“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Farewell Spring

Just like that,
our seasonal guest packs her bags,
taking her fickle weather patterns with her.

After taking three months to rest and recharge,
she will take her renewing energy into the Southern Hemisphere,
where she will work her magic.

She graciously moves aside, so that Summer can arrive tomorrow.
It's hard to believe that Spring is finished,
after what felt like such a late arrival.

It was a beautiful spring... filled with the color that we so desperately needed.

Summer's color will be even more spectacular.

And it's Summer's arrival we need at this time...
bringing with her plenty of warm sunshine to ripen the fruit
that Spring has prepared.

As for us... it looks like Summer will be bringing a bumper crop
of berries.
The blueberries are beginning to ripen.

I've already tasted some of the red raspberries,
and there are plenty more to come.
The blackberry canes are loaded as well.

I see some Brambleberry jam in the near future,
and pies from frozen berries in the wintertime.

We had a lovely week, here, on the farm.
The weather has been perfect.
A shower yesterday morning gave all growing things the drink
they longed for and saved us from having to water.

The animals are all happy and comfortable as...

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Dreams are born in a whisper...
a glimmer in your thoughts,
a flutter in your stomach,
and a swelling of your heart.

What we do with our dreams is up to us.
With time, a clearer image emerges that is smoothed out
by touches of reality.

Most of my farm dreams have centered around curating
magical spaces filled with romance and nostalgia,
fantasy and make-believe.

I love envisioning a special space, then getting to work planning
and bringing that idea to life.

Often times, these ideas incorporate some sort of growing thing,
or garden space -
so, one of the most important components is that of patience.

Years ago I bought this swing/arbor and placed it in the
yard by the barn.
My dream was to have a swing beneath an arbor that was covered
in wisteria.
I planted two vines and patiently waited.
Each year the vines grew more and more...

I dreamed of swinging in the shade of thick, lavender blossoms,
surrounded by the humming din of pollinators busily gathering nectar.

Years have passed and that dream is a reality.

A thought... a glimmer... a little work... a lot of time and patience...
and today I am there...
in the midst of the buzzing...
sweet fragrance filling my head.

The best part of making these special...

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Breakfast At Maven Haven

We've had some unusually chilly nights of late.
Not cold enough to upset the garden,
but cold enough to energize the animals...
and certainly cold enough for a morning fire in Maven Haven.

These cold mornings will soon come to an end...
at least until autumn.

Not wanting to miss out on the full wood stove
experience, I packed my picnic basket full of breakfast
goodies and headed to the cottage to make breakfast over
the fire.
Hubbs was golfing, so it was breakfast for one.

I filled the kettle with water for tea,

 heated a tiny cast iron frying pan for eggs,

and placed a frozen croissant on top of the stove
to thaw and heat.

I sat down to read while the fire worked its magic.

When the water was hot, I added some of my favorite
Organic Fuji green tea.

Before long, I had hot tea with our own honey (from a previous year)
 scrambled farm-fresh eggs, and a hot croissant.
Add to that some homemade raspberry jam, and we have

the perfect little breakfast in the perfect little space.

I love the warmth of this space...
even without the fire.
Though I am drawn to the white, cottage-y, farmhouse style,
I am more at home with the warmth 
that is found in the patina of antique wood. 

I am a firm believer that your...

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Garden Goodness and a Snacktastic Switcheroo

We have reached that heavenly time of year where dinners
are served compliments of the garden.

Every morning there are new surprises awaiting us...
fresh and tasty delights that awaken our palates.

Grocery store trips are few and far between these days,
as there is more than enough to feed us here in this
green and growing space.

I have added a few touches around the farm...
an old, rusty, pig trough now graces the deck of the 250+ year-old
log cabin, giving a little pop of color to that rustic space.
I love planting old containers and giving them new life.

The garden in front of the she-shed was in need of a few more
perennial flowers... the spring violas having wilted in the heat of the sun.
I especially wanted to add a few more foxglove to the ones
that I had transplanted from elsewhere on the farm.

