Tag Archives: farm

Saying Goodbye to One Fine Ass

Saying Goodbye to One Fine Ass

festus6Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  This quote sums up exactly how the folks around the Thurman farm have been feeling this week.  The legendary, elderly, clever, entertaining, dirty, scruffy, arthritic donkey, Festus, gave up the ghost yesterday and took a little piece of our hearts with him.

Festus was my hero from day one.  It has been nearly five years since our family left the town life and migrated to life on my husband’s family farm.  The horse and I got off on the wrong foot and I had a turbulent relationship with the mice who invaded my kitchen.  There was the incidental barn cat breeding fiasco, the introduction to the electric fence, and there remains a cow who stalks me and constantly tries to start shit with me.  But Festus, we were tight from day one.  Upon being introduced, I was told how his main function on the farm was to keep the coyotes away from the cows. I don’t know if this is just crap they were feeding me because I don’t really know the truths and myths of farm life, but I didn’t care.  There is only ONE thing I hate worse than that bitch-ass mean cow and that would be coyotes.  I knew right away Festus and I were going to be fast friends.

Festus was old; at least 35.  He was an old ass, but also a wise ass.  He couldn’t get around very well the last few years, his old bones were stiff.  The spring may have been gone from his step, but that ornery twinkle was there until the end.   Here are just a few of the highlights of our friend, Festus:

  1. Peppermints were the way to his heart. The old ass loved apples, carrots, and sugar cubes, but nothing made him happier than when someone trudged out to the field with pockets full of cellophane wrapped peppermint goodness to share with him.  And nothing pissed him off more than when you showed up empty handed.  He was an ass with expectations.  After nuzzling pockets upon approach, he would quickly determine if you were bearing gifts worthy of his company or if you were a human disappointment to be ignored.
  2. He was well equipped. When the little twin cousins, Carter and Caden, were visiting the farm, they excitedly announced to their mom, Jody, that Festus was having a baby.  In additional conversation with the little fellas, they announced that “Festus had a leg sticking out of his belly, so he MUST be having a baby.”  Imagine how hard it was explaining to them that is was not a leg but rather his giant donkey dong.  Old Festus set the bar very high for these youngsters.

    Carter and Caden with Festus

    Carter and Caden with Festus

  3. He was not afraid to use what the good Lord gave him. Festus was really old. He walked stiff-legged and preferred to lay around in the sun most of the time.  His range of motion was limited and so he didn’t move around a great deal and he certainly didn’t move anywhere fast.  Except that one time…when the neighbor’s Jenny (that is what they call girl donkeys FYI, not her actual name. I don’t think Festus even got her name) was all hot and bothered and prancing her fine ass on the other side of the fence.  Perhaps in his prime he would have jumped the fence for this fine piece of Jenny, but he was way past his prime.  He did, however, manage to barrel through the fence, have his way with the sultry temptress from greener pastures, and then collapse in his post-coital bliss.  The only thing he was missing was a cigarette.  He was so tuckered out by his escapade Uncle Bob had to drive to the neighbor’s farm and load his bad ass on a trailer and haul him home.  Festus was not ashamed and he got more than one, “Atta boy, Festus” from my son, husband and other male inhabitants of the farm (filthy animals).
  4. He sometimes had to say he was sorry. On not one but two different occasions, Jody encountered Festus when he wasn’t on his best behavior.  She claims that she was giving him treats and he bit her.   Jody is a farm girl and knows how to saddle and ride things and drive tractors. She knows how to round up cows and raise steers and all that jazz.  So, she definitely knows how to give an ass a treat.  I talked to him after the first incident and he said he was sorry.  After the second time, I started to think she was either showing up without the proper treat or using peppermint scented hand lotion.  Festus wasn’t mean, but as stated above, he had expectations.
  5. He always was excited to see you. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t visited in a day or several weeks, Festus greeted you with his one of a kind, high decibel, uniquely his own, welcome bray.  While I could try to explain it to you, there really aren’t words to adequately do it proper justice.  You can click on the video below to experience a greeting Festus style.  Loosely translated, he is saying:  Hello, my friend.  I have missed you.  I love you.  You better have peppermints. Get over here and hug my shaggy ass”:



