Where was I headed?…along the way


Well, Irene has come and gone…and somewhere along the way I learned a few things. I think many folks did.

The storm spared our farm from any damage; thank the Lord. But down the road ~ in any direction, you find loss, and destruction. A farm with 500 cattle washed away, mud slides taking out homes, historic covered bridges ~ gone! Like many of you, I have spent my life doing the things that I loved,things that I needed to do, things that were expected of me…accumulated memories and stuff, I have come to realize; stuff doesn’t matter…

What does matter:relationships you have with friends, family…and the love you share,the support and help you give,how you enjoy life,how you care for those lives entrusted to you…livestock, pets… I will; spend more time with those I love, share what I have with those less fortunate, take the time to do the little things that bring joy to myself, friends, and family..tell those who mean so much to me how much I care and love them, do little things to make loved ones recognize how much I appreciate them, throw the ball for my dogs,take time to do something, or go somewhere special with my family and friends,recognize that life is about sharing and not about what’s in it for me…and my wish for you:

I hope you dance…by Lee Ann Womack:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance…I hope you dance.”

If you think about it; the people who made a difference in your life, the ones you really remember, are the ones that cared.


I had taken many pictures of angry waters and threatening skies; I chose instead to post the blue skies that I think of when I think of summer.


Love and kindness…


Sophie..


neighbors, or precious friends…


wondering…


definitely wondering…


do chickens wonder?…


wandering…


Why is he in our food???


quite a guy, his name is Phantom…in case you’re wondering.


Here is Mali, he might be wondering why the girls get the bigger pasture…


…watcha doin’ over there…


…the girls…


an end to beautiful day…

Be Well, and as (Charles Schultz) once said “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

Jessica

Never miss an opportunity to sleep on a screened porch….


“That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What a wonderful time to live in the country; such a joy ~ nourishes my body and soul. The garden is exploding with vegetables and fruit of all colors. A feast for your eyes as well as body. The babies of spring are growing strong. A hint of color in the trees; you can almost feel fall creeping in..the nights are cooler, a chill is now in the air as I go about my morning chores…(secretly, I love sweater weather) The change in weather conjures up thoughts of hearty soups and stews(thank you, garden), fresh from the oven bread…pumpkins, quilting, knitting, and other cozy crafts..

The days are still long and busy, we need to remember to take time to enjoy this amazing time of year, with a relaxing afternoon, or an evening dinner with neighbors, friends and family. Last night was the kind of night to lie in a hammock under the big maples, or hide away reading, or writing and listening to the sounds of summer on the farm…frogs, birds, insects,humming llamas, clucking hens, the intermittent quack from the ducks gentle rustling in the nearby woods, the sounds that transport me to a place of wholesomeness, happiness, and comfort.

As the day and evening wind down, we nestled ourselves into the cool sheets, windows as always, thrown open…the song of nature lulling us into a deep much-needed sleep.

If any of you are in the storm’s path, be well, and be safe!


Blessed be the Lord for the beauty of summer and spring, for the air, the water, the verdure,
and the song of birds.”
– Carl von Linnaeus


Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air and a blanket of color before me,who could ask for more?”


fades a summer cloud away…


Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur
of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
– John Lubbock


“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”
– Wallace Stevens


To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson


…The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is
to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone
with the heavens, nature and God.

Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and
that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple
beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace
in all troubles.
– Anne Frank

Be well.
Stop every now and then. Just stop and enjoy.
Take a deep breath. Relax and take in the abundance of life. and never miss an opportunity to sleep on a screened porch!
Jessica

Old Barns…Romantic?


This summer we decided to locate, dismantle, restore, and re-erect an old hand-hewn timber frame barn,I have been attempting to chronicle our adventure as we go along. (see earlier posts) This summer the weather hasn’t really been cooperating; it has been way too hot and humid to be out in the sun pulling, tugging, hammering, and hauling. We were able to dismantle a smaller barn on the property, salvaging tin for the roof of a “new” llama shelter, old, weathered barn siding, and beautiful barn flooring; all to be re-purposed at our farm. This past weekend we started to dismantle the larger of the two old barns. Howie is going to re-use a bit of the timber,siding and barn boards to fashion a new kitchen island for us! I can hardly contain myself!

