Monday, September 24, 2007

The verbal equivalent of a bag of chicken feet

You'll have to read this to understand the reference in the title...

Today, my friend and I, in an enthusiastic moment of motivation to make yet more money to support our large collection of old, fucked-up discarded and useless horses, decided to haul a horse for someone. We should note that I am somewhat new to the state I live in, and my friend's geographical knowledge of her lifetime home state had suffered a momentary lapse. (She later shared that she had drank her way through her 6th period high school Washington State history class). At any rate, we were thinking we were signing on for a three hour tour but, sadly, it instead shipwrecked into a twelve hour ordeal greatly resembling a Gilligan's Island reunion, except without the rich and educated characters or the coconut shell short-wave radio.

Our first inkling that something had gone horridly wrong was when we agreed to let the new owner of said horse (elderly Arabian gelding who had not been ridden in two years and was now being sold to a beginner teen - hereinafter the "Horse") and her child ride in the truck with us the entire way. Now, don't get us wrong. We are friendly girls. We like to chat, under normal circumstances and with reasonably normal people. We can even stand a fair amount of abnormality and laugh about it later. But this went right over the fucking top. We were originally informed that we'd be hauling the Horse to a boarding barn. Once on the road, we learned we would be hauling the horse to this lady's backyard, which is also populated with goats and chickens and an ill-tempered rooster which will stab his spurs right through your teenaged son's deck shoes when he kicks him- imagine that. (Interestingly enough, the family cat had about the same reaction when said son dragged the dog in to meet her newborn kittens). A backyard which was described as being approximately one quarter of an acre in an allegedly rural area, with picky neighbors who object to her dog running all over their property (but she can't get the hang of using a leash 'cause she's a "farm girl" and the invisible fence allegedly does not work, although she installed it herself so she can't imagine what the problem is, and now, darn it, she has been cited and has to pay a $1,000 fine, and you know, that dog is a little sensitive on the one side because he lost the ball joint of his hip when he got hit by a car...)

So down the highway we went, to collect said Horse, being treated along the way to the following stories.

1. The proper minerals are the cure for everything. Deworming is not necessary. You can scare all worms away merely by using copper! Who knew?

2. You can cure your father's abscessing, gangrenous, maggot-laden leg merely by smearing a generous layer of garlic on it and this cure will happen within 3 days. Over the course of the next 7 hours, we also learned that garlic is a cure-all for (a) congestive heart failure in humans so severe that the person was unable to lie down and instead stood by the kitchen table all night as he thought he would drown (b) a cat who was attacked by wolves and had a rib sticking out (c) a goat who was attacked by their own dog (who was probably angry about his missing hip joint) although they argue the dog was corrupted by the influence of a marauding neighborhood Husky dog.

3. Speaking of marauding neighborhood dogs, you can cure a visiting Beagle from any desire to kill chickens (after it has killed 3/4ths of the flock) by walking it around and telling it "no no bad dog" while pointing at the dead chickens. If it is still tempted to kill the last remaining live chicken, which is hiding in a bush, all you need to do to complete the cure is place the dead chickens one by one on the Beagle's head and reprimand him strongly. After this, he will not even want to look at the chicken, let alone come back in your yard ever again. My friend and I do believe this works, as the mere telling of the story, had the same effect on us. We will never be seen in her yard again!

4. Family History: Her father was basically a fringe element of society type who responded to the fact that her brother got a speeding ticket in Burns, Oregon, by uprooting the entire family and moving them to Florida to pick fruit for a year so as to avoid paying the ticket. During this time, our heroine did not attend school. We are shocked. Shortly thereafter, they returned to the PNW, but then their father kidnapped their mother and took her to Nevada. After that, he tried to get her to move to Texas with him and said if she did not move, she had to sign divorce papers. Finally, after some ridiculous multiple-decade marriage length, she called it quits.

5. Moving on to more current and relevant family history: The father, while in Texas, refused to collect his social security benefits or see a doctor, which resulted in him having a gangrenous abscessed leg with maggots living in it. At some point, he decided that perhaps his daughter could fix this, and agreed to come live with her, bringing his 12 goats with him. She went down to Texas and moved in with Dad and the goats in a boarding house owned by a lady who had lost her leg after an abscess caused by a horse stomping on her foot. This lady lived on disability and played online games all day, and also took in extra income by housing numerous old Mexican cowboys who were also on disability. Enterprising woman that our heroine is, she started planning their trip north with a Cadillac but soon realized that a school bus was a more appropriate mode of transport for two people and twelve goats. So she removed the seats, piled the goats in the back (goats that could not be let out for potty breaks because they were totally wild ass goats) and headed for the PNW with Dad, goats, and gangrenous leg. Somewhere in Colorado, she was finally pulled over for not having a license plate but fortunately for her, the police officer made an executive decision not to detain her, her father, or the collection of goats. Oh happy day! Sadly, this was not the happy ending for dear old Dad that we all might have wished. Never the sort to gather moss, Dad moved on and eventually found himself living under a bridge. Meanwhile, our heroine's underaged teenage daughter is expecting her first child, sired by someone for whom English is a second language, but he is not such a bad guy as he will haul hay.

