Sunday, March 27, 2011

It Really is Spring

Our green fields had a heavy duty powdered sugar sprinkling on them yesterday morning. Forsythia doesn't look nearly as well-dressed with contrasting white snow as she does with the coordinating emerald fields in the background.

Peach tree was in bloom. Cherry was just about. I wonder if the hard freeze ruined the fruit crop?

It isn't abnormal to get a last hard bite of cold this time of year. But that doesn't mean I like it.

Saturday morning Joe came over and helped us shear the sheep. Actually, we wrangled and he did all the shearing. I wasn't too sad to hand over that task to someone skilled in the arena. I enjoyed the experience of doing the shearing myself last year. If you can call it doing it myself, having so much help for my "team." However, Joe took care of our flock in about the same amount of time it took us to shear three sheep last year! While he sheared, kids gathered lambs and I banded tails. We went ahead and skirted the fleeces as we went along, just to have it done. Wool was put in bags, to await my decision.

By the time we were done, I was toast. Physically, but mostly emotionally.

Another last time on the farm.

The day was chilly and growing colder. The hills had that beautiful early spring hue and I hurt to think of letting it go. For a few minutes I changed my mind and decided to stay. Forget selling the farm and moving to Texas.

Then I got a message from one of the neighbors saying our sheep were out and heading to the road.

Apparently the newly shorn sheep were now small enough to fit through a small hole in the fence, now that their thick coats had been removed. The kids donned coats and herded the naked, spotted naughty things back to legal territory.

I looked outside the window and admitted to myself that even if I could mend all the fences and run the bakery and take care of the kids and keep up the house, I still wouldn't be near my parents. One of my friends had an emergency run up to be with her mom as she underwent cardiac tests in the ER. A good reminder why we are hoping to sell the farm and move to Texas.
The freeze, the snow, the cold all soaked into my bones. Saturday night I went to bed feeling helpless. The enormity of cleaning out, packing up and moving was too huge to consider. I picked up a little devotional book that randomly opened up to a chapter on helplessness, and how we occasionally reach a point when we must surrender, admit we can't do it all, then be still. In the stillness comes peace, assurance, and divine provision. And an open door. And extra strength.

I lay in bed in the cold and dark and wondered about my decision making. About my parenting. About my future and work and where we would live and if the farm would sell and what about the kids and their security. I wondered about our farm church and our animals and our friends. Then prayed a prayer of surrender and helplessness and remembered Anne Lamott's "Help me, help me, help me" prayer.

Waking up to the cold gray snow wasn't exactly the answer I was seeking.

As I drank my coffee and looked at the shivering willow tree, caught in the snow in her fancy spring frock, I prayed some more. Then got a phone call from another neighbor saying the sheep and lambs were on the road again. Kids went to lock the animals up in the barn until I could fix the fence in the afternoon. I looked out the window, cried and prayed again.

An answer came, an answer that was confirmed in the readings of the lectionary. The message from God was written across our farm as patches of green pasture slowly appeared through the white snow.


Spring is here.

No matter how dark the sky, how cold, how frosty, this little hard spell is temporary. Just like the end of the long winter in Narnia when Aslan returned, our snow will melt and the trees will leaf out. The seasons turn and it is time.

We shared our service together in the dining room, as it was way too cold to be outside. The fires blazed, the candle flickered and we sang. And prayed. And Rachel took her turn to preach on the scriptures we were dealt, about thirst and need, and inadequacy, and God's provision through the humble. And children climbed into laps, and wandered about the house, and colored.

Friends came over to join us for potluck and we feasted some more.

After we said goodbyes, I changed, put on the boots and a coat and headed up to the upper field. I found the hole, did a mediocre patch job, and Maggie walked up and accompanied me as I walked the rest of the fence line. It was pretty pleasant being up high, surrounded by hills and trees about to burst into life. This time of year is rather like a thirteen year old young lady, isn't it? We laughed at the antics of the lambs and baby goats. Talked about which ones we should sell first.

I can't say I feel terrific about the pile of work awaiting me, but the peace level is definitely higher than Saturday night. My parents are on their way here and Daddy is planning to help me with some projects. So are some church friends. Red buds are beginning to bloom. I noticed that the peas have finally come up. What few I planted.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Night on the Farm

One of the things Philip liked was having a house filled with lots of people doing lots of different things, occasionally intersecting.

Tonight I invited Beth and Tom over for dinner. They brought Will, their son. Patrick and Maggie invited Taylor and Jacob over. Patrick and Jacob and Will and maybe another kid or two gathered up sheep and put them in the barn because we plan to shear in the morning. Maggie gathered beautiful reams of willow branches and forsythia and pear blossoms and daffodils for the lovely dinner table she and Taylar set.

I baked bread and made cocktails out of the damson plum brandy we made from the plums we picked the day Beth came over to interview us last summer for a newspaper article. As we enjoyed our cocktails ( I NEVER drink cocktails, but just had to, in honor of the day) we chopped garlic and sweet potatoes and ginger. The kids gathered sheep and made a bonfire and ate HOW many hot dogs? Of course they were Hebrew National hotdogs, and we know They answer to a higher authority and all that, but really, how many kids ate 21 hotdogs all in one sitting?

