Sunday, February 5, 2012

When Good Cows Go Bad: Tales of Winter Boredom

It's been a busy week.  The activities and corresponding exhaustion have been endless.  We've been very lucky for a number for a number of reasons, mostly for an unseasonably warm winter here in Wisconsin.  I love that it has been 45-50 degrees and I don't care if the impending apocalypse is causing this climate change, I will sign up for 45 degree winters any day. 

I have learned this week what types of things I can do to entertain guests out here in the country.  I am hoping the warmer spring and summer months will attract more visitors, but I am fortunate enough to have a small handful of friends who wanted to make the trip out here in the winter. Last weekend my best friend Emily and her fiance Barry came to visit for the weekend.  Luckily they are easy to please and were not at all bothered by the random activities we planned. Friday night we simply grilled pizzas and the boys watched Emily and I drink two bottles of wine, easily the most alcohol I have consumed in the last year.   Daytime activities proved to be more of a challenge.

Emily and I bundled Annabelle up and took her in the stroller to the outlet mall to do a little walking and shopping.  Upon returning we learned the boys had the guns out and were shooting clay pigeons.  Not one to be left out of the action, I was given my chance to shoot as well.  For those who are not a fan of firearms, I believe it would be irresponsible for me to live in a house where weapons are kept and to not understand how they operate and how to use them.  That is a component of responsible gun ownership, which I support...obviously.

So after Annabelle went down for her afternoon nap Emily, Barry, and Bryan watched me do a little target shooting. Someone asked me if it bothered me that I revealed so much in my blog about our personal life, and aren't I worried about someone knowing where we live and so much about us? The answer is no.  Because, as it turns out, I am a very good shot with the .45.

Though hard to see, I did hit my target
almost dead center.

Emily chose not to take a turn, but was a good enough friend to stick around to see what kind of skills I have. Doesn't everyone do this when they have friends come visit for the weekend?

Saturday night we decided to go out to dinner, something Bryan and I rarely do now that we have Annabelle.  Our choices for dining are limited not only because of where we live, but the radius we are willing to ravel when we leave Annabelle with someone.  The place we chose seemed fine, however their nightly special seemed very bizarre, and I was alarmed when Barry ordered it.  It was an 18 ounce Chipotle Rubbed Prime Rib, with Pear Chutney and a port wine sauce.  That is a lot happening to a Prime Rib, which historically stands alone.  I was even more concerned when I discovered my Fillet Mignon had barbecue sauce on it.  I mean, that's simply not done.  Perhaps this is why when we returned home at 9:30, instead of playing board games, we all retired to bed.  Welcome to being a grown up.  I think regardless of the entertainment (or lack of) we had a nice visit and I was happy to see my friends.

Tuesday brought its own measure of excitement.  While getting ready for a work at 5:15a.m. I was certain I smelled skunk while I was in the bathroom. I chose to ignore it because anytime I think I smell something in this house, its better to ignore than task where it originates from.   And quite honestly, how much can you really care about something at five o'clock in the morning?   But while I was upstairs getting Annabelle dressed Bryan called up the stairs "Do you smell skunk?"  and I had no choice but to admit the truth.  I didn't need to wait for Bryan to go outside and investigate to know where the smell was coming from. That's right...the smell was coming from Milton.  Milton had been outside for less than 5                     minutes before locating and getting sprayed by a skunk.  I did what I do best. I finished getting ready kissed Bryan goodbye and said "I'm sure you'll have that taken care of before I get home, right?"  and he said yes.

In my defense I did assist with Milton's Silkwood Shower.  In case any of your pets ever get sprayed by a skunk, don't jump for the Tomato juice.  It doesn't work.  The recipe for skunk smell removal is  1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap combined in an mixed open container.  Apply liberally to your sad sack of a dog who LOVES to swim in muddy retention ponds and creeks, but will do anything to escape the bathtub.  The only negative aspect to the de-skunking solution is that you can't get it in the dog's eyes, so you can't apply it to his face.  And I'm sure Milton was nose deep in that skunk when he sprayed, so we're just patiently waiting for the smell to wear off his face in good time.

I was also fortunate that this Friday a good friend of mine wanted to drive the 60 miles outside of the city on a Friday night to visit Annabelle, Bryan, and I when I'm sure there were a number of better ways she could have spent her time.  Because it was going to be dark when she drove out here I was very concerned about her getting lost.  If only there was some large landmark I could have given her to help find the house...

Oh wait! I do have one. A giant poo-covered semi! Why didn't I think of that?  Perhaps that will help narrow down which house is ours.  I supposed I need to quit getting anxious about various pieces of farm equipment, machinery, and vehicles in the yard. That's going to just be a part of life.  And there could be worse things to have in one's front yard. I once found a condom (I did not get close enough to investigate if it was new or used) in my yard in Milwaukee, so perhaps I should just count my blessings.

