And everything nice
I am sitting in a cubicle on the fifth floor of an office building that overlooks a highway. The scent of weak, stale coffee wafts from a kitchen filled with tins of cookies brought in from staff: lady fingers, Mexican wedding cookies, gingerbead – wrapped carefully to be shared in the break room and promptly devoured by masses of employees as they type onto their Macbooks. Our CFO is wearing a Christmas sweater and Santa hat. Tinsel is hung above a filing cabinet, the same sad strand that’s been pulled out every year for the five years I’ve been at this place (F I V E). Today it occurred to me that this *might* be my last holiday season in an office. The last season of awkward white elephant gift exchanges. The last season of stealing peppermint hershey kisses from the little jar off someone’s desk you don’t know. The last season of staring at the clock and wondering if the boss will let us leave early on the Friday before Christmas. Maybe this marks the end of an era; only time can reveal those kinds of secrets. But it feels like a page is turning in slow motion.
There’s been a lot of end-of-an-era kinds of moments lately. On Saturday Boo and Pedro, the last of our infamous donkey herd, were adopted to a farm in east Texas. Boo went out with a bang, resisting his halter, resisting the lead rope, rearing up repeatedly like the wild stallion he’s always wished to be. Loading him was hard (physically), but it wasn’t until Sunday morning when the pasture gate was empty of the two asses that I realized it was hard (emotionally). The donkeys were the first, albeit stupidest, of our choices, and Boo was here from the beginning. His new owner reports that he’s already started tormenting her goats; a good sign he’s doing just fine. But still there’s a space in the pasture until it’s filled with something else. It always ends up getting filled with something else.
On Tuesday morning I milked the goats for the last time this season.
I dried them off slowly and it was obvious Tuesday they were done. I poured the paltry contents of the silver pail that was, just a few months ago, brimming twice a day, onto the dog food. I gave the girls cookies, scratched their heads, literally said “THANK YOU.” I’m proud of this first season. They produced for 11 months, and I showed up on a nearly religious schedule for twice daily milking; my ten knobby fingers and stronger handshake have a lot of opinions on the subject. On our porch sits a used, but lovely, milking machine with a new gleaming bucket and milk lines tucked into the attic waiting, waiting, waiting for the next – much bigger – season. I am thrilled, exhausted, excited, apprehensive at once. I remember that first night with the baby goats, Jer smirked at me as I was already tired from the constant feedings, “We’ll see if you even LIKE to milk animals,” he said. Well, well, well. Here we are. In your face, buddy.
And two weeks ago we submitted a lengthy application to the FSA (Farm Services Agency) for loan consideration. The application is so comprehensive that it requires three years worth of production history, business plans, and enough narrative to fill a book. We pieced it together over the course of six weeks, slipped it into the mail, hoped for the best. (But assume the worst) We’ve been down this road before with getting projects off the ground so you do the best you can, cross fingers, wait. I’ve been twiddling my thumbs already for two weeks.
And then there was another birthday this week for which I received this, from Jeremy:
It’s sadly accurate. But, I am SO MUCH MORE then just a goat lady (shaking my fist)! I am a goat AND cow AND dog lady. Just so we’re clear.
Also, it’s true, Betty had puppies. Five puppies – one of which is absolutely, definitely staying here (No, I’m kidding Jer. Maybe. Maybe not.). Since Betty has been a perfect mother, our job so far is relegated to just carrying them around occasionally and keeping Betty fed. What a glorious distraction in the midst of things.
Now here we go trotting into the holiday season which always seems like one last explosion before the winter sleep into February. The to-do list is scary long, the kind of length that makes me shrink into a corner clutching a glass of wine. But it will get done. It always gets done. Right now I’m hoping for many afternoons tucked up in the loft for writing and reading and general resting before this quite intimidating new year begins.