Nov 06

Crone shakes fist at sky

P. carolina nest in the carportLast Sunday I was, like any decent eccentric recluse, minding my own beeswax. My horse Ginger Rogers needed a beauty treatment, so, lost in the simple thoughts of a simple bumpkin, I was hosing her down in the Equine Spa. Someday we’ll have a real indoor wash rack with hot and cold running water, a clean rubber floor, and, if I’m very lucky, an actual drain, but until that happy day the Equine Spa is a leaky hose bib under a tree in the barnyard, muddy and open to the elements.

I’m kind of a dim bulb, so I’m not sure how long it had been going on before I noticed the light aircraft. It was circling overhead like a turd in a toilet. A vast blue toilet.

You know, poetically speaking, if you take that toilet simile to its logical conclusion, the implication is that I am the sewer pipe. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the plane was circling like a vulture. That would make me a putrefying carcass. Yes. Vulture it is.

So the plane was circling like a vulture in a vast blue toilet. Like, really close. Not close enough, perhaps, to count my mustache hairs, but certainly close enough to observe that I needed a shave. Over in the paddock my pet Arabians were moved by the unholy spectre to jig and snort and strike Breyer horse poses and contemplate crashing through the fence.

“What tha?” I said to Ginger Rogers. Fucked up shit is the norm around here, but it isn’t every day that we get barnstormed by the Red Baron. Alas, asking a horse to speculate on the hidden agenda of a menacing Cessna pilot rarely yields satisfactory results, and this was no exception. Ginger Rogers yawned, lifted her tail, and emitted a puff of gas.

I’m no paranoid, so my first thought was not that this was a Facebook spy plane sent to document me from above on accounta I cancelled my account with those controlling soul-sucking motherfuckers. That was only my second thought. My first thought was that some drunken power-crazed self-appointed border-patrol militia dude had gotten blown off course and was gonna crash in my pasture. My third thought was that some delusional pus-filled anti-feminist hata had finally gotten ahold of the dirty bomb with my name on it.

What’s the difference? I thought. It’s fucking rude either way. So I flipped’em off. Whereupon the plane appeared to dip a wing at me in a somewhat cheeky manner before meandering off into the vast blue toilet.

You see where this is going don’t you? You have cleverly deduced that the mystery pilot was indeed Earlen, my farrier. This had been my fourth thought.

I confirmed it the next day when Earlen showed up (only 40 minutes late this time, which I think must be some kind of farrier promptness record) to reset Ginger Rogers.

It has nothing to do with the story, but I might as well explain the curious, codependent relationship horse-crones have with their farriers. Because its feet are one of the most useful yet notoriously screwy parts of the horse, and because farriers who don’t mangle horse feet are few and far between, the quest to find a decent one keeps many a crone up at night, pacing the floor with a bottle of Maalox. Then, once you’ve found him/her, you end up boozing excessively to keep from worrying about what you’ll do if they die or join the seminary or, in Earlen’s case, fire you.

See, Earlen is a globetrotting jetsetting diva farrier. He’s in high demand. He shoes a truly breathtaking hoof and charges accordingly. For example, every five weeks I pay him the princely sum of $250 for a pair of fronts with pads, and I’m bloody grateful to do it. He won’t shoe for just anybody. He fires clients regularly for insubordination. We all live in fear of getting fired. He has filthy rich clients in Spain, Germany, Florida, even Louisiana! And then there’s me. He only shoes Ginger Rogers because she stands like a statue. If she were to accidentally swat him in the head with her tail, I’m sure she’d be out on her ear.

But I digress.

Ginger Rogers gets resetSo there we were in the carport, me and Ginger Rogers and Earlen. Someday I’ll have a real indoor grooming stall with crossties, a ceiling fan, and, if I’m very lucky, an actual roof to deflect the 2000 degree Hill Country heat, but until that happy day, horses get shod in the carport. Under a wasp nest.

The billowing burning-hoof smoke was making the wasps a bit restive. Earlen had just finished telling me about how he was going to tell all his clients to fuck off and give up all technology and go live alone in a cave for a year eating nothing but the meat he traps himself. He asserted that he thought that I thought he wasn’t serious, but he really was serious. I assured him that I certainly did think he was serious, but that perhaps the learning curve for an undertaking like that might be a bit steep and had he considered maybe trying it for just a week or two first? We fell silent for a moment before:

“I hear,” confessed Earlen, pounding a red-hot shoe with a giant arm, “that you’ve got a creepy new stalker.”

“I knew it!” I said, and triumphantly assumed the j’accuse position.

Only people who have never been creepily stalked think creepy stalker jokes are funny, but that’s another essay. I had long theorized that, with his vast income and rock star ethos, it was only a matter of time until Earlen used the money I pay him to buy either a private island in the South Pacific or a Bugatti Veyron. I should have known it would be a plane that he would use to try to shave my treetops and terrify my pet Arabians before absconding to a cave for a year. But it just shows to go you. Farriers, like many people who take up weird, niche professions, are goddam peculiar.


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  1. Ron Sullivan

    Nice ass, tho’.

  2. speedbudget

    I like a man in chaps.

  3. ChariD

    That’s a damn fine carport you’re using as a grooming stall. The view of the wasp nest shows off a really nice ceiling and infrastructure. The view of your farrier’s ass shows off a really nice wall and floor.

  4. pheenobarbidoll

    ” even Louisiana! ”


  5. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Thanks ever so for the first real laugh I’ve had in weeks. Turd similes give me a happy.

  6. Carpenter

    Living in a cave for a finite period sounds kind of good to me. I continually try and fail to unplug from the hive mind. My cave would have to have a comfy chair to sit and read in also a limitless supply of guacamole.

  7. Bushfire

    During about three quarters of this piece, I thought the “plane” was actually a really big wasp. Also, I had to look up “farrier” in a dictionary. The crone is not just educating us on the marvels of rural life, but also embiggening urban gals’ vocabularies.

  8. Ruby Lou

    Holy moly, them wasps look real effective. Darth Maul color scheme too. Yow. How big are they? Inch, inch and a half long? Do they usually mind their own bidniss or can they get rowdy?

  9. K

    My new game is finding pop culture references in these posts. Last one was Beverly Cleary. This one is The Pinball Wizard.

    “Stands like a statue” folks!!

  10. Comradde PhysioProffe

    You’re saying that your farrier flies around in a plane checking out the horses he works on to see if they need any work?

  11. Pinko Punko

    P. carolina thought bubbles in my neck of woods: “I’M HOVERING RIGHT OVER YOUR HEAD!”

  12. Courtney Jung

    I’m a professor at University of Toronto, and I am trying to get in touch with pheenobarbidoll for an interview about breastfeeding and WIC, which you have written about on other websites.
    I am writing a book that is critical of US breastfeeding policy.
    Please get in touch with me.
    my email address is courtney.jung@utoronto.ca
    Thank you very much.

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