Chloe's Barn Adventure

The blood-curdling scream rocked my foundation. I couldn’t get there fast enough. It felt as if my feet were stuck in thick mud with each leap forward I took to close the 20-foot gap between us.

Chloe just lay there howling in sheer terror with these giant beautiful eyes looking up at me to erase the pain – to make it go away and stop hurting.

“Am I going to DIE?”

“No honey, you are going to be just fine; you are not going to die, I promise” I said calmly as I held her bloody foot in my hand, high in the air to stop the flow from continuing to gush further. I held her close, offering words and hugs to try to assuage her fears – to no avail.

“I want my DADDY! … I wish he were here! … I want to go home! … It HURTS! … Where’s my MOM? … Am I going to be okay? … Will I have to have surgery? … Will they cut off my foot? … Will I lose any of my toes? … I don’t feel well! … Can I call my dad? … I’m scared…”

“You’re going to be okay. I promise… Of course you can call him. Let’s get the phone. What’s his number again? Let’s do that right now, okay? … Let me clean you up a bit and get the blood to stop, all right? … Let’s keep your foot up high, okay sweetie? … You’re going to be just fine. … You want to call your mom too? OK, let’s do that.” Although it was only a matter of seconds or minutes, it felt like hours. I was responsible for this sweet child and I felt like I let her down. My heart was on fire with ache. Calming words were used. Hugs were bestowed. Calls were made.

We were just there delivering lunch to two of “the guys” planting the first seeds at the new farm. We were not going to stay. In fact, the kids had already eaten their lunch and were looking forward to getting back into the little kiddie pool we set up for spring break on our back deck – AT HOME.

But as kids tend to do, they began exploring while I went in search of “the guys” to let them know their lunch had arrived. I had just waved a distant hello, grabbed my phone and walked a few yards away to take a photograph when I heard all three children utter cries of “Raccoon!!!” and “Hey Ben! Get away from there with that shovel; you’ll scare it!” and “Let’s get out of here!” At that point, I was already headed back toward the barn and their cries when they started running. Did I mention they were at a formerly abandoned farm with bits and pieces of random building parts and tools strewn about? All three children were actually running, to my terror – in three different directions. Aack! I would have given anything for Inspector Gadget’s arms at that point to reel them in.

Aren’t raccoons supposed to sleep during the daytime? I never actually saw the beast but all three children most definitely did and were most definitely terrified - and probably scaring it to death at the same time. Ben was actually using a shovel to dig in the hole it just ran into. WHAT? He probably thought he could bury it – who knows? Oh my goodness! How can three children get into so much simultaneous mischief in 3 short minutes? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

Maybe the raccoon just wanted to know what the heck we did with its two friends we caught recently. I’m quite certain it was just appearing mid-day for a little chat and a gentle reminder: there are more of them – we are outnumbered, folks.

Chloe’s rather unfortunately chosen “escape route” from the non-nocturnal visitor contained a newly collapsed barn wall with scores of 3” nails protruding directly into the sky – and now, with our sweet girl’s size 3 shoe and foot quite firmly attached to one of them. (Thank the LORD she only caught one – mere millimeters away were a group of 5 – FIVE – nails sticking up! I might have actually passed out at that point. Wouldn’t THAT have been fun?)

As I plunged toward this sweet child like an awkward teenager in an unfamiliar sport, my heart nearly escaped its encasement. I had to quickly and carefully lift her shoe – and attached foot – up and away from the giant nail to which it was embedded. The 3” spike felt like Mount Everest at that point. I wasn’t quite sure what I would find inside her shoe honestly – but as I worked, the intensity of the screams began to escalate. Oh please, please, please, let her be okay…

The shoe was flung off; the sock gingerly removed and loving energy and pressure applied. Chloe began to utterly wail and now my daughter’s sobs echoed behind me. My son Ben quietly and silently disappeared into a far corner of the barn.

“I have special magic powers, you know. Healing powers. Can you feel them working? If you’re really quiet, you can actually feel the magic.” (I was actually referring to the reiki I was giving her, although this was not the time for explanations of this sort.)

One small head nodded in agreement. She was listening, and paying attention to my hands! I, honestly, was surprised by her reaction: “Really? Does it feel better now?” Nod, sideways head tilt: “sort of…” I honestly didn’t have any illusions at this point that anything could have erased the kind of pain this brave soul was enduring, but was thrilled my “magic” was working!!! Wow was she brave – and so incredibly strong! There had been a 3” nasty, rusty, ugly nail stuck in her foot – I don’t know how deep – sheer seconds prior! HOLY CRAP! What a girl! I was truly proud of her for being so calm. Sad, yes. Hurting, definitely. But calm – absolutely, and paying attention to my every word and facial expression.

