Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Funny Farm

I've often thought that living like we do in this place is kind of like being on a permanent vacation. Though over the past year the trash route is starting to feel more like a job. Whenever I start feeling like that, I remind myself that I would still rather be my own boss than to be punching a clock some place. I like being independent.

Just before getting into the waste hauling business we had a short run at having a petting farm. One day as I was up on a hill over looking the homestead I was observing all the animals that we had accumulated and the thought occurred to me to open a petting zoo. There were two wild life parks in the North Woods but, neither focused on farm animals. They're popular attractions with wildlife you typically find in North America, bears, cougar, deer and so forth.

We got everything cleaned up and presentable for the public, and took out a liability insurance policy. That was to protect from a lawsuit should someone trip and break a leg or have their arm ripped off by one of our ferocious beasts. It was a little intimidating to invite total strangers to come check out our place. With all the horror stories out there it seemed like insurance would like a prudent investment.

I remember well our opening day. All we did was put a small sign out at the road that said, Petting Farm. It is a well traveled highway between two popular Northwoods towns. So, it wasn't long until people started to trickle in. It reminded me of the times we've done rummage sales. Our very first guests were Kay and Dick, a middle aged couple who would become some of our biggest repeat customers. We took a deep breath and welcomed them in. They paid their fee and like children, enthusiastically headed strait for the first pen.

I'll never forget what happened next. It is forever etched in my mind. The way I saw it, was like some slow motion replay. Kay was walking along taking in all the sights and sounds of farm life, eyes fixed on the first exhibit when she stepped in a small dip in the ground. Now, I never noticed that dip before that moment. In that instant, it seemed to me like a pot hole the size of the Grand Canyon. As her foot plunged into the depression she made this ooof sound, as her body distorted to the sudden misplaced step. It reminded me of how I have felt those times I've gotten to the top of the flight of stairs and think there is one more tread to go. It's funny all the things that can go through your mind in a split second. I stood there with my breath held and mouth agape. Hoping with all hope that she was going to recover her stride. My hands extended in some vain attempt to catch her fall but, I was hopelessly out of reach. As the full realization was sinking in that there would be no recovery and yes this lady, our guest, a complete stranger, was indeed going down, all my fears of lawsuits and losing our dreams flashed before my eyes. It seemed like one of those near death experiences you hear about where peoples lives flash in front of them. I could picture my families emaciated faces panhandling in Eagle River homeless and begging for food. The slow motion footage still reeling in my mind I watched as she first went "ooof" then ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh as down ward she plunged. Then back to normal speed as splat, she went face first into the grassy turf.

Wide eyed, mouth still agape, hands still reaching, I arrived in a flash, immediately helping her to her feet and showering her with profuse apologies. She brushed her self off and began to chuckle a bit and said "oh, that's OK, I do that all the time". As I came to the realization that possibly we weren't going to be sued for everything we were worth, a sense of relief settled in. Kay and Dick went on to enjoy all the animals and upon leaving vowed to return again soon, as it was the best time they'd had in a very long time, they said.

We got to know Kay and Dick quite well. They lived up to their promise and returned numerous times becoming very attached to their favorite animals. We offered ice cream cones full of corn which people could feed to the animals. Kay and Dick really got a kick out of that. We all became good friends. One time as the season was coming to a close they showed up and Kay was wearing an eye patch. We asked her what was wrong and they told us how they had been on vacation and she slipped in a swimming pool hitting her brow on the edge. An infection settled in and that's why she had on the patch. As bad as we felt for her, we were a little relieved about her fall that first day, now that it was confirmed that she really was somewhat on the clumsy side. And she did indeed "do that all the time".

We had many more misadventures during the petting farm enterprise which I hope to share in the near future. But all in all it was a positive experience being able to share our lives with people from all walks of life.

Until Next Time

4 Comments:

Blogger David Rossmiller said...

I'm an insurance coverage attorney in who caught your post in my bloglines feed for posts about insurance lawsuits. I enjoyed your story, and it sounds like you have a great life in the country. Keep posting.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Oh dear, that poor lady! You've given me a dilemma now. I had thought that once we get our little agrarian venture established here that perhaps we could have *learning days* for local homeschoolers. Never gave any consideration to insurance though. My husband's business (commercial painter) keeps him busy and frustrated with all the cartwheels the insurance companies have him performing. I can just see it now if he has to take on yet another policy! Can't wait to hear more about your petting farm!

1:35 PM  
Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

That's a great story.

5:06 PM  
Blogger RL said...

David,
I guess we never can tell where our words are going to end up in the blogoshere.
Thanks, for the encouragement.

Emily,
If it was me and all I was going to do was invite over local homeschoolers I wouldn't bother with any extra insurance. I would think regular home owners would cover something like that. We got the heebeejeebee's at the idea of putting a sign out front, so we opted for a little more protection.

Herrick,
Thanks!

6:28 PM  

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