Memory Monday–it’s a thing…
Yes, I took a little break from Memory Monday. Not because I ran out of memories, but because I ran out of time to write them. Plus writing about some of them and thinking about other memories I could share was a lot to deal with emotionally. Who knew?
Growing up country, you can get a slightly different view of animals, both pets and non-pets. Today, I find myself using words like “furever” friend and having anxiety attacks because people leave their dogs OUTSIDE! Years ago, my attitude was much different.
First, I was raised on a farm. Not a big farm by any means, but a farm none the less and there were animals that were useful and a source of food. We raised cattle and pigs for the meat. My parents and grandparents have shared stories about milking cows so at one point they kept them for the milk too, but I always remember my milk coming from the grocery store. We kept chickens for the eggs and occasionally the meat if we had too many. We had a garden too so we weren’t always raising animals to kill for food; we killed some corn, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and stuff too.
Being in the country, there were plenty of people who hunted, my family included, so it wasn’t uncommon to have chopped up bits of rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc. in the freezer. There are some pictures of my father and I posing with his dead deer. There were also animals that posed possible threats to the livestock and the people living out there. We weren’t far from a state park and things like bears, wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions didn’t seem to notice the boundaries of the state park. It was generally accepted if you see something like a wolf or a mountain lion near your house, you should shoot it. The deer also endangered the garden so they were often considered fair game. Yes, we did employ things like pie pans hanging off a string to scare the critters away from the garden, but it didn’t always work.
Then there were pets. I had a dog growing up and had him for 14 years. He lived outside all year round, taking shelter under trees, under buildings, between buildings, and a barn stall. I honestly don’t think he would have came in the house and stayed even if carried him inside. He ate table scraps and whatever the cheapest possible dog food was. He drank water out of the creek, branch, or cow’s watering trough. I don’t think he ever went to a vet. He and I would play for hours upon hours outside. He went on hikes into the hills with me, ran along side my bike, and wouldn’t let me out of the yard without my mom or grandmother around. I can’t say I’d ever raise another dog the way we raised him, but he seemed genuinely happy.
Cats were another common pet. They too stayed outside, getting fairly the same treatment as our dog. The unfortunate issue with the cats was their ability to find the main roadway. This often lead to cats being ran over by passing cars. Sadly, we had a pretty long line of cats throughout the years. One cat in particular stands out in my mind…Susan. She was a calico cat and she was my favorite. Then it happened…she got ran over after she went into the road. The other seemingly cruel part of country life is that things aren’t typically sugar coated, even for the kids. My grandfather sat me down and explained he had found Susan in the road and had buried her. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old at that point, so I cried for a while. I remember the short conversations going something like this:
Grandpa: Stop crying. I’ll get you another cat this week. So stop crying and go play.
Me. Ok. But, Grandpa, if you can’t find another cat, just get me a monkey, Ok?
Grandpa (laughing): Sure, if I can’t find a cat ’round here, I’ll just pick you up a monkey.
I’m not sure what made me think a monkey would be a little easier to find in southwest West Virginia, but apparently I thought they were easier to find than a cat.