The night of August 9, 2015
That night we put Jonas and the little kid in one of the trailers and I walked back down the driveway to collect the remaining goats while friends and neighbors slowly backed the stock trailer down the drive behind me. The goats were frantic but they recognized me and I was able to lead them into the enclosed yard on the cement slab. I tethered the bucks and one by one we loaded them into the stock trailer. We made a chute out of the cattle panels in the driveway and herded the does and kids into the trailer.
The goats were taken to the Schmitz farm in the next town. After the animals had been unloaded and fed and watered I drove to the Red Cross Center set up at the high school where I work as a substitute. The chickens, the cat and both dogs were put into large cages and fed and watered.
The Red Cross Center was almost deserted and I was treated like royalty by the team, which had little to do especially at 12:00a.m. I was fed chocolate cake and sandwiches and I was starving.
Later as I lay on a cot in that vast dark gym with the smell of the freshly waxed floor I prayed and hoped that the fire did not spread into the valley below PsiKeep and that everyone’s home out there was safe.
August 10, 2015
The Red Cross was very accommodating but the rooster was crowing and my white German Shepherd was barking at everyone who entered the Red Cross center. So I thought it best that we move on. I was able to connect with Brenda and James who helped me with the goats the night before and we were invited to stay out the evacuation at the Schmidt farm in Lower Lake.
The dogs and I are living out of the back of the car for the next five days.
We set up a pen for the dogs and put my chickens into a coop out back. I fed and watered the goats and put the cat into a larger cage under the trees.
The first morning I helped Corky Schnidt butcher some chickens.
Later that morning Brenda and I set off to evacuate her chickens and remaining belongings she wanted to remove from her place.
We spent the day getting animal feed and supplies for the three of us so we would not be a burden on Sharon and Corky Schmidt.
When we returned later that afternoon we discovered that Voice, my little black dog had broken out of the pen and was last seen running down the street.
We drove off looking for her. We back-tracked down 29 to Spruce Grove where Day’s Plumbing use to be. We drove out Morgan Valley Road about two and half miles where I finally said “I don’t think she could have gone this far. She is over ten years old and does not get around a lot at PsiKeep.” But that was my mistake. We should have gone further. If we had only gone further up the road.
Two days later on August 12 we got our first lead from the Animal Emergency Center at Spruce Grove Road. The woman said that a report had come in about a dog fitting the description was sighted on Morgan Valley Road and Reif Road, out where the fire was still burning and the road was closed to through traffic. Brenda and I drove out there through miles of blistered hills black and burned out desolation as far as the eye could see.
When we reached the fire crew they told us they had seen the dog but someone had hit her and dragged the body to the shoulder of the road about two miles back.
We found her body about four miles out of Lower Lake. She must have traveled that far before getting hit. She was alone, terrified and struck down probably in the dark when a driver could not see a black dog traveling along the road.
We brought her back to PsiKeep that day and buried her in a hasty grave by the bones of her old buddy Jaffa who died four years before. I will come back when this is over and do the marker right. Now it is just a chain link kennel panel lying on the ground to keep the animals from digging her back up.
To be Continued…
August 9th, 2015
A day of Yurga begins like any other day but on the day come the ending and the re-beginning of the world.
The Rocky fire had burned 69,636 acres and was 70% contained.
It was a clear day out here. I decided to work on some of the rune circles I am building to put on the side of the house and the out buildings.
I could hear the helicopters flying overhead and heady equipment still coming down the road above me. I did not think very much about that. Funny how we can get use to almost everything including the sounds of a distant battle being waged.
But the call I got from my neighbor changed everything. He called to say there was a fire down in the canyon below the drop off at the east end of the valley. I went out on the porch to look and saw a tiny wisp of smoke in the east.
Within ten minutes the smoke had turned into this.
And within less than an hour into this.
This was a monster roiling out of the canyon.
Once again I started packing. I called the chickens into the kennel with some food and caught them one by one, stuffing them into the cage in the back of the car. I caught Little Hitler, the cat and got her into a carryall. I grabbed the same stuff: sketches, the book project, hard drives and computers, the altar icons. I even re-packed the raven feathers.
I kept calling for help to transport the goats. But no one was responding. The fire was sweeping up the slope of the hills at the east end of the valley about two miles away. At dusk they came to tell me to get out. I told the sheriff I was packed and ready to go but waiting for help with the goats. It was getting dark and no one was coming.
