Monday, March 10, 2014

Life, Death, and Worm Medicine

My husband and I have a hobby farm. That’s a nice way of saying we own more grass than anyone can mow in a single day.

The grass is necessary because of the horses. Horses are twelve hundred pound mammals that eat salad all day to maintain their body weight. Let this be a lesson to us all. If humans want to maintain their body weight by eating salad then they have to eat salad ALL DANG DAY LONG.

Having a hobby farm means a couple of things, one, we have animals that eat grass and two, those animals eventually die. It’s called the circle of life.

The closest most people come to the circle of life in our modern society is when that daddy lion holds up that baby lion in that Disney movie and all the savannah animals bust out singing. It’s possible that this scene is misleading. The circle of life is a lot less musical and involves a lot of hole digging . . .

. . . because everything that’s born on that savannah is going to die. Sing about that, Disney!!!

One of our first experiences with the circle of life involved a flock of chickens and worm medicine. Oh, by the way, worms tend to be a hefty part of that whole life circle deal.

What no worm song, Disney Studios?

News flash: horses get worms—also dogs, cats, cows, goats, and occasionally toddlers and in rare cases the mothers who care for them. Don’t ask.

Once we tried de-worming our horses with a medicine designed to be added to the horses’ feed, fancy pants blue worm poison pellets.

NOTE: When horses aren’t eating salad, they’re busy eating snazzy seeds covered in molasses.

We mixed the worm medicine into their feed. The horses hated the worm stuff and ate everything except the blue pellets.

Apparently chickens not only love snazzy seeds but they also love blue worm pellets. They helped themselves. NOTE: Blue pellet horse wormer kills chickens, but it doesn’t kill them fast.

So our barn was filled with flopping, staggering poisoned chickens.

I turned to my husband and said, “Well, Babe, we’ve got to put these chickens out of their misery. They’ve been poisoned.”

My husband, a mostly city boy, said, “What? Out of their misery? What? That’s just another way of saying, ‘Kill them’ isn’t it? What?”

He stared at the bunch of twitching birds. Then he looked at me.

“But how?”

We stared some more at the sick chickens.

“Should we smother them with a pillow?” he asked.

He wasn’t kidding.

“Not my pillow.”

I was kidding—sort of.

“Shoot them?” I suggested.

“You mean like dig a trench and then throw them in it and . . .”

“What? Trench? No. We’re not Nazi’s, for goodness sakes.”

We handled it. Because that’s what you do in the country, you handle stuff—all the stuff—life, death, worms, and burial detail.

Horses: Too big to flush down the toilet. Call the septic tank guy with his backhoe. Our guy’s got some great hole digging stories.

Chickens, Rabbits, Squirrels: Posthole diggers are quick and efficient. Dig hard, dig deep.

Or if you’re our neighbors you toss the dead critters over the back fence, sit back, and vulture watch. Life, death, worms, and burial detail, that’s the real circle of life. P.S. There’s very little singing.

I blame Disney for encouraging this nutty belief that the circle of life is a musical number in a Broadway show. Nope. It’s way better because it’s real. It’s sad and funny and final and real. Life and death and worms. I’m for it.

Linda (Grave Digger) Zern

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