Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wild ideas

An assortment and sampling of the ideas that run through my head:

  • Cashmere goats. They are so much less work than dairy goats. I can't drink the milk anyway. Also, Cashmeres have no breed registry in the U.S., as they are not technically a breed, so the field is A. wide open and B. probably freer of the petty snobbery which is so rife in the dairy goat world and C. a good opportunity for developing my own breed standards and priorities , as opposed to doggedly following those which are laid out in the ADGA handbook.  I think the thing to do would be to buy a few does from imported (NZ) bloodlines and then use (also imported) semen to A.I. them. Why imported? Because, I've done some homework into this subject and am so far unimpressed by the quality of American stock. Most American stock is strongly influenced by Spanish, Boer, or Pygmy strains, because people want dual purpose (meat and fiber) animals as opposed to just high qaulity fiber, which is what I want. 
  • Or, how about this: Cashmere dairy goats. In other words, fiber goats that also produce milk. Why not have one fiber and one dairy goat? Well, for one thing, non dairy breeds typically have much higher butterfat and protein percentages than dairy goats. Also, most people don't need gallons and gallons of milk per day, unless they're raising calves or pigs or are making cheese. They just want a little high quality milk, thus the popularity of the Nigerian Dwarf, a breed that makes my back ache when I think of working with them (they are tiny...and though I am short, I don't want animals I have to bend over to work with).  So...with this plan, get  a few nice very high quality dairy goats and A.I. them with imported Cashmere semen, and cross the lines, breed the F1s to more Cashmere semen, evaluate and cull, until a goat with nice fiber and decent milk production (1-2 quarts a day would be fine) is obtained. 
  • Spotted knapweed. Why in the hell doesn't Monsanto genetically engineer a strain of spotted knapweed which has the Terminator technology? Areas with knapweed problems could then sow (yes, plant) this improved knapweed and it would cross with the existing (non-native invasive noxious weed) strains and when the two pollinated, the seed would all be sterile. Thus, over a series of years, no viable seed would be left, voila, no more knapweed. I think it must be because Monsanta would rather posion the country with 2,4D, round-up, and other poisons. Temporary and not-entirely effective solutions are a better money maker. 
  • Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla are two extremely slow growing trees which both produce delicious and edible seeds. I ordered some from this site and they are delicious. I decided I'd like to grow some of these wonderful trees. Well, guess what. It can take 60 years for them to reach 6 feet in height! In other words, mature productive trees are ancient and venerable. Now get this: aside from pine nuts, the other major uses for these two species are Christmas tree, timber (including rialroad ties) and pulp! Yeah, like paper pulp, something which could easily be produced with hemp (not the THC kind), or even better, recycled paper. But noooo....they have to cut down a beautiful pinon pine that took 300 years to grow so that people can have soft cushy toilet paper, even though that tree can make *food* year after year. Idiotic. Worse, the Xmas trees! The trees take a hundred years to attain the right height for Xmas trees, so yeah, whack'em down so that some spoiled family can have a nice tree for what, all of a month? Grrrrr...... I probably sound draconian, but this ought to be illegal. 
  • Therefore, I have yet another idea. There are many species of trees, including a pine, which can be coppiced. Coppicing means that when you ct down a tree, it regrows from the sump, usually several shoots, and they grow a lot faster than the first growth, because they've got a mature and extensive root system feeding them. You can then cut down one of the second growths, and the other tops will be bigger, and you can continue to harvest them this way for centuries without ever killing the tree. I think this should be the only (or at least the primary) source of timber and cellulose. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At school everyone calls me by my actual name. At first this felt really weird. Now it seems strange to be called Rebekah. Actually, the long form of my name feels excessively formal. Not sure I like that but don't quite know what to do about it. 

The sysbot test was today. I studied all three days of the weekend, even went on a field trip to see the trees in more detail and in different situations, etc, to get a solid feel for the big picture...studied notes, rewrote them and was quizzed, and read and reread the flora (Hitchcock's Flora of the Pacific Northwest). It seemed a little like overkill, but I had a feeling that the test would be challenging. Ah. It was. I am soooo glad I studied. I know I got several questions wrong, but it would have been quite the nightmare had I not gone all out. And next time, I will study even harder. The class is *fun*, but it is not  a cake walk. I can't gripe, though. Fact of the matter is that since I love the subject, studying for it is no pain at all. 

Next week: Math test. I think I am finally catching up on the math. 

Socially, am making more acquaintances. I am still not very good at small talk, despite a conscious effort in this direction. I don't have a lot of small things to talk about. For me, nearly any subject can lead into more depth or perspective or tangents, and people don't seem to like that. A lot of them want the small talk comments to be short little sound bites, but then what do you say? Another little sound bite? How do you know when to switch from one trivial topic to another? People get bored so easily. They have no attention span. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally figured out how to post images. Hmmm. Also just noticed that blogger has a lot more options easily accesible than when I started this blog. I used to use html for everything from bulleted lists to italics (still do, actually), but it appears I don't really have to anymore...not that's it's been any great effort to use html. 

At any rate, the two pictures below are of some of my art from 2007; an artichoke and a cherry turnover. I'll have to ferret out some more and post that too. The orchids are blooming wildly and tempting me to take an hour or two to draw them...but, I have to finish my Pseudotsuga menziesii page in my botany notebook. I drew only half of the pinecone. This isn't making much sense. I suppose I'll have to post a page from that notebook in order to articulate what I mean. 

Oh, and I saw a male black-backed woodpecker while XX skiing yesterday! Also, a single Taxus brevifolia, Acer glabrum and a lot of diverse pseudotsuga (and other trees) under different conditions, which highlighted how variable the trees can look depending on their situation. Phenotypes and all that jazz. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Strange Ruminations

I haven't had goats for a couple of years now, and it's been longer than that since I've shown them or had an active breeding program. At one time, I had aspired to be a dairy goat judge, not for the power or control or prestige, but because I really enjoyed evaluating the animals. The late great Harvey Considine, who I had the incredible honor of meeting and chatting with, thought I had a good eye for the work. He told me something I found funny at the time, that his father (I think?) who was also in livestock (although not dairy goats) had a habit or looking at people's feet, at the way they walked. Oddly enough, this habit has become mine. I think I pay more attention to human feet and general movement "on the move" (good dairy goat judges judge the animals while walking slowly, not when primped and posed artificially) than I do their faces.

Harvey was can tell and learn a lot by watching people move and walk, and by observing their shoes and feet. Very obese people, for example, tend to have lower legs that splay out at the knees. I haven't decided yet whether this is because they need extra stability for the added mass, or if the added mass of the thighs forces the lower legs (and therefore the feet as well) outward. Watching them walk is know that their knees must hurt, and that the more those knees hurt, the less they'll want to move around and exercise, creating a vicious cycle. Very musclular men who work out a lot move their upper bodies differently and with less mobility than leaner men do, as though constrained. High heels tend to predispose women to take a sort of stomping, stabbing motion with their walk, which makes their rear ends more noticable, but in my opinion, deprives them of a certain grace and flow, too. I've also noticed that people (usually men) who take what seem to be carefully measured, precise, and intentional steps tend to be pretty methodical and well, precise. People with flat feet stand very differently than others, with their toes pointed out and an entirely different stance.

So I suppose it was only a matter of time before I noticed my own walk. It's my right foot/leg, the side that's shorter, the side whose hip bothers me more. That hip swings out at a different angle than the other one. It has more limited range of motion in some directions, but in a normal walk, I can feel it moving differently, swinging out farther. Since there's snow, I watch my prints. They're not symmetrical. That right foot hits the ground at a different angle, and the hip joint moves as it hits the ground, as I put weight on that foot. It's a decidedly disagreeable sensation even though it doesn't hurt most of the time. I guess that at this point, I could throw myself a little pity party because I'd like to run and romp and climb and jump like I used to and now these activites are very limited (and I pay for them later), but that seems pretty trite. What I'm concerned about is the possibility that whatever's making my hip joint move in this funky way is going to *really* limit my mobility later on. if I believed in a god, I would scream to him that I need to be able to enjoy *something* in life, and I don't want to live in a little cubicle, dammit. I need to breathe the fresh air and feel close to the trees and melt into the outdoors. I want to be climbing trees when I'm 70 or 80 years old.

Screw it. Forget god. I don't care if I lose both my legs, I'm not giving that up. I lost the goats, I've lost so much else...I am not losing the entire outdoors, too. Ugh, I'm ridiculous, who said I was going to lose my legs, anyway??

Friday, February 13, 2009

Maybe there isn't such a disparity bewteen botany and art. Many botanical books have extremely detailed, meticulous botanical art, not photographs, or art and photographs. Also, I think drawing plants (or anything else for that matter) is the best way to really know it. once you draw something, it's like it becomes a part of you, and in turn, a part of you has been invested in that drawing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ha, that's really funny. I have 444 posts (not counting this one). That's so perfect that it's tempting to quit posting. 4 is my favorite number.

More detritus from my mind:

I kept smelling something incredibly seductive and couldn't trace it as I am pretty much alone. I finally figured it out- the scent of trees and forest on my hands. Yeah, that's right, trees. On my own hands. I am so weird!!

Today I saw: coyote, weasel, and rabbit tracks, Pinus ponderosa, monticola and contorta, Abies grandis, Thuja plicata, Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Mahonia repens (I think it is repens), Larix occidentalis, Oplopanax horridus, Acer glabrum, and of course the usual verbascum, etc... The weasel tracks came from and went to small holes in the crust of the snow; apparently weasels tunnel underneath the snow crust, which is pretty cool. There were almost no birds, although I saw plenty of evidence of bird activity.

And I'm finding myself more interested than I ever thought I would be in conifers. I wish that I had acerage to grow, side by side, all the Abies, Picea, Pinus, etc species (each genus in groups, I mean). The cones are incredibly interesting and appealing. Before, they were squirrel food and fire starter. I would never have imagined that I could get enthused about the same trees I've been living near, splitting into firewood, playing under, working with, climbing....well, maybe. Maybe I was this way all along and didn't realize it. I think though, that there's a tendency to romanticize about non-native species of plants while failing to appreciate what we have growing in abundance and splendor all around us.

And I still can't decide if I'd rather be a dcotor or a botanist, or what sort of botanist I'd be. In spite of myself, I still yearn to paint the pinecones, the verbascum, the patterns of the twigs. I wish with all my heart that I could make a living that way, and I know better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nononononononononononononononono. No.

That is all. Never mind, move along.