Festus, you were one fine ass.  Thank you for making us smile.  You will be missed.


festus4 festus5 festus3

High Water, No Water, Cow Titties and New Kitties


         It has been a quite a while since I have sat down to organize my thoughts into anything bloggable.   To say that my life has been overwhelmingly hectic would be an understatement and I will spare you the mundane details of my version of living the American dream, as it is standard operating procedure for most busy families.  It would be selfish of me, however, to keep the events of the last week to myself.  As my life often does, this last week has veered completely off the road most traveled, took an unexpected detour and forged into the off-road adventures that one couldn’t even work into a really bad country song. 

                We are neck-deep into phase two of a monumental project at work, which has had me completely submerged in the process.  Projects of this magnitude force me to ratchet up my toddler-size attention span and dial into the deed at hand.   Subsequently, I tend to quickly fall behind in those things that routinely require my attention, i.e. laundry, cleaning, going to the grocery store.   The Missouri spring monsoon was in full force and served as a suitable work environment for my restless diligence (seriously, nothing hijacks my focus like a warm day and sunshine…oh and daydreams and chocolate and wishing I could fly…no wait…wishing I was invisible…).  The rains came down in buckets keeping steady pace with the laundry overflowing the dirty clothes hampers.  With my sights set on being able to attend a concert with my sisters in Memphis, I forged on.  Friday evening came and I shut my laptop, threw a few (mostly clean) clothes in a bag, ignored the piles of laundry and headed south with my siblings. 

                The Monday morning following my quick trip, I found myself staring down the barrel of a 16-hour work day (heavy sigh).  I was tired, but I seemed to have gotten my second wind and quickly got to work, relieved that an end to the catawampus-ness was in sight.   Little did I know that the recent bountiful rains had breached the confines of the basement walls and were flowing freely over the floors and furnishings of the lower level.   Exit catawampus—enter chaos.  I remained tethered to my computer, buoyed by my looming deadline, while my family waged war on the invading water.  A better description would be they launched operation SOS (save our stuff).  Load after load of soaking carpet, keepsakes and clothes were hoisted up the stairs, through the house and out to the garage.  Furniture was placed on blocks and fans brought in to aid in the drying process.  I passed the musty wet mountain of wet blankets, boxes, and drenched miscellaneous stuff as I left for work the following morning.  I consciously pushed the magnitude of my laundry situation to the back of my mind and actually thought, “It could be worse.” 

                Tuesday was the dawning of a new day and no amount of water in the basement was going to get the better of me.  Stepping into the shower I made a conscious effort to adjust my attitude and focus on my many blessings.  Ironically, the shift in my attitude directly coincided with a sudden shift in the water pressure.  With my shampoo in full lather and my legs still unshaven, I watched in desperation as the faithful shower stream dwindled to a slow trickle, then to a drip and then to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Soapy, sudsy, and shivering I frantically pleaded with the shower, “Please come back, please, no-no-no—please…”  I calmly summoned Kevin, “HELLO???  HELP!!!  KEVIN THE WATER IS BROKEN!!!”  After a quick assessment of the situation he informed me that something must be wrong with the pump, explaining that it could be electrical or it could be the entire pump or a handful of other ‘could be’s”.   The only thing he knew for sure was that I was not going to be able to rinse the shampoo out of my hair. 

                With water still holding the basement hostage, the faucets barren, the laundry mountainous, my attitude back at sour, and my hair frothy I sought refuge in my crisis go-to spot—my sister’s house.   The rest of the week I soaked in her garden tub, dried off with her freshly laundered towels, and made a dent in my laundry using her washer and dryer.  In the true-spirit of a freeloader, I also ate some of her food, used her tanning bed and worked out on her exercise equipment (I have a really great sister).  Friday came and the water at our house was restored so I said goodbye to the land of milk and honey and headed back to the farm.

