Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Racket on the Farm

There is no getting any rest on the farm for the city girl. My niece Erin, who has come to visit, has dark circles under her eyes and yawns more than any normal American sixteen-year-old kid has a right to. And it’s not because she’s used to the clamor of the city—horns honking, bottles breaking, laughter and tinny music coming from the alley, and this is dead quiet. Too quiet. That’s not it at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. She claims Spot the Donkey hee-haws in the middle of the night and wakes her up. I hear nothing. She said a wild animal of some sort, something very big and ferocious, perhaps a grizzly bear, or even Bigfoot himself, woke her up after Spot was done with his shenanigans. Then The Big Stupid, who recently found his voice and whose bark is deep and full-bodied like what would come from a very large breed such as a St. Bernard (we don’t know what he is, adopted from the pound, he’s like a potluck supper), spotted deer encroaching on my garden on the side of the garage and he ran from window to window barking at them. I imagine he was thinking, “Hmm, this bark comes in handy,” amazed at himself. I went down to pee and let him out. He can’t catch the deer but he’s good at scaring them away.

After that commotion was over, Erin said the cows were mooing. I didn’t hear that either. I’m not saying the girl is lying. But she’s got one set of ears on her.

After the cows, when she finally drifted back to sleep, she had a dream her cell phone was ringing and it was on vibrate. She jumped up and nearly hit her head on the shutter next to the bed. Turns out it wasn’t the phone at all but the rare king bee buzzing against the screen, dive-bombing it, trying to bust through. (In truth, there is no such thing as a rare king bee, as far as I know, but there’s a humongous bee around here, about as big as a man’s big toe, that we felt we were within our rights renaming, considering no one will know and we have no idea what kind of bee he really is. But he’s a monster.)

Throughout the night, the frogs croaked like this was the bayou and the resident whippoorwill called from somewhere in the black trees on the edge of the horses’ field. These noises I know were happening because I hear them myself all the time. Not only the frogs and the whippoorwill, but crickets and an owl. Erin said it’s worse than living over a tavern that does karaoke on Friday nights and has brawls in the gravel parking lot when last call is over—all the noises around here. I’m pooh-poohing that. You can’t compare the lonely sound of the whippoorwill! whippoorwill! whippoorwill! to a drunk guy singing “Taking Care of Business.”

When the first light came and I was on the porch having my morning coffee, I heard the neighbor’s rooster. That’s my favorite farm sound, a rooster cockadoodledooing. In the background, there was a cacophony of assorted bird songs, tweeting and twittering and whistling, starting their day, looking for worms and rotten cherries that dropped from the trees—easy pickin’s. Apparently, some of these birds hang out by Erin’s window and flutter against the glass up top. Flap. Flap. Flap. Maybe they’re building a nest up there, in the eaves or on the sill, I don’t know.

Included in the morning songs of the birds was a hummingbird, about the size of the rare king bee. He was like a miniature engine zooming around the purple flowers on my hostas. Not long after, Eldon came around on his tractor. He tipped his straw hat when he went by. Then Kurt’s alarm went off. That’s a whole racket in itself. That clock rings incessantly and shatters all peace and quiet within a two-acre radius for a good half hour every morning. I have to go up there myself and hit the snooze button at least twice and shake him and lie and say it’s later than it is and we’re all getting a headache from the ringing so please get up, before he will finally struggle out of the sheets and shut it off. Sometimes he curses. He’s been known to stomp. There have been occasions where I was outside with some service provider, the blacksmith for instance, and he’d look up and ask, “What’s that ringing?”

“Oh, that’s Kurt’s alarm clock. He’ll get it sooner or later.” Then I pretend I don’t hear it. And the blacksmith goes along with it and keeps right on nailing like he doesn’t hear it either.

But if you’re sleeping in the room right next door, or trying to, it’s no use.

Right around that time, MoJo the Siamese cat, known for being vocal, starts meowing. He wants in. He wants out. He wants in. I think he meows mainly to hear his own voice because it doesn’t matter what you give him; he’ll find something else to meow about. Sometimes he rubs up against the dog who innocently leans down and sniffs him. Then all hell breaks loose. “Don’t touch me!” He hisses and whacks the dog. The Big Stupid yelps and runs around in circles, skids across the floor, tail clamped to his butt, while MoJo screams at him, occasionally reaches out for another swat, and the dog goes faster, his nails clicking on the floor, until he crashes into the sink or rolls under the table knocking a chair over. In other words, the fur is flying and the sun is barely up.

Add to that the physical labor this city girl has been doing, chores she’s not used to—picking up manure, weeding the garden, sweeping the barn, carrying buckets of water…and this kid is pooped. Therefore she has been partaking in the afternoon nap, of which I myself am an aficionado of. She gets in maybe an hour on the couch before the afternoon thunderstorms start and it sounds like we are being bombed.


Amy Hanek said...

Poor city girl. She'll think twice about vacationing at your humble abode next summer!!

We have monster bumblebees here too. I like to hit them with my pool brush. They get really mad at me and then I go inside.

At least you know what to buy your neice for xmas this year. Earplugs.

Sloan said...

Well it still sounds like heaven to me! Good story!

Becky Mushko said...

The sounds are the best part of living in the country. I LOVE hearing the cows (sometimes they hum), the frogs, and the birds. And the "huh-huh-huh" from a large mare who stands at the fence every morning and lets us know that she's STARVING! and we'd better get out there and feed her.

I could never cope with city noise again.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

That's right--I didn't even include the noises from the horses!

Mrs Mom said...

Sounds like Heaven to me Debi, but I do kinda-- just somewhat mind you- feel for the poor young city dweller!

Great sotry Debi- looking forward to the next one! ;)

Amy Tate said...

That is too funny! Maybe she could get one of the loud fans from Walmart and put it by her bed so the white noise will block it out. That's what we do. When Shannon and I visited New York a couple of years back, we couldn't sleep. We visited a drug store and bought some ear plugs! It's funny what you get used to!

Rising Rainbow said...

I thought all those noises were why most of us chose to live in the country.........although I can pass on the rooster at daybreak.

CountryDew said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Rare king bee! Great job.

Pony Girl said...

Cute post! It is different noise, city versus country. It's all in what you're used to. I love the sounds of crickets and frogs and in the city, I just here cars driving by my apartment (I call them the "ocean.") Besides, when you visit the country, you are supposed to take lots of relaxing naps, right?

Roanoke RnR said...

I can totally relate with your city girl. She's definitely not exagerrating. What she needs to do is get a free-standing fan or air purifier in that room so that the humming kills all those "annoying" country sounds. Works for me!

Jamie Ferraioli said...

haha..Erin looks like you napping on the couch.

Kristine said...

I love the cacophony of nighttime bug noises too! It beats traffic any time.

Shortly after we moved here from the middle of suburbia, my kids ran in from the woods, panting that they'd heard a low, scary sound. The word "bear" was tossed around. A few days later, I was with them when they heard it again. It was a CAR from a road a mile or two away. How quickly they'd forgotten the city!

sharon (the mother) said...

Don't let erin fool you she complains about the noise here too only its moms bon jovi blasting from her boom box or her karaoke renditions at the bar

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed that story. The part about you and the blacksmith ignoring the sound of the alarm clock was funny!
We have some critter noises in New Jersey too. My neighbors had a rooster named Rory. I loved the sound of his cockle- doodle- dooing! He inspired me to go with a rooster motiff in my kitchen. I am sad to say, Rory is no longer with us.