Finally I grabbed Jonas, the older buck, and tethered him to the side mirror of the car. I managed to grab one of the kids and threw her on top of the dogs in the car. I turned the other goats free and set off up the driveway. Some of the goats ran after me for a short way but then turned back. Slowly I made my way up the driveway leading Jonas while the kid and dogs were scrambling across my belongings in the back of the car.
Suddenly I could see Jonas was not following behind. I stopped the car afraid he was collapsing. But what I discovered was worse. He had caught his horn in the wheel well. I got out and tried to get the tip of his horn free. But the curve of his horn was just the right shape and size of that space for the wheel.
At last I was able to work the tip of his horn free and we set off once again with the fire raging at our backs.
I got to the top of the drive way just as help arrived.
To be continued…
August 6 Day 9
Note: Please note that this entry of the past three days was under construction when the Jerusalem Fire broke out. I have entered them now to keep the events in this story in chronological order.
The satellite fire map indicates hot spots in the south The fire has moved to the south which is now closer to me if the winds blow back toward the north.
I have no startling images to share. I am too close to the belly of the beast and the fire is too spread out. There is nothing but smoke in the sky in the south east.
The fire is now as large as San Francisco.
Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show and all day NPR has been playing interviews of Jon Stewart. It is an end of another era.
I am keeping a close eye on the south where I am unable to see anything. The hot spots are still too far away. I think I will go down and open up an abysses on one of the goats. I am too exhausted to cut back more brush. Most of it has been cut away but this place has a lot of trees. There is not much more I can do but be vigilant and ready to move out if need be.
August 7 Day 10
I gave the older buck, Jonas, another bath and scrubbed away more dead skin and hair. He is looking a lot better. The new hair is growing back. And the wounds where the other bucks had attacked him are almost healed.
I have been giving him zinc and coconut oil in his feed and I am waiting for the supplements to arrive by UPS. But they will not come out here until Monday due to the fire. The little buckling with the abysses is also improving. The wound is drying up and have been giving him 2 cc of penicillin a day.
The day ended in that darkness that comes without the power.
I was watering the goats when the water stopped flowing. First I looked for kinks in the hose. None. I ran around looking to see if I left a hose bib on. There were no hose bibs draining out the water. Panic. Is my well pumping dry? The gauge says zero. No flow; no pressure Then I noticed that the light in the shop was out. I went inside and sure enough I had no power. As it turned out there was another fire in Sigler Canyon and a transformer blew up. One rumor had it that the transformer was hit with retardant. That night I read by headlamp until the power came on around 10:00p.m. I shut down the place hit the bed.
August 8 Day 11
I spent the day cleaning the house and unpacking the stuff I had grabbed to evacuate. Most of the space in the car had been taken up with a cage for the chickens, two carry cages for the cats and room of for the dogs. I had filled the rest of the space with things I thought were important. The hard drives and the computers made a lot of sense. The bag with the boots was probably practical as was the cash. The icons on the altar were for comfort. But the raven feathers? What was I thinking? Maybe they were to tie me to the earth. Soul food.
I use to have this all down. In Topanga I evacuated a number of times. I knew exactly what to grab after the animals were packed in the car. It was always the latest art project and irreplaceable things. But this time the car was too small and I am in between art projects. So I was stumped. This experience has taught me that I need to better organize my possessions and get focused on an art project.
At the end of the day I checked the satellite map again and noticed same seven little circles of hot spots in the south. Seven yellow dots may make a big difference on how this day plays out.
August 3: Day 6
This is the image you want to see in the sky these days.
The fire has grown to 66,000 acres and is 12% contained which means it is still out of control.
Each day begins clear again but as soon as the wind picks up the dragon is on the run.
The southern end of the fire just keeps re-igniting. The tail of this dragon just will not lay down.
Today is scary. At 3:55p.m. the wind is all over the place today.
The dragon continues to lumber north chewing through the dry chaparral and dry timber. By the afternoon it has jumped Hwy 20.
August 4, Day 7
The Rocky fire is 67,000 acres and 20% contained. The fire is as large as the city of San Francisco.
Today started like any other day The satellite fire map indicted we were down to only one hot spot. Yeah!
