It's been a busy couple of weeks here on the farm; kidding season has started, and with it milking season. Until a couple of weeks ago, morning and evening chores meant nothing more than making sure that everybody had hay and water, and not even too much hay, since the pastures are so lush. If I was feeling relaxed, I could do the rounds in twenty minutes. Now, a minority of the animals only get hay and pasture; the mother sheep get a silage and grain mix, the orphan lamb needs her bottle, the senior mother does need their grain while they're on the milk stand, the milking does need to be let in for their nightly alfalfa, then need their grain/silage on the milk stand while I milk them and clean up, and the kiddies need their bottles. A couple of the moms who had difficult deliveries need shots and vitamins, and all the animals who have kidded or lambed in the last three days need their individual servings of feed, hay, and a fresh bucket of water. So at a baseline, chores take almost three hours. On top of this, we can add the occasional overly-dramatic delivery--we've had to take animals to town for a C-section twice this year--or sheep who have figured out how to push their way into the goat pasture and vice versa or any of the myriad mini-crises that crop up on the farm, and the result is dinner at 11:30 PM on a fairly routine basis.
All this makes me tired. Things can get kind of hazy and dream-like. I can't say I've had hallucinations yet, but a couple of strange things happened. I was milking last night and listening to the radio and the station was playing one of the Bruckner symphonies--I can't remember which one, and I'd say it makes no difference because they all sound the same: dum dum da-da-da, dum dum da-da-da, dum dum da-da-da, dum...for twenty five minutes. Then, dum-da-dum dum dum dum dum, dum-da-dum dum dum dum dum, for fifteen minutes, then the same thing only faster with horns for twenty minutes...Ordinarily, if I'm in my right mind, I find it to be the musical bastard child of Philip Glass and Richard Wagner. But oddly enough, I found myself liking it, and finding beauty and structure in its expansiveness.
Worse, speaking of Richard Wagner, I was obligated to drive to Eugene, and as usual I was listening to the Met Opera on the satellite radio, which I was disappointed to hear was playing Wagner's Flying Dutchman. Ordinarily, if I'm in my right mind, I can't stand Wagner. Tedious, tendentious, hours of meandering declamation, weird plots, and moments of glory that you have to slog through hours of mud to get to. And the plots! Dutchman is one of the worst. I mean, Senta, the heroine, is a human being who exists completely and entirely for the sole purpose of redeeming one man with her pure love. The title character is a sinner, cursed to sail his ghostly ship forever, only touching land every seven years; he lands, meets a guy for the first time, and the guy says sure, I will give you my daughter. Senta, the daughter who seems content to have no independent existence as a human being, agrees, but somebody says something that gets misinterpreted, and the cursed guy sails off. Senta throws herself off a cliff to demonstrate the purity of her pure love. The guy is redeemed. Fin. I find the plot wholly objectionable, verging on disgusting. And normally, I can't stand the music--but there I was, in my sleeplessly addled state, actually enjoying it. I felt kind of unclean afterwords.
Well, we are nowhere near done kidding season. As I type, I am baby-sitting a doe that should be giving birth any moment now, but has spent the last two hours just grumbling, a complainy wheeze on every breath. By the time kidding season is over I will probably start liking disco or 90's country.