My visit with my friend on Friday night was fun, a much needed "girls night" for me as they are now somewhat sparse.  I do feel bad for her because while my night consisted of beer, wine, snacks, and girl talk, I have a feeling hers consisted of drinking in moderation, watching "Dance Moms" and "Toddlers & Tiaras" while trying to look the other way while I clumsily nursed Annabelle with a blanket over us that Annabelle repeatedly just pulled off me.  And the evening was rounded out by watching Bryan and I fall asleep on the couch at 10:30.  She's a good friend.

Yesterday brought another day of gorgeous weather so I couldn't just sit in the house another moment. I bundled Annabelle up, snapped her securely (or somewhat securely) into the stroller and decided to take our first walk in the country since moving out here.  I decided to head to the north because I drive to the south every day and wanted a change of scenery.  I was so excited.  Annabelle was getting fresh air and sunshine and I was doing some much needed physical activity and personal reflection. 

Now I debated whether or not to share this story, because it does somewhat diminish me as a hearty country woman.  It makes me seem very citified...and stupid. My mother and sister and both attest to the fact that I literally grew up with cows in our backyard, so I have no idea  why I reacted in such a way.

To begin, while walking on a road with no sidewalk and no shoulder, you need to walk in the road but facing oncoming traffic to prevent getting run over by farm implements (or cars).  For some reason I could not for the life of me figure out which side I was supposed to be walking on!  It was as though if I wasn't in a car I had no idea which side of the road traffic was supposed to be on.  So basically I ran a zigzag pattern back and forth and waited for a car to come by to help me figure out where to walk.

Annabelle and I walked about a half mile down the road when I decided she would love to look at the cows in the pasture.  I saw that there were two cows by the fenceline so Annabelle and I walked toward the fenceline so I could show her.  She had by this time fallen asleep so it was somewhat pointless. But I still went through the motions "Look Annabelle, do you see the cows? What do cows say? Moo.  That's right, Moo."  I heard myself acting like an idiot, but I'm learning that's what parenting is. Just acting like an idiot each and every day hoping the law of averages allows you to occasionally get something right. 

Now perhaps I was shouting because I had my iPod on and maybe that is what set her off.  But while I was talking I realized that one of the cows was aggressively approaching the fence.  I stopped talking and could hear my heart pounding in my chest as I found myself face to face with this grizzly beast:
After snapping this picture I found myself paralyzed with fear. Every time I took a step, she took a step. And I realized that I had now challenged her by looking her in the eye.  I started to walk a little faster and she ran toward the fence. I was trying to think of ways I could prevent Annabelle from being trampled when this cow decided to charge us.  I kept walking and tried to remember anything I learned from Steve Irwin when he was challenged by a Croc.  I could remember nothing, and could feel the adrenaline coursing through my heart.  I quickened my pace only to see (out of the corner of my eye) that the cow was GALLOPING toward the fence. I thought about running but was afraid it would spook the cow and, well...let's be serious, I am not much of a runner and it would most likely result in further incident.  

I did a u-turn and crossed the road and debated yelling for Bryan.  But we were a half a mile from the house and he was most likely running machinery and would be unable to hear my cries for help.  The cow also turned around and followed us back the way we came from.  I kept walking and waiting for her to break through the wire fencing and trample me me to death, certain I could fling annabelle into the weeds, hopefully sparing her young life.

As the cow got to the end of the pasture she lost interested and returned up the hill to the barn. I walked quickly back to the house where I had to explain to Bryan why I had returned after only being gone a short time.  To his credit, he did not laugh at me immediately when I explained that Annabelle and I had been charged by a cow.  He didn't even try to convince me that I was stupid or over-dramatized the events.  He very kindly said that she was curious, and perhaps she had just had a calf because they do get protective when they have calves. 

The conversation quickly got stupid because I told him I was upset that I was scared of a cow, so he asked me if I wanted to bring the gun with next time.  I said no because I needed a license, to which he replied "you need a license to shoot a cow?" and then he slowly started to make fun of me.  We agreed that I would simply have to try it again, perhaps when I didn't have Annabelle with and could maybe keep my wits about me.

The only downside of this week is that Bryan claims to have woken up this morning with no ability to hear out of his left ear.  While I want badly to feel sorry for him, it is mostly just annoying me. He now has an excuse to ignore me and pretend he did not hear.  He also has said that if his hearing isn't better tomorrow he wants to be put down, which is very possible now that I know how to safely and effectively operate the .45. He also has the lost the ability to control the volume of his own voice and keeps shouting things like "A German grenade went off right here."  and then points to his ear, or he plugs the good ear and yells "Nothing. I can't hear anything."  This may be his last day on Earth.

Other than being charged by a cow, and Bryan's recent disability, I think it was a good week. As usual all these events just remind me to be thankful.  I'm thankful to my friends who still want be my friend despite my present geographical restrictions, and I'm thankful to Bryan who not only wants to keep his family safe (from intruders and Holsteins alike), but is also willing to put up with my daily antics.

I am also thankful for owning a mop and broom as the warm winter also means perpetually muddy dogs.

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