Warning. Poop Story. Pretty Gross.

When the tortoise first came, she had been eating little more than lettuce, yellow squash and occasionally kale. She was only allowed to graze for about an hour a day. In the winter, she ate hay. Here, she is outside all day and I’ve introduced her to bananas, watermelon, clover, fresh garden vegetables and all kinds of fruit. She is allowed to graze all day. Her first poops were small white and liquid. I didn’t think it would be so bad. II could cope with that and a bucket of water.

Two days ago, I found a big, soft turd in front of the gate. I washed it away with some effort and the garden hose. I was stumped to discover it consisted of barely digested grass. I worried that one of the fawns was not properly ruminating and was ill, but everyone seemed fine.

Skip to this afternoon. A massive pile of poop in front of the gate again. I blamed Sophie and she looked at me like I was crazy. I went looking for the shovel and passed Roomba (the tortoise), just as she was ,I swear, smiling and letting go of another Poop. I couldn’t believe anything that big could come from a turtle! Sophie looked up at me waiting for an apology. My apology was indeed, profuse.

We have a new entry on the Gaskin poop scale.

Before I had time to remove it, Jamie came over with two of her Chihuahua mixes. Luna is a known shiteater (Like a sin eater, but worse breath). She prefers goose, but will settle for deer poop now that the geese are locked up. You can guess what happened next.

She thought he had hit the jackpot and dove into the pile. I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag, but Jamie shrieked as she ran for the nearest shovel. Not to be deterred, Bad Breath Betty, headed for the one on the other side of the yard where Roomba was digging in the fresh dirt. Jamie is not as fast as her dog.
But, in the end, Luna had to settle for sifting through the grass for deer poop with her teeth, like a lowbush blueberry picker with a shuttle as the rest of us giggled under our breath.

Then it hit me. If a 30 pound turtle can poop like a Labrador Retriever now, what is it going to be like when it is 75 to 100 pounds?

It also hit me….I’m babysitting Luna tomorrow. I wonder if tortoises poop every day…..

August Moon

The moon was spectacular last night. Her luminosity made my lantern unnecessary when I went out to feed the fawns. I watched a few stray clouds scuttle across the silver surface and noticed a tinge or orange on the very edges of those clouds. You don’t see that color in early and midsummer moons…but midsummer is past and that moon has become the Green Corn Moon.

I learned the names of the moons from an old Native American friend when I was a child. They often differ from the standard almanack moons of the white settlers. The Green Corn Moon was so named because the corn was ripe and juicy and sweet. Fresh ears were roasted in the fire and The People filled their bellies with it’s goodness. They knew that the winter would be long and there would be many nights of soup and succotash made with the dry corn of harvest. This corn was a treat and was celebrated with stories and songs.

I always feel a bit wistful at the August moon. It’s the last moon of summer and soon the light will change and the softness of the summer will turn to the sharp, crisp sky of Autumn. The moon will rise golden and her light will turn cold as she passes across the sky. The hectic time of harvest will be here and my arms will feel the itch and scratch of wool sweaters reluctantly pulled over my head.

I didn’t want to waste this moon. I took off my shoes to feel the dew and gave the deer their warm, sweet bottles of milk. This time too will come to an end. Some already turn their heads and reach for grass of the sweetfeed at their feet. Their spots are fading and they raise their muzzles to the wind. I wonder if they are smelling the fresh scent of freedom and are already thinking of forests and fields beyond the fence. My time with them is limited.

when they finished, I followed them out into the yard. We walked all the way to the garden and beyond. Every once in a while a cool nose pressed into my hand or against my leg. Sophie came to join us and that’s when the dancing began.
It started with a headbutt to the side of my leg, then progressed with a sideways shuffle to the side, soon all the deer and Sophie were running and jumping around me. The bucks would bow low and shake their heads, then race in circles around us. The does would raise up on their hid legs and then leap in a different direction.

They raced around the perimeter of the garden and then would come back to me, inviting me to run.
But I’m old and slow and not a deer. They are becoming aware of this now. I am not a deer. They long to have the company of other deer instead of old ladies. The tie that binds us will stretch and strain and finally break. Once the gates are lowered, I will see them less and less.

