Friday, February 11, 2011

... saw a cow walking around with a monkey sprawled out on the cow's back ...

We had dogs and cats at the farm all the time.  Occasionally one of us young'uns would end up with a white mouse, hamster, parakeet, or another animal.  

The most unusual animal we had was Mono, our monkey.  Mono was not a petting animal.  He considered himself at least an equal to (if not better than) any of us.  Pet?  Hug?  Hold?  Forget it!  It wasn't that Mono was afraid of people.  He just did not consider himself a pet.

Mono enjoyed pulling up Daddy's vegetables that were growing in his garden.  Up and over the fence he'd go, pulling up vegetables every day.  Daddy decided to take care of that problem.  He added an electric wire on the fence.  The next day, Daddy heard a chattering in the garden and sure enough, Mono was in the garden, had pulled up some vegetables, and was scolding Daddy, clearly telling him to open that gate and let him out.  It didn't take long to figure out that the monkey was simply climbing up a tree, going out on a limb that grew over the garden, and dropped into the garden.  There was a simple cure to that one too.  The limb was removed from the tree.  Problem solved!  Or so Daddy thought.  But sure enough, before long, Daddy heard Mono chattering in the garden again, demanding to be let out.  It took a little while to figure that one out.  Day after day, Mono would be in the garden, demanding to be let out again.  Eventually Daddy saw Mono's little trick to enter the protected garden.  Mono had a favorite cow he liked.  He'd climb up on a fence (not the electric one) and wait for her to wander by.  When she came within reach, Mono would simply jump over on her back.  The sight of a cow walking around with a monkey sprawled out on the cow's back caught people's attention when they came to the farm.  They'd rub their eyes and look again, not believing what they saw.  This tickled Daddy to no end, answering the questions people asked, doubting their own eyesight, sanity, or both.  Mono would ride the cow for a long time as she wandered here and there.  Mono was patient.  He simply waited for the right moment.  Sure enough, sooner or later she'd wander by the garden and with one leap, Mono was over the electric fence and into the garden again.  After pulling up some of Daddy's vegetables, he'd once again start his chattering, demanding to be let back out of the garden.

Although Mono had his special treats, he liked people treats too.  When he saw us eating a cookie, he wanted it.  He had as sweet a tooth as any of us.  The Charles Chips man came to the house every week, leaving large tins of chocolate chip cookies and potato chips.  After recovering from the shock of seeing a monkey running across the roof of the house or across the yard, he and Mono became good friends.  Mono would hear the Charles Chips truck and from wherever he was on the farm, he would take off to the front porch roof.  The roof was only about 7 feet off the ground.  Mono would go to the part of the roof, just over the steps and back door. The Charles Chips man left the cans of goodies inside the porch each week or two.  Even before he climbed out of the truck, he would have a cookie in his hand, ready for Mono.  Mono would be sprawled out, reaching over the edge of the roof, waiting for his cookie.  Like the independent little rascal he was, as soon as he had his cookie he was gone.  He always took all of us and our gifts for granted, as if we were there to serve him.

Stephen and I were sitting in lawn chairs eating grapes down by the pond one February when we were dating.  Mono would come waltzing along, checking to see what was going on.  He always had to make sure that he wasn't missing out.  He was a curious rascal, never willing to be left out of anything.  A cluster of freshly washed grapes were in my lap, sitting in wax paper to protect my skirt.  When Mono came along, I'd hand Stephen a grape and Stephen would offer Mono the grape.  Mono would hop up on Stephen's chair, take the grape, and take off a short distance away.  After eating the grape, he'd come back to take another grape from Stephen again.  He repeated this process several times, enjoying our grapes as much as we did.  Finally Mono jumped up on Stephen's lawn chair and slowly sauntered up Stephen's leg.  He reached toward the grape in his outstretched hand, gave one leap, and landed in my lap.  It was pre-planned, that much was clear.  He was in my lap for only the few seconds it took for him to grab the entire cluster of grapes and make his get-away.

Stephen protecting his grapes from Mono

In 1972 my bedroom was upstairs and my bed was underneath the rooms one window.  Underneath the window was the roof of the kitchen.  Mother and Daddy rebuilt the house one room at a time. Daddy had taken part of the roof off the kitchen as they began the rebuilding process.  This removed the covering over part of my window.  Daddy covered the lower part of my window with tar paper to keep out the rain and critters. (People who have lived in Florida understand that there are a lot of critters that will enter an open window.) For a week or so after Mono discovered the tar paper, he would tear it loose and enter my room. At sunrise, I'd wake up to a monkey jumping up and down on my bed.  Although it sounds like a novel way to wake up, mornings were never my favorite time of the day and it didn't take long for me to find a more secure method to cover the window.

Stanley had the worst Mono experience.  Daddy's shop was always in perfect order.  We never borrowed a tool without putting it back.  Hand tools hung on the back wall.  The wall was painted white and the tool's shape was outlined with paint.  If a tool was missing, the outline immediately indicated which tool was missing.  

Stanley was half grown when Daddy noticed tools missing, one by one.  Daddy scolded Stanley for taking the tools.  Stanley had to bear all the blame.  One day Daddy was walking out to the shop when he saw Mono speeding out of the shop out on all threes - cradled in his other arm was one of Daddy's tools.  It was one of the few times that Daddy had to apologize to one of us young'uns!

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