You Don’t See This Very Often

Roosters can be fairly nasty critters.  I don’t dislike them, after all, they are just performing their duties.  But since we discovered that we have 4 of them, we are kind of watching to see which have the best temperament, the others are auditioning for “stew”.  The Wyandotte made the stew list by default.  We want to have a laying flock of Buff Orpingtons and his  presence will “fowl” that a bit.  One down.  The three remaining are vying in the selection process.  We think we have narrowed this down as well.  Roosters don’t typically like to be handled.  In fact, trying to catch a couple of them is just about an impossibility.  Except for one.  He is the biggest of the 3 and seems to like human company.  Today when we brought them their daily treats, Aaron picked him up and it stayed there on his own volition.  There was no struggling, fussing, or as so often happens, biting.  It is pretty clear that the other two Orpington boys are vying for their spot below this one.  He has something of an attitude of confidence. He knows they are no bother.  These other two chase each other around, jump on the hens, bite at each other…. ding ding!  Winners for new membership into the stew pot!

It is pretty unsual to see this, so Zina got some great pictures just so it doesn’t become an old “chicken” tale (tail).

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Basil Post Thanksgiving Crazy Lady

After having to put up with the lazy humans yesterday and being completely driven nuts with all of the Thanksgiving day food smells, Basil got to go out and romp out in the back 30.  She was so excited that she tried to fetch the frisbee while carrying the stick she was playing with.  Now, after having put on several miles she is crashed in her crate……. dad is very grateful.

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What Is Your Calligraphy?

This is an essay I posted on a climate change blog I follow.  This year for Thanksgiving, instead of sharing what it is you have to be thankful for, ask one another…. what is your calligraphy?  It could be quite a conversation starter.

This is likely to be my only post to the group. I am more of an observer and I have kind of made my peace with so much of what we talk about here. I will always be reading and watching in the background because the articles and information are most often fact based and not available through too many other venues. That being said, I’d like to offer an alternative to the anger and futility that we collectively seem to be throwing around so often (and perhaps some reasons why). It is just my two cent as an observer. Nothing I say matters. As you will see… I don’t think much of what we collectively say matters either. I hope that some will understand that I see this as a positive.

Human beings love to be voyeurs. We love to see an “other” that has done something bad or horrible. We rubber neck at traffic accidents, we gasp at the corrupt behavior of politicians and religious leaders. We, in almost self-righteous indignance, thump our chests and exclaim, “oh my how awful” or “oh my what horrible people, group, or event, that is.” We love to be offended. We seem to need an objectified “other” to make us feel as though we are superior. In short, our egos need to be fueled constantly and we spend an immense amount of time and energy trying to portray ourselves in certain ways to the outside world. We need an object for our fear. We need it… to make us feel as though we are somehow, special.

The movie, HERO, with Jett Li, contains one of the most awesome archery attacks of all time. The conquering army stands at the ready. Archers by the hundreds are drawn and await the order to loose their arrows. Standing in between the armies is a Buddhist Temple who’s Zen practice is the art of Calligraphy. They do calligraphy in the spirit that Buddhist monks create sand Mandalas. The art, itself, is a meditation. When the art is complete, it is then disposed of as a mindfulness practice reminding the practitioner that nothing is permanent.

The master and the students know that they are about to be wiped out in the impending arrow attack and there is no way to escape. Many of the students begin to panic, showing that many are still on the path and have not yet become completely detached. Physical suffering and pain and death still terrifies them as it does us, especially in the west (We think that we are somehow MORE special). After all, we think there is so much to live for – that we must somehow accomplish things (Like any of it really matters). Many of the students want to try to run away (There being nowhere to run that could actually save them). There is no escape from the reach of the arrows. Death is certain. The master calms his students and says something to the effect: We will stay here and do our Calligraphy. We may die, but in the end they will see how well we did our Calligraphy (completely my words but the intent of the speech is there).

The arrows are loosed. The CGI creates this cloud of arrows in the sky which is a truly amazing sight (I’m an archery coach so please forgive my bias). The next scene shows the arrows crashing through the paper walls of the temple – students are struck and are dying while they continue to do their calligraphy. In the end, all die, including the master.