Some will return on a daily basis, still begging for that warm bottle of milk. I’ll indulge them, as much for me as them. Some will disappear within day and I’ll never see them again, not knowing if they have joined in a heard of wild deer or somehow died on the road or in the jaws of a coyote. The longest night of the year is the night that they do not return to the yard to sleep. I lay awake listening for the screech of brakes or the shrill cries of coyotes with prey.

Then there is always that one. The one who can’t let go. The one who will come back just to stare at the house or sleep in her familiar pen. The one that even years later, I will see in the field and it will turn and look at me and want and not want to approach me for a scratch.

I love it when that happens. I know that I succeeded at my work. I know that there is a healthy deer that would not have been there without me. It’s a little thing in the scope of the world, but it’s enough for me.

In the meantime. I have this moon, I have this night where lanterns have no need and I will dance with the fawns in the dew.

Sometimes it isn’t about the bird at all

Tonight was one of those nights that reminds me that it’s not always about the animal.

The day started out on a sour note. I’d been up all night prepping for a medical procedure in the morning and was tired, sick to my stomach and suffered from other induced maladies.

A man called a little after eight about a bird that hit his window last evening. he was arrogant and demanding and did not want to listen to my advice about the bird and not being able to repair it’s broken wing. he kept pushing. I told him that I was not feeling well and getting ready to leave for the surgical center and really couldn’t deal with it at the moment. Maybe he could call back in the afternoon. He became belligerent and told me , he didn’t care. He’d “Just kill the bird and I could live with that”.

Ok, I guess I have a lot of bird lives lined up in my karma.

I got a nap in this afternoon and was trying to get caught up on the 9 hours of work that didn’t get done today and the phone rang again.It was a woman with of course, another bird. This one had a broken leg from a cat. I started to explain to her about the bacteria in a cats mouth, but she interrupted me and said she’d do anything for this bird to help it. She just lost her dog of 19 years a today and needed to do something for this bird.
I knew I needed to take this bird, even if it was hopeless.

So we waited for her. We finally gave up at 7:30 and started eating dinner. She shows up on about the third mouthful.

She’s driving an expensive car. She’s blond, in her mid 50’s. She has cowboy boots and smells like horses. Now anyone that knows me well, understands how and why that is an immediate PTSD trigger for me. I put my dinner down and let her in anyway.

The bird was hopeless. I could see the puncture wound when the cat broke it’s leg, but I fed it and made it cozy anyway. I knew I couldn’t do much for the bird, but I could for her.

We looked at the animals inside. I let Sophie lavish her attentions on her. I took her outside for a tour and asked her to tell me about her dog. We pet baby bunnies, watched the bob cat, played with Crow and the Blue Jay Brothers and then took her out to find the fawns. Red of course, figured if she was with me, she was OK with him and came to her for scratches and nuzzles.

She was here for about an hour and a half. She smiled the whole time. My diner was coagulating on my plate, I was still tired and worn out, but she was feeling better. That’s all that mattered. She was feeling better.
When she finally left around 9, I ate my cold chicken. After that I went in to check the bird. I dressed the wound with antibiotic powder, just in case it’s a claw wound and not a tooth and set the leg. It doesn’t look hopeful, I don’t think I can do anything, but make it comfortable and watch it die.

But you know what? It isn’t about the bird. It’s about the woman who lost her best friend of 19 years today and the fact that she smiled for an hour and a half.

I feel bad for the man this morning. He couldn’t see beyond his own immediate needs. He could have called back later in the afternoon. He could have explained why it was so important that I take the bird. Instead, he reacted with anger that his needs couldn’t be met immediately.

He couldn’t see that sometimes…. it isn’t about the bird at all.

Blackberry Bunny

Yesterday, as hot as it was, I went out and picked the black berries. In this heat they don’t hold long and if I want black berry jam and a pie for Jimmy, it needs to be done.

The heat was shimmering in the air and I could smell the chlorine of my little blow up pool that was my incentive to finish the job. I could almost feel the cool water close over me as I picked.

Of course Crow and at least two deer accompanied me, along with Sophie, my lab. My bucket didn’t fill very fast as it was “Pick two for the bucket, one for the crow, two for the deer and don’t forget Sophie”. Luckily the heat was a bit much for them in the sun and all but Crow left me. He moved up into the mulberry tree and contented himself with dropping mulberries into the pool below. (Now you know why I have a slight lavender cast to my skin).

