Posted in Down on the Farm, Family, Parenting

A Little Nap Moosic

If you’re old enough to remember the last time Halley’s comet was visible, you probably remember the “cow toy” or maybe even the “pig toy” that used to be on display in front of certain mall stores like Kirkland’s or KB Toys.daisy-the-cow-reward

These animals would waddle a couple of steps, make their species-appropriate noise and wag their tail or wiggle their nose or some such cuteness.

When my daughter was a baby, we did the whole nursery thing: crib, rocking chair, changing table, toy chest, etc. After investing several hundred dollars in this set-up, I discovered I my inner hippie and we became “family bed” people, meaning the only time we got crib use was when I wanted to clean house during her nap time…like, say, twice a year or so.

On one such day, my sweet baby girl fell asleep and, feeling an inexplicable need to vacuum, I took her upstairs, put her in the crib with some “babies”, pulled the blanket up and the door closed, and left her to snooze peacefully. I would check on her from time to time, as she was such a good-natured baby she almost never cried. When she woke, she would just stare at her toes or make mouth bubbles or whatever else babies do. On this day, however, she woke SCREAMING. Not the “I’m hungry” cry, or the “I’m alone” whimper, not even the “I HAVE DIAPER RASH AND MY TUSHY BURNS!!!!” wail. This was a full-blown scream of terror.

I flew up the stairs (as all super-moms do), rushed into her room to find her flailing in one corner of her crib, her feet entangled in a blanket, as she frantically attempted to escape it. Poor kid. I picked her up, checked her out, and soothed her mini-freak-out. She was fine. Once she quieted down, I heard a softly recurring “mooooo” from under the blanket that had been twisted around her feet. I turned off the little cow she must have inadvertantly kicked on in her sleep, and we went off to play.

Some days later we were in the nursery reading books and playing with blocks, when I set the cow between us and flipped him on. He started to waddle and before he could “moo”, Kacey was in full-blown screaming freak-out mode.

Seems when she kicked on our little bovine friend, his electronic noises woke her, mooand not being able to escape from under the blanket that imprisoned them both, she experienced her first panic attack.

She never could play with the cow again.

Though, every now and again, for my own sadistic entertainment, I would flip it on just to see what happened. Yeah…Super-Mom has a dark side.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Family, Just Funny, Money Pit

PipeBusters (season finale) on The Reality Channel

pipe busters leakAfter the drama of yesterday’s flat hair we wonder how much more Stephanie and the cowboy can take? HOW. MUCH. MORE?  They have now entered their 50th hour without working indoor plumbing. FIFTY HOURS.  That’s roughly 3,000 minutes suffering in the desert of their shared abode.

As the day begins, Stephanie washes her hair in the sink with a pitcher of tepid water. Ironically, what seems tepid for brushing one’s teeth translates to glacier water on the scalp, giving new meaning to the term “Brain Freeze” (cue Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice”). However, the cold water washing allows for adequate blow drying and ample hair volume, narrowly averting what could have been a tragic second Bad Hair Day.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Meanwhile, back at the chemical plant, the cowboy takes off an hour early to go to the chiropractor for his aching back. If a supervisor calls him in for overtime this week, he will have to work the first hour at his regular hourly pay.  Regular pay.  But it’s a risk he has to take.

The sound of his groaning and back popping at the chiropractor’s leaves us wondering:  Will the cowboy be able to bend his body into the needed position for fixing the pipes?  For that matter, will he even be able to take off his steel-toed boots to put on his “crawl under the house” boots without help?

Simultaneously, Stephanie makes a crucial stop at Plumb-o-Rama.  Will they have the needed parts in stock?  that's what she saidWill she be able to discern PVC from galvanized iron?  Can she manage the right length and thickness?

(That’s what she said.)

Finally, both of them home with proper parts and proper boots, it’s back into the creepy crawl space for the cowboy. Only this time, he accesses it from the vent at the front of the house – which, although nearer the leak, is a MUCH smaller, much shallower vent than before – causing the cowboy crucial claustrophobic hesitation.

Will he be able to muster the courage to crawl?

