Tag Archives: goats

My Winter – as told by goats

All right, so we’re going to stray from the usual writing topic for this post. Partially because I’m not sure what to write about here, and partially because I want to.

As many people around North America are experiencing, spring time is here. (Except not in Oregon apparently, because we got freaking SNOW just earlier this month.) I thought I’d display my winter, as according to goat pictures… You’re going to be subjected to many pictures of goats. Goats in the winter. Goats in snow. Baby goats. Goat noses. I’m pretty sure you’ll survive the torture.

If you follow me on Instagram, many of these pictures many be familiar — but never in a fun story and all together like this!

Let’s start with a moment from Fall.

Three of my goats traveled to my parent’s house during the summer to clear some of their brush. As the weather turned, they came home. And it was a little comical. First, we had Phe and Duchess, who wanted to drive.

And then there was their expressions when they arrived…

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What… where have we been taken to!?

Phe and Blackberry immediately got into a fight, as they were herd bosses in their respective herds, and they had to work out who was herd boss of the overall herd now.

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They eventually figured out there differences and everyone loved each other again.

Now let’s talk about the holidays. Thanksgiving I ended up spoiling them. Look at this masterpiece of edibles I created for them. Apples, two kinds of grain, vitamins sprinkled on top…

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The boys were a little lost on how to eat the apples, but everyone else pretty much thought they’d died and gone to goat heaven.

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When Christmas came around, we (the humans) were a bit more selfish. We decided to drag all the goats out to my parent’s house Christmas Eve, so we could spend the night and not worry about having to run back home to feed them. I have many sides of the family, so the holidays become pretty hectic bouncing from house to house. Moving the goats made it so we didn’t have to run back to our house as well.

(Goat Brains: torn between eating the food
— and staring at the world as it sped by them)

They weren’t too happy about their small temporary enclosure, but they sure did like the walks that the whole family took them on for the days we were there. Things to eat EVERYWHERE. My parents definitely enjoyed their company, and my extended family was eager to meet the ladies I talk about so much…

(Sari is very concerned I’m leaving in the loud metal machine)

Not long after that, the first snow hit. I’m pretty sure that the goats have never seen snow before… or at the very least, never seen that much snow, where it actually stuck around. It’s too bad WordPress doesn’t support video files; I have a fantastic video of them racing back and forth with me once they figured out it didn’t hurt them.

No one wanted to leave the barn, but I kicked a few goat butts outside one day to make them get exercise. Needless to say, they weren’t really happy with me (Sari stood there pathetically while trying to only stand on two feet at the time).

And they had NO idea what to do with all the white cold stuff at their feet…

(Goat brain: Do we eat it??)

A month or so later, Beltane and Inanna became old enough to need to establish their hierarchy in the herd with each other, so that was a big day. (Note mom in the background making sure it doesn’t go too far.) I’m still not entirely sure who won. I think Beltane (the black one) did. Again — I also have a very funny video of Beltane playing king of the hill and refusing to let her sister get up on the brick mountain with her…

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And now that we’re halfway through MARCH, the sun occasionally does come out to grant us with it’s presence. The goats won’t step outside if there’s a hint of rain, so it’s a pretty big deal when the sky is clear.

It’s pretty great to go outside with them and read, too.

My summers are peppered with memories of napping out in the sun with the goats (who will lay with/on me and nap too), so besides the obvious I’M SICK OF THE RAIN, I’m pretty excited for summer to get here. I also can get a decent amount of writing done when I go outside with a laptop and watch them graze. They are fairly distracting when they try to jump on me and the computer of course… but that’s another story.

And don’t worry, I won’t blog TOO much about goats. Though, I’m pretty sure I’m going to post something when Sari and Blackberry kid (early May!), so look forward to pictures of brand new babies in not too long here…

Until then, toodles! I hope this was fun and entertaining for you all. Feel free to comment and share!

 


Oh Canada, Oh Canada…

So I’ll be gone for two weeks! My parents are taking my sister, my partner, and I up to Canada, to some city I can’t spell to save my life (the French, man), but it’s 2 hours North of Montreal. I’m pretty excited about that. Then we’re heading to a cute town called Poughkeepsie, and then we’ll be finishing our train ride to New York!

It’s going to be great. I turned in my FicFest revisions a week or two ago, and my mentor just gave back my first chapter and synopsis — and I’ll be getting the whole manuscript here in a few days. The deadline to get everything in is the 30th of June, so I’ll be finishing up all those revisions on vacation!

I’m kinda excited for that. I’m hoping that the first week of vacation will be relaxing (and adventurous, but relaxing). As much as I love my goats, I’m looking forward to not having to worry about waking up early for chores. I can sleep in, and mentally be a spaz, go exploring, and revise to my heart’s content!

I probably won’t be posting here for the next two weeks. Unless I feel the need to share the wonderful things I’ll be experiencing. But you should probably follow me on Twitter for that.

Getting on a plane at midnight! Now to get all my chores and packing done in time…


Camp NaNoWriMo

Hey, so, apparently November isn’t the only day to join up with pals and use word goals to kick your writer-butt in the pants. Only for Camp NaNoWriMo, you get to choose your writing goal. And you also are put into “camps” with other writers to help facilitate and make friends.

Mostly I really want to work on the project I’ve tasked for it. But I can’t, as I want to use the word counts for the month of April, and this project I’m working on can only be 17k words (it’s for the contest I mentioned in my last post), so I’m constrained that way. Which is actually kinda fun and I’m looking forward to it. But impatient for April to be here.

So instead of writing on the novella I’m writing this post. I probably should be outlining and researching for the novella, but I’m feeling too restless. Probably because it’s sunny and I actually should be outside working on the barn.

Because look at these faces that will greet me:


What is the Genre of your Novel?

Yesterday I was finally been able to sit down to write after almost a week of chaos. Two of the goats on the farm I live at kidded this weekend, leaving me with four cute factories running around the barn. The moms are taking care of them very well, thank goodness, but one has triplets so we’ve been lending a hand to make sure all her babies are doing well. The little girl out of the bunch likes my fiancee’s lap the most:

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Yes, I’ve been dealing with that cuteness for the past few days!

Anyway, I am attempting to get back on writing track, and obviously, to blog. I’ve gotten feedback from my first beta reader, and she’s absolutely loving my manuscript: she read it in two days, when usually she’s a slow reader who takes her time. We excitedly discussed plot, characters, and style non-stop for almost two hours straight.

So that was very encouraging, and I have a few more beta readers who are going to get their copies here shortly. I’m pretty motived anyway, but it’s making me feel a lot more encouraged to work on the second book, as well as working on lots of agent/editor research.

In slightly off topic but relatable news, I’ve recently run into a bit of an issue: I’m not sure the genre of my novel. It’s fantasy, for sure, with lots of magic. But then there are decent Steampunk elements; for example, advanced technology in a Victorian-like society. But my story doesn’t actually take place in the 1800’s – I’ve redone history with some big twists so it’s actually “current day” with advanced technology and Victorian era traditions. I hesitate to describe it as “Alternative History” because of the heavy amount of fantasy, and because I don’t think I’m anywhere near someone like Diana Gabaldon’s level of research.

Sooo I’m back to the simple “General Fantasy” genre… I just feel it’s more than that, and doesn’t cover enough of what my story is to really cut it. Currently my query doesn’t have a precise genre, but instead a fancier “a mix between this author and this author, appealing to fans who like their fantasy A, B, and C,” etc. I think it’s working decently well for it’s purposes, but I’m still are little perplexed. Before, when I read about agents complaining about authors who mis-identify their genre, I didn’t think it applied to me because the manuscript I worked on before was more cut and dry. But now… it’s looking like my problem.

What do you think? Are you have problems identifying your genre because of it’s odd little quirks? Do you have an idea of what my novel sounds like? Or maybe some advice on how to tackle this in a query? (Or do you want to squeee over the picture of the baby above?)


