First Day at the Farm
by Bones The Coyote
My name is Bones…as in after I hunt, there's nothing left but the bones. When I first arrived at the Farm, I had the same attitude as most new inmates. I didn't like the idea of losing my freedom. I was four years old at the time and I enjoyed roaming the woods, wild and free. I liked working alone, or with a pack if they were good. Life was not always easy, but I got by. If it wasn't for that chicken farmer, I'd still be there. I still don't know how I fell for that trap. Too greedy, I guess. So, they sent me to the Farm…. for life.
I didn't like it one bit. Fences, guards….this was definitely not my style. The truck came through the gate and pulled up the processing building. White coats---I knew what that meant. Sure enough, shots and more shots and then a collar. Blaze orange, definitely not my color. I felt the antenna brush against my ear. The end of freedom.
They led me through a door and I found myself outside in a small field surrounded by trees. Time to socialize. I started sniffing around. Wow! Women! I'd never picked up such a concentrated scent before. I never thought this place could be coed. But, now that I think of it, I'd never heard of anyone trying to escape. Maybe this wasn't going to be all bad, after all.
I saw a bunch of inmates heading down to couple of old stumps. I followed along behind at a safe distance. What happened next is pretty hard to describe. There was a human off in the distance and when he pulled a handle, the tops of those stumps sort of popped open and stuff started spewing out. I couldn't tell for sure what was coming out, but those other inmates were eating it like there was no tomorrow. This was curious. Most other coyotes I knew preferred meals they had to chase, but this bunch were bellying up to a stump and having a real feast. I slid quietly into the group for a closer look. Well, what the heck, I was pretty hungry. So I tried a few nibbles. Salty, real salty, but good.
"What is this stuff anyway?" I ventured to ask to no one in particular.
"Pretzels and popcorn," came the garbled response.
"Never heard of it," I thought to myself. But, it was tasty. Every bite I took seemed to compel me towards another one. You could get hooked on this stuff. I finally gave in and just gorged myself with abandon. The stuff kept coming and coming out of that stump like there was a never ending supply.
Then it started. I had been real thirsty before, like the time when I finally got that old rooster out at the Benton place. Man, was he tough and dry. But, this was different, really different! Water! Water! I needed water fast. My tongue was like sandstone. My throat was like a rusty pipe.
Then I noticed the inmates were on the move again and moving quite quickly. They ran to a nearby stream and began drinking loudly. I didn't waste any time joining them. My first gulp told me something was very unusual. Wrong color, wrong flavor and fizzy and foamy too ….but not bad. The other inmates seemed to enjoy it and I was thirsty after all. So I drank, no the truth was I slurped and sloshed and guzzled. I could feel my thirst subsiding a bit, but I felt a little light-headed and unsteady as well.
"Easy big fella," said the cute one next to me as I swayed a little to my left.
"Excuse me," I said in a voice that didn't seem like my own.
"New at the Farm? What's your name?" she asked.
"First day, Bones is my name, ma'am, what's yours?" I said.
"I'm Kitty. What are you in for?," she asked.
"Chickens," I said, "what about you?"
"Sheep. Well, lambs actually. Those big ones can be nasty," she said.
"This place is pretty strange, don't you think? Eating out of stumps and drinking yellow fizzy water. I'm not sure I like it," I said trying not to slur my words.
"You'll get used to it. It's a real friendly place and it's got everything you need. Just be careful and watch out for the Urine Collector. I hear there is a trainee on today," she said quietly.
"Urine Collector? What do you mean?" I asked nervously.
"Yeah, the Urine Collector. It’s how you earn your keep. Did you think they were going to let you live like this for nothing? Look, here at the Farm, you get all sex you want, all the food you can eat and all the beer you can drink. All they want back is your pee," she explained.
"MY PEE!" I screamed.
"Yeah, your pee. It's not so bad. Most of the time you hardly know the Collectors are around. They usually sneak up behind you while your busy at the beer stream and they're gone before you know it. They sell it to people who want to make other animals think they have coyotes around. Can you believe it? Don't look now, but I think there is a Collector coming now," she said as she glanced over her right shoulder.
Sure enough there was a human in a big padded suit wriggling along the ground behind the coyotes to my right. He had a long handled pan in its hand and was sliding it under the rear end of one of the inmates down the line. I kept an eye on him for a while, but man I was thirsty. I stuck my snout back in that stream and lapped and lapped. I liked this stuff more and more. Beer, is that what she called it? I didn't care what it was called and the more I drank, the less I cared about the Urine Collector anymore. That was a mistake.
Man, I really had to pee. I stepped a little to one side and tried to lift my leg in my normal style. But, my coordination was a little off and I slipped a bit. Then I felt it. The pain only a man understands. Something whacked me good and my knees folded. As the pain was transforming itself into rage, I looked around to find out who was responsible for this cowardly attack on my most private possessions. I came eyeball to eyeball with the Urine Collector.
He had whacked me with that cold steel pan. He was going to die. He knew it too. He tried to scramble to his feet, tripped and fell headlong into the beer stream. Now was my chance, I assumed full attack position ……or I thought I did. My mind was in full attack mode, but my legs and paws had something entirely different in mind. I had never run sideways before, but it was happening now. I bowled over a couple of other inmates in the process.
"Hey, watch it, turkey!" they growled.
I shouldn't have said it, especially on my first day. But, for some reason I wasn't thinking clearly. I can't remember exactly what I said, but it had something to do with their mother and a German shepherd. However, there was no doubt that they heard it and understood the implied meaning of my words. What a mess!
As I staggered to resume pursuit of the Urine Collector, I now had two really aggravated inmates in pursuit of me! Fortunately, their attack mode wasn't working much better than mine. I almost got a piece of that Collector just before he slammed that door in my face and I crumbled into a heap on top of my fellow inmates. They seemed a little more dazed than I was and I managed to extricate myself from the pile and make my way to the other side of the field.
As I tried to get oriented, I noticed Kitty over by the edge of the woods. I could tell from the look in her eye she had something on her mind. Boy, was my mind fuzzy. What did she say before about life at the Farm. All the food, beer and…….what else did she say? If only I could remember...
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