It was bitterly cold today and we gave the sheep some green, rich, second cut hay for energy. The white sheep gathered together at the end of the feeder, I love the shapes and figures that came together. On the lower left is Zelda. Rosemary is in the center eating, and above her, from the left, is Liam and to the right Kim, our very shy Karaluk. I hope the good stuff gives them some warmth tonight. Tomorrow will be warmer.
In spite of all the books and videos and films of violence among animals, the law of tooth and fang and their continuous struggle for survival, against one another, and especially against the human race, I see the animals around me achieve great peacefulness at times, they are capable of great stillness and what sometimes seems to be deep contemplation, perhaps through the amazing instincts.
It is not all scrounging for food, running for their lives, although animals who live outside of farms and homes are likely to die hard and violent deaths.
But there is also peace and adaptability. Over the last several weeks, Fate and a grown rabbit have become quite involved with one another. Every time we leave the house, especially at night, Fate will bark and take off in pursuit of a grown brown rabbit, he or she lives close to the farmhouse, perhaps in the gardens in a den or burrow.
Their confrontations are becoming more intense, even intimate. Last night, Fate almost stepped over the rabbit, who was sitting perfectly still, as rabbits will when threatened. Fate barked, and the rabbit took off, running rapidly in circles, zig-zagging back and forth as Fate gave chase.
Fate is a chaser, not a hunger or killer, she is no more fierce around the rabbit than she is around the sheep. If she gets too close, I call her off and she stops, and no hunting dog with prey drive would respond. I noticed that Fate loves to chase after chipmunks and mice in the woods, but never catches one or comes all that close. Fate looks fierce, and puts on a good show, but I don't think she really wants to catch anything.
She never has, and she is agile and has remarkable instincts.
The rabbit is, I suspect, the mother of the family of baby rabbits born in our back yard this summer.
One by one, the barn cats picked off the babies and left them on the back porch, it was hard to see. This might be the mother, still here and not, it seems, inclined to leave. If Frieda were alive, the rabbit would not be, she would have torn up the whole yard by now, she was a hunter.
I think this rabbit has a good life here, there is plenty of fresh hay in the barns, lots of secure places to burrow and hide. She is, we think, too big now for the cats to go after her.
She seems to sit out in the yard every night, almost waiting for Fate, and the two go round and round a bit, then the rabbit ducks under the pasture gate and runs into the pasture.
Fate has a good time. Sometimes I look out the window and see the rabbit sniffing around the back yard, sometimes she (I think it is a she, for some reason) sits out and takes in the sun, just like the donkeys and pony and sheep do. There is a peacefulness about her life, and she seems to be careful around Fate, but not panicked enough to move or hide.
That seems to be okay with Fate, a true obsessive. If she really wanted this rabbit, there would be no peace. But I sense the rabbit has a peaceful life, and perhaps even a safe one. That may be a projection, the story I'd like to believe rather than the one that might truly be true.
Rabbits, like chickens, are food for almost every other animal and big bird, from hawks to owls.
I think violence and death are an integral part of their lives, as they are for mice and moles. Maybe Fate just keeps her on her toes. Maybe she is looking for her lost babies. Interesting how I am already writing stories for her. I can get a photograph of her tracks, if it snows again, but it's hard to get a photo of her, we only really see her out in the yard at night, not in the daylight.
The only time I saw her in the daylight was when I saw her running into the tall grass in this photo. I was perhaps distracted by the beautiful sky and missed the photo.
Mother Rabbit, as I already call her, might be adventurous, even savvy, but she is not dumb. I'll stalk her a bit with my camera.
Life is never the same two days in a row on any farm, and I'm not even a farmer. We came out this morning to find that the sheep – we think it's the sheep – have been eating the gates on the pole barn. Red kept them out of the barn while we looked things over, we are hoping to repair this ourself, perhaps our friend Ed Gulley has some boards around his farm. We can also go to the hardware store and order some new ones.
It's not too complicated to screw them on, at least for Maria. Maria suspects the Romneys, the Gang Of Four. We need to fix the fences to be able to keep the animals in the barn for shearing or trimming. This seems to happen most often when it is very cold, I think the animals get especially hungry.
Maria is like the State Department, she does not comment on ongoing artworks, I am sometimes allowed to come in and look, and sometimes not. I have learned not to make any comments or offer any suggestions, if you think I don't like advice, you ought to see my wife.
Truth is, I have no advice to give on Maria's art, I know nothing about fiber art or quilts and I wouldn't presume to tell her what to do, or even to suggest what to do. It never occurs to me, and I have no interest in commenting on her process of art making.
She has asked me once or twice for my response to something, and quickly rejected my ideas. An artist, like a writer with words, has her own way of creating, and that is the way it should be.
She did show me this new quilt on her Iphone at lunch, and I was excited about it. I didn't ask her if India was in her head – she has been reading through art books and videos of Indian art, I thought the color patterns were different. But if that is or isn't so, she will say so herself.
This quilt really caught my eye, it might signal the beginning of the Passage to India, which I imagine will change Maria's art in many ways – Indian colors are amazing, in art and architecture and life. I think the quilt is not quite finished, you can follow it if you wish on Maria's blog. I don't presume to know what's in her head, but it is almost always exciting.
If she finishes and likes it, I think she'll offer it for sale later in the week. Officially, there is no comment.
it's four degrees out right now, and even our valiant wood stoves are struggling to keep up with the cold. I always react to extreme cold by looking for color. Color is warmth to me, and balance. This morning, I saw fog and frost on the kitchen window, casting a different hue over our brave little jars, struggling to bring color into the kitchen. Somehow, this photo captured this balance for me.