Folks who may have walked, or driven past these old barns first thought may not have been…”oh,I can re-use most of this”…some would have thought…”just tear it down”; not us! We were pretty darned excited about our find! These old farm buildings have been here for generations, and with a little help they could last another 100 years. We immediately envisioned some extra storage space, a workshop/studio,and a small llama barn…the llamas of course being our first priority. These old barns will add personality to our rural farm…and oh the stories they will tell.

I don’t know why, but I think old barns are almost romantic. Sometimes pretty, sometimes creepy, always interesting. If barns could talk, imagine the history and stories these barns could tell, it is neat to think about. I imagine barns speak of simpler times… farm life in days gone by…of the rural America of the past.

What a journey ~ finding what is really important, and how to enjoy the simple things in life. Speaking of simple; In 2 of the next photos is Finnegan, I told him to get off the sofa(photo #1) He laughed at me (photo #2)!

Enjoy the last of summer. Go. Before the days get short and the nights get long, take a drive out in the country, or just take a summer stroll ~ relax awhile, just let the world go by…

Be Well,
Jessica

What in the world do I do with these…


I have an abundance, a plethora, a boat load, a copious profusion of zucchini, now I know this is not the first time you have ever heard anyone say this ~ I am certain, but, I really, really mean it this time! If zucchini were gold I would be rich!

Now, I had to ask myself, “Who can I pawn this off on(I mean give these blessed vegetables to)”? No one really wants these 2 foot long green monstrosities; I needed to be honest with myself. So I grated too many; I figured I would freeze bags and bags of the green goodness, I could make breads, zucchini chocolate chip cake, use some in veggie lasagna this fall and winter…but now my freezer is running out of space.

I remembered a recipe from a few years ago; Zucchini boats! This was the answer, at least for today. They were yummy, even my family thought they were yummy (a bonus). I prepared them similar to stuffed peppers, with a rice, beef, and tomato mixture ~ all topped off with melted cheese.

Now, let me see if I can recollect how I made them, you see, I am not good at using recipes, I have many, many cookbooks (as in maybe 50 or more) and I read them all. And, that is where our relationship ends. When it comes to soups, stews, casseroles, and such I pretty much wing it! The end result is nearly always delicious.

go ahead gather your garden goods and lets get going!

family size recipe serves 6-8 folks
3 or 4 medium to large zucchini ( halved and hollowed)
1 medium onion finely chopped (I chop mine very fine because I don’t like onions, but you needn’t bother if you like them coarsely chopped)
olive oil
1 large green pepper chopped about the same size as the onion ( so that they cook evenly)
garlic to your taste, I love it, so I load ‘er up!
for seasoning, I use Italian herbs, you could even used the pre-mixed Italian seasoning packaged dried herbs. Now here is the tricky part ( for me) because, I use enough…what ever that means to you…I would say taste the meat onion, pepper mixture after it is cooked ~ go from there.
Salt and pepper to taste
6 servings of rice- roughly 3 cups (cooked) you could use instant,jasmine, or brown rice(which I prefer)
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey
1 large can diced tomatoes(I use the basil, garlic type)
spaghetti sauce ( your home made or your favorite)
cheddar cheese (or your favorite) to cover

I use a very large cast iron skillet (your can make the whole wretched mess in this one pan) you should see this thing! anyway…
Have the halved (I just smiled at that…) zucchini hollowed out…just past the seeds, set aside.
warm the skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to just cover bottom (not your bottom), add chopped onion, pepper, garlic, and seasoning saute until soft, and the onion is translucent… remove from pan, set aside.
add the ground meat to the skillet that you just sauteed the veggies in, cook through..drain.
Now, add the sauteed veggies, cooked meat, and rice (cooked, remember..hard crunchies, no good) in this large skillet and mix together, add tomatoes and heat through…breath deeply…yumm, smells great right.

remove skillet contents to a large heat proof bowl,rinse the skillet, if you are using a cast iron pan like I do ( if not get out a large baking dish) big enough to hold your zucchini.

Fill the halved zucchini with the rice mixture and place them in the skillet( or baking dish) as you go..when your filling ups are complete..pour spaghetti sauce or even seasoned tomatoes sauce around them, filling the bottom of the pan, no need to cover them with sauce, just enough so they bake in it. cover each boat with cheese, cover with foil. and bake at 375 until zucchini is fork tender, don’t be afraid to uncover and check on them…then continue baking uncovered until the cheese is done just the way you like it! I didn’t put a baking time in here – it will all depend on your zucchini size and thickness :) Now make a beautiful crisp salad and enjoy!


where the zucchini roam..


maybe, just maybe I should have washed these before the picture…


fall is coming…no frost on this pumpkin yet.


