Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Birds and Things

For whatever reason, these photos that I uploaded from my phone are all wacky in their spacing and sizes, and not chronological (of course). But, even so, I think they're a good batch and don't have the patience to figure out what the html issue is, so apologies for the huge block of text followed by awkwardly skewed photos with no proper breaks between them.

The chickens continue to grow as the days go by. I can hardly believe that just a few weeks ago they could easily fit in the palm of my hand. Now they've got taller and proper feathers and man alive they can scurry quite a bit, which makes picking them up and getting them accustomed to being handled is more of a challenge...though just as gratifying once the impossible has been achieved. This is one of the chickens in my hand. The sign came from some of the building materials S. and L. gleaned to build their house lo so many years ago. Really neat history, that house has.
Last week I went to see LAKE perform at the Bayview Community Center. It was a kind of funny crowd of folks, of whom I knew about four people. I liked some of the band's songs, though some were perhaps a little more earnest with lyrics like "Don't hate yourself." Or maybe it was "don't hang yourself." In either case, a little funny. Their overall musical stylings were kind of like a slightly more upbeat Yo La Tengo vibe. 
I am thinking that this chicken may need to be named Penelope for no particular reason other than I feel like it's a good name for a chicken. 
I have long hated all caterpillar-related things. I guess I don't actually hate butterflies or moths. So really I just hate caterpillars, which is unfortunate considering the fact that the tent caterpillar population on the island has sky rocketed over the last three weeks. They are everywhere and in such massive numbers it is stultifying. Though they make me feel very weird in my brain and body, the reality is that I have to get over it if I want to do anything outside, which I do. But the sight of the lambs' food area, which is brimming with caterpillars from the ground to the roof, is still enough to stop me cold for a moment. 
A week or two back, W. and I went to the local farm store to get more chicken feed and then decided that a really good idea would be to get fishing rods and licenses so that we could start our professional fishing careers. Since then I've gone fishing twice at two different lakes. Neither time did I get a single bite, let alone even a tadpole of a fish, but I still have faith. We also got the fresh/salt water licenses, with the extra clearance to crab and dig for clams, so later this summer is going to be very exciting. This is a photo of my second lake trip, during which I lost my bobber and lure to a poor cast into a tall tree. While no fish were caught, I did see quite a magnificent adult bald eagle, and the view wasn't so bad. A boat would also probably lead to more success. 
I think one of the ways I cope with how disgusting I think all these caterpillars are is to remove myself from the reality and simply document it. The lambs seem totally ignorant of the squirming life force all around them. Ah ignorance. 
We had a series of incredibly warm and sunny days last week, of which I took full advantage, going to both a beach away from the farm and then going down to the farm's beach to soak in as much sun as possible. At the farm beach I saw this juvenile eagle, sat at the base of a landslide from last year, and once sweaty and hot enough, got myself into the brisk waters of the Puget Sound for a bit of swimming and floating. 
To get to the beach you gotta go down a steep cliff with plenty of switchbacks and stairs. To get to that path you gotta go through the ewes' main pasture and this gate. Stupid caterpillars. I've taken to carrying a stick with me so I can touch things without getting them on my hands. 
Can't even turn water off without caterpillars interfering. 
W. and Jett also joined me at the beach one day. Jett isn't really a water dog, but he so wanted to please W. that he did get all the way in for brief periods of time. Then we saw some seals. 
Full moon, Mt. Ranier, beauty. 
I had another delightful run-in with this pup when I went to an off-farm beach the other day. I was reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which I enjoyed more than I had expected I would. I ended up reading the monster of the book in only three or four days. 
Before the caterpillars took over the universe, I found that it was quite delightful to go to the lambs' pasture to do a little reading before milking or other farm tasks. One of the things that causes this delight is the lambs' tendency to come and check on me every 10-20 minutes. There are at least 40 lambs in that field, so when they come, they come in a big gaggle. Totally surrounding me and having no concept of personal space. They come right up and nibble at my clothes and one even succesfully nipped the scrap of paper I was using as a book mark and ran off with it (I got it back).  
