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Holding Pattern

The school semester has started up, which means I have added a full-time class load to the goats and chickens and dogs and cats. This time around at least I’m not trying to also juggle working full time. My whole goal for this semester is to get through it without the kind of life-changing upheaval that had me giving up entirely on Math last time, as the news I was about to lose my job hit at the same time as math class hit statistics, a branch of math that I’ve never learned before. Didn’t learn it that time, either, I must admit.

Anyway, once this semester and a computer competency test are out of the way, I’ll have my associate’s degree and have to pick a real major and decide what I want to be when I grow up. I’m trying not to think about it as it’s kind of stressful and I’ve got enough going on.

Meanwhile, Annabelle is due to give birth any minute now. We’re just waiting on her tail ligaments to soften to declare that she’s about to have babies; as some of you may recall Josie taunted me like this for nearly a month. At least this time I know when Annabelle was bred so I have a definite date range. Esk is due right after her, so this fall will see a crop of bouncing baby goats. Tiny ones. I predict amazing amounts of cuteness.

The barn I ordered will get here sometime in the next couple weeks. I’m sincerely hoping it gets here before Annabelle gives birth, because it will make the whole labor and delivery thing way easier, but I’m not holding my breath. Knowing goats, Annabelle will have her babies some weekday morning at 0300, and at 0800 the barn place will call me and offer to deliver the barn. This is how the world works when goats are involved.

To try and keep myself sane I’ve been making sure I take time every morning to sit with the goats and enjoy their company. It’s pretty peaceful out there. You can see pics from my Morning Breakfast Meetings with Goats at my Flickr account or, if you’re on Instagram, you can find me as mixedblessings (of course).

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Life goes on

It’s still sad times here at the Manor. I keep thinking I need to check on Aida and give her meds or food or fresh water and of course, I don’t. Wherever she is gone, she definitely does not need me to pill her anymore. The other critters don’t miss her much, since she went out of her way to not interact with them unless it was to yell angry Siamese curses at them, but the people sure do.

But life goes on, as the title says. Tomorrow the eggs in the incubator go on lockdown, with hatch scheduled to start the 15th. I’m hoping for a good hatch out of these eggs, they are my beautiful Feltner line Pumpkin Hulseys. The little brooder is currently full of Old English Game Bantams who will need to be moved to the big brooder, which will be set up in the shed, in order to make space for the new little guys.

Josie’s babies are growing like little quadrupedal leaping weeds, getting braver and more ambitious in their shenanigans by the moment. Miss May, my gentle giant of a Nubian, is an excellent Auntie who tolerates their hijinks right until they decide it would be a good idea to nurse from her capacious udder, at which point she sends them off with a lazy swing of her massive head. Esk and Annabelle, on the other hand, seem to be more intrigued by the notion that here are two goats smaller than them that they can pick on. The babies are too fast for them though, especially now that Esk and Annabelle (Annabelle especially) are beginning to get heavy with pregnancy. Annabelle, in fact, is getting huge with still half her pregnancy to go.

In other news, I need to pick out what classes I’m taking next semester and register for them so I can finally graduate with my Associate’s, which I shall then follow up by getting a bachelor’s degree. In, um, something. Maybe history. Maybe English. I have not yet decided.

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Sid’s Academic Debut

Siddy took me to math class on Saturday and performed like a star. I have photographic proof!

Sid's front half as he lies keeled over on his side on the floor in harness, blissfully asleep.

I think if you start asking what the hardest skill to teach is, every service dog owner-trainer will have a different answer for you. For me, the hardest thing to explain to Sid has been how to turn himself off and just chill while I do something that he finds deeply boring. Like algebra. But he’s finally gotten there, so it’s time to start ratcheting up the criteria and teach him to pass out next to me, as opposed to sprawled across the floor a leash-length away.

The only problem we’ve encountered is that one of the things I taught him was to alert on me if I start zoning out — both the fibromyalgia and my meds for it make me a little prone to just staring into space, on standby myself. Why is this a problem? Because apparently to Sid, “zoning out” and “paying attention in math class but not taking notes” look similar enough that he decided he needed to snap me out of it. Whoops.

Still, I’m deeply proud of him. We got the most coveted compliment of all from one of my classmates at the first break: “I didn’t even know there was a dog back there!”

