THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Life hasn’t been the same since Gwen and I returned from our trip to China.
For one thing, everything that can go wrong has gone from the moment we arrived back on the Mountain.
First came the Attack of the Major Storms.
More rain (and thunder and lightning) than even the oldest of Paradise old-timers had ever seen in their lives.
Cloud Creek flooded and took out the road at the bottom of the hill behind our ranch.
The pond at the front of the property flooded also. The water was so high it completely destroyed the road leading from our place to our nearest neighbors, Buck the Ex-Navy Seal and Delly the Interstate Trucker.
An electrical surge fried my computer. (Which, of course, I didn’t know till our power came back on…which didn’t exactly occur in record time.)
When that was over, I went into town to stock up on supplies, and a couple of inebriated fishermen backed into our truck. On the way home, the truck cracked a wheel bearing. And I got a traffic ticket!
Then came the Attack of the Neighbors:
“What’s this you’re writing about how wonderful China is?” Uncle Ernie called me to demand. “You some kind of a Communist or something!?”
Jimmy Blue was on that same wavelength when I saw him at the gas station. “If you like it so much over there,” he said, “maybe you shoulda stayed!”
If all this wasn’t enough, we’ve also had to deal with, of all things, Animal Hissy Fits:
“Nobody gave us any bread while you were away,” cackled McNugget the Banty Rooster and his fine hens.
“Don’t you touch me!” hissed Bob the Very Careful Cat. “You left just when I was starting to relax around you. Don’t even look my way!”
And the dogs!
Emmy the Bold was hyper. So busy running around that she refused to acknowledge our return.
Decker the Giant-Hearted had gotten so fat that all he could do was lie on his back, and refuse to even face our way.
Belle the Wary was…wary. Ears flattened. Tail down. “What’re you up to?” she said. “Whatever it is, don’t do it around me.”
Only Dixie the New Puppy was welcoming.
If you consider having a 35 pound 4 month old Labrador chomping on your fingers as though they were pine cones a sign that could mean, “Welcome Home.”
And the horses—
They were a tragedy waiting to unfold.
At first, all was well. The moment they saw us, Huck the Spotless Appaloosa and Rosie the Sweet Arabian kicked up their heels joyfully. “You’re home!” they whinnied and raced from one end of the corral to the other. All was right with their world—
Until Emmy and Decker decided to join in the action. They simply were caught up in the excitement, but the horses didn’t understand the game.
Decker and Rosie panicked.
Twenty minutes later, order was restored. Emmy and Decker were in the main house with Belle and Dixie. Huck was standing calmly, nuzzling me.
And Rosie stood in the new run-through barn Brannigan the Contractor had finished while we were gone. Bleeding from a gash in the foreleg she’d caught on the ragged edge of a stump.
Gwen held Rosie’s halter and I wrapped a clean t-shirt tightly around the wound to stop the bleeding and taped it in place. Then I called J.L. the Horse Vet. And then—
Let’s put it this way. As I write this, three weeks after the accident, Rosie’s cut still is badly infected. J.L., Gwen, Ernest the Young Lakota Fireman (and our friend and hired hand), and I have spent much of our waking time administering antibiotics and pain relievers to a horse who, like all horses, doesn’t understand that her life is on the line. She shies away. Refuses to take the meds. And once we trick them into her, she does her best to spit them out.
Over the years I’ve been writing, Some people have been kind enough to call me a philosopher. Right now, however, I don’t feel philosophical at all.
I feel anxious.
Last week Ernest and I re-fenced the corral so that nothing that doesn’t have hands to open the gate can get inside. Since then all I’ve been able to think is:
Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I wait?
Rosie’s already told me she forgives me.
But I may never forgive myself.