In October I traded three San Clemente kids for two Soay sheep ewes and one ram. Soay sheep are naturally timid and bold easily. They are difficult to herd. During the hot months of summer’s end I kept them in the pen with the buckling goats. Things were working out okay. First I had them separated inside a smaller pen within the confines of the goat pen. Later I kept the door of the small pen open so that the sheep could investigate the space where the goats lived. The goats and the sheep seemed to be working out well together.
But as fall approached and the first early rain began to fall I put my animals in the barns for the night. I had to catch the sheep and put them in the stall with the male goats. I tethered the older buck since he was getting aggressive with the younger bucks. I checked them several times before I went to bed to make sure that everything was working out with the animals in the confined space. Things look quiet. Everyone was bedded down.
But the next morning was a different story. The little ran was lying on his side and something was terribly wrong.
I checked his temperature and it was normal. So I determined that he must be injured in some way. I put the goats out and put up a divider between the ram and the ewes since they kept trampling him every time they got spooked which was all the time.
For a week I had fed and watered him. At night I brought him in the house. Since it was so warm with the fire going night and day I kept him in the hallway. During this time he ate and pooped but he would not stand on his feet.
I was finally able to get the veterinarian to come out to the ranch. She took one look at the little ram and diagnosed a neurological disorder from poisoning, possibly from Listeria bacteria. Listeria is everywhere and possibly the stress of being transported from Minnesota brought on the infection.
The vet gave him one injection of BO-SE. For two weeks I injected him twice a day with penicillin. I wormed him, orally, for three days with Panacur and injected him two times a day for three days with vitamin B complex.
By the end of two weeks he was eating vigorously and drinking on his own but still not standing up.
The vet suggested that I make a harness for him to get him on his feet. I ended up using a burro saddle with some padding I would place him on the saddle with his feet on either side. It was just high enough for him to begin putting weigh on his legs. I did this twice a day for a half hour each time. Three days later I found him standing on his own and the next day he had broken into the next stall and was standing with the two ewes.
Today he is standing on his own but still turning with his head at an angle.
As the weeks have passed I have been letting the ewes out to run around. But the little ram will not leave the stall. One sunny day I carried him outside and he did wander around for a short time on his own. I am hoping he is going to outgrow the turning behavior. The vet has suggested more Vitamin B.
I had found this blanket in the trash at the Red cross Center and used it for the dogs to sleep on in the car for the five days we all evacuated. I had just washed it and hung it on the banister to dry when I heard a tanker flying overhead. I walked around the corner of the house and I could see the beginnings of another fire burning.
This fire is just down the road from PsiKeep. It is burning north by west. I am not concerned at the moment because the wind is blowing away from me. But in the afternoon the wind does shift in the opposite direction.
I worry about the people and animals in the hill to the north and west of me.
I am located a short distance outside the advisory evacuation area. But it is deja vu all over again. I had just cleaned my house. Again. I was unpacking the items I had evacuated from the last fire, again, when this fire began.
It looks like this one is under control for the time being.
Cal Fire just reported that the forward progress of the fire has been stopped and they have opened the road to residents only.
From my study, where I am composing this post, the roar of the air tankers has diminished and I can no longer see the smoke through the trees.
The San Clemente goats are calm. All seems well. I am waiting to see what develops when the wind shifts.
The hills are burning in the valley of Jericho
the bones of the deer are mixed with ash
a carpet of silver haunting the hilltops
wind blows across barren lava flows
exposing a cycle of ancient ruin
which has come round at last
And a seed of the first blade of grass
waiting for the rain to come.
The dragon is still churning through the smoldering wasteland in the east.
25,118 acres have burned and today it is 98% contained.
One dog is in the ground and the other is hiding in the shadows under my desk. The boxes with my precious, irreplaceable things are stacked unpacked on the porch. I should feel very thankful that I still have a porch to come back to. I think of the people who lost their homes counted and uncounted in the final tally. But in the end I am exhausted. I am in denial about the loss of Voice and I am not taking it very well.
But oblivious to my sorrow, paradise is raging all around me. The euphorbias in the Garden of Unearthly Delights are blooming. Some have actually never bloomed before.
