Going Home to the Funny Farm
Jinx shows that she's a product of her raising
In a world passed, not that long ago, I lived on a funny farm: my Dad and Mom’s funny farm. We hadn’t been raised around animals much, but once my sisters and I left home, my parents decided they needed animals and they went all out. One of each. Llamas, hedgehogs, rabbits, chickens, goats and cows (oh my!) to begin with. My Daddy was taking the Noah’s Ark theme to an extreme.
I found myself single for a time, one of those children who end up moving back in with their parents, to live life as a 17-year-old again. It wasn’t easy as a grown child, trying to get back on my feet. So, when my parents decided to go to California to visit my sister for Thanksgiving, I was thankful. Very thankful. Alone time! I love my parents; my father is my hero, but I could only explain myself to them so many times and seriously, a curfew? I was 43, for Pete’s sake! They left me detailed instructions on who to feed what; each animal had a name, from each little chicken to each bunny in its cage and even all 11 cows. (my Dad had become a cattle baron!).
I had worked a double, coming home at 7 am. All I really wanted to do was crash and burn, but I still had to feed the critters their breakfast give them all their special snacks, and bottle feed some of the babies. It was muddy out in the barnyard, snow had melted and then frozen again. I donned my Daddy’s huge rubber boots and his coat that was eight sizes too big, not realizing how hard it was really going to be to trudge through the muck and mud to the barn.
My Daddy had put out one of the big round hay bales in the field for the cows before he left, but they still had to have their grain (and heaven forbid they go without a little cow snack!). I grabbed a shovel to bust up the ice that had accumulated in the trough, glancing over at the hay bale where the cows had gathered. “Hummm”, I said to myself, as I continued to break the ice, “there is a cow in that tree.”
I was tired and it took a second or two for me to register what thought had just crossed my mind. “There is a cow in that tree,” I said out loud. As if that would make it believable somehow. “THERE IS A COW IN THAT TREE!” I slowly turned my head to look again. Yup, there was a cow in that tree.
The tree’s trunk split into two branches near the 6 foot mark. “Tina,” daddy’s prize Brahman cow, had evidently tried to stand on her back hooves and reach a leaf that was higher than she thought. I guess she pitched forward, wedging her head in the split of the tree trunk, and she was pissed. She was hung there on her tippy hooves, not in the least bit happy about it.
I stopped what I was doing, shaking my head. What was I supposed to do now? Already the baby goats we were bottle feeding were trying to suckle my knee caps, demanding their milk.
I walked out to the tree with my cell phone, little goats bellowing and grabbing at my pants, chickens pecking at my toes and Tina, the cow, glaring at me.
I did what anyone in my position would do: I called my Daddy. After all, he knows everything, right? Daddy told me to call the sheriffs department. I know they rescue kitties from trees, but a COW in a tree is a whole different ball game. “No way,” I told Daddy. I cringed at the thought of calling the sheriff! I could hear the deputies now, “Load up the paddy wagon, boys, we got a live one.” Uh, no.
I tried to shove Tina’s snotty head back to get her out, but she wasn’t very cooperative and I learned a valuable lesson: cows can bite! Then I had an epiphany! The tree was in a “V,” right? So why not saw one side off? Then Tina could escape without anyone being the wiser.
The reason you don’t use a saw blade for one side is that you might accidently nip her skin and upset her even more. How do I know this? Because I tried.
Then my Daddy told me to call our neighbor, Manuel. A much better plan, as far as I was concerned.
I crawled over the fence and my way-too-big clothes got caught on the barbs but I managed to reach the other side without cussing too much and knocked on Manuel’s door. I didn’t know what to say, so out it came. “Manuel, if you will look over my left shoulder you will notice that there is a cow hanging from my Daddy’s tree.” Manuel’s forehead scrunched and then he looked. He grinned at me and said, “Only your daddy, Jinx, only your daddy.” Yeah, well he wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. FUNNY FARM! It was named that for a reason!!
Manuel and I climbed the fence after he found a rope. He had an idea and for some reason, that made me nervous. He wasn’t a young, spry neighbor. He was about 70 and I was biting my nails wondering what he had come up with. He climbed the tree and strung the rope around Tina’s neck and tried pulling her head up out of the “V” in the tree. That didn’t work and, in fact, it just pissed Tina off even more, if that was even possible. Manuel was literally dangling himself from the tree, trying one last time to pull Tina’s big old head up. I flinched each time she mooed. You can really tell when a cow is pissed off. It has an angry moo.
It was then I noticed some cars were stopping to watch our predicament. A whole line of cars and a motorcycle club were snapping pictures. That part I understood; it’s not every day you see a cow hanging in a tree. Like mighty Joe Young, Manuel was swinging from limb to limb, wrapping the rope to get a better position around Tina’s head.
About that time I heard giggling over my shoulder towards Manuel’s house. His 70-year-old wife had come out to witness the horror unfolding. She pointed behind Tina. I had been so preoccupied with Manuel hanging precariously from the tree, I hadn’t noticed that daddy’s young calves had taken up behind Tina and were trying one at a time to mount her while she hung there. WOW… could it get any worse? At any moment I expected to see the helicopter news crew flying low overhead.
I don’t know if Manuel angered Tina, or if the randy calves got Tina all worked up, but suddenly she slung her head up and out it came off the tree. “Oh, thank God,” I whispered. I jerked the baby goats off my knees and thanked Manuel for a job well done. He didn’t say anything. He just grinned.
Tina huffed and bolted after the bawdy calves and taught them a lesson in running for their naughty little lives. I looked at the people lined up, still snapping pictures. They waved. I didn’t really know what to do… so I took a bow. Might as well laugh about it… and hope it wasn’t on the 5 o’ clock news. I would never hear the end of it at work!
Most kids get the keys to their parents’ kingdom. Me… I get a Funny Farm. Literally.