the new farm. testing out a mobile blogger app.


before the crazy outweighs the hot

 you could call it writers' bloc. or blogger bloc. or more aptly just foggy brained. but i cannot think of a word to write to you. i spoke several weeks ago of a feeling of surreality. of not fully grasping my present. and here it is again. on the eve --or the penultimate eve-- of our departure i am a shell of my former farmer self. i have been so preoccupied with the details of the move that i in turn become even more preoccupied with consuming every last moment on the farm. which creates this overly sensitized being where i am so dramatically in-tuned to my surroundings that i must look like i'm on psychedelics.

like yesterday afternoon when the lightening storm swept over the farm and i stood on the back patio, arms akimbo, breathing in the whooshes of rain along with the clouds. wondering how the sky knew that when i let go of a breath it should let the rain fall harder.

like this evening as we drove across the farm in elizabeth's '79 vw bus, the speakers blaring a 1920s era jazz tape, the stars already high in their position. i let nick talk and talk as i silently tried to count each star and turn the music up ever louder humming to myself a tune i had never heard before.

or just now as i walked through the dark pig pen to check on our sick sow mavis. the air was completely black. and i wasn't scared. i'm not scared of the dark on this farm. but i was attuned if you will. attuned to the indelible presence of bubba, the 800 pound boar, who was somewhere in that pen. lurking, the only way a boar of that caliber can exist at that hour, no matter their kindness in the daylight hours. i heard every ant that crossed a leaf. every mosquito that landed on mavis. every chicken's rustling feathers settling as i scooped feed to the sow and poured water on her hot head and back. listening for bubba. i looked like a jumping hot potato with every sound.

i will embraced the crazy that has overtaken me. i know that the farm still needs me, even if i have done farm chores in my underwear (it IS hot) for the past 3 days. even though i have been making a valiant effort to drink All Of Our Wine by myself. even though i only have 2 more days here.

i'm trying to reconcile leaving with being madly in love with a piece of land. with the ecosystem that this land has fostered. it's not pretty. so i thank you for having gotten as far as you have. 

with tuesday night now turning, dutifully to wednesday, i can safely say, that we are leaving tomorrow. the truck is two-thirds packed. i will try to reign in the crazy so that i can bid adieu to this place with some dignity and with some clothes on. 

orangie photos:
1. the sunnies finally bloomed.  i was so thrilled, they had been mocking me along for the past 2 weeks. i was sure i was going to miss their entrance. 
2. in a surprise turn nick collected honey sunday evening. loads of it. and he does it without any mask or suit or gloves or smoking. it is bad ass. i say it is dangerous and beg him not to do it and stand with an epi pen, paralyzed at the front door, as he beekeeps. but i must say, the boy has a way with his bees.
3. tequila sunrise peppers. hate the name. love the color.
4. the steam was so intense in the morning's mugginess that the camera lens kept fogging. 


pack it up...

i don't know that there are many physical feelings of relief greater than that one i had today, in the open field of the turkey pen. panting under the hot sun as i labored with the bird's water trough. after 3 straight days of 100°s and going higher. after lying naked and restless everynight with no air conditioning and no wind in the night skies. after covering myself in sweat and mud and stench from an early morning in the pig pen....

i was just finished with using a pail, i held it in my left hand and i heard a drop hit it. and then another. i looked above me and saw a dark, cartoon, rain cloud hovering there. well, that would be nice i thought to myself and the cartoon cloud obliged and let loose its contents. it poured. poured. for nearly 15 minutes straight. and we all stood there. all humans, birds, pigs alike. everywhere on the farm. and thanked the heavens for their mercy.

the skies cleared and the sun got right back down to his task at hand. as though the rain had been a temporary slip and would prefer you didn't mention it. and so we are back to Sweat, Mud, and Stench. back to packing. back to chores. back to canning. back to cleaning.

1. linens are washed and folded and shuttered into boxes to be sent north.
2. i am the inefficient packer. the one that likes to pack things in millions of little boxes and cases.
3. nick made a winter's ration of tomato sauce.
4. the rugs are sunning themselves, preparing for their sentence of an indefinite storage.
5. the succulents are posing an issue. how do you pack a prickly plant?


pigs on tv

its terribly difficult to get an accurate view of the size and scope of a farm such as cane creek. especially when the documenter in question --moi-- likes to take up close or out of focus photos. so i thought i would share the bit that made it onto unc-tv last night about our farm. you can see me & nick herding escaped pigs. and there is a special shot of oscar and van gogh that made my heart lurch. it was shot back in the fall and i had nearly forgotten this footage existed. enjoy.


cool hand luke

i am as cool as i was this past friday. when humidity broke and we were thankful. when we all...all 7 of us piled into the truck. seven people in one truck...such is the physical capacity of this old ford. piled into the truck and then spilled out of it to dinner in saxapahaw. onto the deck. cool enough to wear pants. cool enough to give in to my anglo-new england heritage and have several glasses of wine in lieu of dinner. cool enough to push away thoughts of packing. thoughts of leaving this home.

on the docket for this tuesday we are cleaning the feed shed. laundering rugs and linens. closing out the second bedroom. canning and preserving tomatoes. making and freezing pesto. a lavender harvest. possibly a run to the store to acquire more jars. with lots to do we are keeping it cool. nick and rudy are still asleep. fi and i are about to go for a long run. the cats are panicked, but that is par. rose, vangogh, and bella are digesting yesterday's rotten tomatoes. the chickens are doing their rounds. all is calm...in welcome anticipation of the move ahead.


the cats just barely made the cut

nick said to me the other day that maybe we shouldn't take the cats. leave them here. the cats. the CATS. these are the stressful species for us. we can figure out the ear-less pig and his little sister. and the cow. and the honeybees. and the child biting dog. or the duck that wants to be a chicken. but the cats putting us over the Edge. we won't leave them behind. i made that quite clear.  but i cannot believe we both entertained not taking them. that the normalized, domesticated, society-accepted animals are the bitch of it. what have we become? this week-end is dedicated to figuring the cats out.


when the sun gets high

we are being cooked, burnt, fried to a crisp down south. and so when the sun gets itself so high, hot, and mighty we mudbloods search for cooler grounds. for gardens in the early dawn. for creameries. for cold outdoor baths. actually, this morning, in the early hours. the heat broke. the winds picked up. it was delightful.

the tough part of it is that, we can't just lounge about. these photos are anomalies of the past 2 days. rare moments where we have sat down and sighed and attempted to dry ourselves from the constant sweat. but things move forward. the farm, the move up north, the tomato plants. everything seems to be flying forward. we have 2 weeks left. the list grows longer, rather than shorter everyday. it should grow shorter. but we keep adding to it. stupid selves. so far, i have packed up and then unpacked a box of books and my winter hats. yes, 2 boxes. barely even boxes. and we have a whole house to box up. i think i'll pack our socks tonight. just to make it 3, useless boxes.

1. the corn, hardly high enough, but its popcorn and it makes us proud.
2. girlfriends coolin' their feet in the tub.
3. my raised beds. putting hailey in charge of planting them for the fall. i want to make sure they are in good hands.
4. basil is reason enough to grow a garden. unlimited pesto. which is in need as fiona & i eat it my the forkful.
5. sara at the feed mill.
6. the skinny creamery kitten trying to cop a lick.
7. how did fiona change ice cream flavors so fast?
8. we cracked the first melons of the summer this afternoon.
9. with 5 to 7 people coming in and out of these doors we go through a healthy amount of napkins.
10. onion bags.
11. there is no more sought after goal than goosebumps in the summer.


i need to step up my game

...because these ladies are how you do it. how you work the farm life.  
...and i'm not really working the cut offs and ratty tees like i think i am.
so of Top Priority when we return to new england will be a wardrobe renovation. more tweeds. and corduroys and smarter hats. more english country professor/sheep herder and less....well less of the above. it means a blow to practicality, but a win for glamor.  and so it must be done.

