|When we managed to fit in between storms, skiing was awesome.|
|Kirkwood is frozen solid and cracking.|
I survived March on more antibiotics and Prednison, and some other drops. Prednison is a nasty drug, which changes your personality. I spent first fortnight in a manic phase, a bit like with ADD. At times I was worried that I would jump over myself, as my accelerated consciousness preceded my physical reality by approximately three steps. I would also immediately dismiss all solved problems — i.e. I drove out to some place, and my head freed its mental space for other, more important thoughts, and I found myself not knowing where I was going and why I was going there at all. The subsequent two weeks were filled with withdrawal phase and depression — and my body needed to catch up sleeping for all those active nights when my head failed to rest.
|This is a standard-sized roadside traffic sign during our (officially still) extremely dry year.|
|Incredible turned reality; Hippo convinced into donning cross-country skis.|
I must say that the school has been working well for us — Tom has been much less stressed, now that he does not need to experience daily bullying during breaks and in the locker room, which reflects positively on overall family constellation. For me, it means a somewhat fragmented day, as I still have to regularly check upon Tom's learning, and when we're done, Lisa shows up back from her school, and I take a second lap of homework and after school activities.
Lisa has been struggling with her switch to middle school; she keeps falling ill. Every other week she goes down with some fine thing like laryngitis or bronchitis. She recovers, goes back to school, and she has to catch up with lost lectures; in the last quarter, she brought back home a C in physical education, as she did not make-up for stupid missed classes (it would not occur to us that, with a doctor's waiver, she still had to make up PE attendance). I thought that in this modern age, PE teachers' training no longer includes concentration camp goon drills, but it seems that good old times are alive and well, especially among some young, female... physical education teachers. Well, as it may be, signing up another child for CAVA is not very hard, now that we know how it works.
|A post card.|
|Carol, Tom and Lisa at Red Lake.|
Since the start of January, California stumbles through a difficult drought (as its governor still failed to notice how much it rained). The precipitation bottom line in the mountains amounts to 50 feet (16 meters) of snow. One would think that skiing conditions were therefore ideal, but alas, there is such thing as too much good stuff. For two thirds of the weekends, one could not drive into the mountains, or perhaps the resort would be closed due to avalanche risk (or a simple fact of ski lifts still not being dug out of heaps of snow). Once, we were forced to turn around about two miles from Kirkwood — as the traffic jam leading to the entrance moved only at speed of two hundred yards in twenty minutes. We gave up and went cross-country skiing (Sid on snow-shoes), on a beautiful Red Lake. Cross-country, overall, has been amazing this season, thanks the amount of snow, when you can go wherever you wish, compared to usual sliding along worn-out, frozen tracks.
Yet down at our place in the valley, it does not snow; it pours. Not that we could not use it, after three miserable dry winters, but in our Santa Cruz Mountains, where we have our stables, it's simply a disaster. Landslides, roads carried away, fallen trees — and in our case, a water pipe feeding more than seventy horses, taken out. Road closures happened at such frequency, I could toss a coin every time I wondered if I make it driving anywhere. Over time, I learned to ignore and blast through barriers and signs, for I noticed that police and rangers HAVE consideration for my pregnant goats (and a horse, but he has been taken care of implicitly) and that I cannot let them starve to death.
|Ivan, Tom and Bryce on The Wall.|
Twilight was still self-absorbed and the birth did not seem to advance in any way. Kids (who's count alternated from five up, as various families arrived or departed) took the evening at the stables for a camping out adventure, rotating between running outdoors with a goat cart and brewing hot chocolate in the trailer (which serves as an office and restroom there). We adults sat in Katja's Volkswagen, drank tea, and felt regret for not having had the wits to bring something stronger for the upcoming long night. Kids with the cart played goats and competed, who can bleat more authentically. This mixed with my phone (which uses a goat's voice as a text message alert), when various friends remembered my birthday. Hence only after Twilight's third strong scream I noticed that it was neither kids nor my phone, but my finally birth giving goatie. It was half past nine.
And lo, a pair of little hooves and a baby goat head were sticking out of screaming Twilight, and before I dragged in my birth box, a little goat boy was out in the world, with a white tip on his tail. His little brother did not wait long. At the beginning we could tell them apart only by the tail — working names were White Tail and Black Tail. When they dried up a bit, it turned out that the older goat was beautifully tri-colored. For his white spot on the tail, he was named Pixel. The younger one is black and while, very much like his daddy Thor, and was named Willy.
|Hroch se většinou pohyboval na sněžnicích.|
|I na běžkách se dá sjezdovat.|
People were gradually leaving, only I stayed with kids and Katja. She agreed to stay up till two in the morning at the goat and watch that feeding worked. The children and I crawled to the back of our bus and tried to sleep some. I was not very good at it, for it rained vigorously and it made horrible racket on the bus roof and besides I could see that mine and Tom's sleeping bags were getting wet. I got out by three o'clock to check on my goat, all seemed in order. I did not want to wake the children, so I sat in the front seat and got out again at four and five, and then I fell asleep for an hour so deeply that only cramps in my legs woke me up at quarter past six. I had to walk it off, and so I brewed cocoa and watched the baby goats till eight. I checked that Twilight's milk was still flowing, and waited until I was sure both kid boys managed to feed on their own.
