It was another gorgeous morning in the barn, in part because Kimberly and I were the only ones there. We didn’t have to share the comforting sound of horses eating their breakfasts, the cool breeze or the singing birds with anyone. Kimberly and I were enjoying the solitude and quietly awaiting the possible arrival of our farrier, Ronald.
Waiting for any farrier is an existential and emotional exercise. You may, despite years of experience with delayed farriers, attempt to use your mind powers to grant your farrier a modicum of punctuality. Then the promised appointment time passes with no sign of said farrier. Your mind powers failed, and you feel insulted and hurt–then angry. “I moved around my whole morning to accommodate this shoeing!” you say to yourself. “Where could he be?” Then the thought occurs: What if he was in an accident? “Oh, dear!” you think, realizing the extent of your utter lack of compassion. Here you are, fuming over a few horseshoes while your farrier’s life hangs in the balance. Then you wonder if he’s going to be okay–maybe you’ll never see him again! “Oh, heavens!” you lament. “He was so good to the horses!”
Remember when he came out three times to replace a perfectly fitted shoe that your horse insisted on pulling off with the no-climb fence? Or that awkward mover you bought for cheap, whom your farrier helped turn into a great show horse? Or before you had lights in your barn, when you gave him a hard time for not showing up and he came right over in the dark and shod your horses by the light of his truck’s high beams? Of course, now you’re crying and feeling horribly guilty until someone informs you that your farrier is okay. In fact, he just called to say he’s running late. Then, of course, you feel stupid and have to lie about your red eyes being due to an allergy-induced sneeze attack. (It’s okay, I won’t tell anybody.)
Neither Kimberly nor I ever thought too much about Ronald’s punctuality, or lack thereof. He’s always been the best farrier we’ve used, and we’d never consider using anyone else. Well, okay–there was that time we cheated on him with another farrier, but we were living five hours away in Virginia. Naturally, our infidelity was justly rewarded; this other farrier was not so good with the horseshoes. He was, however, very punctual. I suspect he was on time because he had nothing better to do. We should have recognized that as a bad sign. There’s no way to work with more than a few horses (or horse owners) and keep a rigid schedule. Ronald is late because he’s busy, and he’s busy because he’s great at what he does. Besides, he’s always shown up immediately when we had any equine hoof- or horseshoe-related “emergencies.”
Not too long ago, Kimberly was witness to Ronald being delayed by spontaneous clientele. He arrived at a horse show close to his home base for an appointment with Kimberly and was descended upon by a mob of unfamiliar riders with alleged horseshoe emergencies. There was a myriad of requests for Ronald: more toe, pads and wedges among others. Ronald’s never said it, but I’m sure he enjoys it when people tell him how to shoe a horse. I don’t know if pads or wedges were involved, but the spontaneous clientele left with “cured horses” according to them. I’m sure Ronald just did what he usually does: a good job. So, if you have a great farrier like we do, be sure to tell him or her how great he or she is… that is, if he or she ever shows up! HA! I’m just kidding. Your farrier will be over shortly.
The gorgeous morning in the barn was interrupted, not by the usual boarder, but by a stranger with a measuring tape and a clipboard.
“Are you Rachael?” he asked, looking at Kimberly.
“Whoa!” I shouted. “Those are fightin’ words, my friend. We live here. Who are you?”
“I’m from the Big Orange Hardware Store,” he responded. “Someone named Rachael called us to measure the kitchen for a remodel.”
“She’s our landlord. She stays down the hill, not here,” Kimberly said.
“She said we were remodeling the kitchen in the big farm house,” he said. “Is there another big farm house on this property?”
“No,” I answered, stunned. “When exactly are you supposed to start on this remodel?”
“And how long will it take?” I asked.
We showed him to the kitchen and retreated back to the barn.
“Did Rachael say anything to you about this?” Kimberly asked.
“I told you about this yesterday!” asserted Rachael when I called her on my cell phone.
“I didn’t see you yesterday,” I responded, trying to keep my cool.
“Oh,” Rachael said quietly. “Then maybe I didn’t tell you. But I own the house, and besides, it’ll give you guys a fancy, new kitchen for the same rent! Seashells are very expensive.”
“Naturally,” I responded, not sure what she was talking about. “Are we paying full rent during the construction?” I asked.
“Certainly,” she stated.
“Where are we supposed to keep and make our food during this time?” I asked.
“Just order out,” Rachael responded.
“I’m going to have to call you back,” I said before hanging up on her. “Kimberly,” I said, “how do you feel about finding our own place to live–with no landlady or boarders?”
“I’m thinking,” she responded.
“Excuse me, I’m here to measure the bathrooms in the big farm house,” said another man with a measuring tape and clipboard.
“Why?” I asked.
“We’re going to remove them,” he answered.
“Oh, all right,” I said. “But why measure them if you’re just going to remove them?”
“Um,” he managed. “I don’t know, but I can find out.”
“Great!” I exclaimed. “When do you start?”
“Fantastic!” I responded. “The bathrooms are inside the house–through the side door there. Just look for the toilets.”
He smiled awkwardly and headed inside.
“Now how do you feel about moving?” I asked Kimberly.
“Let’s do it,” she said.
I called Rachael back. “You definitely didn’t mention the bathrooms.”
“Didn’t I?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “But we’re leaving, so it won’t matter. We’ll be out in three weeks. You can start your project then.”
“What about our contract?” she asked.
“No bathrooms and no kitchen hardly make for a habitable or ‘rentable’ house,” I said.
“What if I let you put the shavings pile back?” Rachael asked.
“No,” I said. “I have to go now. We’ll talk.” I hung up and turned to Kimberly. “I was intending to talk to you about us moving.”
“Before all this?” she asked.
“Yes, I think it’s time.”
“Apparently it is,” she said. “Why three weeks?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It just came out.”
Just then two of our boarders, Mike and Delores, entered the barn aisle. “Hey, you two!” said Delores. “Why do you both look so happy?”
“It’s a beautiful morning,” said Kimberly, smiling at me. “Happy horses, a cool breeze and singing birds–what’s not to be happy about?”
“That’s so great!” Delores exclaimed. “You guys are the best. We’re going to stay at this barn forever!”
“Yeah,” I said, “About that… we’re–“
“Say!” interrupted Kimberly, kicking me in the leg. “Isn’t that Ronald’s truck?”
It was Ronald’s truck–and just when I thought the morning couldn’t get any better. He took great care of the horses, as usual, and I made sure we got all of his updated contact info. I didn’t know where the family would be heading in three weeks, but I knew we’d be taking Ronald with us.
Jeremy Law and his wife, Kimberly, live on a small farm in North Carolina.