The Cast: Erich’s family (himself, wife, and children), My family (myself, wife, and children), Ostriches (ornery), Pussycat (absolutely horrific).
There’s a saying, “What goes around comes around.” Usually, it seems that it is meant to only apply to people. However, I did witness an event where the animal was the recipient of a well-deserved comeuppance.
In the state where I live there’s a farm that grows flowers and herbs and other things for all manner of use. For example, their lavender goes into essential oils and other products, stuff like that. They are not your traditional farm.
This farm also offers side attractions like animals and tours of the facilities. Honestly, it’s a great place to take your kids for a day. Mine and Erich’s families got together once, had a great time there. We toured the fields of flowers and other things. There was a wagon ride where one of our children got to drive the horses for a short distance. Also, there were animals that we got to get up close to. Lots of fun. It was, however, in this last part of the tour where the incident took place.
I really wish I could remember more details of that day, of the animals we saw and the things we did, but I don’t. It would seem that nothing else was really all that fantastic, or memorable—obviously. Here’s the skinny, folks: Out of everything that we did that day, what I’m about to tell you is really the only thing that mattered.
The animal portion of the tour is really more like a petting zoo, where you just go where you’d like to and see the animals you would like to see. You spend the amount of time you want to, where you want to. Very basic stuff. Well, our families (Erich’s and mine) were doing just that. It was during this time that we encountered the ostriches.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know that much about ostriches. I know what cartoons have lied to me about. I know what I have learned a little here and there about them (which isn’t much). But at that farm, on that day, I learned something new about ostriches.
What I knew before: Ostriches hide their head in the sand. Lie. Most people know this. That’s fine. No lose, no worries. An ostrich egg is equal to about a dozen chicken eggs—but they don’t taste the same. I learned that from The Amazing Race television show. On one episode the challenge was to eat an ostrich egg omelet. I knew you can ride them for transportation. Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson. There have been a few other television, movie, and magazine articles that have verified this fact. But, they all pretty much also state that the ostrich cannot support a lot of weight. So… Oh, also ostrich feathers make great feather dusters. These are the things I knew before that day.
The corrals where the animals resided varied, based on the needs of the unique animals. The ostriches, well, their container almost suggested that the owners knew something about the ostrich that the rest of us didn’t (that maybe they are mean, ornery cusses and shouldn’t be allowed to be near people). As our children approached the fence—and when I say “approached” I mean “ran with unbridled enthusiasm”—the ostriches responded in kind.
There was a hissing and fit throwing the likes of which I didn’t believe a bird could do. The ostriches would puff-up their feathers and start beating their wings. In addition, these giant turkeys were bobbing their heads through the openings in the wire fence while making hissing noises, again, the likes of which I had not (nor still to this day) heard before. It was horrendous.
All this created chaos within our group as well. The only thing the children wanted to do was get close to those Big Bird wannabe’s to pet them. All the ostriches wanted to do was to kill us.
The wire that made up most of the fence had large holes in it. Not breaches in the fence. I mean that the fencing wire was the kind that had those giant square holes built into it. Big enough to put a person’s hand through (or a bird’s head out of) and the wire itself seems flimsy enough to snap just by looking at it, but is actually quite strong. Yeah, we were very cautionary as we drew close and walked about the pen in an attempt to find a calm ostrich—which we didn’t.
After some time—and a lot of effort—the adults were finally able to calm enough of the children to a point where we could enjoy the would-be feather-beds that were the loud and obnoxious ostriches. And as we were doing just that, another party disrupted the entire event.
You see, earlier in the tour, our group had encountered a lost stray. This little critter looked like… well, it looked like… well it didn’t look well! Let’s put it that way. This stray was a small orangish kitten. It couldn’t have been very old—as it’s size was still very small—but it was old enough to be out on its own. However, given its appearance, it wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Either that or, Lady Luck had decided to deal this cat the worst possible hand in life.
As the walking hairball drew near, at first out hearts went out to it. There was this collective, “Aww, kitty!” But as it got closer there was a collective, “Eww! Kitty.” With the exception of Erich, we were all prepared to just let that runt of a traveling toupée alone.
