Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Respect Thy Elders (even when they shit in your car)

I should enter “caretaker for the elderly” under my job description. Aside from the cows, horses, sheep, and dogs, we have a subgroup of the elderly here at Barclay Farms.

The first is Max, a (best we can figure) 17-year-old Rottweiler-lab-chow mix who is plagued by arthritis, acute hearing loss, and the occasional seizure. He’s also terrified of thunderstorms and sudden movements (mostly because he can’t move out of the way quickly and has had too many people drop things on him). He responds very well to hand-signals, when he chooses to pay attention to you, and he salivates prodigiously for pizza (his favorite thing). Lately, he’s been loosing control of his sphincter (namely because, we figure, he can’t feel it). So it’s very dangerous to walk around our living room and kitchen barefoot and in the dark. Luckily the pellets are still relatively hard.

Then there’s Iris. Her rear end is still in as good a working order as her front, albeit she moves with the creaks and groans of a barn falling down. Slowly. The (again, approximately) 25-year-old Belgian/Appaloosa cross mare, is completely blind in one eye and just sees shadows with the other. Her hearing is great and she still bumps her way happily around the farm, even more happily when the old girl comes into heat and the proud-cut gelding, Argo, gets a chance to think he’s really something (although there’s not much he can do when she’s “winking” at him.)

Next, my old cow, Essential, has been much better of late since we got her feet trimmed. Her back feet grow like elf-shoes (at least the ones in the old Santa Clause movies) and her back bows around weird, paying the price for her bad wheels. She’s the kind of cow who knows what she wants and how to get it. Most my herd goes back to either Essential or her half-sister, Party Girl, who is (sadly) no longer with us. She may be the last cow to the feed trough, but the other cows and calves know they’re access is denied when she finally shows up!

And last on our list of old things to take care of (without starting on the haying equipment) is my wonderful and beautiful grandmother. 85-years-old and not even crazy yet. She may think she needs to paint the flagpole and bury the old buildings, but, hey, I better watch it, because one day I’m going to come up with even better ideas yet!

So let’s hear to for the glories of old age and a round of applause for their caretakers, who just shake their heads and love them anyway. And whoops, I got more pellets to clean up.