Last weekend I opted to earn my keep by house sitting for a friend in the bucolic countryside of wine country, CA. Under my care, custody and control were the following; two Jack Russell Terriers in various stages of hysteria, one Great Dane who was a beautiful mover, but not trustworthy, four ponies in different colors...white, brown, white and brown and brown and white and three horses, two TBs and one French Anglo-Arab. I felt centered and replete in a country roads take me home kind of thingy. Oopsie, forgot the cat. More on that later.
So I checked in to chez miscellany of animal and after a couple cocktails, saw my "owner/friend/ski bound mom" off for her weekend and I got to work. First up, bring the TB and his pasture companion the brown and white pony in from the pasture. I made it back to the barn in good shape and proceeded to wait for the farrier to come and put a shoe on the TB. The TB had had the bad manners to toss the right front shoe off and had hidden it in the secret pasture place. A little known fact about horse shoes, they are nailed on with real nails and then they come off. They almost always come off when the farrier cannot get to the horse for several days. This will always happen when you are trying to get ready for something where shoes are probably necessary, but now the horse won't get/have to work because the horse is a freaking weenie without shoes although it can and would tear madly about if given the opportunity with nary a lame step, but couldn't possibly be expected to walk from its stall to the cross ties bearing weight on the naked foot. At this point remember...1000lbs, brain the size of a walnut. I don't think so. I think the real brain in a horse is stashed somewhere besides the head where the "decoy" brain is housed. The real brain is probably in the tail. And has supernatural powers. Ask anyone who has tried to outwit a horse, or been smacked in the face with a tail. You know I'm right.
So anyway the farrier arrived, and I could tell it was the farrier because he was bent in the shape of an "S". This is because farriers spend all their lives bent over holding horses feet. And when they aren't bent over holding feet, they are bent over banging iron on iron with iron, or lifting a 5000# anvil up and down from a truck bed. What the hell kind of job is that anyway? So anyway "Mike the Farrier" announced he was the farrier and I said I could tell and he got to work. So because "Mike the Farrier" had just been there the day before to deal with the nailing hind shoes to hind feet and theTB was a perfect angel and stood quietly through the ordeal of having new shoes he knew he had to present his alter ego the snorting, stomping, kicking, untrustworthy side. Awesome. It was near six, starting to get cold, past dinner time and we were all tired. What a combination. Well suffice it to say that two changes of cross ties, two shoes and a lot of b.s. later the horse was re-shod and pouting in his stall, the shoer (you can also call them shoers) had loaded his stuff back into his truck and had trundled off and I proceeded to the big house to collapse.
Not so quick here cutie, the canines also needed to be fed. So the Great Dane got two big scoops of her special diet in the big bowl which was placed on the upturned galvanized tank outside so there would be no squabbling with the hysterical JRT's. The hysterical JRT's each received a scant half cup of their special diet which had the gag inducing stench of long dead fish, in the house. Nasty. So then I went in search of the cat...Earlier in the day I'd seen the cat doing what cats do best, sleeping on a human bed, occasionally coming to long enough to display talons from his feet and stretching and exhausted from that effort resuming the nap. So I knew he was there. But I couldn't find him...then.
I took myself off to the Nepalese restaurant for some mouthwatering nosh takeout, came back and cribbed up on the couch and proceeded to vege out in front of the tee vee with the JRT's. Now when you vege out on the couch with JRT's it is critical not to move. JRT's are very serious about cribbing up and don't like it when you move...at all. So there we were and I heard this godawful noise like a wounded pterodactyl which sounded like it was coming from outside. I quickly texted Steve (remember Steve? the felon?) that there was a wounded pterodactyl outside and what should I do. He recommended hiding. And since I was already on the couch with the dogs perhaps I should just stay there. So I did.
But, as it turned out, it wasn't a pterodactyl at all, nor was it wounded. It was in fact the cat. The cat who hated the Great Dane because the Great Dane liked to chase the cat. So I picked the cat up, after enraging the JRT's on the couch by moving and inciting a mini bout of snarling, growling and snapping, and brought him on to the couch fully believing that the cat, who didn't know me from Adam, would be content on the couch with two hysterical JRT's and a lurking cat chashing Great Dane in near proximity. Some times I amaze even myself. Suffice it to say the Great Dane took it upon herself to insinuate her head in the grill of the cat. The cat got pissed. The JRT's sensing altercation rose to the challenge and the cat made its hair stand up and the rest of it too and hissed. Anticipating grievous bodily harm to come, I made the executive decision to put the cat out. The skiing bound mother had said the cat could go out, so out it went. The ski bound mother also told me the cat would raise a considerable racket in the morning to be let back in and would wake me early. I thought if I could sleep through Aunt Betty chasing the Hoover under my bed, I could sleep through anything and I wasn't particularly worried about losing some Zzz's. And the JRT's and I cribbed up once again till we felt the time had come to go to bed. And we did, all three of us under the covers, and nested till morning.
In the morning I looked outside for the stall cleaner. No esta aqui. Grumble grumble. Now I don't mind cleaning stalls, nor do I mind getting up to feed, but I do like to know that that is expected of me. So I rushed down to the barn, did the feeding thing, rushed back to the house and drank coffee for about an hour or so. About mid-morning I decided the stall cleaner was not going to make an appearance so I took myself off to the barn once again to do some cleaning. I am the slowest stall cleaner in the world. I don't know why, but I can barely finish one stall in the time it takes a normal person to clean like five stalls. So it was way in to the day by time I finished. But I'd had a fine time for myself turning ponies and horses out, lunging and cleaning tack.
One of the boarders showed up in the afternoon with her vet so he could look at her horse, the French Anglo-Arab and we had a really exciting time with that. The French Anglo-Arab horse recieved acupunture and chiropractic treatments and then was scanned with the magic ultrasound wand and was determined to have strained a ligament in it's leg and so there was much to do about that as well and various treatments were discussed and lotions and potions were applied and we all had a very good time discussing past injuries to other horses and success stories and the like. Then it was time to bring the horses and ponies in again, feed them, put their bankies on and trek back to the house for left over Nepalese nosh and feed the dogs and crib up again. And the cat was not in evidence, but as I was about crippled from unaccustomed excercise and pooped to boot I didn't really even pay attention to that mysterious fact. But I did watch taped episodes of the "The Defenders" and "Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares" with the dogs and so we were quite busy with that. Then we had to go to bed.
The next morning, after ascertaining the stall cleaner was there and that he had fed the horses and ponies I slunk back to the house to get my coffee infusions. I thought perhaps the cat was lurking in the field next to the house, and having had that sighting, went in and forgot all about it.
Well the rest of the weekend went on and the spouse came over for the day on Saturday and we played lord and lady of the manor and drove the drag around the arena and made dust and went out to eat and I pulled some pony manes and turned the equines out in their fields and generally did those farming chores that never really feel like chores because you aren't vacuuming or dusting. And so the next two days passed agreeably and and the dogs and I watched some more tee vee and went to bed.
It wasn't until I was safely back in my own home, not in the bucolic countryside, that the ski mom called and asked where the cat was. Damn it all to hell. I forgot about the cat. And I hadn't seen it except for briefly and ski mom told me how sad the children were and blah blah blah. So naturally I felt terrible and I had no good answers for her and I texted her every day or so for the next few days, but to date the cat hasn't come home. I blame the Great Dane, whom I decided was the Anti-Christ and not to be trusted. But I suspect we'll never really know...or the cat will nonchalantly stroll back in a few more days and wonder what the fuss is all about and go back to sleep on the human bed waking only for the personal ablutions and nail extension excercises.
Squidgy is available to house sit for you too! No cats.