7 November

The Inner Lives Of Dogs

by Jon Katz
The Inner Lives Of Dogs

Moving to a new home, I get to see and observe the inner lives of dogs again, pack creatures of distinct habit, following the hidden rythyms and instincts we can only guess and wonder at. In the morning the dogs gather in our bedroom – Red in his crate, he is restless and needs enforced quiet; Frieda on the floor next to Maria, Lenore curled up at the foot of the bed, a sacred space she has occupied at night since she was a few months old. At first light, they stir, they know this is when we get up.

When I get out of bed and head towards the bedroom door, they are, all three, ahead of me. Dogs anticipate, they sense movement and direction before it happens, following light and sound and instinct. They go out, then come in a half hour later for food. They gather outside of the kitchen where their food is kept, waiting quietly, then they are fed. Maria and I sit in the living room and have breakfast, talk and sometimes meditate, plan the day. The dogs gather in a circle around us. If we meditate, they want clearly to be part of this silent time, and they are silent, barely moving. In meditation, I listen for the sounds of their breaths, a kind of living clock. A soothing sound for my restless mind, a way of slowing things down. Red waits for the sound of the three bells to signal the end of meditation and then he gets up before the third bell and is at the door. This, he knows, is when we do farm chores. His time, he alone gets to go to the pasture, to work, to move sheep.  Lenore and Frieda know this is not their time, somehow, and melt away to windows, where they watch, or dog beds, where they settle.

Frieda guards the house, always, day or night, by the windows, watching for intruders, listening for strangers and trucks. Always on guard, always alert. Lenore easy, can go in or out, loves her sofa, loves to settle, to be a Lab.

When we are done with chores, Maria and I separate. Frieda is at the back door, where Maria goes to get to the studio. Red and Lenore are at the front, the door I use to take them out to walk, either in the woods nearby or down the road in a park. They rush out, watching me and either head to the car or the path in the back, depending on where I look or walk. Then it is work time. I go to my study. Lenore goes to her sofa, Red lies under my desk by my feet, where he will stay until I am done, at lunchtime or beyond. In the afternoon, this is repeated – more work, more chores, and then dinner, and then at night, the dogs become den animals and vanish into the dark corners of the house, by the wood stove, behind a sofa. Only Red stays by me, day and night, by my feet. They love their routines. They treasure tradition. They are always aware of us, of each other, of the rythyms of our lives.

7 November

Art Show! December 8. Women Artists On The Move

by Jon Katz
Art Show

Politicians aren’t the only women on the move. Maria and some blockbuster powerhouse artists are planning a show December 8 at Bean Heads Coffee House, 1 Washington Street (and Main), Cambridge, N .Y., 12816. Maria will be selling and showing her potholders, Nancy Bariluk-Smith her jewelry,  Lisa (kneeling) coffee and desserts and Mandy Meyer-Hill is celebrating the Stairway Healing Arts center, opening upstairs from the coffee shop. There will also be a watercolor demo, handmade soap. I will be on hand to sign books for Christmas and we are selling a few Bedlam Farm notecards. Red will be greeting guests in his new role as skirt-chaser. This is a powerful posse, do not get in their way, but do come and see their amazing art. Great stuff cheap for the holidays. The Battenkill Bookstore is just down the street, along with the shops and galleries of Cambridge. For details, check out Maria’s website. The Senate has nothing on this outlaw crew.

7 November

Rats

by Jon Katz
Rats!

Our sweet Minnie surprised us this afternoon when we went to feed her in the barn. There was a large rat near her nest on the hay bales with its throat ripped out. I suspected there were rats in the barn, which had been unoccupied for years, and I thought Mother would take them on. This rat was the size of a plastic water bottle, head to tail. Go Minnie. She is turning out to be a stellar barn cat on her own. My advice to the remaining rats would be to get moving.

7 November

Northeaster

by Jon Katz
Northeaster

We are getting another storm this afternoon. Getting ready. Rocky in the stall, the donkeys and sheep in the Pole Barn. Filling up the water tubs, putting out extra hay – they all might be in the barn for awhile. Can’t really tell about this one – Storm Center seems uncharacteristically restrained. Looking like high wind, some snow, some change of power going out. When the winds start to blow, we will move and get everybody reading. The frosts are killing off the last of the grass. The animals are hungry for hay. Good luck to everyone, especially those still suffering from Sandy. A lot to endure.

7 November

Bedlam Farm Men’s Club: Women Rising

by Jon Katz
Women Rising

The Bedlam Farm Men’s Club held it’s last meeting before the winter. Rocky, Simon, Red, Strut, me,  Ben, George Forss, lots of testosterone. Men’s men. I called the meeting to discuss the election. I explained that we are not a political group but that we are very adamant and passionate supporters of women. And a good thing, too, as there are many strong women on this farm and they seem to be in charge of everything.

Simon: “Lulu and Fanny kicked me in the head today. Again.”

Red: Well, maybe you ought to stop trying to mount them all the time. For one thing, you are gelded. For another, no is no and Lulu and Fanny just don’t don’t seem to love you in that way.”

Simon: “What does love have to do with it?”

Strut: “You aren’t watching the news, dude – men can’t push women around anymore. They are sick of it and they aren’t going to take it anymore.”

Ben: “Didn’t I see you mounting that big white hen this morning?”

Strut: “Yes, but she didn’t like it. She put me right on my ass. I have to do things differently. Maybe crow less, strut less… Roosters follow the news too…”

I passed out some snacks  – sugar free papaya strips, gluten-free biscotti (Simon seemed a bit disgusted) and I talked about the election.

“Guys,” I said, “I am delighted by one aspect of the election, at least. You know I am not political, I am not a left or a right kind of human. The process has little to do with me. But sometimes somethings come out of it that are just wonderful, and as admirers and supporters of women, it was great to see that women really stood up for themselves, really said to men: look, right or wrong, we get to decide our lives, you can’t tell us what to do and how to live.  Lots of women hitting Congress and yes, I know many women are just as bad as men, but many are much better at negotiation, compromise, empathy. Feels like a new day to me. And they will not get to chew up Planned Parenthood and take health care away from so many poor women. I have no problems being political when it comes to women’s rights. If they don’t take over the world soon there will be nothing left of it. Men are ravaging the earth, the economy, going to war, committing cries, killing people, filling up prisons. We need women to take over the planet, and soon. Last night was a big step towards that…”

Rocky interrupted me: “Okay, hotshot, let’s see if you are a hypocrite. What about the farm? Do you want women taking it over?”

Me: “Duh. Look around. Who’s running this here? Maria steals my sweaters, my socks, my shirts? She makes quilts and potholders out of them. She wears my nightshirts? She makes me put my lenses away? I remember the other place when I was running it – chaos and madness, money flowing everywhere, crap arriving by the truckload, clothes and junk everywhere, craziness all day..None of that is happening any longer. Simon, this morning I saw Lulu swing her head and knock you right out of the grain pain. And then Fanny kicked you in the ass, you ass.” Simon lowered his head. A pride thing, a guy thing, perhaps I hit him below the belt…er…Wake uup, man.”

“And you, Strut, the hens chased you right out of the coop this morning when they went in to roost. You ran for your life.” Strut clucked and strutted.”

George Forss agreed, taking out  his ancient camera to photograph the group. “Anybody see any aliens,” he asked. “I’ve got the camera.”

Red: “George, not here.”

Change is here, I said. Women are taking over the world. Not a minute too soon.  The barn was quiet.

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