Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rabbit balls, mutated hamsters and giant rats. Oh my!

The Discovery Chanel has "Shark Week", the Blog O' Cheese has "Pet Week".  It's a lot like Shark Week, only there are no metal diving cages and no one has a limb that is bitten off.... yet.

You see, one pet post did not suffice.  I can hear the masses from my windowsill, screaming for MORE as if I were Madonna and they had mistaken me for Evita... and I was in a horrible 90's movie.

My last post got me thinking about the pets I had as a child: the ones I loved, the ones I despised, the ones that are now shoe-boxed and rotting.  While contemplating my pet history, I became increasingly amused by how truly bizarre my family's pet portfolio had become.  Let's take a brief stroll down memory lane...

WARNING: Do not read this if you are a rabbit lover.

1. Cats.
The very first pet I can ever remember owning as a child was a large gray oaf-of-a-cat named "Nickel". Nickel was an outside cat with big bones and a bad case of high cholesterol.  She spent her days roaming the backyard, looking aloof and hoping we would not try to pet her.  The mice she killed did not outnumber the hearts she captured (a zero to zero ratio).

Nickel died when I was 8.  We buried her in the back.  My parents bought another cat and allowed the kids to name it.  We went with "Nickel".  When Nickel 2 ran away, we bought another cat and named it "Nickel 3".  None of the Nickel's looked alike, but by naming each cat Nickel we were honoring the last cat's legacy; a legacy that we did not really give a hoot about to begin with.

Some people have their dead cats stuffed, put in a pet cemetery or bronzed and placed on their chimney to honor their memory.  We simply named them all "Nickel".

2. Turtle
My younger brother got a box turtle for his birthday when he was ten or so.  By the time he was ten and three months, the entire upper floor of our home smelled like rancid zoo diarrhea. My mom - who is also a teacher - then took the turtle to school and her classroom began to stink like rancid zoo diarrhea.  The turtle found a new, loving home with some unsuspecting child and parents who evidently like the smell of rancid zoo diarrhea.  (This scent is made mildly better by a well placed snowcone shack.)

3. The hamsters.
At the age of 12, my neighbors had hamsters that loved to mate.  I am not sure if they liked to mate more than other hamsters but I am sure that they always had baby hamsters.  I believe the massive mating the hamsters and the hamster babies were a cause and effect relationship.  (I am not sure about this though, because in 6th grade I did not attend the hamster maturation program.)

Upon begging for the 307th time, my mother finally relented and allowed me to get two hamsters.  As part of the deal,  I would have to buy my own cage and care for them myself.  Not a big deal.  I made a cage out of some old jagged wire and boards behind our shed, shredded some old newspaper, plopped a couple carrots in and then ignored the stupid rodents for a full week.

Apparently, in order for hamsters to remain friendly, fluffy and adorable, they need constant affection and human touch.  I gave them neither.

One Sunday morning, I looked in my homemade hamster torture chamber and realized one hamster was dead and the other was hovering over it's body - looking a lot like a Marc Anthony had shrunk to near nothingness and then been possessed by Satan.

The hamsters had mutated into little, fur-less ribcages of evil.   Honestly, I was just talking to my mom about these hamsters and she shuttered at the very thought of their red, soulless eyes radiating through your core.

I got rid of the other hamster. (I will not go into "how".)  To this day, I think it was plodding my death.

4. The chickens
I have always been a city kid.  Actually, I am not sure if where I grew up would qualify as "the city" or "the suburbs", but I believe it was much more city than suburb.

We lived within 8 minutes of downtown and no one I knew called driving to work "commuting".  For many in our neighborhood, getting to work involved rolling up one pant leg and tossing your tie over your shoulder.  While it was not a bad neighborhood, no one left their front door unlocked and the mailman actually walked from house to house.  It was the city and, for this reason, my siblings and I were shocked when my dad came home one day with five full grown chickens in the back seat of his Honda Accord.

Dad has always been much better than I at handiness and wood work.  He made a lovely coup out of boards and chicken wire and propped it against the inside window of our one car garage.