Hesitantly, he enters the darkness headfirst, knowing the tight turnaround may totally prevent re-exit through the same vent. Once under, he calls for Stephanie. He needs her to go outside to the shut off valve and make the counter-clockwise turn to discern the exact location of the leak.

Stephanie rushes to her closet to search for the right pair of “going out to the meter” shoes and makes the 130-ft trek out to the yard. She twists the valve on. (cue “Twist & Shout”) No sooner does she turn the water on than the cowboy yells for her to turn it back off!

Frustration and confusion!  Not only does he want her to turn it back off, he also wants her to wait. WAIT? Outside?  She doesn’t have on “waiting” shoes, she has on “going to the meter shoes”.

What to do?  What. To. Do???

Stephanie feels her upper lip beginning to glisten. Tiny drops of moisture forming on her skin. This could only mean one thing:  SWEAT.  The cowboy better hurry before she starts to melt.  Lucky for Stephanie, the “Going to the Meter” shoes also double as appropriate front porch swing shoes, so she decides to take refuge on the swing and wait out this plumbing plight.

Back under the house, the cowboy-turned-plumber is commenting – loudly – on how tight winnie the pooh stuckthe vent was to crawl into, and Stephanie may have to help him get back out. She tells him not to worry. She is certain if his middle is too round to fit, and he has to remain wedged there for several days in a great tightness, she will be certain to visit every day and feed him honey until Christopher Robin can help with the rescue effort.

The idea of being wedged in the vent was not at all humorous to the cowboy.  NOT. AT. ALL.  And he stated, in no uncertain terms, if he were to be “caught in a tight spot”, Stephanie had better do everything in her power, including greasing him like a pig, hooking him to a winch, (not to be confused with ‘wench’, which he might enjoy too much), and calling the National Guard and Bob’s Tow Truck to unwedge him.

Stephanie gets distracted by the word ‘wedge’ and daydreams about new shoes until the cowboy proclaims …

Stay tuned for the Season Finale of PipeBusters after this word from our sponsor.

The cowboy proclaims, ‘TURN THE WATER ON!’

Stephanie hurdles the shrubbery and dashes the 40 meters to the meter.  Which, in reality, and this is a reality show, means she stepped in between the boxwoods and meandered back to the meter in a record 92 seconds.

RAYS OF LIGHT FROM HEAVENShe turns the meter on, and behold there is water, and it is good. (cue “Hallelujah Chorus”)

The cowboy begins the army crawl back to the vent. He tosses the tools out first. Contracting himself into the fetal position, he emerges from under the house.  Face down, he pushes painfully through the small hole, centimeter by centimeter until he lets out a cry for fresh air.  His shoulder is next, followed by the other, then the rest sliding out easily, but bringing uneasy repressed birth memories.

The job has been completed.  After a mere 62 hours, and without the silliness of a professional plumber, the leak has been defeated. For now. At least the one under the house. The dripping shower is a different story

(cue “Shower the People You Love” by James Taylor).

Yes, the leaky shower faucet is a very different story. A lengthy story. A story appropriate for the next season of PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.

Thanks for joining us.

 

Posted in Down on the Farm, Family, Just Funny, Uncategorized

PipeBusters (episode 3) on The Reality Channel

pipe busters leakWhen we last left our victims, the cowboy-turned-plumber had been made aware of a possible skunk under the house just as a main waterline blew.  He had given up the claustrophic chore of crawling beneath the concrete to conquer the catastrophe, postponing it until tomorrow. But the dreaded “TOMORROW” is now today.  BUT soon there will be water and all will be well.

Well. Water.  See what we did there?

COMMERCIAL BREAK (because our dilemma is like a train wreck and you can’t look away, we dare to advertise earlier in the show, knowing you will stay tuned for more.)

Stephanie begins her day as usual, up at the crack of 8 or 8:15. She meanders to the bathroom, turns the faucet to run her water, and is faced with the harsh reminder: NO water. No hot morning bath. She plugs in the curling iron and brushes her teeth from a dwindling pitcher of lukewarm water. Lukewarm water and toothpaste first thing in the morning. Gag.

