A pretty big snake was at some point inside the chicken pen long enough to shed its skin on some rocks near the water dispenser. The good news is that it was probably after the field mice that eat the discarded chicken feed on the ground after i put the chickens to bed. the bad news is that it probably did notice 6 chickens huddled behind a mesh wire window making small dinosaur noises while it was in there. Lord watch over my birds.
I paid 700+ dollars out of pocket to get my eyes checked and have a new prescription put in my back-up pair and a new pair of glasses (so i can still drive while i’m waiting for the second pair to arrive). They told me to stare at a picture of a hot air balloon, photographed my eyeball, and said they knew my prescription. We were done. I wondered why we had skipped the part where they inevitably ask you is 1 or 2 clearer…# 1 or # 2? I decided it was 2022…maybe they could tell your prescription just by taking a picture of your eyeball now…who was i to tell them they’d forgotten something.
I tried to wear the glasses for a month before i gave up and had to admit that i was squinting so much i was giving myself headaches and my eyes were watering. I couldnt see the trees. I couldnt see the street signs. I was near sighted. So when they asked me if everything in the shop was in focus the answer was yes. It was stuff far away that i couldnt see, like street signs and intersections. I called the shop without giving my name and asked if they still did the “1 or 2” test during eye exams. The receptionist told me they did this during every exam and when i said i hadnt gotten that assessment she was alarmed and said okay come in right now and we’ll get you assessed with that. So i came in an hour before work and waited half an hour to be seen. When they could finally fit me in they did not take me to the clinic to get my eye exam done properly. Instead, they had written down that i was there for “frames tweaking” and they brought me to a desk in the lobby where someone tried to suggest different frames might make my vision a bit less blurry. I was confused and fed up because i needed the “1 or 2 clearer” test and i was told to come in to take that test, the test that they’d either skipped or forgotten to do, and here they were trying to convince me that i called and booked an appointment for “frames tweaking.” I did no such thing. So now they wanted to know why i thought i was here if not for frames tweaking. The employee in training wanted to know who i had seen during round one. I stared at her, a little amused, “you.” She quickly went to grab another employee. Both of them sat and interviewed me together on why i thought my prescription was incorrect. Whatever on earth gave me that idea? Well, i could see but not real clearly so i got an updated prescription and now i can see even less. My vision got worse. That’s what gave me the inkling of an idea my prescription might be wrong. I told the two women that i was told by the eye doctor who saw me that my prescription had gotten better but i wasn’t sure that was true based upon my current ability to read street signs. The trainee piped up now with a blustery amount of indignance, “No your vision did get better, because we took a picture of your eyeball and that machine is where we get your prescription and the machine said your eyes got better. I asked, “the machine is what gives the prescription because when i sat down you echoed what the receptionist said on the phone and expressed that the machine gives you a starting point for the prescription and then further assessment hones in on the exact prescription needed?” The trainee left to pull frames for me. I was frustrated at this point. What are frames going to do? I have frames. I dont need more frames. I need different lenses. The trainee said, “Sometimes the different shape of frames are better for some people than others so we should just pull you a few and see if any if them make it better.” Off she went despite my protesting. When she came back i was pretty done with this fiasco and asked to have what i came there for, the “is #1 clearer or #2?” Test. They first decided there was no way the eye doctor didnt give me this and grilled me for a while about whether i was sure i didnt have it. I didnt even sit in the chair…how would i have had it? I think i would remember having an owl looking device placed on my face and then being asked, “#1 or #2?” Then they decided that they couldnt just give me this test willy nilly because the doctor that had seen me was at home that day and they had to make contact with her and see why she hadnt given me the test because there must be some reason she saw that i didn’t need it if she didn’t give it to me. Miss trainee told me not everyone needs the “#1or #2” test and that for some the machine taking a picture of their eyeball is all the accuracy that is needed to produce the right prescription. At this point she left to see when the eye doctor who had seen me was on schedule next and a male employee arrived at the counter to tell the woman who was helping the trainee that she had to assign the trainee another patient or get up and leave me at the table to wait for the trainee to return because “we have customers and you can’t just be seeing people that arent on schedule.” I felt like they had my money already. I had a $700 product that didnt work and they didnt care to make it work because they had already gotten paid. I ceased being a customer once my card cleared. At this point miss Trainee returned to tell me she wasnt sure when they would next get ahold of the eye doctor who had seen me and updated my prescription but lets pull 7 or 8 different frames and see if any of them work better to make my vision clearer. The remaining woman was deciding whether to take me and reassign the trainee or leave me with the trainee and get another customer. Also, get this, the trainee had wanted to poke my eyeball with a hand held device that measures pressure upon impact but i had declined because i didnt trust her level of expertise with deciding distance from face due to the fact that both times she demonstrated what she was going to do the amount of space she was measuring between her fingers was different. Also i didnt fancy germ laden things touching my eyeball.
At this point i stood up and walked out. I said calmly in an indoor voice, nearly in tears with frustration, “you know what, im gonna go, im just gonna go because clearly this is not a priority and im just gonna go.” The woman pleaded, “why? Where are you going? Why?” I said, “because i spent over 700 dollars that i didnt have on two pairs of glasses here that i cant see out of and i dont think that i should have that problem after spending 700+ dollars out of my pocket. I make 10 dollars an hour. My prescription is going to get worse over time. I might as well start out being able to see, for that money.” She said, “we’re gonna make this right. She’s pulling frames right now. We’re gonna make it right.” I was thinking, “are you?” Because the only thing that could make it right was that test in the clinic that i had been denied where they ask you, “is one or two clearer” to hone in on your exact prescription. I said, “nope, im good. Im good.” I left with a room full of speechless customers watching me go with great interest. I drove to work. Sitting in the parking lot i received a call from the eye doctor at home asking me to make an appointment to come in so they could address whatever issues there were with the glasses that was making it difficult for me to see. I told her i’d been in already and i was appalled at the customer service i had received and couldn’t believe they treated customers in that way. I recounted the whole experience to her. She apologized for the man’s comments and tried to make me an appointment for 11 but that was when i had to be at work. We settled on an appointment for 3:40 pm the following afternoon. The only thing i wanted to know was could i have that test where somebody asked me, “is option 1 or option 2 clearer?” She said she would write down in the documentation that they were to give me that test for sure before i left.
