This goes along with the theory that we are all products of our past. My relationship with animals has been long and very special. I have vivid memories of my first pets, a black dog named Lady and a cat named Helen. Helen loved to curl up in a glass light fixture on the ceiling and once I dropped her in the flour bin. Remember flour bins? My mother’s face when a floured white animal jumped out of the container  when she opened it is one I’ll never forget.

My father raised exotic poultry, I was not allowed to play with these. He kept them in big beautiful cages which always fascinated a wide-eyed kid. These were not song birds. They crowed and clucked and peeped. Once my father cut the head off a rooster  and warm red blood spurted. I watched it run around with its head chopped off and thought it an interesting phenomenon. I can’t remember his name but, roasted, he made a tasty dish.

As a young adult with four little kids visiting my father’s farm was always an interesting experience for me and the kids. He raised exotic birds, African Greys, peafowl, macaws and, once, a pair of turkeys named Arabella and Rudolph. Arabella was always an invited guest who joined us on his spacious deck in the evenings after dinner.  She would lie under my mother’s chaise and purr like a cat. Rudolph ended up on a savoury platter  one  Thanksgiving. He had a habit of always attacking my mother. She wasn’t much bigger than he was so we decided  love not hate motivated him.  Either way my poor mother couldn’t stroll the garden without carrying a stick and checking behind every tall bush.

One day she put down the law. “Either he goes. Or I go,” she said and I think she had Arabella on her side. Neither the kids nor I could watch that head chop and at the dinner table the kids pled in snuffy voices, “Please pass some more Rudolph.”  He dressed out at 22 pounds. Best tasting turkey I ever ate.

My father also had a cat who ‘raised’ mice. She kept them in a feed bin in the storage house. Fat and healthy little critters, she would select one, pick it up like a mother cat picks up a fragile kitten, take one in the grass,  play with it ,and then put it back. It seemed a happy arrangement.

The most interesting animals, I always thought, were the  American Show Shetlands. They lived in the Pony House. My oldest daughter drove them in Fine Harness in  many Honolulu Horse Shows. Flash the Grand National Champion stud lived to be 41, a ripe old age. He had a good life. He’s buried here with my Leopard Appaloosa, Beauregard,  which get us finally to the Carrot Song part of this animal digression.

My father taught me never to chase boys or horses. I didn’t have to worry about the boys, boys chased me. But he taught me the carrot song. “Who wants a carrot? Who wants a carrot?” Which I sang in a low sexy, whispery voice. No matter how far away, they heard me.

They always came. It never failed.


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