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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Secret Lives of Animals

Does your dog or cat have a certain sparkle in their eyes that makes you wonder what they’ve been up to while you’ve been at work? Up until a few weeks ago, I worked outside the home fulltime. Now that my commute is a short walk down the stairs and into the den, I can see what goes on around the farm all day. It’s been quite an eye-opener, to say the least.
One morning last week, the Farmer / Professor had just left for work and I was heading out to the barn to feed our ewes-in-waiting. I was just passing by the feeders when an odd movement caught my eye. A very round ewe was lying on her back in the mud. She was bicycling her little stick legs in the air, in a vain attempt to turn herself over. I ran over, wedged my arms underneath her and shoved with all my might. My feet slid in the muddy bed she had made, and she rolled right on top of me. Ugh. I just sat there for a moment or two, catching my breath. I took a rag out of my pocket and wiped the mud out of her eye. I could feel her heart pounding as she lay exhausted on my arm. 1, 2, again I shoooooved and finally she was up on her feet….and then she flopped back again in my direction. I stopped her with my body, tipped her back up on her feet and quickly straddled her, holding her upright until she could steady herself. I could feel all her insides gurgling and shifting. Gross. Finally the dizziness lifted and she had the strength to take a few staggering steps away from me. Her entire bulk had shifted over to the side where she had lain, probably for most of the night. She was definitely a lop-sided sheep. I kept a close eye on her for the rest of the morning, and by noon she appeared to be almost normal again. Later I saw the horse bullying her way around the feeder, spilling sheep left and right. That’s probably how the ewe ended on her back: she just rolled down the hill and ended up in the mud. Made me wonder what else goes on when the animals don’t know someone is watching. I soon found out.
As I re-entered the house, I caught the cat playing hockey with something shiny. It was one of Paulina’s earrings, and it was heading for the basement stairs, where it probably would have ended up in the floor drain or sump pump. I confiscated it just in time, as the cat squawked her disappointment at me. I made a mental note to check the basement floor for my missing USB stick and camera batteries.
After lunch, as I was settling in to my armchair with a cup of tea and a 52-page document, I saw something out the window that made me take a second look. Donkey was in the driveway, rolling on his back. I opened the door and sure enough, the horse was out there in the yard too. “Hey, you two!” I yelled. When Misty saw me, she dug her hooves into the yard, tearing up the grass. She kicked her hind legs in the air and took off after Donkey, who was heading back to the stable. Those two rascals navigated their way back through the farm equipment, stopped to nibble at the hay bale, and then gingerly stepped back through the door to the barnyard (Misty scraping her big belly as she squeezed through). The door swung shut and latched itself as they exited. I just stood there scratching my head. So that explains the mysterious droppings I sometimes find on my lawn when the animals are innocently watching me from the confines of the fencing.
About an hour later I heard the noise of the oil truck coming down the driveway. I thought it odd that Cody didn’t bark at all. I looked out the kitchen window, just in time to see the driver hop down out of his truck, with a Tupperware container of food in his hand. As I watched, this guy emptied his lunch leftovers into Cody’s bowl, and then proceeded to attach the hose to the house, filling up our oil tank, natural as could be.
After he drove away, I opened the door and Cody looked at me, wagging his tail.
“So I guess you have a whole other life I don’t know about, huh?” He wagged his tail and continued to munch on his sub sandwich.

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