Monday, October 22, 2007

The Two Little Pigs

Hi Folks!

Golly, but I wish this blog was going to be about two cute little porcine pals! Unfortunately, it's going to be about the human kind of pigs instead. Ordinarily, I would keep this sort of thing to myself, but I recently had such a depressing experience that I'm in danger of losing my faith in humanity.

What happened was this: my landlord needed the chicken coop for his mother-in-law, a woman of advancing years and a measure of decrepitude. He offered me the apartment above the garage, but since I was boxing up my stuff anyway, it seemed like a good time to move on.

I first went looking at apartments, and then at houses to rent. There was nothing suitable for five cats and a woman with 44-years-worth of accumulated stuff. So I started looking at houses to buy. I found a pretty cool one with lots of landscaping (for me to play with) and plenty of windows (for the cats' birdwatching hobby). I made an offer, we went back and forth, and finally we all reached agreement on a price. Everything seemed great until I started moving in.

I knew that the previous owners had a dog. I had no idea what a big hairy beast it was until I went to do a little pre-move cleaning. It was then I discovered two things: 1) that the previous owners had apparently never ever cleaned the house - even when they lived in it, and 2) that the previous owners left me all sorts of fun things to deal with myself. In the shed out back I found 12 cans of paint that I had no use for, 8 packages of roofing shingles that I was pretty sure I'd never use, a set of 7 weights that I had no intention of lifting, and 2 outdated computer monitors.

In the back yard, the previous owners left me a number of piles of dog poop - even though I had intentionally written into the purchase agreement, "Sellers will remove dog waste from yard." It looked to me as though they had never bothered to scoop the big dog's poop anyway, so their thinking was probably, "Why start now?"

Inside, the house was a nightmare: there was so much long black dog hair that it had actually begun creeping up - and sticking to - the walls. There were piles of it in every corner of the house, and under every single appliance. It was disgusting. There's also an old urine puddle in the family room carpet that no amount of professional cleaning is going to remove. I can't begin to describe the stink I'm enduring every night as I sit down to watch the news.

As I scrubbed and mopped and swept and cleaned that place, I became more and more disgusted and disheartened: not only was I cleaning the new place, but I was also trying to get the chicken coop ship-shape at the same time. Know why? Because it's the right thing to do. You make a mess, you clean it up. You don't leave your yuck for someone else to deal with. At least, that's how it works in Kelly World, where people say "hi" to each other on the street, leave their doors unlocked knowing that no one is going to come in and burgle them, and the planet is generally a well-ordered place. Reality, though, is obviously another matter entirely.

It's important that you know I'm not a neat freak. Far from it. There are many things I'd rather do than clean: I'd rather have a root canal than clean my house. I'd rather be in a fiery car wreck than clean my house. I'd rather spend time with people I can't stand than clean my house. So I'm not writing this blog from an obsessive-compulsive standpoint. I'm writing because Josh and Kate Koester, formerly of Walbridge, Ohio, and now members of the Marie Lane, Maumee, Ohio community, don't even have the decency to be embarassed about being such incredible pigs.

It appeared, when I first looked at the house, that Josh has an interest in JRR Tolkein-type stuff. I'd spend a lot of time in fantasy land, too, if I was married to a woman who couldn't be bothered to keep house. By the same token, I wouldn't waste time being married to a man who didn't do his share of the housework. Clearly, these two are made for each other, which is a good thing because I'm fairly certain no one else on the planet would have either of them.

Because I'm a big believer in fairness, I've written the Koesters of Marie Lane, Maumee, Ohio, a letter informing them of their "oversight" in leaving so much of their property behind, and I've also let them know about this blog. I've offered them the opportunity to come and get their belongings (dog poop included, so buy your first scooper and bring it along!) in exchange for which I would be willing to remove this blog from the site. They frankly don't deserve such generosity, but you know what? It's important that at least SOME of us behave well, even if others don't.

That's it for now. Thanks for letting me vent my spleen, and I promise that the next blog will be about something interesting: my favorite duck on the whole pond, Pretty Boy! Check out his pictures in the Critter Pics section of my website so you can see what all the fuss is about. Until next time, please be kind to all the animals!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My Friend Bob Tarte

Hi again, folks!

Today I want to tell you about Bob Tarte, who is not a critter, but owns enough of them to qualify as slightly crazy. At last count - not including the sock monkey - Bob and his wife had thirty-nine animals. They've got ducks, geese, and turkeys, cats, rabbits, and indoor birds, and there was even a brief but memorable encounter with a young skunk. On top of that, they also foster wild baby birds, caring for them until they're old enough to fly.

My only criticism of Bob is that while he owns a barn, he has no horses. I think Bob would be great with something equine - a stubborn but lovable donkey like Belle comes to mind - but so far, Bob's sticking to small critters he can pick up with his own two hands.