At one point, she said her foot was “tingling”. Oh no! Did the nail puncture a nerve? Is she going to have to go to the ER? What does that mean? My mind was racing out of control – of course she spotted it and called me on it instantly:

“Why did you make that face?” “What face, Honey?” “That one – when I said my foot was tingling?” “I have no idea – did I make a face?” “Yes, yes you did. What did it mean?”

This smart girl misses nothing. This went on for a while until I realized the obvious: her foot was merely ASLEEP – from me holding it up in the dang air for so long with pressure on it. Oops. Duh!

While we all have stories of stepping on nails, it’s quite different being on the other side of things.

This was not my foot. This was not my child. I had no idea how far in this nail had gone. I didn’t even know if she had had a tetanus shot recently. I wasn’t her parent. Can you imagine?

More than likely I appeared surrealistically and unnaturally calm on the outside. On the inside – I thought I was going to vomit. I am still queasy and it’s been 24 hours now.

Everything is fine; Chloe will be just fine. Really. A sincere thank you to Chloe for her many sweet phone calls to tell me she’s doing fine and not to worry! I appreciate them. She must know I am a steroidal worrywart.

Guilt and nausea aside, I have also a measure of gratitude: thank God she didn’t have a close encounter with the raccoon!


Adventures in Farming Part III:  BONFIRES

Note:  The following names have been changed to protect the guilty.

“BURN PERMIT?!  Naaaahhh…  Just bring some weenies and marshmallows and call it a Bonfire.  You don’t need a freaking PERMIT for a BONFIRE!”  This coming from an anonymous “official source” that should know these things, mind you.

“Whatchya plannin’ on burnin’, anyway?”

“Just some twigs, slash, small branches and leaves that are laying around all over the place. This farm has been essentially unused for 20 YEARS!  Would you believe that there were 25 foot hickory trees blocking the entrance to the barn, trapping a farm truck in there?”

“Holy crap! Hickory trees? You’re not gonna burn those, are you?”

“No way! Those logs are going to some of our barbeque friends for their smokers.  Hey, I’m no dumbhead – we’re trading it for BBQ!  This IS Kansas City, remember?”

And so it was that on a very cloudy day in early February that a small brush bonfire was started, complete with… not marshmallows, not weenies, but… sardines.  Sardines!  The intended recipients of the sardines were the raccoons, and they were, at this point, only interested in the gluten free cookies.

Thus, the idea of “roasting sardines” was born.

Really, gentlemen?!

A bunch of grown men, standing around mid-day, mid-winter, roasting SARDINES in a CAN.  Uh huh. Yep. I’m buying that.

The law?  Well, it WAS a cloudy day anyway (no coincidence, honest, officer) and you couldn’t really see any smoke for more than half a mile tops – how fortunate was that?  Hmm…

Speaking of smoke…

During the alleged “bonfire” stories were shared, as they usually are when pondering life over a fire.

One such story had to be re-shared, as it is just too good not to be.

There was this guy – let’s call him Marvin – who offered to help out some friends one day on their property felling trees.  Oak trees.  They were in the way of the barn and had to go.

So Marvin did the right thing and helped out a friend.  Chain saws and axes were brought in and trees were removed.

One friend became two; three; soon there were dozens asking for Marvin’s help clearing trees from their properties.

Marvin started making money.  But not a lot.  He wanted more.

One would think that fallen oak trees would be an awesome commodity for wood carvers, flooring contractors, carpenters, etc.  Well, in our fair state of Missouri, oak trees are rather plentiful.  The supply/demand ratio j was ust not enough of an incentive for our good ol’ boy Marvin.

So he took his wares west – out to Colorado.  You see - there are not too many oak trees growing in that rocky mountain state, so Marvin found himself some customers.  So he drove his big old truck out west to deliver the trees.

Not wanting to come back empty handed and waste a return trip, Marvin discovered another hidden gem to bring back home.

Transformers.  WTH?

Do you remember those old transformers that used to hang on the power and telephone wires?  The big boxes that looked like suitcases hanging up in the sky on the poles?  Ever wonder what was in them or what the heck they were for?  No?  Me neither.  Never even thought about it.  But Marvin did – and he realized that these old fashioned transformers were a true hidden gem, just waiting to be exploited.

He found a supplier.  A big one.

These old things were tossed in the back of the “tree truck”, for lack of a better term, and hauled back to his farm in Missouri.

And taken apart.  Disassembled.

