Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hummingbirds


(If you look closely, you can see she is scratching with her left foot.)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

From Around the Farm

We are guessing these are wood ducks, but we aren't sure.
The eyes are sure captivating!!

Mrs. Hummingbird

She's rather protective of her feeders.  While we have plenty to go around, she will fight off other hummingbirds.  This is one of her perches in a nearby tree.  She keeps looking left and right and left and right to spot anyone who even thinks of having a sip from her feeder.

I'll have to ask Jacob's girl what kind of moth this is.
She studied moths this summer. 

Isn't this swallowtail gorgeous? 

Exactly what the butterfly bushes are for!

...And of course, Mr. Snapper.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Preserving

My house smells like tomato soup.  It's quarter to eight, The Mister is in bed (3 am comes early) and despite being the third week in August, I have had the oven on for hours. Today, we are trying out hand at making tomato paste.  Yesterday and the day prior, we canned tomatoes.  A couple weeks ago, it was corn and beans.  Next week it might be salsa.

Satisfaction isn't the right word for what I feel - contentment, maybe?  Preparedness?  Accomplishment?  I'm not sure, some combination perhaps.  When I open my pantry doors and see the rows and rows of jars of preserved bounty, I just get giddy.  My dad thinks I'm crazy for wanting to grind my own flour.  My sister reminds me that tomato paste is super cheap at Costco.  But for me, the process of taking something grown and saving it for the cold winter months brings me inexplicable JOY.

As much joy as my pantry shelves bring me, however, it's really about the process of preserving that brings me joy.  Handling each vegetable or fruit.  Cooking, cutting, stirring, it's all cathartic.  It's time.  It's a slow process of watching something transform.  How easily a tomato loses it's skin when blanched; how a food mill can churn out a beautiful tomato sauce without seeds or flesh; how corn that was once a seed in The Mister's hand is now full, thick, sweet kernels in our freezer.

The process always involves The Mister.  He is as eager as I am to try new things.  He loves a pot of soup in January made from our own summer vegetables.  He will grind the mill, pick vegetables, operate the pressure canner - any help I need, he's right there beside me.

Every jar upon my shelf is full of love.  There are more memories preserved in the bounty than food.  Together, we store up love for those hard nights when it's running scarce.  I only need to look in the cabinet to remember how much this man loves me, how much he loves the same life I do, and how much he is willing to share it with me.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

45

I was thinking about my birthdays.  I tried to remember as many specific celebrations and gifts as I could.  I didn't come up with many.  I can remember a few; the year I got my ears pierced (my mom gave me a box with two holes in it and said I could put the holes wherever I wanted.  You wouldn't dare say that to a budding teenager nowadays); the year I turned 34 and went hiking alone in the mountains lamenting at how young my mom was when she was diagnosed with cancer; the past few birthdays celebrated with The Mister.  All in all, for having had 44 other birthday celebrations, I really don't remember much about them.

There was nothing about this year's "celebration" that was remarkable, but I suspect it is one I will remember for years to come.  My dad and Judy were here.  By a conflict in schedules, we had them all to ourselves for a weekend and it was that quiet, reflective, conversational time that I always treasure.  Jacob and his girl were here as well.  As much as I love that child, I love his girl, too.  And having them here, with my dad and Judy was an extra-special treat.

The day was completely my kind of a day.  Homemade breakfast; farmer's market for fresh veggies and a chat with growers; an amazing meal off the grill prepared by The Mister; and a decadent dessert.  The best part?  A full table.  The Mister at one end opposite me and many of my family members all around.  Laughter, smiles, inside jokes, generational perspectives and love.  Abundant love.

The gifts were all special and each one is appreciated and treasured but the time is priceless and unforgettable.  I am so very blessed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Plan B


It might be more appropriate to title this post "Plan Q" as I am sure we are well past our second option for the garden area and well onto our 17th or so.  If you recall (and hopefully you don't), we tried to put up fencing in the garden area last summer.  This did not end well.  The Mister and I went our separate ways; I don't think anyone spoke to anyone else for days and in the end, we took it all down anyway.  But, time heals all wounds and as it turns out, allows you to come up with much better plans.  We put in the asparagus bed earlier in the spring as well as the strawberry bed so we can get those plants growing this year and can enjoy the bounty next.  We have a temporary fence around the strawberries (hate to lose them all to the deer and rabbits) and we spent many days pondering what to do with my garden area as a whole.

