In Winter’s Cold Shadow…There is Gold.


I find that I am not as patient as I once was; sometimes, I feel as though I am attempting to strain the mud puddle rather than patiently waiting for the mud to settle and the water to clear….Do you ever feel as though you are treading water, when you should be swimming?
Feeling over whelmed, me? “Why”, I ask myself. I know there is no easy road, no magic bullet. I am well aware the frustration I feel is of my own making. . . yet as I concentrate so much energy on my objectives, my world, …stumbling through endless lists.
I have always had lists. That can’t be it; am I just getting older and grumpier? Is this what mid-life, what 50 feels like? If it is I don’t like it one bit. Is it just the solitude that winter brings? Could it be I just need to idle my motor, wait for things to happen as they should, when they should?
Or maybe, just maybe; I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these that let me savor a bad mood….until the afternoon sun turns it to gold.

shadow
Mercedes’ shadow cast on the barn wall.

butts
Intent on supper…”oh, are you still there?”

Mercedes

Mercedes, always so graceful , never in the front, never pushy, or needing to be the first…always patient and full of grace. I want to be like her.

Andy 13

Andy, is so frail; he did not have the benefit of his mother’s milk and nutrients pat the age of 2 months. I worry about him in the cold; he is wearing 2 polar fleece vest, a goose down vest, and a rain jacket with the arms cut off, ( all zipped up across his back) to protect him from the frigid temperatures. He sleeps, always, between KatDoll and Camille…they keep him warm.
I am going to have him gelded, so that he never has to leave them.

the crew
Even the chickens head to the llama barn for warmth and protection.

The winter blues. How do you deal with this issue? Or is it not an issue for you? Where do you find your patience?

Be Well,
Jess

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.


I am not complaining, I love my little farm, and all of its critters…yet, there are mornings I would rather not venture out quite so early. Like this morning all damp, and cold. Once I step out of the kitchen door, everything seems as it should and I relax in to the morning’s flow of activity ~ happily ~ if not admittedly a  skosh weary.

October snowfall 1

Mind you this is not a glamorous undertaking.
This is how I usually go about my chores:

Farm Fashion, or early chore attire

By the time I get out the sun is usually cresting just above the east hills; the roosters are crowing, the ducks are squawking; and the llamas are chewing their cud quietly greeting the new day. They all know the routine; the girls (llamas) line up at the fence line. The Chickens and ducks come running full steam ahead to greet me raucously at the fence gate; ducks scurrying past the Roosters so as not get pecked.

I call him Mr. Nasty...this could be an entire blog. Let's just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

I call him Mr. Nasty…this could be an entire blog. Let’s just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

We use large round bales, and have a covered shed for the girls to munch at their leisure, just outside of their barn. This morning it was empty, wiped clean…guess that is where I will start this mornings chores… The farm truck is at work with Howie, so I’ll cut the twine surrounding the huge bales, then pull down the hay that peels off in fragrant sheets, layer by layer; fill the wheelbarrow and head up the hill to the girls shed – repeated as necessary. Gym membership, who needs a gym membership? My blood pressure is 112/60, my pulse is 62! Who ever would like to save their membership fees…come on over.
snowy morning in December 7
Morning goes something like this…
smooch big dogs
feed big dogs
love
start tea water (and/or have a cuppa coffee)
fill water buckets
fill dog and cat waters
lay out 14 feed bowls
measure out sweet mix for all llamas
measure out beet pulp for all llamas
fill bucket with layer pellets
make tea..(if I haven’t had coffee)
let dogs out
Andy Claus
carry 12 of the bowls to the girls pasture
carry 4 bowls to stud pasture
fill poultry grain feeder
gather eggs as I defend my legs against Mr. Nasty (bantam rooster with king sized attitude) – no eggs today :(
carry water bucket to replenish girls water
carry water bucket to replenish studs water
carry water bucket to replenish poultry water
bring hay to the girls
pick up all bowls
pick water buckets
dogs and I head in…In that moment – animals fed and watered,on this damp cold morning, the smell of hay and the sound of llamas chewing contentedly,dogs frolicking in the yard… I am at peace. Maybe mornings aren’t so dreadful after all.

good morning

Note to self…remember to enjoy tea!

care
Have a blessed day,
Be well
Jess

Say YES!


Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.
Stephen Colbert

Be Well,
Jess

You’ve got the cutest little baby face…well some of you.


It that time of year again, County Fairs, State Fairs and animals on parade. We always head straight to the animal barns, then to the produce displays, followed by Howie’s need to see every piece of machinery known to man…while we were looking about at antique water pumps, wood splitters and steam engines; I came across these honey extractors and thought of Miss C . Wonder if she could use this?

It looks pretty deep, and with her many gallons of honey it may make short work of the extraction process.

I could oogle over these baby faces all day.

This little Jersey calf was born 1 day before the fair…wonder what she thinks of the world?

Some kids, have their own idea of comfort.

While other are just too sleepy to care….shhh…look at those lashes.

I have heard of folks dressing up for the fair; but this is ridiculous! Wonder who his hair dresser is?

Well hello there big guy! He looks too proud to be in jail…(I think I am funny, just smile and nod)

This white peacock is stunning, I think. It was difficult to get a good vantage point, he might have been camera shy.

She’s got legs…I am certain her Mamma thinks she’s cute.

Do you think I could fit this little girl in the back of a Volvo wagon? Well, I could try…but, she probably wouldn’t like me very much after. I guess I have to wait for a Jersey calf, and some cashmere goats, and a few Wensleydale sheep, and, and, and….Might be time to go home.

I will be back at the fair today, spinning with my new friends ( just met Lisa yesterday – smiling really hard.)
Be well.
Jess

Why do they they do it….for love.


Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming.


They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants.


They love to live in the presence of animals.


They love to work outdoors.


They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable.


They love to live where they work and to work where they live.


If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.


“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago.

Until then, where was all the food?


Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.


‎A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished.


Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can’t, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. Its blackmail, really.

A farmer friend of mine told me recently about a busload of middle school children who came to his farm for a tour. The first two boys off the bus asked, “Where is the salsa tree?” They thought they could go pick salsa, like apples and peaches. Oh my. What do they put on SAT tests to measure this? Does anybody care? How little can a person know about food and still make educated decisions about it? Is this knowledge going to change before they enter the voting booth? Now that’s a scary thought!


Commercial farming as I see it…but a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable. The farmhouse, the concrete, the machinery, and outbuildings become relics of a bygone vibrancy when another family farm moves to the city financial centers for relief…


Commercial agriculture can survive within pluralistic American society, as we know it – if the farm is rebuilt on some of the values with which it is popularly associated: conservation, independence, self-reliance, family, and community. To sustain itself, commercial agriculture will have to reorganize its social and economic structure as well as its technological base and production methods in a way that reinforces these values…


Alright, I will come down off the soapbox now…it seems a long time between posts lately; but with tomatoes and squash coming out of my ears and our youngest to get off to college, days have seemed too short. As I harvest the vegetables, I can’t help but think about something I read awhile ago. A writing by Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution. In this he wrote,” If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.” I can’t help but agree.

Be well,
Jess

Meanwhile, back on the farm…


Wonderful Wednesday…this can only mean it’s time to meet a few more of the animals that call Misty Maples Farm home.
Okay ~ Here we go.

Miss Mercedes.

Lil’ Mum, a sikie; who lays the tiniest of eggs.

Andy, how cute is he?

Lexi, when she was but a pup! mwah.

Sophie, whadjudo? I don’t think you belong in the garden.

Doesn’t this look refreshing!? Okay, now let’s see who we have here…Princess and Mercedes, with Camille’s and Breezy’s rumps.(shhh, don’t tell them I posted this)

Daisy,Jemima, Arnold, and Benjamin ~ yup, they are all girls.

Mercedes,Katdoll, and Camille (the bay colored girl)

The girls, with mostly boys names.

Lexington. Always waiting for someone to play.

KatDoll with Little Andy.

Lexi, Lexi, Lexi…

Uhhhmmm? Lex?

Hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday.
Jess

City Mouse ~ Country Mouse


They say variety is the spice of life. And as much as like to get away from time to time; I am always eager to come home. To the familiar,the comfortable,… I take a deep breathe and the pace slows.
Apparently, once you’ve been part of a farm, it sticks, like pollen on a bees feet.
I love my life here, for it’s differentness from town or city life…a magical place. A place that I love to share with others.
A come as you are, as often as you’d like kinda place. Do I sound Idealistic? (I bet if you google the meaning, my picture would be there smiling back at you.) I tend to form visions,create dreams…always reluctant to to let these go. They have to be! They must. Do you know what I mean; “On my farm I will have beautiful creamy white ducks, fluffy white chickens, elegant, stately llamas, joyful, exuberant dogs frolicking about, children running free, free to get dirty, free to play, free to help out with chores,…clean,cute barns. A farm with friends and family enjoying lemonade with dinner on the porch with a freshly baked pie for dessert”.
Mostly what I get is, blisters, calluses, dogs chasing the chickens, whilst I chase the dogs, pooh in the barn as I am emptying the wheel barrow full of pooh, from the barn just mucked out..llamas in dire need of their spring haircuts and good wash, taking a moment to have a now cold grilled cheese sandwich followed by my now cold coffee, sitting on the concrete stoop- cuz my bums too dirty to sit in the cushioned chair. Yet, I am smiling from ear to ear. I love this place!

Prepare to get cozy.

simple blossom

look up!

shine through...