I have a milk crate, one of the old sturdy ones) out there to reach the berries on top of the little arbor, but I still fall a few inches short, so there are plenty of prime berries for the other birds to eat. My young robin, came and did exactly that. After about an hour, I moved over to the other side of the fence.

Levi doesn’t mow as much as we do and the grass along that side fence and berries is long and tangled. There is a deep pink rosebush that rambles along and through the fence and I had to tread carefully to avoid it wrapping around my ankles. (A 1oo year old rose has very long thorns)

My flip flops kept getting caught in the long grass, so I left them behind as I kept picking. Being in the brush like that, not all the berries make it to the bucket tied around your waist. Every so often, you hear the soft plop as one hits the ground, but who wants to search through the weeds for one berry.

Sometime, I became aware of something occasionally tickling my feet and ankles. I has seen a little deer mouse scurry through the fence when I began and I knew that there was a grass snake that lived in that comer, so I really didn’t think much of it. Then something definitely sniffed my ankle.
I looked down and there was a tiny brown bunny at my feet. Every time I would drop a berry, he would sneak in to eat it. I laughed out loud and it scurried away.

It was too hot to continue and my bucket was heavy around my waist and the call of the pool was irresistible. I left a handful of berries on the ground where the bunny could reach them and climbed back through the brambles and richly scented roses.
I fell into the pool and let the cool water envelope me. I lay on my raft with the current from the filter swirl me around. I watched clouds, then trees, clouds then trees, pass through my vision.

Crow came down to join me and I was nearly asleep when he started dipping his beak into the pool and spitting water on my head. I figured this meant he was ready to go inside and I knew everyone’s feeding time was coming up. (Including my husbands)

As I passed back through the arbor, I noticed the pile of berries was gone. Happy bunny. Happy me.

One more time for the masses

Cat’s have filthy mouths. Besides their foul language, their filthy mouths are filled with bacteria that is FATAL to small animals, ie…birds, squirrels, rodents BUNNIES. If a cat even breathes on one of these small animals (Even if the bunny IS bigger than the cat, trust me on this one), the animal will die of sepsis within 24 hours. TWENTY FOUR HOURS OR LESS.
ALWAYS!

Do not tell me that it is a small wound or that the cat only used it’s claws. DO not bring me a bunny that half the skin is ripped off or a leg has been chewed and say that you are sure it wasn’t in the cat’s mouth. DO not bring me a bunny or anything but a child over 4 years old that a cat has dragged in for 24 hours. Not 10, not 18. 24. Got that 24 hours.

You have no idea how many people have insisted that it’s been 24 hours and drive out her only to open the box and it’s a dead bird, or bunny, or squirrel or toad. Yes, it did look perfectly healthy an hour ago, but it’s not now. (Once someone had the balls to ask for gas money reimbursement because the bird was dead. I laughed. I laughed a lot)

TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Believe me, I have tried every antibiotic, short of a 24 hour IV drip, and nothing works. Cat bite = Death.

What do you do then when Fluffy brings you a present? Three things. 1. You can either give it back to the cat (hopefully you avoid a disposal process, unless your cat is a puker) 2. You can put the animal in a box in a quiet place and not open it for 24 hours. If it makes you feel better, you can put some water and food in with it. 3. If the animal is badly injured, put it down, either manually or back to solution 1.

NOW. On the off chance that Fluffy had no teeth or didn’t like the taste of fresh meat on the paw or was just using the animal for batting practice and you open the box after 24 hours and the bunny, squirrel, toad, mouse, bird or toddler is still alive and looking at you, THEN you can call me. It can probably be released back outside or in the case of an injury, I can see what I can do.

But if you call me? Daylight hours only. I’m getting pretty damn crabby in my old age.

Wildlife are Not Cats or Dogs

Today can be summed up with “Wild animals are not cats and dogs”

Cats and dogs are fairly predictable. Most of the time you pet them and they are happy, you feed them cat and dog food, when they are sick or hurt, you take them to the vet.

People see the pet possum or the house raccoon or even the deer with a party hat watching tv on the internet and they forget that these are wild animals. In the 30 seconds or few minutes of the video, it seems as though they are really not much different than dogs and cats. They love you as their masters and they appreciate your help.

It doesn’t always work that way.

