☆ May 24, 2016
Daisy had a baby! So… this happened really all of a sudden, or as “all of a sudden” as something that takes nine months can happen.
Backing up: Daisy’s last calf was Leila, in 2014. Daisy is always a bit challenging to breed back, but in early 2015, when it would have been time to start trying to get Daisy pregnant again, I was in the midst of dealing with my health baloney and I didn’t want her to be pregnant. I had stopped milking her because I didn’t have the energy (Leila was big enough at that point to take care of Daisy’s milk output on her own) and I couldn’t deal with the responsibility of Daisy calving again until I got my health back on track and reached a more functional state of being.
Last summer, we brought our bull Billy in to breed the cows and heifers that spent the summer here at home. (The majority of cows and bulls spend the summer on the mountain.) Billy is daddy to all the calves I’ve shared here this spring – Ixchel, Sid, and the rest – and he also got Leila pregnant for her first time. It was possible that he had bred Daisy, too, but I wasn’t terribly confident that it happened. It usually takes Daisy several cycles to finally get pregnant, and after about three months of having Billy in with the cows, we had to move him out again. One of the neighbor’s cows showed up and climbed through our fence and Billy bred her (I watched it happen) and we moved him out that very day. Because cows can have STDs.
There’s a bovine STD called trichomoniasis (“trich” for short) which causes cows to spontaneously abort, and it was not worth the risk to keep Billy in with our cows until we had him tested again. Since it takes a couple of months of dormancy for trich to show up on tests, Billy was out of work for the season. Mike was convinced Daisy had been bred, but I was skeptical… until earlier this spring, when it became apparent she was making milk! I was overjoyed. And I guess I didn’t fully believe that she was actually, truly pregnant until quite close to the end of the term, because I was going to post about Daisy being pregnant, but she had her baby before I even could.
A week or so ago, I started obsessively checking on Daisy and Leila for signs of labor. With angus cows, it’s pretty easy to tell when the time is near just by looking at their udder, but Daisy’s udder keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and it’s not a great indicator. This happened to be the case with Leila, too – she has Daisy’s genetics in that department, more so than Fiona, and her udder also kept getting bigger and bigger. Fast forward to Friday night: the sun was setting and all the cows were eating near the house and Mike and I went outside and, at exactly the same time, we turned to each other and said “Where’s Daisy?!!”
I found her off by herself in a draw. This is what cows do when they are close to having their babies. I lured her all the up to the house with treats and put her in the yard for the night, so it would be easy to check on her – Daisy’s last two calves had been breach and I was not going to rest until I knew all was well. I checked on her hourly till midnight, then at 2am, then at 4am. Nothing was really going on through the night, but at 4am, I got the sense that I shouldn’t wait another two hours to check on her again. So I checked on her at 5am, and she had hooves sticking out – and they were the correct direction! And I rejoiced, because the calf was not breach. And not five minutes later, Daisy lay down and had her baby in the light of dawn.
And two hours later, within sight of the yard but off on her own, Leila had her baby, too! Perfectly and easily.
I named Leila’s baby Pixie because she is so little and cute. And I named Daisy’s baby Roxy, which is a variant of the English variant of the French variant of the Latin variant of the Persian word for dawn. And Sid might get his own happy cow family after all…. but that’s a story for another post.
☆ May 18, 2016
The other day, my mind wandered into wondering about the motivations of early humans. Here’s the list I came up with, in order of priority:
To make their lives
• more secure
• more convenient
• more beautiful
• more meaningful (to find/define the meaning)
And then I wondered what has changed. And then I realized NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Nothing has changed, in regards to general human motivations, in 50,000+ years. The technology with which we attempt to achieve them has changed (vastly and drastically), but our incentives? Still the same as cavemen.
And then I decided to assume, for the sake of a mind game, that these motivations are no longer sound. Let’s say we’ve solved them, wholly and completely and permanently. I decided to try to see if I could:
TO MAKE OUR LIVES SAFER: Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Platitudes can be found in many religions, spiritualities, and philosophies which all boil down to “you are always safe (if you believe).” I say “platitudes” because it is hard for me to reconcile the words “you are always safe” when juxtaposed against the facts of this speech and this book and this story and the truth that I could continue this list of examples for pages. So let’s circle back to this one.