Both my children went to school late that day, which they did not mind at all. I traveled back for another round of checking on my goats. When I was leaving again, ready to go pick up my kids from school and for the afternoon visit to the stables, I noticed that Pixie, mother of my Licorice, seemed self-absorbed, and I quickly texted her owner Jenny that her goat is likely to give birth soon. I brought my offspring right into the delivery of triplets, but then I took them back home again, for our Licorice kept eating hay and did not look like getting ready for anything. The only peculiar thing was that Licorice kept lying down and drinking her own milk. Nevertheless I promised Katja that I would keep the night watch with her — if for nothing else, then to check on Pixie's little daughter Midnight, who was born with poorly movable hind legs, and who needed bottle-feeding.
|Willy and Pixel, approx. twelve hours old.|
|Meeting baby goats.|
We had tipped Licky to one kid, but after her female (Starburst) got up and drank, Licky laid down again and delivered a boy. Now that I think about it, I reckon that Licky waited with her birth for me. Throughout the evening, or even at one in the morning, when Katja checked on her, she showed no signs, but when I was up for half hour, in the stall next door and taking care of Midnight, things got going. The second thing circling through my mind is the fact that Licorice dealt with everything with much better control than Twilight. I would like to know whether she learned it by watching, or if there is such thing as "talent" for giving birth and feeding babies. My third observation — the baby boy goat (named Blackberry, as he's completely black) was born in breach position — and had a similar problem with legs like Midnight (where we, alas, don't know how the birth went). But the reverse position seems to stress or stretch hind legs, and they are less operational. Blackberry managed to walk a little (Midnight dragged hind legs behind her), but he could drink unattended and after few hours everything went normal; Midnight took more than a day to recover.
I made my next discovery on the following day. Goats as social animals and their children must learn social behavior according to goat etiquette. Unfortunately, newborn kids don't know any etiquette, and don't understand that not every big goat is their mama, who would forgive them anything. And thus it came to several relatively harsh berating of the baby goats of the other, if they behaved challengingly, or did not quickly react to clear directions to bug off. I spent Thursday night building a barrier from a portable pen in the dark. It was made more interesting by the fact that I did not dare to drive to the very stables with my car, for I had a flat on the way to Lisa's vaulting, and I was riding on a spare tire, which is, in our American circumstances, a funny fake wheel. Hence I left the bus uphill near the paved road with all the tools, and I cursed and tried to fix a partition in the pen by tying it together with pieces of twine.
|Berry and Tom.|
|Star is the only girl, and the only kid with brown eyes. She's quite overwhelmed by her three brothers/cousins.|
Yet when the baby goats were about a week old, there was a conflict of opinions with Jenny, the owner of my goats' mothers. Jenny told me that she intended to use my goats for public affairs that she was going to arrange, as needed. I suggested that as their owner I should know about such cases ahead of time, agree to them, and participate, since I am responsible for my animals. I got recommended, in case I wished to control who does what with my animals, to seek another stable. There had been disagreements in the past, but this time I was honestly scared by Jenny's solid and unwavering conviction that she had an absolute right to dispose of my goats, whom I had formally purchased from her, paid for, and cared for over two years.
I started a crazy action, and within five days my goaties with their babies had moved. In retrospect I must say, I would have had to do it over time anyway. When I bought my goats from Jenny, I was promised that I could keep them in one of the pens, that Jenny would help me, and everybody else in the stables would help me too, and support an awesome goat program for children, which I would lead. I still think that a goat club for children is a great idea. Today's young people grow experiencing at most dogs and cats, who are predators. A basic understanding how to deal with non-predators, is absent for the humans. Goats, just like horses, are prey animals; they have to keep alert at all times, and their herd follows very strict rules. You can't drag away a half-ton horse, if he won't let you, and try to touch an udder of a goat who does not know you. One has to earn trust and will to cooperate with them, not fight for it or beat it out of them. A goat club was supposed to operate similarly to a pony club. Every family was assigned a specific day of the week when they would care for the goaties, and we would all share costs.
|Willy is the bravest of the kids.|
|Star can jump the highest.|
Now I hope you understand, why I started to wish for a place, where the goats would be BOARDED. Where a stable hand comes EVERY morning, opens their run and gives them hay. Not of his own good will (which can run pretty thin due to ill grand-mothers and children's soccer matches) and even not because we had agreed on it a week ago, and since then ten times confirmed via text messages, but because he is PAID and thus does his job.
In short, I got my lesson in crisis, and not only about the fact that communism does not work on any of the continents, but about how any other than the most progressive opinion is punished by public denouncement. There were some additional confrontations, during which I was informed that the goats were communal, and I had no right to decide about them; I was subsequently accused of surely making profit from the goat club (families were pooling money to pay for costs of running it — I kept the receipts mostly out of curiosity; it did not occur to me that I would have to use them to defend myself).
I can only hope that at my advanced age, I had acquired some WISDOM, besides a collection of pains and aches — but should I exhibit a tendency to do good for others, please, smack me properly upside my head.