Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If it pleases you...

Sukey, world's best cow
oh pshaw!  I hasn't been THAT long since I last monoblogged.  It's summer vacation, the kids are home, the garden is lush with weeds, the cows are needing all kinds of help, and I've been sick.  And in the midst of it I've got massive cerebration going on up here.  I've been changing so fast I'm just a blur even to myself.  I've been busy shedding my people-pleasing, one layer at a time. Not to say I've totally mastered this new skill, but mostly, I think I'm over the change-hump. I've been waiting a long time for this.

Lots of thinking and reading and some good therapy...  I have a long simmering brain and my back burner is where it's at.  So here, right now, I'm busy.  But things I learned a year ago are sinking in.  I'm like that.  Art has been a good, physical manifestation of this.  Every year I don't work on something makes it richer and better and finally I go back to it, and every thing I learned technically years ago is in full flower, actualized. My motions one with the thought.  So don't worry if I learn something new but can't apply it right away.  I quit working so hard, put it in the crock pot and when I get home from church, it's all savory and melts in my mouth. (This is how, over the centuries, countless hoards have tried to convince me to get a crock pot.  Like I'm all about roast beef.  I get bitchy just at the thought of adding one more thing in to the morning while cajoling kids in to underwear and clothing and making sure they've gone pee before we go because I hate the crotch-grabbing-dance they have no qualms about doing in front of large, and largely anonymous audiences... So OKAY - I am not making ROAST BEEF for lunch at 8 am when I'd rather be showering.  But I've realized that if I stop the discussion and tell them how NOT interested I am in crockpots (there's also the minivan-like cliche-mom issue and the not-enough-enough-cupboard-space-for-yet-another-too-specific-giant-piece-of-crap concept to consider) then we end up with even more vehement crockpot-proselytization... Just give me the damn recipe which I can write down as "blah blah blah" in a way so that no one can really read my hand writing.  Or maybe I should just slap them until they shut up. Okay, perhaps my new personality needs to go in my mental crock pot for a few more years to get a little more toothsome.  Or perhaps that's just the people-pleaser in me that's thinking WAY TOO MUCH about you and your love of all things crock pot.)

Too many cows
Farm Notabilia:
Hendrika gave chocolate milk for a good 10 days.  We did not drink it.  Because Chocolate milk actually from cows is not made with chocolate.  When her milk came in, her udder stretch a little too much, blood vessels were burst and viola: chocolate milk.  We turned it in to eggs, however.

We dehorned Chocolatey Claire (also, not TRUE chocolate),  This was not as gruesome as I feared and involved ONLY: catching her, caging her, roping her, roping her again, roping her again, getting kicked and head butted, shaving her marble-like horn buds, smearing a caustic paste on them, then reading the directions, then smearing some of the paste off, and then listening to her mother (the venerable Hendrika) moo her head off for six hours until we could let her back out with the cows.  I felt remiss in not bringing in a mohel.  Why dehorn at all?  Isn't that inhumane, etc, etc?  I'll tell you what would be inhumane: getting gored.  Literally, inHUMANe.  Especially important if she turns out to be anything like her mother, by who's head (if it'd had horns) I'd have been hari-cari-ed several times over.  She did not appear to be in any pain, FYI. Claire will be my milk cow in 2 years, if all goes well.  And I want her as me-friendly as possible.

Beignet
Beignet, however, has no horn buds, he being slightly more Hereford than Claire.  He will, however, get castrated soon enough, which Huck insists I'll have to do without the dubious benefit of his likely-hysterical self.  We'll let Beignet recover from his mysterious and inconvenient illness first, however.  We were alerted to a problem when Sukey wouldn't stop mooing for a good 6 hours.  Finally, off my fevered and achey duff, I found Sukey's bag to be full and Beignet to be stumblingly ill.  His ears were perky.  No scours.  But not nursing.  Not interested in milk at all.  Thinking Sukey had mastitis and the milk was gross, I milked out her over-flowing teets, squirting some in the direction of a non-plussed Beignet.  Sukey is my favorite.  She is beautiful and perfect with a benign personality that I thought would make a great milker.  But now I realize, that a hand-milk cow is made, not born.  Sukey nearly destroyed the stanchion, the pail and me and didn't have all the much milk to spare.  And Beignet is fine now.  No idea what happened, except for a lot of worry and research on my part... and all this when Me, yes even ME, was ill.

And also, I am helping my friend run for City Council.  It was such an exciting conversation when she was asked to run!  And I couldn't help but get involved. I've been part of campaigns before, but not this close, and not this kind.  Whereas being on City Council sounds curiously interesting (although I myself live outside city limits) raising money and campaigning are, close up, even more unappealing than I imagined.  It's like Amway meets gambling: turn all your friends and family in to money and then put it all on your name.  She's a brave brave soul who's love for campaigning is honorably weak, although she rallies!, and who's name I will not mention least it be sullied by my prior dabblings in fully-clothed chore-photography.

And I am now on the Board of Trustees for our church.  It's likely as close as I'll get to the prescribe, high school future-job-match fill-in-the-bubble questionnaire.  Back in '91, the computer told me I would make a good pastor!  This cracked me up primarily because they failed to ask what religion or denomination I was which would have instantly alerted the early-type computer that I was not a good candidate based on gender.  However, I now understand that I probably answered those questions however I felt I Should.  Back then, personality was to me a matter of right and wrong.  Not for you or anyone else.  But for me there was a right way to be and a wrong way to be.  And I think I answered those questions in a way that I felt would most please my parents and would make me a "right" person... who was just like them, a pastoral dynamic duo. KA PoW!  People-pleaser, that was me.  I obviously got all the answers right!  And was prescribed the Perfect profession.  Or perhaps the computer wasn't as dumb as I thought and realized what was going on: people pleaser questing for what is right and perfect = pastor who gets a sex change to please the church.

I hope you like my blog post, even though it was a little long.  I really really hope you liked it.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading it!  Oh my god, I feel so blessed that you would read my BLOG.  Thanks for putting up with my self-centered moment here.  Did you really like this post?  I really hope you did.  I really really do.

Coyote knew how proud Louis was of his catch,  so he snapped a photo to honor the moment

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Of Mice and Women

Chocolaty Claire getting a scrub down
I could have stopped it.  I knew what was going to happen.  I knew what I needed to do. But I hesitated.  I sat down in my thinking chair.  And I sighed.  Because I am a mother.  And I give life.  I encourage the thriving of children and friends and plants and cows and even, yes, mice. When I saw that baby mouse, blindly feeling it's way across the barn floor, I had my opportunity to kill.  I held in my powerful hands a pitch fork with not one, but four, stabbing points.  Yes, I knew, I was unearthing a mouse nest in the barn.  I could foresee the mice, scores of them, scurrying in all directions, even over my feet and up the pitch fork handle. I could see myself screaming and running out into the rain.  I know that some day they may even give me hanta virus, and yet, I did not kill. They will eat my grain and chew off the bark of our fruit trees.  Yet I did not kill. 

I am cleaning out the barn because, as we have discussed before, Huck is deathly allergic to the 8 now-vanished tons of Timothy Hay I bought last year and hasn't been in the barn since.  So with self-interest in the forefront of my mind, I set to take on one of Hercules's Herculean labors: a full-on, no-straw-left-behind barn excavation. Whereas I was daily getting the chunks, the straw matted several feet thick.  A process so gradual, I didn't notice until now.  And so I am shoveling and forking and huffing and puffing because this stuff has become concrete and I am not Hercules.

