still here

somebody asked me the other day through email if i was quitting my blog again. i suppose the rather scattered posts would lead one to believe that the case. it isn't. i have been remiss in my blogging duties only because the farm has taken over. as she does, every summer.

ben hewitt writes in one of his latest posts that he is in a place where the physical is taking precedence over the intellectual. (you should really read his writings by the way. when he isn't consumed by summer he writes beautifully of rural vermont life).

we allow the physical to overtake. and we relish it. hence the quiet.

but i interrupt the physical to give you a bit of what is happening today

today we are consumed with fox/chicken management. the irony is not lost on us that in the same summer that we adopt a wild fox is the same summer in which we lose unprecedented numbers in chicken to lucky's red tailed brethren.

our neighbor says it is the mama fox seeking revenge. or maybe its lucky's playful ghost. we always wondered how we would have introduced lucky to the chickens.  i envisioned photos of lucky and one of the chickens sleeping side by side and then moments later the viewfinder filled with an explosion of feathers. no kill, lucky.


we have a fox/chicken issue right now. both of our mama hens were killed in the last week. that left 13 baby chicks motherless. they were such good mamas. mama sister and speckles. we relied so heavily on the mothering by those sweet hens. we think we have now lost 2 more babies and 1 more adult hen. we have been proud to always give our hens complete free range of the farm but it comes at a cost. and we decided today we can't justify that cost any longer. we love these hens. we love the gift of bright orange eggs they give us every day. so we are investing in some fencing. it breaks me to take away their freedom. we will make their pen as expansive and diverse as we are able. we will move it often.

one day on the Future Farm we will have the large animal pens and pastures set up in a way to provide a natural barrier between fox and hen. but we are a ways off from there. we don't want to see our hens go the way of our neighbors'. one started with 30, now they have 2 and buy eggs from us. another started with 60, now they are down to 12.

so bear with my scattered posts as i deal with farm clich├ęs like the Hen and the Fox.

i am not fully abandoning the blog. i am just in the throes of the season.  autumn is nearly here. i can smell it in the morning's crisp. i can feel it in the afternoon's hot mint tea. in the post pond shiver. in the pile of blankets on our bed. soon we will be pushed back indoors. reduced to these four walls. soon the Outdoors will be limited to breaking waters and throwing hay and my attention will once again turn inward to this space.


friday cometh

i have granola, yogurt, and pickling cukes all going on and in the stove right now so i will make this short. 

four things. 

1. the humidity has lifted. which means we can sleep with blankets again and long sleeves for morning chores. 
2. we have our first eggplant on the vine. summer is kicking.
3. last night we ate ice cream and played trivial pursuit with three neighbors. two of which, we realized today, are the only other full time farmers on the mountain. their family has been farming here for hundreds of years. they used to own all of this land. they have worked like dogs from sun up to down every day of their lives. now they can barely afford to keep the few acres and animals they have left. what a horrifically unbalanced world. 
4. nick insisted on picking up a hitch hiker on wednesday. he looked harmless. he was harmless. tie dye t-shirt. guitar slung over the shoulder. typical hippie garb. when he jumped in the back and was asked where  to?  he said just get me the hell out of here, i just got out of jail. 

oh, great. 

(5. happy weekend.)

this is ardea. one of my new black ewe lambs. she is a Cuddle Bug.


pictured, not pictured.

i only ever have my camera within arm's length of the house. its too much to bring to the fields or the barns. i feel self-conscious toting it along to visit the neighbors. i don't want it flopping on my back when i'm trying to voice-train my sheep. 

i'll work on that. i know you can only stand so many photos of the house and her surroundings. so for today i'll do my best to tell you about what is not pictured. 