We took a trip to the greenhouse via bicycle and bought a few plants
to refresh the window box...

then I drove to a local nursery and filled my trunk
with perennials (the prices out here in the country are amazingly low!)

Now the front garden of the she-shed is planted full of
perennial flowers that will multiply and spread.

My dream is that it ends up looking like a miniature
English cottage garden.


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Of Beads and Beans and Floats... and Horsing Around

Friday was a marathon of equine veterinary care.

We started our morning early... bringing the herd in from the upper
pastures, where they had spent their night.

Everyone was exhausted, which was good...
 because we had scheduled a full morning of equine maintenance.

First on the schedule was Chloe and her continuing sarcoid saga.
Of course, in typical Chloe style, the most difficult part of the morning
was catching her and getting a lead rope attached to her halter.
She always knows when something is up.
She's the smartest donkey, and doesn't forget anything... ever!

Dr. Becky gave her a sedative which made her a little "loopy".

(In case you haven't yet met Dr. Becky...
she is Hubb's sister, a veterinarian... both large and small animal,
and a Board Certified equine surgeon.
It goes without saying that we never could have had such a
menagerie without her loving care through the years.)

Once the sedative began to work,
I led Chloe out into the front pasture, where Dr. Becky
gave her anesthesia.

We rolled her onto her back and propped her up with hay bales,
while MaryAnn came over to inspect the O.R.

Friday's procedures would include removal of incisional staples
(her infection appeared to be...

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Always Tweaking

Of all the things that I love doing,
gardening may just top the list.

It's an avocation that is never "finished".
There's always more to do...
even when there isn't!

There was a day in my life when I planted flowers in the 
springtime and then just watched what happened the rest of the summer.
Now, it seems, I am never finished planting.
Every time I look around, another idea sprouts in my brain...
and I am off to the nursery.

Yesterday, while looking at my shed,

I realized that it lacked a certain softness that I had envisioned for the
front porch.

What was lacking, was greenery... more greenery.
And so, I set off for the local greenhouse.

I found a pink "knock-out" rosebush for one front corner of the yard,

and a butterfly bush for the other corner.

I took an empty #10 crock and planted it with Hippo Red and Dusty Miller.

I love this red and green plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya,
mixed with the silver... it almost looks like Christmas!

I found a couple hanging plants for the shady side of the porch.

On the left (above) is Bridal veil, and on the right is tear-drop ivy.
I think they soften this space, considerably.

Needing something that tolerated a little sun for the other side of the porch,
I gave...

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Looking For A Redhead

Earlier this week, I mentioned that on Monday's bike ride,
I had seen my first red-headed woodpecker sitting on a fence post along a back road.

Tuesday we retraced our biking trail and again saw the same
woodpecker in the same area.

Wanting to get a photo of said woodpecker,
we headed out on another ride yesterday morning.
It was a cool and breezy morning... perfect weather.
We rode directly to the area of our two sightings, only to see
no woodpecker sitting on any fence posts.

We did, however see a few deer running through the cornfield across the road.

Running, until they reached the top of a small hill,

where they then stood and observed us observing them.


Just as I got back on my bike and started peddling,
a flash of black and white caught my eye...
the woodpecker had flown into my line of sight...
landing on a tree at the side of the road.
I stopped my bike and grabbed my camera.

A little far away,
let's zoom in....

How about that!!
We have so many downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers at our
bird feeders; and I have seen pileated woodpeckers flying through the woods-
but never, have I seen a red-headed woodpecker on the farm.
I was so happy to find this fellow again.

One of the things...

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Sleep Tight

This week's blog post comments generated an excellent question
about how horses sleep.
The question was : if the horses are out in the pasture all night long,
how do they get their sleep? 

When it comes to animals and their sleeping habits,
most of us think in terms of our dogs and cats...
who tend to sleep more than they are awake.

Dogs and cats... at least mine... sleep all night long,
and take lots of naps during the day as well.