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Dear old golden rule days…

Today is the start of a new semester! Actually, yesterday was, but today is the start of the one face-to-face class I have, which also happens to be math. Blargh. At least it’s Math 152, which is Math For Liberal Arts People Who Are Convinced Numbers Are A Fascist Conspiracy. I’m kind of excited to go back — although today is also Sid’s debut in a boring (for him, and possibly for me) classroom setting. Hopefully he doesn’t eat another student or a desk or something. Must remember to pack him a quiet, non-rolling chewie toy.

In other Sid news, he had his yearly exam yesterday where he weighed in at 78 pounds, which I believe makes him the largest dog in the house by weight. We’ll know for sure on Monday, when Beowulf gets his yearly exam and gets weighed. There’s no fat on Siddy, either, he is muscle and bone and dorkish enthusiasm for approximately everything ever.

The largest part of Beowulf’s exam will be having the vet feel up all the lumps he’s acquired in the past year. I’m reasonably certain they’re all benign lipomas, just collections of fat cells, but I’m a little worried anyway. We need his eyes checked, as well, since I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a developing cataract in his left eye at least. It sucks when your dog is getting old.

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Another semester rolls around again…

After taking a year or so off to relax (ha!) it’s back to school today for me. Well, technically it’s back to school tomorrow, since my one in-person class meets on Saturdays. Then there’s three more classes, all online. Once this semester is over, I’ll have just two classes left to finish my associate’s degree, and then I’ve got to figure out what the heck I want to do about a bachelor’s.

Meanwhile, back at the Manor, the hens are providing us with around a dozen eggs a day between the bantams and the standard-sized hens. The dogs are enjoying eggy treats regularly to keep us from being overwhelmed, but we just can’t feed them enough eggs to make a serious dent in the number the hens provide. In another month it will be time to start hatching, but because of the size of my incubator that’s not going to make a serious dent, either. I think we’re going to have to start living on quiche, is all.

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The semester winds to a close.

I swear I’m still alive, but you wouldn’t know it from my online presence as the end of the semester rolls down over me. Please bear with me, gentle reader, and for that matter savage readers should bear with me as well. Classes are over in a week and I should be on to doing something more interesting than writing papers, taking tests, and tearing my hair out.

Here, have a gratuitous Zille picture.
Zille, a sable German Shepherd, stands with her body in three-quarters profile to the camera and her face turned full on toward it.  She has a huge goofy smile.  We will ignore the overgrown grass and focus on the lovely dog.

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I bet you’re tired of hearing about chickens.

And there are not yet any chickens actually HERE. This afternoon after I was done working we got the roof on the chicken run and the frame assembled for the door! Now we just need to mount the frame, somehow compensating for the 4″ gap my sucktastic measurements left, and then put wire on it and VOILA. A chicken-ready enclosure. Which is good, as we are planning to go down to Blackthorn Kennel this weekend to visit with Christine, help her with her own chicken pen, and claim our Wedding Chickens. Also we will take Zillekins for a Family Reunion and also because the only time she gets well and truly sleep-for-hours-in-exhaustion worn out is when she’s been running with the other Shedders down at Blackthorn.

In totally non-chicken-related news, my dear friend Cherie Priest is going to be in Richmond next Tuesday! So for once I am going to say “be damned to a responsible bedtime!” and after work me and the husband will roll on down to Richmond to Fountain Bookstore to say hi and listen to her do a reading and probably ask obnoxious questions during the Q&A, because what are friends for? And also I bet she has never heard the question “So, like, where do you get all your ideas?” before and SOMEONE needs to deliver this very important reader query. We might even get a chance for a silly picture. Cherie is the one who hooked me up with young master Braxton Bragg, and who has pimped innumerable Cats (and a Dog!) What Need Homes for me to her wider online readership, so if you would like to support an author on principle I highly recommend buying her books, secure in the knowledge that not only will you get a good read, but you are helping an angel to homeless kitties and dogs.

In me-related news (I know you’re not here to hear about me, Gentle Reader), the semester is winding to a hectic end at school and I am up to my eyebrows in work and schoolwork and chickenprep. I get a break from mid-December to mid-January, and then it’s back to the grind. But NEXT SEMESTER I have a class that basically consists of going to Civil War battlefields and writing up analyses of the battles and discussing them online. Yeah, that’s right, someone designed a history class JUST FOR ME. I am all a-flutter and it might even make up for the fact that I’m going to be taking a math class. I hate math. Numbers are boring. I think however I might still be on track to graduate after next summer with my Associate’s, at which point I will no longer have an excuse not to go get a bachelor’s degree. Aie.