One thing I love about living on a farm is that it doesn’t matter how you look when you go outside.
In fact, it’s A-OK to head out to do most chores in your PJs. My chickens don’t mind. They don’t even mind my hair, which looks especially crazy first thing in the morning. A frizzy, lopsided mess of gray kinks and curls. I’ll run my fingers through it to keep from completely scaring the animals, and to make sure my dogs recognize me, but that’s all the grooming they require.
This morning I headed out to the chicken coop to check things and gather eggs. I was leaving on a business trip, so this was my last chance for “animal time.” As I left the bedroom and stepped out onto the porch, I noticed some racket coming from the front pasture. The goats were being particularly playful for some reason, running and jumping as a gang, butting heads and clamoring about. The llamas, roosters and mini horse were interested in the goings on, but only as spectators. There seemed to be some sort of game afoot.
I took a detour with my egg basket to see what was up, and immediately realized they were pursuing our littlest goat, aptly named “Boots” after her black Nancy Sinatra go-go boots on all four legs. She’s our only female goat, and although tiny, she is becoming a young lady. In fact, that was the problem. Her “young-lady-ness” had gotten them all a-twitter, and the boys, forgetting their castrated state, were competing for her affections. In fact, they were full-on harassing her. She could not find peace in our peaceful pasture. I could tell our female llama was sympathetic as she dropped her ears flat back to scold the boys with her worried humming, but to no avail. They leaped onto little Boots’ back and onto each others’ backs and the whole scrum moved about the pasture in a cloud of chaos.
My arrival at the gate broke up the clatter and they all began bleating (and whinnying and humming and clucking) to greet me, abandoning their game, to see if I’d brought treats. Boots was out in front of the group, so I cracked open the gate and allowed her to escape. She was clearly relieved to be rid of the boys, but was then greeted by the dogs – our black lab, Bart, and our Great Pyrenees pup, George. They decided Boots was a plaything, too. and my female heart poured out for her. I called Bart to my heel, and he promptly complied, with the George following suit in a clumsy, giant puppy sort of way. Boots finally had a breather and we all headed out to the coop in happy harmony.
Once there, I glanced at my watch and noted that I had about 30 minutes before I had to go, so I settled in to my happy chicken chores – all 35 birds following me every step of the way as I filled up waterers and feeders, tossing some cracked corn about for their breakfast treat. My favorites waited patiently for their daily snuggle, which I accommodated one by one. Nothing like the soft, pillowy underbelly of a silky smooth chicken across your arm in the morning. I could barely stand to leave them, but I had to. The dogs were now barking and it was time to get dressed.
I turned to leave the hen-house with the egg basket over my arm, and right there in front of me was a shiny black limo.
What the hell.
My ride to the airport.
The driver rolled down the window and said, “Is this where you want me?”
He had the code to our front gate, but apparently thought our little white picket fence put too much distance between him and the house, so he drove on the little dirt roadway that wound all the way around the yard and up the grassy slope to the other side of the house and ends between house and the chicken coop.
Bart had jumped up on the limo door to attempt a face lick and I shouted at him to get down.
And then I remembered what I was wearing. A brightly colored tie-dye shirt and black and white crop pajama pants. Crazy hair. Green flip flips.
No wonder the driver was grinning. Painfully.
“Uh. Good morning!” I managed. “You’re a touch early. But I can be ready in a minute. Do you mind driving around to the other side?”
“Sure!” he said with a smile as he turned the sedan around in the long grass, dogs barking and dancing around the car as it bumped back down the slope.
I had to chuckle to myself at the poor driver, trying to make sense of the situation. Most executives he picks up do have a driveway, after all. And a sidewalk. And a clear “front door”.
This executive has a picket fence with staggered stepping stones leading to a kitchen door in the back of a little farm house. And who could blame him for pursuing any road that might lead him to a more traditional entrance? Yet all he found was a wild-looking flower child emerging from her hen-house with her goat.
No doubt he checked the address a couple of times.
I was ready in three minutes. My suitcase and briefcase were ready by the door, and my travel clothes had been carefully staged the night before. I quickly washed my feet in the tub and dressed. I was at the kitchen window pouring myself a cup of coffee for the road, and I glanced up…and saw Boots.
Scrambling onto the roof of the parked limo.
I doubled over. All at once mortified, cautiously amused and – after a moment of absorbing what was happening out there – desperate to help the driver grab that goat before her little hooves left scratches all over that big, shiny black car.
I wanted to die.
I grabbed my bags and called the dogs – who thought this was such fun – and rushed out the door.
Much to my surprise, that driver – having quickly resolved the goat issue – was gently dusting the footprints off the hood. As I hopped across the stepping stones, my galloping carry-on bouncing behind me, he turned to me and smiled a big smile.
“Ahhh.” he said through a thick accent. “Let me help you with your bag!” Without a word about the goat incident I’d witnessed from the kitchen window, he offered, “What a lovely farm you have!”
I was stunned.
And charmed. “Well, thank you!” I said, slightly puzzled
Boots ran past me to the house. The dogs took their place by the gate, and the driver, still smiling, loaded my things into the trunk. Brushing the dust off his smart black suit, he opened the car door for me. I climbed into the black leather seats and he closed the door on my dignified cocoon
In an instant – out of breath – I’d departed the world where I was a farm girl in her PJs tending chickens and herding dogs and goats, to a working woman with her briefcase in a limo.
Business as usual.
And how gracious was this man to transport me there with such remarkable calm and warmth.
How did he not flee from this crazy farm and leave me in the dust?
God had sent a farmer from the Azores to be my driver.
All was well.