And why do I get so worked up about TV? Because this is what the real world has to offer me, and frankly, there's only so much of that I can take in a day. That there are knuckle-dragging barbarians like this still alive today, walking around free men, is an offense of such monumental proportions that I am literally speechless with rage. Remember that part in Alma, that says the Nephites, having been at war with the Lamanites, "were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God"? Well, unprepared or not, it's time for people like this to shuffle off this mortal coil. It's time for them to get started on atoning for their unconscionable betrayal of all that is divine within us.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I feel bad about hating David Archuleta. Not bad enough to mend my ways, but I am aware of the irrationality of hating a kid who is clearly more likable in real life than many young men his age. My hatred is all music-related, because he just doesn't get it. John got on my case last night about using the word "blaspheme" to describe what he does to songs, so I will try to tone it down.
First offense: "Imagine"
(This is a retread for most people foolish enough to ask for my opinion about something as disposable as a hideous reality program, so forgive my repetition.) What made me so angry about this was his embellishment and elaboration of the song. This song is beautiful because of its simplicity and humility. Misguided as he may have been about the correct implementation of his ideas, John Lennon really was driven by what I think were pure motives in composing this song. And Archuleta didn't get that. He tried to tart it all up and turn it into something it wasn't. It's not a power ballad, you moron. And this song is never. about. you. The performer is merely a vehicle to express the message of the song. It requires enough musical proficiency to do the song justice, and enough maturity to let the song sing itself, in a way.
Second offense: all the weeks since "Imagine"
Meh to the lot of them. John and I were discussing how one great performance early on in the competition can allow a contestant to skate through some pretty horrible following weeks, I think because everyone keeps wanting him to recapture his glory (see: Brooke White, "Let It Be"). And I'm not even speaking as an offended Beatles fan.
Third offense: "America"
This was meh, too, but a far more egregious meh. I will freely admit that he was hung out to dry by that insipid arrangement--the original derives so much emotion from that pulsing guitar, and the "Today!" chorus --but even so, he sucked real real bad on this song. This is a song that brings tears to my eyes (from all around comes the sound of my friends and family saying, ". . . and?"), it is so much a part of my starry-eyed, unabashedly patriotic childhood. Remember the Cold War? Remember being devoted to America? Remember when there was a clear distinction between good and evil? When the American Dream was uncomplicated by moral grey areas? Ah, childhood. Anyhoodle, this song is another one that you don't screw around with, and his puppies-and-rainbows hammer didn't hit this nail.
All in all, I will concede that he sings well. But there's much more to being a memorable performer than musical ability. Runs and fancy-schmancy notes don't mean anything if you have not a clue what in the world you're singing about. I remember when people were losing their entire minds about Leann Rimes, and I was like, "So? So what if she's got a good voice? She has no experience with loss, with hardship, with love unrequited or reciprocated, with joy. She's a larva still. Get back to me when she's done some living." I have no idea if she's gotten any better, because I don't listen to country music. But I would bet that she gets what she's singing about now.
That's my opinion on the subject. So I guess he's not to blame for his lack of gravitas, because he's . . . seventeen. But don't expect me to be throwing my hands up in the air about his "prodigious" gift, because although he may be deemed to be the "best" (read: most marketable) famewhore of a group of famewhores, he's not that big of a deal.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I think Skiver anticipates milking season as eagerly as I do. When I milk, the first few squirts from each teat go into a little metal cup with a screened lid, called a strip cup. It helps you see immediately if there are serious problems with the milk--stringy milk would catch on the screen, and be a good indicator that the doe has mastitis. Also this is the milk that has been sitting down in the teat, rather than up in the udder, so it's not something that we really want to drink. So the cat gets the contents of the strip cup, and when he sees me start to make the udder wash/teat dip and get my supplies, he knows what's going on. He starts meowing insistently, and doesn't quit until he has a saucer of goat milk. Not that he needs it, the big tub of guts. Skiver is bigger than the goat kids for a few weeks, and it's funny to see him wandering around the goat pen like he's one of the guys.
Last night we disbudded Edna's and Tilde's babies. It was a demonstration for FHE, because when we did Tenacious D the kids were in bed, right by the patio, and we saw them looking out the window and being traumatized by all the burning hair and screaming. So we wanted them to see that the goats hated it for a minute, but they recuperate quickly and even forgive us eventually. I think I did a better job this time, because I tried to rotate the disbudding iron more slowly, to allow it to burn better the first time around, so we wouldn't have to re-do any spots.
I like that the price of rice has skyrocketed, for no other reason than because all of a sudden there's a huge demand for it. No shortage. No failed crops. The High Priest Group Leader was ticked on Sunday because he bought some rice for something like twice what it usually costs. They asked him why he didn't just wait until it all blows over, and he said, "'Cause I like rice! I could eat rice every day. I keep asking my wife to get it, and she won't, so finally I bought some because I'm out!"
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Catwoman had her babies this morning, only twins if you can believe it. She is miles better than she was last year, when she was almost totally useless as a mother. Like Grandpa Max would say, if they don't take care of their calves, they're no good to the herd. She cleaned them both off--they are girls--and we saw both of them eating, so pretty much this is our most successful year since we began our life as filthy goatherds. The final statistics are (in kidding order):
1 boy we call Tenacious D (because D is the biggest)
1 boy, 1 girl
1 boy, 1 girl
2 boys, 1 girl (one of the boys named Li'l Brudder, because he has the heart of a champion)
5 boys and 5 girls, for a total of 10 out of 10 healthy babies. Woohoo! And if there were ever a year to have so many boys, this is it. My dad said, "Well, the freezer will be full this year." Yep. Full of love! Also meat.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Who's tired? (yawns and raises hand) I am. Since my last post, here's what has happened:
lunchtime: Reheated pasta for my children, which they refused to eat, choosing to starve instead.
early afternoon: Saw that Vilda (our wonderful neighbor across the street, widow of TD, who was in the car of which the horse came through the windshield, if you remember) was getting ready to cross the street, so the children and I went over to escort her across. Vilda came to see the progress on our bathroom and to see the goats. We had a lovely chat, then when we were crossing the bridge she lost her balance and FELL INTO THE DITCH. I tried to catch her, but I was unable to, because I was holding the baby. So I hurried and put the baby down on the grass and ran over to help Vilda out of the ditch, and all I could think was "This is how the end started for TD, because he fell and Vilda couldn't get him up, and he got pneumonia, and was never the same." She didn't break anything, but of course she was terribly embarrassed, and so was I, and she'll probably hole up in her house and never come out again.
mid-afternoon: Saw that Finola was refusing to feed one of her kids--the one who had seemed weak--and I realized that he was starving. So I called John about 19 times and my mom about 10, trying to get advice on what I should do with this starving baby whose mother, despite my vigorous efforts, was rejecting him. Finally my mom called me back and remembered out of the blue clear sky that we had frozen goat milk from last year when Violet was on antibiotics. So I heated some of it up and fed it to him, and he drank 4 oz. in about 30 seconds.
late afternoon/early evening: Talked to my dad, who said that I probably didn't need to take the goat to Ogden with me, but I had better keep a close eye on him in case Finola continued to refuse him. Went to Ogden and looked around for a milking parlor solution, ate dinner, then bought some groceries at Costco, milk at Johnny's Dairy, then came home.
evening: Fed the baby, helped John put the kids to bed, then fed the baby goat again, who it was apparent hadn't eaten anything while we were gone.
10:00: So we would have enough milk for the baby, I milked Traci, who **WARNING: INDELICATE LANGUAGE AHEAD** has really large teats, like, I have to sort of fold them in half lengthwise to milk her, and the orifice is really tiny, so barely any milk comes out and it takes FOREVER to milk her. And did I mention that she kicked the bucket and got milk all over the place?
2:30 in the morning: Fed the baby goat.
6:30: Got up and started this day, which so far has caused me to take leave of my senses. We are getting rain, so that's nice, but goat and church and Scouting and school and home events have conspired to make me have 57 varieties of nervous breakdown. I don't do well when I don't get at least 8 hours of sleep, and I don't think I handle stress well. If even one thing goes wrong, it's like, "Well, THIS day is all shot to crap!" and everything on top of that brings me ever closer to a psychotic break.
I know my life is awesome, and I've got some serious chutzpah to even complain, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because it's my right--nay, duty--as an American!
ITEM OF BUSINESS: Go over to Jenny's blog and get the ice cream recipes. Can you see that I am serious?
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Also the feral mama cat from last spring has had a litter of babies in the garage, of course. Now I have to figure out what to do with that mess. I don't mind if she hangs around, because I'll bet she's a better mouser than Lazypants Skiver, but she can't be adding a bunch more wild babies to the world.
your Dutch oven?" Because we all know he's never going to use it. Never.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tonight we're going to attempt disbudding the rest of the babies. I don't know that we'll have enough time before it gets dark, but I hope so. I need to be done with this. They weren't ready on Friday, because their horn buds were barely perceptible. Traci's boy has survived his trauma and doesn't seem to bear us any ill will.
Slate has an interesting article concerning Obama's "cling" mess. I don't know that I have the desire to really get into this, but I think it's worth a read, even if I don't agree with everything the author says. My initial opinion (which was only lukewarm to begin with) of Obama has cooled considerably (starting right about the time his wife made those unfortunate remarks, which I know aren't necessarily his fault, but there you have it), and of course I'm sure he was both condescending AND pandering, because: politician, but I don't know that we need to be blaming him for class warfare. And, as I said to John last week, "How can he NOT think he's better than them? I think I'm better than them!" I don't like the culture of victimhood that our society seems to encourage. Everybody's got stuff. Some of it is a lot uglier than other, but you can't let it define who you are. You can't let it control you.
Smith's finally had some rhubarb last week, so I bought three pounds of it. I was going to make a rhubarb crisp and rhubarb ice cream to go on top, but we only made it to the ice cream. I candied some pecans to go on the ice cream instead. The recipe is from our friends the McAllisters, maybe Jenny will post it? If not, I will post it and credit my source. She also has a recipe for avocado smoothies over there that are really, really good, and I promise don't taste at all like monsters.
Here's a great chicken recipe we had last week:
You preheat the oven to 450*, heat a teaspoon or so of oil to medium high in a large ovensafe skillet, then put the chicken in, skin-side down, and put the skillet in the oven. After 15 minutes or something I had to take it out to put the bread in, and I added the mirepoix and finished it on the stovetop, so that part's kind of sketchy. It tasted so good, though. It's an adaptation of something a guy did on Martha sometime recently. What? My days are all mixy.
The bathroom odd-jobbing guys are here today. Bathrooms are so expensive, even ghetto bathrooms. And John is unhappy with the cement work, which is admittedly janky, having been done by two men who may or may not be charlatans, and we've already paid $800 dollars for the electrical work, and we don't even have any light in there, and we still have to buy the vanity base, and John is getting all pearl-clutchy about the shower, because he's a really tall guy, and it looks a lot like he's going to be hitting his head on the ceiling if they're not careful, which he loves SO MUCH, because he learned to love hitting his head on our canopy bed that has a giant log right above his eye level, and I still haven't called the cultured marble guy back, because I'm pretty excited to spend Wow! That much? on the shower and backsplash, and I'm darn sick and tired of having panels of sheet rock just sitting around in my family room just waiting to be knocked over, speaking of which, Superman knocked over the marble vanity the other day, and it fell on him, but got stuck halfway down by the sheet rock, so I guess it saved his life, which is a good thing, but what it comes down to is THIS BATHROOM NEEDS TO BE FINISHED NOW. Or, as our electrician (who is honestly worth every penny we've ever paid or will pay him) calls it, the "combination toidey-gym." Because I'm probably going to put my treadmill and a TV down on the far end, and put up a curtain or a screen. You stay classy, self!
Friday, April 18, 2008
It's time to start disbudding. Here's how it goes: Imagine someone took a thumb-sized cylinder of copper and heated it in the very flames of Mordor, then attached it to the handle of Zeus's curling iron. That's called a disbudding iron.
We have to kill and cauterize all the horn-growing cells in the goat's head, otherwise it will get horns like Tilde has, because I did such a crap job of disbudding last year. But in my defense, it's one of the most horrible things I've ever had to do to a living creature. Aside from the deer that I smooshed in December.
John is the kid restrainer, and I have to do the burning. I take the iron and place it with the horn bud in the center of the 800* cylinder, and rock it all around until there is a nice copper-colored ring around the horn. Sounds easy, right? Not so, for behold:
See how the ring around his horn is NOT copper colored? I don't know what the deal is, but every time I think I've gone down to the skull, and every time it turns out I didn't do it long enough. Keep in mind that all this time the kid is SCREAMING and trying like the dickens to get away, and both John and I are trying to keep from being burned on the iron. Sucks. I hate it so much. We did Traci's baby tonight, and afterward he took his little* foot and scratched off the little* horn bud in the center and started bleeding. He was making sad little* noises, and I'm pretty sure I've ruined him.
*Edited to add: You can tell I was freaked out because I used the same adjective three times in those last two sentences. I will compose myself.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I can't say for certain yet, but I think that my peas aren't growing very well. They seem very sparsely populated. The carrots have yet to make an appearance--I'm looking at YOU, seed tape--and I'm feeling pretty ticked about the whole thing. I've never had an unsuccessful garden--at least not at this point. It usually goes way south in the summer when I'm too busy/lazy to weed and water, but I always have good peas. Stupid seeds. I don't have time for this nonsense. In case you haven't noticed, GARDEN, we have actual live people and animals depending on us, and we can't be enablers of your embarrassing clinginess. I've amended the soil with ruminant feces and watered you faithfully, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? At least the spinach and lettuce are doing well, as is the rhubarb. The five kale plants I transplanted are just sort of sitting there, but I think they're still alive. They look alive, anyway. But I'm telling you, this had better get itself correct.
Superman helped me plant the three rhubarb plants (I figure since I always kill the rhubarb--see above re: busy/lazy--this time I'd really go out with a bang and kill three plants at once), and I had a lengthy discussion with him about not eating the leaves of the rhubarb, because of the not-yummy poison in them. I also made him tell his brothers, to help it sink in. But since my children like to eat cat food* and toilet paper**, it's anybody's guess as to the effectiveness of my speech.
*I am not making this up. The Hulk used to sneak into my parents' shed and fill the pockets of his Sunday shirt with cat food to eat during church. So he wants a glossy coat, is that a crime?
**Also not made up.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Then Edna's daughter snuck out through the fence panel and Edna got the vapors about it.
Does anyone think that perhaps a better solution to the Great Polygamist Mess of '08 would be if law enforcement had gone in and removed the perverted old men, rather than the women and children who aren't really the problem? The taxpayers are already supporting them, so . . .
Monday, April 14, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
It's good we have computers to tell us when our babies are due, because apparently we're just like those people who have no idea they're pregnant, go to use the bathroom in Walmart and end up having a baby right there in the toilet. We got home from a family cookout this afternoon, and bang, there on the ground were four brand new babies. I was out there for a couple of hours right before we left, checking out all the ladies, and not a one of them seemed about to go into labor. But here were Edna and Tilde with a set of twins each. Crazy. So we had a busy evening tying, cutting and dipping navels and making sure everyone was bonding properly. I can't decide whether or not to splint Tilde's twins' ears, because it's a hassle, and they're not going to be pets or anything. Traci's little boy still has wonky legs, and he walks on the sides of his hooves like my grandma. They all have fat tummies and seem to be eating fine, and as long as we don't get too close to Tilde the stupid idiot, she does great. But as soon as we try to get near her she runs away, often knocking over one of her kids in the process. She's going to get herself culled if she doesn't watch out.
Here are some gross and confusing pictures about what we have to do with a new baby goat.
Tie a square knot around the umbilical cord.
Then get your cutting tools, a rusty Leatherman in my case, and cut off the extra stuff.
Then dip it in iodine, and be sure to make a mess all over yourself, like I do.
All done and reunited with mom Edna.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Well, in true goat fashion Traci kidded sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning, without letting any of us know what she was up to. I went out this morning and heard a little "maaaaa" sound, and there was our first goat baby of 2008! He was nice and dry, his ears were flat, and his tummy feels full. He has Boer coloring and is a handsome devil. Although, his front feet seem a little wonky, and I suspect it has something to do with his sire, since our neighbors have also had baby goats with leg problems sired by the same buck. We're not naming any of the babies this year, since they're all bound for the chop, or someone else's house, at least. Sad. Also yummy.
Last weekend we made strawberry jam at my mom's house, since 'tis the season. We got 50 1/2 pints to divide among my two sisters and myself, and it's nice to have it done for another year. That's the way to do it, too, because all that cleaning, chopping and stirring wears on a person after a few hours. Even though John is a great family canning assistant, I'd still probably choose to have my mom and sisters help.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
This book suits my noir sense of humor and pessimistic opinion of humankind.
Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
I discovered when reading All the Pretty Horses that I really like Westerns, and this was a very engaging novel. Grody details here and there, and if someone could please explain to me why in the world Woodrow Call would be friends with a puke like Gus McCrae, it would certainly be helpful.
I do not recommend these books to anyone who objects to salty language and unsavory subject matter. I, however, loved them, because I am undiscriminating. Like a buzzard.
If any of you have read the Lonesome Dove series and can tell me in what order you think I should read these books, I would appreciate it. I don't know whether to read them in publishing order or chronological order.
Next on the docket is Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. I love her writing, and I'm excited to read this book again.
We were in charge of the treat at the soccer game tonight, and because I am horrible and enjoy the tears of children, I brought raisins. MWA HA HA HA HA! Most of them decided they'd rather go without than eat "nature's candy." One child openly renounced raisins and all their dark works. For some reason they'd rather eat the Ring Pops and candy bars that other parents bring.
Monday, April 7, 2008
We got our our goats Traci and Finola two years ago in February, in order to begin The Grand Experiment, and this is what we were immediately able to ascertain: Finola was going to be a problem. She full-on YELLED at us for the first two weeks we had her. Day, night, it didn't matter. She stood in the pen, glaring at the house and bawling. We began to understand why it was that the Drakes let us have such a beautiful goat with a perfect udder for so comparatively little money.
Kidding went okay, considering that neither John nor I had the foggiest idea of what we were doing. Thankfully we had both been present at the birth of our children, so we caught on quickly--baby comes out, dry baby off, get mucus out of baby's nose and mouth, take care of baby's belly button, tape cardboard flaps to baby's ears to make sure they don't dry folded--just like with our babies!
We waited two weeks for the colostrum to work its way out of their milk, then we started milking. Right away Finola confirmed our worst suspicions. Whereas Traci would stand calmly munching her grain, Finola danced, kicked and stuck her foot in the bucket. She was truly horrible. I couldn't get any decent amount of milk from her, because she put her foot in it or kicked it all over the patio. In frustration, I called the Drakes and asked what I was doing wrong. I found out that they machine milk, which takes a fraction of the time of handmilking, so maybe she was impatient. They told me to just give her a good whack when she started acting up and that should help. I needed to assert my dominance.
The next morning I wrestled Finola into the milking stand and got her head restrained in the stanchion. I put some grain in the feeder and started to milk. Right away she started misbehaving, so I slapped her haunches and said, "NO." I resumed milking, she resumed kicking and acting like a freak. Again I slapped her and said, "NO!" The escalation of hostilities continued with me slapping and Finola kicking until I was slapping her hindquarters as hard as I could, while sobbing, and she was doing a bang-on impression of the legion of demons that possessed the herd of swine.
I was beside myself, so I called my dad, explained the situation, and asked if he could give me any advice. Being a master of understatement, he said this to me: "Well, I just know that the harder and crueler you are to them, the worse they act, and the gentler you are, the better they'll be." Oh. Then he said that something my grandpa had tried with recalcitrant cows was tying one of their hind legs to a rafter while he milked, so she couldn't kick or get away.
