We had our first snow this week. Saturday night Deb drove home in a blizzard.
Then her niece and significant other came from Missouri to visit with their new baby boy on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday night, to celebrate, we roasted Cornish Game Hens over an open fire while it was spitting snow. Boy, there's nothing better in my mind than the smoky flavor of these little hens roasted over fire. My mouth was watering.
It takes about an hour and a bottle of wine to cook the birds over a good fire, and just as I was unspitting the birds from the cherry poles, Deb stuck her head out the door and hollered that it was going down into the teens that night, and I had better put Kook in before I ate dinner.
So I went out into the pasture with Dolly (the Clydesdale), Clyde (the bay Quarter Horse that looks like a Clydesdale,) 5 Holsteen cows, and Kookamunga (our Dromedary). Now Dolly and Clyde were no problem because they remain terrified of the camel and kept their distance. But Kook has become practically inseparable from the cows. They hang out together all the time, and Kook seems to delight in sporadically and randomly slapping a foot on the ground and bucking to see the cows scatter. The cows don't seem to hold a grudge, though, and before you know it they are all back together again.
Anyway after weaving my way around the cows, who are becoming pretty pushy because they have come to know that I keep tasty horse treats in my pockets at all times, I was able to walk up to Kook and get his halter on without much problem. This is a process in which he must cooperate, because there is no way that I can reach high enough if he chooses to hold his head up. He was being a good camel.
Putting the halter on was one thing. Leading him away from the cows was a totally different matter. First, there was the task of getting him to the gate. Not too much problem, because the cows followed us: elapsed time -- only 20 minutes and 3/4 of my horse treats gone. (I figured that my Game Hen and wild rice were getting pretty tepid by now.)
Then there was the tricky matter of getting Kook through the gate without the accompanying throng. All the hollering and whistling and waving of arms that normally keeps the cows at bay had the same effect on Kook. I think this process was turning him a bit schitzy.
Finally, I ended up with a camel on one side of the gate, and the cows on the other. Elapsed time: another 20 minutes and the rest of my horse treats. (Maybe I could nuke my Game Hen in the microwave to warm it up.)
I now faced the task of leading the camel away from the gate with the cows bawling away beckoning him back, bringing him through another pasture with the miniature horses and ponies in it, through another gate, and in through the back door of the barn. The bigger the horse, the more frightened they are of the camel. The minis show no fear and are constantly under foot searching my pockets for treats. So I had another sorting task ahead of me. Kook wanted no part of it. Period. I was getting a lot of roaring complaints from the camel, but no spitting.
After another 30 minutes, I had the camel through the gate, separated from the horses, and into the barn. Now I had to lead it into its stall. By this time we were both rip snorting mad at each other and he refused to go into the stall and finally succeeded in ripping the lead rope out of my hands to go tromping off in the arena trying to find an escape exit.
After chasing him around for a while, I decided to try a trick that I have tried with obstreperous horses who don't want to be caught. I lay down in the pasture and play dead. Within a relatively short period of time the horses will walk up and sniff me and actually paw me with their hoof to see whether I am still among the living. I think that my chest x-rays will prove to you the efficacy of this procedure.
So I laid down in the middle of the arena, face down with my hands clasped over my head for protection, and I waited. Time passed. I peeked up and after Kook had given up trying to go back out the door, he seemed to have calmed down, and was parked in front of the mirror that we use to show riders how they are sitting. He seemed to be smiling at himself, proud of his victyory and pleased with his good looks.
I tucked my head back under my arms to wait. About then Deb walked into the arena, wonderring where I was.
"Graig! Are you dead?"
"No, Deb, I'm showing Kook what to do in the event of a tornado or nuclear attack."
She then disappeared into the feed room, grabbed a carrot, and calmly sweet talked Kook into his stall without even using the lead rope. Razzerfrattindrazzlefratin' camel!
By that time I had to hit the hay so that I could get up at 4:00 a.m. for my weekly commute to out-of-town work the next morning. I sure hope that three-day old Game Hen tastes good in a sandwich or a soup or something.
And the last laugh may still be on the guy that puts together the Living Nativity Scene in Crandon, when all that shows up is the Wise Man sans camel.
My wife and I live on a 40 acre farm in Forest County in the North Woods of Wisconsin along with a menagerie of animals. I am a retired Ph.D. research scientist and medical writer. My wife is a Family Nurse Practitioner who left her practice to care for her mom, who lived with us for almost 8 years. During that time I chronicled our random experiences in a series of regular letters to friends and colleagues, many of whom expressed their feelings that others might enjoy reading them.
With that in mind, I am going to pass the essence of them along in a series of blog entries with dates around the time that they were originally written. If I receive positive comments and sufficient interest, I will continue adding these stories.
Let me know what you think. Enjoy.