Tag Archives: life on the compound

My SwS Project: from there to here

My blogger-buddy Anna visited Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first time a few weeks ago and posted a few photos and thoughts on the desert.  What a treat to see the familiar through her newbie eyes.

How serendipitous!

Mama Goat, Tater & Kids

Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater

I’ve been immersed in that period of time during our between homes journey lovingly referred to as living ‘on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico’.  Place where my Goat Suite Saga was born.

In less than two weeks portions of my Swimming with Swans project are going to be presented for the first time to the general public. MamaGoat, Tater, TerryScape and little Larry along with all of us humans and critters of the compound will be introduced to a group of locals as far away from life in the desert as one in the US can get. I often joke that we came from a Mile High here to the Swamplands…but we also came by way of the High Dry Desert.

Most readers of this blog know that I received a Puffin Foundation Grant for the recording of my Swimming with Swans: the music. One of the requirements for gaining the grant involved the pre-securing of a venue in which to present completed grant-proposal material.

Here’s the thing, The Goodwill Cultural Center found me.

Goodwill Parochial School with restoration sign

Goodwill Parochial School becomes The Goodwill Cultural Center

If not for Camden Writer and author, Brenda Bevan Remmes, I would have never known of this special spot nestled within an isolated area between Mayesville and Sumter, South Carolina*. Steeped in a long history of struggle, nurture, and yes, healing – The Goodwill Cultural Center aka The Goodwill Parochial School was recently restored to serve as a local heritage and arts center – offering historical, cultural and educational events to the public.

Brenda introduced me to this gem in the swamp about two years ago when the GCC held one of their first sponsored events by the Magnolia Singers from Charleston – shortly after the Emanuel AME Church shootings. I was amazed at the group’s desire to reach out in their hurt and offer insights into their culture while spreading a healing balm through their talented singing.Goodwill Cultural Center logo

WINDOW TO THE WORLD

REFLECTING ON OUR PAST AND ENVISIONING OUR FUTURE, WE AFFIRM THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE GOODWILL SCHOOL THAT OPENED DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY IN 1870, AND THAT IS A WINDOW TO THE WORLD TODAY THROUGH THE GOODWILL CULTURAL CENTER.
(mission statement)

I don’t pretend to understand the South. However, I have found a slice of something I like to call the ‘true spirit of a southern community’ in the Goodwill Cultural Center.

Over the course of these two years in attending various events at the GCC, I’ve observed the interactions between the locals. It’s obvious to this outsider the love and commitment these individuals have towards each other and towards working through its own healing-path. A sort of living reconciliation rooted in historical interconnectedness which touches me deeply.

This is a slice of the South I admire; a slice of the South not often seen by outsiders.

As such, I am both humbled and honored to be a small part in the GCC’s continuing legacy as a featured guest on Saturday, June 3rd.

 *about a 45 minute drive SW of FloTown

Day Two: Goofy Three Quotes – Three Days

We all carry in our hearts favorite people, places and goats – say what? Yes, goats, but for the rest of you, just generalize that to be ‘animals’.  We all have special memories and words of wisdom spoken to us through those places and beings…For myself, Mama Goat Wisdom is forever etched on my heart.

Here then is something worth pondering from my favorite goat mama -

'Hi back at ya'

Mama Goat (December, 2010)

“As Mama’s final prenatal days stretched into weeks, I learned a valuable lesson from her:

It will happen when it will happen and no amount of angst will change the when and how of it! 

Such is life, eh?”

 

 

Thank-you, LuLu, for the nomination, hope you’re enjoying these quote selections.

My three nominees for Day Two are:

- Jerusha at The Novel Faery

- Michelle at The Green Study

- Marla at Explorations in Place

Remember, the rules of the challenge are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Post a quote each day for 3 days.
3) Each day nominate 3 new bloggers to take part.

GREETINGS

Merry Christmas

My ‘little list’ is probably sick to death of my obsession with goats.  It seems each time the holidays come around, I send on the link to this video along with my e-mail greeting. This year, I’m spreading the cheer to include anyone who visits my site. :-)

Here then is my fav goat video, that also happens to be a great Holiday Greeting. Be sure to visit the Giggle with Goats website, as these guys spread goat-joy to others in places as varied as Alzheimer Units and daycare centers.

 

My NaNoWriMo Signature Quotes

One of the fun things about doing NaNoWriMo (besides being a month devoted to writing and a great excuse to down gallons of coffee) is all the geeky stuff that’s available for use during the event.  There are word count widgets (yep, got that!), banners and badge buttons (done those, too) to install on one’s website/blog.  On-site, there’s even push-button access to upload images for use as one’s novel cover (pretty cool, but haven’t done that yet; maybe this year) … just to name a few techie toys.

