The weekend after Memorial Day is my husband’s annual “family fishing” trip. I say “family” because I was told from almost the minute we started dating that there were “no spouses and no dogs” allowed on the trip. Fishing is in quotation marks as I don’t think much fishing takes place. I think it should be called the “family drinking, sitting, gorging, and smoking” trip. They drink, sit, gorge and smoke for four days, and with the husband away, I am left to tend the farm.
This will be the first time that I will spend a few days alone on the farm. Well, not actually alone, I suppose. At first count we have 1 baby, 2 dogs, 1 spayed barn cat, 2 kittens from the spayed barn cat (the vet says that there is a possibility that the cat had two uteruses….two uteruses….seriously?!?!?!), 2 pigs, and a herd of cattle – a few of which are severely pregnant. I keep asking my husband how many cows we have and he just says “a bunch.” Thanks, that’s helpful when I am trying to figure out how many should be in the pasture. The herd has actually been broken up into three groups — one here, one across the street in a pasture up in the woods, and one up the road in a neighbor’s pasture. We got rid of the chickens in the fall as my dog kept using them as a chew toy– every once and a while I still find feathers from her victims.
The first night, I had to teach a literature course at the local community college. Xandy is usually home by the time I have to leave for class, but this week he is “camping,” so my mother and sister agreed to tag-team babysit. My sister had been babysitting Kitt since she was about three months old when Xandy and I had our first big “date-night” out together. I, silly me, was worried about the baby. I ran around frantically showing my sister everything there was to know about Kitt — “Be sure to turn on the light machine after you feed her,” and “She likes this cow toy especially,” and “Make this face if she starts to cry.” You get the picture.
Xandy, however, had other things to think about, “If it’s a kid emergency call Sherry’s cell. If it’s a cow emergency call my cell.”
I remember Chrissy’s face, “A cow emergency? What the hell’s a cow emergency?!?”
Xandy just smiled, “You’ll know.”
My mother planned to arrive at 4:00PM, about 30 minutes from when I wanted to leave for class with my sister relieving her at 6. My mother-in-law had stopped by earlier in the day with an emergency of her own and left me with Xandy’s brother’s dog Molly. That brought the dog count up to three. I mentally noted that I had to add Molly to the list when I have to (as Xandy puts it) “feed things.” I figured that I would feed the 2 pigs, 3 cats, and 3 dogs after my mother arrived. She could change and feed the baby, and then I could change myself.
I told my mother and sister that I would pay them with food, so I was finishing up the baked haddock meal I had decided upon when my first babysitter arrived. My plan worked well. I put on my sexy purple rubber rain boots that Xandy had given me for my birthday from Tractor Supply (as my sister said, “Nothing says love like a waffle maker and some gum rubbers”) and headed out to the barn. I followed my husband’s instructions exactly –“Turn on AM1490 so that the critters know it is time to feed things. Hopefully, there will be clarinets. Everyone loves clarinets. Take a five gallon bucket to the hand pump and fill it ¾’s full. You’ll look like a true farm wife out there on the pump! (He laughed here. He’s been slowly trying to train me since the day he met me, but I don’t train well) Fill the grain bucket and put both in the pig trough. Give the cats fresh water and food. The cows should be fine on pasture. It’s not too hard. At least I got rid of the sheep.” The “feeding things” went off without a hitch. I even had the dogs and my mother finished in a timely fashion.
Now that I was in charge of both kid and cow emergencies I was sure that I would be receiving panicked calls every ten minutes. That didn’t happen though. The only thing that occurred that first night was another surprise addition.
“How many kittens did you say you had?” My sister grinned.
“Two. One black and one orange tabby.”
“You realize there are two orange kittens in the barn.”
“Come on, you can’t be serious.”
New count: 1 baby, 3 dogs, 1 spayed barn cat, 3 kittens from the spayed barn cat, 2 pigs, and a herd of cattle. I took the phone up to bed and prayed that no one called to tell me the cows were out.
To be continued…
Here’s a pic of the miracle kittens — the first two anyway: