Weekend Snapshots 54: The Heaven/Hell Edition

Friday

I met up for lunch with a couple of friends at Feast, in Charlottesville’s Main Street Market. Before I headed back to work, I stopped off at a stall to buy a couple of things.

I gasped involuntarily when I saw that my two items added up to 6.66 on the cash register.

“666!” I exclaimed in horror.

“I don’t like that number either,” the kind angel behind the counter said. He voided the transaction and rang it up again so that it would add up to $6.65.

*Incidentally, cast your eyes over to the right…I’ve been at 666 followers of this blog for a couple weeks now and it’s giving me the creeps! Here’s hoping that another kind soul takes pity on me again and changes that number soon!*

In the evening I took the kids to see Black Panther. My son and I discussed the Utopian and Dystopian aspects of Wakanda and the moral ambiguity of Killmonger all the way home. The younger two in the backseat plugged their ears with their fingers and rolled their eyes all the way home.

Saturday

We helped set up for the PACEM homeless shelter…

IMG_2941

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

IMG_2953


A wicked game of Two Square that left one of these little angels with a throbbing, purple pinky…

We finished watching the first season of Stranger Things…sooo good/sooo creepy!!!

Sunday

Goats are traditionally associated with Satan, but for a group of five parents and seven girls ranging in age from 12 to 13, spending the afternoon playing with baby goats at A Better Way Farm was heavenly. 

As we were leaving the house to head to the farm, I found my daughter in the garage staring pensively at an old guinea pig cage leaning up against the wall.

“Should we bring the cage…just in case?” she asked.

IMG_2976No. No, we shouldn’t.IMG_2962IMG_3021IMG_3086

IMG_3033

Take me home, human!

IMG_3013IMG_2977IMG_3111IMG_3072IMG_3076IMG_3120

Ethical Question of the Day: Your beloved little angel is being attacked by a hair-eating goat. Do you: a) save her or do you b) continue snapping photos while cackling like a demon?IMG_3127

Clearly, I’m going straight to hell.IMG_3123

 

A Better Way

We took a field trip with a caravan of friends to visit the wonderful A Better Way Farm and Goat Dairy in Waynesboro, Virginia. Ever since we moved to a house with a paddock and barn in the backyard, my daughter has been pleading for a baby goat. As my friend said, a visit to a goat farm truly was “a better way” to indulge her.

The goat farm is a one woman operation. Just a few years ago, Kathy was working at home as a computer programmer. She said she never dreamed she would end up being a goat farmer when she bought her house and land ten years ago. It all started when her youngest daughter asked for some chicks. (At this my friend and I eyed each other. The story sounded ominously familiar). “Chicks,” she said, “are a ‘gateway drug’ for other farm animals.” Soon all she wanted to do was be outside playing with the animals. She quit her job and started building her goat herd. Now all her children have grown and left home, and she runs the farm all by herself. Even though she has 70+ goats she milks by hand, chickens, a newly planted orchard, and bees, she says she’s having so much fun it doesn’t feel like a job at all! On the weekends she gives tours of her farm and from time to time gives workshops on things like goatkeeping, beekeeping, and soap making.

It was a delight to see someone so in her element. She knows each of her goats by name. “Hi, Magpie!” she says as she gives a black and white goat an affectionate head scratch. “My babies!” she cries to triplets, furiously wagging their little tails and clamoring for her attention:

We inquired about one goat who looked rather largish around the middle.

“Is she about to give birth?” my friend asked.

“Oh, that’s my very first goat. She’s not pregnant; she just never regained her figure after having her babies. She forgives you.”

I could definitely relate.

The tour concluded with a taste of creamy, sweet goat’s milk, which one of the visitors described as tasting like “melted ice cream.” We bought some chèvre, feta, and soap – all made from goats’ milk.

And though it was incredibly difficult to resist, we did not buy a baby goat.

Now the girl wants ducklings.

