Friday, April 29, 2011

Not Dead Yet!

Hey folks. I hope at least a few of you are still checking the blog. I'm not dead yet, but will be out of comission a while longer. I'll post as I can.

Don't worry too much. I'll be ok in a little while. Besides, I'm definately too stubborn to quit! I am a cowgirl afterall!

Thanks for your support. Coming to you flat on my back in bed. Thank God for my Blackberry, my family (humans and animals), my friends, my clients, and my herd of little Christians! Spot has , of course, not let my side. Thank God especially for Spot!

Talk to you soon.

Cowgirl Domino

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rush To Judgment

Let me emphasize this entry is about horses, although I will also tell you what this day means to Christians.  I have a whole herd of little Christians around me on the farm. It astounds me that not all of them know the significance of this day.

I'm a wayward anything, by anyone's standards and even I know this stuff. Not today, nor on Easter Sunday, will I be in church.  I don't have anything against most churches; it's just a necessary fact of my life that I work on weekends.

My farm is a holier place for me than church, to tell you the truth.  If caring for God's creatures isn't holy, I don't know what is. I know what is in my heart and so does God.  So, I really don't care what you believe or what you think of me. Are you getting good and confused?  It's ok.  Keep reading.  You'll get it.

Again, this is not a religious entry although I have carefully chosen the Christian Good Friday for it.  For those of you unfamiliar with the meaning of Good Friday, it is the day Jesus was crucified and died.  Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday.

For Christians, Easter Sunday is the day Jesus rose again and then ascended into Heaven.  It is through His death on Good Friday, through what many would say was a rash judgment by Pontius Pilot, that "saved" Christians from going to Hell.  These are simply facts of the Christian belief system.

I am not arguing it either way to you. This is about horses not religion.  It is merely an appropriate day for me to ask you to consider your own rush to judgment.

This is a long entry.  This may be a difficult entry for you to read.  If you say you love horses, please read it.  It is one of the important lessons I will impart.  It is a decision that faces many horse owners in a bad economy.

Thank God, it hasn't been me.  Always realize: There but for the grace of God go I. Again, this is not a religious entry.  It is still important.

Although what I've written may be difficult, and may make you cry, read it all the way through anyway.  Hear me out to the end, please.  It made me cry writing it, as a matter of  fact.  But, this is a fact you need to know.  It took me a long time to realize it, too.

Ok, so let's get on with it.  Bring the pain, as some would say.  Well, that's appropriate for Good Friday, too.  As my mother, the religious scholar of our family, says, "Good Friday is a sad and painful day."  Well, here we go.  No, don't stop now.  Keep going.  Just like Easter it has a happy ending.  I'm not giving you any chocolate Easter bunnies or jelly beans, don't get that excited.

In this economy, let me take a minute to take-up for some horse owners who are not bad people or unskilled owners.  Right now, there are a lot of people who own horses who can't afford to own them.  Maybe they could afford to care for them in the beginning, but now they can't.  They can't sell them either.  This is a bad economy for horses and people.

There's no market to sell horses now.  Sometimes you're literally giving away a high price horse just to get it off your hands.  I've found homes for horses like these when I was asked to help by complete strangers.  I did it for the horses not the people.  I'm out of options to find homes for horses now.  Like I said, it's a bad economy for horses and people.

When these well intentioned people run out of money, their horses suffer.  They can't feed them as much or at all.  They can't worm them.  They can't afford to call the vet to take care of them.  Sometimes, they can't even afford to put them to sleep.

There are still a few "kill markets" open that slaughter horses.  Some pet products and garden products come from these slaughter houses.  Where do you think "bone meal" and "blood meal" come from in the garden department?  It's not synthetic, folks.  It's some sort of livestock, sometimes, horses.

A "kill market" or "meat lot" or "meat processing plant" sounds horrible.  I'll give you that.  I've rescued horses from there, as you know.  Horses who turned out to be fine animals.  I can only guess that their previous owners were in a difficult situation and didn't know what else to do.  I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt when I can.

Let me tell you, a humane death in a slaughter house, which is required by law in the US and enforced by the USDA, beats the hell out of a horse starving to death.  I get mad when I receive those petitions going around about horses getting ready to go to slaughter because someone doesn't care about them.  It's why I generally don't even respond to them.

When I see these petitions, here are the questions that run through my mind:  How do you know?  How do you know the person doesn't care? How do you know their financial situation?  Do you even have any first hand information about the situation?  Or is it just something you read on Facebook?  Do you even know anything about horses?  Do you know the difficulties faced by people who rescue horses?

Maybe it's the best thing for the horses to go to slaughter instead of starving to death. That's a difficult thought even for me, but it's true.  I seriously doubt I could send a horse of mine to slaughter.  But, I've never been that desperate either, thank God.  You never know what you'll do when you're desperate.

To put a horse to sleep and then dispose of the body costs $600.  By disposal I mean either paying someone with a backhoe to come dig a hole on your farm--because that's the only way to get a big enough, deep enough hole.  Or "disposal" by taking your horse's body to an academic institution for study and then cremation.

I've chosen the second option when faced with an equine death.  No, you don't get the ashes back either.  There are no easy choices in horses sometimes.  In this economy, there are a lot of difficult choices for people and horses.

In this economy, some people can't afford these options.  So, they send the horse to slaughter.  Don't be so quick to judge.  And, definitely, don't receive my opinion on this issue as being pro-horse abuse or pro-slaughter.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe there is a special place in Hell for people who abuse animals, including horses.  So, don't lump me in with them for giving you the facts.  Hear me out instead.  Hear me out, especially if you claim to love horses.

Remember, I put my money where my mouth is.  I rescued three horses from a slaughter house when I bought this farm. Bringing a horse back from the condition he's in at a slaughter house takes time and money--a lot of both.  Slaughter houses don't feed them a ton of food.  They feed them enough to get by.

It took me two years to get Shadow back to what I consider a good weight.  And, I was lucky, the other two gained weight easily.  None of them appeared to have been physically or emotionally abuse.  That made my job of giving them a meaningful life much easier.  Remember, I also have a staff, time, and money.  Most people don't have any of that, yet they rush in to rescue a horse.

Helping a horse recover from abuse is even harder.  I struggled with feeling sorry for one of the horses who came with the farm.  He was the stallion I had gelded.  He was young.  He hadn't had much exposure to normal horse life. My pity didn't help him get better.  Mack, my vet, confronted me about that head on one day.  He was right.  I stopped treating that horse like a pitiful little thing.

We trained him more.  But, he'd never be a lesson horse.  He was too high strung.  That is often the case with abused horses.  They may be ok with a true horseman, but they rarely become kid horses. Horses who've recovered from abuse are rarely suitable to people with limited or no experience.

It was RW's opinion that the horse needed to leave my farm.  He was born here.  The wrong that was done to him, before I owned him, was done here.  He needed a change.  It was hard for me to accept.  I needed to let go of this horse I'd brought so far.

I knew in my mind, and eventually in my heart, that RW was right.  I asked RW find him a home with a true horseman.  In order to make this happen, I gave away an expensive, registered horse.  He was the kind of horse who comes with a DNA card--for genetic proof of what you're paying for.  That kind of expensive.  I know what I'm talking about here folks or I wouldn't be "preaching" to you.

That horse is now living a productive life in the mountains with good people.  He's a better horse for it.  He's a happier, calmer horse.

It's easy to judge me for letting that horse go.  It's easy to feel like I should have protected him the rest of his life.  Don't think I didn't give myself a going over like this, too.  As always, RW's voice of reason was important in my decision.  He helped me to stop judging myself.  He helped me to understand sometimes the best thing you can do for a horse is let him go.

It took me several months to come to this decision.  Don't think I could just let go so easily.  Don't think that others who send their horses to slaughter or to an auction or surrender them to the county let go easily either.  I'm sure some of them do.  I'm sure some of them don't care.  But, I'm sure some of them care very much.

It has taken RW 15 years to get me to understand there is a place for a "kill market."  Sometimes the horses that need to go there are dangerous.  Those horses will kill a person eventually.

At least as often, the horse who goes to slaughter comes from owners without much other choice.  They are trying to be humane, as difficult as that is for you to comprehend.  It took me 15 years to understand it. I don't expect for you to get it right away, either.

Again, do not hear this entry as my plea for slaughter or for horse abuse.  It is the furthest thing from it.  It is an acceptance that slaughter can keep horses from abuse.  It is a sad acceptance.  It is an acceptance that has become very real to me in this economy.

It is an acceptance that has come with seeing the Humane Society confiscated horses on Mack's farm.  He is the vet for the local Humane Society.  Some of those horses he can save, some he cannot.  The Humane Society finds homes for those horses once the case has been decided by a judge.

The people who take these horses have a long road ahead of them.  I hope most of them know that.  Rescuing horses is not an easy choice, just as the decision not to rescue some of them isn't an easy choice either.

I've made both choices.  I have not taken the horses in those petitions, yet I've taken the horses I've already spoken of.  My difficult decisions on both sides of the spectrum have made it easier for me not to rush to judgment.

I hope this entry will make it easier for you to keep an open mind.  If you're tempted to rescue a horse, I hope my experience tempers your passion with reason.  I hope you'll consider if you really have the time, money, and experience to do that horse a favor.  If you see a petition to save horses going to slaughter, I hope you'll think that maybe that is the humane option.

If you really do love horses, understand there is indeed a time not to rush to judgment.  This entry is in large part a response to people who pestered me to no end a few months ago.  It was about horses going to slaughter that they heard about on Facebook.

It has taken me time to give a thoughtful response.  I barked at some of you on Facebook about it at the time.  I didn't answer others of you.  This is my reasonable answer.  I hope you learn from it.

I hope it helps you to understand me more than you thought you did at the time.  For nearly all of you, it will show you a side of me you didn't know existed.  And, as I say, so many people think they know me so well, yet they don't know me at all.

