Nearly every state harbors an animal ranch where you and your family can spend a day communing with creatures which one rarely sees. Getting a close-up, in-your-face view of these animals is big business for agri-tourism.
Last week, my husband and I viewed the weekend with dread. We knew that there was plenty of work that needed to be done around the house; we simply didn’t want to do it. We also knew that if we should stay home and try to relax, we’d eventually find ourselves hip-deep in sawdust and cleaning supplies. This would include at least one trip to the home improvement store which would, in all likelihood, remind us of another task that needed to be scheduled for next weekend. We’re dumb that way.
We decided to escape our work-rut and plan a reason not to work. Our reason was a two-hour drive to an animal ranch. This one had free-range animals from every continent.
Ranch hands loaded everyone onto a big wooden trailer that they called a hay wagon. I looked, but there was not a speck of hay on that wagon. If they would lie to you about that…
We stepped onto the back of this hay wagon and made our way to the front. Because we were the first riders on the wagon, we got a front-row view of the back end of three humongous horses that would pull our wagon around. I hoped that they had used the little horsey’s room before we had gotten on the wagon. We were soon to realize that, not only hadn’t they gone before, but they had apparently crossed their legs for the last three days in anticipation of our arrival.
The guide pointed to buckets of feed under our seats and told us that the two-legged creatures could eat out of the bucket, but the four-legged ones would try to take the bucket. He said we should feed those with our open hand. After the horses’ rudeness, I would be glad to be seeing the other end of an animal.
At our first stop, a bison, 2 ostriches, and 400 pigs ambled up to our wagon. We found that there is strategy involved in feeding animals that have not been properly trained in the art of sharing.
If I held the bucket out for the ostriches, the bison would try to knock it out of my hand. However, there was no way my hand was going anywhere near that bison’s gaping maw.
So, I found myself holding the bucket tight against my chest, letting the ostriches feed frighteningly close to integral parts of my anatomy, while at the same time dropping a handful of feed into the bison abyss.
In this way, I distracted these creatures while my daughter tried to drop handfuls of feed down to the “poor piggies” on the ground, which looked more than well-fed to me… and nimble as well. As I watched, they did a kind of porcine polka, deftly avoiding the legs of the bison and ostriches.
Our next stop revealed a couple of eager-looking yaks with the table manners of a… um… yak, I guess. These beasts opened their mouth, stuck out a downright revolting tongue, and insisted with said mouth and tongue to be fed… immediately. We were all too happy to oblige after we were nearly rendered unconscious by their truly offensive breath. What I would have given for a couple of giant Tic Tacs!
The next spectacle was a herd of European Fallow deer. Smack dab in the middle of the herd was a huge white bovine with an obvious identity crisis. The guide called it a steer, which could have been the reason for its confusion (steer-deer; it could be easily confused). The steer probably thought the guide had a speech impediment.
The proud bovine had apparently appointed himself the leader of the deer herd. They moved as a group toward the wagon. The deer were dainty eaters, but the enormous cow-steer opened his impressive orifice and out spilled a tongue the size of a two-by-four.
Ladies and gentlemen, I tried to stay composed, but when a Moray eel emerges from the mouth of a colossal cow, composure is redefined as how fast you can get to the other side of the hay wagon without trampling your children. If there had been hay on that wagon, the beast’s tongue would have been lassoing hay bales; not chasing me around for my bucket.
That cow with its huge oral appendage reminded me that we could have been at home, cleaning our gutters. If we had that animal, along with his tongue and a bucket of feed, the gutters would have been done in no time at all.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.
Laura is a syndicated columnist, author, & speaker. You can reach Laura at email@example.com Or visit her website <a
for more info.