Dutch influence.

let's swing!

looking through the pretty at 55mph.

sculptured roadways

unlikely bonds...

Gio

Andy...so soft and sweet

walkin through life..

Chet

a rusty little fairie

lovely colors..

As with so many things, what is true in life is reflected in what I try to capture through photography. We can see incredible things around us everyday…{sunlight through a leaf,patina in a centuries old buildings, unlikely bonds} memories in the making. All we need to do is slow down long enough to notice.

Be Well,
Jess

Michael with the chickens…hold on.


Michael, a young man, 12 yrs old maybe; helped my husband and I load 1500 ft of split rail fence onto our truck. Laughing and chatting of his beloved chickens all the while ~ He tell me that he raises 300 of them! All manner of breeds, exotic breeds, as well as, more common type. His favorite are his silkies; “they make good mothers”,he says. I tell him that I agree with that choice, my little silkie hen is the most broody hen I have. Right now, Lil Mum, the silkie hen is sitting on 5 eggs, only one of which is hers. Three of the eggs are duck eggs, one is a Rhode Island Red…I can’t wait to see her mother…3 ducklings, and 2 chicks, all of them following her around the farmyard. I smile at the thought, and return to carrying posts..I have a new friend to keep up with.

It was such a delight to converse with, and work beside this industrious, hard working, and caring young man. I have little doubt that he will grow to be a great man one day. To start life caring for, nurturing, and in a few instances saving animals, must instill character beyond measure. A developed work ethic enviable to most employers. The dedication to complete farm chores – before school…his parents have done good work. as has he. (geesh, finish thoughts much?) I feel blessed to have met him.

Standing looking at the pile of wood, ready to be loaded onto the truck; I thought out loud, “Gosh honey, don’t you think there is too much for one load”? Husband’s response, “No, it will be fine, trust me”. Pan in on my bewildered, somewhat panic stricken ashen face.
Here we go! We stood a few of the shorter posts as braces along the sides of truck bed. The rails and posts piled high, I think too high. I wish I had my camera with me so you could have seen this. Our farm truck is not a new truck..17 or 18 yrs old…but good and strong for its job.but, ugly. (shh, don’t tell him I said this) I felt like we belonged on the Beverly Hillbillies. Now, that we had the truck loaded, overloaded really; the drive home, was a nail biter… with every curve in the road, I held my breath, hoping the load wouldn’t shift and roll.
Me,”Don’t you think you should slow down a bit”, … “shouldn’t we just stop here, and buy some extra rope or ties”….”Shouldn’t we just stop and let these people pass”?…”Shouldn’t “….Well you get the picture. He just smiled and assured me it would be alright. I was not so sure. Driving on the NYS Thruway, and the city streets of Schenectady; if you could have seen the looks we got! My daughter lives just outside of Schenectady, in the Town of Scotia, where we had to drop a few things off to her. I encouraged my husband to venture off with Josh to a hardware store where he could buy additional tie downs. He complied. I was thankful. Oh, the things we do.

Living with this man is always an adventure.

Last night we were able to install 3 sections of new (upcycled) fence…we were excited to see how it would look. This fence is for our gardens, which would other-wise ,quickly become chicken food without protection. I will staple chicken wire inside the lower sections to deter the little munchers. The new fencing will also keep Miss Lexi from lounging in the lavender.(I hope).

All things spring.

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Once Upon a Time, there was a tiny little cottage~that wanted to be a Farm


Dreaming up the happy ending… after all, some of its bones were made of trees (actual tree trunks).
Originally built in 1840, with balloon construction technique; a style of wood-house building that uses long, vertical studs for the exterior walls. These long “studs” extend uninterrupted, from the sill on top of the foundation, all the way up to the roof. It first came into use, well before the mid-nineteenth century, there certainly are many, many balloon-framed structures, between 75 and 175 years old, that haven’t floated away.( not very funny, huh?) Most balloon framed buildings were rather plain and simple. The original structure of our little cottage was a mere 800 square, only feet 18 feet wide. The family that lived here for the previous 50 years before us, raised 6 children here. The only addition they made was a small attached kitchen structure. We found out as we were re-modeling; the timbers for that portion of the house were tree trunks. We figure it must have been an old wood shed attached to the house for convenience in the winter months.