Farmette

As I write this, my parents are on a plane heading back to Seoul. They are moving back to the high rise apartment they left – (we had thought for good) – about six years ago. I wonder how my dad will get on without the garden he was so happy to come home to in Arlington. Will he dream about the row of pine tree saplings he planted when they first arrived…the ones which my mother would scornfully refer to as his “sticks,” when she’d see him from the window tenderly fussing over them? Will he regret not seeing the peonies, peach and cherry trees bloom in his own yard this spring?

For many years, my dad tried to put his farm boy roots behind him. He ferociously, voraciously pursued degree after degree. Even today, at the age of 80, after acquiring a couple masters degrees, a doctorate, and a J.D., he still seriously weighs the possibility of going back to school again. But no matter how many degrees he accumulates, no matter how many scholarly tomes he writes, he will always be a man of the earth. The proof is in the combination arboretum, botanical garden, and vegetable plot he manages to cram into every tiny suburban yard he’s ever had at his disposal. The proof is in the quail eggs and incubator he ordered from an ad he found in a Field and Stream magazine. (If they had hatched – Lord knows where we would have kept them)! The proof is in his book shelves, in which Goats and Goatkeeping can be found among volumes on philosophy, theology, and law.

 

Goats and GoatkeepingSometimes genes express themselves in the weirdest ways…

I’ve always been an animal lover, but my husband is an animal-barely-tolerator. Every now and then I indulge myself in a little harmless entertainment…I freak him out by suggesting that I’m going to bring home another puppy, or by getting all misty-eyed as I rhapsodize about a long-cherished fantasy. I describe to him my dream of having an animal farmette, populated only with cute animals: a sheep or two, some goats, a few fluffy little bunnies, some ducks, a bunch of dogs, and maybe a miniature pony. He listens to me in silence, with growing waves of alarm clouding his face as I wax on about my little menagerie.

“What is it with you and animal husbandry?” he will finally ask in utter bewilderment.

One day I was looking out of my office window, which overlooks the Amphitheater at the University of Virginia. Pens were being set up with miniature llamas, sheep, cows, goats, bunnies, horses, and chickens. It turns out that the University Programs Council periodically brings in a petting zoo for the students’ pleasure. I was at once elated, and filled with burning, insane jealousy of whoever stole my dream:

We’ve moved to a new house with a two stall barn, a paddock, run-in shed, and chicken coop. They all stand empty.

IMG_7899

So far, I’ve parried and dodged the many earnest entreaties for livestock that my children have thrown my way. (Of course, they know better than to importune their father). I’m trying to stay strong, but every now and then I sense myself weakening…

Every day on our way home, we pass two different herds of goats. I can hear my daughter coo and sigh with delight in the backseat whenever she catches sight of them.

“I wish we could have a baby goat,” she says in a voice filled with yearning.

I usually pretend I can’t hear her, but one day a couple weeks ago, I allowed myself to actually consider the idea.

“Do some research,” I told her, shocking myself as I heard the words came out of my own mouth, “If it’s really easy to keep a goat, maybe we could think about it.”

When we pulled into our driveway, she couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. She ran into the house and hit the interwebs. She was at it until it was time for her to go to bed.

She came to find me in the living room to report her findings…

“The only complicated thing is that they have to have some kind of mineral supplement that we, well you would have to buy…And you have to have a really good fence to keep them in, and to keep predators out. And even though they’re supposed to eat anything, it turns out that some plants like azaleas and cherry trees are actually poisonous to goats…”

“Hmmm,” I said, “I’m going to do a little research of my own and we can discuss it in the morning.”

I poked around on the internet myself and discovered a bunch of things my daughter hadn’t mentioned…The fact that they would require specialized veterinary care: the semi-annual filing down of hoofs, vaccinations, and deworming; the fact that they must have companionship; and the fact that they are master escape artists. It was all rather overwhelming.

The next morning I gave my unsuspecting husband a pat and said without any further explanation, “You don’t know how lucky you are.”

This time.