Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Three Wishes

Yesterday I had one of those funny hypothetical discussions with someone, about what one would wish for if one had three wishes.  The parameters required no "global wishes" such as world peace and cures for various dreadful diseases, which (hopefully) most of us would wish for if such things were possible.  These had to be wishes for oneself.  I thought, I pondered, and I imagined.  I came up with my first wish fairly quickly.  I wished that I could have a long, healthy life, and that I would eventually pass on quite painlessly and without great suffering.  To me, that was a reasonable wish, as far as wishes go.

I had to try a bit harder with my second wish.  I was initially stumped for a while...but I came up with the wish that at the end of my life, I wish that I will be able to look back without any regret.  I want to know that I made the best decisions I could, given the knowledge I had at any given time, and that I never threw away a worthy opportunity.  I wanted to feel that I'd lived life to the best of my ability, and that I'd learned from mistakes, rather than becoming bitter or frustrated by them.

So it came to the third wish.  I considered carefully....what else could I wish for, specifically for myself, that I really, really wanted?  After a while, what I really, really wanted was the ability to come up with a third wish!  In all seriousness, I couldn't really come up with one.  Sure, I could wish for a million dollars or a fancy car or a fully functioning fibre mill in my backyard.  But really....did I really wish for those things?  No.  Fancy cars are no more useful than my 2002 Jetta.  I don't want to be responsible for the upkeep of a fully functional fibre mill.  A million dollars would be great for setting up a sheep and goat sanctuary, but that's not "for me" as much as it is for them.  Anyway, having too much money brings people out of the woodwork who think they're entitled to some of it, and causes no end of heartache.

This led me to think about my life, and who I am, and brought me to the rather wonderful conclusion that I have all I need, or I have the ability to get what I need.  I do not really wish for anything more than what I have.  This was a sort of "epiphany" moment for me, because I don't really think very often in abstract terms of wishes that cannot be fulfilled.  More than anything, my inability to find a third wish helped me realize that I must be on the right track in life, that I could have the luxury of not really needing a third wish.

I've thought about it several times since the conversation, but I still can't come up with a good third wish.  I've toyed with frivolous ideas like a lifetime supply of key lime cheesecake, or aged gouda cheese, or even Bendick's Bittermints (a delicious British chocolate covered mint fondant confection).  I thought I was onto something when I decided to wish for a garden that always looked beautiful and took care of itself, but really, that takes away the joy of gardening.  The closest I've come so far is a house that cleans itself.  I'm not a natural house-cleaner.

So I take it out to you, my blog readers - what are your three wishes, for yourself, and only yourself?  What am I forgetting or missing?  Or do you, too, find it hard to think of wishes?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

...and so I cried

Last week was a very sad week.  Not everyone understands the bonds that can be formed with farm animals.  All of them - chickens, sheep, donkeys, goats, llamas and alpacas, horses, cows...and any other barnyard resident - can all become family members.  When I knew I was moving to Canada, I knew I could not take my whole "family" with me.  I tried to choose wisely and carefully.  As you can well imagine, Lucky Nickel was unquestionably one to make the journey.  She herself deemed it must happen!  When it came to the sheep, I was torn.  I wanted to take Marshmallow, who had been my house-lamb, and had spent her early days sleeping on my pillow.  She had integrated well into the flock though, and I felt she was well adjusted.  On the other hand, I had Kenzie, the little runty black lamb from my former Blue-faced Leicester ewe, Black Pearl.  I felt that due to her size, she needed extra care.  Her sisters had not had an easy life.  One had died in early days, for unknown reasons.  The second had gone to a local farm where an unexpected dog attack had ended her short life.  I was determined that Kenzie should live, and so I decided to take her with me.

In order to get female ruminants over the border into Canada, they either had to come from a premises that was certified scrapie-free for at least 5 years (which I could not provide, since I had only owned my farm for 3 years and had never sought scrapie certification) or they had to be spayed.  I chose to spay Lucky Nickel and Kenzie in order to take them with me and comply with the regulations.

