Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Floppy-Ears & Bubba

Let me tell you about the Fryeburg Fair. It’s a decent place to be, but a hideous place to get to.

As I told you yesterday, we were in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for our vacation. The town of Fryeburg is in Maine. We decided that it might be enjoyable to immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of their annual county fair. It seemed like a nice vacationy thing to do. So we set off on the 90-mile ride to Fryeburg.

It was a pleasant enough ride for the first 75 miles or so. Once we hit Conway, however, it turned into a vehicular nightmare.

If you’re familiar with New England and its tourist destinations, you know that getting anywhere near North Conway will set you up for sitting in traffic for a long while. And I knew that fact. I was expecting to perhaps hit a slight bit of congestion, but I also knew that with a final destination of Fryeburg it might not be too unbearable. At Conway, the road to North Conway splits off from the road to Fryeburg. I figured once we were past Conway it would be clear sailing. I had been to Fryeburg a couple of times in the past and I always flew through it.

What I failed to take into account was that the damn fair wasn’t going on when I had previously driven through the town. Add that to it being foliage season, and the road to the fair being a one-lane road for ten miles, and that not only were people going TO North Conway to vacation, but vacationers were also driving FROM North Conway to go to the fair…

Suffice to say the final fifteen miles were not pleasant.

(MY WIFE would like me to add, however, that the company was wonderful.)

It took us three-and-a-half hours to make 89 miles. I say “89”, and not “90”, because we parked about a mile from the actual fairgrounds and walked the rest of the way. This means we also walked back to the car afterward. Additionally, there was a lot of walking around from one thing to another on the grounds themselves. I didn’t take home any stuffed animals, but I transported two nice blisters on my left heel to our hotel that evening.

Live and learn, I guess. Had I any idea that the traffic would be so horrendous – that is, if I used my brains and thought about it a bit – I don’t believe we would have undertaken the journey. I mean, it's nice to walk around the fairgrounds and notice that you're the fittest specimen there, which makes you feel a whole lot better about eating those two sausages with peppers and onions, but probably not worth as much aggravation as the drive brought us.

Then again, you see some things at the Fryeburg Fair that you wouldn’t see if you stayed in Portsmouth. Bubba, for instance.

Photography being what it is, and MY photography being even more so, Bubba is not represented here in all of his ginormous glory. His ass stood about seven feet tall. Here is the sign that stood just outside of Bubba’s stall.

That is one huge pot roast. And Bubba must have sensed my preference for tasty meats. He never took his eyes off of me. And he spoke to me in threatening tones. His vocalizations were not the friendly sort of moo one might hear from Daisy the dairy cow. Bubba possessed a bovine voice about two octaves lower, but infinitely more menacing, than James Earl Jones. This won’t do it justice, but I have no good idea of how to recreate Bubba’s voice in print, so here’s my best approximation:


I had never before heard a farm animal growl, let alone with such force that it would have blown my hair back if I had any.

Bubba was securely chained to the stall, but happy 1930’s theatergoers had been assured that King Kong was securely chained, too, and I remember what happened in that movie. I pictured Bubba breaking loose, grabbing MY WIFE in his massive jaws, and climbing the Ferris Wheel while being shot at from the airplanes on the kiddie ride. If they were able to bring him down, the rent-a-cops would say…

“Well, the planes finally got him!”

To which I would have had to reply…

“It wasn’t the planes. It was beauty killed the beef.”

After my encounter with Bubba, I decided that I’d like to view some friendlier (and smaller) livestock. I wandered over to the goat barn.

I think goats have always been underrated. We are perpetually shown cantankerous old billy goats in cartoons, eating tin cans and headbutting people in the ass, but I’ve yet to meet a goat I didn’t like. Admittedly, having lived in Boston and environs my entire life, my experiences have been limited. The few times I have met them, though, they’ve seemed to me to be charming creatures given a bad rap.

When I first saw her (I know it was a “her” because there was a small sign informing me that goat butter and goat cheese could be purchased) she was eating the paint from the rail of her pen. I thought that was rather clichéd and would feed into the stereotypes. She seemed like a nice goat, and I didn’t want folks to think her parents didn’t raise their kids right. I approached and said, “Oh, come on, you don’t really want to be eating paint, do you?”