As is the case with many city boys, I was a spoiled kid.  I remember complaining when I was asked to go collect eggs in the dead of winter.  The 20 yards from the back door to the garage seemed like a mile of hell when you are a lazy 14-year-old and it is 12 degrees outside.  Meanwhile, country kids all over the world were getting up at 4:00 in the morning and fixing fences in snow drifts taller than my head.

Alas, the chicken food in the garage drew the attention of rats the size of our Nickel's and it wasn't long before our city chickens went the way of the nugget.

I shot the rats with my BB gun.

5. The rabbits
I know what you are thinking: How could owning rabbits be anything but fun and enchanting for you and your little brothers and sisters?

Have you ever seen a headless rabbit's body flop around your backyard while your dad holds an axe in his blood drenched hand?  The answer would only be yes if you are my sister or one of my brothers.  (Or, if you live in Kentucky.)

It's not that I cared much for our stupid rabbits anyway; they pretty much stayed to themselves in some old wooden crates that dad had converted into cages. Sometimes we would get them out and let them hop around the grass like it was their own little Easter parade of death.  Occasionally we would place them at the top of a slide and watch as they squirmed down the molten lava-hot metal.  Most of the time they stayed locked in their pens, relegated to a life of eating, pooping and staring at the ground through the ridged wires.

We did not raise rabbits for the fluffy, virtuous camaraderie they offered.  We raised them to be food. Food on our plates.  Food in our bellies.

Once dad's nightmarish flocculent massacres had ended, mom would clean the remaining meat and make her most famous recipe in all the land: rabbit balls. 

Once again, please remember that we did not live in Alabama.  We lived in the city.  Salt Lake City. 

Making rabbit balls involved rolling the backyard meat in a breaded crust the size of a snowball and then baking until juicy and warm.

It actually wasn't that bad.  In fact, it tasted A LOT like chicken.  The funny thing is that our chickens tasted A LOT like rabbit.

Now, despite their quirky tendency for harshly dealing with disobedient backyard rabbits and then feeding them to their children,  my parents are amazingly awesome.  Besides the turtles, cats and cat-sized rats, we also owned a dog, fish of every variety and a flocked Christmas tree with just over 11 fake turtle doves adorning it's branches. 

It wasn't that I didn't want to love the pets of my youth, it was just that it was so darned hard to love them.  It just seemed like they were always mutating, eating each other or urinating on my pillow.  It wasn't exactly "Old Yeller".

Certainly, your perspective changes towards your pets once you have eaten one of them.  Especially if the pet is tasty.  On second thought... maybe I SHOULD get my boys a couple of rabbits...

59 comments:

Kristina P. said...

So, the hamsters mated like rabbits?

We only had dogs. And they always followed their dreams to live with Mr. Rogers. That's when I had an inkling my parents were liars.

Mamma has spoken said...

Hum, you have something against KY uh? Truth is we eat WILD rabbits not pet rabbits ;o) There is a difference between the farm animals and pets.
But being from KY I have had some interesting pets including several dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, sheep, squirrels, possums, frogs, fish, turtles. AND I can say, we never ate ANY of these previously mention pets.

DeNae said...

What number, exactly, is "just over 11"? I ask merely for information.

And my aunt had cats. And then she had bunnies.

And then the cats had bunnies. With gravy.

Saimi said...

You are not pet worthy. My advise is for your family to stay away from furry creatures unless you visit a zoo or petting farm.

Just so you know, you have ruined any chance that your poor little children could ever know the joy in loving an animal

Hope you can sleep at night! HA! :)

MiMi said...

We had these cats that were of a bad name. Bud.
And then he died so we got Bud 2.
And he died and we got Bud Jr.
We were creative.

FabuLeslie said...

Rodents as pets is a concept that has never made sense to me and has always creeped me out. But even more so after I had to 'babysit' for my sister's hamster, which escaped from its cage and tormented me with scratching and other nocturnal activity all night in my bedroom while I was trying to sleep with my covers up to my eyeballs, which were twitching back and forth, convinced the little bugger was gonna jump up on my bed and attack me with its nasty claws and buck teeth. eewwww! It got what it deserved, though... the cat must have gotten it because I woke up to it dead on the kitchen floor already stiff. Eeeeewwww! That cat's name was Manfred. I loved that cat.

P.S. After I read your line about your cat having high cholesterol, all I can think about is Olive's blood and whether or not its running smoothly with low enough levels of cholesterol!

McKenzie said...

Haha that is an interesting list of explanations of your previously owned animals! I think I've owned a couple cats, some guinea pigs, a few dogs, tons of fish, a turtle, a couple pigs, and a number of horses.

Kelley said...

I fluctuated from laughing out loud to crying during this post! At one point, I was craughing & then lrying (pronounced ler-yighing). The conversations those pets must've had! If your pets were able to speak like the toys in Toy Story, it would've sounded like they were reading the script of a horror movie. Those poor hamsters! And, rabbit balls? I can hardly stand it! LOL! That reminds me of a tapioca pudding/drink place near my house called "Chewy Balls". Ew.

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

Oh. my. Lord! We've had ONE dog that died (we didn't eat it). But I am convinced, after reading this, I'm never - do you hear me? - NEVER getting any other kind of pets in this household!! Specially, hamsters. Your discription gave me chills. And good thing you din't get attached to the pets, especially the rabbits, otherwise you might be writing a differnet type of blog altogether.

The Invisible Seductress said...

I am shocked!!!!!

No Sea Monkeys!!! For shame!!

laughing....

The Church Lady said...

You certainly had your fair share of hares, oops, I mean pets!

So, why not give your boys the same great memories of owning a variety of pets?

Cherie said...

I just have to say "Ewwww Hamsters" they stink!
So do rabbits.

No dogs huh?

Joann Mannix said...

When you said your mom's specialty was rabbit balls, I was like, Wow, Cheeseboy's family were imaginative with their naming skills, city farmers AND adventurous eaters! Rabbit balls, I was thinking something completely different.

I was actually a country girl who raised cows from sweet little calves into thick, juicy steaks, so I don't even bat an eye over killing pets for our gourmet enjoyment.

But rodents of any kind? That is where this country girl starts squealing her brains out.

And do not even talk to me about mating like crazy, Cheeseboy. We're up to 18 duck eggs. 18 duck eggs that are sitting in an incubator and those ducks are the randiest creatures I have ever encountered. If these eggs start to hatch after their 40 something days, I am packing my bags and not telling a soul where I am. Hint--there will be no animals there.

Nicole said...

OMG... you are a .. as one of my co-workers would say, "A hot mess."

Umm.. I am thinking pets are OUT of the question for you. I only hope Vegan Outreach and Peta do not happen upon your posts. LOL

middle child said...

You sound like the kinda guy who would totally enjoy the Annual Turkey Testicle Festival in our neighboring town.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

I had pet mice once when I was a kid. They're pretty cool and in what might be a bonus as far as your concerned.. they don't seem to live very long.

Connie said...

Nickels aren't very lucky!
I chuckled at the thought of your Dad bringing home 4 full grown chickens in the back of the Honda.
We have had just about every kind of pet too. I'd beg as a child to have a dog/cat/bird and my mom would finally allow it. Then I'd get tired of them and they'd end up the way your hamsters did!

W.C.Camp said...

I was thinking at the rate you were going, with a couple more nickels, you could have named your 5th cat 'TWO BITS'! We ate our chicken's eggs but even after I had to leave the chicken, we found a farm who would let it run free with orders to NOT eat it since it was previously our pet. Sometime thereafter, it died of natural causes - a coyote ate it on the free range! W.C.C.

The Time of Our Lives said...

I am in the same boat my friend. I had pets as a child but was never very successful at it. Now I know it is because I am just not the pet kind of person. However, I felt obligated to get them for my kids. Again, not so successful. Bunny, dead in the cage. Gave away two birds, two lizards, and two chickens. I kid you not. If Noah had seen me coming, he would have stopped me on the shore and said,"No way are you getting on this ark!" By the way, we also have two small dogs... I don't want them either.
Some people just aren't built for pets.

Jenn said...

The Nickle story was right out of the Simpson's...NICE!! Though I probably should have stopped there.. the hamster story and of course the rabbit story sort of freaked me out... I have to go now..... :)

Terresa said...

Cats make me break out in hives. Invisible hives.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Rabbit is actually quite tasty. I also think you should NEVER have pets again. LOL!

Mikki said...

Gee, I wouldn't even want to be one of your pets! poor little critters! LOL
My uncle raised rabbits for the same reason. Let me tell ya, my grandma knew how to cook rabbit! Rabbit balls though? I'm not sure I could make it past the name.

It definitely sounds like there isn't the right animal out there for your family.

Powdered Toast Man said...

I bet that one evil hamster killed the other one cuz it was gonna rat him out about your death plot.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe your rabbits and chickens were mating and mutating, thus the conflicting tastes.

baygirl32 said...

My father had pet turkeys once, named Christmas Dinner, Boxing Day and Easter, but we were too stunned to put two and two togeather when they started to slowly "escape" one at a time.

Dave said...

The cat we had growing up, Gertie, was the anti-Nickel. She was quite the hunter in her prime. We would often watch through the sliding glass door as she brought mice and other rodents to the back patio to "play." She loved to toy with them for a while before unexpectedly biting their heads off. It wasn't an uncommon site to find little rodent kidneys and entrails scattered about the patio.

Pearl said...

Oooooh. You just made me remember my brother's chameleons.

Poor little things. May they rest in peace.

Pearl

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

I can't believe it. I am not making this up, Cheeseboy. Our very first pet was a black lab named NICKEL!!! My dad gave him away, without warning us, claiming we weren't taking good care of him. I missed Nickel. Sorry you lost your Nickel too.
xoRobyn

Marlene said...

We had FOUR cats in succession while I was growing up. They were all named Rusty.

Together We Save said...

Well.... I have to say I try not to eat any pets but someone micht have once loved the sweet little animal I got my bacon from this morning.... I just choose not to think about it.

Marnie said...

My father grew up with several dogs named Buster. Why ruin a good thing?

Lourie said...

We had cats, a dog, fish, and crayfish. Oh and I had rats. I don't know how I stood them. I have seen chickens meet their end. It's a lot like a rabbit. And it coins the phrase: Running around like a chicken with its head cut off!

Emmy said...

That last paragraph is just wrong! And yes, you had quite the experience with pets growing up

Hart Johnson said...

You poor demented boy! No wonder you don't want pets. You were never taught the first CLUE what pet ownership is! I think it's possible you should start with a sock monkey--hug it several times a day, talk to it, put fresh water in a dish, let it sleep on your pillow. When you've mastered the sock monkey, maybe go with a goldfish, but buy it from the 'feederfish' section of the pet store--you want something that would have an even SHORTER lifespan if it went home with somebody else.

T said...

Haha, we had rabbits and named them all Thumper... until my dog Cookie ate a few Thumpers and then "ran away"...

I may have been upset at the time... who knows. I got over it!

Flore said...

I love Nickel, Nickel 2, Nickel 3 ! I should keep that idea if one day I have pets ... (hard to have pets when you're allergic)

mintifresh said...

Our neighbors started harvesting wild rabbits from his parent's neighborhood where there happened to be an infestation. He thought they could make pets out of them. When he realized that wouldn't happen they killed them and stuffed their freezer full of them.
One night, they wanted to have dinner with us and the plan was Hawaiian haystacks-you know, rice chicken in gravy on top with all sorts of veggies and chinese chow mein noodles. They brought the chicken and gravy and I kept thinking, I guess they used chicken thighs or something since it was dark meat. halfway through the meal it came out that it was one of those rabbits. I thought my husband was going to stab one of them with a fork! I thought it was fine, if they hadn't said anything I would not have known! But my husband fears ever eating anything from them again. Who knows? Maybe next time it will be crazy hamster they try to feed us!