Wild animals, even most very young wild animals are exactly that. Wild. They fear humans. The don’t like anything that doesn’t fit in with their world and mostly, that is humans.
The day started with the woman picking up the young bobcat after it was hit by a car. Instead of calling a rehabber or the DNR immediately for advice, she put the unconscious cat in a dog crate and took it to a vet.

First of all, very few vets treat wild life. Most won’t even allow them in their clinics. All understand that a scared wild animal is dangerous and will lash out. The cat was awake when it got there and scratched the woman who picked it up.
To make a long story short, the vet called the DNR and by Michigan law, the cat had to be put down and tested for rabies. No way around it. Once it breaks the skin, the animal is doomed. People pick them up anyway.

This is one of the biggest reasons I do not allow people to touch the animals in my care. Yet still, they will walk in and the first thing they do is stick their fingers into the cages. My eyes are rolling right now.

Next, came 5 baby possums. Two severely injured with limbs or tails “Degloved”. (that means, the skin is torn away leaving nothing but raw muscle and nerves. It is extremely painful and takes a long time and lots of treatment to heal. I put the healthy ones in a cage and the other two in a darkened basket to be dispatched when they left.

The wife demanded to know how I was going to treat it. Then showed me photos on her phone of a kitten she rescued from a fire. One ear was burned off and a foreleg degloved. It has a large, raw burned patch on it’s side. The photos were gruesome. Then she showed the after photos of this cat, now mostly blind and said it took over 40 vet visits and surgery to save it.

All I could think of is “why?. Was the pain and suffering that kitten went through really worth the outcome? Animals don’t cling to life like we do. They don’t experience angst about death. They do experience pain….but….since this was a domestic animal, the vets could treat it. They could relieve much of it’s pain. It could take comfort t in the touch of human hands.
If this wasn’t bad enough, about 9:45 tonight a woman called and wanted me to come get an adult raccoon that had been hit by a car. She said it was trying to get up but couldn’t. She stated that it got nasty when she tried to move it out of the road. She wanted me to do something. NOW.

I tried gently explaining that there really wasn’t a lot I could do for a coon in that state (trying to handle an injured adult coon is a lot like juggling chainsaws. It aint gonna work for long) I told her that there aren’t any vets who would even look at the coon, let alone treat it and I am not a vet, there is only so much I can do with my limited resources. I told her that the best thing for the coon was to either put it down or simply leave it alone to expire in relative peace.

She would have none of it. She cried and whined. She demanded that I come help the coon. She got really upset when I told her no. I value my fingers. I have scars running up and down my arms from raccoons, and am not in the market for more. I was not going to drive 30 miles to Mancelona and pick up the coon.

She hung up on me with a few choice words including “Heartless, lazy and bitch”.
What she didn’t know is that I felt bad when I put the phone back in the charger. I felt bad for her. I felt bad for the coon. I hate feeling so helpless. But I can guarantee that if I HAD gone to rescue that coon and it was still clinging to life when I got there, it would not have been happy to see me. It’s fear of me would have far outweighed any comfort I could give it unless it involved a quick end to this life.

Not 15 minutes later, a young girl arrived with a fledgling robin. She said it was acting funny and it’s mother threw it out of the nest. When I looked at it, I could tell that it was ready to leave the nest anyway. but it’s head was shaking, it was staggering and the mouth was partially open with it’s tongue forward and raised. All are classic signs of poisoning. Someone treats their lawn or garden or sprays for mosquitos and the mother bird either ingests the bugs or worms and dies or feeds it to her babies and they die.

She did not want to hear this. She wanted me to DO something. Couldn’t I pump it’s stomach or give it something to counteract the poison? No. It’s a bird. All I could do is put it in a dark basket, so it would be calm as see what happens. I’ll know by morning.

I am not going to hold it as it dies to comfort it. It would bring it no comfort. It is not a beloved cat or dog. It is a wild bird, never touched before by human hands. It does not want to be in those hands now.

It is frustrating. Most of the time I can bring them no comfort other than trying to relieve pain or ending that pain forever. They are not cats and dogs. They are forever wild.

Laws are laws

I got a pretty frantic call this morning. A woman was at the vets. She had a full grown bobcat in a carrier in the back of her car. The DNR was on it’s way.

