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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


dodging the cow pies

I talked with Justin at 4 this afternoon. He said the calf made it through the night, but it had not yet stood up. He said, "It'll be ok if it doesn't make it. Jesse will take it to Welter and have him butcher it." I thought I would croak. I, who have a fit when a possum runs under my wheel, or a cat, and don't want to kill any living thing or hurt any living thing, fall into complexity of feeling over taking killing so casually, to talk about my little calf friend like it amounts to meat. Of course it does, the reason I can't name the two calves, their role in this lifetime is meat for humans. I have a hard time getting to know them, because it tears me up to think about their lives and what they go through. Again, it is the Persian carpet that covers the globe, its pattern constantly changing. It's all interwoven, and my part is just a thread. To go against meat production is the same as going against the American passion for punishment. As soon as I catch myself tightening up inside over the innocent little calf's fate, I have to let it go. It is too big a belief system to challenge with any intent to change it. I remind myself it is not my business. My business is to be kind to the calves in this time of their lives, probably the best time in their lives with a meadow of their own, disregarding the loneliness of being taken away from mother too soon and being alone for the first months, living in a meadow as a herd animal with one other calf and two donkeys that kick. Number 21 has been close to the donkeys all day today, munching hay beside Jack sometimes and sometimes Jenny. I've been watching them through the window. It gives the appearance that Jack and Jenny are taking care of the calf in its grief losing its friend. More than likely, Jack and Jenny feel the loss too.
Yesterday, hell day, the calf emergency was just part one. Had to go to town, temperature around 20. Completely out of food and cat food. Needed carrots too. Drug store for prescription. Went to coffee shop first to pick up a pound of Ethiopian coffee for home, visited with Tom Guy quite awhile. Drove to the grocery store and parked in the parking lot. Door would not open. I tried running the window down and the outside handle would not work either. I tried everything I could think of. It wasn't happening. My friend Cindy was parked nearby and saw some crazy old man in a car kicking the door from the inside. She recognized that crazy old man was TJ. She tried the door and nothing worked. She tried the passenger side door and it eventually opened. I scooted across the seat to get out. Tried the back doors and they would not open. I bought about twice the amount of groceries as intended, considering the difficulty with the car doors. I tied the handles on the plastic bags to secure items from falling out and threw them over the seat into the back seat region. I've always driven pickups before this car, explaining why the back seat is where I haul things, even five-gallon buckets of donkey manure. Put the buggy in its parking lot rack, crawled across the seat to the pilot's seat. Frustrated. Went to drugstore, crawled across the seat both ways. Drove home. At home, I pried the back doors open very carefully with a big screwdriver. The rubber was frozen to the door all the way around. Having the back doors made it easier to unload the groceries. By the time all of it was in the house, on the table in the kitchen, I took off jacket, hat and shoes, fell onto the bed wanting to be still, not move, empty head of frustrated thinking, allow the nervous system time to settle down.
jenny and jack
Something is not right in the car's electrical system. When temperature drops below twenty, the interior light that's on a minute or so delay when I close the door never goes off. I have to take the bulbs out or they'll run the battery down. The fasten seat belt light never went out when I started driving. A mile this side of town the seat belt went off and I heard all the door locks click. The fasten seat belt light came on and did not go off when I pulled away from the coffee shop. I expected it to eventually go off, but it did not. I wondered if the doors were connected with the light by fuse maybe. The light never went off all the way home. Maybe it is time to go through the owner's manual to check out the electrical system and the connection between the doors and the seat belt connection. The problem might be a fuse. It could not possibly be that simple. Fuse is wishful thinking, though a good place to start the process of trouble-shooting. I parked the car at home with the intention of not driving it until the temperature is above freezing, if possible, to see if it fixes itself. I've thought about calling Car Talk just for the fun of doing it, figuring the chances of getting through are slim to none. Sure, some get through. And some win the lottery. Online will be better. I might walk up to neighbor's house with a book tomorrow, have a hot bath and read for a few hours in warm air, then turn the heat down and come home before dark. I ordered a paperback copy of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio that arrived in today's mail. I want to see the meaning of Pinocchio becoming a donkey, to see if there is some symbolism that might apply to my own journey by way of donkeys.  

jenny and jack
 The donkeys and the calf seemed to be all right with the cold this morning. It was -2F when I went out to take them some hay. They appeared like usual, no special mood. Both Jenny and Jack were quiet this morning, gave no sign of being uncomfortable. It wasn't a bad below zero, actually. The house protected their shed and its corner of the meadow from wind, what wind there was that came out of the west. The flow of the big wind did not come through here. The wind in this little valley changes direction constantly. The sun was bright all day making it somewhat more comfortable for the four-leggeds. I've not been able to take pictures of these events around the calf. It feels to me that taking pictures of a friend in a hard time is colder than the coldest day of the year. I could never be a press photographer for the coldness required. I could never take a picture in Iraq of a man holding his dead child. A Pulitzer Prize could not tempt me. Maybe. I don't really know. I've seen a few press photographers and they're gritty people. I'm not like that. Somebody else could have made a series of fascinating photographs of the calf adventure. I thought about it afterwards, glad I chose not to. On the way out the door to go to the calf when Jesse arrived, I passed the camera and decided not to pick it up. Some life experiences I feel are sacred and cameras ought not be allowed. The calf on the verge of passing over was too sacred a moment to look at objectively. Matters of the sacred are subjective. I wouldn't even want pictures of the experience. I see the images very well in my head. That's where they belong.
jenny and jack

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