Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback: Animal Farm

I grew up surrounded by animals on an acre of land in the Southern California desert.

It was practically a farm.

We always had a number of dogs and both outside and inside cats. Kittens seemed to be a staple in our house and I can't remember what cats we had when or how many times my dad and I stood outside of the grocery store giving away the mewing furballs. And that's not to mention the many times my friend Rachel would find a cat or dog wandering stray and convince us to adopt it.

Two cockatiels called our house their home for a chunk of time. Zulu, an adult cockatiel showed up on our roof one evening when I was maybe 7 or 8 and started whistling. We put an ad in the paper for a found bird with his photo since someone clearly taught him to whistle, but no one ever claimed him. And now that I think about it, Zulu is kind of a racist name. My mom named him that because she thought he looked like a Zulu warrior.

But Zulu was a biter. He'd bit you whenever you wanted to take him in or out of his cage or feed him. So a bird trainer (or something like that) told my parents he needed a female to "tame" him. So they got a female named Sparkle. What a dumbass name right? Anyway, she was a royal bitch.  The meanest damn bird I'd ever met in my life and have yet to meet. Plus she was constantly laying infertile eggs that she'd abandon and we'd have to fish out of her cage with those gloves people who train police dogs wear.

But I guess it worked in a sense because Zulu became super sweet. When she died, he was like relieved! He's still alive and always whistles at me when I call my dad.

Then there were the chickens and ducks. We had a duck pond which we had to keep separate from the chickens because, you know, chickens can't swim. So there was a fence between them. The ducks would fly over to see the chickens but, clearly, the fat bitties couldn't fly over to the duck pond. Except for one stupid chicken who really, really wanted to be a duck. Loved the ducks. Kept climbing (seriously) over the fence to be with the ducks. Finally she climbed over and tried to swim with them and drowned. It was so sad, but really, she was so damned stupid it was bound to happen.

I also had a horse. Okay, scoff. Get it all out now. I know I know, every little girl wants a horse. But I wasn't a little rich girl or anything. I started riding when I was 18 months old at my cousin Annamaria's horse ranch and when I got old enough, my aunt and uncle helped my parents get me a horse.

Root Beer Float (I named him that) had been mistreated and malnourished and we "took him off the hands" of some people that couldn't afford him. Really it's better that they sold him and they should have done that long before. There was another horse there that was so starving, he'd chewed off Root Beer's tail. Don't worry, it grew back.

This isn't Root Beer. This is Star, my cousin's horse
Root Beer was a small Paint and I could ride him in both Pony and Horse categories. Plus he was super duper sweet. I could ride him bareback and lead him around with a string. He never bucked or bit. Well, he did buck my dad once but that's because my dad was too heavy for him. Root Beer was a good horse.

We also had an aviary, that my Uncle Steve built, of doves right outside my bedroom window. Some of my best memories are waking up to the cooing of doves. But of course the aviary wasn't exactly professionally built so doves were constantly escaping and random little birds were always coming in and eating the food. My dad hated that damn thing. It became the bane of his life. By the time I moved out at 18, I think there was only one dove left.

Then there were the rabbits and hamsters and guinea pigs. We didn't have the hamsters for long because I'm pretty sure one of our cats kept eating them. But my parents told me they just fell down and died. Right. How stupid did they think I was?

And coyotes kept coming up on our porch trying to eat our rabbits. But my dad moved one of our tougher dogs to the back porch and he'd protect them.

And the guinea pigs. Oh how I hate guinea pigs. They're all cute and all. But the squeal. The goddam squeal, the SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE that only guinea pigs make and do all day and night for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

I almost didn't share that video. The sound makes me so irritated. But I needed to share the horror with you. I can still imitate the sound too. If you get me drunk, I'll happily do it for you. I can also imitate Howler Monkeys, in case you're wondering.

What animals did you have? Or did you grow up animal-less? 

14 comments mean you love me:

F said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I grew up with at least one dog around; first there were cocker spaniels and then over the past 20 years there have been toy poodles. Now I have 2 Bedlington Terriers.

I also had a pet squirrel named Elvis. His mom abandoned him so we took him in. It was pretty awesome; he slept in a sock drawer and sat on your shoulder like a parrot. We actually had real birds most of the time, too.

BTW, everytime I see a guinea pig I think of how delicious they are. Sorry if that's offensive, but I ate guinea pig in Peru and am a fan now.