So it is with predators.

And, as dogs and cats are considered predators,
their sleep habits are right in line with their kind.

Horses, on the other hand (prey... not predators), grazers,
sleep only about 3 hours, on average, each 24 hour period.

They have the innate ability to sleep standing up.
They lock their legs, close their eyes, and grab a nap in this manner
when there is nothing better to do.

At some point, during their day/night, they also lay down...
stretched out on their side and sleep for a very short period of time.

Generally they will do this only when they feel safe.

If the herd sleeps at the same time,
at least one of the herd will remain awake to stand guard over the others.

It is only during this period of sleeping on the ground that
a horse enters...

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Summer Days

Each morning, as the sun is rising,
we head out to the barn.
The horses are brought in from their night of grazing,
and we busy ourselves getting all of the other animals fed,
watered and cleaned.

It's wonderful working in the cool morning air,
before the sun has warmed the earth.

Garden chores are done... picking, weeding, or watering.

Yesterday, being Monday, was laundry day, so the bedsheets
were washed and hung on the line.

If I had the time, I would wash my sheets and hang them out to dry
each and every day.  Climbing into bed, exhausted, at the end of a busy
day... and settling into crisp, line-dried, outdoors-scented sheets is 
truly one of my greatest simple pleasures!

Mornings are the best time for bike rides,

before the roads have heated up in the sunshine.

I can honestly say that the E-assist bikes we bought last summer,
were money, well-spent!
I have over 500 miles on mine already.
I truly feel like a kid again... able to ride anywhere my heart desires.
(No hill is too high!)
We get to explore the countryside while getting a good amount of exercise...
(without killing ourselves in the process.)

It's fun to observe the subtle changes in the land over the weeks
of riding.
The day lilies are...

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Hello Summer!

It's official...
Summer is here.

She arrived on Saturday and brought her evil stepsisters,
Heat and Humidity, along with her!
Actually, although it is warmer and more humid,
it has not been bad at all.

All of the gardens were watered by a night of rain on Friday.
Luckily, we had gotten two loads of hay stowed in 
the barn before the rains came.

The hay arrived right after we had gotten the horses back to the barn from
a night in the pasture.

It's fun to watch Moonie slowly make his way back to the barn...
exhausted... too tired to even hold his head up.

Even the presence of the hay elevator didn't stop him 
from heading in for breakfast and a nap.

Moving hay was a family affair this time,
with Becky and Rob and the kids helping...
we moved 200 bales of hay into the hayloft in just an hour.
There have been times when just Hubbs and I have had to do it
by ourselves... and it's a lot of work.
Having all of this help was wonderful.

Saturday morning I headed out to get some local strawberries.
The traffic was horrendous!

Saturday afternoon, our friend, Elena, brought her seven hens
to join our flock.  Sadly, she is moving to Michigan,
and cannot take her hens with her.

By Sunday afternoon, the girls were...

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Minerva Returns

I am a firm believer that animals, just like people,
need socialization and relationships in order to thrive.
It is this reason that our little ark, here, is filled two by two (or more).

What has been surprising over the years is how
cross-species relationships develop...
especially when animals live in what they feel is a safe environment.
It seems that when they are secure in an environment free of predators,
they feel free to interact with those around them.
Yesterday, on one of my trips out to the animals,
I found this peaceful scene:
O'Malley was lying inside her yard next to the gate.

On the other side of the gate was Tom Turkey lying there, parallel with her.
Sadly, my arrival ended their peaceful interchange, 
with Tom getting up and walking away.

Animals never cease to amaze me!

After much anticipation, Minerva has returned to us.
And boy does she look good!

She's been working in this garden every summer since 2009.
Each winter she heads "down under" to spend the
Southern Hemisphere summer with another family.

Each summer when she returns, it's always a surprise to 
see what she looks like.
If you've been visiting the farm here over the years,
you know that Minerva changes her looks every...

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So Much For Social Distancing!


