Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Container

This farmette is yet unnamed.  Farm Without Borders? Fencemore High?

Not so long ago, after adding several seven foot t-posts around the corral to prevent the going under, I came home to find the calf high centered.  She kicked herself free, on the free side of the fence, but the damage was done, the guards had been alerted, the security breach discovered.  After luring her back with a bucket of grain (the stomach of the cow is her downfall), I slammed in a few more posts, fixed the electric fence, and shocked the crap out that Sukey-girl.  No more escaped cows.  They are sadly well contained in their cozy corral while this early spring turns them green with envy.  We all impatiently await the funds for a new, utilitarian, ugly fence for the pasture.  However, I suspect this new fence won't make the grass on the other side appear any less green.   

But what of those chickens?  Their fence around the barn proved wholly inadequate.  They cleared it every morning within five minutes of being let out of their hutch.  And they were devouring my fresh, new sprouts just about as fast as they shot up.  Well, now, I didn't plant 200 bulbs last fall for the chickens, damn it.  So we moved them back to the dog run.  Five foot fence.  Last summer, I knit bird netting over the top to protect the small chicklettes from over-head predation.  It would be a secure spot until I could patch all the cracks in the corral fence.  Then, I thought, I'd put them in with the cows and they could have their precious maggot meals back.  Alas, after spending all day securing the fence to the ground, I plopped my test chicken in there and she walked out, right THROUGH the fence.  It's 4"x4" pigwire, and I guess my smallest foul cannot be foiled by that.  I'll have to line the corral with chicken wire but so far I haven't found a crumb of motivation for that activity. 

So the girls are still in the dog pen.  And they are not happy.  They are on an egg strike.  We are getting one a day. Apparently, once you've had maggots and wild seeds, there's no going back.  They wouldn't eat their chicken food.  They wouldn't lay their eggs.  They spent all day kvetching, loudly.  And then a wonderful thing happened.  We got snow.  The snow covered the netting and collapsed it under the weighty weight of 1 whole inch of wet white stuff.  Blessings from above especially for chickens.

With the netting gone, and bird migration upon us, our chicks were no longer forced to stare down their food all day.  Nope.  Within minutes of feeding, 200 migratory birds swooped in to the pen and devoured all their chicken food.  My girls did not fight back.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, they said.  You like that crap?  You actually like that crap?  Well, I guess I've never flown 300 miles a day, I wouldn't know THAT kind of starvation.  

And yet, as time went on, they became hungry.  Rather than eat the several varieties of chicken scratch that I've tried, they turned to the back side of the dog run, the garage.  And they ravenously devoured it's white paint.  This is an old garage whose history with brush and bucket we do not know.  How old is this paint?  How much lead could it contain?  Now we were getting two eggs a day, and they were really really heavy.  I'm still not sure I want to eat them.

And then, those crafty chickens began to fly away.  They climbed onto the roof of their hutch and leapt through the air.  Three mastered the zen and art of airborne escape over a five foot fence.  In the throes of freedom's thrill, they run to the barn, lay their eggs in the hay like old times, and stuff their faces into the cow patties.  This, apparently, is heaven to chickens.  They are not highly cultured.

Wing clipping.  Sounds gruesome.  Sounds gory.  Sounds like a tendon under the knife.  But it's just scissors and a few flight feathers on one side to throw off her balance.  This worked on everyone but Angel.  Angel can fly anyway.  Angel can clear the fence.  Angel can eat my hyacinths. Angel is a paint addict now devouring the white off my back porch.  Angel gets maggots.  Angel gets to lay her egg wherever she wants to.  Angel is no angel, but she can sure fly.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Puck Stops Here!

It was our fourth hockey game of the season on Friday.  Huck's boss is a big fan which means we've got free tickets.  I'd rather go to a theatrical or symphonic production, but we have yet to befriend one of those season ticket holders.  Hence, our family entertainment this winter has been boxing on ice.  No really, it's hockey.

I feel a little weird about violence as entertainment.  But the thing is, we're not going for the violence, we're going to watch the puck get hucked into a net... and if some violence erupts during this attempt, se la vie, or something like that.
The fun in these fights is that they're supposed to be doing something else, like paying attention to the puck, not throwing fists.  Whereas boxing is a little boring and predictable, you know someone's going to get punched, these eruptions are surprising, sort of.

At the beginning of the season, our tickets were right on the ice, and those boys would slam each other up against the glass, right in our faces.  And as they smeared across it, you could really see how smashed they were and young too.  This is a junior league, so the players are enormous 16 to 20 year olds.  This is where my main problem comes in.  Are these 16 year olds really consenting to concussions, fat lips, and high sticking?  Is this any worse than what happens behind the gas station by the high school?  A 25 year old foot ball player is old enough to vote and drink his bruises away.  But at 16?  I have problems with young kids being provided as entertainment, especially if their bodies get bashed in the process.  But what of those 14 year old ice-skaters? And the 15 year old models eating salad with nothing on it?  I've got problems with the whole shebang. There's something very Roman about this.

And yet, four free tickets in hand...

This Friday's game wasn't as violent as usual.  They were playing another American team.  Now those Canadians, they know how to start the fisty cuffs quick and dirty.  The crowd stands on it's feet like a goal's been shot.  They cheer.  They scream. 