When i arrived i heard the frames specialist ask the receptionist what i was there for. The frames specialist stated, “i think she’s here for frames troubleshooting…right Lauren? Are you here for frames trouble shooting?” My face…the receptionist quickly took the clipboard from her and said, “you know what, i dont know but i will find out. Let me go find out.” She disappeared behind the clinic door and the frames specialist walked away. The receptionist came back and announced i was there to see the clinic and that they would be with me in just a moment.
One of their senior most eye doctors came to get me and handled me with great care as if i’d lawyered up and threatened to sue them. She said, “now i understand that you have some concerns that you may not be receiving the best care here and the most accurate prescription for your eyes and i want you to know i’ve read your whole file and even the information on your old prescription and i am here to help you and im going to take good care of you.” I thanked her. I felt like it should be a no brainer that i needed the “1 or 2” test and i thought the kid gloves thing was just as crazy a response as the gas lighting but i would rather have this response than the other so i went with it. She gave me the test. I answered honestly each time about which lense was clearer. She finished the test and then calm as a cucumber announced that my prescription was actually a bit worse than the old one had been, not better, and that this would have to be remedied by ordering new lenses for both pairs of glasses, free of charge to me, and then switching the current lenses out for the more accurate ones. Nobody ever said “you were right” or “what do you know, you weren’t crazy” or “our bad…maybe we should have done this test after-all.” I could tell she was just as surprised as all the others that the outcome wasnt “crazy patient is being high maintenance and crazy.” But, the fact that she admitted they had gotten my prescription wrong was enough. I knew i needed that test with the owl looking device on my face and now i had proof of this.
I’m still waiting for the first of two pairs of replacement lenses to be delivered to them. One has been ordered, the other has not. So the nightmare is not over.
Ladies and gentlemen you should have two take-aways from this story. One, do not get dentistry or eye assessments done in a small town. Drive to the city. Two, do not let them tell you they have a device that’s going to take a picture of your eyeball one time and then the computer will know your prescription. This type of technology does not exist. It gives them a ball park idea of where to start. It is not a substitute for the actual eye exam with all the lenses. Don’t ever drop 700 dollars if they refuse or forget to actually deduce your prescription manually. Technology is not everything. I refer you to the episode of the office where the auto gps says turn right 20 feet before it should and michael drives into a retention pond, sinking the rental car. Use your brains folks. If you cant see, the prescription is incorrect. I dont care what the computer says. It could tell me the sky is purple. I don’t know or care what short-circuiting malfunction it is in the middle of but if i look outside the window and confirm its still blue, im going with blue.
It started with the realization that i could neither afford to buy groceries at the mom and pop grocery i worked at nor the chain grocery i used to work at. If i missed the produce warehouse on wednesdays between 10 and 5:30 i didnt eat for the week because my budget was 15 to 20 dollars depending on how well people had tipped during the last week and how many days i was scheduled in the smoothie bar. I was told that i was too slow a smoothie barista so i got off the thc containing cbd after i was moved from the smoothie bar to front end for a whole week, rendering me absolutely tipless and leaving me 1 dollar to spend at the produce warehouse on wednesday because that was the tip i made one morning before my manager shifted me to front end once again. 1 dollar bought a vegetable. I couldn’t live on this for the week. I needed those tips so i got off the cbd and went back to just grinning and bearing the excruciating pain. It wasn’t fun but i have a history of self punishing and when i was told i wasn’t fast enough, living with my arthritis pain and quitting cbd cold turkey was a good way to kill 2 birds with one stone. I would self punish for being too mellow to handle the customer orders with the sense of urgency that was desired by my manager and i would become faster. I quit the cbd and never returned to it. I got faster and more efficient immediately but my manager never reinstated me full time to the smoothie shop station. I was allowed to work in the smoothie shop 2 out of five days each week and my manager watched me like a hawk to make sure i didnt need to be pulled to the front due to slowness in making the orders. After i got off the cbd my tips rose by 30 percent and i did my level best to crank those orders out as fast as i could, but i didnt want the quality of smoothie to suffer in order to do so. Many baristas didnt blend the fruit all the way or just tossed ingredients in without glancing at the recipe to make sure they were correct or without measuring ingredients in order to save time. It resulted in a less than fully blended smoothie and sometimes it wasn’t even all that sweet…sometimes it just tasted like unripe banana. I poured the tiny bit of extra into my taste test cup every time i made a smoothie and sampled it to make sure what i was putting out was good. If it wasn’t i tweaked it immediately, reblended, and poured it into a cup. I wasn’t going to send out a chocolove that wasn’t chocolatey. I wasn’t going to send out a spring fling that wasn’t sweet. I wasn’t going to send out a creamsicle that tasted like celery. I also noted that the recipes left a huge excess of fruit material in the blender, so i took great efforts to tweak my size of handful when i grabbed fruit with my gloved hand in order to make exactly 16 or exactly 24 ounces instead of nearly a whole second smoothie because i didnt want to dump their supplies and profit down the sink all the time. I didn’t receive as much gratitude as i expected for my efforts. Instead i was told my coworkers were much better and faster than me and i would get there with time but i was no longer scheduled for smoothie shop often and spent most of my week at front end where i couldn’t make any tips to eat off of. Meanwhile my comrade who i had been told was better than me (i luv her to death and find she is also just someone caught in the middle of this) struggled to remember the recipes, put spinach in the drinks people requested it left out of, and made a drink with peanut butter even though the door dash allergen comment stated they couldn’t have peanut butter and requested almond butter instead. I caught it and told her to wash the blender and get all the material that had touched the peanut butter out because they could be anaphylactic allergic. She made the smoothie again with almond butter. I helped train my replacements in smoothie shop and when they asked for guidance i gave them all the tools and knowledge i had because its not their fault they are replacing me. I might as well help them be good smoothie shop employees. The more i watched my coworkers do smoothie shop the more i realized my manager had no right to complain for what she was now getting in me. I was faster, getting more tips, i paid precise attention to allergens, calculated the price of all the add ons correctly, washed and sanitized everything daily and thoroughly, including the walls, was accurate with the recipes written down, and made food for the case and washed and chopped fruits and vegetables during my time between customers. The only one pulling in more tips than me per shift was my manager. I had earned the right to be reinstated full time in the juice and smoothie shop but it would never be given to me. Ultimately, unable to please my manager and tired of being never good enough for a wage that left me 200 dollars short of breaking even with my monthly bills at best, i called the store owner and put in my notice. The store owner talked me out of quitting and there was a promise that we would communicate with each other differently and things would be better. They were, but i was never reinstated to smoothie shop full time and nobody would ever acknowledge that i was good at it, which i have concluded, after watching my comrades and having them make me shift drinks, that i was. Instead the front end manager would order a drink that already came with ginger, request extra ginger, and then call the smoothie shop manager over to tell her that he was sure i blended the ginger instead of juicing it because all he tasted was ginger. That’s what happens when you order extra ginger without specifying you only want a smidgeon extra…it tastes like ginger…because i juiced more ginger. I let him know ive done many things wrong and blending ginger is not one of them. Ginger is fibrous and tough. It goes in the juicer. Never have i ever blended the ginger. He proceeded to tell the manager of the smoothie shop how i told him i was doing a smoothie wrong and he was sure this one was it. I told him the one i had done wrong was one that involved juicing kale. I had blended it because the recipe on the wall stated we were to blend it. I followed the recipe but