I wish all horses could have the home I give my own.  They cannot.  Me taking them all in will not make it so.  It will make me broke. Everyone has their financial limits, including me.

If I succumbed to your pleas, it would eventually send these horses to an undesirable end. If I go beyond my means,  I become as desperate as the people I've asked you not to judge.  I cannot allow that to happen. Do you understand?  I hope so.

Thank you for reading.  This is one of those entries I hope you've learned from.  In this economy, it is an important lesson to understand--especially if you say you love horses.

So what was the connection to Good Friday?  What did that have to do with anything?  Good Friday teaches Christians that death is sometimes the necessary and merciful solution.

It was through Jesus' death that Christians believe they are saved, remember?  It is through death that Christians believe they will be united with Jesus in everlasting life.  I don't care if you believe that or not. I'm simply explaining the connection to you.

For horses, sometimes a merciful death is the necessary solution.  Maybe it's not when he's old or sick.  That's when it's easier for us to accept.  Maybe it simply saves him from starving to death.  Starving is a terrible death, for human or horse or any other creature.

It took me such a long time to understand that death isn't the worst thing that can happen to a creature.  Don't take as long to understand that as I did.  Don't stand in judgment of people who chose this merciful out for their horses as long as I did.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe there is no other merciful choice?

Dry your eyes now.  It's going to be ok.  I also believe all animals have souls.  I also believe all animals go to Heaven.  If you spend your life with them, I challenge you to tell me otherwise.  You can't.

Bye, now.  I'll be spending Good Friday and Easter Sunday with my horses, my dogs, my cats, my rabbit, my beloved family and my loving Bart.  I hope you have some special creatures to spend your time with, too.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for hearing me out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Dead Yet

Hello.  No, I'm not dead yet.  I know I've missed a lot of blog entries.  Sorry.

I'm still temporarily held prisoner by an illness that has long overstayed its welcome.  If I were Chief, I would have kicked the barn down by now wanting out!  See "Magical Morning" for an explanation.

Fortunately, I wrote the entry that will post tomorrow about a month ago.  I think it's very fitting for the Christian religious day of Good Friday that is tomorrow.  It may not be easy to read; but I really hope you'll read it anyway.  It is a very important point considering the faltering economy and what it means for horses.

Thanks for hanging in there.  I'll be back on schedule soon, I hope.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Good Tuesday afternoon everyone.  Sorry I missed you all together yesterday.  I'm still sick, of course.  Gee this is getting old.  I want to be tromping around the farm in my boots again as soon as possible!

I don't think confinement is healthy for anyone man, woman, child, or beast--and I don't mean Pip, either.  Laying around in bed or on the sofa for days on end is just not my idea of a good time.  I'd rather be riding seven or eight hours a day.  Or at least walking my average of 7 miles a day around the farm doing chores.  Not this laying around stuff. 

I think most folks feel the same way.  Or, if they are they lay around types, well, I think you'd feel better if you got out and about.  Unless of course you have some sort of disease that makes it impossible for you to get out and about.  Then, you're probably as stir crazy as I am right now!  I have a new level of sympathy for "shut ins" let me tell you!

You may remember I spoke of my stallion Sabio back in "Did You Learn Something?"  Remember Sabio had been confined the vast majority of his life.  He seemed to have adjusted to it, but I wanted him to be more like a normal horse. 

Getting outside to exercise is not only normal for horses, it's their true nature.  Horses are roaming, grazing creatures by nature.  Just think about the mustangs in New Mexico.  No one goes to round them up at night to go in a stall.  No, that's humans' idea of where to spend the night--inside.

Horses would rather be outside, no matter what the weather.  Except for extremely hot weather.  Then, they'd probably rather be outside roaming, just with more shade and a swimming hole!

In my effort to give Sabio a more normal horse existence until I sold him, I wanted him turned out every day.  But, he had to be kept separate  from the mares (girls) for obvious reasons.  He had to be kept separate from the geldings (neutered males) too.  Geldings and stallions will still fight even if though the geldings are "fixed."

So, Sabio was out by himself.  This is also not normal for horses.  They are herd animals by nature.  They are meant to be with others.  They will adjust to being alone if they are at least in sight and sound of other horses.  I tried to do that with Sabio.

Initially, Sabio kind'a liked the outside deal.  But, within a few days, he changed his mind.  Sabio started pacing up a storm.  Mack, my large animal vet, said to leave him outside that he would adjust.

Well,  Sabio paced a three foot trench around his paddock every night for about seven weeks.  My farm hands would refill it every morning.  Then, he started losing weight.  I called Mack to come out and look at him.

Mack kind'a scratched his head and said, "Well, put him back inside.  That's what he's gotten used to."

Sabio had been left inside the greater part of his eight years on this Earth.  He was taken out for 20 minutes every two weeks to exercise while his stall was cleaned.  Don't get me started on his stall!  Stalls have to be cleaned daily--not every two weeks.  

That treatment had literally changed his true nature.  He no longer wanted to roam and graze.  He no longer wanted to be with the herd.  He wanted back in his stall.

So, that's what we did.  We put Sabio in a nice clean stall with plenty of hay and water.  We talked to him as we did our daily chores in the barn.  He gained his weight back.  He calmed down again.  He was happy--nature changed and all.

I hope I don't end-up like Sabio after my confinement--broken of my true nature.  I don't think so, though.  I'm not sure they can keep me inside that long.  They surely can't keep me inside for eight years!  I've got plans before then!  Let me out!!!!!  I'm starting to feel like kicking my stall door the way Chief does!

Ok, well, I'm sure I'll get well eventually.  You stay healthy and get outside some.  It's good for you!  Let me know what it looks like out there, too!

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

Good Sunday morning to you. It's my Sunday to work at the farm, which means Bart is outside right now covering for me as I come to you via the Blackberry on the sofa once again. I'll be glad when I'm tromping around in my boots again!

So, now you know a week hasn't made so much of a difference for me, rather Pip. Yes, last Sunday Pip was having a hypoglycemic seizure and about to die. Today, he's being a butthead. One week and he's back to his old self.

Bart has been confining Pip to the laundry room at home since the whizzing seizure episode on my parents' very fine rug that is currently on loan to me. So last night, he decided he'd confine Pip to the big bathroom here at the farm that's on the business side of the people barn. Pip had other plans.

I was very happy about confining Pip far from where I would be sleeping, so I could actually sleep. Remember Pip wanders all night making noise and hurling himself at the bed to go six times a night. Pip was not happy to be confined. Gee, Pip, that bathroom is like four times the size of the laundry room. He had a rude come back for me.

Pip's ability to recover from near death is amazing. That dog has more than nine lives. His weight goes up and down weekly it seems. He'll go from emaciated to butterball without Bart making a single change to his diet. It's gotta be that pituitary tumor bouncing his blood sugar around. This week, Pip is a butterball again and full of himself.

About six this morning, Bart came back in from taking Spot out for his necessities. He said,"Guess where I found Pip?"

"You mean he wasn't in the bathroom?"

"No, he was in the hallway."

"Oh, did he knock over the gate?"

"No the gate was still standing, but he was curled up on the rug in the hall, asleep. He must have climbed over the gate."

Remember, folks, Pip is a small Boston Terrier, 20 lbs when he's fat. Climbing over the babygate is like a rocking climing wall at the gym to him. And, last week he was about to die.

"Did he pee in the hall?" I asked.

"Yes. In the corner."

"Did you clean it up? Urine soaks into concrete. It'll smell." I have lovely acid washed concrete floors in the people barn. The wash gives the floors an aged leather look. It is intended to be durable, not scented with dog pee.

"I cleaned it up."

These are our morning conversations when Pip is around, which is always unless we are on vacation. No sweet nothings. No cuddling and "I love you"s. Rather, what has Pip tried to destroy with his might whizzer.

"Well, he's back," I said.

"Oh, yeah."

"That's one crafty son-of-a-bitch (which is technically correct) you've got there."

"Yes he is."

"Where is he now?"

"I closed him in the bathroom by closing the door."

"You know if he scratches up the back of the door he's going in a stall, right?"

"Just tell me which stall."

Ah! A moment of reason with Bart.

Later I checked in on Pip. So far, no scratched-up door. But, he was ready to make his escape past me.

Oh no you don't. I scruffed him and put him back on one of his towels. I said,"What kind of dog are you?" He refused to respond.

I also told Bart this morning,"You know, when we were first dating and you wouldn't let me meet your dogs because you said they were a pain in the butt, I thought you were exaggerating."

Bart laughed.

"I also thought you were exaggerating about Robby, too."

Bart laughed again.

"You attract some kinda people and animals to you."

Another laugh.

"But, then of course there's me. Aren't you glad I'm not annoying?"

"Yes," he said, and kissed me on the head. Awww, I love this guy; even if I don't like his dog.

He's outside working on the push mower now. We use it for the places we can't mow with the five foot mower deck attachment on the tractor. Dod stored it all winter without gas. Then, Ruthie didn't know why she couldn't start it. Man, these are college educated people I'm dealing with.

Bart gassed it up, but said," Your lawn mower is suffering from sitting through the winter."


"Well, it happens. I just need to clean out..."

And then he started speaking engineer to me; which sounds a lot like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons,"Waaa waaa waaa wa wa." I have no idea what he's saying then. So, at times like these, I just say," Thanks, Babe."

I hear him out there working on the mower now. I also hear Pip. Bart tethered him to the corral panels used to make the "switch back" obstacle on one of my obstacle courses. Pip is barking, of course. What a difference a week makes.

Why'd I force that pancake syrup down him last week? Damn involuntary reflexes of mine. Bart said he didn't want to force the pre-comatos beast to open his mouth. Why couldn't I let nature take its course? Damn compulsive drive to do the right thing. Gee, is there a 12-step program for that?

