Friday, July 16, 2010

Me, the chicken house and an ATV...

A friend over on this blog wanted folks to post stories about their adventures on motorcycles. She is getting ready for her annual *blogathon* to raise money for the Downed Bikers Association (a very good cause).

I don't ride motorcycles. It was hard enough for me to learn to drive a car. Then, a few years later, a very foolish boyfriend tried to teach me to operate his motorcycle. I don't remember what kind it was, all I knew was it was big and threatening looking and he freaked out when I dropped it.
Flash foward many years.

I was living on a dairy farm. A very happy, busy life.Married to my 2nd husband.
I had 4 small children and a fifth *soon to be* had been confirmed the week before. We worked for the dairy farmer to pay the rent PLUS got cash and milk and a side of beef once a year.
I was constantly busy, but blissful.

The dairy farmer had a couple of ATVs to round up the cows with. My husband piloted one confidently across the fields in the mornings and evenings when he was scheduled for the milking parlor. On my days milking, I hiked the mile to the milking barn from our house. I enjoyed the walk. Didn't really bother me. Along the way, I would check our chicken house, stop by the pigs pen and generally just observe all that was going on with the various livestock and wild animals that called the farm home.
This was, apparently, not a good situation according to my husband and the dairy farmer.They decided I needed to learn to operate one of the three-wheeled ATVs "to make it easier" for me to get to the barn.
Walking IS easy!
Operating that little three wheeled monster---not so much.

On a Saturday morning, after milking, my lesson began. The children tore themselves away from their cartoons to watch with wide-eyed interest.
There was a hill above the farmhouse where we lived. The top of it was fairly flat and, if pointed in the right direction, I would be able to s-l-o-w-l-y putter along on the ATV until I got across the large field.
My husband demonstrated to me several times the complexities of using my hands to brake and throttle and using my foot to change gears. I watched attentively (though nervously) and finally thought "I had it".
I sat on the Atvs broad seat---Hey! This thing is actually comfy! For a split second I imagined barreling across the field, my hair flying in the breeze and the dog running beside me.
Then my husband turned the damn key to the *on* position.
I turned the throttle as he had shown me and the mechanical beast sputtered to life. I sat there frozen as he yelled instructions.
"More throttle, MORE THROTTLE!"
Okay, okay...I throttled it more and the ATV roared.
Okay, maybe I didn't hear the "slowly" part, although he swore later that he DID say it.
Now, I was so busy concentrating on what I was doing with my hands that I think my feet decided to do their own thing until I could figure out what to do with them.

My foot jerked...or something. I am still not quite sure what my foot did while left to it's own devices.
All I know is that the ATV suddenly leaped forward like a bull out of a rodeo chute.
Instinctively, I put my other foot on the ground to steady myself.
Big. Mistake.
I felt the big rear tire of the ATV start rolling over my foot.The only thing I could do was try to dismount the jerking and jolting mechanical beast in an attempt to save myself.
I jumped off and the ATV drove over my foot AND my leg.
I laid there, heart pounding, and watched as the ATV continued--riderless.
It turned, yes, TURNED, as if some invisible rider were now in control and began careening down the hill towards the yard, our house, the chicken house and the pigs pen.
The children stood there, their little mouths agape with surprise.
The ATV, finally determined it's course of action, swerved and headed directly for the chicken house.
I heard a muttered "Oh no!" from my husband.
All the chickens scattered---except one.
Jessica (named after Jessica Rabbit from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit") stood between the chicken house and the mechanical monster.
Jessica was a lovely chicken. Black and white *barred* with a slightly over sized red comb, she was the "head hen" in the chicken coop. She was fiercely protective of her chicks and even the rooster backed off and let her rule the roost. I always let her set any eggs I wanted hatched, as I knew she would be a good mother. She also had successfully chased off dogs, raccoons and a few other predators with her ferocity. I was even wary of her when I went to collect eggs as she would attack and peck any exposed skin if she didn't want you near *her* hen house.
Jessica stood her ground as the ATV closed in on it's target.
I cringed.
The ATV crashed through the chicken wire fence and then hit the chicken house with a loud bang.
There was chaotic screeching clucking from the chicken coop and we saw a few feathers floating through the air.

I got to my feet and followed the children as they raced down the hill.
We assessed the damage.
I limped for a few days and the bruising faded away after a week.
The ATV would be fine...a few dings and dents, but fine.
The chicken house sustained no major damage, although the fence would have to be repaired.
But Jessica....ahhh, stubborn, ferocious Jessica.
She lay, dead, next to the front tire of the ATV, defiant to the last in protecting her brood and her home.

I never tried again to operate that ATV. I have never tried to operate any motorcycle.
Just seems too risky for me to attempt it, considering my one experience resulted in a busted fence, a run over foot and a dead chicken...

Here's a link to the blog that got me to admit my defeat at the hand[le bar]s of that horrible demon inspired mechanical killer:

1 comment:

  1. Poor Jessica. But I will admit, you had me giggling a bit.


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