Animal Friends and Stick-Stealing

While out on a feeding frenzy by the trees, Sari, my newest dairy goat acquisition, decided to lay her head across my shoulders while I was sitting on the ground and snuggle. It was rather heart heart warming (even if it was after a half an hour of chewing cud in my ear), particularly since she’s kind of a prickly personality and a bit obnoxious at times.

It made me wonder about relationships with animals. Dogs, as we all know, are most commonly considered man’s best friend. They love you, try to communicate with you, (sometimes) listen to you. Even cats, though they’re often more independent than dogs, also create connections and emotional attachments with people. This makes sense because we’re all predators and have common ground to be friends. Trained to not pee on the rug and all that jazz.

But goats are prey animals. They have all these instincts and stuff. And yeah, I get it, my goats were raised with people and learned to trust us and have been domesticated, etc. But me, with clear predator eyeballs and scary bigness, can mess around with my lovely prey friends, grab their faces, pet their throats and near their eyes. Sari particularly was so not into that when she first came here. That she trusts me now, makes me stop and think about friendship and language across species.

Through love (or fear, unfortunately) animal friends learn what to do to please us. Our reasons for returning this affection is often varied. It seems like the more we’re able to understand each other’s wants and wishes, the more attachment seems to form – as in, “don’t poop on the floor” and “oh yes keeping scratching that spot” along with “guard the house” and “feed me” and other various desires. In a perfectly logical way, this symbiotic relationship is about understanding basic necessities and supplying them for mutual benefit.

But in my more existential moments, I wonder about cross-species communication on a different level. We as humans can declare superiority with our big brains and conquering the natural world oh yay, but a lot of time I think we don’t give our animal friends enough credit. If any of you out there work closely with animals, I think you’ll understand what I’m talking about. As much as our animal friends cannot speak our spoken language, I think that we cannot (or don’t spend enough time to) speak their language in return. Their own way of communicating is probably not in our range of immediately comprehension, so we dismiss it as inferior – I think wrongly so.

I think cross-species friendship can tap into understanding of each other that is not just communication of basic necessities. Something more; a not-quite-language created between two species. It might all be my imagination, and I’m not sure we can understand what really happens in their brains (particularly with prey animals), but that moment of other understanding that isn’t quite understanding so much as a suggestion, is rather magical.

Like I said. It’s probably in my head. Or applying my own ideas to actions that mean something else. Who really knows what happens in a goat’s (dog’s, cat’s, rabbit’s, etc) brain. Yet somehow I’ve gained the trust of three animal friends by paying attention and being receptive.

But anyway. In an effort to bring this discussion back to writing, I had this thought: language barriers, especially when dealing with sci-fi or fantasy where there’s aliens or robots or half-animal creatures or things that grew up in the woods, is not a complication to be taken lightly. Their brains  are literally different, complex, growing up with different assumptions and complex reasonings that are all tied back to chemistry, biology (or mechanics), and environment. Like with animals, maybe we just have no way of being able to understand what they’re saying. Or with Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, there’s no real way of being able to access the network in which that species communicates. Or maybe they don’t operate the same way we do anyway. Or maybe being able to communicate means that we have to change the way we think, how we think.

But that might be a little extreme.

Any which and either way, communication problems between simple ol’ humans is bad enough – it’s even worse when you try to add a dimension that we’re, well, making up. However, language barriers, misunderstandings, and half-understandings can also really add spice to a story – and it can be really fun, too. It can add both comic relief (stretching and yawning in their culture is, whoops, actually a come-on) and conflict (delicate negotiations go awry because smiling is actually a sign of aggression), which is the life-blood of any story. Like many things in writing, communication (by culture and language) is something to be mindful of, and also a great tool if wielded effectively.

In other news:

I had a stick that I was using to flick at the goats so they’d back off from stuff they weren’t supposed to eat in the flower garden. The idea was born out of laziness because I didn’t want to get get up from my seat. I put the stick down for half a second and Sari ate it.

NaNoWriMo word count: 17,813