Have a nice Sunday folks. Thanks for reading. Life on the farm is never dull. Nope, not one moment of it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Saturday afternoon. Today, go back and read a few of the postcards you've missed along the way. There are some good stories in the archives. "I Can't Make These Things Up", "How Do These Things Happen to Me?", "The Danger of Knowing It All" has a good lesson in it, "Did You Learn Something?" Parts 1 and 2 "Anniversary: Trying to Remember the Day that Changed My Life" and the next couple days after that are follow-ups to it.

Those are some favorites. Although I guess I like most all of them. I think some are better written than others.

I'll tell you another story soon. In fact, I already have one in mind. Take care and thanks for reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Magical Morning

Good afternoon, folks!  I know I'm late. I usually get this postcard out to you in the morning.  But, I'm still sick, so I hope you'll excuse me for being late.

I was up and out early this morning taking Spot outside to take care of his morning necessities.  Then, on the way back inside, I noticed something magical.  No, it had nothing to do with Spot's outside business.  Get with the program!

Walking back into the people barn, I heard Chief give a soft whinny.  I looked down the horse barn, which is about 20 feet across from the people barn and connected by a breezeway.  Chief had his head sticking out of his window saying, "Hello."  This is Chief's usual morning greeting.  It's very sweet.

Of course, if you don't go give him his morning feed, Chief starts kicking the inside walls  of his stall.  So, the sweetness wears off of Chief pretty fast.  He likes to get what he wants, when he wants it.  Just ask Cowgirl Slim about that!  So, no, the magical thing wasn't Chief, cute as he was at the moment.

While looking down the length of the barns at Chief, my eyes fell on the property ahead of me.  I looked across my property and on to my neighbor's pasture next door.  It was the fog. 

The fog was rising gently from the ground up about four or five feet.  My neighbor's horses were at my fence as usual.  They are small horses, so I could see less of them.  Usually, with my larger horses, the fog hits them about shoulder level when it's the way it was this morning.

Shoulder level in the fog, my horses look as though they are floating on the fog.  I can't see their feet.  It only happens like this in the spring and fall. 

This phenomena, for lack of a better word, happens in those seasons because the ground is just warm enough and the air is just cool enough to make it happen.  In the winter, the ground is still warmer than the air.  But, the air is so cold, instead of this magical looking fog, you get a thick fog that goes all the way to the sky, or so it seems.

In the winter, sometimes I can't even see the horses outside in this thick winter fog.  When I can see them,  they look mythical.  It's as if they aren't real.  As if it's a myth they are even there.

But, they are there.  In that winter fog, they can be seen so faintly through it.  It's not until later in the morning when the fog lifts from the warmth of the sun that you can see the horses clearly.  But, I knew they were there all along.

I've never taken a picture of these magical, mythical moments.  But, perhaps I should.  The pace is often fast around here in the morning getting everything ready for the day.  I wasn't moving fast this morning because I'm still sick and confined inside.  So, I can't blame my pace for not taking a picture this time.

I'll have to remember to do it soon.  Summer is coming.  This phenomena doesn't happen in the summer.  The air and the ground are both too warm to allow these magical, mythical moments then.

This is something I tell people when they ask me what I notice now in my new life on the farm.  They ask me what I hadn't anticipated to be important, yet found out otherwise.  I always tell them the weather is so much more important to me than when I had a regular office job.  It effects schedule, what I wear, my horses' health, the lessons I teach, everything.

The weather even effects these moments I've been telling you about today.  And, the weather will change these moments soon.  These foggy moments will be traded in for other miracles of nature only present in the summer, like the sunflowers that will be there between the barns standing tall in the garden.  I'll have to take a picture of those, too.

Have a wonderful day and thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Good Thursday morning to you!  Yesterday was my first go at my normal schedule after being sick for several days.  It wore me out.  You know how that happens, right?

So, Bart and I ended-up having take out Thai last night for our anniversary and watching an old movie.  And, yes, I bought to say "thank you" for all he's been doing around the farm lately.  Our date may not have been filled with the passion and anticipation of our first date, but it was lovely all the same.

I am in love with a really fine man.  Thank you for being in my life, honey.  Spring is known for new life, fresh starts, and spring romances, after all.

Speaking of spring, it seems to be finally upon us in all of its glory and the weather seems more stable for the moment.  The azaleas and dogwoods are blooming in my yard at the house in town.  Here on the farm, we don't have those flowering trees and shrubs, but there are other definite signs.  Farm life begins to shift a bit each season and the changes that come with spring are here.

In the spring and summer, my neighbors move their three horses back to the pasture next door with all of it's tall green grass. These are the same horses from February's "I Can't Make These Things Up."  If you didn't read that one, go back and have a good laugh.

Those horses always hang around at my fence line looking like they'd rather be here than there.  I can't blame them.  They don't get a lot of attention.  I'm sure my horses look like they are having a lot more fun.  You know the saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."

The fly predators have arrived, too.  Another sign of spring.  Fly predators are little bugs that eat fly larvae, but otherwise aren't harmful or a nuisance to humans or animals.  I order them by the season.  They are shipped to me each month still in their eggs in a pouch with shavings.  As they begin to hatch, we put them out on fresh manure.

Why?  It's a natural, non-chemical way to prevent flies. Flies can be a huge problem on any kind of farm with animals.  I pride myself on how few flies we have here.  The fly predators are a big part of that "fly prevention program."  Yes, really, a horse farm has to have such a program.  And, yes, it is odd the accomplishments I've become "proud" of at the farm--fly prevention, who knew?

It's time to order the "fly string" from Mr. Sticky, too.  It goes inconspicuously around the top of the stalls in the barn. It winds up on spools on either end.  So, when it's "full" we just crank around more clean Mr. Sticky String.  It is also a non-chemical way to have "fly control."  I do think the name of the company is funny, though.  Mr. Sticky.  Sounds like a rib joint or a sticky bun maker!

Of course, we're still selling sh*t for people's gardens.  The manure pile is about two-thirds gone.  A lot of that I've given to two of our "special" manure clients.  One is Doc, my small animal vet.  The other is a professor from the Bible College who has been particularly good to my herd of little Christians.  He's putting in his own vineyard.  Not your typical conservative Bible College professor!

Why give it away if I can sell it?  Well, I do sell it.  But, by the end of the winter, the manure pile is huge!  No one is gardening in the winter.  The average horse produces 50 lbs of waste per day.  Multiply that times my eight.  And, you get 400 lbs of waste a day here.  That makes for a big pile after four of five months of none of it leaving for someone's garden!  Good thing it doesn't stink!

So, as I told you before, there are a few special people who can have all the free manure they want.  But, they are very special and few and far between.  My farm nun, my good ol' boy farmer friend, the professor, and Doc.  That's it for the freebies.  Otherwise, that manure money goes right in the Cowgirl Domino Fund.

Of course, we're getting more clients making appointments to ride in the beautiful weather.  I'm always thankful for new clients.  In this economy and always, a new client is something special.  It's my chance to pay-it-forward and pass on what others have taught me about horses.

It's my chance to give them the opportunity to fall in love with horses the way I did as a child.  Born a horse person or not, if no one ever gave me the opportunity to be with horses, that internal horse person spark would have never caught fire.  They won't all fall for horses like Cowgirl Slim or I did. But, I always get excited that maybe, they will.

So, I'm off to make new clients packets for orientations to come while Rose is planting our vegetable garden. I always have one person on staff who is really into gardening.  So, that person is put in charge of it for the spring, summer, and fall.

Just like the rest of the community, spring begins our gardening season, too.  And, I guess, in a way, I'm also sowing seeds.  In my teaching, I'm always sowing the seeds of understanding and loving horses.  It will be fun to see where they take root.  You never know.  You just never know who is going to fall in love with these beautiful creatures.

Have a lovely Thursday where ever you are.  I hope spring is starting to peak out in your neighborhood, too.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Babe!

Good Wednesday morning to you!  I'm finally back at the computer after being held captive on the couch for more than a few days.  Aren't you glad I had the Blackberry?  The last two days' stories were done completely via Blackberry.  What I'll do for my audience, even if I'm sick!

So, today is an auspicious anniversary.  Today is the third anniversary of my first date with Bart.  Why is that auspicious?  Well, three years is the longest relationship either of us has had outside of marriage.  We were each married about 20 years.

Maybe having a three year non-married relationship is a good thing?  After the divorces we each had, maybe it's at least a sign that we still believe relationships are possible?  I will say, I'm a lot happier three years into this relationship than I was three years into my marriage.  Geez, why'd I hang around that loser for another billion years?  I'm sorry another 15 only seems like a billion.

People always ask how Bart and I met.  I assume it's because of the age difference and thus, no one thinks we have anything in common.  I always say it was through mutual friends.  We know several people in common.  My cousin-in-law worked with Bart.  Several of my riding students parents or grandparents worked with Bart, too.  Suffices to say, someone out there thought we'd get along.

We talked first via IM after a few emails.  This is where I thought it would end.  I thought he was quite handsome from his pictures but, I thought he'd think I was wackadoo.

Being a horse farmer only sounds romantic.  When guys figure out what the job is really about, they are much less enchanted. In fact, when I was dating Harry, he told me he could never live at the farm with me because he didn't want to smell like horses all the time.

I think Harry was exaggerating.  No one has ever told me I smell like a horse.  Besides, what's wrong with that?  I love the smell of horses and a barn.

See, this is why I think most folks think I'm a little loony.  Relax folks, showers and clean clothes are always in order before I leave the farm.  I don't run around smelling like a barnyard, I promise.

When Bart and I were IMing one day, he asked me what kind of animals I had.  I thought, "Oh no, this is it.  When I finish listing off this menagerie, he'll think I'm nuts."  I started my list, which was bigger at the time.  I had more horses, more cats, and another rabbit.  Of course there were Spot, Coffee, and Killer, too.

