Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Best Bad Dog in the World

There is a big silence all around the farm.

It is hard to believe, like so many terrible true things. But Wendell, aka Mr. Jingles, died on Thursday. In spite of being a monumental pest he was one of the farmer's very best friends, always in staunch agreement with the farmer's opinions and dying to hear more of them. Had there ever been such fascinating opinions, so eloquently expressed, so novel, so enlightening, so right in so many ways? Had there ever been such a magnificent farmer, driver of such a magnificent farm truck, the magic carpet ride to hayfields and feed stores and drive-through windows where the little dog sandwiches come out in crinkly paper for the shotgun rider? That Crinkly Paper! Had there ever been a better life than he had, king of his domain, fearless cow herder, matchless baby goat nanny, incorrigible thief, the best bad dog in the world?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Betty Way

Betty is the Nigerian herdqueen now. She does things The Betty Way.

The Betty Way is right on time, no funny business, no whining or complaining.

Betty got ready to kid on Sunday. She waited down in the pasture until it was time, then she signaled to the farmer. The farmer came down and opened the gate and she marched up to the barn.

She went into the kidding stall. She looked at it skeptically. It was ok, but it could have been better. The hay feeder was only half full of alfalfa, and the straw was clean and fresh but only a couple of inches deep. What could she do, she had to work with what she had.

She rearranged the straw, making a little mattress off to one side. She did a couple of circles, mapping out her kidding route. Ok.

The farmer went on feeding and Lori sat in the stall reading a book. Betty did a few trips around the stall, then laid down to push. Out popped the first triplet, without a peep from Betty.

"The first one is out," said Lori.

What is she doing here, thought Betty.

Betty examined the first kid closely. Fine, perfect in every way. Out popped the second triplet, unfortunately Betty had to give one short sharp bark to help push this one out. You could see that Betty didn't like doing that, but what can you do, sometimes it happens. Betty examined the second one while the first one drank some milk. Fine, perfect in every way. Out popped the third triplet. Exquisite.

Betty called for some dinner and a quart of mixed berry Emergen-C in a bucket. The whole family went to sleep, serene and adorable, never a peep from any of them.

The next day Tangy set in to kidding. The farmer dropped everything. First Tangy tried to kid standing up - this is a family trait. Then she tried to kid with her knees down on the ground and her butt up in the air. Alexander Newton I'm sure must have been spinning in his grave, but try explaining gravity to Tangy when she doesn't even know how to open the latch on a stall door. Dios mio. The bellowing I'm sure you could have heard in Gig Harbor, which is 15 miles away.

After a long time she managed to get a nice straightforward set of nose and toes lined up but the kid would not come out for all the world. This went on for half an hour and the farmer even gave her some calcium and some medicine to help dilate. Finally out popped a perfectly normal kid, streamlined like a mahogany cigarette boat from the '50s, what was the problem, the farmer asked? Why couldn't she just push him out? Why all the drama?

Tangy gave a little burp and yawned and popped out another kid. Well, the second one always comes out nicely. Ok, good job, said the farmer and went to do some chores. Three hours later, from down in the front pasture, the farmer heard the unmistakable bellowing of Tangy laboring mightily and the farmer trotted wheezing up to the barn to find a sopping wet third kid splayed out in the straw, who even knew how long Tangy had been working at that one.

"Well," said the farmer. Because what else can you say. "next time try doing it The Betty Way."