My vet kindly allowed me to observe the spaying operations first hand, which were very interesting for me.  I was not at all disturbed by the inside view of my animals - they are marvelous living "machines" with a wonderful physiology that I find fascinating.  I was confident after the operations that all had gone well.  Due to their long incisions with multiple stitches, I had to keep them in the house for a number of days to prevent any infection.  Both of them wore "Depends" undergarments for women (size small!) and t-shirts, with safety pins used to keep the Depends in place and thus keep the wounds covered.  The first couple of days, both were very quiet.  I put them in my basement unfinished area with lots of blankets, food and water, and frequent visits from me.  The fact that my house was still on the market was a complicating factor!  I could tell from her stance that Lucky Nickel was in some pain - note her hunched back.
Kenzie seemed fine, and much more perky than Lucky Nickel, even right after the operation.
On Day 3, Lucky Nickel "penetrated the defenses" and made her way upstairs, where she wreaked havoc upon my show-ready home.  She upended most of my potted plants and liberally distributed dirt.
She also upended my beading supplies sending a rainbow of coloured glass beads in all directions on carpet and hardwood floors.
She played with toilet paper decoration of the house, scattered some goat berries around, and finally settled in on my bed where she made the covers into a nest and waited for me to come home.

Meanwhile, quiet little Kenzie stayed in the basement, and when I checked on her, I found she had not passed any solid wastes.  I worried that she wasn't eating due to pain, and gave her banamine for pain relief and held her in my lap for a time.
On Day 4, Lucky Nickel returned to the barn, still with her t-shirt and Depends, in order to keep clean.  She was not easy to contain in the house.  Kenzie remained inside, not eating, not pooping.  I noticed that she had a lump at the end of her incision.  It didn't feel hot or infected, and it was quite firm, so I thought it was just localized swelling from the trauma of the spay.

On Day 5, Lucky Nickel was bouncing around on hay bales as if nothing had happened.  Kenzie was quiet, listless, and remained unmotivated to eat.  I really began to worry.  I called the vet and made an appointment for her.  The next day she went in and they thought she was constipated.  She spent a day on fluids and milk of magnesia.  No effect.  The next day, they decided to operate.

Tragically, a loop of bowel had pushed its way through the internal layer of stitches, causing a blockage (and causing the lump that I had felt).  Her colon tissue was only just beginning to die, after 5 days, which the vet said was really surprising, and an indicator of how healthy she had been.  They removed a portion of her colon, sutured the ends back together, and hoped for the best.  The best was not to come.  She died that night, in the cold steel kennels that usually hold dogs and cats.  Alone and in pain.

I did this to her.  I chose to take her with me.  I chose to get her spayed.  I chose my own selfish desires to take a sheep with me on my long journey, so that I could have the comfort of their company when I arrived, and feel that I had taken part of what I had started here in Iowa.  If I had not taken her, she probably would have gone to the same home where her sister went.  Her sister was bigger - would Kenzie have been the one to die in the dog attack if she had been there?  I cannot say.  All I know for sure is that I was trying to make the right decision, and I failed her.  This has eaten at me all week.  I have had her cremated and will take her ashes with me to the home that she was meant to have.  I hope she will forgive me my selfishness.  I have cried enough tears to sink a canoe this week, and they're just not stopping.

Lucky Nickel has continued to thrive and is behaving in all her usual ways.  She is horrified at the fact that she now has to wear an enormous COW tag in her ear for ID purposes.  I have promised her that I can remove it when we are settled in Nova Scotia.  She says she is NOT a COW!  It makes her ear droopy and uneven with the other one, which is slightly amusing, but I try not to laugh at her.
She has to have her stitches removed soon, and needs to have tuberculosis and brucellosis tests in order to cross the border, but those are simple tests and non-invasive.  I am tremendously grateful that she has not suffered any ill effects from the operation to have her spayed.  It is also good for her in the sense that I would never want her to be accidentally bred.  Her mother died as a result of a pelvic opening that was too small to allow both the head and feet of Lucky Nickel's brother to pass.  Chances were good that Lucky Nickel would also have difficulties in birthing kids.

In other news (which is actually good news but is still sad for me), my two angora bunnies went to a wonderful new home at Hedgeapple Farm this week.  I bought my first registered Icelandic sheep there, and have spent many good times at my spinning guild with the farm's owners.  I know my rabbits are in good hands.  In addition, Valentino, the ultimate curly-whirly angora wether found a new home on an alpaca farm, and unexpectedly, Horton, Misky and Larke all went with him.  While I am thrilled that my animals have wonderful new homes, it is still hard as they leave, each one taking a little piece of my heart and mind.