Then I asked him, "Do you have any pets?"

The list was long and diverse.  That's when I knew, friends.  That's when I knew we'd get along.

He started off with, "Well, right now I just have two dogs.  But, I've had...."  (Yes, the older dog has since passed away.)

And, the list went on and on.  Bart had made a deal with his sons when they were little boys.  They could have any pet they wanted except for a snake.  Sounds good to me!

When he made that deal with them, they lived on a farm in another, very picturesque state.  But, when they moved to suburbia, that didn't stop them.  They actually had a pig living in the back yard of Bart's house.  The house where he lives now--in a subdivision!  His neighbors were a lot more understanding than most subdivision neighbors!

There was also an iguana, a ferret, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs...a slightly diverse assortment.  What surprised me most is the majority of them came to live with Bart's family after they moved off the farm!  The farm was a 200 year old property that Bart fully restored.  Maybe he was too busy working to get too many odd pets then?

Bart tends to withhold information a bit.  He tends to only share with a purpose.  I did not know he had owned a farm until several months into our relationship.  It probably wasn't purposeful withholding.  It was very different and he didn't see how it applied to my kind of farm.

From a maintenance point of view, all farms are pretty similar.  There's tons of maintenance!  And, fortunately, Bart knows how to do it!  You've already heard about how he taught me to drive my own tractor.

Bart enjoys farm life.  He loves all kinds of animals.  He has a thirst for learning.  He doesn't believe he knows it all.  He doesn't rush in with my animals before I've talked him through their handling.  That is a huge plus!

Most men rush in.  They want to show me they "know."  They want to be "in charge."  Well, that doesn't really work around here, folks.  Back away from the animals!

People who work with animals, any kind of animals really, know there's a certain way to handle them.  They understand that each animal has a personality.  They understand what you need to do to stay safe around them.

Rushing in to grab an animal is really not the right thing to do.  Bart understood this from the beginning.  This actually makes him much more helpful on the farm. When I said this to another old engineer, he nodded, knowingly, as if to say, "Yes, of course that makes him more helpful."

Bart isn't always rushing into a situation he doesn't understand to "help."  Those kind of people, I'm always trying to save from themselves.  That kind of behavior around animals will get you killed.

When Bart and I have talked about this "positive aspect" of his personality, he says, "Well, what do I know about horses? Why would I just go in there with them?"

That's also an old engineer for you.  They are calm, observing, measuring, collecting information.  Old engineers don't rush in.  Younger engineers, well, let's say from my experience around the farm, they are a lot more likely to be stupid and overwhelmed with testosterone.

I've had a couple of them almost get in trouble with either the dogs or the horses or both from rushing towards them to show me what they "know."  One of Dod's favorite stories is the time a young engineer kept coming towards Spot.  It was the first time this guy had been here.  Spot was in front of me "guarding" and barking ferociously.

I kept telling the fella to stop and wait for me to put Spot inside.  He kept coming.  I said Spot would bite him if he got closer.  Stop.  He told me it would be fine.  Gee, I love it when people who've never seen my animals "tell" me about them.

Here's the part Dod loves.  I said, "Let's not test your theory."  And, scooted Spot inside.

Bart would never do something like that.  Maybe it's the engineer in him.  Maybe it's all the animals he's owned.

Maybe it's that he was a foster home for one of the local animal rescue organizations.  Fostering abused and neglected animals will teach you something.  They are a different sort.  You definitely don't rush with them.

See, you love him more now, don't you?  Rescued animal foster dad.  He's not all slide rules and measurements, folks.  He's not only very handsome under his "Elmer Fudd" wear, he's also pretty darn sweet.  Ok, I can almost see him turning 18 shades of red from his desk at work...which is several miles from here.

I can go on and on about the "magic" that makes our relationship work, but the animals play a huge part.  I simply cannot be involved with a man who is afraid of or allergic to animals.

I also can't be involved with a man who expects there to be some division between my work and my life.  The farm is my life.  How can that stop for me to have dinner on the table by six?

Bart gets all of that.  If he didn't have a basic understanding of farms and animals, it would have never lasted this long.  Heck, it wouldn't have lasted three months, much less three years.

My hope tonight is that we get to go out to dinner.  I think I'll buy tonight.  Why?  It's our anniversary so he should buy?

No, I've been sick since Friday.  Sick, as in, I can't move around too much or I'll pass out.  That doesn't work out well on the farm.  And, the staff has to go home eventually.  So, Bart has pinch hit for me around the farm.  He did evening chores for me last night, in fact.

Remember, Bart and I aren't married.  We don't live together.  He gets no money out of this farm.  He has no motivation to do all of this thankless labor for me.

He told me from very early in our relationship, "I'll show you how I feel with these," and held up his hands.  He shows love by doing.  He shows love by fixing, by helping.  Bart does not show love through diamonds, gold, or other fancy gifts.  He doesn't show love through words.  He shows love through action.

And, he'd be squirming in his chair to read all of this.  You know he hates to be the subject of a blog. Too bad.  Besides, he won't know if I don't tell him he was today's topic.

I'll make it up to him by buying dinner.I only hope I'm feeling well enough tonight to actually go to dinner.  Well, I'm sitting up at the computer today, so that's a good sign!

Thanks for reading folks.  This may not have been one of my wittiest entries. Like me and Bart, it may not always be quick and witty, but it works.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Damn Dog! Pip Update

Good Tuesday morning, everyone! Just a brief update to let you know that Pip is still with us. Damn involuntary reflexes of mine! But, you'd have missed the stories if he died, I bet.

People still tell me they miss my daily Mindy stories on Facebook. That's how I coped with Mindy's mishaps. I'd put a funny spin on them, which wasn't hard at all, and post it to my Facebook status. My friends who reveled in stories of Mindy's mishaps and my near insanity from it all are the ones who poked and prodded me til I did this blog.

Those people still tell me they miss hearing about Mindy.
I offered to pack her up and send her to them. But, I didn't get any takers.

Seems to be the same with Pip. They think the stories are funny but no one wants to dog sit him for the weekend. I can't say that I blame them.

But, he's up. He's staggering. He's eating. He's decided he likes to eat in the laundry room only now. Wouldn't eat in the kitchen when Bart tried to feed him in there.

Good, maybe he'll take up 24 hour residence in the laundry room. Then, I can sleep through the night at Bart's! I haven't been to visit the boys yet, but I'm sure I'll be over there soon enough.

Maybe I'll buy into Bart's argument not to "force" Pip to do anything next time he tries to keel over?

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

Good Monday morning everyone. I have appointments all day today. So much for a day off!

Yesterday, while I thought I was going to be relaxing on my Sunday off, Pip had other plans for me. Well, in all fairness, he probably didn't actually know what was happening. Everyone remembers Pip, right?

He's the most aggravating dog in the world, remember? Has so much wrong with him he ought to be in a museum of medical misfits? That's Bart's dog, alright!

Among Pip's many malfunctions, besides his personality, is diabetes. It can't be normal diabetes though. No matter how consistent Bart is, the dog just swings from high blood sugar to low blood sugar. He was about to start singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" yesterday. For those who aren't familiar with that ol' spiritual, it's about a chariot swinging low to take you to Heaven.

When Bart brought Pip over Saturday night, he said Pip had not been well all day. He described symptoms of high blood sugar. Pip had been restless, peeing everywhere, even peeing inside when Bart had been letting him out every two minutes. Gee I'm glad I missed that. I swear, I'll never marry Bart or live with him til Pip dies. And, I almost had my chance and I blew it!

By the time they got to my house, Pip had collapsed and was sound asleep. Whew! I was happy. Now, I could sleep through the night!

Pip wanders all night making noise and going outside, remember? He keeps me awake. I can't function without sleep. That's another reason Bart and I can't get married til this dog kicks the bucket. I would be psychotic from lack of REM sleep.

So, I didn't care if he was sick or tired or what was making the little beast sleep. I was just happy he was asleep. Bart put him in the bathroom overnight in case he whizzed in his sleep--which has actually happened before. Little pisser...literally!

By morning, the dog wasn't moving--at all. I couldn't really even see him breathing. He's a Boston Terrier with that pug nose. I can always hear him breathing, whether I want to or not. That dog breathes so loud, that even his breathing keeps me awake. That's loud snarfling breathing, friends.

I asked Bart if Pip had been moving at all that morning. He said,"Yes, I took him out at six." So, heck, it was still early, I went back to bed and didn't worry about it. I asked the obligatory question.

By 11:00 a.m., after we had Bart's homemade waffles for breakfast, Pip hadn't made any discernible noise from his post in the bathroom. That dog always smells food.

I suggested Bart might check on him. That's when I started becoming my own worst enemy.

He came back with Pip in his arms only semi-conscience. His eyes were glassy little slits. He just flopped over when Bart put him down.

I'd been feeding Spot treats to occupy him til I fed him breakfast. They were right there. So, I literally shoved one in Pip's mouth. Pip didn't stir. Then, he spit it out. Must have been an involuntary reaction.

That dog is a treat whore. He never spits out a treat, ever. Damn, something was really wrong with the beast.

Here's my next stupid move, I told Bart Pip was really sick. I knew what to do, too. I've discussed Pip with Doc many times hoping for guidance.

Bart insists on using his own vet, who in my opinion, has no idea what he's doing with Pip, the medical misfit. Doc's explanations make more sense. Doc also gave me some written information on managing dog diabetes. At this semi-conscience stage of hypoglycemia, you're suppose to give the dog pancake syrup. I couldn't remember exactly how much, so I thought I'd start small.

Bart is a man. Men don't know what to do in these situations. He started off with diet syrup on a spoon. First off, you need the real thing, not diet syrup. Second of all, the dog is semi-conscience. He won't be licking anything off a spoon.

