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Monday, May 15 2017

Given my career as a cop and a crime scene investigator, one would assume that I've had plenty of opportunities to scream, but apparently dead men and drug dealers are not as frightening as copperheads and skunks because only now, here in my retirement, I am discovering that I have a pretty healthy set of lungs. Screaming is becoming a somewhat frequent occurrence.

I now look more carefully for skunks in the haybarn, and copperheads, well, everywhere. The scream is all about the surprise, and if you're expecting something, it doesn't surprise you. Nevertheless, while I have come to expect these unpleasantries outside my back door, I'd like to say that inside my humble abode I can let my hair down and relax.

Apparently I have been mistaken.

It started with a bottle of furniture polish. The bench in the barn aisle neaded a touch-up and so Other Half dutifully polished and spit-shined it until the wood gleamed. It was a nice gesture which would last all of one day since the bench, an old church pew, is sitting in a dusty barn. As husbands often do, instead of returning the bottle of furniture polish to its assigned spot underneath the kitchen sink, he left it in the barn aisle beside the bench where it would have undoubtedly stayed for another month or so had I not moved it.

I appreciate the words of Gomer Pyle, "A place for everything and everything in its place!"

Gomer Pyle did not live with my husband.

When we moved into this house, my rules were simple. No clutter. None. But Other Half doesn't see clutter, he sees a collection of his 'stuff' in easy to reach places. This has led to more than one marital 'knock down, drag out' fight over property rights. It is a constant battle, one which leads us straight to the kitchen sink.

The cavern underneath the kitchen sink should have a box of trash bags, a couple of cooking pans too large to fit in the cabinets, and one plastic milk crate which holds cleaning supplies. That's it. I should be able to open that cabinet and count the occupants at any given time.

It lasted about two months. Bit by bit Other Half started stashing more and more 'crap' underneath the sink. Egg cartons, old cooking oil, and other miscellaneous stuff began to stack behind closed doors. I complained. I ordered him to clean that shit out. He nodded his head in agreement, watched another episode of Gunsmoke, and never left his recliner.

That's when I drew the line in the sand. This was his mess and by golly, he was gonna clean it! The problem with refusing to do it for him is that he really doesn't care. He 'knows where everything is' and is thus a happy camper.

I was an unhappy camper, but in marriage, you pick and choose your battles, and I had bigger fish to fry. The kitchen sink could wait. So I thought. It was about the time I put the furniture polish back, that I had a change of heart.

Actually, it was a heart attack that I almost had.

Holy crap on a cracker! I reached under the sink to toss the furniture polish back in the milk crate and stuck my hand in a spider web with a black widow! The very moment my fingers got tangled in the web I recognized the texture. I glimpsed the black widow as I jerked my hand back.

Nope. Nope! Nope!

A handgun does not eject a bullet casing faster than my hand was ejected from that cabinet. This set forth a round of screaming and cussing so loud that even the deaf dog could hear me. The new Border Collie puppy learned vocabulary words that he normally wouldn't hear until he watched us work cattle.

While the dogs stared, jaws slack in open-mouthed Os, I danced around the kitchen floor, screaming obscenities and flicking spider webs off my fingers. It was ugly, folks, it was ugly. It was karma.

I have a friend who is afraid of spiders. I regularly dump spider memes on her Facebook page, because, well, I'm a bitch, and an evil friend. And so I thought of Teresa and karma as I danced around the kitchen floor screaming.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. By a black widow.

I had survived my encounter with a tiny beast which Wikipedia informed me was the most dangerous spider in North America with venom 15 times the potency of a rattlesnake. (under my friggin' kitchen sink!) and my next order of business was to get it out.

Without squishing it.

It would have been easy enough to squish her. She was sitting right there, glaring at me with all eight eyes. (Thank you, Google)

How much Farnam Citronella Stable & Fly Spray does it take to kill a black widow?

I don't know either but there is now a half a bottle of it covering everything underneath my kitchen sink.

This slowed her down, or pissed her off, to the point where I could use a big spoon and a spatula to get her inside a paper towel and put her in a mason jar. My favorite long spoon and spatula may have to be burned.

Why, you may ask, did I put a black widow in a mason jar?

Evidence. Proof. Proof that she existed. A crime scene must be properly documented. Not only must we have photographic evidence that said suspect was indeed, underneath the kitchen sink, but we must have proof that said suspect was in fact, the very dangerous, (but shy and reclusive, and often misunderstood) black widow spider, otherwise, my husband would have sworn I was making much ado about nothing.

I normally have no qualms with spiders. I don't stomp them. Most of the time, I name them, take a picture of them, and splash them on Teresa's Facebook page like a drive-by shooting. But not a black widow. Not underneath my sink.

"Use your eight eyes to find it and your eight legs to walk yourself to the door, because Sister, you are not welcome here."

The upside to this whole experience is that I found something more unnerving than a copperhead at your door step.