My other issue is the advertising.  Every person in there paid for their tickets, or someone they know did, and yet every surface is covered with advertisements, as if the arena was starving to death had to prostitute itself out.  25 ads are frozen in the ice.  50 ring the rink.  A Jimbotron advertises Geico.  An LED display circles the place like a hand cuff.  There's a Round Table blimp.  Pizza place games.  And sponsored plays.  This is the thing I can't stand the most.  Every time a goal is scored, they pull out the IHOP gong!!  My god.  The Les Schwab penalty kill (or something like that).  And if the Cheif's score in the next five minutes everyone in Section 112 gets free Chalupa's from Taco Bell!!  Everyone chant: CHA-LU-PA!  Now we have the Washington Mutual Memorial puck save.  And on and on.  Every word uttered over the loudspeaker has a corporation in front of it, like prefixes.  It's this whole new language.  I understand I'm a captive audience, I just wish I didn't feel so much like a prisoner.

I actually enjoy watching the actual game, except when those moral issues come up.  It's fast paced.  Makes your head spin.  Never a dull moment, unlike the snoozers of baseball and football.  It's like basketball meets soccer meets boxing on ice, double timed.  And I've learned enough about the rules by watching to sort of understand what's going on.

What's going on is a lot of penalties.  They even had an awards ceremony where they brought back those prior Chief's with the most penalty minutes per career.  This is confusing.  It's like giving out candy to the kid with the most time-outs.  I can't imagine they're trying to promote good citizenship on the ice... not that anyone but me would be interested is watching that sort of hockey. 

"We" lost on Friday, and the sold out crowd was none too pleased.  They were screaming curses at the other team.  Okay...Listen here, folks.  The Chief's played horrifically.  They tripped over their own feet, they passed the puck to thin air (who's not their best player, by the way) and the other team's goalie was phenomenal.  So why the sour puss invectives?  I understand swearing... as you've probably noted.  It's a way to pull a sense of power out of an empty hat.  When there's no way to convey the extent to which you feel this thing, or to right the wrong, we cuss.  These words that we've empowered with taboos, we save for moments when we need them.  We're cut off in traffic? String those expletives like popcorn on the damn Christmas tree.  But loosing a game?  You weren't even playing, you imbecile!  You were sitting on your ass in the stands with a beer in each hand. Why the name calling?   They won, and they deserved to.

Despite that loss the Chief's are off to the play-offs and thus ends our winter of uneasy spectatorship.  Can't wait till next season!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

She's not so horny

I bet I'm the only woman in America who's entertaining this particular fanatasy:
Morning. Peachy pink sunrise.  I slide into the barn.  Hendrika looks up at me and says, "Listen lady, I'm horny as hell.  Where them bulls? I need me some bulls.  Can't you get me some bulls?  When you go out, pick me up some bulls, why don't ya, and a fifth of Jose Cuervo too.  Damn.  I'm a horny heifer."

How else am I going to tell if my one and only heifer is in heat?  Blue might tell me it's too cold for that (snow right now!).  You're supposed to look for standing heat, but there's no one for her to stand under.  Unless you count the calf, who tries to mount her, but she scuttles away.  If she were in heat, she'd take it.  And the only way you're going to be able to keep your breakfast down is if you forget that calf is her daughter and try to remember that the term "animal" as applied to humans refers to people who don't mind those good-n-healthy taboos.  Either that, or I need a bovine psychologist out here much more than I need an artificial inseminator with along arm and a tender touch.

Perhaps there's a reason she's not in heat.  Perhaps she's gestating already!  When we got her, she'd come straight off range land and the company of wild bulls. Her calf was already four months old, meaning she'd potentially, effectively done the nasty before we got her.

She was a scrawny wench when she arrived.  I've fed her generously since.  Her stomach is a foot and a half wider than in September, as measured by how well she fits, or no longer fits, in her stanchion.  Pregnant? Fat?  It's notoriously hard to tell some times.  And what am I going to do?  Ask her when she's due?  Well... I've made that mistake before and I'm not keen on repeating it.

When I milk her, I sometimes lean my head on her belly, when she's not been sleeping in a pile of her own crap, of course.  And lately I swear, I've been kicked in the the head while I'm leaning.  I thought I felt her belly hiccupping, although I'm pretty sure even calves in utero don't hiccup.  And her bulge does not hang symmetrically, a sure sign someone's playing twister inside it.

This could all be wishful thinking on my part.  She's drying up really fast this week and we've initiated emergency measures, like twice daily milkings, like actual, real farmers.  If she's not pregnant, I'm going to end up with a dry cow who never goes in heat, also known as hamburger.  I'll give her until May to produce an heir.   

Otherwise, we've got balls to the wall around here.  Friday, Coyote left the sink going, flooding two stories and collapsing part of the basement ceiling.  Then we spent the weekend biking the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes with Huck's dad.  And Blue's had half days all week, plus on conference, plus we just found out she's actually getting beaten up at school!  Yikes!  Home schooling?  Coyote's midwife died suddenly of cancer on Monday.  I was pretty much behind on everything already, but processing that tragedy has demanded two tea's, a knitting circle, and several phone conferences. And Huck's work has been both demanding and rewarding lately, which means I've cleaned the kitchen so much that I'm going to just barf if I look at another dirty dish. To paraphrase, "Life is full of dishes, laundry, bullshit, cancer, and jack-asses and it's all over much too soon."


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