Sunday, October 14, 2012

We Bought a Zoo (Sorta)

I was minding my own business, sitting on the couch of my living room and typing away on my computer, when it happened. If my life had a soundtrack, eerie foreshadowing music would have started rumbling from the basses and maybe the shadows would have deepened slightly. My spine tingled like someone—or something was watching me, and as I slowly turned to look out the window, I found myself staring straight at a gigantic, 1000 lb creature, it’s breath fogging up the glass, eyes boring into mine, teeth big enough to take more than a little nick out of my arm…and only an 1/8th inch of glass separating us.

Rita, my haus meri, the national woman who mentors me with her wisdom, mothers me with her love, and generally helps us with our house work once a week, came darting back into the house. Her eyes were wide, and she clutched a basket to her chest!

“They won’t let me hang up the laundry!”

Stardust helping Rita with the laundry
I leapt up from the couch, shoved into my shoes, and darted out the door, snatching up a rope as I went.  Kodi and Buddy, our dogs, bounded protectively at my heels as I ran up to the invading creatures.

“You naughty horses!” Aski and Stardust, two very friendly equines, looked at me inquisitively before they turned to nose the wet clothes hanging on the line. “Go away!” I shook the halter at them, but they paid no attention. Laundry was far more interesting. Sighing, I haltered and tied one to the grapefruit tree while chasing the other one to the far side of the lawn. “It’s okay, Rita!” I called, “they won’t bother you!”

Aski's favourite position...looking in our living room window!
 For the past two weeks, my housemates and I have felt like we have bought a zoo as two of the horses on centre have moved into our yard for temporary medical treatment (an eye infection requiring 5x per day medication and a thyroid condition requiring multiple daily feedings). Our zoo might not have lions or tigers or giraffes roaming among the banana trees (much less Matt Damon…)… but even when I lived on a horse farm in Minnesota, I didn’t have inquisitive mares staring in my living room window!

Feeding time is especially interesting. It all starts with the cat, Emmy, who really really likes her food. In fact, she wants her food so much that she’s willing to attempt to dash out our front door and into our laundry room (accessed from the porch), which means cheating the mouth of Hades…err, Kodi, our rather cat-fixated guard dog. Once you body slam Kodi into the ground, utilizing every WWF move you know to free the cat from her jaws, then it’s time to feed the dogs.

Except, there are two hungry horses out there.

Kodi, Aski, and Buddy, current residents of The Ukarumpa Zoo
Two hungry horses who are, in fact, willing to eat dog food…. and chase away the dog to do it!

Once you have chased away the horses and freed the howling, panicked dog from under the house (where it has been in depths of despair watching these herbivores devour its precious dog food!) and managed to secure the other yapping canine from running around like one of those puny coaches at a wrestling match yelling “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” to egg on the horse vs. dog match of the century, then it’s time to feed the horses.

So, you haul the two large tubs of two specifically and specially formulated diets past the avocado tree, (which has had all its leaves ripped off by the Equine Landscaping Company) over to the water spigot (since the hose is cracked), and with one elbow fend off the food-crazed horses as you proceed to soak your skirt…err, I mean, the food, and then heave the sloppy, dripping, sloshing mess to designated spaces in the yard so the horses can each happily devour her copra without glaring evilly at her once-best-friend-but-now-dire enemy (the other horse). 

Meet Emmy, who will defy certain death for the possibility of a meal
(As they eat, then you return to the porch to find that Large Dog has chased away Small Dog to eat his food because half of her food was devoured by the horse, so then you put Small Dog in the house to eat his food (where the Cat has since returned), but the Cat is still hungry (or so it thinks) and thus chases Small Dog out of his food to attempt to crunch down some oh-so-tasty dog food…but Small Dog is a bit irritated about the whole thing and attempts to dissuade the Cat, all the while tripping the human who is trying to make dinner in the kitchen and clean up the vomited gecko left by the ever-hungry Miss Kitty.)

Repeat 2-3 times per day…. and that doesn’t include the medicine dosage routine!

Is there any wonder that we can stop traffic on the road as nationals (and expats!) crane their necks in amazement at our animal collection? I think we should start charging admission—just think of all the stories that we are fueling throughout the entire Aiyura valley!

Oh well. At least with our current zoo population, we don’t need to worry about mowing!