the recipe was wrong. It also stated that there should be two handfuls of frozen fruit. What it was supposed to say was 3 and a half. So now i know…just memorize it, dont follow the recipe because the recipe is wrong. I told the front end manager next time he wants a shift drink im just going to hand him the blender because im not making any more drinks for him. I meant what i said. At the lowest end of minimum wage im not worried about losing this job that’s already not paying my bills. Im smart enough to know there’s not a way to win this. There is no scenario in which i make him a drink he likes. He purposely ordered it with extra ginger and then complained it tasted like ginger. I could make him a chocolate smoothie and it would either be too chocolatey or not chocolatey enough. Its just not something worth while to endeavor to do well. He gets too much of a kick out of critiquing me. He gets all goofy and smiley and just really enjoys telling the smoothie shop manager what thing i’ve done wrong now. He was the one that told me the smoothie shop manager told everyone besides me that i was too slow. After all the smiling drink critiques i do wonder whether he told me that because i deserved to know or to watch the drama unfold. It doesnt matter. What matters is that i couldnt pay my bills with this job to begin with and then it just kept getting worse. She hired a part time employee full time when we didnt have enough shifts to support another full time employee. So, we all kind of had to take turns doing 4 day weeks instead of 5 day weeks. I noticed it was my turn often. Then the front end manager had a heated verbal battle with me stating that i should answer the phones while running the smoothie shop. A restaurant doesnt have the cook answer the phones and take reservations, discuss store hours, menu options, and write down customer orders. Front end does that and relays orders to the kitchen. It was explained to me months ago that when i was front end it was my duty to answer the phones because smoothie shop couldnt be running blenders and talking on the phone at the same time. If an order came in for smoothie shop i was to write it down and give it to the smoothie barista for the day. I called the smoothie shop manager so she could hear the argument that was ensuing between us in which i asked him what he wanted from me and told him i was not answering the phone while making orders because that was a front end duty. She came back to the building and set him straight that answering the phones was a front end duty. He seemed way too excited every time i was given front end duty and took the phone with me, like i was being forced to do phone duty and he won. This puzzled me because of course i had the phone…i was front end for the day. Front end watches the phones.
The narrative i was fed on why my comrade had to be in the smoothie shop and i had to be up front was because they had been there slightly longer and they were better and faster at smoothie shop than i was. Well, theres only ever one of us at a station so there’d normally be no way for me to check that narrative. However, i had started a project to be able to give the owners an excel sheet with their inventory and all expiration dates on their product so they could pull up a date range and know all the product that would expire on that day or within that month. This would allow them to put the product that was about to go out of date on sale a month early and pull the product from the shelf at the appropriate time. It would also help them to know what they needed to order more of and what they had that would stay in date for a while. This particular day i was staying late to work on the project and i saw that my coworker was actually not as fast as i was in the smoothie shop and frequently asked me for help. I was finally able to see with my own eyeballs that my performance was not way behind all my coworkers as i was made to believe. I was booted from my duties in smoothie shop yes, but not because these people were better at the position than me, because when they were in it i still spent a fair amount of time managing crises, helping them remember recipes, and reminding them to pay attention to allergy or modification requests. I was also the only one trained on how to make several of the food and drink items in the case, though i did not know how to make the wraps and one other employee besides the manager did. So when i was front end, i would often find time to hop back in the kitchen and make vitamin water, parfaits, salads, and butterfly tea because the employee in the kitchen that day wasnt trained on how to make them and we were out of those things in the case. Originally i was told if i did extra work that was necessary for the good of the business then i would be paid for my time. Then i was told rather curtly that i was going to need to be off the clock when i was scheduled to be off the clock. Every pay day i was reminded curtly to be off the clock earlier and it seemed implied that they needed me to be paid less. So i started working on the inventory/expiration project off the clock. I was told to clock back in and i laughed to myself, oh no, im not falling for that again. Come pay day it will be some whole big thing and im going to get accused of inventing more work for myself so the company has to pay me enough to break even with my bills (crime of the century apparently). So, aware that the mom and pop shop was tight on cash and couldnt pay anyone for this needed project, i decided to donate my time and spent an average of 2 hours off the clock every other shift working on this project for them. While i was doing it i pulled all the expired product from 2020 to 2022 off the shelf.
I saw that the recipes differed from the ingredients listed on the menu. I decided to hand write a sign and post it outside the smoothie shop asking customers to alert us to any food allergies ahead of ordering so that we could best serve their needs. I cleaned the industrial kitchen as much and as often as i could. That was what i was known for. I never finished early like the others but the bathroom was clean, the walls were bleached, the floor was mopped, the surfaces wiped, and nothing was sticky. One day the owner called and said both his managers had had 3 months to complete the food handler manager’s training and neither of them had finished it. He said if the health inspector walked in we would have to admit not one employee currently held a manager’s license in the shop. This would be a huge problem. He asked if he paid for it would i do it, for the sake of having someone licensed as a manager. I understood that this was just a technicality and i was not actually being put in charge of anything. I agreed. 7 hours of training and 73 minutes of testing later i had my manager’s food handling certification by the following morning’s shift. I finished it at 2 am, harvested a bunch of basil, slept a little, and then came and opened the store where i printed and then displayed my certificate in case of a visit from the health inspector. When the front end manager finally finished his he asked if he could move mine from where it was displayed to put his there. I thought this was a bit unnecessary. I understood that mine was symbolic and he was actually managing something but i had done the training fair and square and answered 75 questions in 75 minutes when no one else could find the time so that we would be health inspector ready and i didnt see a need to move my certificate now that other people had finished theirs. I was standing feet away when he said it and the decision was made that we would leave mine where it was for the time being and he could tape his underneath it on the second row. I suggested we buy a metal spoon at the goodwill next door instead of struggling to death to get the peanut butter out of the jars with plastic spoons. I got permission from my manager, bought the spoon, and was reimbursed. I made signs advertising that we are now open on sundays from 11 to 6 and decorated and displayed them on the outside and at the register of the store. I offered to take pictures of the food and drinks and describe and promote product on the facebook page. I was told no, that the owner would be the only one doing that for now. I offered to do this because i used to do this for my mother’s business in my teens and early twenties as i used to be a photography major and am also a published author. Im pretty good at describing food when i want to be and they might as well benefit from all the marketing courses the chain grocery made me take. I offered to learn to make the wraps for the food case and i was told i was not going to learn that because she wanted to make sure that the quality stayed at the level our customers expected. I was told if i really wanted to be helpful i could bag pickle spears and pretzels. So i became captain of the pretzels for a bit until there were 46 little baggies of gluten free pretzels and 38 bagged pickle spears. I felt under-appreciated and like my potential was being wasted. I was one course shy of a gis certificate. I was offering them a gis project for their business for free and this project contracted to a gis analyst would have cost them thousands of dollars. One of my managers said no and the other one said hold off on it for now. I offered it to the owners and they wanted it. So i began. But, people still couldnt promise me they would even use it when it was finished.
