Feb 24

The Fresh New Arcadian Horror

Dr. WuDecades 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.


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  1. Baby Buckaroo

    Crone, I hear ya screamin’.. We just started spring calving..early..and coyotes killed the first one. ;-[ And, Nothing funner than the upcoming potential prolapsed uterus’s (plural?), and possible orphans to bottle feed. But hey..the beef shortage is here now, read the news about processing plants closing due to shortage, so soon the ginormous profits will roll in! Ha-ha!

  2. Friend of Snakes

    Leslie must be a cool bud to have. She sounds like the type of person whom one could ask, “Hey, what’s up with all those screaming goats that are all the rage on YouTube right now?” I know you didn’t mention anything about goats, but sheep kind of come close. Dead lambs come even closer. I don’t understand how anyone could own, or even live next door to, screaming goats without becoming a goat killer.

  3. Hermionemone

    I have friends who went to Newfoundland to homestead ‘off the grid’ and raise goats, and, sure enough, never heard from them again.

  4. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    That screaming goat is a fake.

  5. Friend of Snakes

    All of them? And btw, who in hell keeps a kid in their bedroom? That one sounds fake.

  6. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My dad used to raise fancy Polish chickens. They were very pretty.

    My niece had six chickens. Five roosters, one hen – what kinda goofy flock is that? I could hear the dern things crowing when I’d talk to her on the phone. She ended up giving away the extra roosters to other family members as pets. They’re supposed to be good at keeping the insect pest population down.

  7. Hattie

    We used to live close to a farm. My daughter and her little friend got to bottle feed an adorable calf, which they named Seppli (This was in Switzerland.). One day they went over and Seppli was missing. They asked the farmer where he was, and the farmer showed them a head in a bag. Seppli!
    Moral: Do not give names to farm animals.

  8. pheenobarbidoll

    Did y’all get the 60 mph winds we’re getting in West Texas? Yesterday it was 74 degrees and this morning it was snowing. Sideways.

  9. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    No snow in the Hill Country, but this wind is literally chapping my hide. In order to get around I have to brachiate from tree to tree to fencepost to fencepost, like some kinda land-gibbon.

  10. tinfoil hattie

    Soylent green is people, baby.

  11. Kokovoko

    Idiots, all of them. Two of those scenes of “goats” were, in fact, sheep. And yes, goats do really sound like that. I did have goats for quite a while. They were always between me and whatever I was trying to feed or eating the most recent additions to the garden. Priorities were whatever was the most expensive. Then they jumped on the guests’ cars. It was heartwarming.

    Two of mine died a fitting death. They got into the feed room and basically exploded, literally, with food coming out both ends. You can only keep goats if you have no other animals.

    On the cow thing, I think everyone should learn where their food comes from. It would make for more thoughtful consumption, for sure. Not to mention that it tastes SO much better.

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