This is Buddy. He's a big, mangy sheepdog, border collie, mutt mix. He's Mandy's best friend. As we approach the Amish farm I tell my puppy, We're almost there." Mandy rides on the passenger seat. She's too little to see out the side window, but the passing of trees, farm sky and cornfields are noted through the front window. I notice that Mandy pays attention to the different sounds as we travel across the ridge top. First there's blacktop, gravel, seal-coated gravel and fresh gravel at the top of the ridge. I think she's memorized the sounds as we approach her birthplace. My announcement brings her on my lap so she can see out the side window.
Buddy sees us approach and lopes across the lawn. Mandy leaps out as Buddy reaches the car at the same time. Buddy takes Mandy's whole head in his mouth. "Hey howya doin' ?" is the head swallowing gesture. Mandy rolls on her back in ecstasy. They chase around the old white house where I park my Prism. Mandy Sr. is hesitant to approach. Mandy Mae, until recently, sought out mother to suckle. Mom didn't care for the sharp teeth on tender skin. I can't help but compare mother and daughter. Mom has a brown tinge on the fur across her shoulders. Otherwise they're spittin' images of each other save for the white markings. I suspect that Buddy may be the Dad. I'll have to broach that subject the next time I drive up for pie or like today, to trade salsa for the use of their hand grinder.
Yesterday, I drove up with Mandy on a milk mission. Buddy and Mandy chase around with a plastic tub. Everyone's gone except the Patriarch who comes out from his workshop to talk. The state inspector recently shut down their roadside bakery stand. There's an enviable job for someone. Drive up to roadside stands and tell the Amish their bakery has to be inspected and approved by the state. The Patriarch tells me they contacted the inspector's office several times in anticipation of selling bakery from a state approved facility. He never responded. I'm really enthused that my tax dollars are being spent to harass people with a grass roots operation that sought out approval from a non-responsive government agency.
I carry a bag of beef flavored cat treats in my pocket to lure Mandy back to the car. Buddy snurfles my hand trying to steal the tidbits from Mandy. I grab the pup and toss her on the front seat which is covered with an old bath towel. I've never been able to leave the farm without an extended conversation. In their kitchen, I stand announcing my departure only to find myself standing for another 30 minutes. Mandy sits patiently on the front seat waiting for me. Buddy decides to chew up his white plastic water bucket. On the way home Mandy always falls asleep. I repeat the mantra as I drive onto Kickapoo Center Lane. "Mandy, we're here." She looks up expectantly and leaps from my lap as I shut off the engine and open the car door. The Pooch hears the car drive up and saunters over. Mandy's covered with Buddy slobber. The cat thinks this is worth an extended sniff session. He inspects the puppy from head to toe. Mandy's patience is limited to about three milliseconds of sniff inspection from the cat before she lurches out and tries to swallow the cat's ear in one piece. The cat will race off for cover under a pine tree while Mandy tears after the Pooch. I unlock the back door and put the milk in the fridge. For the next thirty minutes the dog and cat will tease each other mercilessly until Mandy is outsmarted by the cat's ability to leap tall hedges, climb on the deck rail or put himself in a position as King of the Mountain. Mandy will relent not before barking furiously to let the Pooch know of her displeasure.