I've been having trouble getting in touch with our hay guy. I was over there a couple of times, called a couple of times, and he just doesn't seem to be around. Because I watch too much Court TV, this morning around 7:30am I checked his barn and the outs for signs that something horrible had happened, but nothing. I actually thought I shouldn't be leaving fingerprints when I helpfully latched the banging screen door to the porch. Spent a few minutes thinking about that scene in "In Cold Blood". Anyway, since I couldn't find him (and for those of you who would know - this is the famous brawny, handsome Mennonite Guy) I realized I had to find some other source for my immediate needs.
Since my life is complicated by my penchant for saying yes to everything my family needs, I had to rush home so I could watch Youngest Grandson while his mother got her hair done. (Something I don't have time for because I'm too busy saying yes to ...you get the idea) I figured YG could come with me on the great Hay Hunt.
YG and I took off down the road, playing follow the dots with farms that had hay signs out but nobody home. Maybe there was a Hay Guy Convention some place, rife with John Deere Shirts and net backed baseball caps. Driving down 322 I am talking to YG about all the things he can see from his car seat in the truck - stop signs, trucks, what's going on in other people's back seats, 24 horses grazing peacefully in the parking lot of the truck repair place, pumpkins in a .....WAIT JUST A MINUTE!!!!
Do you remember that game "One Of These Things Doesn't Belong Here?" I was never very good at it because it made sense to me that an ice cream cone would be inside a mirror, just take a look at my house or my desk top. So it took me a few seconds to really understand that the horses didn't belong in the parking lot. I turned the truck around and screeched to a halt just as Ms Alpha Mare decided the pasture was greener on the other side of the road. Cars, trucks etc all were skidding to a stop - I parked my truck with the four ways right across the highway and jumped out to...I didn't know what the heck I was going to do.
I waved my arms around for a few seconds and persuaded Ms Alpha Mare to take her herd back across the road to the parking lot. Some of these horses were wearing coats, all of them had halters, there were ponies and thoroughbreds and paints and drafts - the only thing missing was zebras! By the time she gets them back across the road, several other women have jumped out of their cars and are shouting WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR HORSES at me. I explain that THIS TIME THEY AREN'T MINE!!! At that very moment, the whole herd takes off across the back of the parking lot, fortunately in the opposite direction of the highway. I jump back into the truck where YG has been waiting patiently and take off down the road. I can see the horses through the trees and behind the houses, tails high, Arabs prancing, thoroughbreds strutting, ponies scurrying to keep up, they remind me of colorful litter being blown before the wind. Suddenly, I loose them behind a small hill, and the other cars that have been giving chase stop suddenly and empty out.
One woman who swears she has no horse experience but has a carload of toddlers says, I'll watch your kids while you go help! Another woman in business dress and I go over the hill and find them grazing in a small field and off in the distance I see a thin man and a tiny woman holding buckets and leads.
The woman in business dress (here after known as WIBD) gets Mz Alpha Mare and another horse by the halter and starts leading them toward the tiny figures in the distance. I take out a dollar bill and crinkle it at a grazing horse nearby. Many people don't know this, but it's a great way to get a horse's attention. They think you are rattling a candy wrapper and might share. This pretty thoroughbred lets me grab her halter and off we go, a handful of ponies in tow.
We catch up with the thin man with the bucket who is apologizing to every one. He has a pile of leads and we are hooking everyone up. With about 19 of them under control, the tiny woman who has now arrived thanks us all, but definitely wants us to go so she can fall apart.
On the way back to our cars (where WIBD and I realize we have left our children with a total stranger) WIBD and I chat about horses. She says she has two, and I say right now I have five and we nod at each other knowingly. There will be no judgement from us about horses getting out! Fortunately, the kids are safe - the woman with the toddlers is running back and forth from car to truck saying Your Nanna Is Coming! Your Mommy is Coming!
Woman with Toddlers, WIBD and I laugh like old friends, joke about all being in this place where we are needed and the unpredictable way a morning can change. We laugh about the story we will all tell at dinner. We climb into our cars and trucks and...
Of course my truck won't start. Of course it doesn't start. YOU KNEW IT WOULDN'T START!
I try over and over. YG helpfully tells me to give it some gas. Then asks if the horses broke the truck. If his dad can fix it. Woman with toddler has noticed that I'm not moving and climbs out of her car.
First thing she says is Praise Jesus. That sort of takes me back. Then she starts pushing on the front of the truck. We manage to get the truck pushed into a driveway.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you have a car problem a guy appears? Now this man somehow missed 2 dozen horses running through his yard, but the sound of the truck misfiring has brought him out of his house. He bangs on the hood and I open it and he says, You have some kind of fuel problem.
I know a little about cars. I already KNEW I had a fuel problem. YG knew I had a fuel problem. The gas gauge says 3/4 full, but it won't fire up. The car guy ( he admits that he sort of likes to fiddle with cars, part time gosh golly) is also dressed almost identically to me, which is unnerving. I am wearing a hooded sweatshirt, sweat pants and a flannel barn coat sort of thing. He believes it's a fuel filter and he wants to know when truck had a tune up. I explain that is not my job so I don't know. He looks disgustedly at the corrosion on the battery terminals. "These are bad," he says, "but I don't think they are the problem." Before he can pull out the dipstick and check the oil I thank him SO much for his help, and ask the Woman with Toddler to go to a very near service station and ask them to send a tow truck. She says, I'd hate to have them tow you for no reason. She doesn't understand that I would write a check right now for $500 if this nightmare would end. I say, No really you've been such a help, could you please just send a tow truck? She praises Jesus again, says she will, and Car Repair Guy asks me if there is anything else he can do for me. (?) I thank him again and apologize for clogging his driveway. He says it's not a problem, he has no where to go. Imagine my surprise.
I know you are wondering when this is going to end. Soon, really soon.
While we are sitting there, Mr. YG is asking questions. What is this? What is that? on the dashboard of the truck. He gets around to the fuel tank selector switch. You see, the truck has TWO fuel tanks, I explain. He says, Well, why don't you try the other one?
I switch the switch. I turn the ignition. It fires right up.
I hightail it out of there to the service station and tell them to cancel the tow truck. I meet up with Woman With Toddler and, bless her, she was heading back to me with bottles of water and lollipops. We joke some more and she assures me that Jesus is my Saviour, and I agree with her.
I finally do get some hay, and I get it for a bargain price. When asked by his mother what happened on our hay hunting he says Well, we got hay. That's all that he thought was unusual. What have I done to this child?