Then there’s the personalization of one’s NaNo presence.  Along with the usual profile set up, there are numerous ways one can do this.  Over these three years of participating in this creative endeavor, I’ve pretty much kept my moniker (desertmountain) and gravatar (a photo of me and Leggy Lady on the compound, sized-down real teeny tiny) the same.  Mostly just to maintain a sense of continuity within and between each year’s NaNoWriMo.

However, each year’s signature quote has been different.

Interestingly, they reveal something about that year’s novel/project while not specifically chosen as such…a sort of foreshadowing of whatever wanted to be written/worked on during that year’s NaNo.

For NaNo 2012 I pulled a favorite quote from a snippet of Carl Sandburg’s poem, Lesson. peaches in tree 

“Come clean with a child heart.  Laugh as peaches in the summer wind.  Let rain on a house roof be a song.  Let the writing on your face be a smell of apple orchards in late June.”  – Carl Sandburg

Little did I realize my novel for that premier year would revolve around the lessons and seasons of life within The Peach Orchard Project or My Life as a Peach.

My second NaNoWriMo,  I found a quote revealing the effectiveness of fiction as a form of literary social commentary from a favorite author.

“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

I plunged deep into the realm of my characters.  They cried out for justice in an unjust world while I grieved the passing of the ugliest and hardest of my street people characters who died a hero, defending The Woman Who Didn’t Belong.

This year’s signature quote jumped out at me while reading, When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams.  It gives me hope that the creation of (he)art as truth is an important endeavor; one which compels me to soldier-on in doing.

“To withhold words is power.  But to share our words with others openly and honestly is also power.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Honesty is an undeniable foil, it flashes whether bidden or not.  In order to be true to myself, I have to speak.  I must share my words, my music, my (he)art, my Musical Non-Fiction, regardless of whether or not it is seen, heard or read.

 

Saga of Mama Goat and Her Kids: FINALE

 from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #7)

September 2011 (Fountain Hills, AZ)

On Sunday, September 25, 2011, Mama Goat passed away.

Being a rescue, there is no way of really knowing how old she was, except to say she appeared to be on the older side by way of subtle physical cues; not that it affected her personality or zest for life. The good news is that she didn’t suffer a violent death by the teeth of some coyote roaming the range.  In fact, Billy tells a common enough story of her final day. Continue reading

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part two)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #5b)

February-March-April 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

“Happy Easter, Happy Spring everyone”…thus began the preface to the e-mail I wrote to my ‘little list.’  I hope this longer vignette offers to you some music interest along with a little encouragement in whatever you’re facing today. And, this season instead of thinking ‘bunnies and peeps’ think:  goats!”

After recounting my ‘goats in the garden’ incident; revealing both my strange emotional response to it as well as the overall musical inspiration I’d been receiving from those goofy goats, I pushed the ‘send’ button.

It was quite cathartic. Continue reading

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part one)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between-homes
(Goat Suite Saga #5a)

February-March-April 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

Mama Goat, Tater & Kids

Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater

With Tater gone, Mama Goat and the kids were introduced to life beyond the pen; opening up numerous opportunities to roam about the range during the daytime.

Terry & Mama foraging in Tate's feed bin

Terry & Mama foraging in Tate’s feed bin

At first, the threesome devoted their new found freedom to eating leftover hay in Tater’s now empty pen rather than go exploring. However, frolicking in the feed bin became passé once its contents dwindled down to nothing.  While the pens held fond memories of family playtime, Mama Goat, Terry Scape and Larry easily entered into a daily routine of romps out on the range.

Romps on the range

Romps on the range

Billy & Terry & Leggy Lady's manure mound

Billy & Terry & Leggy Lady’s manure mound

Human romps out on the range increased as the days grew warmer.  All of us on the compound got quite excited about starting a new garden plot by the goat pens where Leggy Lady left us lots of soil enriching fertilizer.

Billy and Terry on tractor with pitch forks

New Mexican Gothic: Billy and Terry

Everyone on our corner of the compound pitched in: Billy and Terry tractored and raked,

Karen in the director's chair

Karen in the director’s chair

Karen watered and directed, and I…well…I raked, but mostly just kept the goats company.

Laura, sitting in the goat pens

Laura, sitting in the goat pens

By the end of that third weekend in March, we had a fully prepped garden area; ready and waiting to begin planting crops.  In order to gain greater yields during its producing stage, we were now ready to plant our cool weather crop seeds by the dark of the Moon (time from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again) and to plant our above ground bedding plants by the light of the Moon (new to full) in April.  Planting by the Phases of the Moon is a new farmer-thing I learned and has some basis in scientific reasoning. Just as the moon pulls the tides in our oceans, it also pulls upon water beneath the soil’s surface, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages plant growth.

Consequently, this combination of getting my hands in the dirt, planting according to the Phases of the Moon and watching Mama Goat, Terry and Larry cavorting about the land caused my brain to come up with the song title for a musical composition I’d had rolling around in my mind for quite some time:

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon

Several rhythmic motifs came to me from observing those goats playing on any given day with such abandon and crazy clumsiness, providing me with plenty of creative inspiration.

Surefooted?
Yes.
Clumsy?
Yes.
Do they care?
No.

As well, I acquired some melodic material from their bleating. Continue reading

WE ATE TATE (poem)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #4)

February 2011 (desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

 

A ‘good breeder’
With ‘fine structure’

               Tater
               Billy’s favorite

Over 200 pounds of solid muscle mass
And mango-manhood display

               Tater
               Billy’s favorite Continue reading

HEY! Where are you going?

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #3)

February 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

One of my semi-regular chores while living on the compound was to feed the goats in the morning; usually just before or right at sunrise.  Goats are no different than any other farm animal.  They let you know by their bleats of protest that they want to be fed and that you are already late in feeding them.

One morning I left the house, walked the 15 yards to the first gate, opened the gate and started my 25-30 yard walk to the pens where the goats were housed.  The first pen held Mama Goat and her two male offspring, Terry and Larry.  The second pen held Papa Goat. Named Tater, and nicknamed “Tate” he was also a son of Mama Goat.  Tate was kept separate because he could be pretty rough.  He was nice but he tended to be overbearingly strong in his pushiness, thus he was penned separately.

In order to feed the goats I had to go through another gate behind their pens to get to the hay and, if we had some, sweet feed from an open shed also behind their pens.

As usual as I passed through the first gate, Mama, Tate and Larry were standing there facing me, starting in on their usual cacophony of bleating chorus to let me know that I was as usual not punctual enough for their liking.  Terry was lying down which did not seem out of the ordinary to me especially since I was still some distance from them.

As I drew closer, I noticed that Terry was not only lying down, he was stretched out.  The closer I got the more I noticed.  He was stretched out, not moving and there were dark splotches on the ground around his head and neck.  Oh no! A coyote must have gotten to him during the night!  Continue reading

I WILL LIVE

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between-homes
(Goat Suite Saga #2)

January 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

As it is on any ranch or farm, the livestock does not wait for convenient times to place demands upon the caretaker.  Feedings, caring, banding, releasing and other tasks must be done without delay and at times, as stated above, most inconveniently.

My wife Laura and I had the opportunity to live in such an environment for a while. During that period of our life Mama Goat had given birth to two male goats.  Because Laura was the discoverer of their birth and instrumental in saving the runt of the litter she was given the honor of naming the goats.  She named the first arrival after me, Terry, and the runt, Larry.

At first I was quite honored that she would name one of the goats after me, but after watching his character develop I became all too keenly aware of his flaws.  And, I didn’t like the fact that they seemed to also reflect my own character flaws.  Fear and mischief were the two main flaws of Terry.  I quickly asked if we could rename Terry to be named Scape.  Laura was gracious and renamed the goat Terry Scape.  Not exactly what I was looking for, but I could call him Scape and introduce him to every new visitor as Scape.  I could get away with this as long as nobody else that lived there was present when I introduced him.

I would have been more than honored if Larry had been named Terry.  He showed great character.  He had a huge will to live.  Since he was the runt, Mama Goat soon started shunning Larry.  Very rarely was Larry getting to feed off of Mama.  This was a problem as he was too young to feed off the hay and sweet feed.  It soon became an issue of what we should do with Larry.

Karen feeding Larry while Deb holds him

Karen & Deb: it takes two to feed Larry!

At first we bottle fed Larry by hand, hoping that Mama would relent and start showing compassion to him.  But, no, she would not relent.

Larry soon learned that when brother Terry was being fed that it was an ideal time for him to run in, grab a few gulps of milk before Mama would either walk away or butt him away.  Thus he barely sustained himself during that hard existence of early life.  Yet he hung on and seemed to be more determined to live. Continue reading