Letter From Home: November
Farm goings-on, noteworthy news
(Experimenting with this as an ongoing thing, a kind of monthly catch-all newsletter about more domestic comings-and-goings. Hoorah.)
It’s dry here in Oregon. It’s bone-dry. We have a burn pile that is the size of a medium -sized elephant down at the far end of the property and we can’t burn it because the Clackamas FD has a burn ban in place. It’s that dry — which is very strange in Oregon in November. The strangeness has been compounded by the fact that an atmospheric river blasted through the state less than a month ago and we were all soaked to our very woolens. I’m guessing this is the new normal, what with our ongoing climate catastrophe, and we should just get used to this sort of extreme whipsawing in weather.
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On Hallow’s eve-eve, while Carson was belatedly putting in the chickens (it was eleven o’clock, which is well past the coyote and possum-skulking hour), she was visited by a small, black cat. The cat followed her as she went about this late-night chore, and eventually was coaxed into the house. It was wet (then, anyway) and cold and she couldn’t imagine letting this kitten weather a night outdoors. It seemed auspicious, anyway, that a black cat should find her, just before the clock ticked over to October 31. I was asleep; I wouldn’t meet this cat till the next morning. At first, I was all for keeping the cat as a barn cat, one that would live out in the barn and keep our mole, vole, and mouse population at bay — a population that is currently enjoying a real boom year since our barn owls decided to up and split. But then I met this cat, this small, black auspicious cat, and it was just too cuddly and sweet to be an outdoor cat, braving the elements and savaging rodents all night.
Carson did her due diligence; she took the cat to the vet and discovered that it was a boy and did not have one of those identifying microchips. She put up adds on NextDoor and hung LOST CAT signs around the neighborhood; no bites. The cat was ours, it appeared. In the interval, a lot of research was done about whether or not this cat, which we have named Misha, is, in fact, a witch's familiar and Carson his familiar witch. Until we learn otherwise, this is what we believe.
A new llama has arrived at the farm; his name is Comet. I find myself defaulting to one of two options: he is either Comma the Llama or Comet the Llomet. Comet is a bad name for a llama for this reason. Here he is, keeping our two goats Becky and Penny company. We did not name any of these animals — they came to us with names.
We bid adieu to Dolly, the llama that had been given us by Joyce, the llama rancher, as a replacement for Wangari, who, within weeks of living here, had developed arthritis in her neck. Dolly, for this reason, was a loaner llama. We bid adieu to Dolly and bonjour to Comma — I mean Comet — the Llomet. These are heady times here on the farm.
Otherwise, things are continuing on as they typically do, as we, all of us, journey on our inexorable march toward the grave. There is new Decemberists merch over at the Decemberists’ webshop that is just awaiting your perusal. Lots of lovely designs, including a fetching woven rug with the tour-popular Baba Yaga design by Kelley Wills (not to be confused with Kelly Willis), which I have just discovered, as I visited the site to get this information, is sold out. But there’s lots of other goodies too! A new shirt design by Daukantė Subačiūtė! Which reminds me: the second edition of Illimat, the card/board game that Carson and I helped design with Keith Baker, is available for pre-order now. It won’t arrive in your mailboxes in time for the holidays, unfortunately, but there are lovely King of Stars holiday cards that will, if you order now.
In related news, it might behoove me to remind you that I’m playing a show in Astoria, Oregon, on December 17th at the historic Liberty Theater. You can get tickets here. It’s my last show of the year — and will likely be my last show for a while as I hunker down to work on a writing project that’s been kicking around for a while. So come out! Any requests? Holiday songs? Hallyday songs? Holliday songs?
Until next time,
Yours in machinery,