Friday, March 23, 2007

Rocky Road

The longest day on record has just almost come to a close.

The longest day came at the end of the longest week, which revolved around a major baby storm. It was a hurricane of babies here this week. I started the baby storm last Friday with my beautiful triplets. Then Wronny had a set of so-so twins. People have been very polite about Wronny's twins. "Aren't they cute?" everyone says.

Which translates to: "what a funny-looking pair, too bad they aren't as pretty as Belle's kids."

Then Winnie had the largest buck kid ever, his name is Samson. The farmer had to pull and pull to get Samson's big head out. There was lots of screaming. Samson belongs to Wendell, he is the first baby goat Wendell has been allowed to have. Wendell has been doing very well, pretending he is Sammy's mother and keeping both ends nice and clean. It is quite a sight to see Wendell and Sammy taking a walk together.

Sammy is a bottle baby, so the farmer has to get up to feed him every ten minutes or so, it seems like.

Well, after Sammy was born Mel the drama queen strung out her delivery forever, going for ultimate time in the spotlight. Then she popped out a set of triplets without batting an eye. She is a toaster, just like her mother Breezy. Those triplets all look the same, and they all look exactly like Mel, black with little patches of white here and there. One has blue eyes.

"Aren't they adorable?" everyone says.

Translation: "they are all the same color, they look like little four-legged priests, too bad they aren't as cute as Belle's triplets."

Okay. Penrose was the last one on the list for this week, and a certain amount of sleep deprivation was setting in. Penrose did not do so well. She was getting milk fever and went into a labor slowdown and wasn't pushing and wasn't eating and just stood around with her head hanging down. Well, the farmer got some calcium into her and along about midnight she finally popped a set of twins out.

Then the farmer stayed up to give her calcium through the night and make sure everything was okay, and those two babies ended up bottle babies too, so they needed to be fed, and pretty soon it was six o'clock in the morning and time to get up. Only no one had really properly been to bed yet.

Well, before I tell you about what happened next we have to tell you the history of raccoons around here. The raccoons hung around a while ago, really nasty raccoons, and they killed all the chickens in a bloodthirsty slaughter, and they were just in general bad characters and stone cold killers. People think they are cute but they will pluck a vein out of your neck in a heartbeat with those devilish little hands. They love to grab helpless chickens or baby goats.

But when Atty came the raccoons left, never to be seen again. Well, lately because of the coyotes, Atty has been spending a lot more time down in the pasture. He is behind the fence down there and can't get up to the barn at night. And we started to see a very insolent raccoon again.

This raccoon would be hanging around the barn in the morning. Wendell would see it and start shaking with fright. The farmer threw a rock at it and a stick and the raccoon didn't care.

The raccoon just turned around and gave the farmer a dirty look and then ambled away, as if to say, I was leaving anyway, I'm not afraid of you, and I'll be back too, whenever I feel like it, and you can kiss my raccoon rump.

Well, the farmer kind of forgot about the raccoon, but this morning when the farmer went to the barn all bleary-eyed, Spenny the border collie suddenly ran up the stairs to the hayloft and started barking like a maniac. The farmer went up into the loft and sure enough, the insolent raccoon had set up camp under a chair in the loft. Spenny ran around and around the chair barking like crazy.

The farmer ran inside and yelled for Lori to get up.

"Get up, Lori, there is a raccoon in the hayloft," the farmer yelled. Obviously it would take a two-person team to handle this vicious creature.

Lori has always gone on and on about her varmint-shooting prowess, so the farmer yelled to Lori to grab the pellet gun. The farmer thought of yelling at Lori to get the real gun - a .22 rifle - but no one had bothered to read the directions on how to shoot that and it didn't seem like the best time to start learning, so the farmer yelled at Lori to get the pellet gun.

Lori ran outside without her pants, possibly attempting to scare the raccoon away.

"Get your pants, Lori," the farmer yelled, " it is a raccoon."

Lori returned with her pants on and started asking the farmer where the safety was on the pellet gun, which did nothing to allay the farmer's doubts about Lori's much-touted gunmanship.

Finally the crack team reassembled in the loft, staying on the far side of the insolent raccoon so that it would have plenty of room to run for the exit without feeling trapped.

But Spenny the border collie, the only one with any guts, had other ideas. She ran right for the raccoon and chased it into a corner.

"No, Spenny," yelled the farmer, meanwhile throwing sticks and brooms and screens and any other thing that came to hand at the raccoon to try to get it to run down the stairs. Spenny was fearless and kept right at the raccoon, which started moving rather creakily toward the exit.

"Get out of the way, get out of the way," Lori began yelling in a masterful voice. It was unclear to whom she was speaking. She put her gun aside momentarily and picked up a shovel and hit the raccoon on the head, and the raccoon tumbled down the stairs, with Spenny and the crack two-person raccoon-hunting team in hot pursuit.

Spenny chased the raccoon toward the porch and by this time the raccoon, still moving at a snail's pace, couldn't think what to do and turned around for a showdown. Lori was about five feet behind, and from this range she was able to swing her pellet gun into position and "Thunk!"

Well, the man at the sporting goods store said that the pellet gun was a dangerous weapon and no toy, and not just something he was foisting off that wouldn't do any good. No, in fact, it was pretty much a world-class firearm, one step down from an AK-47, and in truth this wasn't just any pellet gun but a super-duper .177, which is much more powerful than a regular one.

Anyway, Lori thunked a pellet into the raccoon from about four feet away, which appears to be the outside limit of her range of accuracy. She hit the raccoon in his tummy. The raccoon looked down at his tummy in an offended manner and then up at Lori, as if to say, how unnecessary and how uncouth. Judging from his expression, the pellet shot hurt about as much as a stubbed toe.

Luckily for everyone concerned, the pellet gun is not a repeater. It takes about 15 minutes to get another pellet into it, if you can find one. And just then, as luck would have it, Atty came beelining up from the pasture.

Well, thought the farmer, I guess that will be the end of the raccoon. But when Atty got to the raccoon, he began smelling and nudging it in a very polite manner. Clearly he knew the raccoon and was on friendly terms with it. And in the clear light of day, something else became apparent. The raccoon was extremely elderly. His apparent insolence was probably just arthritis. He didn't run away because he couldn't really run any more. In fact, he looked like he needed a walker.

Everyone stood around, kind of embarrassed, and the raccoon - Lori calls him Rocky now - slunk wearily under the porch.

Spenny had disappeared, but reappeared a moment later barking madly: unnoticed in the confusion, the dog groomer had arrived to fix KT the border collie's hair, which is a mess. The dog groomer made no mention of the shovels and guns strewn about the barnyard, but did ask, quite alertly, "why is Spenny's nose gushing blood?"

Everyone looked at Spenny, and sure enough Rocky had bitten her on the nose, and it was gushing blood. Off Spenny went to the vet for a rabies shot and a hamburger at McDonald's.

We don't know for sure, but we think Rocky may still be under the porch.

The farmer asked him politely to please stay out of the barn and don't bite anybody else and there won't be any more trouble.

Sorry, Rocky.