Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Holiday on the farm: Part 1, Dead possum kicking

I should be running this morning, but I'm not, so I decided to try to kick start the blog again. I've got to get past the voice in my head that says, "Don't post unless it's stellar writing," and get back in the habit of writing regularly without the editor's voice shutting me down.

I have some great stories to tell. I spent the better part of ten days taking care of the farm for my good friend Lisa who went to Seattle to be with her family for the holidays. In spite of the fact that the goats are dried up, conserving their energy to give birth in a few months, I managed to have some adventures with the animals.

For example, there was the evening when I returned to the farm at sunset to find a possum lying on the ground outside the chicken coop, curled up looking rather dead. I'm no farmer, but I quickly sized up the scenario. One possum, however dead he might appear, just feet away from the open gate to the chicken coop would likely not lead to a good outcome if I left it alone. So, I texted Lisa and asked her what to do with the possum. She called me back right away and the conversation went something like this....

Linda: I know possums play dead, and that's it not a good thing that he's so close to the coop, but I have no idea how to get him to leave. Should I poke him with a stick or something to see if he's actually dead?
Lisa: Well, um, poking him with a stick won't help. To tell if a possum's dead, you have to kick it. And by kicking, I don't mean pushing it around a little with your foot. I mean, you'll have to kick it like a football. Go back about 25 feet, run up and kick it up into the air. If it lands on its feet and runs away, it's not dead.
[Silence while I look for the Candid Camera]
Linda: Okay. So, I'm going to kick it like a football. If it runs away it's not dead. It will run away, right? It won't charge me and put those gnarly teeth in my leg, will it?
Lisa: No. But it will probably hiss at you when it lands.
Linda: OhhKAY!
Lisa: Good. Call me after you take care of it. I want to know how it turns out.
Linda: Yeah. I'll do that.

So, I hung up the phone and put it in my pocket, then stared at the curled up critter, its gnarly teeth showing as it laid in a ball on the cold ground in front of me. I debated the merits of the kick. I wondered if there was another way. Then quickly decided I just needed to get it done. I can handle this, I thought. I was the top female finisher in the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition in my hometown when I was 11 years old. Clearly, God was preparing me for this moment years before.

I stepped back and ran forward and kicked with all of my tentative might and managed to scoot the animal about six inches forward. No launching it into the air. No movement from the animal whatsoever. So I stepped back again and ran forward with greater confidence. I shifted my weight to my left leg and reached back to give that critter the best football kick I could muster. With my eyes closed, I kicked forward. Toe pointed, leg straight, I reached down first, to make sure I got under the possum to launch it into the air, and kicked forward with all of my strength. And in a split second I screamed in agony. When I looked down I saw that I'd missed the animal by a good six inches and had, in fact, kicked the cold, hard ground with my full force. My foot was throbbing. I danced around in pain, crying out for whomever could offer me sympathy. Sadie, the beautiful black dog who races around the farm at break neck speed, treeing squirrels and causing chaos, came over to check on things. Instead of offering proper sympathy, she ran over to the possum, took one sniff and dashed off to find something more interesting to investigate.

After the throbbing stopped, I stepped back again and ran forward to kick the possum, this time launching it about four feet into the air. It landed with a thud on its side. I assumed at first that it was dead, but I wondered, "Maybe this is a hearty possum, able to keep up the charade of death in spite of my best punt. Perhaps it's best to try this one more time, just to be sure." So, once more, I launched it four feet into the air. Thud, again.

Concluding that it was dead, I stood over it for a long while, gathering my courage to pick it up. Those gnarly teeth looked rather formidable. But, I reached down and grasped the tip of its tail between my thumb and forefinger, then quickly dropped it into and empty feed bag, folded the top of the bag over several times and ran to drop it in the trash.

The next morning I checked the trash to make sure it was still in there, still dead. Fortunately, it was. I have no idea what I would have done if it hadn't been.

Next up, Part 2, Llama herding.


cheesehead said...

Best dead possum story ever! Welcome back!

Terminal Degree said...

Glad you're back! :)

What Now? said...

Thank you for this laugh-out-loud story; I needed that belly laugh!

jo(e) said...

I can just picture this whole scene. It's hysterically funny.

Katherine E. said...

Yep, LOL.

Rev Dr Mom said...

What a great story!

Denise~ said...

Ohmygods! I was laughing my ass off! Why didn't we get this story at Hibiscus?

Woman you got the gift and as Natalie Goldberg would say "just write".

by the way - the word verification for my comment is - welper. Sounds kind of farmy doesn't it? Welper. I like it.

Linda said...

Thanks, everyone!

Denise- I think I was enjoying the band too much that night at Hibiscus. Did I tell you the llama herding story that night?