I told Bart we had to pry his mouth open and just squirt the syrup in there. I'm being very calm. It's just that I'm very logical. You can't get syrup in a semi-conscience dog's mouth any other way.

Bart held him and pried his mouth open a little. Not enough. I took one hand and pulled his mouth open by the roof and squirted syrup in with the other. Pip smacked his lips.

Ok, Doc says wait 15 minutes and see what happens. If he doesn't improve, Doc's written instructions said to give him another shot of syrup.

You know what happened next? Pip had a seizure like I've never seen, and I've seen dog seizures. He opened his eyes wide, looked like he was stretching out on his side; kind'a rolled on his back a little; and whizzed everywhere. He was like a water spout! He whizzed straight up, well, actually at slight angle.

He was on a very expensive rug on loan to me from my parents at the time of this whizzing. Great! It's a five thousand dollar rug with a half gallon of dog pee on it now. I was not feeling sympathetic. Why'd I keep helping the beast then?

I grabbed him up by the scruff of his neck and started walking with him pointed straight forward and out the back door. I didn't know where he'd whiz next. It wasn't going to be on me. I'd kill him then. No, I wouldn't. Turns out I have some kind of involuntary reflex that makes me save animals I don't even like.

Doc's instructions say if the dog doesn't improve after the syrup or has a seizure, get him to immediate medical attention. This is gonna sound harsh folks, but Pip is so old and so sickly; immediate medical attention isn't going to do a thing but temporarily prolong the inevitable. All Bart would get from the emergency vet is a big bill.

Pip would be sick again in a week. Doc thinks Pip has some sort of endocrine tumor. It's the only explanation to what's wrong with him and why he never stabilizes--no matter how consistent Bart is with his food and meds.

The Emergency Vet hospital wasn't necessary. But somehow, I couldn't just let this little holy terror keel over, either. I don't know what was wrong with me. I have a compulsive need to do the right thing.

I brought him back in and said we needed to give him more syrup. Bart took him and the syrup back to the bathroom. Oh, Bart had cleaned-up the mess while I was outside with Pip. Good, I was going to resent cleaning it up, seizure or not. I am not a member of the Pip Fan Club.

I gave it a minute and went back there. "Did you give him more?" I asked.

"No, he doesn't like having his mouth pried open."

I thought to myself, "He's semi-conscience, had a seizure and is about to keel over (Doc told me that part, that's why the dash to the vet is advised in the written instructions). What else are you going to do?" But I didn't say it.

There's no point in arguing with Bart. It's why we argue so rarely. He digs in if you argue with him. I always have to find a more subtle, yet convincing way.

But, why'd I want to convince him of anything now? I do not like that dog. I could shut-up; go watch tv; and let nature take it's course. I gave the proper information. Why was I being compelled to save this little beast? I can't stand him most of the time.

So, I went back to the kitchen and poured juice in a soup mug. I took that back to Bart and Pip. Pip wouldn't drink out of the soup mug, of course.

Bart suggested a saucer. I brought back the top of a cookie tin.

"The only saucers I have are Wedgewood. We're not using the good china. I don't care how sick he is." Apparently there are limits to my beast-saving compulsions. And, apparently, that limit is right in front of the china cabinet. Good. I was scaring myself with these involuntary reflexes to save the beast.

Pip drank the juice out of the lid. He didn't drink enough though. I suggested forcing the syrup down him again.

Bart vetoed forcing Pip to do anything. See, this is why Pip is so aggravating. Bart doesn't make him do anything he doesn't want to do. No training. No requirements. Life is Pip's Burger King and he can have it his way.

Bart was strict with his kids, but not with his dog. I asked Doc about that, too. He says that's how guys are.

He says women are consistent across species, though. Good to know, and obvious in my behavior at the farm. That's why my students and my animals are well behaved. I'm cross-species consistent.

Back to Pip not being forced to ingest syrup...

Fine. I thought I'd just go watch tv. Wrong. I couldn't stay gone for long. What was wrong with me?!

I went back. "Do you have one of his insulin syringes? You can take the needle off and squirt it in his mouth without forcing it open." Arrrrgh! I am my own worst enemy here.

Let Bart have his way! Let Pip drift into a coma, die, and wake-up in Milkbone Land! What are you doing Cowgirl Domino? You can't stand this dog.

Maybe God is trying to eliminate one of your aggravations? Leave it alone. No, I can't.

He gives me the syringe. I get the needle off and take it back to him. At least then, I can stop. Except, I can't.

I look it up on the Internet to see how much. Then, I look-up how many milliliters are in a tablespoon. I tell Bart how much to give him.

Even I can't believe myself. I'm telling Bart how to save a dog I don't even like. I'm finding a more subtle way to convince him when he doesn't want to force the little pre-comatose beast to do anything. I must be nuts after all!

Forget eccentric. I've moved on to bat shit crazy! In the very least, self-defeating.

I tell Bart about setting the timer for 15 minutes and then checking responsiveness. This goes on a while. Bart keeps giving the beast more syrup.

Little to no improvement. We discuss the emergency vet very cursory.

I agree. No need for the big bill that won't change anything in the foreseeable future. Finally, some reason out of me besides, "I'm not using Wedgewood china on him."

Eventually, Bart and Pip went home. He called me a few hours later to say he wasn't coming back for dinner. Pip wasn't any better.

In fact, he left him to go to the store briefly.When he returned, he was non-responsive again. I suggested more syrup. It met with the "I don't want to force him" argument again. It's a sick dog! Force him, dadgumit. But, I just thought it. No use to argue.

Maybe Bart is subconsciously ready for the dog to die? My mother and Elaine have suggested the same thing in the past few months. Pip keeps getting worse. Bart keeps taking him to his vet with no results.

He refuses to take him to Doc, the best vet in the state. He's attached to his vet. Maybe they are right?

But, my reflexes kicked in again. I did a decision making tree, coaching Bart along. I'll convince him with logic! Bart loves logic--most of the time.

Obviously, I took one too many logic courses in undergrad. I even exempted the final exam. Seriously. I excepted a college-level logic exam in a class taught by a tenured, full professor.

Bart finally says, "Well, maybe I'll give him some more syrup." Maybe he just wanted me to shut-up?

I called him two hours later to see how it was going. He did give the beast more syrup. But, he didn't want to force him.

I'm screaming inside, "He's a damn dog! He's sick! Force his damn mouth open!" I was nicer in reality. I think I'm beginning to see how vets feel on a regular basis.

Bart's solution? He took the needle off of a food injector and gave it to him that way. My way is so much easier. But, Bart is stubborn.

Pip had staggered to his bowl and actually ate some canned food after the syrup kicked in. He still looked bad, though, Bart said. Maybe he'd just put him in the laundry room for the night.

My reflexes were worn out. I just said,"Ok."

Sometimes, I'm my own worst enemy. Of course, I did say,"Don't give him more insulin if he still looks bad after eating. It'll bring his blood sugar down and crash him again. Wait til he starts acting more normal."
See, my own worst enemy.

I do think Pip has probably been having seizures all along; now that I saw one. A few months ago, I noticed Pip's white swath on his chest was yellow.

He looked like he'd been sleeping in his pee. I mentioned it to Bart back then.

"Well, sometimes the towels I put on the floor for him in the laundry room are wet."

Pip pees in the laundry room every day. I didn't think anything about it then. Now, I think Pip has probably been seizing out in the laundry room while Bart is at work. Just laying on his back whizzing in the air...and all over that white swath on his chest.

I mentioned it to Bart on the phone Sunday night. He agreed, but was unimpressed with my theory. Pip's health is so unstable anyway. I guess nothing surprises Bart at this point.

Well, maybe Pip will die in his sleep in the laundry room? Maybe he'll wake-up in the morning just as aggravating as ever? Who knows?

I'm going to work on overcoming my compulsive drive to do the right thing. I wonder if that will help with my involuntary reflexes to save Pip again? I'll probably fail at both! I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

Have a good day folks. I'll keep you posted on that little beast, Pip.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Good Sunday morning to you, folks.  It's my Sunday off, so I'm enjoying relaxing today while Cowgirl Slim and her mom take care of the farm for me.  It's so nice to have people I can count on to take care of things the way I want it done.  So nice.  Thanks ladies!

I want you to know, I almost titled today's post as, "How Many People Do I Want to Hack Off Today?"  I'm aware if people only read part of it, well, I'm going to have a lot less friends on Facebook!

So, read it all the way through whether you  know me personally or not.  I think you may begin to understand folks better.  Just thinking through this has certainly helped me see the light on some previously misunderstood issues.

So today, I want to tell you about what I've observed on the farm regarding how seriously people take life.  The farm attracts a virtual microcosm of American society.  Older, younger, male, female, retirees, students, working people, stay at home moms, home schoolers, public schoolers, private're getting the picture, right?

From these observations at the farm and among my friends and family, I've decided there must be stages of taking life seriously.  No one tells you this.  For me, it's still a theory in development.

My theory thus far tells me that people go in and out of how seriously they take their lives.  It would be one of those things that would be nice to know from the beginning.  You know, it would better prepare us to deal with people at their stage of seriousness.  I, for one, wouldn't make so many missteps with folks at a certain stage.  I'll get to it. 

This is how I see it so far in my developing theory:

Elementary school aged kids  are pretty present focused.  They aren't serious about the larger issues in life.  They aren't serious about anyone's political or religious views.  Kids that age are happy or unhappy based on what's going on in the moment.  Beyond that, they don't take life too seriously.

As kids age into teens, they get really serious about certain things in life--friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, appearance, maybe getting into college.  Other things, teens don't give a rip about.  They don't take too seriously how adults see them--much to the adults' disgruntlement.  They aren't serious about politics yet, for the most part.  And, probably only a few of them are deeply serious about issues like career, marriage, and religion.

