Friday, January 25, 2008

A Taste of My Own High Maintenance Medicine

My senior year in college, my friend's father flew to North Carolina for a reunion with some of his UNC fraternity brothers, and we were all invited to attend their reunion dinner and the party afterwards. At this dinner, we somehow got on the subject of being high-maintenance versus low-maintenance (I think we may have been talking about plastic surgery but I can't recall) and it was quickly established that I was the former. In fact, that night I quickly earned the nickname HM from one of the gentleman at the table and it stuck - at least for a while.

As I was updating the settings and template on my blog (what do you think of the new pix?), I found myself struggling with how to describe my animals. In my original header, I referred to "2 high-maintenance goats." In the revised header, after Nugget was born, I referred to "2 high-maintenance goats and their kid." But it was clear to me, after having watched Nugget grow up and develop a personality, that she is just as high-maintenance as her parents - perhaps even moreso. And what about newest addition Dixie and add-ons Tony and Sebastian? They aren't exactly easy.

Hell - all of my pets are high maintenance. Period. And once I realized that, I had to stop and reflect on what that actually meant.

Farms are a place for hard work and humility. You can't be HM shoveling donkey shit out of a stall and then spreading it in the pasture. You can't be HM when you go to the farm store to pick up hay, feed or other supplies. You can't be HM holding a goat down while the vet gives it a shot. The words high-maintenance and farm generally don't go together unless you're talking about a tractor.

So how did we wind up this way? With animals that need tending to 3x a day? A donkey that needs feed in the morning - and God forbid I feed her in her stall and go back in the house for 15 minutes while she eats. No - Elvis is jealous and if I don't stand over him, he'll butt Dixie's trough off the slat where it hangs (he can do this from outside the stall) and then she won't eat. Goats who start hollering every day at 4 pm if you don't come to feed them. You'd think these animals are starved the way they carry on. And if I am going out to feed the goats, I might as well give Dixie her second feeding as well. And that's always a challenge because Elvis runs around like mad and bucks up at and tries to startle Dixie and so it's difficult to get her in the stall (this won't always be a problem - she will eventually outgrow him and become the alpha of the pack but we're not there yet) and it takes more time than it ought to. And of course, feeding the goats is slightly better - although Marty disagrees. We feed them out in the barn - which I like because it's covered. And they each have their own trough - which helps. But it's impossible to scoop the feed from the bin without them rubbing up against your legs and trying to shove their faces in the feed before it's gone to the trough. And then when you walk from the feed bin to the troughs they run everywhere and it's hard not to trip. And they buck up so if you don't time it just right, the scoop of feed you're getting ready to dump in their trough gets knocked slightly and spilled. And then you can't just let them stand there and eat because if you don't keep watch - Elvis will run the 2 girls off and/or my fatty Ann-Margaret, who eats with unrivaled zeal and speed, will finish her feed and then go right for Nugget's trough. And of course, Nugget is my baby and I can't let that happen - not to mention Ann-Margaret needs to lose weight.

Then it's back to the house where Tony comes running because he knows it's time to be fed. And he's getting fat because we leave dry food out all day - which we've always done and it's never been a problem because Tony would spend most of his day outside running and hunting and chasing things. But recently, he's become a sleep-all-day, laze-about-the-house cat who may go out for an hour or two in the evenings, but otherwise just sleeps all day. However, Sebastian only weighs 4 lbs. and if I don't leave food out all day, I don't know how or when he'll eat (he's been eating at his own will for 8 years - I don't know that I could train him to get on a schedule now).

And then it's eventually back out the pasture one more time around 6:30 or so to round up Dixie and put her in her stall for the night. She always gets a treat and now Elvis stands around until you give him a treat too.

Do you see what I mean that my menagerie is high-maintenance? I know that it's somehow a reflection of me but I can't really dig into the psychology of it right now because just reliving my daily animal-related duties has worn me out and so I have to come to a close.

But feel free to share tales of your own pets and/or comment on mine.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


sumo said...

Now keep in mind that this is the world you have made for yourself. They are animals and they will eat when you feed them...

Anonymous said...

High maintenance parents = high maintenance kids

But you knew that already