Basically, there were four parts:

  1. The exterior was made of metal, broken down and resold to the metal guys for pennies on the pound.
  2. Part of the transformer contained “transformer oil”, a type of gas used in the transformer’s cooling process so the high voltage running through the machine didn’t blow it up.  This oil was transferred to Marvin’s vehicles.  Nice.
  3. Another part of the interior of the transformer contained a highly toxic waste product, banned in the U.S. in 1979, called Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now considered a hazardous waste material because of its destructive nature of the environment and its inhabitants.  It does not break down and will accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals, causing cancer, etc.  This product was an inconvenience, so Marvin merely just burned it into the atmosphere in small doses – at bonfires, ironically enough – poisoning unsuspecting local Missouri plants, animals and humans. (That is precisely why nobody wanted these transformers with hazardous waste – but Marvin did.)
  4. It was the secret gold that sealed the deal and sucked Marvin in - the final, and most alluring bit:  the solid copper core – which was then sold on the open market for some serious cash.

But Marvin quickly paid off his farm.  His trucks.  Everything.  And began to live in style.

That is, until “The Accident”.

Somewhere on I-70, going eastbound with a truck full of toxic transformers, there was a crash.  Police were called and came out.

“What’s all this stuff?”

“I don’t know.  My boss asked me to pick it up on my way back from Colorado.  It’s going to some farm in Missouri.”

“Do you have your HAZMAT Permit handy by any chance, Sir?”


Calls were made.  Men in white hazmat suits arrived instantly.  I-70 was shut down.

400 miles away, more men in white suits were already on their way to a small farm in Missouri.

The armed men in white suits – and their FBI counterparts – had no problem finding the little paid off farm in Missouri.

The smoke was the dead giveaway.

Marvin?  He was already having himself a pretty good-sized BONFIRE…  In fact, the entire barn was on fire.  No weenies this time.

What transformers, officers?  I have no idea what you are talking about.

The Gluten Free Cookie and the Raccoon

Adventures in Farming II: The Gluten Free Cookie and the Raccoon

Tracks & Evidence

“We’ve got raccoons.”

“WHAT? Where?”

“In the barn.”

“Oh. Whew – I thought you meant here, at home.”

(Thank God they’re there, not here.)

“How do you know?”

“’Coon Trapper Guy saw tracks.”

“You had a “'coon trapper guy” out at the farm?”

“No, actually, it was the fence guy.  He just knows a lot about raccoons.”

“In the loft part? Are they living in the hay?”

Good grief.

The KIDS AND I were up in that very same loft just a few days ago! We were innocently mucking about in and around the barn loft, kicking hay and just plain being noisy and rambunctious.  This bad boy was probably thinking: “Shut UP all you noisy freaks!  I’m trying to sleep here!”

“How’re you going to get rid of them?”

Option 1: Some sell the hides – they’re apparently worth $10 a piece.  (YUK – delete option one. Really? People do this?)

Option 2: Shoot them and let the vultures and Mother Nature take care of the rest.  (Not an option.)

Option 3: Do nothing. They’ve lived there for years already. (Nope. Can’t do that either. Kids are now spending time at the farm, no way.)

Option 4: Live traps.  (I can live with this option.)

Option 4

“I’ve looked into live traps, but to do it successfully they need to go at least 10 miles away or they find their way back.”

“Holy crap. Ten miles? They DO? Wow! Where will you take it if you catch one? What if it has family or babies?  Wherever they go, they all have to go to the same place, even if you only catch one at a time.”

“I know… I know…” There was some eye rolling, but agreements were made.

The concern for the welfare of the raccoons’ future lives had at this point in the conversation superseded our own.


Two traps were found: one negotiated ½ price off Craig’s List (yay) and the other a larger free borrowed one (yay squared).

Sardines were bought and set in the traps.

We waited.

We checked the traps.

One was sprung, but nobody was home.  Smart little critters didn’t get caught - but they didn’t get the sardines either…

We checked.  And waited.  Repeatedly.


The Gluten Free Cookie

One day on a whim, Scott spared one of his favorite oreo style gluten free cookies and placed it in the trap so the crinkly foil was just next to the sardines – and not reachable from the side of the cage.  You had to go IN to the cage to get it.

The next day there was a giant raccoon inside.

Who knew raccoons liked gluten free cookies?

The move

This raccoon seemed to be part mammal, part bear. It was massive – and sound asleep. Scott checked it out and guessed it weighed more than Ben – or over 50 pounds.

The sleeping bear didn’t stay alseep long enough though, unfortunately.  Once it did discover Scott it woke up in a hurry.

And wanted nothing to do with being caught.

Hands were feverishly fumbling about the lock, thrashing at the release lever all the while reaching for nearby sticks to use as weapons.  This guy was smart!  (Holy Crap.)