As teens become young adults, like the college and graduated students who work for me, they start to become very serious...about everything.  I don't think this is restricted to my herd of little Christians.  I've seen it in many people this age.

I know in my early 20s I was desperately serious about everything.  I'm told I was very "intense."  I'm not even going to give you examples here, because really, those early 20s folks are serious about everything you can image.  Even going out to party, very serious endeavor. Recycling. You name it. All, very serious stuff.

The next stage in "seriousness" that I see seems to be a very long phase.  It seems to run from age 25-45.  In this phase of life, people tend to get married, have kids, and really "buckle down."  They begin to "change their perspective on life."  They get deeply serious, but in a different way than the young 20s group.

I see all of these folks at the farm.  All of these age groups come in for lessons or with their children for lessons.  And, I see the range of behavior, too.  Some, not serious about life at all up to the folks who are so serious about it all I worry that their heads might explode.

I know, you're thinking I skipped an age group.  No, I didn't.  I'm just separating them from the first groupings.  Why?  Because folks over 50, and especially over 60, don't take much seriously at all in my experience.  It's a really weird transition.

This older age group, it's like they got burned out on "serious" in the 25-45 bout of it.  They got so tired of making sure their kids, careers, and marriages turned out right; it just burned out their "seriousness sector" in the brain.

This is my theory because in that 25-45 time period, that is some intense seriousness about important stuff.  I'm really surprised we don't see more spontaneous combustion in people in that age range.  Holy moly.  They are serious--meanwhile being kept company by their children who aren't serious at all.  That must be maddening.

Maybe that's what happens?  Maybe all that hanging with their kids who refuse to take the same things seriously, or refuse to be serious at all, mucks up their "serious sector"?  Maybe that's what does it?

Maybe that's why grandparents and grandchildren are on the same team?  Maybe that's why parents are so irritated with their parents when, as grandparents, they suddenly break all the rules with the grandkids?!  Holy cow!  I might be on to something here!

Think about it.  Grandparent-age people just really don't get upset about much.  Bart is forever saying, "Well, I can't do anything about it.  Why worry about it?"  That kind'a freaks me out sometimes.  I mean, you gotta at least think about some of it, don't you?

My mother is the same way.  She'll come to help out at the farm on a Saturday and steam will be coming out of my ears because an employee has royally mucked up.  Mom is like, "Well, don't worry about it.  Whatever.  I think I'll plant daisies in the garden today."  Huh?  Before she retired, she would get steamed too when one of her employees royally mucked up.  I saw it with my own eyes.  I didn't imagine it.

Maybe my brother, Jack, broke her of it?  He must have broken my dad of it, too.  I'm a good bit older than Jack.  I must have been off at college when it happened.

Dad was a previously very serious person.  He'd blacklist people from his life if they irritated him enough.  Now, "Well, maybe that governor who was screwing around on his wife...well, maybe he really just fell in love with that other woman and he didn't mean to."  What?!  That one almost made me scream at him.  And, I've never screamed at my father.

Dad has gone from being fairly harshly judgmental of people to this kind'a stuff.  Mr. Puritan has mellowed.  Definitely.

So, why do I think it was Jack's fault and not mine? You mean aside from the fact Jack spent years telling me I didn't break our parents in properly? Well, I was really into pleasing my parents. I didn't want them to be unhappy. I was one of the few kids in the world who, in middle school and high school, was deeply involved in my church and seriously planning my career.  I was a serious child. Maybe I was getting some of it out of the way upfront?

Jack, however, was not a serious child.  He's a pretty serious adult now, but that's 'cause he's smack dab in the middle of that 25-45 stage.  And, he's about to have his first child...a girl.  That'll serious most men up.

But until fairly recently, the only thing Jack was serious about was rule breaking, limit pushing, and generally marching to the beat of his own drummer.  I mean since he was in "footy" pajamas as a tiny little boy he was doing his own thing.

Jack was pretty much going to do as he pleased and take none of it seriously.  That had to be what broke my parents!  That must be what breaks most parents! That's why they are such goofy grandparents all of a sudden!

It's 20 years of intense seriousness about this kid and making his life go "right" and that little bugger doesn't get it.  He's off playing in mud puddles.

"What!  I just paid $400 for those orthopedic shoes to make your feet right!  And, how do you repay your old dad?  Well, you go play in a mud puddle in them.  Do you think money grows on trees?!"  Can't you just hear your own parents saying it, or worse, yourself?

That must be what shorts out the "serious sector" in the 50+ brain!  The brain just can't take it anymore.  That explains so much!  Like when my previously dapper grandfather started wearing Hawaiian shirts, plaid pants, and sandals with socks when he retired.  That's it!  It's gotta be!

No wonder the grandparents enjoy seeing their grandkids ride horses so much.  They aren't figuring out his grade point average and the ratio to college scholarship money on their smartphone during the lesson!  That's the parents!  I'm starting to see the light, here!

Now, you ask, "I thought you said you get into trouble with one particular bunch of these people?"  Well, I confess, I do.  I get accused of not being serious enough periodically.  Actually, it comes out, "Well, you just don't understand.  You don't have kids."  It means the same thing.

Even though I'm still in the deeply serious 25-45 range, I don't have kids.  I don't have to worry about report cards, ADHD, soccer practice, and saving for college.  I elected to skip all of that.

And, folks think because I skipped that part of adulthood, that I don't get it.  They must think I skipped straight to grandparent level of seriousness--rather non-seriousness.  I'm imagining my friends with kids reading this saying, "Uh-huh.  You got it Cowgirl Domino.  You don't understand because you don't have kids.  Just like we don't understand the way you live.  Drinking wine and going to baseballs games in the middle of the week. Not to mention not marrying your boyfriend."

I am anticipating some angry harrumphs from my friends.  I'm thinking of emails, text messages, and my phone ringing.  So, hear me out people.  Don't un-friend me on Facebook just yet.

Of course I don't take the same things seriously as people in this 25-45 age group.  How could I?  How do I take saving for college and ADHD seriously when I don't have anyone in my life for whom those are issues?  I know your heads are about to explode thinking about all that.  I get it.  I'm not that obtuse.  But, here's the kicker...

I am just as serious about things as other people in their 25-45 "deep serious stage."  It's just that my head is about to explode over running a business that will determine if I retire comfortably or in a homeless shelter.  I don't have a 401-K with employer matched contributions.  I'm it.

I'm the be all and end all of what happens to me in the future.  There's no pension program. There's no vesting schedule.  I'm it and it's an all cash plan.

It's an all cash that I earn plan, too. There's no one else helping plan for my retirement.  No spouse to share that burden.   How's that for some head exploding stuff?  Kind'a scary huh?  Makes your head start to pulsate a little, doesn't it?

Wanna be more scared?  There's no one morally obligated to take care of me when I'm old or sick.  Nope, that's the flip side to not having kids.  That's the flip side to choosing not to get married again.  That's the flip slid to this "carefree" life you see me leading. This life of "no responsibility" you see me leading.

Seriously, someone who I love dearly told me that one day.  "You don't have any responsibilities." I was somewhere between flipping my lid and laughing my a$$ off on that one.

You gotta be kidding me right?  I'm simply, completely and totally responsible for me forever and ever, amen.  No help will be arriving on the next train.  It's just gonna be me.

I'm leaving off my responsibility for my employees, my animals, and my parents as they age.  I don't think Jack and Mary will be coming back from their foreign country to take my parents to doctor's visits when the time comes.  I don't think Jack and Mary will be loading their pill minders for them.

I don't mean it in a bad way.  It's ok.  Jack and Mary are happy where they are.  I'm happy for them.  But, I realize as our parents' age, they will become mostly my responsibility. It's ok.  I was their responsibility.  It's gonna be payback time one day, that's all.

Again, I'm not mentioning my animals and employees.  That just makes people in the 25-45 serious stage mad.  I know when not to make them mad.  I know when to keep my mouth shut.  In reality folks, I'm solely responsible for them, too.

In a whisper, imagine me saying to you, "Shh...don't make my friends and clients mad at me.  But, if I don't deliver on the caretaking and money-making, my animals are off to the auction."  I know it's not the same as auctioning off your kids, but it's pretty darn close.

How would you like to know your family dog, Fido, is going to the county pound to be euthanized if you can't buy his dog food?  Well, multiply that times 16, friends.  That's how many animals of mine could....well, I can't even say it...if I don't make money here.

Pressure.  Pressure.  Pressure.  See, I'm overly serious, just like the rest of the folks in my "seriousness bracket."  I'm just serious about other stuff.  And, that other stuff allows me to drink wine at night and go to baseball games mid-week.  My stuff doesn't have to go to bed on time and be alert at all possible moments.  That's the difference.

Now, you know what that next grouping ahead of me would say?  "Why worry about something you can't control?  Just do your best.  Don't worry about it."  Or, "Oh, it'll all work out.  Plant some daisies."  You know what I mean.

Think of those 50+ folks in your life.  Or, if you're one of them; you know what you say, don't you?  You know how those 25-45s bristle at you, too, don't you?

So, I guess in all fairness, I am some combination of the 25-45s and the 50+s.  I do have stuff that weighs me down and overly occupies my mind.  I just don't have to go to a teacher's conference at school about it's behavior and save for college.

I get to be like the 50+s and say, "Aw, what the heck.  I think I'll drink some wine tonight.  Or, I'll go to a ballgame.  Spot and the gang will be ok home alone."

See, that's where I'm different because I don't have kids. But, I like your kids, though.  Really I do.  I'm just glad they go home with you so I can live this "wild, carefree life" you think I've got going here.  Oh yeah, it's wild and carefree let me tell you.  Uh-huh.  Yep.  Life of a single cowgirl.  Wild and free.