Beth learned to knead the dough just so. Tom set up our wireless router so if I get so inclined I can blog from the deck, the yard or the upper hay fields. We all decided that sweet potatoes and spinach and lamb with plum and ginger and garlic are pretty nice. So is sitting with friends around the table with candles and a fire in the fireplace, with happy kids doing their own thing.

Do you remember that recipe I gave you at New Years Eve, the one with the lamb chops and the spinach and sweet potatoes? Should I revisit that recipe? It really is good. And we ended the festivities with our version of the Julia Child's Queen of Sheba cake, made with freshly milled spelt, sucanat, and our very own duck eggs.

The very best part? Tom and Beth helped wash the dishes. All of them. Before they went home. God bless our dear friends.

Kids are asleep or getting that way. Sheep are hopefully in the barn, awaiting their big day.

Friday night on the farm. I had many things for which to give thanks this evening.

PS See last end of July or early August for a post that tells you the recipe for the plum brandy. Here is the cocktail. I guess I will have to make a name for it, because really, it tastes great!

Crushed ice, if you are lucky and your fridge feels like making ice (ours does occasionally, and then goes for months without. This week, we had ice)
One or two shots of vodka ( we happened to have some in the pantry because I was planning on making some tinctures for homeopathic remedies and never got around to it)
One or two shots of the blessed damson plum brandy
Plenty of lime
Shake everything and pour over more crushed ice. Please pour into special glasses, like the ones Beth gave me, with red rooster drawings. Or half pint mason jars filled with crushed ice would work as well.

Maybe tomorrow I will write out the recipe for the chocolate cake. It sure was good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Good Earth

The chill of the morning wore off and the garden drew me in.

I planted three rows of potatoes and grieved. I didn't plan on grieving. I planned on enjoying the warmth and the sun and the soil.

But as I dug the rows and tucked in the potatoes, potatoes that Thomas grew last year from potatoes that he and Philip grew the year before, I began to think about our springtimes in years past, all of us working in the garden, and then I began to think that this is probably the last year we will be planting potatoes in this soil.

I looked at crawling worms and chocolatey brown soil and sat down on the mulch hay and wept.

Grief is a funny thing. When it comes, it seems best to sit down and let it wash over, like a rain, or a wave in the ocean. So I did.

I wept, and Brownie came over and stuck her face in mine, and gave me a big slobbery kiss on the mouth. Which made me laugh. And grimace. And get up and get back to work.

If we move back to Texas in time to get the kids enrolled in school in the fall, we should be able to harvest a decent portion of the garden, with God's help. Would be nice to cart potatoes and onions with us to Texas. As I hoped for harvest, as I always do at planting time, I envisioned carrying these seed potatoes with us to a new garden. In new soil that will probably need a great deal of amending, old hay and manure. That will probably have no worms in it, but after a year or too, probably will.

It is awfully hard to have March come along and not plant potatoes. So we plant them. And hope.

Maybe tomorrow I will pick up some onion sets and stick them in the other rows I dug out before supper. All the lettuce we planted last month has come up. Teeny tiny, but before too long, with enough rain and sun (and if the chicken fence holds) we will be eating salads. I hope.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Food, Faith and Farms

We just drove in from a very long day in Charlottesville. The day was damp and chilly, but the company was sweet and warm. We were invited to join a couple of other farmers sharing at a church. We spoke on "Food, Faith and Agriculture."

Sunday is a good day to spend with people you love. Driving into our driveway, we heard the peepers and saw the giant moon rising over the ridge. Brownie and Blackie were very happy to see us. Thomas did Maggie a huge favor and watered the goats for her. We all quietly made our way to our rooms for bed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Very Final, Absolutely Last Day of Winter, at least for now

Today was a beautiful day.

We had a nice breakfast with Rachel and then got to work loading up trash to go to the dump. I suppose I should say "transfer station" since that is what it is, now. A quick lunch of peanut butter or scrambled egg sandwich, then off to the barn.

Well, at least part of the gang went off to the barn, with a handful of volunteer friends. What kind of friend would come over on purpose to help move manure? A very good friend indeed. Spring barn cleanup has become a tradition for us and our pals.

Another set of friends stayed in and did deep cleaning on my kitchen. Another set came and helped me and Thomas move a ton of clothes out of the attic, sort through and load up bags and bags for Goodwill.

I was happy to head to the barn because believe it or not, cleaning out the barn is one of my favorite things. It was a joy to see Patrick supervising friends, everyone doing an amazingly efficient job with the end of winter cleanup. Just think, six years ago those kids had not a clue how to muck out a stall, let alone clean out an entire two story barn with over 4000 sq ft. As we swept out the loft, I resolved to organize a barn dance for our friends this summer, if it is the last thing I do on this farm. Live music, lights, and our friends.