One day i walked back to the smoothie shop to relay an order and my coworker was in tears. I had told my manager that because of my arthritis and dislocated toes it was excruciatingly painful for me to climb ladders. The ladder had to be used to fetch down all the back-stock product in the store. My coworker had told our manager that smoothie shop was hard for her because she had fibromyalgia and using the blender tamper really hurt her arms and hands. So my manager assigned me to the ladder and my coworker to the blender. I thought this was extra cruel and so did she so we quietly switched stations and then switched back come closing time so we could document as if we’d been where we were supposed to be all day. It didnt matter what i thought of what was going on or whether i thought it would get better. When i started getting 4 day weeks and asked if i would take a 2 or 3 hour shift once a week i realized i would need to leave this job. I wasnt sure what i was supposed to accomplish here, why God had wanted me at this store. I wasnt sure if i was supposed to influence somebody or somebody was supposed to influence me. I didnt know if the little store would survive. All i knew was that if i stayed there i wouldnt. I began putting feelers out and testing the waters of the industry i left. Were they still ready to “sacrifice our lives for the good of humanity” or had they gotten over that “some of you will die and we’re okay with that” crap? What testing measures would i have to submit myself to and did anyone even have an industry need for extra help at this season of the year?
It was about here that my favorite checker and stocker at the produce warehouse got together and decided to cover my weekly groceries one time. They said they knew i was struggling financially and they decided amongst themselves that i was not paying that week and they would buy my groceries. It was a beautiful God fueled gesture and i could tell it was important to them. I tried to pay it forward and then just to contribute 4 dollars but they wouldn’t let me. I knew it was done from a place of grace and God had placed the mission to help me on their hearts but all i felt in that moment was mind-numbing soul-crushing shame. I didnt know how to handle the situation without being ungrateful and so i thanked them and told them God bless them and made them take a dollar at least. The moment stuck with me for weeks and it was very unsettling. Somebody had bought my groceries. I had become that person in the grocery line that couldnt handle their ****, that needed others to step in and make sure they had something to eat. How did it get here? How did i let it go this long? What was happening? Who was i if not the person that hustled and brought home the bacon to handle my ****? For the past two years i had been a student who had gone back to school and was at the mercy of teachers who discriminated against me in my online classes because i could not come in in person periodically because i did not live in the same city as the school. I had relied on hand outs from family. I had needed other people to buy things that my dogs needed because i couldnt. I had hesitated to treat the oak wilt because i knew i couldnt easily make that $4000 again. My grandmother had graciously bought all my dental work. I had become a person who couldnt financially support myself and along the way i had let myself open the door to a man old enough to be my grandfather because he said he wanted to date me and if we got along well he’d never let my mortgage lapse. When it became apparent he was looking for something more immediately physical than i was willing to have and he had fibbed a bit when he said he was patient and could wait for an emotional relationship to be established before wanting something physical, i let him know this was not an exchange i could sign up for. He had offered me a car, a horse, and to help pay my mortgage monthly, said i’d never have to worry about being late on the mortgage again. I had told him i had a car and didnt need a horse, though i really enjoyed visiting the spirited mustang he got to work with at his ranch job and wouldnt mind visiting it regularly. I did note that while the horse was comfortable with my hand, it flinched and constantly moved out of reach when he went to pat the horse. If you listen a horse will tell you what you need to know, what humans cant sense. I wasn’t a person who wanted to be bought but if we established a relationship and he wanted to become part of my operation and consider me his other half and for that reason help me pay half the mortgage, i was down for that. I guess i was naive and didnt understand that being bought was what was on the table. It didnt occur to me that someone would want to buy my love because i wasn’t wired to be able to do that transaction. It was so far out of my capability that it didnt compute why someone would be willing to buy me a horse when they just met me. Well, after one 4 hour coffee date and a single brush of hands, several evening-hour text conversations let me know this arrangement was not going to work out and i communicated that clearly. He said he understood and that we could remain friends. He then proceeded to need to know what i was doing and how i was several times a day every day and then transitioned from there into needing communication with me via text every few hours while i was at work and assuming i was angry with him if i didn’t answer while i was working. He used my phone number to look up my facebook page and describe my photos to me. He googled me (which most people do but don’t tell their partner about after…thats kind of out of the ordinary to admit to). He kept telling me to “be good” as if i was a child being told to stay out of trouble. He also had this need for me to be tucked in safe by a certain hour as if i needed protection from the world and he constantly wanted to know that i was being safe and being good. I quickly understood this man had decided he wanted me without knowing anything about who i was. I was firstly a Leo and pretty **** sure i was not a fragile damsel that needed protecting. I could look after myself. Secondly i had always looked after myself and was a proudly independent woman and wasnt going to take kindly to being kept and fawned over or spoken to like a child. He would come to the store and tell me i was learning something knew every day and that it seemed like i was doing better and better and that i would get there with time. I felt like he was a school teacher trying to encourage a small child to reach for that gold star classroom behavior sticker that would allow them to visit the toy chest and pick out a prize at the end of the week. I realized that i put myself in this situation where i ultimately had to block this man’s number and ask coworkers to check him out when he came to the store because he always wanted to talk about “us” or tell me that i needed to call him in the evenings because “i’m not that bad” and “i gave you a big tip.” I put myself in this situation because i couldn’t pay my mortgage independently anymore and so when a man came along and said “i’ll help you with that” i entertained the idea of a partner even though i knew full well i’d be sitting in jail for homicide or buried on my land somewhere depending on who won in the end. I am a leo, a super independent woman, a survivor of 24 years of abuse, and a ******* warrior and there’s never going to be a day when i check in with a partner on the hour every hour or provide sex in exchange for a horse, a car, or a mortgage payment. I can’t be bought. Any attempt to do so will end in bloodshed of some kind, so when i understood thats what was happening i ended it before he even had a chance to know who i was. So the level of obsession is inappropriate because he doesnt know me well enough to miss me the way he’s doing. He misses an idea of what he could have had…not me.