I am going to argue here that we doomers and collapsitarians are dealing with as much egoic self as the traffic rubber-neckers. If we take as a premise of what we know about this world, that there is not much time left on this planet, then all we are talking about is irrelevant. We have the Fukushima event that could make our demise a very near term event. Or, the triggered feedback loops in the environment could make it a very near term but maybe a bit longer term – near term – event. In any “event” our fate is sealed. Why then do we continue on in this group the way we do? I think, to some extent , we are as voyeuristic as those reading the tabloids (and please, all of you looking for reasons to get pissed – I am including myself here! Looking in a mirror is an uncomfortable proposition that’s why we always want to look out a window instead).

One group contends that everything is doomed and there is nothing we can do. Another says, “Well, we may be doomed but if we smoke this hopium pipe that has never worked in the past, then all of these great things will happen.” Hyper-spiritualists say, “There is a great awakening happening and it is going to save us” (not sounding all that dissimilar to the 2nd coming, but they’d never admit it).

The People’s Front of Judea (Monty Python) thinks they are the morally superior purists in their doomer prophecies but the Judean People’s Front yells HERECTIC, HERETIC! “Alternatives are the answer!” “NAY”, say the permaculturists, “growing stuff in a holier than thou way is the answer.” “NO NO NO! We must mob graze.” “No, NO!” says the other. “We will STONE you if you spread dung on fields using beasts.” Meanwhile, the millions of cars are still on the road. The factories are spewing poison into the air and other developing countries want to emulate the insanity that the United States has morphed into since its birth, thus sealing our fate. This, is Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Again, we love to grab our hair in shock and say, “Oh how awful”. We rend our garments in rage and say, “Someone MUST PAY!” “It’s men’s fault, its industrial civilization’s fault, its sin, its pestilence, its the Fall, its….” pick your blame game. Yes it’s awful. Yes it’s tragic. But life has always been so. The soldiers gassed in WWI may have not dealt with the end of the world but for everyone who died then, their world indeed ended on that field of slaughter. Pick your horror dujour. Anyone who dies from horrors, the end of the world was then and there. In fact, I imagine that if it ended their suffering, the mantra was, “good riddance.” Ever seen someone suffer and die from lingering cancer…. their world sucked completely and then they died. Many of them had to suffer and die alone.

Now its our turn. Our population is in overshoot and we have suddenly had to confront our egoic selves and admit that we weren’t the smartest folks on the planet after all. Death is coming like it comes for everyone. So here is where I ask the main question in this essay:

What is your Calligraphy?

We all die. It is simply a matter of when and how. Knowing that, how will you live out the rest of your time?

Will you live the remainder of your time in freak out mode? Does watching in horror fulfill your life’s dreams? Knowing that the fate is sealed, will you now look into the mirror, look at yourself, realize that happiness has always come from within?

What do you have in your life that will allow you to let go of the horrors? What do you have in your life and in your singular self that can give you inner peace knowing that no matter what happens in this world, you can go out in peace and still feeling tranquil? If there is not that in your life, then I assert that nothing we are doing is anymore productive and helpful for humanity than the mass riots we see time and time again on the news forever being put down by militarized police.

Have you developed an inner centering that could allow you to simply let the world fall apart around you? Could you sit at your calligraphy knowing that your death is imminent and be at peace with it? In light of our world and all that may befall us, developing that sounds like the only noble goal. The only way to live. Never has it been different than thus. Only our delusion has made it so.

So what is your Calligraphy? I’d love to know.

Here is mine:

I love star-gazing with my telescope. I love gazing up millions of lightyears away knowing that the galaxies I am seeing probably harbor life. I love contemplating the true meaning of infinity.

I love target archery. It clears my mind and makes me achieve singular focus (and yes I have read and re-read, Zen in the Art of Archery)

I love working in my gardens and on my homestead. Being amongst my animals and plants connects me with the energy that is reality. Nature is the only conscious being on earth. We are nature… we are consciousness.

I love to cook.

I love all to do all of the above alone. I love to do all of the above with my family. Both are beautiful.