Yes, that's a lovely nose you have,
but seriously, I am trying to get your entire face!

Some folk around here have no concept of personal space,

let alone, social distancing!

There, that's better!

I was in the horses' dry lot checking on Chloe's neck incision,
but, as you can see, sometimes everyone needs a little piece of me...
and a simple task takes a bit longer than planned!

As for Chloe, she is doing quite well.
Now one week post-op, her incision looks great -
a little swelling that needs to re-absorb, but that's about it.

As for the pathology report... the tumors both were sarcoid.
Apparently it's not an unusual donkey malady.
It's not malignant, but it is something that will have to be treated.
And, most likely something that will plague her for the rest of her life.
Once her incision is completely healed, and we remove her
staples, we will begin a treatment with a topical cytotoxin (topical chemotherapy.)

Chloe is not the easiest donkey to handle, so applying a cream
will have its challenges.
(With Chloe, everything is challenging.)
Thank goodness she and I have a strong bond... we will get through all of this!

After a cloudy start to yesterday, the sun came back out
and brightened...

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On Growing Horns and Saving Days

There are days I wish I could bottle,
and place on a shelf in the closet for safekeeping -
so that on a grey, cold day when I need it the most,
I could uncork the bottle and let this escape...

There are times that I think a set of horns would come in 
very handy!

But, of course, horns are out of the question;
and holding on to any given day is impossible.

The next best thing I can do is to try and capture the essence of 
every given day in photographs and words,
and etch a lasting impression within my memory.

I have found that focussing on gratitude for the wonders of each
day is a good exercise in committing that day to memory.
When I not only observe the gifts of a day,
 but silently speak the words of appreciation,
the day becomes tangible and lasting.

There is much we are missing in this new normal world.
Our task is to focus on what is in front of us and be grateful.

I've had a lot of fun lately watching the birds as they go about their
lives, once again able to free range (fox-free... we keep our fingers crossed).

The ducks seem to have become more of a cohesive group,
and yet, the five elders stay together (on the right),
and the seven youngsters do the same (on the left).
Their days are busy,...

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Respite From The Craziness

On a weekend when it seemed there was no good news,
I was happy to live in my quiet little corner of the world,
here in the country.

And though I feel deeply about the injustices suffered by many,
this is not the space to explore that...
so let's just take a break here in the peaceful countryside, for now.
Aren't these rhodies spectacular?

We logged quite a few miles on our bicycles this weekend -
riding 23 miles on Friday,
and 32 miles on Saturday.
Sunday, with a case of fanny-fatique, we did not (could not) ride.

Saturday morning, the air was freshly washed from thunderstorms
that had bathed the earth clean Friday night.
The sky was sapphire blue, and the air was cool and fresh
and filled with birdsong... so many harmonies blending.

As we rode past fields and farms and forests,
leftover raindrops glistened on tall grass like diamonds.
As I sped downhill, coasting with the wind in my ears,
over my right shoulder, three goldfinches flitted and floated beside me
almost as if they were racing me.
It was a wonderful ride, as we rode uphill and down with the 
ultimate destination being a wonderful Amish bakery.
Warm sticky buns awaited our arrival... the perfect reward
for such a long ride.

With our booty...

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See You In June

And so we head into the end of another week.
It was a good week, in retrospect...
but one I would rather not repeat for...
let's say... another year!!

Sammie has slid into summer mode...
when lying in the cool grass is the best activity to which one could aspire.

Chloe is doing fine since Tuesday's surgery.
She is being a good patient.

Thank goodness she doesn't hold a grudge,
and is still just as happy to see me as always.

As I sit here and talk to her,
I am aware of another face staring a hole in my back,
begging for attention.

Always nosey!

Yesterday began as a rainy day.
Earlier in the week I had planned to take a few hours off the farm,
during the rain, and stroll through one of my favorite 
antique stores.
It's never crowded and it's out in the country... masks are required,
so it seemed even safer than the grocery store.

I pretty much had the place to myself and was happy to find 
this sign for Maven Haven.