We saw an arbor on sale at Menard's awhile back and brought it home and assembled it.  For several weeks it stood as a gallant sentry to an otherwise unblocked garden area.  We ordered pickets but then the weather got hot and we got busy working on the pasture and it wasn't until the last couple of days that we finally got busy putting up the front side of the picket fence. We won't get much more of it done this year, although I hope to get it painted and get the gate up, but it at least allows me to put some perennials in place this fall and it gives the garden area a slightly better appearance - sort of a step up from "weedy mess" and into "unfinished project" but we'll take the upgrade in status.

Meanwhile, The Mister planted a garden down by the old chicken coop this spring.  It was entirely on a whim.  Sort of a -  "I think I'll plant some potatoes.  Maybe some onions and corn, too."  He threw in sunflowers just because, I think.  And for all that lack of planning, it is actually doing better than mine ever did.  Of course, his has the occasional snake caught in the fencing, and recently some raccoons got clever and chomped a few corn stalks, but he has an amazing garden growing that delights us in so many ways.


His pumpkins are taking over the world as I write this, but I will set my envy aside as I know sweet corn will be ready in a couple weeks and I want to be on The Mister's good side when it's time to harvest that!!

The Mister will be the first to admit that he'll do things differently next year.  We have no further to look than to MY garden to know that each year brings improvements.  We do what we can with what we have to work with each year and we enjoy the ways we learn and grow with each passing season.  Nothing quite delights our souls like pulling potatoes for dinner right from the earth, or watching the bees pollinate the pumpkin patch, or even knowing that some rascally varmints were as impatient as we are to taste the sweet corn.  While we look ahead to next summer with eager anticipation (by then we'll have this done or that ready...) we also savor the bounty of this year, and this harvest.

The Cost of Peace

A couple weeks ago, The Mister shared an article with me from his Grit magazine.  The author was writing about the concept of "peace of mind", or as he argued the commodity of "peace of mind".  The article went on to explain that for all the businesses, insurance companies, doctors, prescriptions, etc. that advertise "peace of mind", the place this author actually found it was back at home, doing his daily "chores" on his acreage.  While I was surprised The Mister had forwarded an article full of philosophical sentimentality, we both agreed with the premise and could easily relate to that sense of peace that comes from being out on our property.

Perhaps while reading the short article, I might have absentmindedly scratched an itch on my arm, and a yawn might have escaped me.  For unbeknownst to me at the time, something was most certainly affecting my own peace of mind.

As it turns out, we have bed bugs.  These little creatures were doing everything they could to "damage my calm" as Jacob would say.  They had infected our bed and were dining on our arms and fingers on a nightly basis.  We were getting eaten alive and we were both losing significant sleep in the process. We originally thought we were getting bitten by spiders and we had been doing what we could to rid ourselves of any arachnids in our bedroom.  When it became clear, however, that the problem was actually bed bugs, we immediately called an exterminator.  We vacuumed, laundered and cleaned every infected crevice.  We slept on air mattresses in the living room until the exterminator could arrive and then we gladly (well, almost gladly) handed over a significant check to have our house fumigated with liquid and dust-form chemicals to rid ourselves of these bastard insects.

While I can agree that "peace of mind" is not really found in an insurance policy, or in a prescription to ward off illness, I would certainly say that blasting these critters with chemicals and wrapping my mattresses and box springs in what I hope to be Teflon-coated, bug-proof, nothing-gest-through-this material, is providing us some sense of "peace of mind".  While it might take me a few nights to convince myself that nothing is actually crawling on me while I sleep, and I might continually check my arms and fingers for bites, I expect to feel much better about crawling back into bed now that these men have dropped chemical warfare creepy crawly enemy.

Peace of mind, as it turns out, can in fact, be bought.  At least until the 90-day guarantee runs out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Cadence of Contentment

In theory, we all know there is a cadence to life,  a certain rhythm that beats through our days.  The pace ebbs and flows and on occasion we seem to skip a beat or two, but overall, we can feel in our souls when the rhythm is right for us.

The Mister and I feel the pulse strongly on Someday Farm.  Not to say that we feel compelled by the pace, or driven to up the tempo, but merely, the current of the cadence aligns well will our souls.  We enjoy this pace.  We feel contentment at a whole new level.  We understand implicitly the feeling of "peace".  Jacob was home this weekend and remarked on it as well.  "I love this place.  It's so relaxing."