My charge port on my iphone broke and i had to get a new iphone. This was a 600 dollar purchase and it would have been worse had i not negotiated and argued for hours about what model they could sell me so i could reuse my otterbox case and not shell out for a brand new one of a different size. I had to pay for the tank of gas to get to san antonio. Having not eaten all day after my work shift and the trip to san antonio i found myself at the loves truck stop eating french fries from mcdonalds and staring at the beautiful view of the hill country from the auto area of the parking lot, thinking back nostalgically to my days as a contract certified occupational therapy assistant traveling the hill country from sun up to sun down, just me my car and energy drinks, visiting all the patients in different towns to provide the treatments needed to facilitate new neuropathways for their brains to communicate with nerves and muscles they hadnt had access to, forcing them to balance and cross midline while standing and shifting weight and acknowledge parts of their body and sections of the room they were unaware existed following their stroke, prompting them to find me when i moved into their blind spot, having them bear weight on limbs that were not online in order to prompt the brain to acknowledge and try to connect with something that was providing feedback that could not at this time be received and computed but was sending signals indeed. I remembered teaching a one armed patient to change and clean her colostomy bag, something staff thought she’d never do, so that she could discharge and live independently. I remembered teaching a patient paralyzed from her shoulders to her waist to hook her hands in her elastic waist band while her pants were at her knees and then stand up tall and shrug her shoulders to her ears to lift the waist band over her hips, using a hook on the bathroom wall to finish pulling the pants up all the way. I remember providing ROM to her fingers daily to keep them pliable for when she did regain movement and when she did regain movement teaching her to write with a pen again. She made a full recovery and i ran into her a year later in the grocery store. I still have the letter she wrote when she first regained the ability to write words again. I laminated it and it hangs on my wall. She wrote in big capital letters, “thank you” and wrote each of her therapist’s names. She made three of them that day. I took one home and laminated it, as a reminder of why occupational therapy is worth it when the industry forces you to work off the clock and lie about it, decide between doing whats best for the patient and getting fired or doing whats best for medicare and staying employed, and place people on arm bikes eight at a time when you want to do self care and neuromuscular re-education one on one because that’s what is really needed…. That paper used to remind me what occupational therapy was really for, not why i got paid. People could pay you for a number of reasons but you had to know within yourself what occupational therapy was for. If i committed fraud in my career, the fraud was saying that i put people on arm bikes four at a time while i sneaked around behind corporations backs and helped them regain control of their flacid limbs, regain independence in their self care tasks, and form new neuropathways by which their brains could communicate with long offline limbs and challenge their brains to acknowledge parts of the room their working eyeball told them didnt exist. So shoot me. I facilitated recovery and billed for busywork. Every industry will require you to lie about something. Its easier to sleep at night if you lie to them about doing the busywork nonsense they asked for than if you lie to yourself about being a meaningful and productive influence in your patients lives and in the facilitation of their recovery.
I needed to go back to work. The industry was beginning to realize the vaccine did not prevent or lessen covid. They now did not care if i was vaccinated, something that had previously rendered me unable to work in the industry i was trained in. I reached out to an old boss to see what the industry was like, what testing measures were necessary, and whether there was even a need for as needed (prn) employees during this season headed into winter. I was going to move to austin for a semester in january to finish my gis certification by completing the practicum. I was looking for sporadic prn cota work to hold me over financially until then so i could supplement my grocery job. My old boss got back to me and stated that he and his comrade (also someone i used to enjoy working under) in the sister building could use me sporadically prn for the winter season. They couldnt promise steady hours, the need would fluctuate, but we could get me back into the industry. I just needed to fill out a w4. I filled out a w4 and a week later my former boss called me and said he had some hours for me on a wednesday if i wanted them. I ended up working 3 to 4 hours on wednesday, thursday, and friday.
