It's not because I haven't thought about it; I thought about doing a Christmas post but then Christmas came and went before I could get around to it.
I thought about a number of snarky posts I could write about political matters, including the Palin Interview/Turkey Massacre which was so funny it almost made me pee myself. But within a couple of days all the good jokes had been taken.
I thought about posting about stuff that's been happening in my life. Most of it's good; some is not. The not-so-good is that my oldest son was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and will eventually need back surgery. Scary stuff, and hard for a vital, active 22-year-old man to accept. The good? We're there for him and each other and had a wonderful holiday season to cap off our really good year.
Work is keeping me busy, and so is a project I'm part of that could potentially be...well, huge. If it turns out the way I think it will then eventually you'll all probably know about it even before I can get around to posting it here.
Things here on our tiny farm are ramping up. The first kids from our dairy goats are due February 18th. Or herd is up to seven now, which includes a borrowed Alpine buck that redefines the word "horny." I will be very glad when he's performed the last of his goat-fucking duties so I can send him back to his farm.
Our sheep may or may not be pregnant. It's hard to tell with all that wool. The kids are really hoping for lambs. If they are we'll know in February or March. All my farmer friends say to expect the kids and lambs to come on the coldest night of the year.
For Christmas, I got a farmhand. Her name is Meg and she is a registered Border Collie and capable of doing what our sixteen year old retired Australian shepherd and smaller corgis are not, which is to intimidate and drive back the goats when I need her too.
I found her through Craigslist, where I placed an ad specifying that I was looking for a herding dog that would be not just a worker but a companion. On Christmas Eve, I got an email from a woman named Donna whose father had raised and trained Border Collies for years. She said he'd bought a puppy a year ago and shortly afterwards developed dementia. She said the dog, now a year old, was from good herding stock and showed excellent potential.
She said she and her siblings had finally convinced their dad that it was unfair to "Meg" to keep her penned up all day because Border Collies are such high energy dogs. She really wanted us to adopt her.
The problem was that her father wanted to sell the dog, and having gotten emails from about twenty people offering to give me Border Collies (apparently it's a breed that people buy without realizing how intense and smart they are) I wasn't willing to pay more than a hundred dollars for an adoption fee.
But "Donna" felt strongly about us taking the dog and said she and her siblings were prepared to make up the difference so their dad would think he'd sold the dog. I told her we'd come take a look.
The kids were excited, but I warned them that looking at the dog didn't guarantee we could get it. I worried that the dog may have become neurotic from being penned up. And when I saw her I was even more worried. The man was keeping her in a rabbit hutch, with barely enough room to turn around.
"See why we want to find her a good home?" the woman asked when she heard me gasp. "He only lets her out twice a day."
This time when he let Meg out she shot like a bullet around the yard and made straight for the flock of guineas and bronze turkeys by the barn. I watched, impressed as she lowered into a stalking stance, her eyes fixed on her quarry. Meg rounded them up and then sat disappointed as they flew to the roof.
"Come here," I called, and was surprised when she came over to cover our faces with doggie kisses. She was just so sweet.
I told the woman I'd take her and slipped her the money. She slipped me an envelope and said, "Give this to Dad."
I walked over and told the old man we wanted Meg. I handed him the envelope. '
"Is it all there?" he asked.
It occurred to me then that I'd never asked Donna how much her dad wanted.
"Yeah," I said, the envelope still in my outstretched hand.
"Would you mind counting it?" he asked, and I knew then he wanted to make sure I was giving him the full amount, but didn't want to appear rude by counting it himself.
I counted the money out. There was $300. His kids had pitched in $200 to give Meg a shot at a new life. I was so touched, not just by his family's love for him and that dog but by the man himself.
"I'm too old for them now," he said of the Border Collies. "I loved working with the, training them. They really are the best dogs. If you ever have any questions..."
"I'll certainly call," I said, giving him a hug. "Thank you so much. We love her already."
And we did.
Meg had never been in a car but rode home in ours that day. She'd never been in a house or slept on a bed. She did both that night, although I decided after that night to crate her for her own sanity at night. She's so compelled to herd that on the first night she sat at the foot of my bed from 4 a.m. until 7 and began to whine when she saw the sheep at first light.
She loves herding. She herds the kids. She herds the sheep. She herds the goats. She herds the ducks. She even tries herding the cats and will pick one out, and seek to maintain eye contact with it. If the cat is on the back of the couch looking at Meg and looks the other way, she'll run around to the other side to try and stare it down again.
Of course, nobody wins a staring contest with a cat. You can't herd them either, but the notion of doing it has made Meg a source of fascination and exasperation for our dog-friendly cats who can't decide what is up with this new addition to the family.
Our youngest corgi, Nemo, thinks Meg is the grandest thing in the world and they run themselves ragged playing chase.
So that's what's been going on here. Happy New Year to you all! Hope 2009 is getting off to a doggone good start for you as well.