1. new yellow rocker for the bedroom from the town flea market.
2. my mom gave me this morning glory that she started from seed for my birthday. it bloomed for the first time sunday morning. 
3. a riveting read. not really. it turns out saving seed is much more scientific and involved than shelling beans. i think i'll put this back on the shelf for winter reading. AND a bowl of honey nut cheerios left over from everly. score. 
4. this photo could be of any day of any year. that dog likes a good sun-nap.
5. nick found sun-dehydrated oyster mushrooms. small blessings from the drought.
6. soup delivery from our neighbor.
7. love these boys. hate their cigarettes. i have an old french ad framed in the bathroom that admonishes: au bout de chaque cigarette, tojours le meme filtre: vos poumons. neither of them pay it any mind.
8. we are actually selling out of our eggs. and milk. and yogurt.
9. soup of the farm's mint, cucumbers, and yogurt. 
10. honey comb candy which is easy to make and easy to over indulge. 

not pictured

1. the loaner bull nick picked up last thursday. nate. he is huge. he rules by terror. nick and i meekly request winnie every morning, and only half the time he gives her to us without the pomp of threats. we can't wait for his departure. one month to breed the girls. 
2. albert, the bull calf, who is the opposite of nate. and just wants to be scratched under the chin. we have been receiving all manner of advice on how to raise him. all conflicting. but we are attempting to do it with a confident dominance and distance. 
3. my cucumbers and beans that are all trellising along. the ONE tomato a day from my garden. better speed up. 
4. the mama hen that decided (maybe a week or two too early) that she is done raising her chicks, and the abandoned chicks that run around cheeping and nick and i that try to stand in for mama by showing them food and water and perching them. every day and night.
5. nick and i and two neighbors slinging straps around a heifer that got stuck in the creek and pulling her out. 
6. nick and toby and i rubbing arnica on her swollen leg. spraying her with essential oils to repel the flies. rubbing A&D on her sores. in the late evening. trying to get her comfortable as she lay immobilized on the banks of the creek. 
7. eating dinner with new friends by torch-light. the power had crumbled as the storms rolled through last night. 
8. the smell of earth that is blessed with water for the first time in many weeks. such a sweet sweet smell. 
9. my palm's blisters from banging T-posts in the garden. 
10. the honey custard ice cream i made yesterday and then melted to soup in our powerless freezer. 
11. the faces of my ewe lambs covered in milk weed juice and their pelts covered in burdock. they are going to need some Cleaning Up before the fall's shearing.


farm wedding inspiration

i have never met mckenzie in person but i count her as one of my farmer girl friends. i met her through this blog and email her when i have questions about sheep or just need someone who is both farmer and blogger to commiserate with.

mckenzie just married her best friend jamie. and lydia took these spectacular photos of their day. 

i haven't made one single step towards planning our wedding. i get overwhelmed having friends over for dinner so i can't imagine what a wedding would do to me.  but looking at mckenzie and jamie's photos i came to the very belated realization that i can't wait for our wedding day. that it will be filled with our family, animals,  and friends. and so it will be beautiful. 

for now, i will simply enjoy the honest beauty of mckenzie and jamie's wedding. and hope to goodness i find a dress half as stunning as hers. 

you can see more of the day on lydia's blog and where it was featured on rock n' roll bride.

all photo credits to lydia jane


house over-run

no sooner do i celebrate the beauty of home than i realize that our home is being over-run. by tomatoes, and cucumbers, and beans and peas, all waiting consumption or canning. and by chickens. 3 at last count. one with a hurt leg. one we just adore and always let in (though, the whole chicken-on-bed lasted only as long as a photo before we shooed her away). and one who is hell bent on laying her eggs in the closet and then rearranging the bookshelf, desk, and kitchen counter with her spastic wings and feet.

this morning started with one of the lambs out and me muscling her back in, in my pajamas. and the rest of the day goes something like garden, sheep fence, garden, milking, garden, farmer's market, cow fence, garden.

happy friday.


a home for now

my friend rachael reminded me of the site cabin porn this weekend and i think i may have spent a solid two hours on the bus home from boston monday drooling. its so easy to have home envy when there are so many creative people out there doing such an Incredible Job at living indoors.  but i love the 2 room home we live in right now. it isn't ours. and knowing us it won't be the last place we live. but we are making ourselves at home despite this. and in lieu of spending today sulking that we don't live on a scraggy cliff in a brightly-white painted hut overlooking snowy mountains, i thought i would celebrate the home we do live in. in all of it's small and clunky glory.

so here it is. home for now. in photos.