Bob and I came to be friends through our email correspondence. Bob answers all his email - and in my case, he's probably sorry he did! I had contacted him, asking for advice on my writing, and he was kind enough to help me out. The reason I asked Bob for help in the first place is because he wrote one of my favorite books, Enslaved by Ducks.

When I first saw it at the bookstore, I thought, "Hey! A book about ducks -I like it already!" I bought it, took it home, and devoured it in two days. Happily for me, Bob wrote a follow-up, Fowl Weather, which I also read very quickly.

I wanted to thank Bob for all his help with my writing, so I suggested he come down to Ohio and do a book signing at a local bookstore. When he agreed, I contacted some of the newspapers, telling them what a hoot it would be to do a story about the Famous Duck Guy coming to town to meet the local ducks.

The papers agreed, and we all met out at McKinnon's Pond for a photo shoot. We got our pictures in the papers, and we got some much-needed publicity for the ducks at the pond, too, because you can't get people to care unless they know there's something to care about.

After the booksigning, Bob went home and made a video for his website called "Duck Man vs. the Crazy Critter Lady." You can watch it at In the video, Bob teases me for hogging his spotlight at the photo shoot, but I say, if you allow yourself to get upstaged by a Pekin duck, you should probably work on your stage presence!

Lucky for me, Bob doesn't hold grudges, and he went on to interview me for his segment, "What Were You Thinking?" During the interview, I got to talk about all the abandoned ducks I take care of at the pond. You can see them on the Critter Pics page of my website (

Between his video, and his interview - not to mention all our email exchanges - Bob's done a lot to help me along the writing road, and I'm more grateful than words can say. So I want to take this opportunity to thank Bob for all he's done to further my interests in the publishing world, and I want to ask all you readers to please suppport good writers and good writing by buying great books like Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather, both of which you can purchase at Bob will be glad you did, cause he's got thirty-nine mouths to feed!

Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Belle The Cranky Donkey

Hi folks!

Well, if it's Saturday, it must be barn day, because that's the day I volunteer out at the Healing Barn (check out their website at I'd been taking riding lessons out there for a few years when I decided that I wanted to learn more about horses than just how to ride them. So I talked to Nancy, who runs the place, and offered to scoop poop in exchange for some of her knowledge. She said, "Come out on Saturdays!" and I've been going ever since.

Turns out that's the day of the week she tells all interested parties to come. Some Saturdays, there are only two or three people. Other times, there's a veritable crowd of folks hoping to learn from Nancy. All the while, she's getting her barn cleaned for free!

Even so, I'm getting the better end of the deal: those horses are going to poop up the barn later the same day, but I'm learning things that will stay with me for a lifetime. In any case, over the course of my blogs, I'll tell you about some of the great horses out at the Healing Barn, but today I'm going to tell you about Sarah Belle.

Belle is an 8-year old donkey who started out in unfortunate circumstances. No one's quite sure what happened to her head before she came to Nancy's. Nancy is taking the high road and hoping that whatever it was was an accident (like maybe Belle got kicked by a horse), instead of someone hurting our favorite donkey on purpose.

The end result, though, is that some of the bones in Belle's face were broken, and they healed badly. You can see for yourself on the Critter Pics page of my website - the left side of her face is misshapen. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, but it's hard for her to see much out of that left eye because her swollen face gets in the way. As a result, she's a little wary about things sometimes. I would be, too, if I had trouble seeing.

Belle's previous owner wanted to breed Belle, but after the injury to her face, Belle didn't want anyone messing around behind her where she couldn't see them, and that put the kybosh on his breeding plans. So the owner called up the Tiger Guy - a man who rescues tigers, and other big cats - and told him to take Belle. Just like that! Apparently the owner figured, "If I can't use her, then feed her to the tigers." What a creep! Luckily, the Tiger Guy is a good man who doesn't like the idea of slaughtering healthy animals. He called Nancy, and the rest is history.

Apart from her appearance, there's nothing wrong with Belle. She's a perfectly good -if frequently stubborn - donkey who likes to keep me company when I'm cleaning stalls. She'll follow me right into the stall and hang around like there's room for both of us! Because I'm such a sucker for critters, I never make her leave; I just work around her.

So now Belle has a great forever home at the Healing Barn. She gets to live out her days swiping the horses' hay when they're out to pasture, and she never has to worry about someone hurting her again. She's safe and loved and cared for, and I for one have made it my mission in life to spoil her rotten. Which is how it should be!

That's it for now. Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

Friday, October 5, 2007


Hi folks!

Welcome to Kelly's Critter Talk.

In my blogs, I'll be telling you all about the great critters I know. You can see pictures of them on the Critter Pics page of my website,, and learn about them here on the blog. I can't wait to tell you about the gang of ducks down at McKinnon's Pond, the five cats I share my home with, all the horses over at The Healing Barn - not to mention the critter rescues who come and go through my life.

To learn more about me, check out my profile elsewhere on this page. It doesn't tell you much, but then again, it's not me we're talking about - it's the critters!

I hope you enjoy getting to know all my animal friends. Read on!