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS!!!

AND, to make matters worse, one of the vanity lights is blown, leaving her face only half lighted. And it’s not the pretty half. She brushes through her hair and begins to curl. But something is not right. Something is quite wrong.  Her hair is flat.  A tragic by-product of sleeping on damp hair the night before. She curls more. And more. Lifting and spraying as she goes. Despite her best efforts, her hair WILL be flat today. Flat. And she has to go out in public. In public. Where there are people. Real people. Who will see her flat hair. The horror.  The horror! (cue melodramatic music)

COMMERCIAL BREAK FOR BUMPITS. “Bumpits -from flat to fabulous in seconds”.bumpits

Back home that evening, humiliated by her bad hair day, Stephanie begins dinner… watermelon, watercress salad, roasted water chestnuts.  The cowboy arrives from work some minutes later, walking deadlooking like a decaying extra from The Walking Dead. He hurts. All over. Neck pain. Back pain. Knee pain. “Bad day,” he comments, “aching all over. Swelling. Pain. Head hurts”

“It might be a tumor,”Stephanie snarks.

“It’s not a tumor,” the cowboy groans. He is in no shape nor mood to go to Plumb-o-Rama, much less do the plumbing repairs.

No shape at all.

Disheartened and dusty, Stephanie must face the reality that there will be no running water again tonight.  She thinks, “So this is how the people in Mississippi feel.”

COMMERCIAL BREAK

bucket flushYet another day without water. The laundry is piling up. The dishwasher is overloaded. The pitchers of water are running dangerous low. The toilet is being flushed with    a 5-gallon bucket of pond water.

Will the promise of a hot shower ease the cowboy’s aches and pains? Will he be able to complete this job with one MORE tomorrow?

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Stephanie raises her fist to the sky,
“With God as my witness, I’ll never have flat hair AGAIN!”

Stay tuned for the thrilling season finale of PipeBusters on The Reality Channel.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Family, Just Funny, Uncategorized

PipeBusters (episode 2) on the Reality Channel

“A water break?  Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak.”
Coach Boone, Remember the Titans


(cue Nintendo music from Mario)
In our last episode, the water had to be precariously shut off at the water meter in the yard, where hopefully a mama snapping turtle had not claimed it as her nesting ground as had been the case in a previous year. Using only a T-wrench and a stiff clockwise (‘righty tighty, lefty loosey”) turn, Stephanie and her son left the residence water-free and, hopefully, leak-free for several hours.

Come evening, Stephanie’s son is now perilously driving the winding highway crossing the Jack’s Fork River in Missouri not to be seen again for some time. Both Stephanie and the cowboy return from their respective days’ work to the mere two pitchers of water.

Two measly pitchers.

For two whole adults. One of whom actually DRINKS water.

How will they manage???

The claustrophobic cowboy knows he must forge the darkness that is the crawlspace under the house. (This would be a great time to run a local plumber’s commercial, alas, it is not commercial time yet.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemoving the exterior vent cover nearest the central air unit, the cowboy-turned-amateur-plumber-because-heaven-forbid-we-pay-someone-to-do-a-job-today-that-he-can-do-himself-for-free-not-counting-supplies-over-a-period-of-several-days ‘army crawls’ into the damp darkness. Once he is securely wedged under the center of the house, he begins to bang and groan and saw. Stephanie chooses this critical juncture to share important information by yelling through the floor of the kitchen.

“Hey, COWBOY?  You ARE aware that we have a skunk under the house again, aren’t you???”

Yeah. Pepe le Pew has been olfactorily announcing his presence for several consecutive evenings, only the cowboy has not been around to witness said smellevents (cue Looney Tunes music). Stephanie felt it was critical to add to his stress at this juncture in the process. From the deep recesses under the floor, we hear the cowboy holler, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

What if the skunk decides to investigate his presence?

What would happen if the cowboy got a face full of eau de skunk?

CUE COMMERCIAL FOR TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEW FRAGRANCE, “INCREDIBLE THINGS”.