**thank you soulemama for the link to these beauties.


this is our godson. arlo redding. and i love this photo. being a godmother is very new to me and i am insufferably proud of the title. i try to drop the word godson into all manner's of conversation. like, when someone other than his parents reaches for him, i dutifully instruct, my godson prefers to be held belly to belly. or at the dinner table, oh this table cloth reminds me of a funny story about my godson. it's been a little weird, but i imagine my friends can forgive me the subtle boasting. because i have never been so honored as i have by arlo's parents. nick and i have already promised him a pony. which he must share with his sister. and trips to new england. and trips to the cape. and how to sail a boat. and how to drive a tractor. i love so very much that we are somebody's godparents. that that somebody i helped bring into this world. that that somebody is the most handsome baby boy you could ask for.  that that somebody's parents are two of our dearest most beloved friends.


belly up

one of my favorite ways to unwind from the farm is to lie on my stomach in the grass behind our house and watch and kiss and touch all of our little animals. it silences me. it allows me time to make sure they are all individually o.k. to let them know i absolutely adore them.

it's a good way to end a friday to think about the week-end. we have markets tomorrow. a pig pen to finish building. my godson and his parents coming in the afternoon. cookies to be baked. we have all hit a sugar low since last weekend's double cakes for fi's birthday.  and a couple rounds of croquet to be played. the course is set on the front lawn and needs to serve a purpose other than breaking ankles each time somebody's foot catches a wicket.

on a much less picturesque note. the fish in the front pond are dying. in droves. Belly Up. there is a serious drought in our county (and i imagine the whole state). the biologists of the family tried to explain to me that this has caused a lack of oxygen in the water so the fish die. it is.....horrendous. on every level. you could imagine. and you will pardon my lack of photographic record on the event. it's not something i want to remember too vividly. i just thought,  in the effort of full disclosure, i ought to let you know.

very best week-end to you all.

no need to describe the characters in these photos....i imagine you know who these guys are by now.


the tomatoes are making themselves at home.

life is starting to feel a bit surreal as of late. maybe its how i am writing this, while eating a quick breakfast, and looking out onto our backyard where my one eared pig, vangogh, is sharing a morning meal with my little rose, with pascal the duck nibbling in between their faces and their 4th, and best friend, bella, the grass fed calf is looking on in envy.

or maybe it is because we stayed up late skyping with best friends in san francisco while drinking modelos and it almost felt like they were just dropping by to say hello.

or that i that i spent 5 hours with nick and the dogs yesterday combing through the farm. checking all barbed wire fences. checking any wells that may have been left uncovered. looking in every corner of this 500 acre property for the beloved farm dog, zeus. who had been missing since monday night when neighbors set off fireworks. and who, was just driven down the driveway last night by a woman, whose father had found the dog when his well went dry. worry and panic will get me nowhere.

or it could be that we are on the eve, nick and i, of another transition. another move. it will be the fourth such move in two years. our family is getting larger and more bizarre and more complicated. we cannot just pack up in the subaru and head north. we had to get a truck. and then a trailer. we have to have the state come to the farm and take blood from every chicken we are taking north. rose has to get an ear tag. all the animals need health certificates. its hard to imagine any of them passing, they are such a scruffy bunch. but, despite outward appearances, i believe them to all be healthy.

its the chaos in the details of the move. of where and how everyone will fit in on the farms up north where we will live and work.  but its complimented by a painful nostalgia for this farm that is already overwhelming me. we have never felt that north carolina could be our forever home. but i have also never felt so at home in my adult life. we have poured ourselves into this farm and into this house and into these animals. and i cannot grasp how i can create closure for such a year of our lives in just 21 days.

fortunately, the tomatoes are coming in. and this has created a good deal of distraction for us all. with harvesting. and ripening. and eating them with sea salt and cheeses.

