Things easily run a-fowl on the farm by Bob Karolevitz I thought we were the only ones who suffered bad things with our poor-potty-trained geese, our geriatric chickens and assorted livestock which brought us nothing but trouble.
For instance, at least three times varmints got into the coop on our funny farm and left us with only a pile of feathers where hens used to be. The worst was when a raccoon wiped out Jill�s 4-H show birds after she had vaselined their wattles and put clear nail polish on all their toes.
We�ve had beef cattle wallowing in the mud in the feedlot, and wool-blind ewes stuck in the spring-time goo. I won�t even mention the trauma of breech-births or half-frozen lambs in the kitchen sink.
Yes, we thought that all the farm-type woes were ours alone � and then we met Jerry and Sherry Busick of Brookings!
We got tears in our eyes from laughter when they told of the trials and tribulations on their 17 acres of agricultural grief. And it all started with a baby duck.
Jerry loved that little quackster which, if I remember right, their youngest daughter got as an Easter gift. Being a helpful father, he told her that tiny creatures like that should be kept warm under a heat lamp � and she took his advice.
The trouble is she positioned the lamp just a few inches above the poor bird. The result: roast duckling!
Knowing that her father was enamored with his wee friend, like a good daughter she went to the Internet and ordered a dozen more. They were so cute when they arrived, the Busicks said, but then they started to grow.
And they grew, and grew, and grew!
They got too big for one pen which Jerry built. The same thing happened with a larger one. Next came the swimming pool. Finally they had to be moved to the barn, which turned out to be a mistake.
A predator of some kind � possibly a weasel � got into the building and killed half of them. The Busicks did what they could to protect their dwindling flock, but the beast came back and did away with the rest.
By this time there should have been dirgeful violin background music as the subject turned to cattle.
�We had lots of pasture,� the retired grocery store manager said, �so I went to a sale and bought 23 of the nicest calves you ever saw.�
�I got them home okay and locked them in the barn until they settle down and became familiar with the place,� he went on.
That was fine until somebody else came by to feed them when the Busicks were away; and, thinking they�d stay put in the pasture, he let them out. Then all hell broke loose!
They made like an old-fashioned stampede, tore out the fence and scattered throughout Brookings County.
�It took us more than a month to find them all and bring them home,� the frustrated city-farmer bemoaned.
�And we never did locate one,� Sherry intervened.
There was more to the woeful tale, of course, including the time the Busicks had a couple of broiler chickens who developed some sort of malady. They got gnarled feet and couldn�t walk very good. Or when they butchered a pet steer named Blackie and had a hard time eating him.
No question about it, though, this sad story loses something in the telling. You had to be there to see Jerry�s hand-gestures when he described the topknot of a Muscovy duck. Or to watch Sherry�s wifely expressions as she recalled those harrowing episodes.
Needless to say, Phyllis and I can relate all too well to those agrarian miseries. Like the Busicks we can laugh at them now, but they weren�t so funny when they were happening.
� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz