Christmas Aftermath


Coherent thoughts, complete sentences and meaningful posts will resume once these kids return to school. For the time being, I’m leaning heavily on photos. And a fleeting word or two, in the momentary pause between someone yelling “Mom? Mom! Mommmmm…..Where are you?”

I try to hide. Right now I’m hunkered down behind the bed — sitting on the floor, my laptop tottering on my knees. And I’m typing…. as gently and soundlessly as possible.

But those gremlins always sniff me out. Here comes one now. Thumping up the stairs like a wounded wildebeest, then silent…pausing to listen…before cracking open my bedroom door. Then Thump-Thump-Thump… around the bed and — voila…

…or “viola” as my Dad liked to say…

I’ve been found.

So with that, here are a few holiday photos.

Christmas morning… here’s the typical scene moments before the kids lay a path of destruction.

Note the bailing twine in the top left corner — tethering the tree to the doorway. See, the tree fell down 10 days ago. It was what you’d expect — a hailstorm of ornaments and a peppering of pine needles. But there was an added bonus: all the water in the base spilled out, seeping through the floor boards into the cellar. So that twine is there to prevent a repeat performance.

But this next photo really sums up Christmas morning. After ripping open every present possible, it’s time to build. Assembly required. With a mimosa nearby, of course.



Christmas Day isn’t complete without a walk up the driveway with Bugsy. We pull the pony from the field, grab the dog and set out. To see the cows.



The new cows. The previous cattle were loaded up a month ago and —

well… processed.

Here’s the next batch — 26 in all — still skittish and fascinated by the kids-pony-Border Collie freak show.



Normally, we head up the driveway and bang on Chet’s door. This year we visited the other neighbors. Walked past their chickens, turkeys, Highland cows (mentioned here) and into the barn..

…to see the day-old lamb, cooking beneath a heat lamp.



We kept our visit brief. The mother sheep wasn’t thrilled to see us. In fact, she looked menacing.

If it’s possible for a sheep to look menacing.


“I am going to mess you up,” she seemed to say.

So we hustled out of there. I wouldn’t let the kids get trampled.

Not on Christmas, at least….





Pack & Goat


This is Linus* a half-pigmy/half-fainting goat. He lives on a nearby farm (where the “yak cows” reside, mentioned here).

Frequently, our neighbor Liz babysits Linus during the day, toting him around on errands; Linus rides in Liz’s lap as she drives to the bank, gas station and store. And why not? Linus is an amenable passenger and so portably compact, he fits in a tote bag.

One summer afternoon Liz stopped by and released Linus among our crew. He was astonishingly composed among curious cats and impatient, pawing kids.

Martin has been nagging for more sheep, I thought, watching Linus explore the porch. Maybe I can ply him with a little goat.

It was easy to imagine Linus, or one of his brethren, joining us. He’s impossibly cute and tidy-looking — his snow-white coat and inky markings far cleaner than the dingy stuffed animals around here. I imagined Linus’ tiny hooves clattering on the kitchen floor and his bug-eyed face peering from the car beside Maisie. He’d be a photogenic addition to the blog.

But thoughts of Linus dredged up advice from our neighbor Chet, tripping the memory like a silent bank alarm. A few years ago Martin launched a brief but passionate “let’s get goats” campaign. I was stalling but wavering when Martin voiced his goat-hopes to Chet. Idling in his car, arm crooked out the window, Chet listened to the pitch. When Martin finished, Chet motioned us close.

“Want to know what I think?” he asked, glancing around secretively. “Goats are wonderful animals…

…when someone else owns them.  You don’t need goats,” he said.

And we don’t. Linus is a nice, neighboring addition to the blog.

*Apparently the goat’s real name is Fritz. Minor technicality. I asked Fritz; he said he didn’t mind being called Linus.


Mutton Bustin’

Mutton bustin’: a rodeo event in which children ages 4 – 7 attempt to ride running sheep for 6 seconds.

On ranches out West, mutton busting is probably a useful skill. Cowboy kids grow up learning to rope calves, break horses — and maybe one day ride broncs or bulls in rodeos. Clinging to a high-speed sheep is good training.

But where we live mutton busting is nothing more than adult entertainment.

But dammit, it’s entertaining.

Before I post more photos, let me state these facts:

1. Martin and I polished off a round of cocktails. Judgment might have been impaired.
2. This was Cayden’s idea. He wanted to try mutton busting.

I didn’t remind him that our sheep are virtually impossible to handle, much less ride. And I didn’t mention that there’d be only one way off.

Instead, I advised him to dig his fingers in the wool and stay low over the sheep.

Martin and I exchanged looks. We knew who’d win this match. I hoped for no broken bones. With the kid aboard a sheep Martin opened the gate, officially launching the farm’s first — and possibly last — mutton bustin’ event.

Initially, the selected sheep hid under the herd, probably wishing this to end.

But then the herd bolted. Fast.

Cayden didn’t stay low, but he hung in there anyway.

He made it a good 20 to 25 yards aboard the speeding sheep…

…before things went amiss. He tipped to the side…

…and the sheep rubbed him off against the fence.

From the way he rolled, I knew he hadn’t broken anything. But he was crying. He lifted his shirt to reveal a swath of fence scrapes on his back.

“You did great! You’re okay,” I said hugging him. “You want an ice pack?” He shook his head still crying.

“Honestly Cayden, that was –hands down — the coolest thing I’ve seen all day,” I told him. “Any chance we can get you to do that again?”