I'm laughing my a$$ off right now, because otherwise, I might blow my cool.  I don't like blowing my cool.  That's why I look so laid back.  Teehee, a-teeheehee.  Wild and free.  Yeah, right!  It just looks that way, I promise.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you didn't take this too seriously--even if you know I'm talking about YOU.  Those of you who think I mean you...well, I do love you.  Really.  I do.  Seriously. Smile.  Have a nice Sunday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Ruin an Interview

Happy Saturday morning to you!  As usual, I'm teaching lessons and you are hopefully relaxing with your coffee.  Dod and Cowgirl Slim are here to help me through.  I hope you have such great helpers in your life.

Today I am going to tell you a story about someone I interviewed who would not have been a great helper.  He is Dod's cousin-in-law.  Dod gave him a good recommendation, except, "He's a little flighty."

I reminded Dod I had just suffered through two years of Mindy's flightiness.  I didn't think I could do more.  He said, "No, not like that."  I took his word for it and scheduled the interview.

Let me tell you, Dod's cousin-in-law, Moses, was flighty exactly like Mindy.  It was like Mindy was in male form and coming for her interview all over again.  But this time, the interview was actually worse.  Remember, I was fool enough to hire Mindy.

Mindy was very late for her interview.  As time went on, I promised myself I'd never hire someone who was very late for an interview again.  Guess what? Moses called maybe 20 minutes before his interview to say he'd be about 20 minutes late.  He was 30 minutes late.

When he came in, he told me he was sorry he was late.  He said he had run into someone.  His car was all bashed-up.  I assumed he meant he literally ran into someone.  I thought he had a fender bender.

No, it came out later in the interview that he meant he ran into someone in the hallway at school.  He wanted to talk to that person.  It was nothing urgent.  He just wanted to chat with them.

Ok, this is not what you tell an interviewer.  It makes a very bad impression.  But, Moses wasn't finished making a bad impression.  Oh no, not yet.

As he chatted on through the interview in a fairly meandering way, he mentioned he has back trouble.  I said this job involves lifting items up to 70 lbs fairly often.  Square bales of hay weigh 70 lbs.  Bag of feed weigh 50 lbs.  The corral panels weigh 50 lbs.  I asked him if this would be a problem.  Well, he said, he wasn't sure.  Another strike.

Folks, if you are interviewing for a job that involves manual labor, don't call for the interview if you have a bad back.  They aren't going to hire you.  Why?  Because you are a law suit waiting to happen.  

Then, poor Moses meandered on through his life's story.  I have specific questions that I ask. Those questions pertain to farm work and experience. I have no idea how this interview had gone so off course.

He was trying to make peace with his father.  His girlfriend broke-up with him. His heart was still healing from all of this.  All of that heart break and heart healing makes it hard for him to focus. He wasn't sure if he could commit to anything right now. I'm serious folks, he actually told me almost this exact phrase.

I wanted to say, "Well then why are you wasting my time?  Why did you ask Dod if I was hiring?  Why did you call and ask me for a job?  You are the one who said you can't commit to anything right now...bad back, broken heart, and all."  But, I didn't.  I barely even thought it.

This kid was pitiful.  And, he was 20 years old.  He should know better than to say all of this in an interview.

What I did say was, "Are you in therapy?  Are you seeing someone for counseling?  A minister?  Is there a campus counseling center you can go to?"  I was serious.  I'm a former family therapist. Moses needed professional help in my assessment.

Moses told me he wasn't in any sort of counseling.  He said he was waiting on Jesus to heal him.  I thought, "Moses, that may take a while."  I may have even said that out loud.

I didn't say, but wanted to, "You know Moses, Jesus made therapists for a reason."  Of course, you know, Jesus doesn't show-up in person to work through these issues with you.

I'm not discounting the power of prayer.  I'm not saying Jesus can't change your life.  I'm just saying, when you need to do this kind of detail work so you can function, like in a job interview, that maybe Jesus is pointing you towards a good therapist--especially when the interviewer suggests it. Friends, if the interviewer gently suggests you check out therapy, the interview is not going well at all.

Finally, as the interview wound down, I suggested Moses let his heart and back heal some more.  I suggested he work on his priorities and how they effect his punctuality.  I suggested he really think about if this job is right for him.

I suggested he may want to work as a volunteer for a day.  That way he'd have a better idea about it.  I suggested he call me when Jesus was finished with healing his heart.

I also thanked him for his honesty.  His honesty saved me a lot of trouble.  I could have had another Mindy on staff.  Except it could have been worse.  It could have been Mindy with a bad back and even more emotional problems than the original!

Moses called me a few days later.  He left a message saying he wasn't ready to work yet.  He wasn't ready for any job or any responsibility right now.  He still had healing to do.

I simply told Dod that Moses, "Took himself out of consideration for the job."  I didn't want to violate interviewer-interviewee confidentiality.  I had been a therapist for too long.  And, that interview, let me tell you folks, it felt like I was conducting a therapy session.

You want to know the scary part?  Moses wants to teach Bible in a Christian grade school.  And, his student teaching begins soon.

Remember he didn't want a job with any responsibility? I hope he takes my advice before then.  Otherwise, there are going to be some confused Christian school children.

You really don't want a student teacher who is in desperate need of therapy in charge of your child's Bible studies.  It will cause confusion, I guarantee you. That is, unless he runs into someone he wants to talk to.  Then, he may not make it to class at all.

This is my prayer for Moses, "Dear Lord, please help heal Moses.  Please direct him to a good therapist's office.  And, help him know what to say in an interview from now on.  Don't let him have another interview like this one, Lord.  The poor boy will never find a job. Amen."

Friends, take a few tips from Moses' interview.  Don't say these things to a potential employer.  If you know you aren't physically fit for the job, don't call and ask for an interview.  If you know you aren't mentally ready to work, same thing.  Don't waste the interviewer's time.

So, who did I hire? I hired Phil.  Phil gave a much better interview.  But, then you know how Phil worked out.  If you don't, go back and read, "Phone It In."  Phil isn't here anymore.

But, I found out that Dod's plans to go to Rwanda, instead of Pakistan, will enable him to stay through the summer. Rose wants to stay through the summer, too.  Cowgirl Slim wants to transition from barn baby to paid employee at the end of the summer. Jesus may be looking out for me after all.  Thank you, Jesus!

Uhhh, the people who really know me, now think I've been hanging around the herd of little Christians too long and that I need a vacation.  I don't normally say things like that out loud.  I like to keep my conversations with Jesus between me and Him.  I'm just odd that way.

Have a good Saturday.  Don't ruin you next interview.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ode to Old Engineers

Good Friday morning, everyone!  In my case, it really is a good Friday morning!  Robby left!

He actually vacated Bart's house before the three week mark.  Albeit he stayed five days, but he actually left of his own accord.  He left his air mattress in Bart's previously empty spare bedroom.  That makes me nervous of course.  I'm afraid he's coming back soon.  I'll let you know.

Right now, he's headed towards West Virginia.  He's going to visit another old friend.  Bart said that guy is, "Home now."  I have no idea what that means.  Hope Robby didn't rig the guy's car with some tracking device and now that the car is home, Robby is coming for a visit.  Too bad.  Better him than Bart!

So last week, not only did poor Bart have Robby to contend with and our rained out weekend at the beach, he had another rude awakening.  Bless his heart!  Bart came back to work from our long weekend to find out one of his last old engineer buddies was the end of the week.

I know I have used the word "old" twice already.  Let me clarify.  When these guys have been in engineering a minimum of 40 years, I think that qualifies them as "old engineers."  This is a bit of a tribute to them.

Bart, like all engineers of his generation, learned engineering the old fashioned way.  They learned design drawing on their drafting tables.  They learned to compute with a slide rule.  When computers came around, they learned how to program them to do what they wanted.

These guys hate modern computers.  They hate that the technology "does it for you." That isn't what they wanted in the first place.  They want to "tell" the computer what to do and when to do it, through old style programming.

Old engineers have a love-hate relationship with technology. Technology enables them to build things better, in some ways. It also causes a lot of problems, in other ways.

If you want a problem solver for issues caused by technology, you gotta find an old engineer.  Since these guys learned how to engineer the old fashioned way, they are natural problem solvers.  Why? Because they know how to go back to basics.  They know how to look at the root of a design and figure out the problem from the design level up.  Bart is this kind of old engineer.

Bart uses his engineering skills on my farm nearly every week.  I'm sure you can't imagine what a mechanical engineer, who worked 25 years in the defense industry and 15 years in railroad equipment manufacturing, can possibly find to do on my farm.  Easy.  The man is familiar with all kinds of systems, all kinds of machinery, and can fix anything.   I mean anything!

Bart can fix a faucet, a mister for the horses' stall or paddock, a toilet, a fence, a horse trailer, a flat tire, lawn mower, tractor, build a new ceiling...and on and on and on.  The man can fix stuff.  I sit by in awe and watch.

Comparatively, I can't fix a thing.  The scary thing is, when I was married, I was "the handy one."  Now, I need a picture dictionary to figure out the terms and tools Bart is talking about.  He amazes me.

These old engineers understand design in such minute detail that it makes my head hurt.  I'm a fairly smart cookie.  I don't have ADHD.  Yet, I cannot bear to follow Bart's thoughts through a problem at that level for more than a few seconds.  It just gets to me.  My eyes start to go cross.  It's more minutia than I can effectively deal with.

So, if your brain works in a way that you can understand virtually every moving part on every moving thing you encounter, well, you can fix things buddy.  Now you understand how Bart is able to fix anything on the farm that breaks.

I'm sure he wishes I didn't know that sometimes.  He has an infinite "Honey do" list. I can never break up with him.  Who would know how to fix all of this stuff?  I'm not about to break in another old engineer.  As smart as they are, they can be a handful! No, I've broken in my one.  I'm done.  I'm happy with him.