Just like that, i rejoined an industry i hadn’t been a part of for two years. I had locked all my scrubs in the shed the day i quit and never looked at them or gave them another thought. I realized quitting an industry i had called my own, shedding an identity i had known for 7 years and leaving my degree behind had been painful and to avoid processing that loss i had locked it in the shed and never given it a second thought. All the tools of my trade; my gait belt, my pulse oximeter, my blood pressure cuff, and my scrubs were right where i left them. Billing rules, medicare vocabulary, the sentences i used to write reimbursable documentation on patients progress towards goals, pnf patterns, stroke recovery techniques, body mechanics, transfer techniques, safety awareness education, navigation of the documentation software….it all came flooding back to me as if i’d never left. After two years of not working in the medical field i asked my old boss what time the cnas got the patients up for breakfast, woke up at midnight, left for fredericksburg at 4 am, and spent several pre-dawn hours waking patients up and assisting them with toileting, dressing, tooth brushing, hair brushing, and transfer techniques before the cnas could get to them to get them up for the morning. I stepped right back into that old role, walking into a strangers room, turning on a light, introducing myself and telling them it was time to get up and i was there to help them. I let them choose what they wanted to wear, as it was important to make sure choice was still part of elders’ lives when they went into a care situation. I was there if they needed me but i prompted them to thread their own limbs through the clothes and look for alternative ways of getting tasks done themselves rather than waiting for me to do it for them, with the explanation that the more they could do for themselves the less their day would be greatly influenced by how short staffed the facility was on any given day. If they needed help with every task they would be waiting for a long time when there was only one cna for 40 people but if they could find alternative ways to get a task done, when they could get up and get ready was now completely up to them, not the availability of staff. I handed them reachers when they were unable to reach to the floor for pants. When balance was a factor i taught them to roll side to side to pull their pants up their hips rather than stand to pull them up. I instructed on thoroughness when wiping during toileting to prevent skin irritation and infection. I made sure to include toothpaste and deodorant in our routine, something staff dont always do because while dressing is a necessity, deodorant and toothpaste are parts of our routine outside the nursing homes but often get overlooked for patients inside the nursing homes. Its important for dental care and dignity as often times patients get a shower every other day and would like to smell nice for the two days they must go before the next one. I never in a million years thought i’d get an opportunity to put scrubs on and care for patients again. Not only was i banned from doing so without a vaccination. My long hauler covid symptoms had prevented me from doing what i used to be responsible for for some time. I wondered if my battered body would hold. I am a more cautious therapist now. My ego does not get the best of me. I do not do max assist or total assist transfers at a grab bar or bedside. I will only do these transfers inside the parallel bars because i know i have damage to my right arm as a result of covid and i know when those muscles are tired they release, causing me to let go involuntarily of whatever im holding. This means if i cannot swing pivot transfer them with one arm (min assist or mod assist) and i know the patient is one of those transfers that will linger and require a minute to pivot their leg, i will not do it without the assistance of a cna. If it becomes apparent mid-transfer that it will be a prolonged affair i just sit them back down in the chair because i will not put my arm in a situation where it has a chance to fail me. I dont give it a chance to get tired. I know what i am and i know what im working with. I can still be useful to these patients. I just have to be smart about it. Three days in a row i put scrubs on and drove to fredericksburg in the predawn hours to get people up and work on self care. This morning i realized a number of them had never recovered standing balance or their ability to be upright without retropulsing following their bout with covid. A silent challenge was accepted and something was ignited in me. Today we were doing standing. Today we would challenge the limits of their brains. Today we would facilitate new neuropathways and require all their focus and multitasking abilities on-board. Today we would do recovery. Today we would progress. Today we would seize life by the throat and say “not yet! I am not done here yet universe! Hold my apple juice and watch this.” So i went in and did self care and then i let the cnas transfer the max assist patients to their wheelchairs. I saved my strength for the real work to come. I dragged these patients into the parallel bars one by one during the predawn hours in an empty gym and i locked their w/c brakes and put a gait belt around them real tight. I told them we were going to stand. I instructed them to place their feet flat on the ground with a wide base of support, place their arms on the arm rests, and lean way forwards to stand up. Then i pulled with all my might, squatting nearly to the ground and using my body weight with my center of gravity near to theirs to get them into an upright standing position. As they rose, so did i, staying close to their center of gravity. I felt the shift as they took over the work once their feet were under them and they began holding themselves up. I challenged them to examine and fix their posture, straighten their knees, tuck their butt in, look forwards, stand up tall. We celebrated their previously unknown height as they now stood tall in between the bars. I sprinkled praise as much as possible, celebrated every step, every accomplishment, every task. The goal was to make them understand they were in control of their own progress and if they put the work in results would come. Once they were up and balanced between the bars i challenged them to let go with one hand at a time and interact with me using pnf patterns to either high and low five me or place opposite hands on my shoulder and then reach towards my shoe depending on how much they needed me to hold them up during all of this. Some patients needed little enough assistance balancing that i was able to let go of them with one hand to engage in these high and low fives we were doing in pnf patterns while standing in the parallel bars. I had them weight shift, rock and pretend hula hoop. I had them work on reaching back and using their core muscles to do a controlled and gradual sit. Their performance was beautiful and their progress from two days ago was amazing. I had patients who on day one could not for the life of them follow my verbal commands to correct retropulsion, leaning all the way forwards and completely self correcting retropulsion upon verbal command. We did double high fives to celebrate their progress and all my little ladies went to breakfast so proud of themselves and their capability to take their own level of function into their own hands and regain some independence. I watched them sit at the breakfast table bright eyed and awake. I was addicted once again. I missed this. God how i missed this. It was just a few days a week, three or four hours a day, but i suddenly had access to patients. I had my career back. I had a reason to put on scrubs and go help people again. And i was being paid a livable wage to do it. In three half days i had made half the money i made in two weeks at the grocery. My wage was four times my minimum wage hourly rate. And i got to do what i was meant to do, what i studied to do. I got to give people back their independence and i got to watch their faces light up when they realized they still had it in them.
This all led to a moment where i was standing in line at the loves truck stop, bustling with truckers and contract healthcare workers. i heard a staff member announce on the overcom, “customer 14, your shower is ready, i repeat your shower is ready. Come on down.” I said alloud with a smile poised on the corner of my mouth, “i ******* love this place.” This was my home. The road and the loves truck stop. This was my environment. This was my life’s purpose. I wasnt willing to die for it and thats why i had left. We took an oath not to do harm, not to die for our jobs. The industry had failed us, no question. I don’t regret leaving and if i had a do-over i’d do the same thing again. However, i ******* missed this. I ******* missed this. And just like that, i was back.
In late september when im sure all the cbd is out of my system i have an appointment to rejoin another group i used to work for in kerrville as prn help. They will be under new management but are the same people and they know me well. They know i will do good work for them as needed. I will take care of the patients well and care about advancing their goals. I can be trusted to self govern and keep track of time management. So for now i will dip my toes in with one company three days a week but there are future plans to go prn with multiple companies. I never again want a full time day job in the healthcare industry. I want to be able to walk away if there are more mandates. “As needed” allows me to do that because i have not signed a contract and don’t belong to anybody, but right now i want to rehabilitate people. I don’t want to be captain of pretzels and pickles. I want to regrow neuropathways, challenge balance and visual fields, and use my body to lift others until they can get their own balance and stand on their own two. I want to see patients again. It was as if i’d never been gone, as if two years hadn’t passed, as if i was flicking on the same light and pulling the same gloves, brief, and wipeys i always used to pull. It was the best feeling i have had in a long long time. I knew who i was again. “Hi, i’m Lauren. I’m going to be your occupational therapy assistant for today.”
In actuality it is very difficult to put my aussie in the bed without having her destroy our mosquito net tent. She is very active, has a bull in a china shop vibe, and no concept of pain or personal space. However, it kills her soul to be away from her pack and sometimes i take pity on her and let her sleep with us for a few hours until i cant stand all the squirming and sitting on everybody and then she goes back to her crate so sili and i can get some rest. She did manage to stay with us until about 2:30 am this particular morning. Having an aussie is not easy and you shouldn’t seek this breed of dog if you’re not prepared to deal with hyperactivity and a constant need for direction. However, she is exactly what the homestead needed to function. She is a great and eager worker. Her many jobs on the homestead have earned her the right to drive us nuts for a bit in the wee hours of the morning. She may smoosh everybody and dash all hope of sleep but she does it out of love and in actuality she is so excited to be with her pack, its hard to stay mad at her.