She saw the cat get hit on the road and it was unconscious. She stuffed it in her dogs carrier that she happened to have in the back of her car. She rushed it to a vet.

The vet agreed to come out to the car, but by now the cat was fully conscious and mad. It was spitting and growling, but the woman opened the cage anyway. The cat scratched her and drew blood.

The vet called the DNR.

The woman was frantic and angry that the DNR officer said they would have to put the cat down to have it tested for rabies since it drew blood. The woman was furious and wanted me to do something.

There is nothing I can do. Both the DNR and I are bound by laws. The law states that all wild animal wounds require the animal in question to be put down, the head removed and sent to Lansing, where it will be opened and a black light shined on the brain. If it fluoresces, the rabies virus is present. In Northern Michigan, it rarely fluoresces. The DNR knows that. I know that. Still, it is the law.

She said she would just open the door and let the cat out. (A bad idea in town). She said she’d take it back to where she found it, but that might lead to even more trouble and possible charges being brought against her. Not only that, but she would have to go through the rabies anti toxin injections. (Not as painful as they used to be, but very expensive.)

There really wasn’t going to be any way out of this for the cat. Hopefully, it was not a female with kits.

There is a lesson here. Wild animals are just that. They will fight back, no matter how cute or helpless they may seem at the moment. Always, always, always use precautions. Anticipate that the animal will bite or scratch you. In the case of an adult animal, call the DNR or a wildlife rehabber BEFORE you try to move it.

It’s sad, that this animal will have to be euthanized. It’s not the first time that I have had to deal with this. It won’t be the last.

Maybe though, if people use a little more caution, there will be less of it.

Sponge Bob No Pants

nce we are on a trailer park theme. I have another one.

Several years ago, I got a call about a baby raccoon (I had not yet set my primary rules). I was going into town anyway, so I agreed to pick it up at one of our larger, nicer trailer communities in town.

This was before GPS ( necessity to locate a single trailer among hundreds) and the little lanes and streets were poorly marked. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, there are about 10 models of trailers that you se, over and over again and pretty soon they all look alike.

After about 40 minutes of driving through the maze, I found a lovely little doublewide with the proper address. It really didn’t look like the kind of place I expected raccoons.

I rang the bell next to a pretty spring wreath.
An elderly woman in an old fashioned housedress came to the door. I couldn’t hear a word she said over the yapping of at least a dozen chihuahuas. They milled around her feet, all vying for an opportunity to tear into the stranger, who was obviously there to murder their owner.

“Oh dear, come in. Come in.”

“No thank you”, I said as I wedged my foot against the storm door to keep the angry horde from reaching my ankles. It didn’t work.

Chihuahuas pored out the gap in the door and started either raising their leg against shoes or chewing on my pantleg. (Thankfully, I was wearing sturdy jeans).

“Oh, they won’t hurt you.” she said, “they just love people, I’ll go get the darling baby”.

I tried shaking two of the overgrown rats off my leg, but others took their place. I was turning blue from holding my breath against the smell. Dozens of “piddle Pads” were scattered across the floor. The dogs apparently had bad aim.

She handed me a paper grocery bag. I peeked in and there was a 3 or 4 week old raccoon in the bottom. It looked at me as though imploring “Dear God in heaven. GET ME OUT OF HERE”

I declined a cup of coffee, shook the last of the yappers off my pantleg and left. Quickly….making absolutely sure that I has not carried any of the little buggers accidently to the car.

This was not the strange part.

I stuffed the raccoon inside my jacket to keep him warm and calm and managed to find my way back out of the labyrinth to the main gate. It was five o clock. You cannot turn out of any side street onto the main ones during rush hour in Traverse City.

As I am sitting on the corner, waiting for my slim to none chance for escape. There was a knock on my window. Someone was trying to open the car door, but they had automatic locks when the engine was engaged. (For this, I will be eternally grateful)

There, standing outside my passenger side door was a man with a shirt, socks, shoes, but no pants. Baggy briefs were the only thing between him and the brisk breeze. He started shouting as he knocked on the glass.

“Lemmme innnnn! I wanta go to towwwwwwnnnnn. Gimmie a ride. I wanta go to towwwwwwnnn.”

I’d never really head such proficient shout-whining.

