Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dogs, cats, a mean rooster, and an alligator

Pets make their way into our hearts and a family's legacy. They mark an era; bring tears and laughter and make great stories when remembered. Growing up in the country we were blessed with many little friends. Some were given names while some remained generic like "that" chicken or "the" pig.

There was Pepper-a small kind of a dog hanging around the farmhouse when we were little. He was short with a long sort of a nose. He probably had been named Pepper because he had black and white fur with a tinge of butterscotch-an odd pepperish mix. There were two particular horses I remember hearing stories about when sitting around the kitchen table; remember being told which stalls had been their's but I can't recall their names. One might have been Molly.

No particular barn cats come to mind although there must have been a few of them. After all there was a barn with haylofts and nooks and crannies. Barns are full of mice. Nearby stood a small grain shed which made a perfet place to play especially when the bins were full. It also was where strays gave birth. The grain made a warm, soft, and sheltered bed.
Old farmhouses with woodpiles in the shed just outside the kitchen scream for mice to come in and play. One cat roaming around the big kitchen with its tail waging comes to mind. I'd forgotten about the cat. I was quite young.

The most infamous of the animals in the barnyard was the bald-headed rooster I've written about before. That mean guy had earned the name Baldy because of all the fights he picked and won. He ruled the roost; terrorized my brother when he was a toddler. To this day there still stands a small building the size of an outhouse where Baldy finally was forced to live alone. We still call it Baldy's house.

There was a black angus calf which an aunt nicknamed Sparkle for my little sister. When my grandfather was older he had a pet bird named Pete. My mother couldn't stand Pete, especially the time Pete got out of its cage and swooped about the dining room-the parlors-around the kitchen and then back into his cage. I can still hear my mother yelling, shooing Pete away with flailing hands.
As I got older the pets increased. There was Ranger-a black lab and Smoky and Bess-sister German Shepherds and Tink Tinkerbell-the best cat ever and a Doberman Pinscher I'd prefer to forget. My aunt had a big, fluffy white dog that underwent an operation which left it half-shaven and sickly looking. There was Brandy-a yellow lab that seemed to live forever-but he didn't except in the hearts who loved him.

The strangest pet on the farm was an alligator. I think it came from a school project as my uncle had been a biology teacher. My cousin cared for him. He finally let him go in Sucker Creek and we never saw the alligator again.

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