Thursday, April 25, 2013

Springtime, Sheep, Stitches, Suspicious Chickens, and the Studio

Coffee with ultra-pasteurized, fat-free half and half and Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Mate in the Denver skyline mug... I'm baaaaack! (Emphasis on the baaaa). Springtime in Atlanta--except for a few blissful days at the beginning--means lots and lots of pollen so I am writing from the comfort of the couch instead of the front porch even though it is a beautiful day. The cleaning people are also actually vacuuming the porch as I write as there is so much pollen on it. We even had it pressure-washed after the majority of the pollen fell and it was still covered in pollen this morning. Hello Allegra.

Last Sunday we doubled the size of our flock--though the new additions currently live in Mom's bedroom upstairs (she's still in the main floor office/bedroom recovering from her surgery). They are only a bit over a week or two old so they will be in a plastic bin with a heat lamp for the next few weeks. We have two Polish Top Hats, two Salmon Favorelles, two Blue Cochins (the same breed as Sadie and Half Moon), and two Mottled Houdans.

I'm going to start this next set off with a story about the North Atlanta/Southern Decatur urban farm industry. (Choctaw Bingo anyone? I am clearly counting down the minutes till I see James McMurtry live tonight--But back to the chickens). My right arm is very sore today. The night before last I was in the East Lake Community Learning Garden and Urban Farm (two blocks from our house and my studio) helping round up their sheep when I caught my foot on a nasty cut-off stump and took a major fall. I was lucky I didn't skewer my eyeball out on another pokey bit of wood (it hit me in the forehead instead), but not so lucky that the stumpy thing I tripped over didn't gash right through the meaty part of the ball of my foot. I was wearing my hiking Keenes which are closed-toed and heavily supportive while at the same time are still sandals with openings in the sides for air circulation--hence the gash. I was stunned enough by the fall that I didn't realize I had cut my foot until a few minutes later when (squeamish people stop reading here and skip ahead a bit) I felt the blood pooling in the shoe and squelched when I walked. I was focused on not letting the sheep get by me, you see. Of course I utterly failed to prohibit the getting-pastness when I fell, and they blithely and nimbly zoomed right by as I lay dazed in the muck.

When I got home I was already ate for dinner and the wait at the ER would have been horrendous so I chose not to go in for professional cleaning and stitches, and I cleaned out the cut with hydrogen peroxide, slathered it in Neosporin, covered it with gauze, and wrapped it up tight. It looked like it had already started to close and seal up so I figured I didn't need stitches. Unfortunately the next morning when I went to change the bandage, the wound gaped open and gushed blood. I showered, recleaned and bandaged it, mopped the floor, and headed off to urgent care. The very nice doctore there told me the stitches probably wouldn't hold because it had already been 14 hours since I cut it, but he jabbed me with a few needles and sewed up the cut before giving me a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers. Then the nurse covered the bandage with a bright lime-green stretchy wrap and I hobbled out to the car and home.

So, away from the blood and gore part of the story, why were we trying to catch the sheep? Because we were bringing them to our house for a play date with the bunnies and chickens. Really. Remember as I report this that we live in urban Atlanta--not even in the suburbs. The Garden is two blocks from our house. Unfortunately, over the past week the lamb (one of the three sheep) and three of the five goats were killed by one or more dogs and maybe coyotes in a series of nighttime attacks. The first night three of the goats were killed, and, as their bodies were left intact, it was surmised that it was an attack by dogs--coyotes would not leave the meat. But the next attack was either a coyote (fur left on the fence supports this hypothesis) or a hungry dog as the lamb was killed and partially eaten. Did I say we were away from the blood and gore part of the story? Apparently I lied. So to obviate any more deaths, the parent sheep (I call them George and Amelia, the Garden staff calls them Edmund and Irma, and Dave calls them Kebab and Biryani) were invited to spend some time in our yard, safely penned at night with the bunnies and free to range with the chickens during the day. When the last goat--who thinks she's a sheep anyway and was probably spared in the first attack because she hung with them and they protected her--is released from the vet's today, she will join them here. Welcome to the Siyeh Studio Urban Farm.

But what about the chickens and bunnies, how do they feel about the newcomers, you ask. Well, the bunnies couldn't care less--they just dodge the sheep's feet and don't seem bothered at all. The chickens, on the other hand, are highly suspicious of the new ruminants in their midst. So suspicious, in fact, that said ruminants were not released from the play yard to roam free today*. Yesterday they roamed, and whenever they got spooked (like when we tried to get them back in with the bunnies) they would charge madly through the yard scattering chickens in their wake. Feathers were--to put it mildly--ruffled. The day ended when Dee (another Dee, not our studio elf Dee)--their primary caretaker--arrived and found Pearl (our pearl leghorn) in the middle of Memorial Drive during rush hour after she had been spooked over the fence by the sheep. We were (mostly Pearl was) VERY lucky no one hit her as she was in the middle of three lanes on a very fast, busy thoroughfare.

That brings the current animal count at Siyeh Studio/Casa Griffith to two sheep, one goat, 15 chickens, two dogs, a cockatiel, four rabbits, and five fish. Whew! Hope they get the shelter built at the community gardens soon...

Now this last little paragraph is about Glass. It's springtime which means we are running classes (something we don't do much int he summer as I am in Montana for most of it). Saturday I have a full class (the first of the Kiln-forming 1-2-3 series), we are still in full production from a stunningly successful Buyer's Market show in February, and date nights in the hotshop go on. Open Studio has been hopping with two very focused students preparing new work--one for a show and one for fun. In short, life at the studio is just STUPENDOUS (a last tip of my hat to the alliteration of the day).

*The ruminants apparently roam having been released when the goat arrived. Dave and I are heading out to see them now. Awww, isn't that goat adorable? She's so little!! It must be the perspective of this photo that makes her look bigger. In person, she's tiny-lamb-sized.