Margaritaville’s Jimmy Buffett—as wildly popular as he is—never had a chart-topping record until he collaborated with country star Alan Jackson. The mix of sand-in-his-sandals Buffett and 10-gallon-hat Jackson teamed for “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere,” which became a monster hit for both.
Our menagerie of farm animals don’t know what an afternoon cocktail is, but they know when it’s 5 o’clock, more or less. That’s when they hear the gravel crunching in the lane leading up to the barn. The llamas are the first to lift their heads. A beep, beep of my truck’s horn tunes up a chorus of miniature donkeys. The braying puts Maggie, our big mule, in a trot from the far corner of her pasture.
Feed-up time is my “margarita.” Especially in the worst of hectic days, I look forward to “5 o’clock” on the farm. Even if I have more work to do, a short reprieve around the barn lifts my spirits.
The animals are divided into four pastures that channel to four separate stalls in the barn. They all come running except Kickapoo. The miniature paint horse is coy to the end-of-the-day commotion. But when she shows up, in her fancy prance, the little mare welcomes a scratch behind the ears.
The exact opposite is our hard-working trio of barn cats—Rascal, Bubba and Sista. At the first beep, they race, cheetah-like, to be the first to greet me. Until Mama Cat showed up, two years ago, with her litter, I never thought I’d be a feline fan. I’ve been a dog lover, and I still am. But I admit, there’s plenty of love for the cats, too.
Mama was assigned to the storage barn, and her now-grown kittens are across the way with the menagerie. Besides being on around-the-clock mouse patrol, Rascal, Bubba and Sista are my official greeters. They roll in gravel, waiting for me to pick them up and scratch behind their ears, too.Have you ever been kissed by a llama? Oh, yeah, they’ll spit, if afraid or provoked. But Georgette is famous for her smooches. She is the grande dame of our llama herd. Get close, and she’s likely to give you a peck on the cheek. She’s the mama of Dollie Llama, Baby Llama Bean and Roscoe. Georgette doesn’t need more babies. That’s why her beau, Curious George, stays “curious” as to why he can’t go courting, three pastures over.
I mentioned our donkeys. There’s Jenny, Prissy, Charlie, Spanky, Otis, Thelma and Louise. Spanky and Otis are the spokesmen for the herd. If I’m too slow feeding them, the father-and-son duet start a screeching cry. Yep, I have spoiled the whole bunch. (Once upon a time, we had cows, goats, turkeys and chickens, too.)
The queen of the barn is Maggie, an 18-year-old mule that came to the farm as a just-weaned colt. She is red and extra tall and sports black stockings. I can’t tell you how many guests have said, “She’s the prettiest mule that I’ve ever seen.” Laugh if you will. But let Maggie snuffle an apple—with her velvet lips—from your palm, and she’ll win your heart, too.
The world is upside down right now. No matter how frustrating these times are, I don’t need a margarita. But I do thank Jimmy and Alan for reminding me that “it’s five o’clock somewhere.” Time to kick back and exhale, even if you don’t drink.
And for me, it’s time to go to the barn and commune with our critters.