Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Story Book Kitchen with a Side of Goat Poop

Oh, Boy.   I might have overdone it a bit this time around....I mean, I have always been one to fill my days to the point of bursting, but I usually juggle it pretty well.  Not so this go round, which has had me firmly entrenched between Chaos and Mayhem for months. You know how it are buzzing along, pretty much on cruise control and then BAZAAM!  One sucker punch right to the kisser and your carefully  planned life slides out of control.    The Chaos was Happy Stuff and the Mayhem was primarily Animal Stuff, with a wee bit of Family Drama thrown in for fun....Mostly it was all good, but it has been very busy as I have learned to navigate new challenges and life cycles.

First,  I had an opportunity to add a third goat to my urban farm.  I was a bit nervous about it since the Barn Yard Neighbor Hate Letter Incident, but I hadn't heard another complaint and I really, really, REALLY wanted a Goat that was "in milk."    Heidi-esque visions of  fresh milk and homemade cheese intoxicated me.  Hell, I might even learn to yodel!  I brushed off remaining trepidations about how I would fit "goat milking" into my busy life. Dolly is an angel...easy to milk and very affectionate.  She is milked twice a day, which is manageable, kinda sorta.  It has definitely taken more time than I had imagined, so schedules needed to shifted and expectations adjusted. There was a very real learning curve.  Truth be told, I spend a lot of time scraping goat poop off my shoes,  the 7 p.m. milking is occasionally done in my "going out" clothes,  and my back yard plants have been decimated by the girls, but I wouldn't change a thing!   

Unfortunately, goat pooped shoes are incompatible with a white tile kitchen.  Similarly, dogs who run through the  kitchen after a short swim followed by a quick roll in the dirt are equally incompatible with white tile floors. I have four large dogs, and usually a foster Rescue pup or two thrown into the mix.  This summer I also had Atlas, my son's energetic young Boxer.  Are you counting? 

7 dogs running in and out all day.  White Tile.  You get the drift.  So, after months of grumbling and mopping  I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally.   I laid a mosaic floor over the white tile in my kitchen and back porch.  I painted the worn cypress kitchen cabinets a happy green and had new tile installed on the counter tops.  The space now looks like an illustration from a vintage story book that has come to life.  It is probably too much color for most folks, but I love it.  Best part---I only have to mop three times a week instead of seven!  

The entire project took about six weeks and the visual pollution wrought by construction carnage damn near killed me.  The effort was huge, and I still have black grout under my nails, but the results make me smile every day.

I had the tile under control, and was developing a nice rhythm relative to animal care......until a friend turned me on to the Raw Meat Diet for dogs.  I was complaining about the dull, flat, itchy coat on Poppy.  Poppy is my latest foster dog turned adopted dog...a weird little guy, but I love him.  He has a high pitched  bark that is annoying beyond belief, he eats pillows, socks and Other Important Things with impunity, and he looks like a tootsie roll with legs. 

He has a neurotic, effeminate, showy personality and should more properly be named Liberace, but I really get a kick out of him.  Anywhoooo.... Poppy, a lab/whippet mix, has skin allergies and was sporting a number of bald spots.  My friend urged me to switch to the diet she was feeding her dogs:  raw chicken necks, raw chicken backs, rice, and hard boiled eggs.  She  promised shiny coats, clean teeth, healthy weight, and---best of all--- smaller poop.  Smaller Poop????  I have lots of big dogs so the thought of smaller poop was almost as intoxicating as the thought of fresh goat cheese!  Hmmmmm....How much trouble could it be???

A whole hell of a lot, at first!  Fortunately, I muscled through it until I got it  it down to a manageable routine...spending about two hours a week traveling to the meat packing place and another hour or so cutting up dead chicken parts.  A rice cooker makes rice production Easy Peasy and with twenty five chickens, the eggs are no trouble, either.  I have two shelves in the freezer  filled with dog food, and my refrigerator...well, that is another story!

My pups have lost  weight they needed to lose, Poppy has a bright, shiny coat, and ....[drum roll, here]....the poops are indeed smaller.  There is no tarter on any teeth and best is less expensive than the food I had been feeding them previously.

Once again, I have a positive outcome accompanied by extra demands on my time...but who has the time?  In between all of the above silliness, I had more company over the last three months than I have had in the last thirty years combined, as well as out of town celebrations and commiserations.  Throw in menopause and business deadlines.  It has been one whirlwind  after another forcing me to think long and hard about making some changes to simplify my life.  I contemplated ending my time as a Foster mom to little dogs in need of rescue.  I  briefly pondered getting rid of the goats.  I considered---for a nano second or two--- a hiatus from my weekly fiber group.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the crazy life I had created when my out of town teaching gigs heat up over the next few months.  The nagging doubts have turned into a clamor and I have been more than a little overwhelmed.  

What to do?  what to do?

I recently returned from a business trip and as I endeavored to restore order to my house and to my life,  the answer became clear.  I enjoy the whacky world I have created.  It can be stressful and overwhelming, but it is joyous and happy, as well.   I found my center again as I went about my business...filling feed buckets and mucking stalls, cutting chicken backs, and rubbing dog bellies....watching newly hatched chicks learn the way of the world and trying yet again to wean not so baby goats off the bottle.  I love it.  I gotta have it.  It gives me peace. 

Yup, it really is THAT orange!
Happy Sigh.

I think that I am simply going to do what I always do when things get out of control:  Slow down if I can, pray for more patience, and enjoy the rhythm of the chaos.  Laugh a lot and cry a little.  Bend when I need to bend and stand tough when I need to do so.  Oh, and try to remember NOT to go for a dramatic hair change when I am a hormonal mess. that's what I've been up to. 

It's all good....I am even contemplating adding a fiber goat to the barnyard...or maybe some purple highlights on my next trip to the salon!