Animals are often the subject matter of the art that I make. I have a definite affinity for barnyard animals because they were like playmates of mine growing up in Greenfield, Indiana. I played with the horses and cows specifically, we didn’t really have any “next door” neighbors, but we did have cows and horses next door. Our house sat on a hill in the middle of a cow pasture, my parents actually bought the land from a cattle farmer and built the house right in the middle of one of his fields. My brother and sister and I learned many life lessons living in the middle of a Pasteur. When we saw the cows “doing it” out the kitchen window, my mom would tell us they were fighting or dancing and then shoo us away from the window. My sister leaned to lick her nose with her tongue like the cows next door and I saw my first “hoo-ha” proudly displayed on the little pony in the field next to our house and I was extremely surprised how small a real boy’s “hoo-ha” was compared to that horse!
I saw “my” cows every morning and evening as the school bus drove us noisy farm kids through the countryside, back and forth to school. My grandpa Perkinson raised Charlette cattle on our farm outside Madison, Indiana. My brother, sister and I often accompanied my grandpa to cattle auctions and were privy to many conversations about “cow matters” between my grandpa and the other cattle farmers.
My favorite bovine memory was one, snowy, winter morning as we were watching for the school bus out of our frosty living room window and a cow (from the field next door) walked up to the window and pushed his big pink nose against the glass to look in at us. ” The cow is looking in the window at us!” I yelled at my mother. She didn’t really believe what I was saying till she came into the living room and saw our big white neighbor staring in. The snow had drifted so high the night before that the cows were able to walk “over” the fence and into our yard. The whole herd was in our front yard using our fir trees and shrubs to scratch their bellies. The farmer had to replace all of our trees and shrubs.
I used to groom and ride the horse next door, which is no small feat since the horse was wild. I rode her bareback around the field until she decided that I should get off! As I was riding her through the field, I knew I had overstayed my welcome when she came to a screeching halt and refused to move any more, I dismounted and she trotted away.
I remember trying to get on the horse, jumping off the fence, missing her back and landing on the other side of her. Some of my best childhood memories are of myself and that horse. In a needle felting frenzy, I needle felted barnyard animal masks for Halloween for the last six days straight, the whole time remembering my childhood and the (mostly) four legged friends that I shared it with. I had pet ducks growing up (two legged friends) but I found a bird mask is weird looking with the eyes in the front. I lined all the masks with cotton gingham so they’re not scratchy when you put them on. I think my family and I will go as farm animals this year for Halloween! More masks to come…..