My friend Judy is moving out of state, and clearing out a lot of stuff she has not used and does not want to haul away with her. Jim’s been facilitating all the work involved in preparing her home for sale, and today he brought home a few things she wanted off her hands:
- A beautiful table loom
- A warping frame
- A very nice tapestry loom, with a project started
- Books on using a tapestry loom
- Assorted shuttles etc.
- Lots of thread and yarn
And I’ve not even gotten through it all yet. Whee!
Jim even has a plan for where we can set up the loom: As we finish up the laundry room, we’ll set up the loom in there. I think if we set it up on a sturdy wheeled base, I can wheel it up to the window to weave, and work looking out on the garden. When I’m not weaving, I’ll roll it out of the way and use the same spot for folding laundry or ironing, all looking out on my garden.
In my little goat herd, Rosie is head doe. Goat herds are not exclusive clubs. Nearby chickens are included. People are too. As far as the goats are concerned, I’m a member of the herd, and that’s usually really nice. We’ve cleared brush together companionably, and they miss me if I’m not the one to look in on them.
The head doe does boss her followers around. Gigi’s felt Rose’s horns more than once. Unfortunately, so have I. Not often, but it happened again a couple of days ago. Here’s what I’ve done to clarify our relationship.
Grabbing the goat by the horns
The horns that make Rose’s bossiness a problem are also a great way to get a handle on her. Literally. Rose is stronger than I am, but those horns give me an advantage. The first time I had to use them was a few years ago. She was a couple of years old and felt it was time to take me in hand. I couldn’t quite control her by holding her horns and didn’t dare let go. She was seriously trying to take me down, as she would an impertinent goat in her herd. I’m not as tough as a goat, and she probably could have hurt me far more than she intended to.
We danced around for several minutes before I thought, “Hmm. Goats do not like to lay on their side. If I switch this hand… to the rear leg… and pull…”
It worked like a charm. She went down hard and I had complete control. More important, I had her complete attention. I lectured her on appropriate behavior toward humans. I don’t know whether she understood any of the words, but she definitely got the message. I avoided her the next day (I was pretty pissed) and that had her really worried. We’ve not had many issues since then.
Last week I had the girls out on a lead. Rose wanted to move to a new location, but I was still working with the lead (which Gigi, as usual, had wrapped around the stub of a shrub). Rose hooked her horns into my thighs (ouch), threw me off balance, and made her escape — all of three yards, to a bit of blackberry vine she’d been eyeing.
When I caught up with her, I grabbed her horns and twisted her head to one side, as if to lay her down, and gave her a synopsis of the earlier lecture. For the next two days she sidled up to me at every opportunity, nuzzling me, giving me her best doe-eyes, and essentially saying, “We’re good, right?”
Life is back to normal in the herd. We’re a close-knit group where Rose is head doe. But I’m the boss.
Social animals, like goats, have ways to sound an alarm. It might be a bark, or a trill, or a shriek. With goats, it’s a sneeze. Really.
So, there I was in the chicken run, which is right next to the goat run. I had a cold. I sneezed. And Gigi, my easy-going docile little Nubian goat, came dashing out of her stall. She was on alert, looking around for the source of danger. She was coming to my aid! I’m not sure what form that aid could possibly take. But she was not going to let me face danger alone.
It’s just so darn sweet.
Years ago, when I lived in the city, I had a problem with the gas mileage on my car. It got really bad really fast, and soon I was down to about three miles per gallon. As a friend of mine said, “I don’t think a Volkswagen can run at all if it’s in that bad shape.”
I fixed the problem by getting a locking gas cap.
Now I’ve been seeing a similar situation with the chicken feed. The organic feed I get costs twice as much as the standard stuff, and I’m hardly seeing any eggs lately. In fact, feed consumption has gone up even as the flock has diminished by natural attrition.
If you keep chickens, you’ve already guessed the problem. The other day I found a rat. Not some scroungy refuse-eating alley rat. This is a country rat, the kind that makes a living off of whatever the woods have to offer. On a good day, she’ll find a stand of something yummy all ripening at once. On a very good day, she’ll find the food people leave out for their animals.
This particular rat had enjoyed many very good days. So many, in fact, that her route through a bit of 1″ x 2″ wire mesh no longer worked. She was stuck. She struggled, then sighed, rolled her eyes in exasperation, and rested. Then she struggled again.
She was actually quite lovely, as feed-stealing pests go. She was plump and sleek, and her pelt had that healthy sheen that comes from eating fresh organic eggs. I recognized the look on her face as she worked at getting free: a little frustrated, very practical, and readily accepting that she and she alone had gotten herself in that situation.
When I found her, I was just leaving the house. When I got back, she had slipped away.
Since then, we’ve watched rats come into the run at night. They don’t seem to bother the chickens. They grab a mouthful of feed and dart away. Repeatedly. So I take the feed away from the chickens at night now. I know it’s only a temporary solution and that we need to get rid of the rats. Even country rats are not good to have around.
Some year I’d like to have a run with a concrete footing and walls of quarter-inch mesh, roofed in clear panels with plenty of overhang so the run stays nice and dry even along the edges. It would be a palace for the girls, and I could leave their food out all night.
This morning I awoke to a meditation that left me calm, strong, and grounded. I needed it. It’s been one hell of a week, in a hell of a winter.
This was the winter that Jim was diagnosed with diabetes. It’s the winter he had heart surgery, putting in two new stents. This winter we haven’t quite crashed on financial rocks, but we’ve scraped them a little and they are still so close.
It’s the year we realized the rewiring / remodeling work required a whole lot of seemingly unrelated permits. Expensive ones. (Septic review, although we aren’t changing the number of bathrooms. Critical Area review, although nothing about the exterior is changing.)
It’s been a cold La Niña winter in a stalled remodel, with no furnace. (But we have a good wood stove.)
So when Jim said on Monday that his heart was giving him trouble again, it hit me hard. (They are testing, but it looks like it was the diabetes and not the heart. They won’t be opening him up any time soon.) When I had trouble capturing a clients’ voice, it hit me hard. Everything hit me hard.
Running out of wood, with snow on the ground, just seemed to summarize the year.
In my mind, I pick up a garnet bead. It’s about the size of a large pea, and glows deep red. I hold it up, it transforms into a pearl, and it floats away.
Intrigued, I pick up another garnet bead. This time I notice that it flashes through different color as it transforms into a pearl. I watch it float away.
I pick up another. Something about these colors.
Another. I watch closely, slowing down the transformation. The garnet glows orange. Now yellow, transformed into a citrine bead. It folds into itself and emerges emerald. The emerald shimmers through sapphire to tanzanite, that hovers between deepest blue and deepest purple. A moment of amethyst. And a pearl, floating away from my hand.
Again, slowly, with focus on my chakras as the bead changes in my hand. Now it grows as it changes, until I’m holding a pearl the size of a melon. The pearl glows, and floats away. I’m calm and strong.
Today I visit my friend Judy. She’s giving me some firewood she has no use for, and we will have tea.
The wood shed is almost empty (and still so much winter to get through!), so now when I bring in wood I’m looking out on the chicken run where it backs onto the woodshed.
There are lights on in the chicken run all the time. They only need 14 hours of light a day to keep laying, but the timer is packed away somewhere. If I’m getting wood late at night, I get to watch the chickens at their evening routine. Most of them are dozing on the roosts or on the ground. A few are poking around the run, doing chicken things.
And they are purring. Just a soft cooing under their breath. It’s pure contentment. I stand there in the shelter of the woodshed, in the cold quiet night, and listen to them. I love my life.