Despite all the unhappy news, I did have a huge weight lifted from me this week.  I actually sold my farm, and am now just waiting for the inspection and closing.  This is incredible, given that it has been on the market just a few days over 3 months, and given the dreadful state of the US housing market.  I am in awe.  When one is doing the right things in one's life, somehow, the pieces seem to fall into place.  I have no other way to explain this turn of events.  My mind just keeps saying the same thing over and over...."meant to be."   I wish I could say the same for Kenzie.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Val has a Haircut

Shhhh!  It's me, Lucky Nickel!  Don't tell my lady that I'm doing this post.  She is very sad these days and says she isn't quite ready to write about what happened, but I am OK, so I am writing a quick post for you!
My lady  tried to overcome some of her sadness by spending time with us.  She looked at Valentino, our curly-whirly angora buck, and I heard her say "Val, you are a disgusting mess.  I am going to clean you up."  Well, Val had so much curly fybur* around his ears that he didn't hear that comment.  Next thing he knew, he was up on the sheep shearing stand, and my lady was standing there with a variety of shearing supplies and a determined look on her face.  Here's the result:
Do you see in that picture, above, how Osmo is hiding in the hut?  He thinks he might get clipped too, but he's silly, because he doesn't have fybur* so he can't be clipped!  Val looks much better without all his heavy, matted, dirty fleece, that got all muddy through the winter.  Did you all know that Val is my Dad?  He doesn't have his spare brain any more so he can't be a Dad again, so I was lucky to be born, wasn't I!
After she sheared him (mostly using Fiskars hand scissors), he did a lot of scratching with his horns, and little bits of fybur* went floating around.
My lady then noticed that, in contrast to his usual mellow behaviour, he has begun sparring with Osmo and running around more energetically, so she thinks he is feeling much better.
Well, I'm sure you'll hear from my lady soon.  In the meantime, you can all just swoon over my Dad.

*Fybur - the proper goat spelling for the fleece that goats grow.....I should know...I'm a goat!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I had a peppermint treat today!

I know, I said in my last post that I was a deprived goat.  Maybe I was having a bad day.  Sometimes,  good things happen.  Like today, for example, a good thing happened!  My lady brought me peppermints!  She went out for supper last week and she brought home the peppermints for me!

I was laying all by myself, in the middle of the yard, doing my best to look pathetic, in the hopes that she might take pity upon me, and it worked!  See, here I am doing my "pity me" look.
Oh wait, it's too far away, I bet you can't see me.  Here's a closer look.  My lady's pictures are taken through the window pane.  They do not show me at my best.
Anyway, I saw her, taking pictures, and I knew there had to be something in it for here I am just starting to get up...
...and coming over to investigate, which of course means that Izzy the cat has to come too.  Her name is really Esmeralda but my lady just calls her Izzy.  In any case, Izzy is always a blur.
Look!!!  A peppermint!  For MEEEEE!!!!!
I was SO excited that I dropped my peppermint on the ground after chewing a piece out of it.  Fortunately, my lady picked it up off the ground and gave it back to me.  She said it was OK, because it was in the "5 second rule" but I don't know what that means.
I crunched my peppermints well, so that I would have nice fresh goat breath.
Hooray!  I love peppermints, and I love my lady too, even if I don't have a goat castle yet.
Thank you for my peppermints!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am a deprived goat

Yes, it's true. I know you think that I live a wonderful life here, but now the truth must come out.  I am seriously deprived.  I think it's time for me to tell the world about the things I need....which I do NOT have.
First and foremost, is this:
I had to borrow this picture from the lovely goats at Sawdust Trail's website.   One of my lady's friends sent it to her and she was keeping it a SECRET!!!  From ME!  I must have one of these.  How am I supposed to get my proper exercise requirements without a goat castle?  Where is the justice in this, I ask you?  It is high time that somebody built me one of these.

Secondly, where is my wine?  Yes, you heard me.  I am a grown up goat now, and I demand equal rights.
My lady's father told her about this wine, and what does she do?  NOTHING!  He said it wasn't his favourite wine, but naturally, it is goat wine, so I should have some!  Where is the justice here?  Am I a forgotten little puff of fybur, left to rot in the corner?  What have I done to deserve this sort of neglect?

And another thing!  Where is my proper wardrobe?!  My lady's friend has a goat that she is borrowing, named Darla, and Darla has a full and extensive wardrobe.  In particular, she has jammies with a rabbit on them.  She gets to wear her jammies and live in a HOUSE and chew the blinds!!!  This is just an OUTRAGE!  I should be living in the house, in jammies, chewing blinds.
Please send help.  I deserve a proper goat life filled with a castle and wine and pretty outfits.  Where is my agent?!