Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventures with animals

I forgot to include among my farm adventures my visit to our nanny's farm.  My sister and I took a train ride with her to her family farm.   I remember feeding the chickens.  She gave me a tin can with some dry, hard corn kernels in it.  She told me to go into the chicken yard and scatter them on the ground.  I did.  It was easy. 

A little while later, she killed a chicken for dinner.  She grabbed a chicken by the head and twirled the body around and around.  Eventually, the body fell off and came to the ground.  The headless body ran along on its own feet until it crashed into a tree and flopped over,  blood pouring out of the neck.  After the body was still, she took it inside and got the feathers off.  As she cleaned the body, she showed me the gizzard, full of the corn kernels I had fed the birds a few minutes before.  She cut it open and gave me the kernels to take back outside and feed to the other chickens.  I thought feeding the same food to chickens twice was very surprising.

I have had pretty good relations with dogs.  There was one time when I worked at a large Scout camp that I needed to speak to one of the managers of the camp.  I was told he was in his house and I walked up his driveway.  His dog was standing between me and the house and barked once or twice and then leaped at me.  I was taken by surprise and twisted away from him.  He missed me and flew past me but snagged my shirt on the way.  Suddenly, I was stripped to the waist.  I turned and the dog was calmly sauntering off without a care.  I walked to the door of the house carrying the shirt and told the man that his dog had just torn it off.  Since I got the shirt back and the dog was acting totally innocent, no more was said about the incident.

Not many feet away from that house was a small campfire amphitheater where the campers gathered for ceremonies.  Once there was supposed to be a live snake in a skit.  They had a common black snake in a cloth bag but it had gotten away while trying to get it out.  One man reached for it and the snake bit him in the hand.  No skin was broken and the man grabbed the snake behind the head and held him.  I was asked to hold him until the skit came up.  I was sitting on a very low bench in the side of the hill, holding the snake down by my feet.  I didn't realize the snake wound his body around my forearm and my lower leg.  When it came time to stand and hand the snake off, I had to have help getting unwound.

Most of the time, that little amphitheater was not used.  So, the mockingbirds built a nest in a little tree at the top.  Working around the area one day, I felt a funny whoosh through my hair.  Mockingbirds are brave and raucous and this parent was trying to drive me away from their nest.  I left.

Walking along a tree trunk that bridged the river, I was part way across when I spotted a copperhead coiled on the trunk about 8 feet in front of me.  Oh, well, try later or cross somewhere else.  I turned and found another copperhead had slithered onto the tree behind me.  Yikes!  I waited for a while and the one in front slipped off into the water and swam away.

I know very little about horses, handling them or riding them.  So, at the stable, when they gave me Charlie, he looked fine to me.  We were given instructions on how to mount.  I followed them and swung into the saddle.  About 1 second later, Charlie seemed to be getting down on his knees.  As he lowered himself, the ground rose up at me.  I stepped off and Charlie rolled over.  I was mighty glad I was not in the saddle at that moment.  The stable mistress was put out with me for allowing Charlie to misbehave.  I got back on and was told to hold his head back, pulling his chin in.  I did and found that his big neck against my small little forearms was a tough contest.  I have no desire to ride Charlie again.

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