Now that you know these facts about old engineers, it will not surprise you that the problem solving division at Bart's company was comprised of four old engineers.  There's a boss, who is not an old engineer.  There is an administrative assistant.  And, there were the four old engineers.

The boss farms out the problems, he doesn't solve them. The boss is a good guy, Bart says.  He goes to the meetings.  That's good because old engineers would rather be busy on a piece of equipment than in a meeting.  A meeting is likely their version of Hell on Earth.

This also explains why Bart is not in management.  He would have to sit in meetings.  He'd rather be crawling around on equipment in the shop, problem solving.

Bart's department is called "Methods" which is perfect for such a methodical group of men.  Yes, I said, "men." The only woman in the department is the admin.  Bart has never worked with a female engineer.  He didn't go to school with any female engineering students.  Albeit Bart went to an all male college, so naturally, no women in the engineering program either.

Women in engineering are about as rare as hen's teeth.  You won't find many.  Heck, I only know two female engineers.  One of them went into real estate.  The other is still vaguely in engineering, but doesn't do engineering work, per se, she's more PR now.  So, if you think old engineers are rare, if you find an old female engineer, well you should hold a parade in her honor.

So, Bart being in the "Methods" department, should tell you something about him and the other old engineers.  As I said before they are methodical.  They can figure out any problem you can throw at them.

On the farm methodical means that fixing something I thought was simple, can take a long time.  Why? Because Bart has to do it right.  No quick fixes.  No monkeying it up so it will "make do."  The man does it right. That's how the Methods department works, too. Un-monkey it up and do it right.

So, Bart and the old engineers at his company are a dying breed...literally.  Bart is now the last of those dinosaurs who could fix anything because they had learned engineering the old fashioned way. The guy that retired, my dad hired him straight out of college 44 years ago.

Yeah, my dad was the HR director at that company before Bart's time there.  That's good, because if he had hired Bart, it would have been too weird.  We couldn't have made a relationship work, it would have made the age difference too pronounced.  I couldn't be dating my dad's peer.  Bart feels like my dad is his girlfriend's dad, not his peer.  That's a good thing. Much less complicated.

Anyway, of the four old engineers in Bart's department, one died in the past year or so.  One had a stroke and is on permanent disability.  And, this guy who just retired.  Bart is a lone old engineer now. Imagine the theme song from, "The Lone Ranger" playing and Bart, the lone engineer, with his old slide rule and drafting table.  Lone old engineer.

They've hired some new guys.  They may only have 10 or 20 years engineering experience.  Engineering changed a lot in those intervening years between when Bart was trained and when they were trained.

They don't know how to draw plans by hand.  They don't know how to use a slide rule.  They can't figure out the problems in the same way.  The old guys learned the new stuff.  They did continuing education classes along the way. But the new guys, well, it's hard to teach new guys how to do old engineering.

Bart says they are nice enough people, but they slow down the process.  They can't always figure out the problem.  He ends-up figuring out the problems they can't solve.  It makes his work harder.

Even worse, Bart and the old engineers go out to lunch every Friday.  Now, it's just Bart.  Last Friday, we went to lunch instead.  I told him I know I'm not as sexy as Wayne, but maybe I'll be good company.  That got a laugh out of him.  I never met Wayne, but I've never heard Bart or my dad use the word "sexy" to describe him.

Life changes and it ain't always easy.  Technology evolves and it's not always for the best.  I wonder what companies like Bart's will do when all of the old engineers retire or die?  Who's gonna solve their problems then?  The folks straight out of engineering school? No.

Bart says the new engineers in Engineering can't even get a part number in the right sequence or spell it right.  Then, they don't understand why the computer threw it out.  Or, they design something that can't actually be built.  Well, they only designed it that way because Marketing sold it that way.  But, it doesn't make any difference to the guys in the shop.

The people who actually build the equipment are "the guys in the shop."  They are a motley crew.  Mechanics, welders, heavy equipment guys--men's men in uniforms that have grease on them and dirt under their fingernails.  They like the old engineers.  Those guys call in to the Methods department and say, "You know we can't actually build it this way, right?"

Then, Bart and the old engineers had a project.  They would bridge the gap between Engineering and the guys in the shop.  Whatever that machine was became "their machine."

Bart is very protective of "his machines."  That's why we had to come back early from the beach.  Two of "his machines" were shipping out.  He had to make sure no one had monkeyed them up before they left the plant.

As I've said, they don't build 'em like they used to. They also don't build engineers like they used to.  I can't imagine 22 year old recent grads caring enough about a piece of equipment to cut a long weekend short to see it shipped off safely.  I know my employees wouldn't.  They are good people, the work ethic just isn't the same.  And, I know my herd of little Christians has a much better work ethic than most of the next generation.

I feel sorry for the managers in American manufacturing when the old engineers are gone.  No one will be able to replace them.  We don't make engineers the way we used to in America.  It may be why our industrial  sector has suffered so much.  Industry is a hard place to work.  And, we don't make it any easier.

We don't marvel at old engineers or old welders or all the old guys who made great things that make our lives easier.  We pass them by.  They are old.  They have dirt under their fingernails.  Their shirts have grease on them.  That grease and dirt, is from working for a living--not sitting in an office on a computer.  We would not have become the nation we are without those fellas.

Folks, old engineers and their counter parts "out in the shop" are worth their weight in gold.  Next time you see one, thank him.  If you are in line at McDonald's with him, buy his Coke.  You are probably driving something or using something or waiting on a train to cross and that fella had something to do with it.

I promised you this would be an Ode to Old Engineers.  I admire them.  I admire Bart especially.  I'm lucky to have him.  We are all lucky to have those old engineers.

Good luck Wayne!  Good luck to all of you as you retire.  Fix old sports cars.  Go fishing.  Enjoy your life.  We'll miss you, but we won't be able to replace you.  Thank you for your hard work.

Finally, as far as the old engineers are concerned, this is too long and rambling.  They would have preferred it be all numbers and, at most, written as a long equation.  Sorry fellas.  This is just my storytelling style.  I'm grateful for you anyway. I hope you got that point, even with all the words.

Thank you for reading.  Now, make my day and go thank an old engineer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

When a Narcoleptic Drives

Happy Thursday everyone.  I promised you yesterday I'd tell you about Bart's old college roommate, Robby, and his driving adventures.  Remember, among Robby's many problems is narcolepsy.  Narcolepsy makes people fall asleep suddenly.

Remember Robby lives four states away, but shows-up to visit Bart about once a year.  He's atrocious.  He's rude.  He's unkempt.  And, really, he shouldn't be driving.  If I could only think of a way for him to get caught.  But, wait, he did get caught once.  And, it didn't help.

In the winter of 2009, Robby was on his way home from a three week visit with Bart.  Bart was so happy he was leaving, he gave him gas money to get home.  Robby only arrives with enough money to get him one-way.  He never has money for his stay or to make the trip back home.

Despite the fact that Bart feels sorry for him, Bart is always glad for Robby to leave.  I remind Bart of this when he worries who will take care of Robby when he's old.  Well, Robby has already aged so poorly he's one broken hip away from a nursing home--which he can't afford.

Bart allows Robby to fantasize about coming to live with him one day.  It'll be just like old times.  Except, they aren't 19 year old guys in a college dorm any more.  And, I don't think Bart really wants to spend his retirement wiping Robby's rear end, considering he's already in diapers.

Bart thinks it will never happen.  Well, he also thought Robby wouldn't show up on his front steps like he did last Friday.  Bart better be careful.

Robby is circling and making his retirement plan--Bart taking care of him the rest of his life. He brought an air mattress with him this time. So he could stay in one of Bart's empty bedrooms. Bart down-sized that furniture for a reason. But, Robby had a solution--his air mattress. See, he's circling. But, I digress into one of my nightmares.

So, when Robby was making his pilgrimage four states home a little over a year ago, narcolepsy struck.  Robby fell asleep at the wheel.  Luckily, no one was hurt--not even Robby. Maybe that wasn't so lucky?

He fell asleep in an attack of narcolepsy.  His little truck went over a guard rail.  It went down an embankment.  Then he ran into a stand of trees.  When the truck finally hit a tree, Robby woke up. 

Scary, isn't it?  That's real narcolepsy for you. The truck was totaled, by-the-way. And, he slept through the whole accident.

He climbed back up the embankment and flagged down help.  The person drove him to the local sheriff's department. He reported the accident.

They didn't take his driver's license.  They didn't deposit him at a mental hospital.  No, they asked if they could take him to a motel.

He said he didn't have any money for a motel.  Surprise, surprise.  So, they took him to a homeless shelter.  He stayed there for two days until some other old friend from the past could come get him after a phone call out of the blue.

Then, that old friend from his past got stuck with Robby for a few more days.  Finally either the old friend took Robby back home or bought him a bus ticket.  I'm unclear on the details.

When he told Bart this story, Bart, of course relayed it to me.  Naturally, I asked if Robby was mortified about the accident and his stay in a homeless shelter.  Surely the man has learned something from this horrible experience?

No.  Robby was not mortified by the accident or the shelter.  Robby saw it as one more adventure.  He met some interesting people. He had a few free meals. It was fun.  Robby had a nice vacation.

Friends, Robby and I have different ideas of fun and vacation.  But, no, this did not stop Robby from driving.  It did not keep Robby at home. He did not learn a lesson.

He bought another car, and as you know, has hit the road again.  He's still at Bart's, but I hope he's leaving soon.  Maybe I should call the sheriff's department to look out for him on the road?  Or the homeless shelters along the way?

That's one more story of the people who cross my path at the farm.  And, you thought farm life was quiet and tranquil.  Not on my farm, unfortunately.  Gee, I need a vacation. 

Have a good day and thanks for reading!