Goats and sneezes

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.

Improving the eggs-to-feed ratio

These old vans tended to get good gas mileageYears 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.

Meditation on a bead

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.

The meditation:

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.

Ah. Chakras?


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.