The fading light of winter.

Yesterday was a fine day; probably the last one for a while and I took advantage to do the hoof trimming, worming and inoculation of the sheep and goats. All in all it went well. They don’t like it much, and neither do I but with James’ help we got sixteen of nineteen clipped and wormed, and the pregnant sheep vaccinated. Today I am sore from the ungulate wrangling. Halfway through Bridget wanted to help and comfort “her Hornsleys” (the baby goats have horns, the sheep are polled). She seems fond of them more than the sheep and begged me not to harvest anymore. Then we had goat for dinner which she also liked. Dinner was a goat named “Trouble” who would hide at hoof trimming time.  Tashell’s Kenyan style Trouble is delicious.

I have learned through some trial and lots of error how to make the trimming process more efficient; penning them in a small area I spread lots of grain and keep them distracted and one by one I catch them and sweep their legs out from under them. The pregnant sheep are the saddest as they can hardly right themselves and instead wallow like turtles until I get them up. The goats are more persistent but also the most response to calm voice and touch. Hard to square tackling an animal with talking in a soothing baby voice, but when I can pull it off it works. Finally the last Hornsley is off in the evening field and Bridget goes to chase them with the dog. I pick up rags and syringes and head to the house as the sun dips low and south towards the Coast Range across the river.

This was not the first plan for my life; I don’t know whether this is plan R or Plan Q; more likely it is like the letter my former landlord made up and built a house around while he was high on some mix of LSD and Mushrooms. The letter “Mrrv” he called it. That isn’t the exact spelling, but the source of that house was an oral history, not a written one. Plan A was to be dead by 30, but at 25 my girlfriend got pregnant and ruined that plan. Plan B was to stay married in Olympia, but that failed to, along with plans C though… well whatever this one is now.

My parable for life used to be floating down a river; a long inexorable journey to predetermined destination. Life has shown me instead the reverse is true; as we head up the river we are constantly faced with choices each one marking a new pathway. Upriver because life is work as we struggle against the natural order of decay to make something of ourselves. There is in the end the same destination but the beauty of free will, or character if you will, is that we get to choose where go in the midpoint between birth and death. Childhood is to a great extent in the hands of our parents, death is inevitable but in between is the trip of our own choosing.

Like many these days I worry for my children. In a time when the earth warms, the oceans acidify and angry white men shoot babies in church, it is hard not to. But while Khalil Gibran may have likened children as arrows to the future, they are to me they are more like harpoons- lashed to beams of a tiny shell in large ocean, plunged deeply into an unknown future our fate is tied to that future. We cannot let go or turn away, we are bound together in one boat. I can be nothing but optimistic on this Nantucket sleigh ride. Good fortune and hard work has brought me this far and being tied to the future I see no choice but to grasp the oar with both hands and keep rowing.


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