6. One time she was hired to drive 40 goats to California for $1000. To do this, she rented an old Isuzu truck from a multi-millionaire for $300. They installed some panels on the side of the bed and threw a tarp over the top, stuffed it full of shavings and goats, and she proceeded on her way to Petaluma. After losing all of her interior and exterior lights, she was yet again pulled over by police in a snowstorm who, yet again, made the mysterious decision not to detain her or any of her 40 goats, despite the fact that she could not find registration or proof of insurance. Will wonders never cease. All 40 goats made it to Petaluma alive, and our heroine pocketed a grand total of $400 profit for this enterprise. We learned from this that you can drive any old way you want, in any sort of unregistered vehicle you want, as long as you are packing a herd of goats. Good to know!

We eventually arrived in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere - at least 3 hours past where we thought we were going and the last few miles on gravel road next to a sheer drop off cliff leading to somewhere far more pleasant than the interior of our truck or the intellectual hell we were currently experiencing. The highlight of our trip was our discovery that the unhandled-for-2-years Arabian was a rather good tempered, if morbidly obese, fellow who sported a large Circle W brand and had a history of "packin' elk" and being ridden by "tourists" into the high country. Mr. Ay-rab cheerfully followed into the trailer at the first sight of a hay net and we were on our way for another five hours of fascinating stories. And so it continued...with a slight detour to pick up hay in a place called Touche (but pronounced "Tushy") at a hay dealership complete with horrific barbed wire fence and overweight horses with godawful long feet who were practically screaming to be taken away to somewhere people obtain farrier care. Back on the road and the stories continued...

7. They wanted some cats so they got some from a lady who had too many cats and they weren't that friendly. So one cat decided to crawl up into the duct work and wouldn't come out for three months. For three months, he lived in there, with no food or water! (At this, I expressed my opinion that he probably had surreptitiously, in the dark of night, left the duct work to find food and water...but I do not think they believed me) They tried to find him, could not, and assumed he died. Then one day, like the Second Coming, she heard a rattlin' and a commotion and what do you know, that cat was still alive up there, just real dehydrated. So they drug him out and gave him some garlic and in only 3 days he puffed right up again in the manner of a Sea Monkey. However, he (probably after hearing a few of her stories) elected to crawl back into the duct work and hopefully die this time. (We totally related and would have joined him there, if only there had been such an easy way out!) She drug him out once again by wrapping him in a sleeping bag and pitched him out in the yard, but she did see him a couple months later in the neighborhood - no doubt from a substantial distance.

8. Her other kitty had either one or two litters in her dresser which she encouraged. The daddy was a Ragdoll so the babies were tortoiseshell but long haired. Clearly "spaying," or as her socioeconomic group typically refers to it, "spading," had never crossed her mind. Again, we wished we could have been spaded repeatedly at this point in the trip.

It was like a Best of Jerry Springer special on pay-per-view, except people choose to watch that. The variety of the subject matter was truly impressive but the overall level of shock value never wavered. I started wondering if Jerry and Maury pay finder's fees for truly impressive guest stars.

Don't get us wrong, we were not derelict in our duty. We did our best in the twelve hours we spent together to educate her that copper will not deworm a horse, that elderly fat geldings who have rubbed out their tails probably need their sheaths cleaned, that dentistry on a horse that age is mandatory, that he never needed to see a flake of alfalfa or a pellet of grain ever again, that it is important to slowly condition a horse who is the equine equivalent of Chris Farley, that finding a boarding barn with a GOOD 4-H/Youth instructor would be a REALLY GOOD IDEA, and that finding a barn quickly was probably a VERY good idea as the home turned out to be in the middle of the city and the front portion of the fence was a picket fence approximately 3.5 feet high. Also, the goats were none too thrilled with their new roomie, and he barely fit through the gate, banging his substantial gut on both sides.

And in all fairness, she was a nice lady who paid us more than we asked for, in cash, and seemed to have good intentions. It was just a stunning example of the many things I talk about on this blog...all in one the same time...for twelve a small space.

Note to selves: No more hauling when the end destination is someone's backyard, no more permitting owners to ride in the truck with us, no more failure to Mapquest, and this is probably a good time to review the comparative risks and benefits of simply advertising in the Craigslist "Erotic Services" section as an alternative source of additional income, as we believe that might be far less painful and humiliating.