June 25, 2019

Al Martinez...On Everything Else: Old Martinez Had a Farm, Ee-I-Ee-I-Oh


Once upon a time in Topanga we had chickens but either coyotes or a film maker ate them, and we had goats but a dog tried to eat them, and we had a vegetable garden but gophers and deer ate it, and we had a horse but he dumped my daughter so we dumped him. And that’s the story, more or less, of living naturally up here on Broccoli Mountain.

Did I mention that the guy across the street disliked the horse, whose name was Shorty, almost as much as I did and used to shake his fist and swear at the dumb animal in German with the kind of Teutonic fury that once rallied Storm Troopers? The filmmaker on the corner hated our rooster, Henry, for crowing like mad every morning and tried to start a petition to ban roosters in Topanga. Or maybe it was our dog Hoover he disliked, who barked along with the rooster’s cockadoodledooing, raising contrapuntal animal hell at sunrise.

At any rate, Henry and his brood disappeared when we were on vacation, leaving evidence indicating that coyotes had dug under the fence and carried them away. I have always suspected that it was the filmmaker who dug under the fence and did away with the chickens, but who knows? We bought new chickens but no more roosters.

In actuality I was happy at having gotten rid of the chickens because my wife, the compassionate Cinelli, considered them pets instead of food and argued that eating one would be like fricasseeing a cat, which also sounds OK to me. You know, the other white meat?

We bought a horse for our daughter Linda because she was in high school when we moved south from the Bay Area and refused to come. I had an offer to work for the L.A. Otis Chandler Times and desperately wanted to be a part of his New Age, so we bribed her with the offer of her own horse and she became a kind of nature girl Dale Evans on Buttermilk, the horse not the drink, until she discovered boys and cars.

It was because of Linda that we bought two goats, Lucy and Melody. She had joined a 4-H Club and needed them as a club project, which she abandoned shortly after she met her future husband, Russ, who looked upon goats as something to turn on a spit and slather with meat sauce.

Linda went off to nursing school and then to Russ, leaving the animals to us. Cinelli insisted on keeping the chickens and the goats but didn’t especially want Shorty, who, startled by a rattlesnake, had thrown Linda, injuring her. Shorty was henceforth equine non grata even to Cinelli. But what to do with an unwanted horse? I suggested we sell him to a dog food company but we gave him away instead. He spent the rest of his days in a grassy pasture. Not a bad life, dude. A little sunshine, a little grass…

The topper to all of this came when Billy Preston, the famous musician, moved in down the street and his German shepherd somehow got to Lucy and tried to eat her head off. The damage was so severe that she spent the rest of her life with her tongue hanging out over the side of her mouth.

It’s tough loving something so moronic looking but we kept her and Melody too until they died of old age at which point I swore that no farm animal would ever again occupy a place on our property. I suspected that Cinelli was thinking of buying a cow in defiance of my proclamation, but I didn’t challenge it with “Either the cow goes or I go” because I knew who would win.

Thankfully she didn’t and we are living happily ever after with a dog named Sophie who doesn’t crow or over-bark plus a turtle named Turt, and three cats who sleep and eat and use the cat box and don’t give a shit what we think. I like their attitude.