And the kitchen now smells lemony fresh like stable spray.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 11 2017

     The Boyz went to the vet to be 'tutored' this week. They are approaching two years old now and almost fully grown so I felt comfortable neutering them. I'm a fan of neutering late when possible. Sometimes it's just not realistic but when it is, I wait because I want those hormones available for growth and development. It's time now. They have, hopefully, reached their full height, and although they could stand to fill out more, I feel like they're almost finished growing.

     Neutering giant dogs isn't as simple as loading them into the family car and driving off to Doctor Snip-snip. No. Livestock Guardian Dogs live outside. With the livestock. They stink. Not only do they stay in and out of the ponds, but they haven't perfected the art of killing a skunk without getting sprayed. When I scheduled the appointment I promised my vet that I'd bathe them. She said she'd appreciate that.

     The night before I locked the boys in outside kennels because "no food or water before surgery." I awoke the next morning to find that Jury had spent the night excavating an elaborate escape from Alcatraz. He was asleep under the tractor, not twenty feet away from the pen he put so much effort into breaking out of.

     It was time for a bath. Regret is realizing you've forgotten to train your puppy to take a bath and he now weighs 110 pounds. At least. And has teeth.

     This was a two-person job. Other Half held the leash while I went through the motions of bathing Judge. Imagine bathing a calf that isn't halter broke. By the time we were finished everyone was wet but the dog was clean. Jury watched all this with narrowed eyes.

     We locked Judge in the dog box compartment of the cattle trailer which is a roughly a five by six foot addition to the front of a normal stock trailer. It's designed for calves, or cowdogs, or saddles, or Livestock Guardian Dogs that are too big to fit inside the truck. While Judge stood in the trailer and dried, we got a leash for Jury.

     I snapped the leash on Jury's collar and he raised his eyebrow like Spock. I handed the leash to Other Half while I got a length of rope to tie around his neck and secure the dog to one of the poles that holds up the house. When I slowly turned on the water hose at his shoulder the giant dog whirled around on the hose and threatened the water. I continued the gentle spray. He then thrashed like a marlin and threatened the hose, the water, the rope holding him, and the leash holding him. It would be a short trip to threaten Other Half.

The rope around his neck came untied.

     Now here is where dog trainers fight. I didn't want to quit. Quiting was failure. Quiting would teach the dog to fight. I wanted to re-group, start slower, and try it again.

     Being on the end of the leash holding the dog, Other Half was all for avoiding an ER bill and an insurance deductible and quitting while we were ahead. Deleting the expletives, I will paraphrase,

"I'm not going to the Emergency Room over a ******* dog! The vet can just deal with a dirty ****** dog! He's a ******* Livestock Dog! It's okay if he's dirty!"

He had a point. So Other Half and Jury voted against trying the bath again. I was outvoted. We loaded the dog up with his brother and drove to the clinic. I went in to see where the vet wanted them while Other Half went back to check on the dogs. It was decided to bring them through the back door straight into the kennels rather than go through the front waiting room and chance being attacked by a poodle.

     I went back to the truck to tell Other Half. He interrupted. We had bigger problems than poodles in the waiting room. Jury had a mud blow-out and had stress-shit all over the dog box. The faint aroma of skunk on Jury paled in comparison to the way he smell now.  He and his formerly clean brother were smeared with dog shit.

     Nothing makes a vet question their life choices more than a frightened Anatolian covered in shit, so I'm not sure who was having a worse day, Jury or Dr Harvey. We snapped leashes on the boys and walked them across the parking lot to the back door of the kennels. A vet tech opened the door and Other Half led Judge inside. I followed with Jury. The big dog stuck his head into the threshold, saw a terrier or poodle or some small dog that resembled a piranha (frankly it happened so quickly I can't remember) and ran out faster than a teacher on the Last Day of School. I was a kite of a string as he sailed across the parking lot. No stranger to be dragged by large animals, I dug in my heels and got him stopped. While Other Half settled Judge in a kennel, Jury and I stood in the parking lot and thought about life, small dogs, big dogs, and why you should socialize large dogs before they exceed 60 pounds.

     When Other Half came outside, we pushed, pulled, and dragged the giant chicken into the building and put him in a kennel with his brother. The other vet came over to have a peek at them. He stood in front of the kennel and joked about ripping out balls. Judge quietly informed the vet that he kills feral hogs, and has no problems with killing vets too.

Alrightie then. When a 110 pound dog demands respect, it's really best to just give it to him. The vet backed off. A tiny vet tech came over to put a chart on the door. Judge smiled and wagged his tail. Tiny women bearing clipboards were okay.

I had serious doubts. How were these people going to be able to handle two frightened dogs the size of calves?

Never doubt a nurse or a vet tech.

Better living through chemistry.

The vet handed us pills to cram down their throats. Judge was moved to a separate kennel for ease of handling, and we left as the calm-down pills took effect. I apologized once more for their appearance and behavior as the vet tech smiled sweetly and assured me that everything would be fine. (Better living through chemistry.) I could pick them up tomorrow.

As we drove out of the parking lot, one fact nibbled at the back of my head. The Anatolians weigh more than the vet tech.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 02:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email

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