My sincerest apologies

This morning, I was with Emily, an awesome friend of mine. We were at the park with our fantastic playgroup and having a lovely time.

In the midst of supervising our young ones loving the playground, Emily suddenly turned to me and said, “Hey, I saw your post about pests last night!”

“Oh really?” I looked over and smiled.

“Yeah–but I couldn’t get past the picture of the baby mice. Once I saw that, I was like, “Whoah! I’m done!” and I couldn’t read anymore… I’m really squeamish,” she explained.

My smile froze.

“Are you serious?” I asked, staring at her in disbelief.

Baby mice make people squeamish?

The thought swirled around in my head, trying desperately to attach to something and be understood.

“Oh yeah,” she answered, “But it was no big deal, I just thought you’d think it was funny.”

I laughed.

But my brain was still swirling.

Seriously?? Baby mice make people squeamish?

Overhearing part of our conversation, another friend asked, “What happened?”

“Oh,” I replied, “I posted a picture of some baby mice we found in our garage.”

She looked at me blankly.

“You know,” I explained, “Baby mice…  They’re little and red…  And hairless.  And their eyes are sealed shut.”

Her eyes widened and her mouth formed a perfect circle.

“I’ve never seen that before, but it sounds awful,” she said with a shudder and then chased after her son.

I stared after her.

She’s never seen that?  She’s never seen a baby rodent before?…  And it sounds awful?!

Then I scratched my head.

“Huh, no way…”

You see, I grew up surrounded by animals on our beautiful 3-acre parcel of land in the shadow of the wondrous Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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In this picture, you see Cimarron.  A wonderful stud llama we owned as part of a small herd of llamas we had in my later childhood.

Cimarron was great.  He loved grain and he loved to be scratched at the base of his neck.  And if I dug in just right, his neck stretched and his lips curled out in sheer reflexive joy.  Like a dog kicking if you scratch its sweet spot.

In addition to raising llamas, we owned goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, parakeets, hamsters, gerbils, peacocks, a cockatiel and a pony.  And part of raising these animals was being involved in everything with them.  Their births, their injuries, their disappearances and their deaths.  We lived it all as naturally as it came.

But now, looking back.  I’m beginning to realize how different that may be from the experiences of others.  And how things that happened on our little farm, while part of daily life for us, would make other people stare in disbelief.

Like the morning one of my brothers went out to milk the goats.  And one of them was missing.  So he hiked out into the pasture and found the poor girl dead.  She ate more clover than was good for her and it bloated and killed her.  Well, he told my Mom as she was loading the rest of us kids into the van to take us to school.

“Okay,” she said, “Let’s load her into the back of the van and we’ll take her to the dump after we drop off the younger kids.”

So I got a ride to school that morning.  With a dead, bloated goat’s legs sticking up behind the back seat.  Poor girl.

Then there was the afternoon when one of our llamas was giving birth.  But all that came out was one little hoof and the rest got stuck.  The poor mother paced around and around as the little hoof became more and more limp.  We couldn’t afford a vet and my dad was still at work.  So my Mom turned to the only man in the house.

“Son,” she said to the brother just above me, “You need to go help her.”

My brother stared at my Mom like she’d sprouted wings and started roosting.

“Are you serious?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

My mother nodded gravely and my brother sighed.

Then he rolled up his sleeves and walked out to the pasture.  He was inexperienced at birthing llamas, but he was strong.  And he yanked that little leg poking out with all his might until POP!  Out came a sweet, soaking wet little baby llama.

And that’s what we did.

When a goat got cut on a fence, my dad laid her out on the grass and stitched her up. When a mama hamster went missing, my sisters and I nursed the newborn, red-hairless-eyes-sealed-shut babies through the night with goat’s milk and eye droppers.  When the whole neighborhood gathered around to watch the visiting stud breed our llamas, I took pictures and sent them to my brothers on their missions.  (Okay, so that may have been a bit much…  But I was only 10 years old–you gotta cut me some slack!)

As a kid, I didn’t think much of it.  But once I became an adult and moved away from Nevada, I started to think that maybe, just maybe, not everyone’s been bucked off a chubby pony… or milked a gentle, smelly goat… or rescued a litter of newborn kittens from their house’s crawl space.