Can you imagine going down a rung wall ladder, holding on a ladder with one hand and in the other a 50 pound thrashing animal with fangs and long claws reaching out to slit your skin and get your undivided attention?

This was not an easy task.

Rabies, anyone?

When was your last tetanus shot?

Video would be highly entertaining, but alas, and probably luckily for everyone involved, none is available. This time.

Honestly, dropping the thrashing wild beast would have been tempting, to say the least.

Bye, Bye RockyRocky (Uncle Carl named it) was well taken care of, with an entire can of sardines, lovingly deposited, very much alive, in a wooded area 12+ miles away. Probably inadvertently near some one else’s farm. Not ours. Sorry guys.

Traps have been set.

More sardines. More waiting. More cookies might just be in order…

Should we catch anyone else, we know right where to take them: the woods near the hay, 12 miles away.

Next time, though, we're going to film it.

Adventures in Farming, Part I

Adventures in Farming:  Part I January 21, 2012

Avert your eyes dear friends or stop reading now.

You have been warned.

I guess I will get tougher as the farm and I slowly become one with each other, but alas, only time will tell.  Today was not an auspicious beginning let me say.

To date I have set foot on the land a mere 3 times:  once when meeting the original family for the first time about 18 months ago; the second time when Scott told me he had placed a firm offer that was about to be accepted by the seller on New Year's Eve; and again this afternoon.

In the mean time, my adventurous husband has been bringing home "treasures" much like a small boy would from an amazing journey afar - into the wild yonder of ...our back yard - or more aptly, 1.9 miles away to the south.  Much to my dismay, and to the continuing state of cluttered disarray of our home, Scott has recently been bringing such treasures into MY space - the kitchen.

One such treasure was brought home about 10 days ago - it was dirty, caked with mud, leaves, dirt - you name it. It lived outside for a few days; then was brought inside.  It was fondly and carefully placed into the kitchen sink to be cleaned.  And there the decades old, 5-gallon jug sat.  For 8 days.  Every once in a while, one of us would take a rag to it and carefully wipe down the outside.  Scott even took a toothbrush to it from time to time to get the caked on dirt loosened a bit.  But alas, it started to get comfortable in my oversized single bowl sink in the kitchen.  I wasn't going to touch it, but my patience was waning.

So tonight, much to my surprise, Scott took the initiative and started cleaning it.  He brought out the soap.  The Bartender's Friend.  The old used toothbrush.  The rags.  And the jug started to look nice - on the outside.

Then it was time to tackle the inside.  Water was added.  Hot water.  Soap.  Swishing.  Dumping.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

"Hey, what's all that brown stuff?"

"I don't know... probably dirt."

"Hmm.. Wow - it's really brown and gross looking - you should run the disposal."


While I turned my attention to other things and began to do laundry and clean the bathroom I would occasionally turn my gaze back to this mysterious jug.  More brown stuff, more gunk.  Wow - that thing is disgusting - good thing he's cleaning it out, I thought.

At one point I ventured into the kitchen to see how the progress was going.  Mind you, nearly an hour had passed since Scott began his quest to get this giant jug out of our sink.  He was making waves, it appeared.

I peered over his shoulder.

"How's it coming?"

"Hey. Don't come over here."

"What?!  Why not?"

"Seriously.  You don't want to see this.  Don't come over here."

Like a child drawn to the forbidden land of sweet candy and colored treasures, I instantly drew closer and craned my neck into the sink.

WHAT IS THAT?!  I thought.  Seriously?!

Curled up in my kitchen sink were two dead mice.  Oh My Lord!  Get them out of my sink - and right now!  Please.

He didn't want to touch them.  I guess I didn't either.

Hmm... I began to think quickly.   When I originally purchased the garbage disposal I asked for the best one they had in case my two young children (one not yet born) chucked random things in the sink without my knowing.  The sales professional proudly told me they had tested this thing with chicken legs and all.

OK, Scott, just turn it on.

What?  Are you kidding?

Yes, just do it.  I'll come back in 5 minutes after I finish the bathroom.  Don't tell me about it.

He turned it on. And didn't say a word.

I didn't come back for at least ten,  maybe even thirty minutes.

What's that in the sink now?

Bleach – lots and lots of bleach.  Can't you smell it?

Nope.  Can't smell anything.  Still in shock.

But thanks.

Thanks for taking care of the jug and it's contents - and for somewhat bringing my kitchen back to working order.

It'll be just fine... Just after I use up this here GALLON of bleach mixture and Comet.

The farm and I will eventually be one.  I will learn to love this farm.

Just as soon as all the four-foot snakes are out of the basement.