I knew I had to bring it home when I flipped it over...

Perfect... sort of like a mood ring.

I also added a mirror inside.

It's a mirror that has been in storage for years, unused.

I think a mirror helps to add a little depth to a room.

While I was gone, Hubbs had run to the local grocery...

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Full Baskets

There is nothing like the sound of little voices
to bring this farm to life
in an extraordinarily special way.
It's been three months since tiny feet have run free here,
filling the air with laughter.

Finally, this week, the littlest of our beloved grandchildren
came to spend a few days on the farm.
And my empty baskets are once again full!

Baskets once filled with conversation and fellowship,
touch and hugs,
have gone unfilled for months.
Oh, I have missed sharing this wonderful place
with those I love so dearly.

I took a few days off from blogging so that I could be 100%
present and immersed in playtime,

and gator rides,

garden adventure,

and animal love.

It was three days of Grammie Heaven...
and my heart is full.

The rest of me is exhausted!...
in the best possible way.

Easton ate his weight in garden greens,

while Mackenzie lavished affection on Griz.

We had quite the adventure on Wednesday morning...
rescuing the big ole snapping turtle that had been hanging around the arena,
earlier in the week.

Wednesday morning we found it trying to crawl into my garden, it's head
stuck through the fence, but its shell not budging.
With a very hot day predicted, we thought it best to rescue
this fellow and...

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Taking a Little Break

We are in the midst of the most beautiful week!
I hope where you are is equally lovely.
I am going to take a brief blogging break.
Two days off.... to tend to a few other matters...
but, I will return on Friday so we can catch up!

My tired herd... after a night in the pastures... ready to come in for a nap.
In answer to a question about yesterday's post...
the spores on strawberries (I am assuming they are fungal spores)
cause them to decay more quickly.
A vinegar/water rinse supposedly kills those spores.

And lastly, to Patsy... your fairies are always welcome.
It has been so quiet here without the laughter of 
children these past few months,
that a few more fairies might liven things up a bit!!
I'll have the biscuits ready!
And some blueberry jam...
for these 75 blueberry bushes will be pickable by that time.
We are going to be inundated with blueberries!

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Fowl Play?

We are in the midst of "hay-drying season."
The sky is as blue as can be,
and the air... warm and dry for once.

Our hayfield was cut on Sunday,

and baled yesterday.
That particular field used to feed our horses,
but not so much any more.
There was a day when a neighbor cut it,
and I fluffed it and raked it,
and then he baled it 2 to 3 days later when it was good and dry.
That neighbor quit farming, and there went the baling equipment.

A different neighbor leases our 2 hayfields (basically for free...
we ask for 10% of the hay to share with a different neighbor).
This particular farmer does not have the equipment to make 
square bales, and we do not have the muscles to deal
with round bales.

So, we still consider our recycling of manure to be full-circle...
it's just that now it's mostly cows that are eating the hay
from our fields.

Yesterday was a near-perfect day...
not a cloud in the sky, and not terribly hot.

The horses had spent the previous night in the pasture,
and returned to the barn in the morning quite tired.
(I like pasturing them at night time in the summer...
 the temperatures are cooler and the bugs are not an issue.)

Five zombie horses stood just like this,
without moving,
for a couple of...

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We Have Some Catching-Up To Do!

It's been two days since we last chatted,
and we have so much to catch up on!

for a quiet stay-at-home weekend,
it certainly was an eventful one.

Friday, upon bringing the donkeys in from the pasture,
I checked Chloe's neck to see if it still looked ok.
Earlier in the week, she had developed a rather large lump, 
(a hematoma - collection of blood),
which Dr. Becky had checked, and it seemed fine...
just something to watch.

Friday, however, upon inspection, I realized that
her incision had opened a little and she was oozing some very
"yucky" drainage.
We gave her a sedative so that Dr. Becky could remove some of her staples
and open the area a little larger to better allow for drainage.
It's always better to get the bad stuff out!
She's back on antibiotics (Oy... it's not an easy process, but we manage)...
with three-times-a-day wound cleansing
(to keep it from sealing over).

