“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” ~ George Orwell – Animal Farm
I’ve recently gotten settled into my temporary residence in Wichita, Kansas to start work on the farm. They’ve been very amenable to me in getting situated, but my first day was less than ideal. I arrived at around seven in the morning. As I pulled up in my jeep, Farmer Todd Nichols, who will be my new boss, was already in the barn collecting eggs. Everything was calm and beautiful, and I was feeling pretty optimistic for how this new job was going to go. I could tell in an instant Farmer Todd was my kind of mortal. He waved and directed me to the end of the drive while holding a basket of eggs.
He followed my car as I parked and got out, held out his hand with a grin and said, “Morning! You must be Pan. I appreciate your punctuality, not many of my boys get up so early. Let me introduce you to the missus, and we’ll get started on some grub before the work.” I followed him up to the house and my day only got better as two black labs came running out of the house to greet me.
“Lord Pan? Is that you? What brings you to our home? Do you like our human?” I smiled at them and knelt down to pet them. Todd was a bit taken aback.
“Lucy rarely warms up to strangers, especially men when they come up to the house. You must really be something special if she is warming up to you so quickly.” I grinned from ear to ear, barely being able to contain myself when I suddenly heard the bleat of a goat. Like a punch to the gut I narrowed my eyes, and gazed up at Todd.
“What kind of animals do you have here?” He didn’t even register the expression that had crawled itself across my face and began listing them off one by one.
“Well we have cows, pigs, hens obviously,’ he said as he lifted the basket of eggs up to demonstrate. “A couple of horses, our two dogs and goats.” Goats…I had hoped my ears were playing tricks on me, but of course, they were working just fine. I forced a smile and followed him inside. After explaining that I was a practicing vegan, Mrs. Nichols prepared me a plate of pancakes and fruits as Mr. Nichols chowed down on some bacon, sausage, eggs, and pancakes. We both had two cups of coffee each, and Mrs. Nichols began telling me all about the family she had raised here and where her babies were now. They were charming and hospitable, but the dread of what awaited me still loomed.
We made quick work of our plates, then Todd led me out to the barn. The gate was closed off from the goats to the right side, but I could see the eyes flitting around under the door, looking at me.
“Oh Pan, what a pleasure to see you again.” The goat holding eye contact with me began blinking its eyes at me. Damned beasts can never leave me be.
“These are my hens, hello, ladies! And this is Chuck, our rooster.” In a cluttered chorus, the hens acknowledged me all at once. Chuck cocked his head over to one side, and with a few nods of his head added to their chorus.
I looked back over to the goats to see what mischief they may be up to, and one of them began wriggled its tongue under the door, sending chills down my spine.
“Here, take this.” Todd handed me a saddle, then grabbed a couple of brushes. We walked out of the barn “thank the gods”, and made for the field. The goats taunted from behind. With a whistle, Lucy and the other black lab, Ricky, came bounding from the house. We made our way for the fence, and with a longer, more lyrical whistle, two magnificent horses began galloping from the prairie. This could be perfect, if it were not for the goats…
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