So i had all the oaks on the property treated for oak wilt back in july in order to halt the spread when i learned the cluster of seven trees i use as a carport during storms was infected. Three of those trees are recovering fairly well with new baby leaves all over their branches. One tree looks pretty dead. The remaining 3 trees, i know for sure are dead, because they split clear in half vertically up the trunk and you can look inside and see that these trees are dry as a bone and ready to be fire wood, no aging or patience required. It is a bit alarming. If i had to guess i’d say oak wilt is the closest thing to trees experiencing their own version of the first strain of covid-19. I remember watching my patients drown in lungs full of mucus created from their own lung tissue melted into goo. No amount of oxygen or cpr would revive their systems that were now void of the mechanisms required to pass O2 to red blood cells. I can beg God. I can beg the trees. I can sprinkle probiotics all over the soil and soak their roots with molasses laden vitamin water but no amount of measures are going to be life giving for these trees. They are dead and the mechanism that allowed them to function is broken, thoroughly. You cannot glue trees back together vertically up the trunk. It’s pretty final. They need to be cut down. However, im unwilling to touch the spore laden trees with my hand saw blade. It would mean i couldnt use it on anything but the trees infected with oak wilt. I’ve decided that at some point in the spring i need to buy a chain saw and fell the dead trees. The chain saw will be just for oak wilt and i will continue to use my manual hand saw for all other cutting of wood on the homestead. Just to get the infected wood off the property, i think i would saw it into manageable pieces and put it in trash bags to be collected each tuesday for the landfill. Im uninterested in the process of covering it with plastic for a year in order to kill the oak wilt enough to use it as firewood. I don’t have a fireplace. I have no need for it and view it as tainted with the tree plague. If given the opportunity i would just get it out of here as quickly as possible. But, a chainsaw is not in the budget right now and i am tired at the moment, so for the time being the split ghost trees will stay where they stand.
It had been raining for hours. We really really needed the rain so i was thrilled beyond belief. Also i didnt have to water all the trees and plants this evening. Nature did it plenty. I left the house briefly around sundown to put the door to the chicken coop on and then around 9 pm i decided to take the lids off my rain water storage containers. They were so empty by this point they might as well just act as one more catchment container for the rain. It was set to rain all night so i wasn’t too worried about the deer drinking the water overnight. Upon flinging the door open to exit the house i had noticed a bunch of little flying brown things. I assumed they were just more of the thousands of little brown butterflies i had collected on the windshield when driving through the cloud of them the whole way to and from work earlier. It was only upon returning to the house after fetching water that i realized what i was looking at. They were agricultural termites, the winged kind, and they were swarming. They were all over the door. They were everywhere! I quickly realized there was no way i could get back in the house without bringing a good portion of them with me. It would have to be done. I flung the door open, ran in, and shut the door behind me. They were in my hair, crawling all over my ears, my clothes, and my legs. I twirled around the kitchen shaking my head and brushing wildly at the ones in my hair and on my clothing. The dogs were very confused by the multitude of winged bugs dripping off of me and then flying about the room. Sili licked her snout nervously. Cashew began to try to help me with the new problem. She ran about the kitchen trying to catch them in her mouth. I grabbed my folded and velcroed umbrella and began smashing the ones crawling about in circles on the counters and all over the floor. Cashew and i chased and smashed flying termites for a good helf hour before we called it quits. The house looked like a battlefield with cockeyed wings and gooey smashed ones littering the floor and counters. I stared at Cashew, breathing hard…she stared at me, panting. Just then one started crawling about in my hair and i wriggled around, throwing it to the ground and stomping on it with my bare foot. I announced, “i dont think im getting any more water for the house tonight.” Cashew gave the room a once over glance. None of them moved. I told her, “i think we got them all.” The following morning they would all be dead but not before they mated and laid eggs. This was why the ones in the house had to die. They were agricultural termites so they ate grass, not wood. However, i didnt want them trapped in this structure trying to lay thousands of eggs before they perished.
I’ve always had toads on the property but this year they exist in such an abundance that it is overwhelming. They are everywhere and i much enjoy their company. Its great fun to watch them use the porch stairs every morning at dawn and in the evening at dusk. However, this year there is a new development beyond the sheer abundance of toads in the grass. Tree frogs. They are so quick i can barely get the camera out before they’ve darted away. This little guy i followed with my flash on the camera and finally caught evidence of these tiny slimy frogs hanging out on my property. This one is a speckled brown one but they exist in solid green, solid brown, and a patterned green as well. They are way more skittish than their bold and boisterous cousin, the toad. They are very difficult to catch. However, i did get an opportunity to pet a green one and it was surprisingly smooth and soft.
This snake i actually encountered around 8 pm vs 10 pm, when there was still some daylight to see it by. I was able to see that it was not a rattler without getting close to it and upon further examination it is in all likelihood a checkered garter snake. These snakes are completely harmless to humans. They typically range from 14 to 20 inches long. they are pretty docile and rarely bite. If harassed or threatened they are more likely to defecate all over themselves to make themselves undesirable to pick up and then slither away. Unlike the rattlers who feast pretty much exclusively on small rodents this guy will eat frogs, toads, lizards, and earthworms in addition to small mice. This explained the bulge. The snake was seen leaving my porch area where toads and tree frogs had been known to hang out in abundance waiting for insects drawn to the porch light. The snake was a small one and the bulge in its middle was too small to be a field mouse. Maybe a baby one? When i learned the garter snake would eat toads and frogs i knew what was in its stomach. There was either a baby toad or a fully grown tree frog digesting inside the snake. The bulge was just way too small to be a field mouse. This snake was non venomous. I have no qualms with the checkered garter snake. I could use a non venomous hunter to take on the mice. I wondered if it was big enough to eat mice. It was a nicely patterned specimen. It seemed fairly healthy. I stepped around it to get to and from the well house as i watered the plants. It seemed reluctant to move as it was digesting something it had just eaten. Eventually it slithered across the grass until it disappeared beneath a yucca.
