My Friend Daisy
By Jay Abington • April 19, 2019
Getting out of the back of the truck I stood in at a ranch home that was set back from the dirt road just enough to be completely shaded by the biggest oak tree I had ever seen. The house was square with a rusty old screened in porch that went all the way around.
I found out later it was built around 1860 and was completely constructed with square nails.
To the left was a very impressive carriage barn with several vacant horse stalls. I could tell by the ware on the wood of these stalls that at some time in the past this now quiet barn was a very active and important part of life on this ranch.
The trunk of the oak tree was the corner of a fenced off section, out from one of the stalls strolls a huge cow. It was the biggest animal I had ever seen.
This cow comes right towards me as if we knew each other. I step back away from the fence thinking what it wants.
She lifted her head enough to get it between the top and second fence rail which was good because she was still moving forward when she bumped the fence and it strained and squeaked trying to hold her as she pushed that enormous head towards me.
Rodger (Kenny’s brother and owner of the ranch) said that's daisy she just wants a couple apples as he hands me a bucket full .Rodger tells me, just hold your hand out flat or she could easley bite off a finger and wouldn’t know it. Shoot that would hurt I thought.
These apples were as big as a softball and it looked like I was feeding her a peanut.
Seemed like everything daisy did was in slow motion and I was fascinated by the gentle animal...
We became close friends over the next couple of years and she marked the beginning of my life long affection love and understanding of animals.
Over time, I managed to explore every inch of that place from Comstock Rd. all the way to Stetson.
One day I will never forget was during that 1st summer, Kenny needed to get some tools or something from the house and ware Kenny went I went so I trailed behind him through the orchard.
We arrive at the cellar door in back of the old ranch house.
The rock foundation was as tall as Kenny, wow look at this I thought, it reminded me of the long rock walls that were around my granddads house in TN.
Mom told me slaves built them so of course I asked Kenny if this house was built by slaves. He laughed as he fiddled with the lock, no jay we didn't have slaves that's only in the south. I remember saying yeah we did but we were stupid and killed our slaves ha?
And who were they he asked? Well the Indians of course I reply. As Kenny swings, the old door open he says yep supposed your right. We step in to the cellar and the site I was about to have burned in my mind gave me a passion for history, antiques and mostly the people that were hear before me.
Today I am proud of the knowledge I have about the place that I call home. First thing to tickle my senses was the temperature drop; it was cold as a castle in the place.
As my eyes adjust to the darkness, the smell quickly stole my attention from the temperature. Attempting to describe to myself the smells, I remember just rattling off words like dust,
Mold, damp, leather, rust and old.
All along the rock wall at the top were small windows, I think they were meant just to let in light and on the windowsills sat hundreds of old bottles that were blue, green, red, purple, and so on. The sun coming through them was prefect to light up the 120-year-old saddles and all the other equipment needed for carriages pulled by a horse.
Hanging from the walls was just about every possible tool you could need to operate a ranch in the 1860's solid wood shovel's, wooden hay forks, double barrel shotguns, western pistols, saddle rifles, rope and on and on.
Then something caught my eye, it was a real native Indian bow and a pouch with the arrows. Kenny told me they were from the area but didn't remember the story.
He handed them to me to look at as I try to take in a bewildering amount of things then I lay my eyes on a complete and assembled day buggy with a cloth top and all.
Kenny told me that was what they would drive to town in and the trip took most of a day so they would stay in town until the next morning. The trip now takes 30 min.
Well a couple summers went by and Kenny asked me to go with him to help his brother over at the ranch of course I went.
While Kenny was talking with Roger, I went to hang out with Daisy.
Standing at the pen I though how strange. For the last two years since we met, whenever I was around the ranch she was at the fence watching me.
I looked for the gate to be opened but it wasn't so I went into the barn and their she was, I walk up talking to her and shaking the bucket of apples but she didn't move Daisy's head was stuffed into the corner of the barn like she was frightened. I drop the pail thinking shit something is wrong and I have to tell Roger.
I ran as fast as I could out the barn accost the pen and normally I would go over the fence but I was in far too big of a hurry so I dove on me belly and slid right under the thing. I ran around to the front of the house and up on the porch.
Where's everybody I yell as my eyes searched the house in seconds.
They’re not in the house maybe the fruit shed!!!
As I leap off the porch on the other side of the house, what I see explains what is wrong with Daisy and sends me in to a rage before my feet even hit the ground.
Ever since my first day on the hill the creepiest man up hear was the local butcher he drove a dress down rig that was gun metal grey with red rims and a red Crain. I never heard him say a single word, he never smiled and was always wearing black rubber boots that went up past his knee and a black rubber apron topped off with a black cow boy hat.
The second my feet hit the ground, I was cursing at him and crying telling him to leave.
I remember being so upset I couldn't yell over my crying so I was picking up hand fulls of dirt and throwing it at him.
Suddenly a big arm comes around my stomach and scoops me up, just in time to because I was so exhausted I could hardly throw the dirt and could hardly see him through the tears.
He was just a dark shadow that I was aiming for. I pleaded with them not to butcher Daisy. I tried everything I could think of.
When I realized it was going to happen and there was no way to stop it I looked at the three of them screaming you can't you can't do this then ran off into the woods.
I remember thinking that I couldn't believe how exhausting having a fit was because as soon as I was out of site I collapsed into a heap against a redwood tree. No question about it that was and still is the first and only time I ever lost it like that. Well I just couldn't let this happen, so I decide to go back and try again all I could think about was the fact that without doubt she knew what was going on and was trying to hide in the corner of the barn.
Damn I cannot get that out of my head to this day.
That along with the next few sentences still bothers me.
As I come walking down from the top of the orchard I can see it's too late they already have her out of the barn. It all happened so fast I hardly turned to run when a gunshot rings out.
Startled I fall in the soft orchard dirt.
I think from reflex I turn to see where the shot came from.
My focus dials in to the distance and it appears that Daisy is running down the side of the road in the water ditch and dragging three of the four guys with her. The butcher was running behind.
At that point, so many things were blasting through my head...what happened! Did the butcher miss his shot? How can you miss an 1100-pound cow, standing 5 feet from you!?!.......this is the point that I saw and heard the things that made me feel so sad that only 30 years later would I realize that would be about the worst I would ever feel.
I could hear Daisy crying and screaming as she ran down the ditch
I never heard an animal do that before.
At this point further description is needed but I simply don’t have the words.
Daisy had never set into a trot let alone a full gallup.
At full gallup she trips, her front legs buckle under and she crashes chest first into the ditch with a grunt that could only be produced by these horrible conditions.
Temporarily hidden in a cloud of dust I hear a shot ring out and the silence of death was all you could hear for the next few minutes. I took off for home, about an hour's walk through the woods but it took me all day for some reason. I remember walking in the house well past dark.
I knew my mom would be worried sick. I was never home past dark without telling her. Mom and I had a deal. I could leave in the morning and be gone all day without checking in.but I had to be home by dark without fail. When I came in the house, my mom was standing in the kitchen with her arms out and I broke down in tears while she hugged me.
Mom said Kenny came by and told her what had happened.
The next thing I know it's morning.
For the first time in my life I entered the day with a huge hole in my heart that only a day before wasn't there.
That's when I was acquainted with the feelings of loss. Over the years I have acquired many of these holes and before my time is up their will be plenty more.
Some of the lessons life taught me come from love and happiness and some come from love and sadness. I think they are equally important teachers.
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