I just finished reading the the Earth's Children series, by Jean Auel. Oh, wow. I've read the first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear, more times than I could say, and I've read the next three in the series so many times I have them practically memorized, but this is the first time I've read all six books straight through. It is an epic story, but the writing of these books is also an anthropological achievement. It's more than an exciting story with my favorite heroine, Ayla, it's the story of humanity, back when humanity included different species of humans. It's a tale of adventure and love, too, but what it communicates is our collective human experience during an ice age in our past, when humans used sticks, stones, and fire, to thrive in a landscape that was harsh, a climate that was extreme, and with other life forms that were massive and abundant. We're talking woolly mammoths and gigantic cave lions, even. And the human species that became us, now, not only survived in that world, but created. Tools, art, society, medicine, knowledge, spiritually, all the things that make us unique among our fellow animals on this planet, that is the story. It's the kind of story that makes me want to write a book report, just for fun!
I understood, as I was reading these books, that we humans are very tough and adaptable animals. Not most of us individually, these days, but inherently we have the capability to survive and prosper in extreme conditions, with more simple technology. I find it reassuring, and I hope that when my worries about our planet and future of our species start to creep in, I can remember that we are old. Our ancestors thrived in world that was different than it is today, and it's likely that our species, or whatever species we become, could thrive in a world that is different too.
So, I've been thinking about Ayla and her prehistoric adventures lately. With over four thousand pages of adventure, it's safe to say I've been a little distracted as I immersed myself in the story. As an animal and plant lover, I don't get bored with the descriptions of edible, medicinal, and hallucinogenic plants, or the detailed accounts of animal behavior and hunting strategies.
Ayla lived in a time before animals were domesticated. The animal characters in her story are tame, but they are wild animals. They were not selectively bred. There were no miniature goats in her world. She didn't get to have a goat named Peaches. That's my story!
I'm trying not to be frustrated with myself as I consider the non-pregnant status of my dairy goat. Brandon likes to remind me that we aren't going to starve to death if we don't have goat milk, but he's missing the point. What kind of goat farmer can't even figure out how to get her goat pregnant! Peaches had a visit to the vet, and she does not have any diseases (CAE or CL) that could be transferred to other goats, so it's safe for me to take her to a buck. I did find someone with Nubian bucks for hire, but ultimately decided to breed her to my friends miniature Nigerian buck, so her kids will be smaller, but still make nice milk. The plans were laid, the buck is on standby, but now Peaches isn't going into heat anymore. At least not that I can tell. Sigh. Apparently, goats take some time off in the winter months. I must wait until I can see signs that she is receptive, then get her to the buck within forty-eight hours. Ayla may have had to live by her strength and wits, but she never had to analyze her goats tail wagging to determine if it was time for a goat rendezvous.