We should have named our place ‘Funny Farm’


We call our place Thorn Hill Farm—a real no-brainer, I know. We should have called it the Funny Farm. We’re all a little wacky (or at least some would think so), and most things that happen out here are funny. If they’re not funny at the moment, they sure are in hindsight. Sometimes it just takes longer.

Even the critters are funny. Watching the chickens is like watching a circus with a hefty dose of soap opera mixed in. If you’ve never seen a horse roll, you’re really missing something—it’s ridiculous! Seeing one of the house cats boxing a dog is always great for a laugh, as is a little barn kitty pouncing at a Great Dane and watching the Dane flinch. The bunny lays around loafing then jumps up and bounds around for no apparent reason (she’s earned the name Popcorn).

Two species are tops for silliness: guinea fowl and children. They really do have much in common. I got the guineas with the intention that they’d grow up and do something useful, like eat ticks. After nursing them through their delicate keet phase ever so carefully, checking and re-checking with our long-suffering neighbors to make sure they really didn’t mind the noise or free-range birds, I let them out.

They do an admirable job of obliterating ticks, and a pretty good job of eating other garden pests as well. It’s hilarious to watch them scavenging and bumbling, darting their heads at bugs unlucky enough to be seen. Usually they make a rather pleasant trilling sound, but the barest mention of something strange (like a shadow that wasn’t there yesterday) sends them off into paroxysms of noise.

What do you call a group of guineas, anyway? A wad? A horde? A bumble? A hilarity?

For those of you that don’t know, guinea fowl are pretty silly looking to begin with. They have a bony crest on top of a mostly bald head, a slim short neck and a big hunched body. Watching them run—that peculiar speedy waddle, wings partially outstretched—is guaranteed to produce at least a chuckle, if not an outright belly laugh.

The kids take the prime spot for silliness. Sure, the intermittent cries of MOOOOMMMMMMMMM (yep, you moms out there know exactly the intonation they use) are nerve wracking. The tantrums make me want to tear my hair out.

I nursed them carefully through the baby stage, hoping that they’d grow up and do something useful. So far, they’re getting better at cleaning up after themselves and I no longer have to change diapers—Woohoo! Luckily those same long-suffering neighbors don’t mind the noise or free-range kids. The kids don’t eat bugs (at least to my knowledge), but that’s probably a good thing.

At the beginning of summer, I told them the first one to climb the rope that our tire swing hangs on and touch the branch would get $1. That ought to wear them out, I thought. Mind you, the limb that the swing hangs from is 15 or so feet from the ground. They’ll never get up there.

Yep, you can see this coming. One day, Caitlin runs in to get me because Arthur is about to the top. Sure enough, if he would have stretched out an arm, he could have touched the branch. Mentally kicking myself while he carefully lowered himself, I vowed to find something less dangerous for them to do.

So we taught them to ride their bikes with no training wheels. On a coarse-gravel driveway. I really need to invest in the Band-Aid corporation since they make such an excellent product and we seem to use so many.

Those of you who go to Ebenfeld MB Church will remember the incident with Caitlin and the clam juice. For the rest of you, long story short: Pastor Gaylord likes to do object lessons. He offered a plate of sardines with a side of clam juice, and Caitlin wanted to try the clam juice. She made a face that would sour a pickle. Now she asks me to get her some clam juice when I go to the store so she can make that face again (as if she needed help!).

I treasure the silliness out here at the Funny Farm. I wish for you all to have laughter, love and life as we do. Take every opportunity you have to laugh, even if it’s in hindsight or in private. Find love in everything—family, friends, food…the list is endless. Laughter and love will enrich your life.

And hey, if you really need a laugh, come and visit. I’m pretty sure I can provide you with one.


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