I think I am loving the color orange today, so cheerful!


..and the promise of more…pumpkins that is..


I think next year’s garden should have even more zinnias, don’t you?

I love this time of year!
Be well,
Jessica

Oops, I spilled the beans…a re-post..


What a beautiful morning,cool,a mist on the pasture, grass wet from dew; I am starting my morning chores a bit later than usual…Howie let me sleep in; he fed the chicks, ducks,dogs,Riley the cat and llamas. All I needed to do was clean the barn and put fresh bedding down (extra snuggle and photo time) or so I thought.

I took my time, taking to the “girls” as I worked; everyone does that right? Well anyway, I got every thing clean and fresh as a daisy (no, really). Still talking and puttering about, I start to drag the now nearly full barrel to the “poop pile”; walking backwards and pulling the barrel by the handle…then, like a slow motion film, I am falling ~ the handle on the barrel just gave way ~ no, I’m not falling onto a nice grassy pasture floor ~ I am falling into the “poop pile” … not only am I now on my hiney, hands, and what ever other part of me could possibly be… is in a pile of poop, the barrel that I just spent all this time and energy filling is now spilling out of the barrel around me. My first reaction, being cool and all, is to look around to see if anyone saw what just took place; no one around, but, I swear the llamas chuckled…(see photos below, there is a definite twinkle in Syria’s eye).

As I was gathering what was left of my dignity, and re-scooping poop,(can you think of anything more glamorous), the llamas sent out a “danger call”; if you have never heard that sound…it’s an alarm sound they make in times of distress, to warn the herd of intruders or potentially dangerous situations; sounds sorta like a rooster-ish/horse-ish whinny. Anyway, they all ran down to the fence line to investigate; I grabbed my camera, don’t want to miss all this excitement. Chester, KatDoll, Breezy, and little Andy(tucked in beside KatDoll), are looking toward the woods, that border a swampy pond… the high grass is rustling, as whatever it is makes it’s way toward the small tool shed. All eyes are fixed, and the calls continue…out pops Finnegan (so much for excitement) he must have gone for a stinky,yucky,smelly swim…the llamas aren’t used to anyone entering the pasture from that direction, as soon as Finnegan’s head erupted from the hedgerow, he ducked back in, he saw all of the llamas, standing making THAT noise at him. Of course, I could have put the camera down,and gone to get him, but what fun would that have been.There may be a dog gone good lesson to learn here (forgive the pun), after all, Finnegan should not be in the stinky, smelly pond. After, what seemed like an eternity, but was really only a few seconds, Finnegan, came out slowly, keeping, close to the ground, slinking across the yard past the llama’s admonishing chatter; as soon as he felt safe he all out sprinted to the safety of the front porch…Oh, Finni the amusement you provide.

Well, now that Howie is off the roof of the old barn we are dismantling, to re-purpose; I should go down there to help him…heights and I don’t get along very well.


A field full of sunshine…


The girls, waiting for me to clean their home…maid service is here!


Uggh, I spilled the beans.


These are my beautiful tools of the trade; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ok?!


Syria, post chuckle..


Syria is Maeve’s Mom…hugs to her.


What is that over there??


Watching for the “intruder”…or Finni, as it turned out.


Here’s Finnigan, just so you have an idea of who caused all of the commotion.


Keep your eye on him!


Since Maeve’s passing, these two have been inseparable; I think she made a promise Maeve.


Never more than a step behind…


Turn your face to the sun…

Storms headed our way today…
Be well, enjoy your day.

A good name will shine forever…what will yours say?


It has been longer than I like since I’ve posted anything…there has been so much going on here,some good, some not so pleasant.