Back under the house, lying in a puddle of mud, stressing about the potential threat of a skunk bombing and attempting to repair the leak, the cowboy seals what he is certain is the culprit. All is quiet in the house. The hissing has ceased. The leak is repaired. Sunlight breaks through the windows. Angels begin singing. Then suddenly a whooshing sound and the cowboy’s under-the-house-muffled-exclamatory “SON OF A …bleeeeeeeeep!!!!!!!!!!”

UNSCHEDULED COMMERCIAL BREAK

old-faithfulStop the choir! The rejoicing was woefully premature, and the repair only served to stress the line further toward the front of the house, causing a full-on rupture of the pipe.

A full-on rupture.

Of the water pipe.

Water is now gushing, yea even exploding from the line, flooding the crawlspace with ounces of water per second. The cowboy shimmies to the exit hole and declares his work for the night to be over.

Over.

He will not complete the repair this evening. Not. Complete. The. Repair. Darkness is setting in, the part he needs is inaccessible until Plumb-o-Rama opens again tomorrow, and he is fed up, flustered, frustrated, and covered with muddy goo.

Disgusting muddy goo.

He announces to Stephanie: “Shower. Now. Take up more water. Then shut it back off. I’ll fix it tomorrow. TOMORROW. “ (cue optimistic song from the musical “Annie”).

More water is stored in various kitchen containers. Enough for morning coffee, but not enough for a pasta dinner. 8f08_021Emergency showers are taken.  Legs are left unshaven (and this is NOT November! The cowboy is risking serious stubble burn if he has his sights set on snuggling.)

Will he get it fixed tomorrow? Will Plumb-o-Rama have the needed parts? Will the cowboy bleed out during the night from a thousand tiny stabs from his wife’s leg hair stubble?  Will they ever have linguine again?

Tune in next time for episode 3 of PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Family, Just Funny, Uncategorized

PipeBusters on The Reality Channel

3:00 ET, 2:00 CST

Narrator’s voice:  On the pilot episode of PipeBusters, we find Stephanie rising at the crack of 8:15 and making her way to the kitchen. She hears a noise. A terrifying noise. An ominous sound. An ominous hissing sound. (cue hissing sound) She lurks around quietly, trying to discern the location and cause. Snake? If so, Stephanie and her family could be in danger. Grave danger. Freon leak? If so, Stephanie and her mangoes could be in danger. Grave danger. Just then, in another room of the house, her son starts the water for his shower. Instantly, the threatening hissing noise is silenced.Almost simultaneously, Stephanie’s phone beeps. A text. Who could it be from?WHO??? (cue suspenseful music)

COMMERCIAL BREAK

pipe busters leakThe synchronized stoppage of the strange hissing sound in sync with her son’s shower and the incoming text is an awfully big coincidence. (Of course, everyone knows, there are no big coincidences or small coincidences, only coincidences.) Still, she grabs her glowing purple cell, eager to discover who, WHO, has texted at this wee hour of 8:15 a.m.??? It’s the cowboy, who left for work just after discovering the hissing noise. Text: Wrench in garage. Leak under house. Turn water off at meter.

There is a leak under the house. A leak. A water leak. Under the house. What to do? WHAT TO DO? (cue William-Shatner-deliberate-pause reading style). The cowboy says turn it off. TURN. IT. OFF. But her son is in the shower, preparing to leave for Missouri in 42 minutes (cue ticking clock sound). Missouri! In forty-two minutes! This could be the last decent shower he has for months! And Stephanie has yet to bathe. And it is imperative that she leave for work in 3 hours. Three hours! Not to mention vital laundry to finish – whites AND darks. And teeth to be brushed – 60 between the two of them, as Stephanie’s wisdom teeth were surgically removed in 1979. They need the water.NEED the water. (cue suspenseful music, pt.2)