So, if my picture of our baby field mice grossed you out, I am so sorry!  It honestly never occurred to me that it could.

And you know what?…  I am so glad I didn’t post a picture of their poor, deceased mother.  In our trap.

(Whoah, whoah!  Okay, so I didn’t really take a picture of that…  I thought about it, but I didn’t.  See?  I must be learning!)  :):)

The Zebra Story (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

Part 1:

“Hey Heidi,” my Dad said as he poked his head into my room, “I’m gonna go to a llama ranch across the valley, do you want to come along?”

I was laying on my water bed, completely engrossed in a Nancy Drew mystery novel.

“Um, I don’t know…..,” I said with characteristic teenage uncertainty.

Every once in a while, my Dad liked to visit other local llama owners and swap business ideas and rearing practices.

I often went with him, but this morning I was gripped in the suspenseful plot of the book in my hands.

Smiling to himself, my Dad continued, “Well your Mom and sister are coming.  And I thought you might like to see the llamas…..  And the zebras.”

He said the last sentence with complete nonchalance and I almost missed it.

“The what?!” I asked, sitting up and staring at my father.

“The zebras,” he repeated with a chuckle.

I immediately launched off my bed, “You bet I’m coming!!  I’ve never seen anyone with pet zebras!!”

—–

When we finally arrived at the ranch, we poured out of the car and were greeted by the owner of the ranch.

My father stepped forward and they shook hands and introduced themselves–having heard of each other through other local llama owners.

As they talked, I eagerly scanned the surrounding corrals for anything that looked like a zebra.

“Do you see them?” I whispered to my Mom and sister, who were also looking for them.

“No,” they shook their heads.

Then my Dad and the owner started to walk off towards the nearest llama pen.

I elbowed my Mom and she politely called out, “Excuse me!”

They stopped and turned back towards us.

“Excuse me,” she said again, “Could you tell us where the zebras are?”

The owner smiled and pointed to a far off pasture, “They’re down there,” he said and then turned away.

“Thank you!” we called and the three of us started off in the direction he pointed.

—–

“I still don’t see any zebras,” I said with disappointment.

We’d been walking for quite sometime, but all we saw were empty pastures and a few llamas and sheep.

“They must be in the next pasture,” my Mom said as we came upon another gate.

“You’re probably right,” I said and we opened the gate and walked into the next pasture.

We looked around, but still didn’t see anything.

“Well, they’ve gotta be around here somewhere,” my Mom said hopefully, “Let’s just keep walking.”

While we walked through the large pasture, we talked about how fun it would be to see a zebra up close.

“They’re always so far away in a zoo,” my sister said, “It will be fun to pet one.”

I nodded with excitement, “And maybe we can feed them grass or something.”

Suddenly, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and I curiously turned to look back at the ranch house.

I squinted in the sunlight and put a hand up to shade my eyes.

“Hey, Ma,” I said strangely, “Do you see that?”

“What, dear?” my Mom asked, turning in the direction I was looking.

“That man,” I said, “There’s a man up there and it looks like he’s yelling at us.”

We all stopped to watch.

“I think you’re right, dear,” my Mom said, “I wonder what he’s saying…..”

The man was running towards us at top speed, waving his hat and yelling frantically.

He looked very upset.

“What on earth can he be saying to us?” I mused outloud.

I cupped my ear and strained to hear.

He was very far away, but his words finally reached us and cut through the air.

“Stop!!”

“Get out!!!”

“The zebras will kill you!!!”

To be continued…..

Part 2:

“Stop!!”

“Get out!!!”

“The zebras will kill you!!!”

His words froze us on the spot.

My mind began to spin.

Zebras?….. Kill me?!?…..

These thoughts repeated themselves and swam around inside my head, trying to latch onto something coherent.

It had never crossed my waking mind that zebras could be dangerous.

Or that walking up to them in their pen was anything but a good idea.

After all, the ranch owner had blithely smiled us on our way without so much as a backward glance.