As I said it, I reached out to pet her. She stopped chewing the paint and hungrily licked my forearm. I jumped about two feet sideways.

A lady standing next to me said, “You shouldn’t have scared him!”

I said, “I didn’t mean to!”

She replied, “Oh, I wasn’t talking to you! I was talking to the goat!”

I now realized that my arm must have seemed a nice treat, being a bit sweaty and salty from the heat of the day. She wasn’t going to bite me. She just wanted to lick me (and even though I haven’t solicited such services from outside of my own species too often, it was nice of her to offer.) Somewhat red in the face, I gathered up what tatters remained of my courage and dignity and once again approached the goat. Being careful to keep my arm out of mouth’s reach, I skritched her on the head. She seemed to enjoy that. And she was so damned cute, I decided to take the photo up above. After taking it, I figured I owed her something for doing me the favor of posing in such a beguiling way, so I stuck out my arm and said, “Go ahead. Have a lick.”

She licked my forearm four or five times before I pulled it away from her. I figured it was probably provident to do so before she got the thought into her head that there might be even more salty goodness under the surface of my skin and maybe a little nip would release it.

MY WIFE, who did not accompany me to the goat barn, did not seem overly jealous when I told her of the attentions paid to me by my floppy-eared pal. If she had gone unattended to Bubba’s stall and returned with a similar tale, I’m not sure I would have been as magnanimous.

Soon, with moorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr better stuff.


Craig said...

Bubba thought you were a medieval Spanish Muslim?

And, uh, I might leave the goat cheese alone, if I were you. Lead poisoning, and all that. . .

(*rolling eyes*)

Suldog said...

Craig - Honest to God, that's what it sounded like. It truly sounded as though he was growling along with mooing. It was almost terrifying.

joeh said...

“It wasn’t the planes. It was beauty killed the beef.”

A long way to go for a bad pun...and yet I am still chortling over it. (I laughed at the goat story, chortling is for puns!)

Uncle Skip, said...

Little goats (kids) are fun to watch. Oxen not so much.

I forgot (probably because you were on vacation) to tell you my oldest sister (who is still ten years younger than me) was back your way last week. She and her husband, my brother-in-law, were in New Hampshire watching my nephew climb rocks (among other things).

messymimi said...

It's the fact that they grow up to be pot roast that makes them so cranky, i think.

Female goats are cute. Baby goats are cute. Big, male goats in rut stink, i promise.

Jackie said...

"(MY WIFE would like me to add, however, that the company was wonderful.)"
Love her! She's terrific!!
I have jumping, and the goat snickering.
I enlarged the photo of the ox; he is a big fella! To see one towering over one's head must have been incredible. So glad you and your wife had a good time at the fair.

Jenny Woolf said...

Sounds as if the fair was worth the drive, just for the experience. I was intrigued by the goat. I still can't believe those are its ears. I thought at first it had curly ears like a cocker spaniel, but then when I looked closer they resembled FISH.

I will take your word for it if they were not fish, of course. After all you were there and I was not.

Karen said...

Cows scare the crap outta me. We always encounter some while we're hunting, and I know they're more afraid of me than I am of them, but they're so BIG. I wouldn't want to meet Bubba out on the range.

Michelle H. said...

I'm thinking that if Bubba and the female goat got together, the goat would win.

Good to see you are fratenizing(sic)with livestock. They can be a lively bunch. But truth be told, I wouldn't stick out my arm to be a salt lick for any farm animal, and I raised them as a kid.

Barbara Shallue said...

You don't give your photography enough credit - I can see that Bubba is HUGE and that goat is precious! So sweet of you to let her lick your arm again. Glad y'all had fun despite the traffic and blisters!

Daryl said...

... you know in some states you could get arrested for what you and that goat did ;)

Buck said...

Shit. joeh beat me to it... the bit about beauty killing the beef.


Suldog said...

Daryl - No doubt. She solicited ME, though :-)

Ami said...

