Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on July 11, 2013

We are deep in the week of the Mecosta County Fair. The usually empty open fields where the fair is held, the place that we walk out dog very early in the morning (and even let him off leash) are now packed with cars and all kinds of RVs, everything from the little pickup-truck campers and 5th-Wheelers to the huge bus-size diesel Class A types.

As we make our way through the packed lot very early in the morning, all that one can hear is the whir of air-conditioners on the camper's topsides. Far down the lane between the cars we can see people moving in slow-motion in the cool morning air, all headed for the stables and barns like some weird sci-fi movie has them in its grip. Our dog Molly stays on leash today. Too many ways to get in trouble.

As we get near the barns, it is early yet, but a lot of people are already up and standing outside, washing down their animals, mostly horses and cattle. We always have to at least look in on the pigs, dodging the exhaust air from the massive four-foot fans at the entrance. The pigs are still there, of course; we see them eyeballing us from the floor.

For those of you who don't know, moving pigs around is a science, if not an art. Pigs are more or less herded using large plywood boards call appropriately enough, "Pig Boards." Pigs run, and their keepers position themselves along the path standing behind the pig boards and try to shunt them in this direction or that until they finally vanish into whatever hole has been designated for them. Who would have thought?

And then there are the ducks, rabbits, goats, sheep, and especially the roosters at dawn. The first rays of sun are just striking their cages and they are making a helluva racket, their eyes crystal clear as they turn their heads sideways in short jerks to stare at me. I include a photo below.

But mostly we have come to see the horses. And there they are, heads hanging out of the stalls. It is almost like they are waiting for us and we them. I would not know what to do with such a large animal as a pet, but here in the cool of the morning air, their soft inquiring eyes are just too nice to resist. I see why people love horses. At least these gentle creatures are not going to be sold off to be slaughtered like some of the other animals at the fair.

And of course there are the people. This morning I am carrying a large tripod with camera and a big lens. Most of the folks up and working the animals are little more than kids. Well, actually they are in that Limbo land between kids and adults, their teen years. The girls are friendly, looking to see if I am photographing their animal. The guys are a little more distant.

They look at me like, "who is this old guy?" and try hard to look away and appear disinterested, but at the same time they are watching me. I smile and say "Hi!" and they give up that grown-up stare, their eyes betraying the teenager that they still are. Despite themselves, they smile. It is OK. This old geezer is not really that strange, after all.

"I went to the animal fair…"

[Photo from the fair.]