Animals. I love them. I was one of those lucky kids that got to have pretty much any pet I wanted: we had dogs and cats, of course, but I also had a pony, a goat, a bunny (well, two, but that's a whole other blog post), a calf ... and that's just the warm blooded ones. Pap-paw would often bring me home some cold-blooded creatures as well: I had scads of turtles (even a baby once!) and tree frogs. I also used to find and keep bugs of all sorts: caterpillars, potato bugs, lightening bugs, butterflies. It was a great way to grow up.
The farm is a bit smaller now. The herd is down to seven heifers: Mo, Flower, Swayback, Face Mask, Bow Tie, Lucky ... and I can't remember the last. (Dad?) Each name has some meaning, usually indicative of their physical appearance. There are also six calves, with another late oops baby on the way (from a second bull, one that broke into our field from a neighboring farm). I have often said that calving season is the time that I miss the farm the most. Neenie agrees; it's her favorite time too (though she says that Pap-paw would shake his head - it was stressful for him).
Unfortunately, the day that I had to take pictures of them, it rained. I ended up soaking wet, and the pictures aren't awesome, but that one of the calves? Adorable.
They were really wary of me, actually, which I guess shouldn't be too surprising, and it meant I got a lot of shots of them looking at me. My uncle (who was feeding them oats) was walking in among them, just like Pap-paw used to do. The cows are income, but also pets, and it's clear that each one has her own personality.
Ahh, Bubbles. Bubbles is a dog. Bubbles was supposed to be a yellow lab mix. Turns out she was heavy on the mix.
Bubbles is about a foot tall. With a neck as thick as her body (as you see below). She's never been fixed, but has never gone into heat. She gets off her leash once every few months, and she makes her rounds around the Wise Family Compound (the farmhouse, my parents' house, my aunt and uncle's house), then waits patiently to get tied up again. Her house is mobile, and when it storms, she uses her head to push it around so it faces away from the rain. She only drinks once a day, because as soon as you fill the skillet with water, she takes a drink and then upends the dish and rolls it under her stomach. She's at least ten years old, but still acts very much like a puppy. A sweet dog who does not like non-family members. Not one bit. Just one mention of her name in my family sets off a chain reaction of head shaking. A crazy dog indeed.
Tate! Well, technically, Tate Two. Funny story here: Tate One was actually my bird (remember when I said I had all the pets I wanted?), given to me by my parents for my eleventh? twelfth? birthday. Tate would go to my grandparents' house while we were on vacation, so they wouldn't have to trek up to our house to worry with her. One year, Tate One never made it back to our house. For years, Neenie and Pap-paw would tease us about dumping the bird on them.
Then, Tate One died (of natural causes). Quicker than you can shake a stick, Tate Two appeared.
And they taught him to say things. He says "Pretty Boy" and "time to eat." He does a pretty mean cat-call whistle. He also imitates the phone ... and I think the smoke alarm. And he loves to have his head rubbed.
Arby. Well, technically, I think it's R.B., short for Ryan & Becca (my brother and future sister-in-law - congrats again, guys!), who found the cat in the barn shortly after (before?) my grandfather's passing and coaxed her up to the farmhouse. Neenie started feeding her, and they have been inseparable since. She sleeps in this spot all the time - right outside this door to the living room, where she can see Neenie in her chair.
I know it's an obvious conclusion, but I think growing up on a farm with so much life is the reason I still like to have it around me. All my houseplants (seven, currently, if you count my strawberry plant), the garden, and the four (four!) furry critters running around really make our house feel like a home. I'm glad my husband grew up in much the same way, and seems to love it as much as I do - because I wouldn't have it any other way.