There’s a heart shaped stone Howie found for Maeve’s resting place at the top of the hill, where the pasture opens wide and the setting sun highlights the trees there. Maeve’s stay with us here at the farm was relatively short, she just turned 4 in May. But who of us can say whether a life is better short or long? Neither the length of the loved ones life nor it’s briefness determines the value of that stay. The purposes that Maeve came to accomplish may become more clear as time passes, but today she reminds us again that life on this earth is not only fragile but limited in time. She is a reminder that we, too, shall follow her and the others that we love to the arms of the dear Lord who so intricately fashioned us all. She has left you a precious gift in Andy.(Thank Mitchell Cohen for those comforting words) She used to love to run…she took my heart and ran with it, and she’s running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with her, forever. My heart is delicate and will take a long time to heal; It may seem patched up, but it will mend…. in its own time. My thoughts had to return to her precious Andy; he must remain healthy. We, all of us, at Misty Maples Farm have made it our heartfelt pursuit and responsibility.

But, not all is sad..we took time to drive to New Hampshire to share a meal with one of my younger brothers. A lot of laughter and good times were had by all!

Life is full of ups and downs, in farm life sometimes it is exciting ~ sometimes disappointing ~ perhaps at these times a little sad…sometimes it feels like it’s never ending; things never stop having to be done. There is always something wherever you look. But it’s my life; and I LOVE IT! The sadness as well as the joy!


Our Maeve.


View from Hogback Mt. on our way to NH.


Now, where were we going?


Daughter with her Uncle..


Sister…


Look, I found a busy little bee.


Never good bye…always see ya soon!


Andrew and Maeve going for a walk…a couple years ago; she was always so gentle.


A moment of of innocence…Jessica, where did Maeve go?


Why did she leave, did she go down the road?


Heaven? Can Andy go see her?


“I love you, Jecasa” and the coversation turned to chickens…childhood is amazing!


Enjoy this and every day..

And so life on the farm continues, Be Well.
Jessica

The Rainy Day


…….Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Don’t you just love, to snuggle on the sofa with a good book, raindrops calming…dogs asleep at your feet, Riley the Cat perched on the back of sofa,(as near as he can get to my head without actually sitting on it)…I enjoy these days; they have been rare this summer, raindrops making every thing smell fresh and clean on the next sunny summer day…


I have learned to love the rhythm of the rain; I love the gentle rainy days, as the droplets trickle down the window pane…recalling childhood memories of coloring books and and board games…


It may be a little odd, but I sometimes look forward to these quiet rainy days; I leave the windows open just a bit so that I can hear the pitter patter of the drops…


I am fairly certain, Riley thinks of himself as beautiful movable home decor; he is usually perched in only the most noticeable locations…


…beautifying the settee


copping an attitude…or giving me a profile shot…


aahhh…to be a cat!


A little sunshine to brighten our day…


A rainy day is the perfect time for…dancing! (obviously, I was grasping there)


“I’m going to smile and make you think I’m happy, I’m going to laugh, so you don’t see me cry, I’m going to let you go in style, and even if it kills me- I’m going to smile” Maeve, has been very ill…I Love her so much, it hurts.


Here is my wish…

Be Well, and enjoy the day whatever it may bring! I think I’ll get up off the sofa, and go bake something scrumptious!
Jessica

A Beautiful Day….A Beautiful Wedding


Every couple’s desire is to have a beautiful wedding; an absolutely gorgeous, beautiful ceremony that is uniquely their own. Jared and Ryan’s was warm, personal and spiritual,centered on their love for each other and their family and friends.
A Day to be cherished forever.
I will try to share a bit of it with you;
A string trio played a different song, one each for parents, bridesmaids, and the Bride as we walked across the lawn of the River Stone Manor toward the waiting guests…they said their personal, and special vows, only cried a little, exchanged rings, just beautiful.
The Officiant presented Mr. & Mrs. Jared Steller (sort of). We were all gathered for pictures, as guests wandered over to a separate area for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, followed by the reception at the Large Hall. Apparently most people don’t do reception lines any more, and I can imagine that people don’t like waiting in a line anyway…

It was the DJ who introduced the parents, wedding party, and the Bride & Groom. Everyone assembled and in order, we were called in pairs, and some had decided to do little poses or movements together, Jared and Ryan Cheered a little with their hands clasped and raised between them!
Let the festivities begin!!

The Brides sisters had prepared a speech, it was sweet and heartfelt; it made me cry. Jason, my stepson, wrote a heartfelt speech for his brother; filled with memories; this too made me cry.

After all of the formal dances; everyone hit the dance floor and We kept dancing until the very last song played! Perfect!