As I’m praying for a break in the traffic or the car behind me to move so I could back up and make my escape. (The driver, who was laughing his ass of at the time, was enjoying the show too much to move) Suddenly another man ran up to the car. Thankfully he had pants, but nothing else. (Did they SHARE clothes? Was this his day for the pants?)

This wild haired “gentleman” shouted, “Bobby, Bobby! I tol ya and I tol ya.Ya can’t keep getting in peoples cars. Now go back inna house.”

As they stood there arguing, I no longer cared if there was a break in traffic or not. I pulled directly out into the traffic to the sound of screeching brakes and honking horns. I returned their one fingered salutes with a sheepish wave and went directly home.

The woman was right. The coon was adorable. We named him Sponge Bob No Pants.

Primary rule Number 2 was written. I don’t pick up animals at trailer parks.

Trailer Traps

I broke two of my primary rules today. 1. I do not go to pick up animals at peoples homes. 2. If I do get suckered into it, I DO NOT go to a trailer park.

I got three calls from a man yesterday about a duck. When we finally got done playing phone tag and talked, he told me it was a female baby duck. I asked how he could tell it was female? He said it was “One of them ducks that the boys are green. She isn’t green.”

Ok, flags raised and waved.

It is the first week of May. IF (and there are not yet) there were baby ducks, they certainly would not have feathers. AND.. a juvenile mallard (the green ones) does not have it’s colors or tail curl till it’s first molt at about 4 months old. I explained this to him.

He said. “What makes you think you know so much about ducks?’

I was silent and bit my lip for a moment before responding. “You called me because I rehabilitate wild life. If I rehabilitate wildlife for 30 years, I believe I know more about ducks than you.”

He said. “my wife found the duck in the park and it was really skinny and not doing well, but now it was eating a doing good.” He said he read on the internet that they need other ducks to do good and he couldn’t keep it in the trailer.

Dear God.

I told him that what he had was a “Tractor Supply duck”. People buy them when they are cute and little and when they discover how damn messy ducks are they take them out a dump them. I deal with them every year. They seldom survive being Dumped. I told him he could bring me the duck and it could join my others. ( a number of them “Tractor Supply Ducks”)

“I can’t”

What?

“I can’t. I don’t drive. I’m a stay at home dad. My wife drives the car. (Images of ankle monitors flashed through my mind). I asked if he could meet me in town (I often meet people on Thursdays between errands) “No, I can’t leave the kids”

Against my better judgement. I said I’d pick it up at three. He gave me the address. IT WAS A TRAILER PARK. Near Chums Corners.

I had to use GPS to find the place and even Siri got confused. The road was a solid pothole, but I got there just after three.

Eww…Broken bicycles and vacuum cleaners littered the driveway and yard. A pile of garbage and no less that 4 empty Budweiser boxes were tossed by the door. I pulled my sleeve over my knuckles so I wouldn’t have to make skin contact as I knocked on the grubby door.

A skinny, shirtless, teenage boy in pajama bottoms and a phone clutched in his hand answered. Marijuana smoke rolled out and blinded me for an instant. I noted that his afro was flat on one side, like I had woken him up. No sign of a “Stay at home dad”.

I said I was there for the duck.

“She ain’t here”

What?!!!

“My sista got her. She go ta pick up the kids at da bus. She be right back”

I was boiling at this point. Who the hell takes a duck to go to the bus stop? But I managed to hold it back. I sat in the car, in the driveway for 20 minutes before going back and kicking the door with the toe of my shoe.

Half-hair came back, clearly irritated that he was interrupted again. I asked about his sister.

“I don’t know where she be. Maybe she go to McDonalds.”

That was it. I left. I had wasted almost an hour and still had to drive all the way back. On my way, I called the “House husbands” phone and told him that I came to get the duck, but now he could shove it up his ass, flappy feet and all.

It won’t change anything, but I felt better.

Rule one and two are going to be posted near every phone from now on.

I DON”T come pick up animals at people’s homes.

I won’t go to trailer parks.

Don’t ask me. Nope. Not again. Never.

At least not today.

Snow Day

It has been snowing for months. This winter started the first of November and has not let up for a moment. It is February now, February 13. There has not been school for over a week and I can hear the mothers crying.