There is a white tailed doe that gives birth on my property every year and stashes her little fawn in my grass while she goes out to forage. Its really smart if you think about it. The dogs are locked up but their constant barking keeps the coyotes away and i think she knows i would intervene were anything to bother her fawn while she was out as i do so when the dogs occasionally get an opportunity to chase it. This year she gave birth to her fawn over in the orchard closest to the pecan tree under a low hanging cedar branch at night. Every other year she’s given birth during the day near the opposite corner of the property about 30 feet from the pin oak. This baby certainly is different from all the others. I have no idea whether it is male or female but it is head strong and really sure of itself. Unlike all her other babies that stayed put and waited for her to come back and retrieve it, this one goes on frolicking adventures, right out in the open, white tail flipping, and frequently wanders into the street. It does zoomies around the property like an excited dog and frequently gallops in front of the dog run fence, working my girls into a snarling frenzy. She looks tired this year. I’ve already had to approach her baby twice to untangle it from wire fencing it thought it could just float through like a vapor. I’ve had the thought, “this thing isn’t going to live long.” Ive also had the thought, “i hope the little one doesnt get her killed.” She’s an older deer, bigger than the other does in her little group. She’s not as flighty as the others. She takes her time and often assesses whether the dogs can get her or not when they’re barking and if they cant, she goes in to clean up the chicken feed on the ground regardless of their noise. She’s a wise old doe and she seems to know just how much effort to expend on mothering. In past years she has been very attentive to her fawns, and they were all very people shy and great at camouflaging. I literally never had contact with them, just watched them from afar. She seems to extend the same lessons and effort to this fawn that she did for fawns of years past but the results are much different. She doesnt respond with blind mom rage every time the fawn cries…and it cries a lot. If the dogs are legit chasing her baby she’ll go after them but if the baby is crying because the dogs who are locked in the dog run are barking at it, she just stands there and chews. So, when the baby runs in the street she’ll go over there and call it back but if it doesnt listen she walks off. I think she too has had the thought, “this thing is going to be the death of me.” Neither myself nor my neighbor are sure this year’s baby is going to make it to adulthood.
It was late. I had worked a full shift and closed at the store. It was nearly 10 pm and now i had to water all the plants by moonlight and the sky happened to be overcast. I parked the car, grabbed my pitcher, and headed for the spigot on the side of the well house to fill it with water. As i walked i noticed movement near my feet. I realized fairly quickly it was a snake. It was shaped in an S if the S had one too many turns to it. Bent this way and that it was taking up about two feet of length in the grass. It was slithering away from me along the skirting of the house. Most people living in the city would be alarmed to find a snake 6 inches from their shoe but it was not in a striking position, was facing away from me, didnt seem bothered by my presence in the slightest…and i lived in the country…snakes were a regular sight out here. The only time it became a problem was if the snake felt threatened. I didn’t intend to pose any threat so i didn’t perceive it as a threat to me. I did however want to get a good look at the snake just for my own information, to know what kinds of snakes were coming and going through my property. I bent down and held the lantern about two inches from the scales on the back end of the escaping snake, expecting to see a solid green or solid brown coloring…maybe a grass snake, a garden snake, could be a rat snake…. HO!!! I jumped back right quick as two things happened simultaneously. The light illuminated my folly and revealed that i was now harassing a fairly active western diamondback rattlesnake and the new proximity of my lantern convinced the snake that i was now something to be dealt with. As i jumped back the snake had switched directions and doubled back around to see what purpose i meant by placing a light source two inches from its scales. I wanted no piece of that action and continued to back away. Rattlers have a surprising striking distance and at inches from it i was well within range. Once the Rattler realized my curiosity had died with my identification of him he turned around and continued off to hunt field mice. I then stepped into the house and pulled out my laminated snake identification pamphlet with the pattern of scales illuminated by lantern light tattooed on my brain. It was indeed a rattlesnake. I have a collection of laminated pamphlets in a little tray on the wall near the laundry machines in case of emergency. It includes animal tracks, venomous spiders, venomous snakes, animals scat, and one of birds just for kicks because i like them.
I watered the plants without much fear. Most of the time animals want to be left alone. A snake does not hunt you on purpose. It is only your enemy when you pose a threat. If you stumble into or turn over the place where its sleeping, chase it, or accidentally step on it, a snake will defend itself. Thats when you get bit. I held the lantern close to the ground, listened keenly for rustling grass, and watched for cylindrical shapes or movement. I watered all the trees and plants without incident. I waited a while before i let the dogs out in the run to potty and only left them out about 15 minutes before we went to bed. I didnt know where that rattler went but i wasnt keen on seeing him again that night and figured it best for us to turn in for bed before the dogs found him. Back when Cashew got bit in the face by a rattler i had a snake relocator out to the property to rehome any present rattlers. He combed every inch of the property and poked into every hole and cavity, moved every bit of brush, rock, wood, or equipment in the grass…he didnt find one snake. He said there were no nests on the two acres. The snake was sleeping somewhere else. It was just coming here to eat and as long as there were mice in the field it would continue to do so, but there were no sleeping snakes hiding from the sun here…none for him to remove. I frequented most of my property on foot daily and i knew where a rabbit, fox, and armadillo den were. I knew where the coyotes sometimes stashed the rest of a kill they werent done with, i knew where a group of white tails pooped and slept nightly…i hadnt seen any snake dens, so, i believed him.
My reaction was not to go get the machete and try to flush out and eliminate a rattler nest. I knew this was just a snake out for a bite to eat, somebody passing through. He’d go home at dawn. Ive heard people say the only good rattler is a dead rattler. Now, i don’t disagree with that sentiment but one has to evaluate the level of danger they’d like to be in. In this instance….theres always going to be snakes passing through…killing one is not going to prevent the rest from arriving. If left alone he’d be on his merry way and if confronted he’d likely win in a hand to hand combat scenario. Plus, i had a problem with mice…which he could take care of. So my fight was not with the western diamondback rattler. Better to mind my own and allow the occasional rattler to do the same than to play “Quién es más macho?” with a venomous foe way too far from a proper hospital with anti-venom on hand. I have always tried to live amongst the animals rather than conquer them. I have a fence with gaping 7 foot holes in the wire. I shudder to think how much less wildlife i would see if i properly fenced this property one day. I let the cottontails and foxes and possums come and go. Ive even seen a skunk and i leave the snakes alone. At some point you have to realize that the purpose of living in the middle of nature is to witness nature and if you conquer it all, then there’s nothing left to witness. I want to see wild things daily. I dont want to walk out and observe a hog tight fence and a hank hill manicured lawn. That’s great for some but as for me, i want to see the wild animals God created in their natural habitat doing wild things.