So I decided to try it. The next milking I got a piece of twine and tied Finola's hind leg to the stanchion, so she was totally immobilized. I sat down, started to milk, and I thought, "Aha! I've finally got it!" Everything was going great, squirt, squirt, squirt went the milk into the bucket, but let me just tell you what happened then. Somehow she suddenly jumped into the air and off the milking stand, wrenched her head out of the stanchion, gave the milk bucket a terrific kick, and went careening across the patio, knocking into the roof supports, running into the car, tearing through the garden and the ditch and into the hayfield, all the while dragging the milking stand, which was still fastened to her hind leg. I laughed and laughed in the midst of my paroxysm of rage. She was fairly easy to catch, because of the dead weight she was hauling, and I decided to let her off another day.
This was the lowest point of my milking career. The next day I approached the task with a new perspective. While I milked Finola I held the bucket with one hand and milked with the other. I talked softly and sang to her while I did it. I told her she was a smart girl and a good girl. I told her thank you for her milk and for her behavior (some of these things were insincere). I was a right hippie, in other words. But that day was the beginning of a change in Finola, and in me. Her behavior was bad for a long time, but never as bad those first few days, and always better than the day before. And I realized that goats are very similar to children. They need to be told they're smart and good, and that you love them. They need to be treated with respect and kindness. And they will prove capable of the tasks you give them if you just believe in them and give them the necessary tools. I don't always act according to my knowledge, but every time I see Finola I remember that lesson, and what my dad told me, and I think it helps me get a little better every day--I hope it does. It's too important to screw up.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I told you! I told you that biofuel was not a panacea! (Not here on the blog, true, but I have been saying it.) Now instead of digging into the ground and putting up giant ugly oil derricks, we're chopping down all the trees in the world to plant corn and only corn, so food prices are skyrocketing, and it's just trading one evil for another. Why do we insist on scorched earth behavior?
What is Russia's problem? I could go on, but I would only expose my ignorance about the greater themes at play in this situation, so I will just say that Putin is a scary dude. And one can assume that Medvedev is too, or Putin wouldn't have chosen him as his successor.
I think I agree that boycotting the Olympics might be a good idea, not because it will change anything, because of course it won't, but because it's a way to say that we don't condone the Chinese government's thoroughly crappy treatment of its citizenry. I'm mad at China about other things, too, but I think I've covered the feeding-plastic-to-pigs and making-toys-out-of-lead problems in previous posts.
I think you can blame what is currently happening to our economy entirely upon people trying to circumvent the law of the harvest.
It's been a bossy couple of days around here, and I apologize. When I return, I will tell the story of Finola's Disastrous Milking.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Did you know that Smith's gives you a rebate for using your own bags? Neat, huh? I got 10 cents today, because I had two bags' worth of groceries. Good for them.
I fear that too much of my self-worth depends upon the contents of my grocery cart. I am a snob, and I'll admit (only somewhat shamefacedly) that I sometimes compare my groceries to those of my fellow patrons, and I sort of feel smug and self-satisfied. But I am a bad person, so that's what one would expect. And how hideous is it that I derive confidence from grocery choice? That's what I do here, is overshare. You're welcome.
However. I think it's not necessarily a bad thing to look around at other people's groceries, and see if they translate to appearance or behavior. Do skinny people always have healthy stuff in their cart? Do obese people only have Funyuns and Hostess Pudding Pies in theirs? I wonder. I know they sometimes do, because I've seen it, but I've also seen some skinny people with junk food in their carts. Lucky stiffs. It reminds me of when you see those great headlines about how a bunch of people lost 18 pounds or some crazy number by just not drinking pop with every meal. And it's like, what about those of us who already eat healthy (or healthfully, as those idiots at Cooking Light want us to say)? What are we supposed to do? And that, in turn, reminds me: Oh. Portion control. Because I didn't get into my 5 year old pants by doing everything the same.