                Uncle Bob and Aunt Donna were hosting a fish-fry on Friday evening and so I stopped in to say hello.  The big shop was filled with people, food and live country music-a modern day ho-down.  Cousin Caden, who is almost four, grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the office area of the shop.  It was obvious he was excited to show me something.  We entered the office area, which is a completely finished part of the building.  In addition to the office area, there is also a nice living room, bathroom, kitchen, and dining area.  On this particular evening there was also a very live baby calf sprawled out near the entry way.  I am new to the farm life, but I had yet to see an indoor cow and I was smitten.

                  I wanted to know how the calf had come to be invited to the fish fry and as it turns out, he was not an invited guest, but a guest by default.  Listening to the farmers’ talk of teats, bags, colostrum and other such cow-jargon, I came to learn the following:

  • The calf was born to an old cow and she didn’t want to let him nurse.
  • Her cow-titty-bag filled up and she got mastitis and then couldn’t nurse (which I secretly thought served her right because she was being a crappy mom).
  • Uncle Bob bought some special cow colostrum at the gettin’ place and had a giant bottle with a giant nipple.
  • The calf was brought inside to try and get it to take the bottle so he wouldn’t die.
  • He had not taken the bottle.
Making Progress

Making Progress

I watched as the men tried to get the calf to latch onto the huge cow-titty bottle.  I thought perhaps someone with boobs should try and so, with the help of my friend, Ben, (he doesn’t have boobs) we worked and worked trying to get the calf to latch onto the bottle.  It was during our efforts that I discovered that baby calves have an impressive set of teeth and I softened slightly toward his mama.  I couldn’t really blame her for being reluctant to trust her teats in a mouth with a full set of choppers.  With Ben holding the head and me maneuvering the giant cow-boob-bottle we continued with the frustrating attempts.  Just when I thought it was hopeless the little guy started taking the bottle!!!!  It was the first time I had ever seen an indoor cow and the first time I had ever given an indoor cow a bottle!  The flooded basement, the broken water pump, the craziness at work all fell away as I watched this magnificent indoor cow take from me what his mother refused him.  It was then I knew that being in that moment was something I had needed nearly as badly as this orphaned calf; my own cow-titty version of Chicken Soup for the Soul.


                Typically, this would be an appropriate place to wrap up this blog session, but ending here would be leaving out a VERY important part of the weeks’ events.  Saturday, Evan and Sophi had games out of town and I needed someone to let the dogs out.  Also, Riley’s cat, Lulubelle, was very pregnant and I knew she was due anytime.  Did I mention earlier in this post that I have a great sister?  That isn’t exactly true.  I have an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, SMART, LOVING, DEVOTED, and LONG-SUFFERING sister.  Here is the text that I sent to Kim asking her to check on my animals:

                kim text

  Lulu has a birth defect that makes it very difficult for her to breathe (the vet thinks she was born with a hole in her diaphragm).  There was concern that she would have a difficult time with labor and delivery.  Kim called me and told me Lulubelle was indeed in labor.  My first reaction was, “Don’t leave her.”  And she didn’t.  For four hours she sat in my cold garage watching over Lulubelle’s labor and delivery.  She updated me with pictures, videos, and texts.  Her nurse practitioner skills came in handy, as she had to resituate calico kitty #3!! This selfless act of love and devotion is stand-alone awesome, however, I need to clarify a crucial detail:  My sister is EXTREMELY allergic to Lulubelle!!  I am obliged to include a picture she sent me, in order to illustrate the magnitude of her gesture (and allergy).  I know she will be as grateful I shared this as I am to have her as a sister!!! 

Taking one for the team!!!

Taking one for the team!!!

Sweet Lulubelle and her new litter.

Sweet Lulubelle and her new litter.