I'm used to shopping for supplies at farm and feed stores. I know how to dress for those trips and the other customers I meet are usually farm people like me. I can wear my plaid, zippered jacket with the gray hood that Kimberly hates, and no one even takes a second look at me. I can also handle myself in most aisles of the average grocery store. Recently, however, I was forced to step way outside my shopping comfort zone. I had to bring Kimberly. Besides, the whole thing was her idea, anyway.
"There's an entire aisle of them," I lamented. "How are we supposed to choose?"
"Well," Kimberly pondered, "we can probably start with the cheapest ones."
"How about $5.47 for a pack of 40?" I offered.
"Yeah, but what size?"
"What do Jeff and Kim buy for little Spencer?" I asked. "Is his waist the same as our Poo Poo's?"
I've bought a lot of stuff for myself and a lot of other people, but I've never, ever purchased diapers for a dog. I stared mindlessly at the package in my hands. The baby on the package looked comfortable and happy. I looked down the aisle at the other packages, none of them featuring dogs. Packaging usually boasts boldly of everything the product can do, though "great for dogs!" was seemingly absent from the visible diaper slogans. Unfortunately, it was our last chance. We could either move out of the farm house and into the barn, or we could put absorbent panties on our aging pooch.
Kimberly was right. We needed to do something about Kit's incontinence. She had been the perfect pet for 14 years and was now, finally, starting to act old. So far, the accidental piddles had only been a problem at night, but that was enough. In her sleep, Kit had peed on most every carpet, sofa and loveseat in our rental farm house. We figured we might still be able to get back part of our deposit. So, we took a gamble on the "number 3" diapers for babies weighing 16 to 28 pounds.
Not all gambles pay off. Once we got home, we realized the number 3's were about half as big as what we needed. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. We duct taped two diapers end to end, leaving a hole between them for Kit's tail. Then we brought this large, mutant diaper around Kit's behind and legs, securing the waist with another generous strip of duct tape. (Naturally, we took great care not to tape up any fur.) Kit was oblivious to her new panties and just looked up at us, wagging her tail, seemingly pleased with all the attention we were giving her. Her giant diaper rustled as she walked around the kitchen.
Even with the minor, bladder-related setbacks, our farm family keeps moving ahead--and growing. Ellie, the Hanoverian mare, came to stay with us some months back while her owner was traveling. Recently, Ellie's owner asked us if we were interested in simply keeping her. Ellie had turned out to be a great trail horse, and we thought she'd be a wonderful addition to the family. To make it official, we typed up a contract to buy her for $1. An additional perk was that Ellie had been a broodmare her entire life. Even though we already have seven "children," Kimberly and I got ourselves all worked up talking about breeding Ellie. At 23 years old, however, she would need to have her reproductive fitness evaluated by our vet.
We didn't have to wait too long for our vet to visit, and the news was good. Our doctor was surprised by what good shape Ellie was in. (For any sensitive types, I have abbreviated the following anatomical terms.) The vet told us one of Ellie's "O-things" was perfect, and that the other was pretty good. There was no fluid in her "U-thing" and her "V-thing" was vertical. All we had to do was wait to hear the results of her culture and biopsy. I was anxious about those results for several reasons.
I was worried that the results would be good. If the results were good, then we could have horsey babies, and I don't know a thing about horsey babies. I'd be flying blind over uncharted territory. I don't want the horse to suffer because of my poor parenting. On the other hand, I was worried that the test results would be bad. We were so excited about the possibility of a foal on the farm that I didn't want bad test results to ruin the dream.
Strangely, human babies don't worry me. If Kimberly told me she was pregnant, I would probably pass out. But, once I awoke, I would invite everyone we know over for a big party. I love kids. (Kimberly once told me that I love kids because I am one. I proved her wrong by calling her a "stupidhead" and sticking out my tongue.) I used to work at a day care and even taught pre-kindergarten. I can handle kids, but horsey babies are another thing all together. I may have some reading to do.
The news back from the vet was pretty good. Ellie's culture was clean, and the vet said Ellie's biopsy results gave her a 50-50 chance of carrying a foal to term. We spoke with her previous owner, who said her biopsy usually came back as 50-50, but she had given life to a total of 15 healthy foals. We decided to breed her.
After the positive medical news, however, I was troubled to find out exactly how Ellie would get pregnant. She won't actually get a real date with the stallion. I imagined he'd come over to our place, we'd dim the lights in the barn, put on some Barry White music and leave them alone for the night. I was disappointed to find out that the encounter would be more David Crosby than Barry White--Ellie and the stallion won't even meet.
There were additional reasons to be concerned. I realized we still needed to pick out a name and make up the birth announcements! Should we plan a baby shower? My gosh! The barn is a mess--we can't be having babies in here! Maybe I should start boiling water and folding towels! Kimberly suggested I just relax. First, she said, the foal is about a year away. Second, Ellie knows what she's doing even if I don't.
The phone calls to family members should have been better planned. My parents were ecstatic when Kimberly and I told them we were going to have a baby. My mom started crying, and my dad began whooping and hollering. They were considerably less ecstatic when we qualified "baby" with "four-legged." We realized that both Kimberly's and my parents are apparently awaiting the arrival of a two-legged bundle instead. I don't know why, but an adorable colt or filly won't quite cut it for them. I'm sure they'll change their minds when they get some baby horse pictures.
I felt like celebrating early. I found an old cigar box in the house and filled it with carrots. I walked proudly down the barn aisle, making sure every horse got a treat. When I got to Ellie's stall, I handed her a carrot.
"You're going to be a mom... again!" I exclaimed. Ellie was expressionless as she chewed her carrot. She couldn't fool me; I knew she was every bit as excited as we were. I was beaming as I chewed my celebratory root. I was sincerely feeling like everything would turn out fine. And I'm sure it will... as long as we don't have to pick out any diapers for the new baby.
Jeremy Law and his wife, Kimberly, live on a small farm in North Carolina.
Read Jeremy's other columns in EquiSearch.com's Humor section and share your comments in the forum.