Decades before I ever thought I’d hang up my Les Paul and repair to the countryside to cultivate my eccentric reclusiveness, my college pal Leslie dropped out of society. She bagged her life of nonstop excitement and glamorous adventure in Chicago and biffed off to Bumfuck, Kentucky to raise endangered farm animals.
I’m sayin, Kentucky. Can you imagine? Leslie is of that same sturdy pioneer stock of which I most definitely am not. She grows her own food, churns her own butter, makes her own cheese, spins her own wool, plows her own fields. With her own Percherons. She runs a B&B and makes organic kale soap while driving a four-in-hand with one foot tied behind her back.
Unlike reasonable crones such myself, who quite understandably are all “waah, poor me, there’s a donkey in my swimming pool!”, Leslie has the impertinence not to whine about the simple life. She has more pressing matters to attend to. Here, by way of example, is an excerpt from her recent email.
I did chuckle at your water(less) post. I found snake eggs in my cistern, and I’m sure there was something else dead in there, but I still love my water.
Right now, fifty chicks in the dining room, and ewes exploding everywhere. The barnyard is littered with umbilici and placentas. And I have a wheelbarrow full of dead lambs. So far, out of 5 ewes, 7 dead and 5 live lambs. And I had to go “in” for three of the dead ones.”
A wheelbarrow full of dead lambs. Now there’s an image that more or less sticks to the back of the old eyelids.
Those aren’t just any old dead lambs, by the way. Leslie only raises wacky vanishing heirloom species on her farm. Funky chickens that look like Rod Stewart, Swedish ponies of which there are only about 6 1/2 left on the planet, etc. I’m sure those dead lambs are among the rarest dead lambs in the world, coveted by the woolgathering community like no other.
Here’s a dreadful true story that took place at Leslie’s farm. I was visiting once — way before Dreadful Acres was even a glimmer in my medial folly lobe — and happened, during a carefree cavort through a pasture, to befriend a little black steer. We developed quite a bond, the steer and I. I remember he even put his head in my lap. Aw. So heartwarming.
A year later, I was visiting again. Leslie, who is a formidable cook, made a pretty toothsome stew for dinner one night. “You remember Freezer?” she said, dishing it out as only Leslie can.
“Freezer?” I said uncomprehendingly, but the icy finger of Truth was already poking me in the rib. It was beginning to dawn on me, although not, I’m afraid, as quickly as it has already dawned on you, that Freezer was the name of that steer with whom I’d shared so deep and abiding a friendship. He was now a delicious stew. NOOOO! It was Titus Andronicus all over again!
Anyway, whenever I get overwhelmed by some fresh new Arcadian horror, I just picture my old bud Leslie, elbow-deep in some parturient sheep, mocking me. Then I get a grip.
OK, fine, first I whine about it on this blog, and then I get a grip.