I'm not a big movie fan and watch very little TV. But there are two kinds of shows I love - musicals and kidvid. And my all-time favourite movie is Shrek. Upon reflection, I think it's because of Donkey. And Donkey's friends. And the humour in watching the animals gather round and deliberate challenging situations.
I couldn't help but think of Shrek and Donkey and all the other characters as I cleaned out the barn Friday night. I had some time on my hands and some troubles on my mind and figured cleaning the barn was both helpful and therapeutic. Therapeutic it was. But not because of the physical work involved - it was therapeutic because of the barnyard critters who decided to entertain me with their own version of Shrek's world.
I go in the barn with the wheelbarrow for the donkey-size pooper scooping and remember Carol's caution about latching the door so the donkeys won't break in. Bless their soft ears and sweet nosesâ€¦.they saw me go in, and within seconds I was transported to the inside of a fort with a team of oxen and armoured soldiers using battering rams to break in. I tell them to back off - it's not dinner time yet! Through the barn windows (or whatever you call those holes with the shutter type closures - a farm girl I'm not), I can see them retreat to the corral and mumble among themselves. "Reinforcements, that's what we need! Reinforcements!"
I slip out of the barn with the first wheelbarrow of muck. Slip back in and latch the door. Donkeys are back - with reinforcements - the two horses. Spritely, being the biggest, is chosen as leader - first trying to wiggle her velvet nose through the crack, then neighing impatiently and tossing her head and stomping her feet, ordering me to let down the drawbridge. Gideon, old, wise Gideon, is the retired soldier watching from the rear - wanting to get in on the action but recognizing that the donkeys and Spritely have youth on their side.
I slip out and talk to them in my "I know what I'm doing, I've been a farmer all my life (NOT!)" voice, kiss them on their noses, and shove - do I mean SHOVE - them out the way. I slip back into the barn - the next wheelbarrow load is ready. I wait patiently until they drift off to the corral again - no doubt to rethink their strategy. I slip out with the second load, dump it, and put the wheel barrow beside the barn. I slip back in to sweep the floor and fill the water buckets, just as they return - with more reinforcements. The sheep! Of course - surely the sheep are small enough to slip through the crack in the doors and give the donkeys the leverage they need. Unfortunately, just then I realize I have forgotten to clean Carl's stall - and getting the wheelbarrow back through the doors without being stampeded by two donkeys, two horses, and four sheep is just NOT going to happen.
So I slip out through the door, animals crowding me closer and closer, calmly walk to the side of the barn, push the wheelbarrow so it is directly under a window, slip back into the barn, and carry rakefuls of Carl's mess across the barn to heave it out the window into the waiting wheelbarrow below.
This of course totally confuses the donkeys, who have to call in the last of the troops. As I slip out of the barn for the final time, I am met (hardly the word - they were nose to nose with the doors!) by two donkeys, two horses, four sheepâ€¦and Carl the llama. Carl, dignified gentlemen soldier that he is, is standing to the rear, head high, no doubt making officious comments to his army of critters. I have visions of Carol returning home from a twelve hour shift to find me held captive in the barn or -worse - trampled to death near its doors. But noâ€¦just like the characters in Shrek, Saints' critters have too much heart for that. Though I was feeling decidedly outnumbered and outsized (I'm five foot one and only the sheep are shorter than I), they have the grace to pretend to recognize my leadership as I firmly tell them to back off, and with all the chutzpah I can muster, I make my retreat to the relative safety of the dog rooms and Potato Ed.