Special to the Beacon Journal
“Farm life is a dull life,” said no one. Ever.
In fact, in the entire history of written or spoken language, I can guarantee it’s never been mentioned once. Not even hinted at. There is not one cave wall drawing with people twiddling their thumbs while their animals rest peacefully in the background 24/7.
In a week where we’re focused on all our blessings, and believe me I have plenty, I just can’t decide whether to put farm life in the plus or minus category.
You see, farm life has not been blowing me kisses of late.
For the record, I have never been allergic to poison ivy. I know because one time, a long, long time ago, I wanted to get out of doing something so I rubbed it up and down my legs. Nothing.
Well, I was recently doing nothing when I came down with a case of it. A bad case.
My husband’s was worse. He’s never had it before, either.
When he woke up one morning looking like Charles Bronson after 12 rounds with Ronda Rousey, he actually blamed my cooking: “Why are my eyes almost swollen shut and my face and neck are so red? What spices did you use in your cooking last night?”
Suppressing the desire to say the same effects could be achieved more quickly with a fry pan, I sweetly replied, “I don’t think that’s my cooking. That looks like poison ivy.”
Turns out, the night of my delicious dinner, he had apparently burned some in a fire of branches and shrubs he’d cleaned up on the farm.
So how did I get it? I wasn’t anywhere near that fire. And, how did I get it where I got it? First it showed up on one arm, then on the other, then down my leg and finally on my foot. My foot! Where you have to wear shoes at all times because if you want to go anyplace and get service, well, you know the drill. And if you’re just staying home, you have to wear shoes to keep your feet clean from the chicken poop, the horse poop, the deer poop and swarms of stinkbugs. (And those are inside the house!)
Then, as my festering festuses (my affectionate term for any disgusting skin lesions) were in their infancy, I fell off my horse. Yes, you read that correctly.
I don’t know if I fell off or if, Wile E. Coyote style, my horse backed up and sideways very quickly and as he went in reverse, I stayed in park. The next thing I remember is the sound my body made when it hit the ground. And a husband who knew nothing and finally turned around to see me lying in a massive, motionless heap in the middle of the trail.
“Are you all right?”
“I don’t know yet.”
When I was able to catch my breath and enough momentum to lift myself from the ground, I wasn’t sure if I was broken, twisted or bruised. I just knew the sun was setting and we had to get back to the trailer quickly. Except I couldn’t go anywhere quickly.
Looking like a cross between Viggo Mortensen in the final desert race scenes in Hidalgo, Festus, Charles Bronson and Ronda Rousey, I rode with as much dignity as I could muster. Until we realized we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and were headed into a housing development.
I was hallucinating about small yards, riding a bicycle, no rooster attacks or crazy chickens, and no poison ivy when the barking of dogs snapped me back into reality. Fearing they were going to chase us and I would fall off again, I started to cry.
“I just don’t understand how any of this happened. The sun is setting at 5:15 and we’ll never find our way back hooooome …”
But we did. Making our way back to the trailer by 5:35 and slowly getting the horses on by 6. It took me much longer to climb into the cab of the truck.
The last week and a half I have walked around looking like the letter S … or sometimes, when the sciatica isn’t acting up but my poison ivy is visible, I just look like a candy cane.
As I write this, I had one more adventure that definitely fits in here.
I was sitting at my kitchen table when I thought I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a piece of my hair fall down on the right side of my face. When I tried to tuck it back up, I noticed a bigger chunk of gray moved quickly past my kitchen window. It wasn’t my hair. It was my horse. Grey and Red were out of their pasture, running circles behind my house!
I threw my boots on my poison ivy-covered feet, went outside with a bag of carrots and watched them run all 16 acres, dragging my now Igoresque body down to the barn to get lead ropes and a bucket of feed.
Since I am on steroids for the poison ivy, I could have just picked the horses up and thrown them over the fence, but because I’m not sleeping (because of the steroids) I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Like me right now, Red is clearly motivated by food so he walked back into the pasture when I shook the feed bucket. Grey stood still, munching grass about 10 yards away, and I calmly threw a lead rope around his neck. We huffed and puffed and one of us limped our way back to the pasture.
This of course, got the chickens all wound up, and I think several cars stopped to take pics for Instagram.
Nope. Farm life isn’t dull at all.
And I have so much to be thankful for. Chiropractors, steroids, and the fact that no humans or horses or chickens were harmed in our latest adventure.
Robin Swoboda’s column runs every other week. Contact her at Robinswoboda@outlook.com.