Missy said...

You poor guy! No wonder you are anti-pet! You need therapy!!! LOL
KY rabbits are somewhat wild...

Janelle said...

Thinking of rabbit balls makes me both hungry and nauseous at the same time.
We were never allowed to develop much of a relationship with our pets as a kid, they all "ran away" by the time we got home from school. One time we had a dog reposessed cause my parents couldn't pay the pet shop anymore!

M-Cat said...

I am more than slightly nauseated at the thought of rabbit balls. And the bloody axe is your daddy's hand.

Please tell me that your dogs didn't meet the same fate.

SueLovesCherries said...

You will be getting a surprise in your mailbox in a few days . . . ;)

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Yes, as owners of 3 turtles, I know that smell. Which is why we have 2 filters in the tank and change the filter things EVERY week! That is the worst smell ever!

Corrina Terry said...

You are bringing back ALL kinds of pet memories for me now! (Good and sad.) Funny blog post!!!!!

jayayceeblog said...

Do you suppose if you add up all your Nickels you'd be up to a Quarter yet? My first dog was named Penny. And I saw my Great-Grandma wring the neck off a chicken in her back yard where it proceeded to "run around like a chicken with its head cut off" -- which it was. I'm surprised that didn't scar me for life. And I don't even want to think about rabbit balls!

natalee said...

LOL!!! I LOVE PET WEEK AT THE BLOG O CHEESE!!!!! Lol my fav.. the names.... Nickel 1,2,3....

RosieC said...

Love the pic! :)

"The mice she killed did not outnumber the hearts she captured (a zero to zero ratio)." <3 !!!

I'm pretty sure I will have nightmares tonight about evil, Satanic hamsters...

Copyboy said...

So jealous you had chickens. Those eggs must've tasted something special. Much better than when you converted 'em into nuggets. BTW...what was your total rat kill?

Gerb said...

I'm with you on pets. We did actually have a bird who lived much longer than I thought possible - but I was not sad when he went to birdie heaven. I just buy my kids Webkinz now and we call it good.

Pat said...

I think we should alert all the pet shelters in your STATE about you. You and pets do not mix - like oil and water, like good and evil (you being the evil part). Yowser!

Mary said...

I had a dog from age 2-16...he was my best-good friend, and I cried when he had to be put down. But, we never ate dog...so I can see how my view towards animals is different than yours :o)

(p.s. I'm one of those freaks that had my last dog cremated...but I've always seen dogs as one of the family.)

Krista said...

Oh MY HANNAH! I am in stitches! Nickel 1, 2 and infinity and beyond? That is funny! Did you ever see the video of my little one digging up her dead hamster? We had a Mark 2, Mark 3, etc. We had hermit crabs. One crawled out of it's shell. Traumatizing. It was like...naked. And dead.

Krista said...

I thought your one commentator said they flatuated when they read your post! Wow! It must be late!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I am having sudden flashbacks to a really weird French movie I had to watch for class. Let's just say, I've seen a rabbit killed by bare hands... on film.

We never really had pets growing up. My parents didn't like them. I think we had a cat once though.

I guess my parents did have goats for a while. We kept all the girls for their milk and ate the boys.

Teachinfourth said...

Had goats: http://teachinfourth.blogspot.com/2010/06/in-regard-to-goats.html

and we also had rabbits. I also watched the butchering process with live rabbits hung by their back legs from the tree we climbed on. My dad and uncle went to town and all of our 'pets' we ate for dinner over the next few nights.

Thanks for bringing back the childhood trauma...

Baby Sister said...

Poor rabbits...

DEZMOND said...

That's the cutest rat picture I've ever seen!

Sandra said...

Well you could try the bunny route...only don't eat these. See how that works out for you.

Katie said...

WOW! Ok...um...thanks for the follow! I'm following you back...and well...um...WOW!

(We had cats, dogs and chickens...our chickens have all become nuggets through the years...)