Snow or not. I got shit to do. I put on wool socks, fleece leggings, two sweaters, snow pants and my big, big coat (Michigan people will understand what a big, big coat is). I crammed my feet into my boots, found my ski gloves (which have never seen a ski slope and never will) and pulled on a hat with ear flaps.
I have to pee.
Ok, try again. This time I made it outside.
Not only is the snow over my boots, but well over my knees. I started out just shoveling the steps and deck. Then someone stopped to tell me that one of my peacocks was sitting in the road around the corner. I knew I couldn’t get any of the gates between our house and Levi’s, (a short cut) so I walked around the block by the road. I was amazed and dismayed by the amount of pure ice under the snow on the snow. It was like they used a Zamboni instead of a plow. It’s a good thing I had all the padding on my fanny, but I was almost helpless as a turtle on its back, when it came time to get back up.
As I rounded the corner, I could see something spotted white in the road. It was my youngest partial pied, peacock. There she was, just sitting in the road. I went to pick her up. She flew to a nearby fence. The snow is hip deep there. Just as I got to her again, she flew towards our back yard. I assumed she would beat me home.
I repeated my earlier performance on the ice as I waddled home. She wasn’t there.
I don’t know where the hell she landed. Not only that but her mother (also white) and one of her brothers is missing. Now, I understand how I could not see a white peacock in the snow, but a technicolored one?
So the dogs (Sophie had a playdate ) and I walked out back to look for them. The dogs thought this a wonderful opportunity to knock me down in the snow….repeatedly.
Damn, the wild duck who can’t fly is back by the far fence, bogged down in the deep snow. I chase. I miss. I chase again. I miss again. (Now you have to picture this in over the knee, snow motion and two unruly dogs) She gets into the goose pen at the far corner of the fence line. Ok. I can corner her there. One problem. The gate is closed and a foot higher than I can climb over. Knee deep snow, remember? Not only is the snow holding the gate, but it is frozen to the ground and post.
I need to cut the straps on the fence so I can lift it straight up. No knife. That’s ok, I can take a shortcut to the shed through the garden. It would have worked, but the gate at the other end is also buried in snow…..annnnnd, no knife.

Ok. Back up, go around the yard, making a new trail (knock it off dogs!) find a shovel and dig out the shed door to get a knife.

Nope. All that was there was a dull machete.

I got the machete, retraced my trail (Damnit dogs!), cut the straps, got the duck and continued to walk the fence line looking for peacocks. No dice. No peacocks.
So I make it back to the shed with the duck under my arm (Did I mention that both dogs are having a great time knocking me down in the snow?) Put the machete away, the door won’t close, so I stuff the duck in my coat and shovel and chip till it does. The duck shits.
At least it’s warm
As we are trudging back to the house, Sophie decides to impress her boyfriend and chases the geese. The geese fly. One goose flies over the fence. Son of a bitch.
I put the duck away. Feed the duck. Count peacocks…yup, still three shy. Go through the house to get out the front door (another gate that won’t open till June). Where is the goose?
Oh, of course, he is about 50 foot into the neighbor’s yard; in snow so deep I can only see his head and neck. I almost get to him and the other neighbor across the street fires up the tractor / snow blower. Goose flies into the road. I get to the road (am I having a heart attack or is it just the duck shit burning my skin….must be the duck shit) By now the goose is down the street, halfway to the church.
So it’s back in the house to get a stick for herding the goose (the net is frozen to the rabbit pen) and start off down the road. The lovely guy on the snow blower, turns the shoot in my direction. Thanks bud; it will help cool down the duck shit.
Finally, I manage to get in front of the damn goose and turn him back. We are making good progress; the snowbanks are keeping him in the road. Just as we get to our mailbox, idiot guy blows snow at the goose. Goose tries to fly. I tackle him in midair. (The goose, not the guy)
Flipping off the snow blower guy, we head back through the house with goose struggling in my arms. We almost made it. Dogs came in while I was chasing the goose and were lying in wait.
Surprise attack! Goose beats the snot out of me and I drop him. Goose shits in kitchen. I slip in goose shit. Finally cornered goose in the bathroom and returned him to the group outside (who all this time have been cheering for snow blower guy).Now I have duck shit all down the front of my sweater and Goose shit all over the butt of my pants.
Screw the peacocks. I shovel a narrow path through the deck and give up.
That’s my snow day.
And they wonder why I drink.