All in all, we have managed to accomplish all of the above,
and Chloe only hates us a little.
It's going to take some time to get back on her good side, I fear.

Saturday we had a pizza/stromboli take-out lunch with my Mom.
The food was from a local winery, and we reheated it in the pizza oven.

It had been three months...

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Stormy Weather

Over the past few months, in the current situation,
we have gotten away from talking about reducing our carbon footprint.

The good thing is... each and every one of us has done just that...
by staying home!

And the earth breathes a sigh of relief!

I wanted to share a little something with you that we do to help
reduce our energy consumption.
It's something that we have started doing in the past few years...
something, in my younger days, I never even considered.

Every year, we disconnect our dryer from the wall vent
and thoroughly clean out the wall vent... from the wall
to the outside where it leaves the house.
(And maybe everyone already does this, and I am just a little late to the party!)

We use this tool, which attaches to our drill, and acts like a Roto-rooter
for your dryer vent.

Each time we do it, I am amazed at the accumulation of lint inside 
the vent.  And that lint makes our dryer much less efficient,
making clothes-drying take more time.

Yesterday, after we were finished re-hooking the dryer back up to the 
wall vent, we realized that the special metallic duct tape that helped
to seal off the connection was in need of replacement.
So, we hopped on our bikes and headed to our...

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I Love The Other Three Hundred and Sixty Three!

Out of the 365 days that make up a year,
there are only two that I'd like to skip...
the yearly pig vaccination day,
and the day before sheep shearing.
Both of those days are truly nightmares
in the midst of an otherwise quiet, pastoral life.

"Why the day before sheep shearing?" you ask.
Well... it's the day before that we must get the sheep from their yard
up to a stall in the barn for overnight safe-keeping.
That way they are in place and ready to go
when the sheep shearer arrives.

My two sheep are notoriously bad at walking to the barn
(as in the whole neighborhood sometimes has to help).
As soon as the sheep suspect that something different is happening,
they become wary and completely stubborn.
They have evasive maneuvers even the NFL can't top!

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to give it a try all by myself.
I figured they would be less suspicious if I tried to 
nonchalantly move them myself.
I called them in from the front pasture...
yes, they do come when they are called,
"Sheepie, sheepie, sheepie!" in my high-pitched,
come-hither, barn voice.

I was able to get a collar around Hope's woolly neck
and lead her (with crackers in hand) out of her pen
and into the driveway...
one step forward, two...

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Welcome To Maven Haven

Good Monday, friends!
It's the start of a new week...
a week filled with possibilities.
Spring is finally here and the world is teeming with life.
Can't you feel the energy of growth all around?

I am so excited to day to have you join me for a 
virtual Open House of Maven Haven.
It's the best we can do in these unusual times.
But please, if you are ever in the area, please join me in person
for a little tea and cakes!!
(Of course we will wait until it is entirely safe to do so!)

[link to video if needed]

This space is so cozy, so peaceful and calming.
My mind is a buzz of ideas for how to use this space in the future.
Tea parties and lunches... yes for sure!
Perhaps private knitting lessons... by a warm cozy fire.
Hours of reading, knitting, writing...
the possibilities are endless.

We had a wonderful, warm, quiet weekend here on the farm.

I spent much of the weekend planting our garden.
Saturday afternoon, I took a break to join Hubbs in a 17 mile
bike ride through the beautiful spring countryside.
It was nothing short of heavenly.
Never before in my life has a spring meant so much to me!
In spite of these trying times,
my heart is full.

Hubbs spent some time sitting with the donkey girls...
trying his...

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Some Times, The Best Endings Come From The Worst Beginnings

That is definitely something to keep in mind
during these trying times.
Yesterday afternoon, while I was at the barn doing 
afternoon chores and talking to Griz,
it occurred to me that I never told you the story of our very first
encounter with Griz.
(I never told you because at the time it just seemed so horrifying...
but the best ending came, so I'll tell you now.)