1. i hadn't planted a single flower this summer, but the wilds are doing a stand up job at keeping the honeybees happy.
2. my aunt molly is visiting and she brought with her loaves upon loaves of baked bread. i love when people travel with such things. she wraps all of her bread in this bright white cloth to keep them fresh. it works perfectly.
3. sungolds. not as many coming in yet as last season. but i have to suspect that everyone who works in the garden is taking as many mouthfuls of these as i when harvesting.
4. a cerveza and some bread & butter to take in the afternoon storm and catch up on games of thrones with nicky.
5. the farm front porch essentials. water for the pups. and a broom to sweep off chicken droppings. add screened in porch to my wishlist for our own farm.
6. tomatoes to market.
7. our summer nighttime staples. me, a sundress from marie (thank you!!) and nick his bright orange shorts.
8. i don't imagine these tomatoes will last the day. i've seen all five of us eying and fondling them.


when pigs go on walkabout

this was how i was envisioning this tuesday morning to start off. lounging like. but yet, like every day off on the farm, there somehow seems to be a minor catastrophe before anyone has managed to have their morning cuppa or even changed out of their pajamas.

rose and vangogh must have been spooked by last night's fireworks and decided in the wee hours to go on walkabout. they conspired to go across the farm to elizabeth's and created a healthy amount of havoc for us all by doing so.

i went to fetch them as soon as i realized where they had gone and the two followed me home like sheepish little dogs, trotting behind me all the way.

now it is 8h39 and i will sip my cuppa. eat some of my aunt molly's bread with some jam and try to get back into the lounging routine i had hoped for.

(by the way, this is junior. he is a superb pig if it isn't obvious from the way i am trying to nap on him)


a dramatic ending fit for a little bird

one week ago this morning i let the chucks out. i let the mama hen out with her little babies and i let florence and pascal out of their boudoir to greet the sun’s rise. it was only an hour earlier than i normally awake but i was anxious to drive to the mountains with my sister. so i rose with great ambition with the sun, knowing no farm chores would await me. it turned out to be a horrid, amateur mistake, such an early rising. for all birds arise that early. not just those you love and name and grow attachments too. and this dastardly monday morning a hawk arose as we did. and, in the middle of preparing for a mountain excursion a hawk, a blasted, asshole of a hawk swooped from his sniper branch and took my…our…pascal’s little florence away.

i don’t know if i could tell you precisely why this had such the blowing effect on me that it did. i did adore florence, though i suppose i barely knew her, being a farmer and her being but a little chick. still, i loved her for the parts of her i did know. for her hatching, a beautiful blonde little chicken, out of a nest of duck eggs. for evading the evil black snake. for taking pascal under her proverbial wing and teaching him to speak chicken, refusing herself to learn a word of duck. for their friendship. for the way she would flutter about and test her growing wings and safely stash pascal (who, by now was twice her size) in rose’s hut, or under the porch bench, or in the shade of a big leafy weed. for the way she never ventured away from the house. for her terror of the pond, but how she’d wait on the shore to keep her swimming duckling company.

i suppose it is, rather simply, how much i loved their bond. the inter-specieal affair that blossomed between them. and what struck me so hard, aside from the basic horror, finality, and unexpectedness of a hawk’s attack, was how and what this did to pascal.  he was panicked, he was frantic, he was sad, he was paralyzed with grief, he was depressed.

anyone who has ever taken a course in basic psychology...or for that matter, owned a dog...would politely venture to guess i am projecting. perhaps...maybe these were just my reactions. it was i who ran --half clothed-- through the corral and down the fields in the direction the hawk took, listening for any sound of little flo. i who sobbed pathetically into the arms of nick, then fiona, then molly as each tried, somewhat bewilderedly, to calm me down. i followed every step in the book of grief. venture what you may, but i would say i followed them with or perhaps for pascal. i know that he misses her. i know that he still only speaks chicken. i know he sat for hours under the porch bench, chirping for her. as a week has passed by i’ve started to get my emotions a bit more Under Control. pascal has too. i still find him, some hours of the day, standing, a bit lost, in the middle of the yard, calling…out to no one in particular… in her language. yet, he’s made friends with the other chickens. following them around in the same cowboy waddle he followed florence. i hope neither of us ever forget the power of the duo that was pascal and florence. they had a tiny and brief but devoted and enviable friendship. we should all be so lucky.

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