I am also cleaning out the barn because we have two new babies who need clean nurseries!  Hendrika's came a week ago and after much fighting and a confusing Facebook vote, we've named her Chocolaty Claire.  Not my favorite, but I know when to stick Helen back in my pocket.  (Some day!  Some Day!  I will have my Helen!) Hendrika birthed loudly (she gets that from me) and seemed confused by the small size and brown color of her baby.  Unbeknownst to her, I had her bred with miniature Jersey.  I mean, I'm pretty sure she was aware of Frank-from-Craigslist having his arm all the way up her tush. I just don't think she would have picked a miniature Jersey if she'd been in charge of the mating process.  She'd probably gone with ye' old standby, vanilla, Hereford.

She and Sukey and Ginger all seemed confused.  "Brown?!"  Said my red cows, "Who ever heard of a brown cow?!"  And when she didn't get up quickly, the cows became even more skeptical of her worth.  And when she finally went to nurse on Hendrika, Sukey stepped in and started ramming her.  By the time Huck got Sukey and Ginger into solitary lock-down, the baby was scared to death of cows.  Huck fed the front end of Hendrika, while I helped the baby up and put her on a teet.  And then the bonding and happiness and joy of a new babe happened and Hendrika accepted her calf   Hendrika also ate the birth sack and placenta, raw.  She gobbled it up, belching and grunting.  And... omg... I can't even talk about it.  Because the whole process and the memory of it starts my digestive tract going the wrong direction.  NEW TOPIC!

Chocolaty Claire getting some colostrum
I read with great envy that cows give birth ON their due date.  That is almost all wrong.  Whereas Chocolaty Clair came on her due date, Beignet was nearly a week late.  Sukey gave birth quickly and quietly to an enormous bull calf who got up right away and started nursing within 1/2 hour of birth.  Sukey daintily snacked on her afterbirth... which still sent my dinner in the wrong direction. The next morning I couldn't find Beignet and set out to check on Sukey, laying in the field.  Did she have the dreaded milk fever?  Had she overlayed him?  But there he was, curled alongside her belly.  And there they stayed.  It was interesting watching Sukey become a mom for the first time.  She too seemed to have an "OH SHIT!" moment shortly after the shock of birth had waned.  That "Oh SHIT! This is mine!  I'm responsible for it!" clearly crossed her face.  Unlike Hendrika, she rarely leaves her doomed little boy.  She stares at him constantly and keeps him cuddled up next to her.

You may call this anthropomorphizing, however, if one holds evolution to be at all true, then certainly our emotions, their expression, as well as bonding hormones, et al, did not just blossom at the the moment homo sapiens sapiens became a distinct genetic entity.  These things came from somewhere, emerged at some point before the HSS human and it is only logical that such feelings would both exist in other mammals and also be expressed on their faces, much like ours are.  Unless, of course, you believe in ex nihilo creation via divine edict.  In which case, skewer me for my anthropomorphizing as you wish. 

And thus begins the season of culling.  Five cows are way too many for five acres.  I wept when I thinned my corn and I'm not sure how well I'll weather the thinning of the herd. So when the mouselet emerged, I sat in my barn-based thinking chair.  I am not well suited to the brutality of farming.  I think I would do better if I did not suspect that humans evolved with emotions and that our close genetic cousins, the mice, also have similar electrical and hormonal states.  I think farmers must believe in God and must believe in their divine right to rule these lesser beings and must believe that humans are a giant step away from animals both emotionally and spiritually.  Because when a farmer-ette does not entirely buy that line of thought, she is somewhat doomed in her efforts to dominion-ate the earth. 

I gathered my courage and I destroyed that mouse mansion made of cow crap.  And I endured their lightening quick zip over my toes by screaming and dancing.  And then there was one, toddling along, cling to life.  And he paused and crouched and appeared to put his paws together and pray.

Dear God,
Where is my cat? Where is the owl?  Where are these things born to kill? 
But for me and my shovel, we must serve the living, the children, the corn, the cows, the mice. 

We must go inside and have a nice calm cup of tea and forgive ourselves even as we forgive those that trespassed over our toes.

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