It was a cold winter morning and we were out doing
early morning chores as the sun was rising.
As we drove down the long driveway towards the barn,
I hopped out of the gator where the driveway forks.
I headed to the barn - Hubbs headed to the pond to feed the ducks.

Upon entering the duck hut, where we keep their feed,
he was surprised by the presence of a cat.
Assuming (because of its coloration) that it was our Moll cat,
he bent down to pet it,
and the cat took off running... ending up at the gator.

At that point, the dogs took notice...
probably because they, unlike Hubbs, were aware that it was a stray.
Frightened by the dogs, and with Annie chasing him,
he headed straight for the freezing cold water of the pond and 
jumped right in...
swimming to the opposite shore in short order and into the woods beyond.

Hubbs arrived at the barn...

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I Might Have Jumped The Gun

I doubt that I have enough fingers to count the times
over the past two months that I have proclaimed the arrival of Spring.
Each time, as I hit the "publish" button, 
flighty Spring left the vicinity leaving Ole Man Winter with his heels dug in.

(That's Ollie peaking through the fence to let me know he wants to come home to the barn.)
Judging from the many comments you have left me in this time,
I believe many of you have had the same experience.

It's funny to have such an unusual spring in such an unusual time.
If you feel like I do, Spring cannot arrive too early this year...
especially this year.
And yet, she waited until the last possible moment.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say
[with fingers crossed tightly]
this time its for real... Spring has finally arrived.
And it may be the shortest Spring ever, with Summer just 
a month away.
Typically by this time I have my garden planted,
and my flowers planted around the farm.
As of now... none of this is accomplished.

Today is the start!
I will be diligently working on finishing up the planting
over the next few days.

Yesterday was mowing day.
With that finished for the week, I can concentrate
on the garden.

When yesterday's work was...

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Learning to Be

And so, Summer has begun,
without fanfare, without a party, without all of the usual
traditions that have marked this transition in past years.

And yet, somehow, this year I feel more immersed in life.
With less distraction, and more time to simply "be",
I am enjoying the bountiful gifts that Mother Nature has bestowed
in this season of growth.

Days flow by like water in a gently winding stream.
And although we cannot see what lies around the bend,
the water keeps flowing...
and so, I dip my toes.

And though I would jump headlong back into family activities
and social engagements if I could,
I am at peace here on the farm... just immersing myself in this 
slow, quiet life.
My goal is to enjoy each day, no matter what it brings... or doesn't bring.

Every couple of days we head out on bike to explore all of the back
country roads in our area.  
For years we talked about exploring them by car.
Exploring them via bicycle is so much better.
(Not to mention the fact that it's better for the earth.)

The countryside is breathtaking now.
Trees have exploded with foliage, and wildflowers abound.

Each new road brings beautiful vistas,

and heartwarming scenes like this...

After what seems like years of wishing...

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Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, friends...
and a happy kick-off weekend to start the summer.

Even without picnics, parades, festivals and the normal Memorial Day
activities, we managed to have a fun and adventure-filled weekend.

That is definitely one of the lucky things about life on the farm.
There is never a lack of adventure.

Our weather cooperated with temperatures up to 80 and
down to the mid-fifties.

I had a little planting to finish up.
Last week's freeze, even with Hubbs trying his hardest to save the garden,
caused a few of my tomatoes to fry.
Luckily I had more in the greenhouse,
(See?  There are some advantages to planting 100+ tomatoes!)
so I replaced the toasted plants with fresh ones.
Now, we just water, weed, and wait!
Our peppers are looking a little burned as well (from freezing)
but, I have noticed new leaves at the base of the plants,
so I believe they will rally.

One thing I have learned over the years is to expect
the unexpected, and not let it get you down.
And... always have a plan B!

It's funny.  We seem to have a unique micro-climate here on the farm.
None of our neighbors' vegetables froze on Wednesday night.
For some reason, here in our little area of the countryside,
the temperature...