Nothing had occurred to make us think zebras were any more dangerous than the occasional skittish, spitting llama with a penchant for kicking that we knew we could easily handle.

It wasn’t long before the man, who was still racing toward us, reached the gate we had recently entered.

He hastily climbed up on the fence and urged us to come back.

“Get out, senoritas!  Get out!” he called repeatedly with great urgency as he tried to catch his breath.

Without a word, the three of us retraced our steps and slowly exited through the gate he held open.

As I followed my Mom through the gate, I looked over my shoulder at the empty pasture we were leaving with an arched eyebrow.

Is he telling the truth?…..  It sure doesn’t look like we’re in danger…..

But there was no denying the sincerity of his evident concern for us, so I had no choice but to believe him.

“We’re sorry,” my Mother finally broke our collective silence, “We just wanted to see the zebras and were told they were down here somewhere.”

Now that we were safely out of the zebra pasture, the man (whom I assumed was a ranch hand), collapsed against the fence, removed his straw hat and began to fan his bronzed, sweaty face with it.

He nodded his head, but didn’t speak until his breathing had finally steadied.

“Yes,” he said quickly as he pushed away from the fence, “You want to see zebras.  Come, senoritas, I will take you.  I will put you up high safe.”

Then he motioned for us to follow him.

I gave my Mom a confused look as we walked behind the man.

Up high safe?” I whispered, “What does that mean?”

My Mom shrugged and quietly answered, “I don’t know.  I guess we’ll find out soon.”

Eventually, we came upon a backhoe and the man halted.

Pulling a key out of his pocket, he began climbing into the driver’s seat.

As he climbed, he pointed to the shovel at the front of the backhoe.

“Sit, sit!” he instructed us.

The three of us stared at the huge shovel in front of us.

“Sit in there?!” I exclaimed as I pointed at the muddy shovel that laid on the ground.

“Yes!” the man declared, now seated in the driver’s seat and starting the engine, “I will put you up high safe.  Then you will see zebras.”

I looked at my Mom with a gaping mouth.

She had a little grin on her face and a fun sense of adventure in her eyes.

Briefly meeting my eye, she shrugged and said, “Here goes!”

Then she bent down and sat in the shovel.

My sister said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and followed my Mother’s example.

Hesitating, I looked from the man I didn’t know sitting up in the backhoe, to the muddy shovel in front of me, to the apparently empty pasture we’d just left.

This is just too weird, I thought as I finally settled into the shovel.

We held on tight as he slowly raised the shovel up off the ground, causing our feet to dangle over the sharp edge.

Then he kicked it in gear and we bumped along over the dirt and sagebrush back to the forbidden pasture.

It was too noisy to talk much, so my Mom, my sister and I just sat in our backhoe shovel and kept our eyes peeled for anything that resembled a zebra among the sagebrush and trees.

Then suddenly we all stiffened.

There they were.

Way off in the approaching distance, we saw them…..

To be continued…..

Part 3:

From our perch up in the backhoe shovel, the zebras looked very small.

But they were definitely there.

My heart rate accelerated and a smile came to my lips.

There they are! I thought, Real live zebras!

I turned to my sister and Mom.

They looked just as excited as I felt.

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As we rumbled closer, the zebras perked up and looked at us.

52160170 edited words

And quite understandably, they appeared to be as interested in us as we were in them.

(Something about three gals sitting in a backhoe shovel with their feet sticking out).

(Probably not something they saw every day).

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Then the man driving the backhoe slowed to a stop and let us just sit and watch them for a while.

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They were truly beautiful.

And as I clutched onto the sharp edge of the shovel, I shook my head in disbelief.

And to think, I smiled to myself, I almost missed all this because I wanted to stay home and read a Nancy Drew novel!

(The End!)

So that, my dear blog readers, is how I almost got killed by a herd of zebras. :)

—–

Pictures by: Teenage Heidi

The Zebra Story (part 3)

From our perch up in the backhoe shovel, the zebras looked very small.

But they were definitely there.

My heart rate accelerated and a smile came to my lips.

There they are! I thought, Real live zebras!

I turned to my sister and Mom.

They looked just as excited as I felt.

