Life is full of ups (Yea!) and downs (Boo!)

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The highs and lows of February leave me feeling extra philosophical, or maybe this is disorientation. Your parents, or their parents, might remember an Arthur Godfrey (or Anita O’day) song called “Yea Boo.” A cheeky chorus chimes in at the end of each line, hollering “Yea!” or “Boo!,” depending upon their relative delight or despair. Anita sings, “I know a tavern in a town (YEA!). But today they closed it down (BOO!)” I can’t get that chorus out of my head. And it isn’t any wonder that the song, which is an earworm to begin with, could be about my frenzied February. How much could happen in one extra short month?

Betsy feeding chicken

Betsy’s office chicken races over to suck on some oxygen.

I’ll start with an update to my last blog. Remember my asthmatic office chicken? She’s doing great! To tell you the truth, I’m getting sorta okay with having an office chicken. We’ve discovered that if I make little pills out of her tiny dose of Zyrtec mixed with Listerine breath strips, she gobbles them up happily. I can make up several weeks worth and I smell fantastic afterward — fresh and minty. And if she starts gasping for air (which is getting more and more rare), I call her to the front of her cage and she races over to suck on some oxygen. The guys at the oxygen tank rental company can’t even figure out how to write up a ticket for a chicken. They load us up and just wave us away with incredulous grins each week. Cue chorus: Yea!

But, proving veterinary law numero uno — that all emergencies happen on Sunday night — Biscuit-the-goat was stricken with terribly painful and (deadly for a goat) bladder stones. One of our “youngsters,” he is so full of life that it was really wrenching to see him sick. I walked into his tidy stall with his straw bales stacked neatly high (to protect him from the winter wind) and said, “Something is terribly wrong here.” Every night we stack his hay bales and every night he climbs on them and tumbles them all around. Not that night. Cue chorus: Boo!

I am ashamed to admit that I keep a running list to protect myself from surprises. It is a futile (I repeat, futile) attempt to try to blunt the pain of surprise visits by Death. With over thirty animal family members on the farm, we know Death well. Heck, half the time, he’s here by special invitation! I say this is futile because it leaves me utterly unprepared for random death-threats. When one of the guys on the “healthy” list gets super ill, I tend to fall apart.

The talented surgical team at NC State saved the day this time and within what seemed like moments after surgery, Biscuit was back to his goaty self. I couldn’t believe it! Biscuit was going to be fine. Frankly, it has been a long time since one of my brood has been pronounced “good as new.” I really still have to pinch myself when I see him out there contemplating his next naughty deed. Cue chorus: Yea!

Biscuit the goat

Feeling better, Biscuit surveys his world.

He was feeling so fine, in fact, that yesterday he was caught taking himself out for a freedom stroll down the driveway. He figured out the new gate latch and was making a beeline for the neighbor’s tasty shrubs. Cue chorus: Boo!

Our family had an amazing trip out west to attend parents’ weekend at Stanford (my daughter, Kristen, is a freshman there). I tell you what — it is impossible to not feel good about the world when you meet those college kids. After Stanford, we went to see the world’s largest tree, The General Sherman, which is still standing after 1,000 years, making us feel appropriately small and inconsequential. Something I find to be a huge relief. Cue chorus: Yea!

I had a series of bad dreams that night. First I dreamed that my little box turtle, Syd, was stuck upside down. Then I dreamed that he was being eaten by a snake and I had to kill the snake to save him. Then the biggest nightmare: I dreamed that our veterinarian had an accident and was unable to work. Cue chorus: Boo!

But, it was just a dream. Phew! Cue chorus: Yea!

angus the sheep

Angus will be missed by all who knew him.

I woke up to discover that Angus, my beloved sheep, who was having a hard time getting up last week, stumbled and fell, and felt crummy. His fan club, at the farm in North Carolina with him, unanimously felt it was “time” for Angus. They said goodbye to him while he rested with his head on a favorite lap. They tried to keep me, still high up in the Sierra Nevadas, updated through Skype and spotty Wi-Fi.

Angus, who really was everything you could want in a friend, was an anomaly because of his old age, so we offered his body to the vet school for educational purposes. My four-year-old granddaughter, Azalyn, who is an animal loving vegetarian like me, told us it is okay — that we really, really miss Angus, but we can still love his memory.

February is over, and while it had some real lows, they were mostly fixable (like Biscuit) or graceful and timely (like Angus). The constant Pong game with fun and miracles on one side and hardship and goodbyes on the other has become almost comfortable. Or is it just predictable? I think having a farm helps — it provides context for being mired in the “circle of life.” Hmm. Or it’s the cause, in which case, I need to get an apartment.

In the meantime, I still can’t get that song out of my head…

So, feeling ready for a less manic March, and with my office chicken by my side, I begin my birthday month, trying to push two opposing thoughts to the back of my mind. One is, “Who’s next to go?” The other: “Who’s next to come?” www.… barnyard…

Sing it with me, everyone! (For the tune, click here.)

Yea! Boo!
by Betsy Banks Saul,
(with apologies to the late Arthur Godfrey)

I have over 30 gorgeous pets (Yea!)
But all my money goes to vets (Boo!)

They’re the smartest vets around (Yea!)
But I’m always out of town (Boo!)

My office partner clucks and struts (Yea!)
But my neighbors think I’m nuts (Boo!)

Yea! Boo! Yea! Boo!
It’s lots of fun to do.
If you like it holler, Yea!
If you don’t you holler, Boo!

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