Loving the boot life. 
Last weekend we welcomed three piglets onto the farm. This photograph would suggest that I have very warm and caring feelings about pigs, and that they are sweet and cuddly. The reality is that I tried chasing and picking this one up on my own but was thwarted by the terrible squeals it emitted when I got my hands on it. L. actually was the one who really picked it up and then handed it to me. So this photo op is not quite as sweet as you might want it to be. The pigs are smart and a little scary. The other night W. and D. pointed out that the reason that pigs aren't all that friendly is because they are smart, and because they understand in a way that other animals do not that we are, in fact, going to kill them. Fair enough piglets, fair enough. 
One of the photos of my mother that I found a few years back when I was going through her things. It was already in this frame, and I've hung it on the wall of my room here at the farm so I can see it every day. 
I went to Seattle two weeks ago and had an especially delightful evening with M&A. We went to one of their favorite restaurants, Pair, and had a lovely meal. I enjoyed a well crafted dirty martini, tasty fondue and a rich crab fettucine dish. 
The first lake where we went fishing. 
Another, earlier, example of my sitting in the lamb field and being mobbed. 
And another. It's hard to get quite the photo I want, which would give you a better sense of just how many sheep are surrounding me. Many. 
A view of the chicken coop. 
Earlier this month I joined W. and L. when they went to a nearby community food bank, where C. works, to participate in a May Pole celebration. They had pre-twisted crowns to which you could add a range of flowers and accoutrements. I think this photo is a little more 'flower child' esque than I really am, but the day really made it a necessity. 
W. and L. provided the music for the event. 
The actually weaving and circling of the pole went pretty well, though one man was on stilts and that really did complicate the whole thing. If I had been him, I would have realized how he was causing more trouble than help and would have backed away. But this stilt man had a different perspective on life, apparently. 
I think I mentioned the fact that I like lifting heavy things, and that I did a lot of it one day a few weeks ago. By the end of hefting 20 or more lambs from one place to another and then rolling out and putting up more fencing, I was pretty well covered in shit and perspiration. And I was incredibly pleased about this, so I asked H. to take a photo. Something about the lighting makes it slightly hard to tell, but my arms really are just smeared with dirt and whatnot, as was my shirt. Later that day I jumped into the Sound and felt wonderful and like I had earned it. 
I feel strong here, and capable. Well, sometimes I feel capable. 
Before the caterpillar takeover: lambs under the oak tree. 
This photo makes me just remarkably happy. This was taken on another wonderfully sunny day. I had the day off and had gone to an off-farm beach to read a book and wear a strapless dress. When I returned I went to one of the stratoloungers and shot the breeze with S. and D. while they gardened. At some point I suggested I take a photo and the conversation led to the thought of some kind of redone American Gothic shot. It took attempts to get it just right, but I am still quite pleased with how it turned out. A. in the background is eating an apple. 

I found some really lovely shells and other knick knacks on that beach adventure, as well as seeing this found art piece.
The view from the ferry on a not particularly lovely day. 
I think I've also mentioned that a fair amount of ping pong has been played over the last month. On one such round of ball, Rodo was just too exhausted to hang inside with us. I found him out on this step, just enjoying the sun and taking a nap.
E. and her husband made a wonderful feast of food a few weeks back - teriyaki lamb, dumplings and a salad. Just very tasty! We also enjoyed probably the fanciest tequila of my life that dinner. It came in a purple bottle and was s-m-o-o-t-h. 
The lambs are kept in two different pastures. These lambs are a bit closer to the main hub of the farm/right by E.'s cabin. I think I was picking up E. for milking one morning when the lambs all came right up to the fence and started baaaing at me. I would like to say it's because of the quality of my company and jokes, but really they were just hungry. And as soon as I put the grain and hay into their feeders....
Their interest in me became nil. 
The grown up sheep still waking up one morning before milking. 
My day off strapless beach look. 
More trampoline hijinks. 

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