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane and sorry for the suuuper long comment!

Jen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I had dogs and a brief stint with two birds growing up. The damn birds got seeds and shit all over that I had to clean up. Stupid.effing.birds.

My grandparents had a farm but by the time I was old enough to remember there were only chickens left. I remember helping Grandma gather the eggs and how pissed she would get when the rooster got in the hen house. Grandpas brother still had horses and cows so we went over there to ride them. (The horses, not the cows.)

Sidebar: Is that your dad in that pic? Is he wearing pants? I'm sorry, I giggled hysterically when I saw it.

I don't have any pets now. Strike that. I have a 2 year old. Can I get an amen?! Sometimes I feel bad when I think of the toddler growing up without a pet. But not bad enough to get one. She's still too small to walk it.

rockygrace said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Holy crap, Jen, I think you're right - Somebody forgot their pants!

As far as pets go, I had various dogs and cats over the years. A couple of those teeny dime store turtles. A pair of doves. A tankful of fish. A tarantula, which was really a spectacularly bad idea. And a horse.

Not all at once, btw. I wasn't, like, Dr. Doolittle or something.

Satan said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

cats. i always had cats, in spite of being really, really allergic to them. : ]

and now, i have 3 cats, and 2 rats.
and, even though i'm actually allergic to ALL of them... they still go in and out of the house.
of course, they're mostly quarantined to the kitchen. or the living room, when we're in there to block them from getting on my couch.

but hell, at least they can get their exercise outside. so i'm not a terrible cat mama... : ]

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Flora- with as much as I hate guinea pigs, I am NOT offended. I'd totally try it. plus? Peru is on my big travel list.

Jen- birds are dirty assholes. and that's totally my cousin Annamaria and I'm pretty sure she's just wearing super short shorts.

rockygrace- a turtle is the one pet I wanted that never got! they're so funny looking.

Satan- that's hilarious. I guess if you love them, it's worth it?

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It's great growing up with animals I think. My parents are original city folk so when they moved to the country they decided they wanted a little farm on the side. So I grew up with dogs, cats, chicken, bulls, horses, geese (bane of my life... the buggers bite!), rabbits and even two rescued sheep (don't ask).

I haven't ridden a horse in years but when I had my own horse it was fun. Even though I also used to love using the sulky (think that is what it is called...two-wheeled wagon?) and go for long tours just me and my horse.

Animals are fun. :)

Skye said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

wow, that is a LOT of animals!!! I just had cats, and for a while, a goldfish that I got as a birthday party favor (weird favor, right?). I named it Herbert because I didn't know if it was male or female- the "her" is female and the "Bert" is male, haha. When it died, my dad and I had a solemn funeral and played Mozart's requiem.

Shnerfle said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

There has never been a time in my life without animals. I had dogs, growing up, as well as a couple of rabbits and some hamsters sprinkled in. I got my 1st pony when I was 10. Ive have 5 horses over the years. I didn't get a cat until college, but I've collected several since.

Our current status is 1 dog, 1 cat and 3 fish that won't die.

I really want the fish to die. I'm SO done with that tank.

And birds are food. FTR.

alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

We always had a dog growing up. First Pokey (short for Pocahontas), then Delilah. They were both awesome. We couldn't have cats because my brother is allergic. Now that works in my favor, because he can never come visit me.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Skye- Herbert is awesome! I love that you had a funeral for him/her too! so sweet.

Lori- sending evil thoughts to your fish now...

Jess-congratulations, then! :)

lifeintheboomerlane said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Parakeets. And a lot of turtles that went soft on me.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

do turtles go soft? or is that a euphemism?

Anonymous said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Cats. Too many effing cats. At one point, 7...because my little brother dragged home a female stray and my mother decided to let us experience the "miracle of birth". Fleabag (her nickname, real name was Phoebe) had four kittens. Plus we had two other adult male cats (both fixed).

I have a deep abiding loathing of litter pans. Yet, somehow we have 5 cats right now and 2 dogs. When they all go the Rainbow Bridge, I think just maybe we'll try being pet-less for awhile. I just hope DD isn't traumatized by losing 7 pets when they die. She is 1 1/2 yrs old right now. Totally agreeing with Jen, toddlers count as pets.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

the litter pan is the bane of my damn life. I loathe it with the fire of my being.

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