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Of Heros, and Friends, and Living In Color

We have entered that beautiful season of boundless color.

Everywhere you look there are bright hues popping up to meet the eye.

Some wild, like these wild columbine...

and some are cultivated, far away from their native northern climes,
like this lupine.

All are magnificently beautiful... wildflower 

or tame.

It's during this time of year that I try to fill all of my senses
with the abundance around me...
in an effort to carry a living, sensual memory 
with me into the cold, lifeless months
 that lie at the end of all of this beauty.

And though those months of quiet slumber have a beauty 
unto themselves, there is nothing as energizing 
as the colors of spring, summer, and autumn!

I had a happy surprise this week 
while we were out mowing the farm.
And in case you wondered... 
we have a bit of help to accomplish all of this mowing.
Our upper pasture areas and blueberry field
 are mowed by one of our neighbors, Anna,
(and farm-hands on call... without all of whom we could not survive!)
This still leaves a large parcel of acreage for us to mow,
but working together (on riding mowers) 
it is easily accomplished in an afternoon.

Hubbs was mowing the small round pasture area
that lies beside...

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Saying Goodbye To Our Barn Manager

Every morning, for the past twelve years,
we have been greeted outside the barn by this fellow.

TomTom, our orange Tom cat faithfully served as barn manager...
over-seeing chores and making sure that meals were served on time.

TomTom didn't have the easiest life. 
An upper respiratory condition and nasal polyps (for which he had surgery)
were an ongoing issue for him...
for which there was no cure.

You always knew when TomTom was around...
his noisy mouth-breathing preceding him.

Still, he managed to get along pretty well,
claiming a bed on the workbench under a heat lamp
right next to the food as his territory.

For the last several weeks, Tommy started losing weight,
and his breathing became labored.

Yesterday morning he refused to eat
(so uncharacteristic for him).
Yesterday afternoon we found him lying on his side in the hayloft of the barn,
and each breath was a struggle.
We texted Dr. Becky and within minutes she was there to
help ease his distress.

His passing was peaceful, with us stroking him
as he drifted away.

Our hearts are heavy...
we will miss this kitty who was a part of our every day.
But, we are thankful that he is not suffering
and that he left us peacefully.

This is the hard part about...

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This, That and the Other Thing

Thankfully, peace and quiet returned to the farm yesterday.

The sheep were quietly nestled in the barn stall awaiting shearing.
Dr. Becky stopped by to vaccinate them and they stood
peacefully still while she did that.

Thanks for the suggestions on moving sheep.
I always rely upon treats to motivate them... but it is to no avail.
I have talked to others who assure me it is not me...
but rather, sheep are not easy to move... without a sheep dog.
I have also come to the conclusion that sheep have very, very short memories.
Each time we repeat something we have done before,
it's as though it is the very first time.
The upside to this is that sheep are extremely forgiving.
Forgive and forget... I believe that is their motto.
All of this may play into why sheep are such easy targets
for predators.

Regardless, shearing happened without a hitch.

And once again I have one white sheep 

and one black sheep, who, with age has become her mother 
and is now a lovely shade of grey.
(The brown to beige coloration is nothing more than sun bleaching.)

Free from the weight of their heavy woolen fleeces,

they were more than obliging when it came to walking
back home.

"Treats, please!"
See?   All is forgiven and...

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Back to Normal

As crazy as Tuesday was,
with vaccinations and Chloe's surgery...
yesterday was the complete opposite.

It was a cloudy, quiet, peaceful day...

made perfect by the fact that Chloe willingly took her 
antibiotics mixed in a little sweet feed that Dr. Becky suggested
I use.

All is well.
And Chloe seems to be doing just fine.

I thought I would share the peace of my day, here, with you...

[link to video if needed]

To Patty...
Our pigs get Tetanus and Rabies vaccines.

(Waiting outside the donkey gate... hoping for a treat...
always hopeful!)

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