Monday, August 29, 2011

Imagine That!

I’ve heard it said that man is the only animal with an imagination. Whoever said that was a man without a cat. Cats stalk and torment more imaginary mice than real ones, especially if inclement weather has kept them stuck in the house for too long. (For reasons I can’t fathom, most make-believe mice live underneath throw rugs.)

Our rascally tabby, Smokey [see 8-13-11 blog], loves to pretend he’s an African lion hunting gazelles in the Serengeti. In the absence of gazelles, our Nigerian goats will do. Smokey loves to creep out onto a Russian olive branch and lie in wait to ambush poor Blueberry and Meels, or to stalk them in the tall weeds and grass before dashing in for the kill. Sometimes the kids are startled and run away from him--until they discern the diminutive grey lion’s identity, that is. Then they rear up on their hind legs and charge Smokey; the latter will just plop down on the ground, casually rolling in the dirt or licking a paw as if to say, Relax, girls. I was just kidding. At this point, the “gazelles” resume their browsing, and the “lion” disappears to his lair.

If you’ve hung out with horses, you know that they possess a vivid imagination as well. Given a plunging barometer and a good stiff wind, horses envision mortal enemies lurking behind every other tree, sagebrush or weed. I’ve never seen these beasts and can only surmise that they’re invisible to the human eye. Nevertheless, it seems that they wait until a horse has just passed their hiding place, whereupon they leap out, gnashing teeth and brandishing claws that spook even the sanest horse.

One Saturday when my son Zach was two or three, he announced from his perch on the monkey bars: “I Superman. I gonna fly.” Before I could reach him, he stretched his arms forward and launched himself into the air. His imagination led to a crash landing which in turn led us to the emergency room (fortunately nothing serious)!

Now that Zach is on a student exchange to India for a year, it would be so easy for me to imagine all kinds of terrible things happening to him over there, alone, on the other side of the world. Disease, crime, terrorism, accidents would not be unheard of—but wait, he’s not alone—God’s in India too, and so is Zach’s overworked and underpaid guardian angel (the kid climbs mountains). Not only do I know he’ll be okay, I believe that he’ll be better than okay.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.” Ephesians 3:20, MSG

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rumor Has It

            “I hear your wife’s a retired investment broker,” a hay buyer said to Hubby the other day. The latter laughed so hard, I’m told, that he was almost rolling in the hayfield.
            When I learned this “fact” about myself, I had a pretty good chuckle. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth! I detest numbers and figures, am hard-pressed to balance a checkbook, and know next to nothing about the stock market. My biggest investment was the purchase of two yearling heifers last year, one of which broke her leg—oh, well, maybe I am a stock broker of sorts!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From the Office of Ranchland Security

We’ve got a young grey tabby named Smokey, which is short for Holy-smokes-what-a-holy-terror! Smokey can be the sweetest, cuddliest, most endearing cat ever. Moments later, he can morph into the orneriest, most troublesome little terrorist this side of Yemen.
Despite his unpredictable temperament, Smokey’s cuteness and charm has completely stolen our hearts. Hubby and I dote on his every whim, which may be a different flavor of cat food each time he’s fed, a spoonful of Hubby’s morning yogurt, a broken-up dog biscuit, or fresh water from the tap. He’ll ask politely with a purr to be let outdoors at 3 a.m., but if we ignore him, he’ll bite whatever shoulder or leg that he can find sticking out of the covers.
Hubby and I go to great lengths to ensure Smokey’s welfare. We’ve been known to tramp around with a flashlight around the pond or barnyard on a frigid winter’s night, calling his name with more and more concern because we worry about coyotes and owls.  Meanwhile, the little scoundrel, whose night vision is much better than ours, is happily playing hide-and-go-seek.
On one such safari, Hubby was searching near the haystack. Suddenly he was attacked by a wild beast which threw itself onto the back of his legs, viciously digging its claws into him. Hubby spooked up in the air pretty good, but before he came down, he apprehended his assailant by the scruff of the neck. The offending party turned out to be none other than the outlaw Smokey the Kid, so he was promptly taken into custody.
Our poor dogs can’t figure out why we put up with that renegade. Unlike them, he doesn’t herd cows, guard goats, or safeguard the sofa. The dogs certainly don’t stalk us for sport, play in the spice cabinet, or repeatedly bang cupboard doors in the middle of the night. They know they’d never get away with hiding in the closet and biting us when we reached for our clothes, or knocking glasses and oatmeal cartons off the kitchen counters. Dogs have been sent to the pound for lesser crimes than that!
I guess Smokey doesn’t get what’s coming to him because he’s so incredibly cute—big ears, big eyes, adorable stripes all over—not to mention entertaining! I myself am not particularly cute or entertaining—and I’m totally stripeless—but I too am the recipient of unmerited mercy, liberal grace, and astonishing love.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
      not easily angered, he's rich in love.
   He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
      nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
                                                             PSALM 103:8, 10 (MSG)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just Livin' by the Book