But then I got a call from a neighbor who said we were on Mandatory evacuation. And I just brought the goats back home last night!
I have no images. There was no one to take pictures of me running around with a chain saw cutting down the vegetation close to the house and around the upper trailer. By the end of the day I was too exhausted to shower. I fed the animals and fell on the bed asleep.
If this place goes at least I gave it my best shot.
August 5th: Day 8
Still cutting brush on PsiKeep. My summer was measured by this length of brush cut and stacked for the county chipping crew to chip it up for me. Right now is seems like a big liability with all this dry brush stacked along the upper drive.
But at the end of the day the county chipping crew arrived.
A big weight off my shoulders. It felt like such a relief to be watching someone else handling all the brush. I stood in the living room with a cold glass of hard cider as I watched all my summer efforts turn to saw dust.
After the crew has left I looked out over the area below the upper trailer and see nothing but saw dust on the ground where that 100 foot pile of tinder had been stacked.
Tonight I slept well but the fire is still burning and 43 residents from this fire have burned to the ground.
If you are into alternative farming and looking for growers and local business that specialize in alternative methods of raising and preparing food then the National Exposition is for you next year.
I participated this year by bringing my San Clemente goats to the exposition. I had intended on bringing seven goats, three bucklings and four doelings to sell. Since it was an educational exhibit, I spent days designing posters on the history and the markings and how to identify a San Clemente goat. I designed a flyer to pass out to people interested in the goats.
Unfortunately financial issues limited me. The car was overheating so I was afraid to bring the second group of goats to the exhibit. And I was unable to afford the printing for the posters. I did bring the three 8-month-old bucklings to the show.
Almost immediately the bucklings leaped out of the stall that they were suppose to stay in. They steeple jacked over the wooden fencing between the empty stalls all the way down the row in the sheep barn. The fair had to give me some wire panels to keep them from climbing out and that did hold them for the three days.
Of course it did not help when one of the exhibitors paraded her Nigerian Dwarf goat in front of little bucklings. Her goat was in heat. It was the School Children’s Educational Day and crowds of curious children were looking into the pen as the three frustrated bucklings began mating with each other right at child level.
“Daddy what is that thing hanging down under the goat?” I kept hearing, as parents realizing what was happening in the pen, dragged their children away.
I was confronted with another thing and I was caught totally off guard by it. A great many people remarked that they were uncomfortable with a goat with horns! Cows were too big and they were not going to be dealing with an animal that size, so no problem. But goats were something that you could keep and a goat with horns was something many people were afraid of.
All the goats at the exhibit except mine had been dehorned. Everyone had Nigerian Dwarf goats. They all looked over-fed, pot-bellied and the goat in the stall adjacent to my stalls looked as if there was a lost, little soul behind those eyes crying to get out.
Then I looked back at my three little guys sparing and screwing in the stall in front of everyone and maybe there was something to be said about…that.
While I did not sell any goats and spent a lot of money getting to the Exposition, I did have a reasonably good time and it was well worth seeing. I have posted some of the images I took while walking through the show.
Each day began with the exhibitors getting their booths and animals ready.
The Exposition opens for the day.
A corner shrine to the Anti GMO movement
The Grand temple
Raising joy at all that food.
PsiKeep Ranch and Center for the Arts
will be exhibiting San Clemente Goats
at the National Heirloom Exposition
at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds
September 9 – 11
Look for us in the Sheep Barn
The long wait is over.
PsiKeep Venture is proud to announce the launching of its sister web site psikeep.com.
In the months to come the new website will cover more specific details about the development of the art center and events and workshops taking place at the Center. It will also cover information about the breeding and sale of San Clemente Island goats at PsiKeep Ranch.
Check out the new link and stay tuned.
A day at PsiKeep begins with a bloat and ends with a bang.
Treating Bloat in San Clemente Island Goats
This morning I found myself dealing with a case of bloat in one of my does. As I was setting out the feed I saw that she was a balloon! She was as wide as she was long and standing listlessly under the trees by the feeder. By the time I got the olive oil and a turkey baster prepared she was lying down and looking pretty miserable. It was easy for me to catch her and put her up on the stanchion. I administered 2 turkey basters full or about 120 cc of olive oil slowly against the inside cheek of her mouth. Two hours later she was back down to a normal size and eating. Lucky I caught this one in time.