1. bedroom with requisite kitty AND the fan that meg gifted to us last weekend. bless her.
2. my try at house plants. the lemonade bottle is always filled with water to tempt me into watering them more often. it hasn't worked yet. i may need to set up some indoor irrigation.
3. that heavy wooden bust is something nick traded his shoes for in southern africa many years ago. we have lugged it nearly everywhere we've lived and only once tried to unload it on brent and melissa (who did schlep it from san francisco to carolina for us).
4. this dining room table and the two chairs have been mine since i was a baby. my mom gave us a photo of me and my sister sitting at the same table in the same chairs. i must be 4 and fiona 2.  in the photo it appears that i am yelling at my baby sister. but i would never yell. i have always been a lady. a lady doesn't raise her voice. i was probably just scolding her poor baby-posture.
5. with the afternoon sun and our wooden-everything home there are some days when life is too orange and you have to sport sunglasses inside. it makes one look Ultra Cool.
6. moldy countertops.
7. an uncommonly empty sink.
8. we need more cabinets and less mice. then i wouldn't have to put everything under the lock and key of jars and tins.
9. the tiny stove.
10.  the hammock is forever beckoning.


too quiet

the first thing i did sunday morning, bleary headed, after driving the jordans to their early morning flight out of burlington was strip the bed, throw the washing in, and remake it with fresh linens. i thought i'd be so glad to be back in my own bed. i collected dish towels, beach towels, and wash cloths and threw them in line for washing. i purged the fridge of the week's collections, giving the chickens a massive bowl of leftovers. i scrubbed the sweet potato mash off the side of the small, much abused oven. i swept. i vacuumed. i put every pillow back in its rightful place. i had nick take the appalling number of beer and wine bottles down to the mouth of the barn. i took the baby un-friendly vases and typewriters down from safekeeping. i quietly and efficiently almost excitedly reverted the house back to Just So.

i breathed deeply and tried to relish the quietude of this little house that just hours before carried 6 adults 2 babies and 2 dogs. melissa had said we would surely be glad to have the quiet back. and during breakfast as arlo was banging on the big pot with a heavy wooden spoon nick had brought back from tanzania, i thought she was right. i thought i did miss the quiet.

but now that melissa and brent and everly and arlo are back in raleigh,  and meg and vini and their puppy beans are back in boston i find i don't like the quiet. i want the mess of 8 humans living in 2 rooms back. i want the chaos of dinners and the endless sink of dishes. i want the pillows and the all the blankets back in the corner of our bedroom where they had made an impromptu bed for everly. i want to tiptoe into the bedroom to check email while one of the jordan's sleeping babes naps. i want to hear brent walking up from the milking barn playing the mandolin. i want to try a new beer that vini has collected.  i want everly to help me pick this morning's peas off the vines. i want her to shake her finger at me and say no ma'am in the most crushing southern baby drawl.  i want to see nick hold our beautiful godson. i want to have meg and melissa right there in the sun of the living room to chat and snack and drink lemonade as though we all still live in san francisco.

i certainly don't want the quiet and so i miss the loud.

the house, the farm, the whole mountain all feel too quiet now. 

it is heartbreak to live so far away from such good good friends. it kills me to see everly and arlo grow up so quickly, only being able to hold them and kiss them once a year. 

but our roots are set in new england, and theirs in north carolina. and so we must forever shuttle to and fro to see one another.

melissa took many more photographs than i this last week. so you can read and see more about their visit here. 


an outhouse

i am always so pleasantly shocked how each and every one of our friends don't bother to blink twice at using the outhouse. it isn't very pleasant to have to use. especially when its pouring rain (or pouring snow) or blowing wind. or hot and still. but our friends are good sports,  they persevere and so do we.

that is all.

have a good friday. and an even better weekend ours will be filled with milkings, garden-work, a picnic on the mountain top, many jumps in the pond, and good carolina friends.


monday's iPhone blur

yesterday through the lens of an aging and seldom appreciated iPhone

in photos:

1. lambs! they don't have names yet (fiona!! get on it!) but it doesn't stop them from being adorable. also, they seem to have an affinity for npr and air conditioning. high class sheep.
2. covering ourselves up to avoid being eaten by hay while we load the loft.
3. hay that had only been rained on once...wonderful.
4. rudy taking a lie down among the old stanchions.
5. chugging some good cold milk....
6. before the long uphill back to the house.
7. the kittens awoke...
8. to accompany us to the pond.
9. me and my favorite lamb. she is a SnuggleBug.
10. the outside table is just begging somebody to take 5 and have a meal there. too bad there are no 5s to be had.
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