this is baby bella. she is our new bottle calf. she came down with pneumonia in the fields, so they brought her in while i was away and nick has been bottle feeding her twice a day ever since. i got immediately jealous when i saw her follow him around like a puppy. so i'm slowly and slyly trying to take over feeding duties.
it so good to be back on the farm. i can't stop hugging the animals and kissing their foreheads.
today is a gorgeous day. supposed to be near 60. i'm going to take the opportunity to plant some more late onions in the garden and then hopefully go for a run.
happy new years to you all.
Posted by kate at 12:04 PM
i wish it were still christmas day. i wish i were still at home with my sister and parents and cats right by my side and that i wasn't sending ayana on a bus to maine.
but christmas is over. and i'm snowed in in boston....trying to get back to the farm. back to nick. back to the dog and the cats and the chickens and the honeybees and the pigs and the goats and the sheep.
i can't wait to get back to my little farm family. but i don't want to leave. i need more than anything this year to find a way of making my two homes closer together. closer than the 18 hour train ride i have ahead. closer than 11 states away. closer than this.
in case you're wondering why it looks like fiona is giving ayana a piggyback ride...well because she is. because ayana and i chose folly over function in our boot selection that christmas morning. they were not waterproof and the tide was rather high. so my darling sister had to carry us from dry land to dry land. piggyback is a nice way to travel i have found.
Posted by kate at 9:50 AM
today is christmas day. i have my two sisters. fiona and ayana. and my parents. we've made our christmas calls...including to nick who was feeding the chickens as we spoke. we are fresh from devouring an entire coffee cake from mother and presents. now off for a christmas walk...towards christmas dinner with friends. a very good day.
this is a little christmas tree that fiona whipped up this morning while ayana and i cut and needlepointed brown paper snowflakes.
Posted by kate at 3:00 PM
a reader, kayla, asked me this morning if i am missing france this winter? kayla, i miss france everyday of my life. i have since my family and i first lived there when i was 8 years old. i love the entire country. from paris to villard de touage. but i do very much miss our past winter there. i miss the mountains. i miss the t.v. dinners of fresh bread and stew and 1664 that nick would make. i miss eating crepes. all of the time. i miss the atelier where nick and i would craft and nurse sick chickens (often at the same time).
farming has brought some funny complications to our lives. mainly nick and i can't really leave the farm at the same time. somebody needs to look after the animals. the pay also doesn't afford us the luxury of skipping off to europe when we so please anymore. so i am going to have to keep on missing france. at least for now. we are trying to plan a trip back to the same little village for sometime this summer or next fall.
Posted by kate at 11:05 AM
finally a break. two days and two christmas parties later. i (and i'd like to imagine fiona too) were feeling a bit overwhelmed. so today it snowed. and snowed and snowed. and so we walked and walked to town. for hot chocolate.
i also caught up on emails today. so that felt good. a perfect snow day. tomorrow. i MUST make moves on christmas shopping AND christmas cards. when did i become such a horrid procrastinator about such things?
Posted by kate at 5:44 PM
i get my twelve days of christmas starting this day...today...that began in the dark with my two boys (nick and ru) driving me to the airport in the snow. snow is a very loose term for what occurred in the piedmont today but you can't tell that to north carolinians. they cancelled schools. they considered it a top story on the local public radio. they drove 20 mph in a 55 zone.
the day is ending here with me cozy from a warm bath on the vineyard. going to the pub tonight with my family to celebrate the four of us home and my parent's 27th anniversary and then, hopefully, falling asleep to a christmas movie with my sister.
i am too happy for these twelve days home. i just wish i had my two boys. i can't seem to function too well without either of them.
p.s. pictures above are our sapin de noel for this christmas. sitting in a milk bottle. nick brought it home for me from our woods. i don't expect the ornaments to last long with two kittens.
Posted by kate at 4:52 PM
i like my farm color-matching. yesterday it was blue. today grey. it looks as though its about to snow again. maybe it will? its odd. living and breathing the outdoors every minute of my life as it is now on this farm, i find that i rarely ever check the weather forecast. i guess it makes no real difference to me. no matter if its 75 and sunny or 25 and snowy i still have to get out there and be in it and do what we do everyday.
last night nick took me out to dinner in carborro...hence the fancy blue shoes... glasshalfull. its quite good and they serve our meat. (nick wrote a bit more about it if you're interested) . tonight we're going....fingers crossed....to see harry potter. i couldn't convince nick on my own but his best friend greg is our movie guru and even he okayed it.
thanks again to all you readers out there who sent the kindest words for oscar. it means the world.
Posted by kate at 1:30 PM
thank you to all you friends, family, and strangers of oscar for your kind kind words. it makes me so happy for oscar to read all of them. yesterday i dug a grave for my little pig. i kept putting it off this week. the ground was too frozen. we needed the tractor. i made excuses because i wanted to postpone the finality of a burial. i wanted to still be able to look at him. of course it is unrealistic to keep him unburied. so yesterday i made myself do it. on my own. frozen ground be damned. i dug for a couple hours in the cold afternoon sun with 2 turkeys and a cat standing idly by. and it felt good and beautiful... in a macabre sense. like it was one last thing i could do for him. nick came down and helped me bury him. we collected big rocks to mark his grave and i put a bouquet of dried flowers on top of those. i'm still so inconsolably sad about oscar. i try not to show it, i don't want to alarm nick or rudy or the cats. but i am. i'm glad to have him buried. it was a needed cathartic closure for me. but i miss him. he was a good pig.