Singing Plants in the Garden
It is the time of the shower of the Pleiades and summer is dwindling into autumn with the promise of one or two furnace days ahead. I was walking back up from the goat pens through the Garden of Earthly Delights, the euphorbia and cactus collection at PsiKeep.
The ordeal of treating the bloating goat made me sit down on one of the ledges of the terraces and rest for moment. This is not something I normally do. I am always racing to the next project as soon as I complete the current one. I have a hard time relaxing. I am the one who orders the relaxation tapes back in the days when we were using cassettes and never broke the cellophane seal on the package. A long time in the grave for resting.
But this particular morning I forced myself to sit down and take a look around at what I am trying to do with this place.
As I sat there watching the San Pedro cactus and several of the other euphorbia, which I had planted a month ago, I noticed that they were glowing. I stepped closer to investigate. I could see that it was the position of the late morning sun above and behind the cactus and that the light was bouncing off of the fluid in the plant.
But there was something else. I could almost hear the sound of the capillary action as the inside the plant thrust upward, step laddering cell-by-cell toward the sky.
Out at the edge of the nub where new tissue was unfolding into the geometric five and six faces of the plant, there was a singing but there was no audible sound. It was an empathy of the same fluid within me unfolding, becoming, rising toward the light. And for a moment I felt at one with all that was around me. Blood, sap water, all the intricate fluids of life thrusting from the great wellspring of the earth into the infinite facets of being.
Of course I had to run into the house and get my camera and take the photos of the plants and then I had to write down what I saw and put it into the computer all the while leaving that small miracle trailing behind me while I walked into the day with my shopping list of things to do.
Sculpting the Mushroom Wedding Arch
Construction has stumbled to a standstill. Three out of the four sacks of cement I opened were setting up like a fast-set mixture. Something in the dry ingredients is wrong and as soon as I add the liquid to the cement it begins to set. It is crystallizing in the bucket before I can even trowel it out to spread on the surface of the sculpture.
I had called the company several days before leaving messages regarding the cement but no one had returned my calls. When I could no longer sculpt the gills of the mushrooms I stamped up the stairs to the phone and prepared for battle. After a number of phone calls and email messages I got the right number and that person referred me to the area rep.
I started out by representing myself as a contractor loosing money on a job because of the faulty cement. I figured I would get a better response than if I represented myself as a sculptor but this guy recognized me right away. “Oh your that instructor who is using our product in the way it is not supposed to be used.”
I could not believe it! I must have talked briefly to this guy back in 2009 when I had another problem with the chemistry of their product. I told him that I had been using it “in the way that it was not supposed to be used” but that it was working for me for a number of years and that maybe they ought to rethink how their product could be used. It might even open up a bigger market for them. But that was not the issue. The cement was setting up in the bucket before I could apply it “in the way it was not supposed to be used.”
After some haggling he said he would see about exchanging the fifteen sacks and would call me back on Monday.
This year’s raven offspring have flown away. I occasionally see them. When they arrive they are like gang busters, squabbling and squawking with each other. The littlest one I call “Little” is still alive. I did not have much hope for that one since he was so far behind the others in growth and size. But he is still hanging in there and seems more aggressive and forward than the other two.
The parents remain guarding their territory.
They spend most of the day in the blue pines or prowling in the goat pens. I feed them once a day and they have plenty of water so I imagine they have found paradise. The only time they disappear is at dusk when they fly off somewhere to a roost for the night. I have no idea where their roost is located.
This is not the image you want to see at the end of the day. Ten miles away it holds a warning of things to come.
While the saga of PsiKeep continues you might like to visit my new and second blog at http://tenabraecafe.wordpress.com/. Sign up at the Tenabrae Cafe for a notice of new postings. Looking forward to also meeting with you there.
This video clip shows a yearling doe playing with a two month old buckling kid. They are every familiar with each other. They both have the same mother and bed together with the mother in the same stall at night.
There is a certain restraint in the movements of the yearling. Toward the end of this encounter things get a little more serious and another adult female intervenes.
The background sound that you hear is the sound of a frustrated adult buck that has been separated from the does while they are raising the kids.
Goats spend a great deal of their leisure time competing with each other. It appears that they are establishing their position in the herd. This position is flexible and changes over time depending on circumstances such as age, the introduction of other goats into the herd, or becoming a mother with kids.