Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Orange Wheelbarrow Story

The Orange Wheelbarrow Story.

Let me preface it by saying (1) I always cleaned their coop using a muckbucket (blue, or green, or whichever one I happened to grab that day); and (2) that my husband is not a horse person.

To understand the layout of our property, it is all a very steep hill, with a couple of very small flat spots or "levels". So the house is down by the street, walk up a steep hill to a flat area where the kids swingset is. If you look further straight ahead, the chicken pen/coop is at the base of a hill. Behind the pen, sharing a fenceline, is part of the horse paddock. It is very, very steep and goes straight up to another flat area. Then beyond that, it is caves and ledge outcroppings that even deer won't venture onto, it is spelunking only territory. If you go to the right, the horse pen then goes across and down, sort of shaped like a horseshoe, so if you walked to the right you would come to the other side of it. My horse barn is out of sight beyond my husband's big barn. There are a few gates at different places in the horse fencing, to allow us access from different areas of the yard, because it is not all accesible by ATV unless you come in from different angles. Also a gate in the middle that leads to a trail in the woods to property that used to be owned by my grandmother-in-law, until she passed and it was sold, and is used for hunting only now.

OK, with that out of the way..... On cool fall late Sunday afternoon, I decided it was time to give the chicken coop a cleaning. Shovel out all the old shavings and poop (this is quite a project), hose all the stuff off, and put it back. The chickens, and especially Bunner the goose are not fond of this process, although its been going on for many years. While I was working on that project, my husband took the kids and his dog at the time (Barney, now unfortunately over the Bridge) for a walk in the woods. My son was maybe 2 or just turned 3 at the time, I think, so my daughter was around 7.

So my husband and kids and dog walk up the hill and enter the left gate, to walk through the paddock to the gate that goes up to the path in the woods. I'm down at the bottom of the hill, and decide for some reason to use my new Home Depot Orange big plastic wheelbarrow, since it is so much easier on my back to roll a wheelbarrow than drag a full muck bucket to empty it. As soon as I enter the coop with the Wheelbarrow, Bunner totally freaks out. Normally he is a friendly goose, and he doesn't (or didn't at the time) tend to go after humans. He wasn't really aggressive, just noisy when things aren't quite right in his goose world.

So now Bunner is coming after me with this wheelbarrow, honking like crazy, which in turn has caused the guinea hens to start alarming. If you've ever heard a flock of guinea hens alarm, you know what I'm talking about. The sound is absolutely deafening. So there are 6 guinea hens alarming right over my head, and a goose that is coming after me, wings extended, attacking me!!!! I can't turn around to get out of there, or he is going to get my in the tender back of the thigh. He grabs the sleeve of my flannel quilted jacket (that I stole from hubby, so the sleeves are too long anyway) and I can't get him off me!!!! He has grabbed onto my sleeve, and I'm trying to shake him off without getting beaten with wings, and guinea's are still alarming.

In an effort to get Bunner off me and not hurt him, I decided to implore the use of centrifugal force, and I start spinning around in circles, hoping the weight of the goose will cause him to not be able to hold on any longer and fly off my sleeve. What I didn't take into consideration, is that geese have wings. So picture little 5 foot me, standing in the middle of a chicken pen, with 6 guinea fowl alarming, and me spinning around in cricles with a goose attached to my sleeve and him flapping his wings. It was quite a sight!!! But wait, that is only half the story.

Suddenly, I hear my husband up in the woods yelling for me, Yes up, WAY UP that hill. I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was important and him not just wanting something. I barely can make out: "SHELL!!!! SHELL!!!" (my nickname is Shelly) over the din of the guinea hens still alarming, and the beating wings of a goose attached to my outstretched arm. I managed to yell: "WHAT? I'M KINDA BUSY HERE!!!" He yells back "GET THE HORSE!!!" Now I can hear my son screaming, so all kinds of thoughts start going through my mind. Adrenaline and mommy-instinct kicked in, and I somehow got the darned goose off my arm. I have no idea how I did it, but I managed to not drag him with me. So I RUN UP this hill. A hill so steep that it is difficult to walk it without holding onto trees to pull yourself up, and so steep that it requires a lot of finesse to not flip over an ATV going up or down it. By the time I get to the top of the hill I am shaking and so breathless that my lungs hurt. My son is about 10 feet from the gate, laying on the ground screaming at the top of his lungs while my daughter is dragging him by the arm toward the gate. I look to the right, and my husband is holding Lakota by the halter, and his dog, Barney is standing at his feet. So I grab my son and quite literally toss him out the gate, shove my daughter out and lock the gate. As I'm walking over to them, I'm asking what in the world is going on???

The story goes like this: My husband, son and daughter are walking through the paddock, and my son, in typical toddler fashion, decided he was going to take off. So when he was physically held back and told to stick around, in typical toddler fashion, he began screaming bloody murder at the top of his lungs. Lakota apparently was at the bottom of the hill (where the horses typically hang out), and heard this screaming. She galloped to the top of the hill. Then stopped. She looked at my husband, she looked at the dog, and looked at my son screaming. Lakota made the quick (incorrect) assumption that the dog had harmed my son. (Lakota isn't a fan of dogs). Lakota took matters into her own hooves, and decided that it was up to her to rescue my son from the dog. So now there is a non-horse person in a fenced in area, with a screaming toddler and a dog, and the horse is trying to kill the dog. Lakota lunges at the dog and clearly wants to kill him. My husband yells at the dog to GET OUT but Barney refuses to leave my husband's side (which was typical of Barney, he alway stuck to my husband like glue, from the very moment we picked him up at the pound). He was afraid to have my daughter take the dog out, for fear of her getting hurt in the process, so has her drag my son out so he doesn't get hurt, which only causes him to scream even more, and Lakota to get even more worked up, and Barney to get even more worried and protective and stick to my husbands leg like another appendage. It was at that point that I heard my husband screaming "SHELL!!! SHELL!!!" So all this was going on while I was down at the bottom of the hill swinging a goose around like a helicoptor.

The ending was not nearly so exciting. I took Lakota by the halter, and my husband walked out the gate with the dog at his side. I let Lakota go. She charged over to the gate, sniffed the ground, and proclaimed the child and paddock again safe, and wandered back off.

PS -- I tried to use the orange wheelbarrow one other time to clean the coop, and had a similar reaction. So I abandoned that, and have continued to ruin my back dragging full muck buckets across uneven ground and uphill. Muck buckets are good; Orange Wheelbarrows are evil.

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