Posted by kate at 12:48 PM
today i am thankful for the brief but beautiful life of a little pig named oscar. oscar was born this past july to a 600 pound mama that stepped on him the day he was born. her weight shattered his right scapula rendering his right front leg immobile and causing other internal complications. surviving as a 1 pound newborn piglet is hard enough on the farm with four legs. with three legs i knew the odds stacked against oscar and so i brought him into our home. i raised him on goats milk, banana yogurt, blueberries and cereal.
he quickly became my everywhere companion.
nick and i brought him to the mountains with the jordans. we brought him to cape cod with nick's family, canada and the vineyard with my family. he quickly became the best traveled pig on the farm. his preferred seat was on mine or nick's lap suckling on our hands or knees. he loved car rides and every time we got out to stretch our legs and let oscar pee or give him a snack we would have a little crowd around us cooing over our piglet.
after a month of holiday from the farm oscar came back with nick, rudy, and i weighing just under 40 pounds. as hard as it was to let him go live like a pig, i moved him in with my other piglet, van gogh, and the two lived happily together amongst the adolescent turkeys in elizabeth's barn. they became inseparable. pigs are remarkable creatures and develop relationships with each other not unlike the way humans do. oscar would always tease van gogh by playfully biting at his missing ear and van gogh, similarly would tease oscar about his broken leg.
oscar's injury was a constant worry for me and for all those who loved him. dad and his friend sketched out plans for a prosthetic of sorts. mom told me of a pony at the world equestrian games that had only three legs. michelle tried to contact veterinary students that would operate for free. nick was always studying & marveling at the way his good front leg was developing and compensating.
i worried a lot. i was oscar's mama. i had been so from the first day when i picked him out of the fields all bloody and broken and brought him back to the bus. i would dissolve into tears when i heard stories of mamas... human mamas with human babies...speak to their fears of letting down their babies. it was my biggest fear. i was so scared that oscar was in pain. or was going to be in pain. i couldn't fix his leg but i wanted nothing more in this world than to fix it. i wanted him to have four working legs so that he could run around as fast as his brother. i wanted him to be able to stand at the water trough and not have to fling his upper body up on it just to get a sip. i wanted him to be just like all of the other pigs.
but i guess that's just what made oscar so very very amazing. he wasn't like all of the other pigs. and if it weren't for his injury i would have never known him. i would have never snuggled with him while watching movies. my parents would have never had a pig live in their backyard. i would have never had so many friends and family finish letters and emails with "give my love to oscar".
oscar died this monday morning. asleep in the straw in his hut alongside van gogh and the three big pigs he shared a home with. we don't know what precisely killed him. i knew that he was feeling unwell. i had spent this past weekend sitting with him in his pasture as he let me scratch his belly and tickle his ears. but he wouldn't eat. i should have done more about it. i should have involved elizabeth and taken him up to the house and spoiled him rotten. but i didn't. it is so shameful to admit, but i was tired. i was tired of worrying. i didn't love him any less. i was simply at a loss of what more i could do. i hope i didn't let him down. i hope he knew how much i loved him.
i don't regret a single moment i spent with that pig or thinking about him. i don't doubt it sounds ludicrous to most that i could write so much about a pig. but this is the abridged story of oscar. in five short months he became the biggest animal on the farm to me. i feel so lucky to have been his mama. and that is about all i can say about oscar right now. thank you for reading if you got this far :)
Posted by kate at 6:37 PM
i thought we moved to the south. to north carolina. where snow on december 4th is the stuff of legends. the stories of nostalgic yankees that forget their current coordinates. i thought i'd be wearing my denim cutoffs right through til next spring.
i was misled. the first days of winter here are no different than those of new england or france. i miss california. i do. BUT. the first snowfall is always magical. and a total surprise to yours truly. so today, i walked about my animals amongst the freshly fallen snow. and it was a delight.
Posted by kate at 8:41 PM
pardon my online absence dear readers. it seems to me the hardest task of a farmer is tending to her neglected, but loved, macbook.
i had a wonderful thanksgiving week with my parents. but. my camera died an inglorious death in a mud puddle. nick's camera ran out of battery and we "misplaced" the charger. so i had a thanksgiving week sans appareil. which was wonderful. but frustrating. so no photos to show of the feast and the week-end. suffice to say we had a house full of family...one of our turkeys...greens from my garden....sweet potatoes from friends....and bread by my dad.
now nick is back. i bought myself a hanukkah present of a new canon. and i have a few moments to retreat to the online world. photos above are of the presents i got last week. so much love and its not even christmas yet.
hanukkah gelt from maura
flowers from mama
macaroons from nick
pens & paper from papa
....and old (but very much needed and desired) new yorkers from ayana.
i'm one lucky lady to receive so much goodness by post and by hand.
Posted by kate at 4:07 PM