Sunday, July 19, 2009

Green Acres

I love city life - the hustle and bustle of it all. I love being in the center of the action and having everything I need within a close proximity to where I live. As much as I love it though, I savor the moments when I'm as far away from the city as possible where the only thing that can be heard for miles is the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and birds chirping. One such moment was provided me this weekend when I went to one of my colleague's farm in the southern most region of Holland. I'd gladly take a 3.5 hour, round trip, train ride for an occasional weekend of peace and relaxation.

The main purpose of my day trip was to help him clean up his garden, since he had been sick in the hospital for a few weeks and then went down to Spain for a few days. Growing up, my mom would choose the hottest day of the year (90+ degrees Fahrenheit) for us to work in the yard. When we'd moan and groan she'd say: "come on guys, if we all spend just 15 minutes outside we can get everything cleaned up". 15 minutes always (ALWAYS) ended up being an hour and a half. So you can understand my delight when I realized what a treat weeding can be when the ground is so soft the weeds come out with the slightest tug, the garden you're working in is stunning, and the weather couldn't be better.

But in addition to being able to work in his garden, I was also able to play with some of the animals on his land. Theo, my colleague, has 4 "circus" deer - deemed thus since they can stand on their hind legs. Plus, there are about 12 sheep, 2 horses and a pony who's owners rent Theo's land to keep their animals there.

Since arriving in Holland I've had an overwhelming desire to pet and play with sheep, since they're everywhere. They seemed like the cuddliest of animals. But not knowing their temperament or if they'd allow some random girl come up and pet them without biting her fingers off, I decided to avoid trying my luck... that is, until I received the go ahead from Theo. A few of the curious little animals came up to me as I'd hand them a leaf to eat. Then when I shook a bucket containing food, the rest ran at me like a pack of wild dogs - salivating at the mouth - and pushed each other out of the way in order to be the first to reach the bucket. That's when I fell in love with the furry creatures. Their passion for food is as big as mine(!!!) and they look cute to boot. I felt like the abominable snowman in the Bugs Bunny parody from Of Mice and Men, and wanted to "hug 'um, and squeeze 'um, and call 'um George".

After I grudgingly separated myself from my new found friends, Theo and I tried to get the deer to eat out of our hands. Being rather spook prone animals, they didn't trust us much. So we ended up throwing pieces of bread to them... and shortened the distance between the bread and ourselves each time. The deer weren't fooled though -- those clever animals came up to the bread as close as they dared, stretched their heads out to grab the food and then ran back to a safe distance with the piece of bread safely in their mouth. So, feeling defeated, we moved onto the horses which we knew (or thought we knew) would comply to our requests.

The horse's compliance only went as far as allowing us to harness her and letting me sit on her back. She humored me by walking around, but every time I told her to gallop she'd start off in a semi-run for about 10 seconds and then slowed down to a walk again. After the third time of trying to be in charge, I finally gave up. Sometimes you just have to be the bigger man and accept the fact that you don't wear the pants in the relationship.

{Fun (non-useful/semi-informational) fact about sheep: although they make a "baaa" sound when communicating with each other, if you listen carefully, you can recognize a difference between the sound of communication or the very similar "baaa" sound of gas being released in the form of a burp.}

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