Doc, bribing the old batch

Doc, bribing the old batch

Are you acquainted with the term “batching it”? I associate it with the old west, where there were few single women. Lots of single men out this way (miners, cowboys and the like) had to take care of their own household affairs. In letters written in 1896, my great-grandmother (who was 24, single and teaching school in Elk City, Idaho) referred to the unmarried men who vied for her attention as “old batches.”

There’s been a lot of batching at our place lately. My husband and I have been doing a weird tag team event, trading off trips to the other side of the state. Last week I looked for houses 300 miles away; this week it’s his turn. You know what that means- -the one at home is responsible for 4 cats and a dog.

Reliable sitters are hard to come by in our very rural area, which is part of why we’re trying to move. We’ve been burned more than once (wild parties, burglary, etc.) and we’re to the point where we won’t leave for a trip together unless one of the two sitters we trust is available. These wonderful people are in high demand- -they even have lives of their own! Right now, I’m the old batch, holding down the fort and covering Bruce’s domestic chores in addition to my own.

How hard can it be, you’re wondering? I won’t whine about having to cook for myself and roll the garbage can to the road on pick-up day, those are relatively painless activities. It boils down to the pets. Believe it or not, they’re spoiled.

All feeding routines are custom-tailored (for example, the feral cat gets lunch whereas the others get breakfast and dinner only). The dog and two of the cats have supervised exercise times every morning. When we all go into the fenced back yard, special barricades are put up to keep Hoosegow, the youngest cat, from escaping. But if Piebald, the feral cat, is on the other side of the fence . . . his rusty howling could make anyone feel guilty.

Bedtime is also a varied program. You must begin the chain of rituals at 8 PM or everyone gets edgy. Doc, our dachshund-beagle mix, receives ¼ sheet of American cheese crammed into a cow hoof and must be told “Dog, go to bed” before he’ll ascend to his favorite armchair. Hoosegow is served dinner and sequestered in the office so he won’t escape. The tuxedo cats, one feral and one tame, are paged from the back yard and fed on the laundry porch. Grizelda, the only girl in the herd, gets fed in the master bedroom and sleeps with us.

When we’re both at home we share pet care, but doing this solo takes half the day. No wonder our two trusted sitters are busy sometimes! A friend recently posted in Facebook, “Are you owned by a rescue animal?” Yes, thank you, I’m owned by 5 rescue animals! But you know what? I wouldn’t trade them for the world. After all, it can get pretty lonely when you’re batching it.

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