Well, let it suffice to say, this will be yet another really, really image-heavy post…but, I bet you’ve become accustomed to that..


looking down the aisle..hope I don’t trip…


Beautiful setting, for a beautiful day.


Groom and Jason…as the Bride walks down the aisle


Reading their personal vows..


a smile shared…


Mr. & Mrs. Jared Steller


<3


a little help from her sister..


Bride and her Mom


Love from Mom


The First Dance.


Me, Jared, Ryan, and my Husband.


Groom with youngest sister


…a moment with her mom.


my girls…


Boy, Oh Boy…


resting the tootsies…which is what I did all the next day!

What a Day!!!

Be Well!
Jessica

How can you resist…?


I know I could never resist an offer to spend some time by the sea, so when my husband suggested an impromptu weekend away ~ I ran, dusted off my suitcase and headed to the car…”Maine or Bust” written on my forehead.
Oh, how I love the rocky shore..enchanting and foreboding all at once.
I could sit for hours just listening to the waves splash against the rocks; letting the salty air seep into my soul…just me and my thoughts. The sun warm on my face; enticing me to stay a little longer.

After rejuvenating on the beach, we took a stroll along the Marginal Way, a pathway constructed along a seawall from Ogunquit Beach to Perkins Cove, always a feast for the senses; beautiful flowers gardens,beach homes, rocky out-croppings, tree shaded benches to enjoy the view, and the anticipation of a mouth watering ice cream in the Cove…

We spent the afternoon carrying on about our dream of having a summer cottage, what it would be like,how we would design and decorate the interior, and gardens we would plant.
We dreamt ~ out loud ~ of our children and their children and our collective days spent by the sea.

Ocean breezes a welcome pick-me-up; a respite from the hot, humid weather we have had this summer…the sea shore is truly a treasure, brings me back to a slower, simpler time…natural beauty of the Sea…if you haven’t been in a while, or at all, this is the summer to enjoy its beauty and simplicity.

How about you? Do you enjoy days by the sea, lake…or perhaps a mountain top?

I will always enjoy the memories of lounging in a beach chair, sand between my toes; is there anything like a day by the sea? ( I do love my swing under the big maple on our farm…)
Be Well,
Jessica

A cottage garden and bees…


Cottage type gardening seems almost accidental and somewhat carefree; none exactly alike. This is why I love them! Each cottage garden is as different as the people who create them! My vegetable garden is sprinkled with flowers,cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, daisies…hummingbirds,bees, and butterflies.
I love the way a cottage garden beckons a closer look…behind the picket fence that captured the old-fashioned charm.

Creating a garden that encourages visits from tiny workers is a priority. Every garden needs pollinators and bees and butterflies are among the best…cottage type gardens are extremely important for honey bees and bumblebees(and vice versa)because of the wide variety of flowers they provide. Bees need flowers for sustenance, and flowers need bees for pollination…stings, you ask? No worries…most bees are gentle creatures that are simply in search of food and water for themselves and their young; just don’t wear perfume-y scents lest they think you are a big flower asking for pollination.

My largest garden here at the farm is located on the edge of the woods with a secluded(think briers and vines)pond nestled there,offering birds, butterflies and other creatures protection and shelter – a big plus! Because of the mysterious decimation they are going through, I am even more concerned with having flowers in my garden to draw them in.

Here are some plants in my cottage garden:
Roses, old-fashioned and rambling; delphiniums,Gladiola- if you plant these amongst other tall plants you might not have to stake them,Peonies – the more the better..one of my favorites(ants be darned),Iris – I have many varieties;flower in the spring and so always a treat.
Dianthus,smell so sweet. Geraniums fill my antique wheel barrow,and herbs, herbs, herbs. Cosmos – has a very long flowering period, their feathery foliage a big plus! Canterbury bells with tall blue pink or white flowers, and of course sunflowers, I watch the birds feast on the seeds.Climbing beans on a tee pee like structure for an architectural interest…I could go on, but you get the picture.

Do you have a cottage garden? What do you plant?


Riley cat, a beautiful old soul.


Does any one know what type of “bee” this is..or isn’t?


Andy, loves his hay!!


Lexi loves Summer.


Tiny worker, big job!


Finnegan loves me!

Be Well, bloom where you’re planted!

PS Can you help me come up with a great name for a photography studio? Oh yes, I am!