COMMERCIAL BREAK

There is a water leak under the house. A potentially disastrous water leak. The water must be turned off, and fast before the crawl space becomes an ocean(cue John Williams’ brilliant music from “Jaws”). Yet Stephanie and her son need the water to finish getting ready. Stephanie urges him to shower quickly,”Rinse and go, boy, RINSE. AND. GO!” Once out of the shower, Stephanie begins a load of laundry, doing the unthinkable: mixing essential colors with whites in the same load. Now the cowboy’s tightie whiteys are in danger of turning pink. PINK.(cue “Get the Party Started”) There is not a single western shirt in his closet that goes with pink underpants. Not one. If this happens, he will not be happy.Not be happy at all. But drastic times call for drastic measures. SONY DSCNow Stephanie runs her bath water while the washer fills, simultaneously her son fills 2 pitchers, brushes his teeth. Miraculously the laundry finishes spinning only moments after Stephanie’s legs are shaved…DONE! And in record time – only 38 minutes from text to wrench twist and the water is OFF!

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Stephanie and her son are ready in record time, and the water is off, stopping both the leak and the hissing sound (which, of course, are one and the same, but still). Two half-gallon pitchers of water have been filled, giving them enough clean drinking water for 24 hours. Twenty-four hours. Only one day.After that, who knows? What will happen to them? Will they call a plumber? Will they make it a do-it-yourself project? Will they die from dehydration?

Tune in next time for episode 2 of PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.

 

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Uncategorized

Ice Skating with the Devil

Back in January, the cowboy made room in our 24×28 garage for me to park the car. We’ve lived in this house 16 years and this is a first.  I mean, I never minded NOT parking in the garage, but when the temperature outside rivals the interior of the deep freeze, or I’ve got a trunk full of groceries to haul inside, it sure is lovely. Point being, now that I can park my car in the garage, I have no need to be outdoors. Not even a desire really. In the winter it’s too cold or too windy or too gray. In the summer it’s all buggy and weedy and there’s the ever-present “odeur de equine” that blows northwest from the barn. I’m just an indoorsy girl at heart. Give me a bookstore or a museum and I’m happy as a nerd.

My husband, on the other hand, spends every waking not-at-work minute outside. He comes in the house after dark to eat and sleep. If he’s not working with his horses, he is cutting down trees, or disking up fields, or hauling hay, or chopping firewood, or, well, you name it.

So, he comes in from the mailbox the other day, the latest edition of “Saddle Boy” magazine in hand, proclaiming, “I have found the destination for our next vacation!”

I glance at him skeptically over the top rim of my 2.25 reading glasses. One, because we rarely go on vacation, and two, because we never agree on anything, much less recreation pursuits.

“No, I’m serious,” he assures me.

I’m in a good mood, so I bite.

city slickers
from “City Slickers”

He proceeds to describe a “vacation” that has all the appeal of Yemen and ranks right above Chinese Water Torture on the fun-o-meter: a working dude ranch.  I’ve seen “City Slickers”, thank you very much, and there ends the extent of my interest in Big Sky Country and, for that matter, the late Jack Palance’s acting career.

Once again I glance at him over the top rim of my glasses. This time with less skepticism and more sarcasm, “You’re a funny, funny little man.”

He gives me a sales pitch with all the perks: You get to work with horses, cut down trees, disk up fields, haul hay, chop firewood, and, if you’re lucky enough to have double-X chromosomes, you also get to help fix the chow! And, let us not forget – YOU get to pay THEM for the experience!

feltandwire
from feltandwire.com

The cowboy cannot seem to grasp the concept that THIS IS NOT A VACATION. Not for a sane person. But to him it sounds like heaven. To me it sounds distinctly like something I plan to do… right after I go ice-skating with Satan.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Minimalism

Holy Cow, Batman

The cow. Got out.

Repeat after me: Green Acres is NOT the place to be. Farm living is NOT the life for me.

My husband, the cowboy, was out of town. WAY out of town, buying a registered quarter horse, because… you know… we didn’t have one yet.

I was hosting something we called “Friday Night Hangout”, where a bunch of high school kids would come over to the house on Friday Nights to – you guessed it – hang out.

And since the cow (affectionately known as “Patty”) was a relatively new phenomenon at Reynolds Ranch, the kiddos wanted to go out and see her.

And, apparently, pet her.