If the earth is going to reclaim it’s health by getting rid of us because we were stupid, then I think I can do one or all of those things listed above while the brimstone of our ignorance comes crashing down like a cloud of arrows. If the earth folds up, if the universe reclaims this space in the cosmos for better purposes, then I for one will do what I think the small voice inside of me is calling me to do: Practice my calligraphy, conquer my fear, and be at peace.

Thanks for letting me indulge with this. I hope it creates a useful avenue for dialogue. I will be here reading, but I am going to go create my Mandala. Peace.

Winter Waterer Test

It is 13 degrees here today.  It snowed last night and it is gray and cold and windy.  The chicken water heating system is getting its test the next couple of days.  The waterer shown in the picture is holding up fairly well.  There are 8 nipples total and 5 have managed to stay functioning.  The well pipe, the hose to the waterer from the well hydrant and the water container (the white PVC body) are heated.  The water inside has stayed thawed.  It seems that just a couple of the nipples have frozen up.  I may have to wrap the waterer with a pipe heater but we’ll see how tonight goes.  I went out and hung up the heat lamp I used for brooding over the waterer as well.  Fortunately the temp is supposed to at least get up to freezing in the next day or so.  Keeping water thawed for animals is very important and it is crazy how few options there are that really work well.  I think this will be ok as I work out the kinks but it is a little nerve wracking.  The birds themselves are doing fine.  They are all big puff balls.   One article I read said to remember that they are all walking, down, pillows.  They give off a lot of body heat and are able to keep it in with their feathers.

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The Fence Continues On

The next step of the garden fence was to tension the corners and the “H” braces.  This gives the fence some rigidity.  On a fence this size when the actual fencing goes on and gets tensioned into place the corners will try to buckle into the middle of the area.  They get pulled inward and the fence can then lean and eventually collapse.  So even though all the posts are cemented in pretty deep, cross posts need to be attached and the corners need to be braced and tensioned to keep everything upright and tight when it is all completed.  The past couple of weeks have involved doing that and I am now to the point of finally stringing the fencing (another trick I will need to learn with a fence stretcher, come-along ratchet and my tractor).  I am trying very hard to get this fence done before winter hits officially.  I am on my way but “real” work keeps getting in the way.  Oh well, at least I always have something to do!  The projects never end!  Here’s hoping that the garden gets planted in the spring!!

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Sorpresa Lives Up To “Her” Name

Our hatchery has a practice of including a “mystery” bird with an order.  The idea, I guess, is to expose people to other types of birds and as a thank you for ordering from them.  Our order this past July was all Buff Orpingtons (3 roosters and 30 hens).  They are all “buff”colored, hence the name.  The mystery bird was obvious from the first day we got her.  Aaron told us that the word in Spanish for surprise is Sorpresa.  So that is what the little chick got named.  ‘Presa for short.  You can pick her out in this picture of when they were just two days old.

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She grew along with the rest of them and for no particular reason, we assumed that she was a hen.  So Sorpresa was referred to as a “she”.  Here are some growing up pictures:

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Sorpresa grew into a quite a large bird.  Zina suspected that she might be male a couple of weeks ago.  We looked her up on the internet and she looked for all intents and purposes as though she was a she.  We assumed that the breed itself was pretty large and still assumed that she was going to end up being an egg laying addition to the family.

Until today.   Sorpresa was caught in the act of crowing.  Case closed.  She/he has a pretty good voice too.  We have now been able to discern that yes HE does possess the rooster’s tail feathers and the comb of a male Wyandotte.  Unless “she” was mimicking a rooster – which I’ve never heard of – ‘Presa is going through a sex change in our heads.  Sorpresa….. is a rooster. Here he is and then another of the Orpington boys to compare to.

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Now while this has all been fun and the “mystery” bird has certainly lived up to his billing.  We will not be having 4 roosters in the hen house.  They are nice enough to each other now but there have been skirmishes for dominance.  As we wanted a pure Buff Orpington flock for layers and some boys to help produce hatch-able eggs,  Sorpresa the rooster is likely to become Sorpresa the Fajita.

So surprise! Sorpresa!  Girlie hen birdie is manly rooster birdie.  It’s always something.