While fluffy, and of a color that would be adorable—if washed, it was clear that this kitten had fallen upon hard times. Its whiskers were in disarray. The fluff of fur about its face looked like mange had given it a hairstyle just minutes before meeting us. It walked unevenly about the ground. It was as though the cat had its “sea legs” but didn’t know it was on dry, unmoving land. And finally, its eyes. Never to be forgotten, those kitten’s eyes…
Imagine a Fruit Loop (ya know, the cereal), then take that Fruit Loop and knick away small bits of it so that the “loop” is not so loop-like. And you know how the coating on a Fruit Loop sort of mutes the color of the loop? Now that the chucks have been chipped away, the under color is more vibrant and visible in some spots. Well make that Fruit Loop one of the paler colors, like the yellow one, and then do all that I have just said, now take small bits of debris, like hairs, dirt, bugs (yes, bugs), and place them all into/onto/around that damaged Fruit Loop. Now, take that nasty Fruit Loop, make a second one of similar vomitous nastiness, and place them around the eyes of the kitten as though they were the frames of itty-bitty kitty spectacles—oh, and they also happen to glue the kitten’s eyes open, leaving it unable to blink (it didn’t blink once, it couldn’t blink—I swear).
That was the kitten. That is what approached us.
Erich, being the animal lover that he is, was the only one not repulsed by the hellish-hairball rejected by decency and adored by mange that was that supposedly-cat. Our wives were drawing the children away. Erich was headed towards the sudo-animal. I was supportive of both. While I didn’t want anything to do with that walking roadkill, I am a good friend. I’m the kind of friend who brings over the bandages and ointment when his buddy has cut off his fingers when trying to juggle chainsaws for the first time. I don’t always wanna be there to see it (sometimes I do cause it’s gonna be cool), but I’ll help take care of you in the aftermath—always.
Anyway, we were able to leave that sorry excuse for a lifeform after Erich’s wife threatened him with a divorce if he touched it, and we moved on. And now that brings us back to the ostriches.
We had been given so much grief by those hissy-fit-throwing feather-brains that we were about to give up all hope of getting to touch one. Then, suddenly, one of the children shouted, “Look! In the cage.” And so we did. That horrific mess of a furry flophouse for fleas had followed us, and had entered the ostrich pen from the far side (remember the holes in the fence?). And all the attention of the ostriches was upon us. None of those flightless birds had noticed the cat. Yet.
Given the size of the cat, and the size of an full-grown ostrich’s foot, we surmised that one of those birds was soon to be wearing a homemade kitten slipper. Those birds were super aggressive to us, and we were on the outside of the fence. Imagine what they would do to something inside the fence. It was going to be bad. Very bad.
The girls (mothers and daughters) were starting to “Oh, no!” The boy’s reactions ranged from the indifference of “Whatever.” to “Cool! Are they gonna squish it?”
In attempts to chase the cat out of the pen—which in retrospect was ridiculous considering that the critter hadn’t been dissuaded before and had followed us (unbeknownst to us) all over the farm—we tossed small rocks and dirt clods, between the meaty legs of the bully-birds, at the kitty-creature. After one accidentally hit the kitten, we stopped lest we might end up being the accidental harbingers of its demise in our pathetic attempts to save it.
So, our two families just stood there, rooted to our positions but wiggling our heads about like snakes in an attempt to keep an eye on the orange, crusty hairball. Some of us, hoping to see it survive the potential stampede (emphasis on the “stamp”), others wondering how much damage an ostrich could do to that friglie little skeleton coated in eye gunk and matted fur (I will not tell you to which group I belonged, you’ll just have to guess). This wasn’t some of our finest moments as human beings. I’m just sayin’.
As the crust-coated mange-ball drew nearer, one of the ostrich’s peripheral perceived it, and reacted.
That gravity-bound bird began to flap its wings as it attempted to lift both feet off the ground, while producing all manner of terrible noises in an effort to warn its compatriots. It was not trying to kill the orange interloper. It was trying to get away. This action, of course, quickly gained the attention of the other ostriches, at which time they all began to do the, “EEK! Get-a-way, get-a-way, get-a-way!” dance. This garnered the kitten’s favor and as the giant, cowardly fowls fled, the mange with legs gave pursuit—albeit, still in his best landlubber-drunken-sailor-stagger.
So, you see ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t matter how big you are, or how tough you wanna pretend to be, what goes around comes around. So be good to each other. Because one day it may just “come around” as a four-legged, crust encoated, sickly, orange manged, wibbly-wobbly, sluggishly-staggery, filthy, dirty, flea infested form of a pussycat.