52160168 edited

As we rumbled closer, the zebras perked up and looked at us.

52160170 edited words

And quite understandably, they appeared to be as interested in us as we were in them.

(Something about three gals sitting in a backhoe shovel with their feet sticking out).

(Probably not something they saw every day).

52160171 edited

Then the man driving the backhoe slowed to a stop and let us just sit and watch them for a while.

52160166 edited

They were truly beautiful.

And as I clutched onto the sharp edge of the shovel, I shook my head in disbelief.

And to think, I smiled to myself, I almost missed all this because I wanted to stay home and read a Nancy Drew novel!

(The End!)

So that, my dear blog readers, is how I almost got killed by a herd of zebras. :)

—–

Pictures by: Teenage Heidi

The Zebra Story (part 2)

“Stop!!”

“Get out!!!”

“The zebras will kill you!!!”

His words froze us on the spot.

My mind began to spin.

Zebras?….. Kill me?!?…..

These thoughts repeated themselves and swam around inside my head, trying to latch onto something coherent.

It had never crossed my waking mind that zebras could be dangerous.

Or that walking up to them in their pen was anything but a good idea.

After all, the ranch owner had blithely smiled us on our way without so much as a backward glance.

Nothing had occurred to make us think zebras were any more dangerous than the occasional skittish, spitting llama with a penchant for kicking that we knew we could easily handle.

It wasn’t long before the man, who was still racing toward us, reached the gate we had recently entered.

He hastily climbed up on the fence and urged us to come back.

“Get out, senoritas!  Get out!” he called repeatedly with great urgency as he tried to catch his breath.

Without a word, the three of us retraced our steps and slowly exited through the gate he held open.

As I followed my Mom through the gate, I looked over my shoulder at the empty pasture we were leaving with an arched eyebrow.

Is he telling the truth?…..  It sure doesn’t look like we’re in danger…..

But there was no denying the sincerity of his evident concern for us, so I had no choice but to believe him.

“We’re sorry,” my Mother finally broke our collective silence, “We just wanted to see the zebras and were told they were down here somewhere.”

Now that we were safely out of the zebra pasture, the man (whom I assumed was a ranch hand), collapsed against the fence, removed his straw hat and began to fan his bronzed, sweaty face with it.

He nodded his head, but didn’t speak until his breathing had finally steadied.

“Yes,” he said quickly as he pushed away from the fence, “You want to see zebras.  Come, senoritas, I will take you.  I will put you up high safe.”

Then he motioned for us to follow him.

I gave my Mom a confused look as we walked behind the man.

Up high safe?” I whispered, “What does that mean?”

My Mom shrugged and quietly answered, “I don’t know.  I guess we’ll find out soon.”

Eventually, we came upon a backhoe and the man halted.

Pulling a key out of his pocket, he began climbing into the driver’s seat.

As he climbed, he pointed to the shovel at the front of the backhoe.

“Sit, sit!” he instructed us.

The three of us stared at the huge shovel in front of us.

“Sit in there?!” I exclaimed as I pointed at the muddy shovel that laid on the ground.

“Yes!” the man declared, now seated in the driver’s seat and starting the engine, “I will put you up high safe.  Then you will see zebras.”

I looked at my Mom with a gaping mouth.

She had a little grin on her face and a fun sense of adventure in her eyes.

Briefly meeting my eye, she shrugged and said, “Here goes!”

Then she bent down and sat in the shovel.

My sister said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and followed my Mother’s example.

Hesitating, I looked from the man I didn’t know sitting up in the backhoe, to the muddy shovel in front of me, to the apparently empty pasture we’d just left.

This is just too weird, I thought as I finally settled into the shovel.

We held on tight as he slowly raised the shovel up off the ground, causing our feet to dangle over the sharp edge.

Then he kicked it in gear and we bumped along over the dirt and sagebrush back to the forbidden pasture.

It was too noisy to talk much, so my Mom, my sister and I just sat in our backhoe shovel and kept our eyes peeled for anything that resembled a zebra among the sagebrush and trees.

Then suddenly we all stiffened.

There they were.

Way off in the approaching distance, we saw them…..

To be continued…..