The apples are hanging like clusters of grapes on the branches of the apple trees.
The raven pair are feeding on the crab apples in the orchard and the local herd of deer have come down to nibble at the chicken food again . All is well at PsiKeep but the caretaker.
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 2: Day 5
The fire has spread to 54,000 acres and is 5% contained which means it is still totally out of control. The latest report from Cal Fire says that the estimated containment is August 10.
Today the wind is blowing out of the south-west and to the north-east. This is good for me but the fire advancing toward Hwy 20 and Hwy 16. All the residents in the north-east end of the county are in great trouble. I also think of the horrendous suffering that must be taking place for all the wildlife trapped in this fire.
I pray to the Goddess for mercy for all living things in front of the fire and for the homes of the people who are in its path.
Things are getting tedious out here. I am constantly on the alert. I had to unpack the car because I have to bring hay to the goats twice a day. The boxes are stacked around the house in case I have to quickly load them back into the car.
I have to ask myself why am I staying here with the imminent threat of fire. Around me most everyone has left. They return only to feed their animals. I find this totally abhorrent. If it is too dangerous to stay why leave your animals? What do you think is going to happen if the fire reaches them? So I stay because it is more comfortable here than at a hotel. I stay because I have no place to put the animals. The goats are taken care of. They have been evacuated. But the 8 chickens, 2 cats and 2 dogs and one old San Clemente buck will fill my car. I stay because this is home and I want to protect it as long as I can. I know that if the fire is coming I will have to get out of here. With all these trees I cannot hope to save this place at the end. But I will stay as long as I safely can.
Meanwhile little is getting done. Most of the day is spent driving out to feed the goats where they are evacuated. The car is holding together but I have to fill it with coolant before I leave each time or it will overheat. Sometimes I can catch a little sleep but mostly I am on the edge ready to make the call to abandon this place.
PG&E has come by and sprayed all the power poles with red fire-retardant.
The fire department put up a sign that says Road Closed To Thru Traffic. Of course this road does not go thru so they must have borrowed the sign from some other road. I was stopped once by one of the firemen at the road sign. I had to show him my electric bill with the street address on it. After that they recognized me enough to wave me through.
The first image in this post was taken from the driveway this evening on August 2, 2015. See you all tomorrow.
August 1: Day 4
This morning on the 4th day I heard a strange pattering. I thought there was something wrong with the printer. I was fumbling around with the cables when I realized, IT WAS RAINING.
For a few extraordinary moments the rain washed the ashes off of the porch then disappeared like moth into the morning. Out in the wasteland the dragon slumbered on embers in the burnt out canyons waiting for the wind to raise it back to life. Meanwhile it looked like a good day and I thought maybe I can bring home some goats.
I went to feed the herd and get some supplies. It took me most of the day. As I was unloading the car I noticed two firemen from Cal Fire parked in the middle of the road out in the valley. Were they stationed to keep people from driving back into the evacuation zone? But they were parked the wrong way. Later I saw that they were gone and I could only surmise that they had gotten lost.
By the time I went to feed the goats in the evening things had shifted for the worst.
In the dark sky plumes were rising from spot fires. By night fall the dragon was simpering in the wasteland. All was strangely silent. The aerial defense had retreated for the night and the glow from the distant fire was the only sign of the horrors enveloping out there.
“Through the green fuse drives the flower” into an uncertain spring.
The shrouded cactus and succulents waiting for a winter which never came. The nursery cloth was removed at solstice time even though we had a late cold spell in early April.
San Clemente Goat Kids
Kidding season has come and passed. PsiKeep has 10 new San Clemente doelings and one buckling for sale. Kids are available now. Navigate to http://www.psikeep.com/ranch/sale.html for more information.
Getting Ready for the Fire Season
We finally got the broken tree removed from the upper goat pen.
Some of the other trees were thinned this spring. Here the goats are feasting on the oak leaves.
Working so hard to get this post uploaded I forgot the last entry.
A section of the flower garden below the house which no one gets to see unless they are weeding the vegetable garden.
Now that I have shown all the beauty of spring at PsiKeep, the next post will detail some of the grunt work on putting the ranch and the art center together single-handed.
Best to all.
Comments are always welcome
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.