “go ahead, make my day.”

With the ear infection, I spent the better part of two days trying to sneak up on her and shoot transderm into the afflicted ear. Resigning ourselves to the high likelihood that this regimen of “treatment” was going to be unsuccessful in any therapeutic sense, we called our vet to explain our troubles.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hey doc, remember that lunatical Deaf dog we brought in as a possible euthanasia and you convinced us that maybe there was another way?

Well as it turns out, the other way is that she lives with us because no one else is willing to take on the baggage of a lunatical Deaf dog who has an incredible animus for vehicle windshield wipers and who will not allow her toenails to be cut. And now we think she has an ear infection, and I have spent the better part of two days trying unsuccessfully to sneak up on her and shoot transderm into her ears, bribe her into allowing me to shoot transderm into her ear, force her into allowing me to shoot transderm into her ears, and otherwise outsmart her into allowing me to "help" her by shooting transderm into her ear, but she is too damn smart for me to get the job done with any amount of effectiveness.”

To which he responded, “Well, do you think you are smart enough to get some pills into her?”

By way of foreshadowing, I answered, “Well, I don’t know, but I can sure try.”

Admittedly, some pill administrations have required several attempts, but so far, we have been able to get all of them down. I have to admit though, our Vet may be onto something: I am wondering more and more these days if I am smart enough for Azure.

Happy Anniversary, Trinity!

It is almost impossible to believe it was one short year ago that Trinity joined us here at MisFit Farm.

The only dog we could find who needed the access features here at MisFit Farm more than Mercy was poor Trinity, who had been found on the side of the road with a completely engorged and mangled front leg. The woman who picked her up out of the ditch had four miniature pinschers at home. The pictures she sent to the Dane Rescue group were titled, “Monster Dog.”

Monster, indeed. If she were a monster of one type or another, she would be a mermaid. Just today, she and Emmett were playing by the pond as I was mowing. June has finally arrived in Kansas, bringing an unrelenting heat that begins to amp up at about 9 a.m. Trinity and Emmett were splashing in the pond and chasing one another. I noticed a lack of movement and turned to see Trinity sitting in the pond, with the water at about her shoulders. All I could see was the brilliant white on her chest, her shoulders, and that alert, astoundingly cute head poking up out of the water.

Trinity is the resident cheerleader and welcome wagon. Trinity is always up for a car ride, a walk to the pond, or snuggling up for a nap. All newcomers, friend, foster or foe, are met smack-dab in the chops by Trinity’s ebullience.

From the time she set foot here on the farm, it was obvious that she would be staying. Our concerns about Mercy’s eventual fate given her health conditions, as we were warned by our vet that she would eventually become less and less active until she began to develop ulcerations that would be difficult to heal, dissipated as Mercy and Trinity became fast friends, chasing each other in loping, looping, spinning circles around the property. The bon vivant she brought to Mercy’s life has been shared with every foster and every foster failure who has come to MisFit Farm since last June.

When we adopted Mercy, I had been clamoring about my desire to have a “lap dog.” I was thinking something along the lines of a Westie. As luck would have it, the fates were smiling down upon us, and Trinity came instead.