TO MAKE OUR LIVES EASIER: “Easier” isn’t a sustainable thing. What if we collectively let go of wanting things to be easy all the time. I’m taking this back to the premise of my commencement address: you can’t avoid pain. It does not matter how much money one has or how much power one has or how much love or how much sex or how many awards – these things do not magically make people exempt from pain and difficulty. To attempt a life of permanent easiness that is free from pain is futile, and therefore a waste of time, energy, and opportunity. So let’s take EASIER off the list.
TO MAKE OUR LIVES MORE SECURE: “The illusion of safety” is a concept my aunt and I came up with right before my cross-country Vespa ride. I did not have room to bring a tent. And I didn’t want to bring mace because I didn’t know how the pressurized canister would handle the extreme heat and elevation changes of my ride (I didn’t want it to explode on me). And my aunt and I came to realize that “tent” and “mace” do not guarantee safety, or even do much to mitigate potential harm the way my helmet and leathers did. And even my helmet and leathers didn’t guarantee my safety. We want guarantees so badly and we just don’t get them. Perhaps a better term is “the illusion of control.” The ancient Greeks called it the “caprice of the Gods,” and built their entire mythology around it. I have an IRA and I wear my seat belt and I recommend both, but they don’t guarantee anything. So let’s take SECURITY off the list.
TO MAKE OUR LIVES MORE CONVENIENT: Convenience is killing us. I decided this when I was living in the cabin, which was glorified camping, especially through six Wyoming winters. I didn’t have a furnace and I had to chop wood for the woodstove and haul water from the horse trough but I was in excellent shape, just from living – I got strong because I didn’t have a button on the wall to make my hovel warm. And while I wouldn’t really wish that kind of lifestyle on anyone, nor on myself at age 50-plus, going from furnace-heated-house to car to elevator to office to sofa to bed with some take out meals in the middle is not great for our health. So let’s take CONVENIENT off the list.
TO MAKE OUR LIVES MORE BEAUTIFUL: I love art, I make art, and, in my opinion, music is utter magic. But we’ve got nuthin’ on Mother Nature – her work is the best. I don’t NEED jewelry when I have a sunrise. So let’s accept that there is BEAUTY all around us all the time and take that off the list, too.
TO ASSIGN MEANING TO OUR LIVES: I may have become a bit cynical after so much loss and death in the past few years, or maybe I’ve become more realistic, but I’ve come to think that so much of the meaning we try to assign to our lives (and to death) are bedtime stories for grownups. Stories we tell ourselves to feel better, to feel less out of control, perhaps to guide but mostly to comfort. Here’s the meaning I’ve assigned everything at this point: all we have is right now, and we really don’t know f*ck-all about any of it. So that takes MEANING off the list.
And then I wondered what’s left. If we can go back to the first point of safety and determine that we are not in imminent danger, and everything else on the list of caveman motivations has been refuted, what could motivate us? What WOULD motivate us?
And I decided the answer is KINDNESS. Kindness to others.
Vonnegut was right: “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
And if we were able to do this, REALLY were able to, collectively… the first point of safety would be granted to so many who don’t have it now.
It’s been interesting, fun, and disturbing to analyze myself since going on this mind trip – my thoughts, my choices, my actions – am I leading with a caveman motivation or am I leading with kindness? It is a work in progress.
DISCLAIMER, UGH! Everything written here came to me in one piece, almost like a picture, and turning it into shareable words was HARD. I’ve been trying to write this post for days and am finally hitting publish at 1:30 am. My refutations of the caveman motivations are merely brief personal examples of my own experiences and opinions and I hope none of it comes across as “preachy,” that is NOT my intention. DISCLAIMER OVER.
☆ May 17, 2016
I’m working on a post that is so clear in my mind, yet so convoluted when I try to write it down…. I hope to have it up later today. In the meantime, Ixchel! Isn’t she a doll?
☆ May 13, 2016
It’s been a while since I shared an artist whose work I love. This painting, by Diana Tremaine, was inspired by Charlie. I’m obsessed with it.
You can see Diana’s portfolio site HERE. Her style is just so good.
☆ May 10, 2016
My Kickstarter ended Friday and was funded at over 200%! HUGE love and thanks for sharing and supporting my Kickstarter, Star Brand Beef, and the revolution against feedlots and factory farms. The Kickstarter has been a catalyst for a lot of discussion and thought, which is powerful – sometimes uncomfortable, always good. There is much more to share, but right now I’m off to Thermopolis (quite possibly the best town name ever, after Shreve, Ohio) for speech therapy (this voice is still a work in progress) and a soak in the hot springs….KEEP LOOKING »