Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

26 January

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift For Maria: A Hissing Madagascar Cockroach Named Full Moon Fiber

by Jon Katz

Buying things for Maria is never simple.

She needs little, is fiercely individualistic, wants nothing, never buys anything retail, gets her clothes from consignment and thrift shops,  is passionate about animals, nature, and science, and deeply resents getting expensive gifts.

I’m a romantic; I need to buy her something on  Valentine’s Day. The Gods were with me.  I named a cockroach from the Bronx Zoo in her honor, and she gets to meet him on Valentine’s day.

Over the decade in which we have lived together, I have studied the gifts she likes and the ones she doesn’t close. Any man worth anything should know what his wife likes and doesn’t.

This year, and this morning, I found the perfect gift for Maria for this coming Valentine’s day, courtesy of the Bronx Zoo.

I not only named a hissing cockroach in her honor, but I also bought a zoom session on Valentine’s Day she can meet the hissing cockroach I named for her. His name is Full Moon Fiber.

FMF (my nickname for him) is a hissing cockroach from Madagascar who lives in a hollowed-out tree trunk inside the Madagascar exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.

Maria is not like the other children.

When I bought Maria a new Iphone five years ago for her pictures and videos, she nearly threw me out of the house and didn’t speak to me for a day or so.

When I told her I bought naming rights to a cockroach and also grabbed the slot for a virtual meet on Valentine’s day, she lit up, beamed, thanked me profusely, and came over to hug and kiss me.

Really, I don’t think I’ve ever met another human being who would love to get a hissing cockroach on Valentine’s Day.

I remember that we named a cockroach at the zoo last year and went to meet him in March, the same time we saw the penguins. It was the last normal day before the coronavirus turned the world upside down.

The Zoo remembered and e-mailed me an offer I could not refuse. For a donation of $75, which I would gladly have made anyway – we are members – I got a whole Madagascar Cockroach package for Maria.

If I gave  Maria expensive clothes or jewelry, she’d be disgusted. A Madagascar cockroach that hisses is the perfect gift.

I not only got to name the cockroach, but Maria will receive a printed naming certificate, a plush toy, a candle, and a Valentine’s Virtual Cockroach Encounter.

“On behalf of roaches and the other species, we’re eternally grateful,” said the zoo. Me too; this is the perfect  Valentine’s Day present for a woman who wants nothing.

This Thursday is her birthday. I’m cooking special lobster meat and spaetzle dinner. I got a neat bottle of wine.

I also got a couple of small things that will also make her happy, I’m sure of it. I can’t give them a way here, but I will when they come.

26 January

All Eyes On The Hay: Storm Coming At Noon

by Jon Katz

Every morning here begins with Maria carrying hay into the pasture. It is a chore she relishes and so do the animals. Maria is the Pied Piper of Bedlam Farm.

We are into the deep winter now, the thermometer below zero every morning, a storm predicted to start at noon.

I’m running into Saratoga to bring some thank you gifts to Marie and the nurses who cheered me on and watched me during cardiac rehab.

I want to get there and back before the snow starts; the prediction is for 4 to 8 inches—a chance to get the new battery-powered snowblower out. We’re also filling the bird feeders, giving the sheep and donkeys some grain.

Our frisky lamb Scott has a bare patch on one leg; Maria is outside now spraying some anti-biotics and disinfectant on it, just in case.

Scott is like a teenage boy, always verging on trouble.

I always do a storm scan before storms, even relatively minor ones like this. We have hay in the barn, food in the refrigerator, wood for the stoves, suet for the birds.

We also have candles and flashlights ready; storms are unpredictable, sometimes less, sometimes more than expected. Nobody predicted we’d get 40 inches the last time.

Thanks, Joanne, for making the first Venmo one-time donation.  The Mansion is under quarantine today; I wish them well. They have worked so hard to keep the residents safe.

I’m racking my brain for ways to help, but I think this is a time where they are best left alone. They know we are here if they need us. I’ve got a dozen crochet kids arriving today at the farm for the Mansion. I think I’ll hold onto it for a bit.

25 January

Sunrise At Zero

by Jon Katz

We’ve slipped into the soul of an upstate New York winter; it’s not supposed to be above freezing for at least a week, and probably more.

The sky is arctic blue, the sun crisp and devious – it’s bright but not warm. This was another of my rush out naked mornings; I had to get that sun coming up right behind the apple tree and shedding these beautiful shadows.

It was just below zero, and when I heard the door close behind me, I wondered for a minute if it had locked after I ran out with my camera. Maria was upstairs getting dressed and might not have heard me if I shouted or banged on the door.

First, I thought I could run into the barn and jump into a pile of hay, but then I thought of those brickly bits of grass against my body. I might make it into the woodshed, where the cats go when it’s cold.

Or I could run naked into the yard and scream; she would be likely to hear that. Maybe the dogs would bark. I wondered if I’d turn into a statue like the Tin Man.

But the door wasn’t locked, and I took my photo and got back inside and jumped into a nice warm shower. Maria came down and was stunned to see me coming in from the outside.

“What is wrong with you?” she asked, and not for the first time. As always, I had no answer. I got the photo I wanted too, that sun and those shadows.

The shadow felt good.

25 January

Fate Is The Dog Maria Needed

by Jon Katz

As I’ve written, I believe we all get the dog we need if our hearts and minds are open to it. We got Fate for Maria initially, then I tried to turn her into a sheepherding dog – that was a disaster – but as often happens in life, it also gave her the chance to get the perfect dog for her.

Fate is bright, independent, willful, and loving. She is at ease sleeping in Maria’s studio while she works. She knew from the beginning to never step on one of Maria’s quilts.

She doesn’t do a lot of licking or need to cuddle in laps. She loves to walk in the woods and never runs off or wanders. She loves people but refuses to beat up on the sheep.

And she is creative – she is an angel when we are around, she is not above hopping up on a counter to snatch a thawing pizza dough, or pull a plastic bag full of training treats off of the table and hide it somewhere.

She is crafty, misses nothing, wants to be a part of everything. I see in Fate one of the great dog axioms – they become what we needed them to become if we let them. That is their genius, their gift.

I didn’t get the herding dog I hoped might replace Red. Maria got the dog she needed. And then, so did I. Life is funny that way, sometimes it just sorts itself out.

Email SignupEmail Signup