It’s been so long since I have written a blog post I had to remember where to start! The good news is that I’m alive and well and making progress on “The Book” – 4 chapters down and chugging along. It’s very much the same process as the Long Ride – as I’m writing I’m feeling the very same sense of struggling along moment by moment trying to figure out just how to do this thing. The false starts and re-starts, the daily struggle of figuring out the process, what to do next, how can I move forward, what will make this better? The flashes of “aha!” when a section finally comes together. Of course, the knowing that This is what I’m Meant to be Doing with my life (right now) is Not the same thing as sitting down in the cell every day and actually doing it. Writing a book is a lot lonelier than the ride – and it has to be. As long as I kept letting myself get distracted by other people I kept not writing the book.
I am spending a crazy amount of time in the cell, a 9×10 room at the back of the house – the only room in the house that has fresh paint on the walls and rugs on the floor, it’s cozy and I love it in here. Which is a good thing, really! Many nights find me still writing at 3am and up again 6 hours later to re-read what I wrote the night before and see if I can make it better. Last weekend I worked my shifts at Paisley’s Steakhouse and slept 11 hours a night on friday and saturday nights. Then on Sunday night I wrote until 4:20am. Today I took a break because George and Jess showed up with a big load of firewood and the day was incredibly gorgeous, warm and breezy and so nice to be outside doing something physical. Then Robert Doolittle showed up with a dozen (dead) ducks which Saint George and I plucked and fileted on the front porch. These are the first ducks of the season and I’m so excited!
Fox’s French-side family do things with wild duck livers and so this year we decided to take the livers as well. We opened up the central cavity of the first duck, a Teal, found heart, lungs, intestines, gizzard – no liver? Three adult humans working this out as logically as we can -> simply cannot find the liver. George has raised, killed and cleaned a lot of birds and even he can’t find the liver. Feeling like an impossibly modern human I go fetch my laptop and ask google – which is ridiculous. How can I Be this Ignorant? Google sheds no light on the dilemma but leads me to step-by-step directions for disemboweling a duck. I open the second duck, determined to follow the directions exactly – as if I lost the liver by doing things in the wrong order the last time and it escaped? Strangely enough, the second duck is carrying its liver exactly where it’s supposed to – impossible to miss. This is true of ducks 3 through 12 as well, except for #11 whose liver was fairly well shredded by the tiny bullets. I am left wondering how Duck #1 managed to survive and eat and fly without a liver…?
The menagerie here at what we’ve come to call “The Old Dickens’ Place” is much smaller than the last time I wrote. Gryph left for San Francisco and clown school on the Autumnal Equinox, hitching the big trucks and making the run safely and triumphantly in 48 hours for a sum total of $8.50. A few days later Sheela-na-gig had a collision with a moving vehicle and was found by our lovely mail lady who had just finally the day before gotten her to the point where she’d accept a treat from her hand. Such a sad day, for everybody. A few days after that Stretchy (the chicken) disappeared while no humans were home. Turned out to be a hawk who returned over the next week and a half and took the Baits as well – three hens down. We did add a Golden Comet hen named Temple Tuttle (which is the name of the mother comet of the Perseids – how cool is that!?) so the current count is two roosters and three hens.
The problem with hawks eating chickens is that it’s illegal to kill the hawks. Which makes perfect sense until they’re eating MY chickens. And I really didn’t want to kill them, I just wanted them to leave my flock alone. Solution!? Bottlerockets. Any sign of a hawk and the bottle rocket goes in the PVC pipe that functions as an aimable rocket launcher. The rockets (sometimes we triangulate and set off two or three) scare away the hawks and we’re seeing them less and less often so I’m assuming we’re onto something here. Legal (at least in Mississippi) and Fun! (And now I’m ready to get more chickens.)
No goats though. I sold Spot and Taz to what I believe to be a good situation. The young man who bought them is working his grandfather’s farm – with his wife and kids (when the babies get old enough!) and he liked the goats and they took to him right away. He’s building a herd so they’ll have plenty of company and a much bigger fenced area to roam in than they had here. I don’t actually miss the goats so much. Much better in fantasy than reality – lesson learned! The Perfect Cat, That One, Spuds MaGee (aka Brownie) and Annie P are very much in residence.
Which brings us to the herd. A few days before Christmas we brought the ponies back to Big Creek where we’ve been offered a pasture to use that’s a 5 minute walk from the house and has trees and a pond. (Thank you Frank!) They’d been 8 miles away in a lovely pasture all Autumn, which is quite a distance if you don’t have wheels. In November Luna Jack suffered a mysterious pasture accident. Saint George went out to feed the ponies and she was all banged up, like she’d been hit by a truck, which was obviously impossible since she was in a pasture. For several days it was touch and go, she was eating and drinking but laying down most of the time and then one morning she just wasn’t going to get up. I’d gone so far as to call a man with a gun but when he arrived a couple of hours later the Bute had kicked in and she was on her feet again. That was the turning point in her recovery but we still had to deal with a Staph infection in her left front pastern and significant stiffness and abrasions. She also lost a lot of weight.
She’s doing better now, mostly healed up and mostly sound but I’ve finally come to the realization that she needs to find a different home. Right now I have three horses and only one of them can actually be ridden. That’s silly and makes it impossible for two people to go out riding together. Jesse James and Saint Finehorn still haven’t really taken to Luna Jack. I have no idea what their problem is with her but they haven’t liked her since the first time they met her and that situation hasn’t improved with time. I’m having a hard time with the idea of “putting her up on Craigslist” or “calling a rescue”. I need to find the right situation for her with someone who will care for her, will understand her and help her find her calling in life. She isn’t the sort of horse that can go to a complete novice who always wanted a horse and wants her because she’s pretty. She’s got great Quarter Horse bloodlines (and papers) but I hate to think of her being Bred Every Year until she can’t. She’s smart and affectionate and – – – obviously I haven’t got a clear vision of “the perfect situation for Luna Jack” but after much deliberation I decided the smartest thing I can think of is to let you all know the situation and see what happens from there.
All the photos in this post were taken by Fox – the resident ODPP. Hopefully I’ll be sharing more of his work here soon!
Thank you for the update! Happy to hear that you are still on the path. The book will be spectacular! Hugs from us in Llano, California!
Phew, I too was worried but now relieved, I knew you weren’t watching cartoons and eating ding dongs on the couch. I look forward to “the book”. Keep up the good work. We always enjoy your posts of life’s new chapters. We crossed paths @ Rowe Camp.
So relieved to find a new post. You know some of us ‘mother hens’ worry when there is no news…lol….Glad to hear that all is well and you are progressing with the book. Keep warm and be well.
It is so nice to know that you are doing well. My son still speaks of you and that late August day we met in the Jemez Mountain forest of New Mexico. God Bless.
I was hoping you were working on that book and the reason you weren’t posting anything. I am glad you are doing well and was glad to see the pictures of the herd.
We assumed you were deep into the writing phase.. But to HEAR that is wonderful news.
The ‘cell’ description is perfect. No wonder you thrive in it… Most fun reading about your animals , hawk attacks, surgical prowess , . Photos are amazingly beautiful!..Goats are happy elsewhere..
Sad thinking of Luna Jack..but hopeful ..
We are watching the ducks and egrets on our little lake in Clearwater..and weather up north..
Very cold,but our family thrives thankfully! Love to you and your ‘household’ X the Swensons
So glad to see you back at it! I sure have missed hearing from you! You have helped to inspire me and I am once again riding… and loving it as I always have!
Just he other day Josh (the big burly biker with the tiny chihuahua) asked if I had heard anything from you. I said “no, I’ll have to check her blog.” Viola, you have a new post! Good to here you are chugging along with the book. Can’t wait to read it!