You drove all that way to look up the backside of an ox?

Interesting. I'm sure it speaks volumes about you, too.

When my children were young, we went to a family goat farm. The kids were newborns, and being bottle fed by the family. The mother goat did not take kindly to having her kids being fed by my kids. And when my daughter, all of about five years old got close enough, Mama goat butted her in the stomach and knocked her on her little butt.

She was fine.

The goat's owner was SHOCKED. She said in 8 years of owning that goat, it had never butted anyone.

There is no moral to this story. And no pun.
You're welcome.

Stephen Hayes said...

Did Bubba belong to Mrs. O'Leary because he looks like he'd like to kick over a lamp and set the place on fire?

Jimmy said...

“Oh, I wasn’t talking to you! I was talking to the goat!” This sounds exactly like something that would happen to us Ha Ha

I love the county fairs the experiences you get there are like no other, and speaking of that Bubba growling like that would have definitely gotten my attention.

I was proud to see you mention the wonderful company you had on your trip..Smart Man I say.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Now that is a lot of beef!! Wow! He is a beauty though!
And I liked your goat...what a cutie!
Glad you had fun and that you are in good shape...or that return one mile trip would have been awful!!! Ha

Matt Conlon said...

You know, faires where they have animals on display always make me think of times long ago where people lived in small villages tending to animals and crops and what not.

I am a stereotypical geek, fascinated with medieval fantasy stories. I like to imagine what life would have been like in the 15th century when dealing with such animals was a daily thing.

Granted, I probably would be at the end of my lifespan by the age I am now, if I were in the minority who lived past 20, but sometimes I think a life of tending to critters like that would have been far simpler. No conference calls, no commuting, far less regulation and such. (more disease, higher mortality rate, shorter life span and all too, but we don't think about those things in our daydreams, thankyouverymuch.)

Much less dealings with humans, save for the tax collectors, I guess...

Being a computer guy today, I always wonder what I'd have been back then and inevitably I come to either blacksmith or something.

I have never been to that faire, but I have been to the one in Topsfield, and what I remember the most about that place was that it took for EVER to get to, within the last four miles of the trip.

lime said...

traffic notwithstanding it sounds like it was a nice day. certainly provoking great fantasies of steaks, roasts and burgers if nothing else!

the animal scene makes me think of the living historical farm near us. when the kids were quite small we went for the annual spring animal frolic where all the baby animals are on display and available for petting. my daughter was about 5 and was petting a calf. it decided her fingers looked sufficiently like udders as to be interesting to suck. my daughter giggled as the calf sucked first a couple fingers then half her hand. the cuteness of the calf and a giggling redheaded 5 yr old girl attracted much attention form the citified folk who enjoyed watching this adorable scene play out. when my daughter wanted her hand back she wans't sure how to extract it from the calf's mouth. we assured her she could just tug it out gently and it wouldn't hurt either her or the calf. she did so and found a large arc of calf spit sagging from her hand to the calf's mouth. she asked what to do. we told her to wipe it on the grass or her jeans (we were all dressed for a day of getting dirty on the farm). she opted for her jeans due to the greater absorbency of denim over grass. the watching city folk let out a collective gag. they found that piece of the picture less than charming....but it was part of our entertainment.

DJ Big Mick said...

Dude, did you lose my number? You were in Portsmouth and didn't call me? I work in downtown Portsmouth and could have given you any number of pointers on things to do and what routes to avoid going to the fair... if you'd only called!

Suldog said...

DJ - I'm an idiot. You know what? As mean as this is to say, you never entered my mind. That's a problem with my mind, of course, and not with you.

Believe me, had I thought of you, I would have gladly asked you some questions. We could have shared a brew or something, maybe a meal. Next time we're up there, for sure.

Maggie May said...

The goat looked really cute and I can't resist stroking them when I get to a farm or anything.
I think you were much more likely to have your shirt sleeve ripped than your skin!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Hilary said...

Aww what a cutie, that goat. Your photography is just fine.. those are two impressive critters. And I'm still snorting over "It was beauty killed the beef.”