A delightful Bible verse reads: Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks (Proverbs 27:23). We have no sheep, but everyone else on the place has a name. We usually don’t put much thought into it, though, as critters seem to have a knack for self-christening.
For instance, my favorite Angus, Princess, is a dignified and regal beauty. The heifer Teddy Bear earned her name by virtue of her chubbiness, short legs and tail, and small, fuzzy ears. After she gave birth, she retitled herself Teddy the Terrible Bear because she’s about as protective of her calf (a big guy named Yogi) as a mama grizzly is of her cub.
Our adventurous and high-flying Nigerian Dwarf goat is—who else—Amelia Earhart, also known as Meels (it’s just easier to say). Her round, sweet, blue-eyed, frosty-colored twin is Blueberry.
Our little grey tabby goes by Smokey, short for Holy-smokes-what-a-holy-terror. His nickname, Smokey Pew Mew, is derived from a few of his close encounters with skunks. Just recently, a lean black cat with an infected eye joined our ranks. We dubbed him Spike because he has the same physique and toughness of Snoopy’s brother, and because he reminds Hubby of a human Spike he used to know.
My sweet Quarter Horse mare is Sugar, but due to her chubby, round figure, I often call her Sugar Plum. Hubby has a Tennessee Walker gelding named Solomon, although the only thing he’s wise about is staying away from ornery bulls and protective mama cows.
Both dogs have people names—Jessie and Bodie—because, of course, they are people!
We don’t have to be told to “carefully attend to your flocks”, since we spend the majority of our time, energy and money in making sure that our animals are well-nourished, healthy, safe and comfortable. Hubby says I live by the motto: “If the animals ain’t happy, I ain’t happy.” He adds that “Animal Accommodation Specialist” should be on my résumé, which sounds better than “Pet and Livestock Co-dependent.”
Obviously, Hubby exaggerates my pet-pandering tendencies. I’ll explain my position just as soon as I let the dogs back in the house (it’s hot outside, you know), feed them each a biscuit, fork up the hay that the baler missed in the fields, unload it by the haystack, carry fresh water to the goat pen, let the horses out, cuddle the cats, feed them fresh food because they don’t like the “old” food from this morning, drizzle the dog food with hamburger drippings, put the horses back in the corral, bring the goats into the barn (safe from coyotes), give them some hay and—okay, well, maybe he’s got a point!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Of Character and Cowboy Boots

This is probably the busiest time of year for us, what with haying, irrigating, gardening and canning. Nevertheless, we took a few days off to get together with family to visit and attend the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo finals. CFD attracts the best rodeo athletes in the world—men and women, horses and bulls—not to mention some of the hottest country music stars and thousands of tourists from all over the world.
 If you’ve never been to a rodeo, especially this one, you might think it the most redneck of sports. But, dirt and manure not withstanding, I believe it to be one of the classiest. Consider the following:
·         Before the rodeo begins, the announcer prays aloud for our troops, our nation, and the safety of the contestants. People aren’t required to participate but don’t sue anyone who does.
·         The bronc and bull riding events are scored by judges. If a rider doesn’t like the score he gets, you’ll never see him screaming in the face of the officials like you often see at other professional sporting events.
·         After a Christian football player scores a touchdown, he might take a knee or point heavenwards to thank God, but a Christian bronc or bull rider does so whether he scored big or bit the dust and got no score.
·         Instead of cheerleaders, rodeo has clowns. The “barrel man” is the funny clown; the “bullfighters” courageously and acrobatically risk their lives saving the riders from the ornery, ton-plus bulls. Oh, and the clowns are fully clothed.
·         Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls don’t have contracts, agents, or unions—and most make less in a year than most pro ball players make in a day.
·         At the rodeo and home on the ranch, the animals are fed and cared for before the people sit down to eat.
The Virginian would have liked this sport.