The problem: She is a COW. She does not wish to be petted. She wants to be left alone. The kids approached her. She backed away. They moved closer. She ran in circles. They continued to advance. She disengaged her hindquarters (which, in the animal world, has something to do with submission. In marriage, however, it has an entirely different meaning…but that’s another blog altogether.)

Patty tried to dissuade them from petting her. She spoke to them in Bovinese:
“Children, lovely children… I do not wish to be touched.
I do not wish for you to come closer. I prefer that you not force me to…”

Then she squealed some sad-sounding cow scream, bolted to the north, and jumped a 4-foot chain link fence, yes she did.

Kevin immediately ran into the house to inform me of the Cattle Coup, and I instantly did what city people do in a farm emergency: I made some phone calls. After many calls to multiple sources all giving me the same ludicrous advice (“just go find her and herd her home”), I did the other thing city people do in an emergency: drive.  I put on my 2 1/2″ black wedge sandals, and took the car up the road, all the while muttering to myself as to why I wasn’t living somewhere – anywhere – that didn’t offer a view of manure-freckled hay fields.

I found Patty a few tenths of a mile west in a neighbor’s side yard. I parked the car, got out and walked toward her, wondering exactly how one persuades a cow to go home. She just stood there. So I waved my arms (hoping to scare her back the direction of the house). She waved back. I stared at her. She stared at me.

We stood there
Just staring,
We stood there
We two.
And I said,
“Oh, I wish
I knew how
to speak Moo.”

And since Dr. Seuss rhymes seemed ineffective as a herding tool, I went back to the house to herd the kids up to the cow. Kevin drove up in a second car.

I was now finally able to reach the cowboy by phone. Though he was 320 miles from our house, I felt it imperative that he know what was going on.
“COW JUST GOT OUT!” I yelled.
“How are the trout???” he queried.
“THE COW HAS GOTTEN OUT!” I yelled again.
“The power has gone out?” he asked, confused.
“NO NO…YOUR STUPID STUPID COW HAS JUMPED THE FENCE AND RUN OFF!!!!”
I declared in no uncertain terms.

“Then go find her and herd her back home,”
he responded calmly.

Ohhhhh . . . this ticked me off.

“Well, honey,” he asked sweetly, “What do you want me to do?”

What do I want you to do? WHAT DO I WANT YOU TO DO???

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I WANT YOU TO PANIC WITH ME, DOGGONE IT, BECAUSE FREAKING OUT MAKES THINGS SO MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE.  AND SECONDLY, I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME THE STINKIN’ CODE TO THE COW SIGNAL YOU HIDE OUT THERE IN THE BARN SO I CAN SUMMON SUPERHERO ‘SADDLE BOY’ TO COME RESCUE ME! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO!!!

So, basically, I hung up on him, somewhat angry and incredibly frustrated that this Big Dumb Future Shish-ka-Bob was going to make a beeline for the interstate and cause a 7 car pileup resulting in death, dismemberment and a really big e’splosion, and I would be responsible.

I went back up the road and found Kevin driving his car through somebody’s backyard and a conga-line of kids dancing in circles and flailing their arms. Patty darted left, then darted right, and eluded them. We lost her again, and since it was nearing dark, it was becoming virtually impossible to locate a black cow in the country.

Thankfully, a couple of cowboy superheroes-in-training had been viewing our slapstick routine, and came out to join in the chase about the time Patty reappeared on a side road. After another half hour and a 9-person team of rodeo clowns, we managed to herd her into somebody else’s field, via somebody else’s gate, where she joined a herd of somebody else’s cattle.

Our Friday Night High School Hangouts included a lot of weirdness: playing “Murder”; having finger-dart wars; heckling bad movies; playing Hide & Seek at night, and glow-in-the-dark ultimate Frisbee. This, however, was a whole new experience. Just as I wondered what they would tell their parents, Erin answered the question for me: “This was the MOST FUN Friday Night Hangout . . . EVER!!!”

For those of you who are concerned about the cow, the answer is “no”, Patty never made her way onto our dinner table…

but have you seen my new black leather boots?