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Emily P Gibson

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Listening for the Vetch
By Emily P Gibson
Monday, September 01, 2008

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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A not-so-typical day on the farm

Some days are out of the ordinary.  

For me today it started as I drove the ten miles of country roads to get to town, running a bit late to a formal meeting at work.  I was listening to the news on the car radio when I puzzled over why the radio station would be playing cat meows over the news.  I turned off the radio, and realized the meows didn’t go away.

As soon as I was able, I pulled into a parking lot and surveyed my van from back to front, looking under seats, opened the back, scratched my head.  Then the meowing started again—under the hood.  I struggled with the latch, lifted up the hood and a distressed bundle of kitten fur hurtled out at me, clinging all four little greasy paws to my white blouse.  Unscathed except for greasy feet, this little two month old kitten had survived a 50 mile per hour ride for 20 minutes, including several turns and stops.  He immediately crawled up to my shoulder, settled in by my ear, and began to purr.  I contemplated showing up at my meeting with a kitten and grease marks all over me, vs. heading back home with my newly portable neck warmer.  I opted to call in with the excuse “my cat hitchhiked to work with me this morning and is thumbing for a ride back home” and headed back down the road to take him back to the barn where he belongs, now with the new name “Harley” because he clearly desires the open road.

After breathing a sigh of relief that my traveling kitty was back home safe and sound, I went out to check fence line as the electric wire seemed to be shorting out somewhere in the pasture.  My horses had decided that the wire interfered with their hearts’ desire and they had broken through, so it clearly was not hot enough to discourage them.  It was a 90 degree day with only a brief shower and persistant drying breezes  so as I approached the fenceline, I heard numerous snaps and pops from the wire shorting out in the dry grass and weeds, creating a fire hazard and certainly potentially dangerous with the winds whipping up.  I walked closer and was really puzzled to hear snaps all up and down the fence, but could not see sparks.  I approached more closely and heard a little "snap" and a tiny seed pod burst open in front of my eyes, dropping its contents all over the ground.  It was the dried common vetch seed pods that were snapping and popping, not electric fence shorting out.  They were literally exploding all up and down the fenceline in a reproductive symphony of seed release.  Relieved, I put the broken wire back to together, plugged it in and all was well, at least until the next horse decides the adjacent pasture looks better.

 I put our stallion out for his turn at pasture and he began pawing furiously at his round black rubber water tub, splashing water everywhere and creating quite a mess.  I went to refill the tub with the hose and he went down on his knees in the water trying to lower one shoulder into it and his neck and face.  By this time he had made a mud puddle of the thick dust around the tub and his splashing and thrashing was causing mud to fly everywhere, including all over me, my hair, covering his mane and tail and belly and legs.  I took the hose and sprayed the cold water over him and he leaned closer to me, as if begging me to spray him everywhere, turning around so I could do his other side, facing me so I could spray his face.  I drenched him completely, and we were both muddy, happy and much much cooler.  

It is never dull on the farm even in the midst of the mundane, and there are lessons to be learned every day.  Remember to bang on your car hood to dislodge intruders, know how to remove greasy paw marks from a nice white blouse, keep the electric fence hot, and once in a while share a mud bath with your horse. But especially, listen to the vetch and don't be fooled that catastrophe is about to happen.  The vetch is simply exploding in noisy reproductive ecstasy.  It doesn’t get better than that.



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