Expecting the Unexpected

Sharon May 25th, 2008

In case I needed a clearer reminder that I should not, shall we say, expect things to go as  planned in my life, there are 14 sheep and a donkey on my front porch.

My reaction to this oddly calm.  ”Ok, now I have to go out and yell “Get off the freakin’ porch you stupid walking sweaters”…again – or I could just ignore them and hose the porch later.”  Hmmm…laziness and amusement win.

I would actually have bet anything that you couldn’t get 14 sheep and a donkey (and my 8 year old in his pajamas) on my porch.  Oh, and I probably should have taken down the laundry before the donkey started helping me with it.  Well, it is down. 

You see, we have some sheep, and the world’s cutest guard donkey, Xote.  They don’t belong to me, but to my friend Elaine.  She brought over the sheep, set up the electric fencing on our main pasture, and then went on vacation to visit family in Minnesota for two weeks.  And now there’s something wrong with the fence - it doesn’t seem to be a problem of vegetation on the circuit, and we’re not really clear on what it is, and are somewhat hampered by the fact that Eric had minor surgery a couple of days ago (he’s fine, no big deal) and isn’t supposed to be doing too much hiking or chasing of sheep, and I’ve got a week to finish a book that is ummm…not finished.   

So after fixing the fence once and then having it go down again, and with a slew of sheep roaming my backyard and worries about the coyotes that den across the road (9 of the sheep are cute little lambs),  it occurred to me that we have a safe area for them – the 1/4 acre of fenced front yard with the playset, a large chunk of my neglected garden and an 8 foot fence to keep my oldest son from roaming.  So, I lured the critters in, and they are now trimming our overgrown lawn (push mowing is off Eric’s agenda for a few days too), eating my garden (this would be a problem except that I’ve planted so little that everything can be easily replaced, and if they trim back the thistles and dandelions, this might even be a net good), and playing in the sandbox (the lambs like to jump in it).  Oh, and they like to stand on the front porch and look in the window while I type.

Well, the kids are thrilled, and I’m more amused than annoyed – plus, suddenly I have an excuse for not gardening – yay – it is all the sheep’s fault.  There’s really nothing like a scapesheep ;-) .  It is tough on the early lettuce, and on the dogs, who feel strongly that sheep do not belong on the playset, but, well, life goes on.  We’re trying to be adaptable.

And I’m going to say that adaptability pretty much is what is wanted in the coming days.  For example, check out this post at The Automatic Earth: besides the regular old bad news, the fact that the city of Santa Barbara is now alloting parking lots to middle class homeless people living in their cars does seem to be one of those stark things.  Just in case you didn’t get that link, it is over at The Automatic Earth.  (Ilargi recently complained that I stole his links and didn’t send people to his site, so I wish to make it up to you by mentioning that this information is available at The Automatic Earth enough times that he’ll forgive me ;-) ). 

Things are umm…deteriorating.  That doesn’t mean the end of the world is immediately at hand, just, that well, as the poem goes, things fall apart.  But don’t you fall apart – there’s still plenty to do and plenty to laugh about.  For example, I could loan you some sheep for your porch.  They are the very latest thing!

One thing you can laugh about is this article.  My first reaction to it was real annoyance.  You see, the author interviewed me for it, and I was the one who passed her on to the wonderful Kathy Breault.  But the problem is neither the paper nor the author can see what is in front of their eyes – creative adaptation and community awareness.  They just see “survivalism.”  The idea that Kathy, who is deeply community oriented, and focusing on making her region sustainable is a “survivalist” in the sense that most people mean it is, about as accurate as saying I’m a Republican.  But the truth is, sometimes you can only see things through the lenses you’ve been given.  And the appropriate reaction to that is probably laughter. 

Or maybe the problem is this – there’s still a lot of denial about the PO problem.  And if we can shoehorn the problem into a box that makes sense to us “this is the province of the bunker and ammo crowd” we can put off the recognition that PO is going to change our lives whether we want it to or not, that all of us, are actually “survivalists” in the sense that we want to survive and go on, and create something worth keeping – and laughing about.



14 Responses to “Expecting the Unexpected”

  1. Verde says:

    Yea!! I love sheep. They are truely the most gentile of all creatures.

    I’m glad to hear that about the article. I had read it and thought, great preparidness and sustainability is now the newest militiant bunker group.

    The article did mention that many didn’t want to be named and maybe it wasn’t for fear of identification but rather not wanting to be misrepresented.

  2. AnnaMarie says:

    Thanks for a really good belly laugh! I’m craving goats and a donkey, hopefully with a cart but sheep would be fun too.

    I’m glad with all the havoc they can do you are still laughing and looking at the glass half full.

  3. Chile says:

    I love the sheep story! Thanks for the chuckle. Are pictures forthcoming?

    And I also appreciate hearing the backstory on that article.

  4. JW says:

    I don’t mind being called a survivalist. I wear that as a badge of honor. When TSHTF, there will be two kinds of people – those who make it, and those who don’t. I’m hoping my skills put me in the first category.
    Besides, it’s just another name… environmentalist, naturalist, humanist, realist…

  5. That is funny, well the sheep and the donkey, yes, but also that I read that article in my local paper and was going to send it to you, thinking maybe you had not seen it. I loved the part where they put peak oil in quotation marks like it was something “survivalists” made up. Good luck getting the book done.
    Cindy in FL

  6. Karin says:

    Don’t forget that the sheep also make really great poop for the garden!

  7. SCM says:

    The CNN article about the parking lots being used for homeless people camping out in their cars was linked to another interesting one:

    “Should you take in family”

    It reminded me of your ‘Brother-in-law on the couch vision of the apocalypse’ post.

    Mostly it contains tales of people putting up (and putting up with) their relatives fallen on hard times, but it also contains a bizarre quote:
    “But the ethics expert [Anita L. Allen], a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, doesn’t think such a family model is necessarily desirable.
    “I’m reluctant to see the value develop that says we have to take in relatives in need,” “

    I wasn’t aware that this particular value had gone out of fashion!

  8. Sharon says:

    Wow, I didn’t see that quote from the ethicist. That’s impressively horrible.


    Re:pictures. I have to get a digital camera…I really do. I’m waiting for one to come up on Craigslist or something.


  9. Danielle says:

    lol –welcome to farming. We have two PhD’s in our household and often wonder if the animals aren’t much smarter than we are!

    Not much I can add to the PO situation, but as to the fence, if you’ve ruled out vegetation shorting out the fence, have you checked the ground? Also, be sure the fence isn’t touching itself or the ground–that can short it out, too. If yours operates with alligator clips, we’ve occasionally had the connections slip out from the inside, so maybe check that. Electric netting can be a bug bear when it sags if that’s what you’re working with.

  10. Karin says:

    Last year was our first year on the homestead. We called it a learning year. But appparently this year is a learning year as well.

    Last year we got our first pig. WE built his pen on the back of our chicken coop. A sturdy structure. But Poorly placed. The pig removed all the shingles from our chicken coop and when he got a heavy rain he had quite a wallow.

    So this year my husband decided that if we were going to do a pig every year he would construct a super pig pen. My husband is a very talented musician. Classically trained in voice, just a gorgeous voice. But, I wonder about his skills in carpentry…

    The way the work divies up around here is I grow the veggies and preserve the food and he takes care of the animals, the teen feeds the animals and toddler throws food at the chickens. But I digress.

    Lat Tuesday, I was out in the garden when I heard a young Baa. I looked up to see our two new lambs outside of their pen and singing about the weather. So Teen and I coaxed them back into their pen. Then later in afternoon I looked out my living room window and caught a hint of movement. It was the goat nibbling on dandelions in the back yard. Again, a gentle coaxing back into his yard. My husband comes home from work with the new piggie and proudly puts him in the super piggie pen. Later Piggie is rooting around the outside of his pen. After chasing him through bramble and woods we finally got him into his pen. Later, hubby went to feed baby goat and I heard him come back in and grumble as he got his headlamp on. He was chasing piggie again. Next morning on our way to drop hubby off, there was piggie rooting around with lambs. Needless to say piggie lives in Fort Knox now.

    So, a neighbor (who had helped us to retrieve some wayward sheep) asked us,”Do you know why you never see a fat farmer?”

  11. jayedee says:

    i’ve never had a sheep or donkey on my front porch……but i did have a lovesick pilgrim goose camped at my front door for a while (no easy feat for the poor goose as i built my house on stilts and it’s a long climb lol)
    poor guy, he laid in wait for me EVERY day for about a month and followed me everywhere i went. thankfully, it’s over now, and he’s back to being a regular goose and hangs out with the flock instead of me!

  12. Chile says:

    Sharon, re the camera – put an ad in the Wanted section of craigslist. Surely you’d get some offers if you put:

    “Desperately need a working digital camera to prove I really did have 14 sheep and a donkey on my front porch!”

    Might even add…

    “Will trade autographed book for it.”

  13. Michelle says:

    Keep them away from your house, they
    love the taste of wood. I learned the
    hard way. Pics of house eaten by sheep
    available upon request.

  14. Segwyne says:

    When I was a kid, we had a small herd of goats, and I well remember how they would listen for the clicks of the electric fence and time their leaps so they could jump through the fence between shocks. One time they got into the house while we were at church and proceeded to eat some books. Ah, animals can be so funny sometimes.

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