At the end of any given day, we are hard pressed to cite more than a handful of "accomplishments".  We have our hard-working days - we put in more than 70 fence posts on one such day, for example, but unless I can count doing a couple loads of laundry, reading a good book and baking some bread, my "accomplishments" are few most days.  But we are stress-free, happy and content.

The school year takes its toll.  For September and October, I want to fall asleep by six every night.  I'm at school early (5am some days) and it is on my mind nearly every moment of every day.  By November, I am staying at school late to get ready for conferences and to start ramping up the lesson plans.  The kids are into the flow of the classroom and we can now really get moving.  By January and February, I am dragging.  Not enough sunlight, too much snow, the depths of winter seem to bring a sense of futility - am I even making a difference?  Are the kids learning anything? By March, there is hope - a flicker, growth - accomplishments!!  April brings a much-needed spring break.  Time to get away, enjoy family and relax before the last push.  May and June are a blur - field trips, projects, professional development, planning for next year while still trying to capitalize on every single teachable moment of this year.

And then it's done.  I walked out of the doors on the last day of school this year and I haven't been back.  By July, my pulse has slowed, my sleep has become more regulated and I am truly relaxed.

Of course, ideas, thoughts, projects, plans have already started creeping into my head.  Ask The Mister who has to deal with me reaching for my phone a dozen times in the middle of the night to capture an idea.  But these ideas need time to ferment and solidify, and the summer is perfect for that kind of thinking and planning.

The Mister and I are working hard to create an environment that helps us maintain our cadence all year.  We are creating a home environment that allows us to savor the joy and release the stress.  By spring, a cow and her calf with be grazing in the pasture.  The Mister will be gathering sap for syrup.  Perennials will begin sprouting up in my garden and we will both be eagerly anticipating warm temps that will allow for vegetables to be planted.  Our home, this farm, is a sanctuary of serenity.  When the days at work get harried and stressful, we want our home to be a place void of negativity, confusion and speed.

Taking it slow, savoring the simplest things allows us to keep the cadence strong.  I nearly cried the moment I realized I had spotted a hummingbird nest off our deck.  I had guests and so I kept my emotions in check, but the sight of a such a precious, rarely seen nest got me so excited!


Likewise, my daily trips to check on the cardinal babies ignited something in my soul.  I was giddy over something so precious, so vulnerable and yet such a natural part of our environment that I had never witnessed so personally before.


Even the barn swallow who set up her nest on our downspout, left me in awe as she patiently sat for days and days waiting for her babies to hatch.


Every day there are moments, if only we move slowly enough through this world to see them, feel them and savor them.  Whether it's a fresh baked loaf of bread, the smell of clean sheets, the sound of the frogs in the marsh or watching twin fawns skip through the yard, there are moments that help reset, confirm and ingrain the cadence into our lives.

Someday Farm.  The simple life is in our nature.






Monday, July 11, 2016

Borrowing Littles

The Mister and I really enjoyed our spring break trip to Tennessee and North Carolina, especially spending time with Littles!!  We suggested to Garrett and Diana that maybe they could take a vacation and leave The Littles with us, which they thought sounded like a great idea!  So, The Littles spent a week at Someday Farm, some of it with Garrett and Diana here and some of it on our own together.

There were tractor rides with Uncle James.

Can't beat driving a John Deere around the farm!

Unless you go to Aunt Julie's house where she made cardboard houses to play in!

Thanks, Aunt Julie!!

Coloring was a bit hit with Little A!

Little G preferred digging in the dirt!


There was a parade for the Fourth of July with firetrucks...

...and tractors!

We even had a picnic lunch!

Mmmm!  Watermelon!

Cousin Emily made a glow-stick crown...

...which Little A wore for days, even when making breakfast!

We visited a children's museum, where we drove an ambulance...

...picked apples...

...pumped water...

...and vaccinated our pets!

Uncle James even enjoyed the museum
even though it was supposed to just be fun for kids!)

We learned about sharks while we were there!

And then we played in a HUGE water fountain.  
(Which was no fun at all!)

There's Uncle James again, acting like a kid!

We played Uno...

...and we found a painted turtle!! 
(We named it "Shelly")
  

We helped Uncle James pick potatoes for dinner.


Look at this big one!!

And finally mom and dad came home!!  

Thanks Garrett and Diana for letting us borrow your little ones!