What's the Use?

I was reflecting this morning on my neighbor's comment regarding owning horses. "A horse is for plowing or getting to town" is what he always tells me. He follows that up with "they are useless animals for a farm, I don't get why you have horses when you could have cows". I usually respond with a playful " and....liquor is to be purchased at the liquor store, not from a u-haul trailer". That always gets him. My neighbor is a "retired bootlegger". He even spent a bit of time in prison - three times to be exact - for his little business venture. He was actually a small part of an integral network of individuals in our county who made a living hauling the evil potion all over the southern states. He once showed me pictures of himself and two other fellas in handcuffs behind a u-haul full of moonshine with two sheriff's deputies proudly standing next them guns loaded.

My neighbor is also the ONE person we can call morning noon or night if we need something We try to be the same neighbor to him. He made his mistakes, he paid his prices. There are rumors he still indulges in the crystal liquid as opposed to buying the "watered down stuff" at the liquor store. Then again, two years ago, a large moonshine still was discovered and destroyed somewhere around the county line. That's really all I want to know about it!

This morning, however, his words echoed in my head. My horses are pets - children actually. Since they have decided electricity is invigorating, I am having major difficulties keeping them in the back 30. So, many days, I find them at the front porch profoundly announcing that - yes, that string of electric fence from the post to the door is the result of their newest escape attempt. We know the little blind mare is the culprit. It's her crowning glory to lead the other horses through the fence and then she gets the honor of leading them all day long. She's only blind in one eye, she's just stupid in the other one.

Their escape has become a routine of late. It's just been too hot to put in large posts and barbed wire - at least that's our excuse. But, the requirements of "managing" this situation are frustrating. For instance, this morning, I had to scoop out the cat and dog food and crawl under the shed to distribute it. The cats think I'm crazy! The dogs are furiuos that they have to go with me if they are to eat and the spiders...well....I usually make it out without fainting! When I crawl back out, there the horses are trying to get the door back open to the shed so they can help themselves. Many a dent is in that shed door thanks to their insatiable appetite for anything that's unhealthy. Oops and Radar are usually blocking my path to the house at this point. They are the most uniquely spoiled and they know if they push long enough, lavish "kisses" on my good clothes, etc., I will relinquish and bring them a piece of bread.

This morning I was running late and I was angry with them. Instead of going for the bread, I turned on the hose. Oops ran. Radar recalled those days when he was being shown and stood there with arched neck waiting for me to show up with the shampoo. I can't win! I went in and changed into my better clothes since my good clothes were trashed for this day (it's casual day at work so better isn't best). When I got back out Oops was back. That was no big deal, I explained to her that I was now heading to work and headed to the car.

Oops is a big horse. And she's a spoiled horse. My husband makes her mind. I make her love. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. As I opened the car door I realized the pack of crackers I had sticking out of my purse. I realized it at the same time Oops realized it. She's been around long enough to know my hiding places - what was I thinking? Yes, she grabbed those crackers, immediately tearing the bag open and tossing them all over the yard. The barn cats descended on them like birds in a grain field. There we were - one massive horse, a thousand nasty barn cats, me and my car. I couldn't move the car without running over someone and Oops knew it.

It was during the cat, horse, car, me standoff that the puppies realized something was up and they showed up. No volume of screaming, no horn, no revving of engine could budge these stupid animals. Oops began scratching her...backside...on my rear view mirror as I was screaming at her to move and now swatting her through my window. I'm not sure if I let off the break or if Oops was particularly dominant this morning but there's a rear view mirror dangling from my driver side door. That's o.k., it now goes with the other mirror that was busted during the great hail storm of 2005. It will be o.k. at least until my husband sees it.

There will be words I don't appreciate. There will be ultimatims about the horses. He will probably stop by Pete's old barn and talk to Pete regarding how right he is about my horses, possibly attempt to make arrangements for a trade of cows for horses. There may even be talk about a rifle and the cats and dogs. And then, tonight, I will make sure to gather the horses around me as he is watching and I will watch as his heart once again softens when he realizes that these truly are creatures I will not surrender. My guess is that by tomorrow evening, there will be a new barbed wire fence.

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