Although the tiny quarters posed many space and storage challenges, it has a very charming and warm feel to it. It was home. The pastures were perfect for llamas; though many outbuildings needed to be constructed and fences built. We installed a very inexpensive fence, as it had to go up rather quickly and with little money as we had so much reno work inside the house. Permanent and safer fencing is our next big project, but that is another story all together[ and a previous post]. We lived out behind the house in our 28′ travel trailer for the first spring and summer we were here; mind you there were still 5 of us living here, with a dog and a cat to boot. I remember, as summer of that year was coming to a close; my youngest daughter had a fair (and llama show) to attend. The usual course of events would have been to pack the camper with needed items, trailer the animals and head to the fair for the week….not this particular time, you see we were still “technically living in it”, so as it was, we packed up our home and went to the fair. How’s that for classy living? Long about the end of October we were finally installing the last wall of the addition, (Howie and I did the entire reno ourselves, with found items, recycled and reused materials). After relocating a stairway, bathroom , laundry room and building 2 new bedrooms ~the sky spitting snow, finally we could move into the house! It has been a long road, we still have projects to finish…
the cabinets(handmade by a local cabinet maker long,long ago) that I refinished, going on 6 six years ago are in need of touch ups, the living room was painted again this past month, old barn flooring was used for the stairs, and barn boards now cozy up a wall(all salvaged from a 200 year old barn, last summer…again a different post)…The “scenery” I change often…curtains, pillows, and re-arranged furnishings character-etched, and well loved, relaxed and worry free, we live here…and so do our-much too large -dogs. And that is just how I like it.

The outbuildings are a coming along…

So hey come let’s look around…a walk through the seasons, dismantled barns, [in no particular order] at Misty Maples: 52 weeks, 52 pictures…oops

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Be well. Enjoy your day. We are having extraordinary weather here in upstate NY near 60!
Yipee.
Jess

following the light…


As the rooster’s crow, the morning’s sun is just cresting above the old oak and maple trees. The blush of the morning showing its face above the barns; it is so peaceful; the magic of the morning light~I set my self down on the cold concrete side porch faced toward the east, sip my first cup of coffee (the first is always the best, don’t you think) the sun, now streaming golden through the trees and the rosy blush fades… I sit enjoying the light, mind wanders to spring plantings. Lexi, Finn, and I wander off the porch, stopping by to see if there may be any signs of green. After the snow we had earlier in the week, I am doubtful, we did hit 50 yesterday though, to my delight there are crocus trying to show their green then purple blooms. I got excited, and let out a lil squeal, Lexi got excited, and stomped one as she danced around my excitement, Oh, to be a Lab.

The animals have been listening for my voice and have decided they have waited long enough, the ducks have come around the corner, quacking about being hungry, the chickens aren’t far behind. I walk back around the house, as I know the llamas, especially Camille will be staring toward me; as if to say; “Really, you are taking your time getting to us this morning, aren’t you!” I swear, Camille knows when I get up to get my cup of coffee every morning; she will stand,unwavering, staring through the kitchen window…I always give in and head right out. The routine is always the same;pellets and greens for the chickens, pick up Lil Mum ,she is so broody but incredibly gentle, take the duck eggs and chicken eggs from under her, set her back down…grain the boys, grain the girls, scoop poop (lovely vision, right), waters, then the dogs and I head about on our walk around the pastures..they always look forward to their familiar walk. I’m not sure how I would walk them if we lived any where else, they don’t even wear collars, not that I could hold on to tow 100+ pound dogs anyway..silly thought. As we near the house and garden area, I stop once again…I really hope to build an arbor to try growing grapes, but, at the moment, a newly built barn is sitting smack dab in the middle of my garden! This will be moved to the lower pasture as soon as the ground dries a bit..there is no floor in it yet, making it easier to drag, so I hear.

Enjoy some mornin’. llama, chicken, duck, baby photos…their are awards after ;)

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Now, for a bit more sunshine, I must let you know about a few awards, and a bit of tag…it appears that I am behind in my responses…I truly, truly appreciate them all!

A versatile Blogger award..for moi! Nominated by: http://justmakethecoffee.com I hope if you have a moment to pop over to her blog you will love it as much as I do..

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine award, Thank you so much sweet Steph.http://lostupabove.wordpress.com Do stop by, I truly think you won’t be disappointed.

A Kreativ Blogger award… from a a blogger who always post interesting, fascinating and sometimes delicious posts..check him out, you’ll see what I mean: http://theobamacrat.com

I am fairly new to this blooging community, hence I don’t follow or am followed by a huge number of blogs…I will try to mention some I think anyone would love to visit.

dirtnkids.wordpress.com Shannon, and her blog are a true delight…I just discovered for my self!
ktbloom.wordpress.com oh for the love of flowers…:)
http://writingfeemail.wordpress.com always a delight
http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com C, and her farmy..you will visit often, promise
http://prairiewisdom.wordpress.com funny, heartwarming, and real
http://allaboutlemon.wordpress.com so many facets to this woman! Every time I visit I am amazed.
http://winsomebella.wordpress.com travel along with this insightful, lovely lady.
http://permaculturecottage.wordpress.com Gardening in Ireland…<3

http://www.theemptynestmom.com

I could go on and on….

Well, gosh these are just a few of my favorites…I know I have left out a few of the details, forgive me…and I hope you enjoy them all. Have a Blessed Sunday.
Jess
PS, I am never good at these links, so bear with me <3