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Thursday, August 11 2016

After a year into retirement, I finally started that book so many of you have been asking about. This has been good and bad, since on one hand,

"Hey, I finally buckled down and now it's coming together,"

and on the other hand, time spent writing on that has taken me away from the blog, so I thought perhaps I would share some excerpts from time to time. This particular essay was taken from an early part of the book, when I was single and the farm was barely taking shape.

It was a period of heavy rains.  I was ankle deep in mud and my water well had just gone out. God was laughing at me.

Red Wooster

Red Wooster was the meanest sonofabitch in three counties and he should have been killed a lot sooner. With an ego indirectly proportional to his size, Wooster thought he was a ladies' man, and I guess maybe he was handsome if you were okay with skinny legs and beady eyes. Perhaps it was his short stature that led to a fiery temperament which held the entire neighborhood hostage. Regardless, the only reason he was still alive was the fact that my mother was so fond of him.

My mom lives in a little clapboard gingerbread house on a lot that used to be one of my pastures. Our houses shared the same water well at the time, and a portion of the rather large pump house had been converted to a coop for her free-range flock of heritage breed chickens. Although they had plenty of pasture for themselves her birds crossed the field daily to play scratch and sniff with fresh horse poop in my barnyard.

Apparently my name on the deed was too blurry for Wooster's beady little eyes, because he and I had more than a few barn dances with a rake. On this particular morning, however, Wooster was off picking bar fights with someone else while I stood in the pump house staring at the water well man, and tilting my head like a cow looking at a new gate.

Water soaked through a pinhole in the toe of my rubber boots as the water well man explained that I had to take the roof off the pump house before repairs could begin on the well. As he trudged back to his truck and left, I sloshed back to the barn and pondered the puzzle of how to get the sheets of tin off the roof. Wuzband, my ex-husband, had been a pretty accomplished carpenter who tended to plan for emergencies, so it didn't take long to discover that he had screwed the sheets of tin on instead of nailing them. That was a plus because it meant I could just screw them off, but the hitch was that he hadn't left the tools I needed to unscrew the tin. One cannot fault him for this, as in a divorce spouses do tend to overlook the little things like leaving the other person silverware and power tools.

A fruitless search in the barn didn't turn up the doohicky that I need to attach to my drill, but the upside was that it also didn't turn up any rats, so I called it even and went across the street to ask the neighbor. Being a master carpenter, he had the doohickey I needed. With the precious doohickey safely in my pocket, I dragged a ladder through ankle deep mud to the back side of the pump house and started my climb.

If you are a crime scene investigator, you know a thousand ways to die. Nine hundred of these ways will be flirting through your head as you climb any ladder. While falling off the ladder is the most obvious, do not rule out electrocution if you are mixing power tools and water.  This is why I'm a big fan of cordless power tools. The downside to cordless drills is that pesky failing to charge the battery thing.  Nevertheless, in due time, I found myself climbing the ladder with the precious doohickey in my pocket and a drill with enough ass to do the job. I hoped.

With each step up the ladder the water in my boot sloshed from heel to toe, draining across the blister on my heel. Now it is a curious fact of life that height is a relative thing. When one is standing on the ground, the top of a pumphouse doesn't look very high, but when one is perched at the top of a ladder in muddy boots, and one must take a leap of faith off the ladder and onto said roof, well then, suddenly the tin appears to be a much farther distance from the ground than originally estimated.

Being the Master Of My Fate, there was no one around to do it but me, so I sucked it up and made that stretch. Muddy boots are not your friend in this situation. Just sayin'. With copious amounts of stretching, sliding, and cussing, I made it onto the roof. With a bit more stretching, sliding, and cussing, I removed several sheets of tin and dropped them to the ground.

Sunlight flooded the pumphouse. My job was done. Well, not really. I still had to get down.

It is another curious fact of life that stepping from a firm surface of height, back onto a ladder which is shifting in the mud, can rival any thrill ride at an amusement park. Not being a fan of such, I vowed that those sheets of tin could just stay right there on the ground because I was not planning on riding that ladder in either direction again.

With the decision made, I started slogging my way back through the mud to the house. Deep in thought, I stepped into deeper trouble because somewhere between the pumphouse and the backyard fence I landed into some sucking mud and my foot came out of the boot. Par for the course of my morning.

I hurled a cuss word out, stepped back into my boot and tried to jerk my foot loose. This resulted in an awkard sliding split which ended with one booted foot pointing east as the other pointed west. Both were an uncomfortable distance apart and creeping dangerously further. 

And that's when the damned rooster attacked me.

Over my years in law enforcement, I can tell you that most murders can be tracked down to one of three motives - sex, money, or drugs. While most killings come down to this trio, with my feet firmly anchored in the mud as that beady-eyed little shit ran at me with his wings spread and beak open, I will glady offer up to you a fourth motive for murder - pure blind rage. 

There is no faster route from pacifist to serial killer than being attacked by a chicken in your own yard. Having neither stick nor dog, I reached into the mud, snatched out that boot, and smashed the little bastard in the face as he bore down on me in a feathered fury. Nothing says worthy adversary like being smacked in the face with a muddy boot. Wooster shook his feathers, squinted at me in rage and made another rush. I swung. And missed.

But it was enough to get some respect from Wooster as he landed and ran a few steps before whirling back to have another go at me. I glanced around for any semblance of a weapon and saw a pile of metal t-posts beside the fence. Brandishing my boot low, I started backing through the mud in that direction as the rooster darted in and out with feinting attacks.

Happiness can be a lot of things, friends, but few things in life bring true satisfaction like the feel of a cold steel post in your hands when you've got a nasty rooster.  Wooster felt the power shift as soon as I did. No longer backing up in a crouch, I stood straight like Babe Ruth and let that Louisville Slugger sing.

Wooster saw that first one coming down the pipes when I made the mistake of telegraphing my intentions. Perhaps it was me shouting,

"I'm gonna kill you, you stupid f@#*ing bird!"

He tripped over himself as he ran and flew with fits of flight, dodging the blows I rained down upon him as my rage chased a chicken in bare feet through a muddy pasture. 

My anger did not care that he was my mother's bird. I would glady have beaten him to death with a t-post and then handed her his body and a muddy $20 bill. Such is the nature of homicide.

Fortunately for Wooster, his date with death would wait for another day. Handicapped by the mud, my murder attempts were largely unproductive but the message was received. Wooster squawked and taunted me from a safe distance but gave up his attempts at an attack as I squished my way back to the house, dragging my t-post sword at my side. 

Yes, I was the master of my fate, the captain of my soul, but the captain was tired, and now she had to get cleaned up and go to work.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 06:51 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
My Wooster was named Roaster and I never did get him into a pan, pot, or other. One of my great regrets in life.
Posted by Patty on 08/11/2016 - 08:46 AM
Glad to see a post. I have considered writing to you because I miss the regular blog. Jan
Posted by Jan Murphy on 08/11/2016 - 11:03 AM
Fair exchange - a terrific segment for delightful post.
Posted by Andrea on 08/11/2016 - 03:03 PM
I was laughing out loud!! Reminds me of a similar battle with a bird, my nephew and I had as kids- Sounds like a draw. I never get tired of reading these posts, especially when I laugh instead of cry. I miss your face! Take care.
Posted by Robin on 08/12/2016 - 01:26 AM
Reminds me of a battle I had with a goose as a child. My legs were black and blue for weeks. That sucker would wait for kids to walk home from school.
Posted by Susan on 08/15/2016 - 10:22 PM

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