Thursday, July 14, 2011

Never say never

Boo's lambs - Gobi and her brother
After 32 years of shepherding sheep and goats there is a familiar structure to the year and a rhythm to the seasons. Goats are seasonal polyestrous - meaning their breeding season is September through December, maybe January. They have a 5 month gestation period.

We usually put the rams/bucks in with the flocks in October, so we have mostly March babies. If we are setting aside separate breeding or housing pens, we leave the boys in there and away from the main flock through January. But, our boys are protective of their girls and babies, so we put them back in the main flock in February. For 32 years, we've done it this way and never had baby born after the first of May.

Until yesterday.

Obviously, Mother Nature doesn't put much stock in the phrase "But we've always done it this way!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

The message in the Quilt

I love Barbara Carlson's art quilts. I love displaying them in creative ways in the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery. I love looking at them when she sends photos for classes she's proposing to teach. But until today, I just hadn't found the one for me.

Today, we were at an estate sale in Clinton and sitting on the kitchen counter was one of Barbara's quilts. It's not one that I would have bought for myself, but I'd wanted one for so long - I scooped it up and put it in my basket.

Shawn looked at the quilt with a strange expression, but he did recognize it as one of Barbara's and didn't say anything when I put it in my basket.

On the way home, in the hot car that has no air conditioning in the 105 degree heat, with Shawn's new Johnny Cash cd's playing loud and the windows open, I contemplated my new quilt.

Eggceptional by Barbara Carlson
She is a slightly worried lady, whose face is a salad of fruits and vegis. She has a carrot for a nose and cute little glass vessels for earrings. She's dressed for town, but she's a country cottage type gal wearing her purple tie dye, and her hat is fluffy pink feathers with a yellow chicken with blue swirls sitting on a nest of pink speckled eggs.

I thought about as we breezed along the mid-afternoon July Arkansas highways. She was meant for me, there was a message here from on high. I am eggceptional, but that is not the point.

My brain is always full of ideas. It has no problem hatching out new ones. This is a blessing, really. I love the constant flow of pink speckled idea eggs that my happy yellow brain produces. But, what I need to remember is that you can only hold so many eggs in one brain-basket. If you get too many, they fall out and break all over the floor. That can be a big mess.

And each egg/idea needs to be incubated, sat on, nurtured, turned over, kept warm and cared for to successfully hatch. You can only sit on so many idea/eggs at one time and expect to have any success.

And since you are what you eat, I need to eat my fruits and vegis to be strong to support my nest of ideas.

Or maybe I just need to spend some time in the air conditioning.

Side note: Does anyone remember the Chartreuse chicken story I used to tell when I was a storyteller? I only do vaguely, I'll have to look that one up.


Friday, July 01, 2011

Summer Tanagers and early seasons

Tanager at the Ozark Folk Center

Footloose and Sultan square off
This summer we've seen lots of Tanagers at the Ozark Folk Center. It's a great place for watching birds. Of course, I love the colorful Indigo Buntings, Goldfinches, and Cardinals but we have so many species.
I've loved the Tanagers since I did a report on them in... probably middle school. I've never been a birdwatcher, I've always enjoyed their songs and flashes of color, but I've found myself paying more attention to them this summer.

Another attention getting thing yesterday - the bucks decided they could not stand to share a fenceline. Usually dairy and angora goat breeding season starts in September, with a few thoughts of it in August. I've never seen the boys even think about that in the heat of summer. But these two have been facing-off through the fence since yesterday morning. I took Footsie away for a while and put him out on the transom to graze. They both took that as a break to drink and catch their breath, but went right back to it when he went back to his girls. Time to build the buck pens. Not something I wanted to do in the heat of summer. It's not catastrophic climate change, this is more on the annoying level. Twenty-nine years of raising goats, they shouldn't change their schedule now!