Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tickling Yourself

Picture this. You're a dog. The word no is a frequent, repetitive noise in your consciousness. Chewing on the rawhide handle of a drum, pulling an afghan off a side chair, chewing on a hand that reaches down to pet you, all result in varying decibel levels of no. Now, you're outside on the yet unfinished patio in front of the kitchen window. You've followed the cat out the deck door. The cat has eaten a full plate of raw chopped pork. It's his second breakfast. The first was interrupted by a pointy-nosed Blue Heeler snuffing the juice from the ham roast, slurping raw milk and pushing you aside with her butt. This movement is a defensive posture designed to save the nose from a sharp swat by one impatient cat. The butt movement is followed by a full body slam which presses the cat to the ground. A voice from heaven calls out, No Mandy. You look around. There is no one immediately visible. "Gee", you say to yourself, " I can't get away with anything."

Coyotes were active Monday night back by the river. Last night all is quiet. Coyotes range far and wide. The Amish tell me one of the daughters went out at 11 pm with a flashlight at the sound of their yip pie-yi-yo. Geese, laying hens and meat chickens are but a few of the tempting coyote morsels on an Amish farm. The minute she switched on the flashlight the yipping stopped. Mother Amish says it indicates coyotes were near-by. Mandy is allowed to roam between the house and garage. On "coyote nights" she's securely locked in the garage in a make shift pen with a comfortable cage and two blankets.

When I walk out the back door, there's no Mandy Mae. I sent the cat out the deck door to avoid the frantic free-for-all that accompanies an early morning encounter between cat and dog. Stepping further into the penned up breezeway, Mandy approaches from under the bench at the back door. The routine is always the same. First, the dog urinates followed by the cat. The difference now: the cat pees in the grass. That's unusual since he has trouble with the required feline rule that says all body wastes must be buried. The cat moves on to the soft sand by the onion drying tent. Mandy is chewing on something by the truck parked on the gravel apron leading to the shed. I investigate. She's trying to swallow a whole dead mouse. Several days ago a mouse got away from the cat and climbed into the under carriage of the truck. Later I find a stiff mouse. Now, there's another mouse. After a slight tug of war, I remove the mouse by prying Mandy's jaws open. I walk to the edge of the front field and toss the carcass into the weeds beyond the fence line.

Both dog and cat follow me inside for breakfast. I offer Mandy fresh raw pork. She looks at me with disgust. I place the dish of raw meat on the console table for the cat. I tear open a package of chicken morsels from Pedigree. Made especially for puppies, it's finely chopped in a savory sauce. She sniffs it and walks away. The cat isn't interested either. I'm puzzled. The dog eats weeds, cabbage leaves, grass, bits of matted turf that are tossed off by the riding mower, yet won't touch any prepared food EXCEPT anything designed for human consumption. The dry dog food in the bowl is ignored. When I trip and spill the entire contents of the bowl on the concrete outside the back door the dog munches morsels eagerly. I find the weekly Shopper I left on a metal chair in the breezeway torn to shreds on the mat in front of the back door. It was, by the way, supposedly out of reach.

Raccoons hit the corn patch last night. Four bare cobs of corn, neatly peeled of outside leaves are discarded on the grass. Yesterday's afternoon task was blanching and freezing ten pounds of corn removed from the cob and stored in quart freezer bags. I've eaten my fill of sweet corn, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today I'll pick more corn and distribute it to friends and neighbors. Dawn takes corn to the residents of the retirement home. I'll tune in NPR on the radio tonight, only because I don't want varmints that near the house.

Oh by the way, you can't tickle yourself.

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