I finished up the loft by myself, and found myself in tears. I remember coming to the farm with our realtor. He and I took a walk through the barn as we waited for other clients to finish the house tour. We climbed the steps up to the loft and my eyes grew large as I looked at the huge expanse, dust motes glittering in the streaks of sunlight. At that very moment, I knew we were standing in my barn. I didn't need to take a look at the house. I figured that one way or another we could deal with the house, as long as we owned that beautiful barn. I told the realtor as much and he smiled knowingly, suggesting that perhaps I ought to tour the house, and get my husband to come down from NJ to take a look before I made an offer.

I smiled knowingly, knowing full well that my mind was made up and that Philip would agree 100%.

I love that barn. Spending time up there today made me almost change my mind about selling the farm. If only I could get my parents to move into our house, I would move out to the barn. I could fix up a corner for my apartment...I know, I know, Mom, it is just too cold here. I know. But I can daydream, right?

Some customers dropped by to pick up their loaves of bread. It was fun to take their daughter around to see the baby animals. Other customers dropped by.

All in all, a satisfying day. Mixed feeling stirred into the equation.

Is that how it will be for the next few months?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Taste and See, the name of our Bakery

I fired up the bakery today for the first time in two and a half months.

The reward was Nora asking for some fresh bread this afternoon. She consumed 4 slices of spelt milk and honey bread, telling me thank you repeatedly. Hmmm. Guess it has been awhile. "It's SOOO good, mom."

This morning Patrick shouted when he stepped outside to get on the bus. "It is soooo warm!" And it was. And still is.

Our dear friend, Rachel B. arrived this morning all the way from Missouri! She and Maggie and Rose trimmed goat hooves. They milked the goats. Fed hay. Made a big tea party with Nora out on the bridge over the creek. Nora told me that it wasn't exactly a perfectly good manners tea party. But it was lots of fun.

We love our dear Rachel. She was our intern a couple of years ago. Or was it three?

While the girls played and worked, I travailed indoors. Somehow breakfast and lunch were forgotten until after 2pm. Skipping a meal or two is a wonderful way to make food taste great. I whipped up an omelet filled with some of the first goat cheese of the season.

I don't think I have ever had such a delicious meal. We have plenty of eggs. They have bright orange yolks. Stuffed with the creamy chevre, it was hard to beat. I wish each of my readers could have such a feast. Omelets are fast and easy. One of the tricks to a perfect omelet is the right size little fry pan, heat it up plenty hot, and add enough oil or butter. Maybe just a tad bit more than you think you ought to. Once the butter sizzles, pour in the whipped eggs with a pinch of salt. As it sets, toss in the cheese or spinach or whatever else you want to add. In less than two minutes, your omelet is ready to flip and serve (with plenty of Texas Pete if you are me.)

One thing I pondered as I sat and ate my late lunch was a grateful heart. The food was so delicious I had to say thank you to God repeatedly for such flavors. I believe that raising our own food has made us so much more thankful for the meals we enjoy. Maggie and Rose milked the goats to give me cheesemaking ingredients. Nora fed the chickens and gathered the eggs for me. Patrick brooded those hens when they were day-old chicks. Julie gave us many of those chicks. Thomas loaded and unloaded tons of feed to give to the goats and chickens so they could be producers. My egg-frying pan came from my dear father-in-law who cooked decades of breakfasts in it before he died.

I think if I were a preacher I could find a sermon in the middle of that omelet.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8a

PS Rose and Nora consumed an entire loaf of freshly milled spelt milk and honey bread over the course of an afternoon and evening. Have you seen how small those girls are? I am amazed. I think I better get back to baking weekly...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grass-fed Beef

Rachel and Jason came over with their kids this evening. Boone spent some time rafting on the pond. All the kids played wiffle ball on the front lawn (we sure are thankful to our friends, the Schmitters from NJ who introduced us to such a wonderful sport!). It wasn't exactly warm, but it was not cold and the kids played hard out of doors.

The Thomas's brought us some of their grass-fed beef for supper. Chuck steaks, my favorite. With canned garden green beans and roasted carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips, we had a feast.

I have heard that some widows feel left out by their married friends once they have no husband. That dinner invitations cease to come and social life dries up. I am so grateful for my dear friends. There have definitely been lonely days and nights, but not because I have had no invitations. Many dear friends of mine have been good to invite me to lunch, to come over for supper. I hope they all have a clue how much I treasure them.

PS The spring peepers are deafening!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stella Used to be the Little Kid

Our little Stella is now a new mother! She gave birth to a chocolate colored little buckling this afternoon.

I don't know what is cuter than a little baby goat.

Our dear friend, Rachel B., is coming for a visit this weekend. We can't wait to show her our sweet little baby kids and lambs. Hopefully the weather will be sunny and mild. Meantime, we keep the fires burning, thankful for firewood.

Monday, March 14, 2011


A chilly rainy night was perfect for a fire in the woodstove and stew for supper. Lentils and barley, onions, garlic, celery and carrots, a little leftover pastured pork sausage, some chopped up mushrooms, a big bag of kale from the big Full Circle Farm, a bunch of cilantro, cumin, curry powder and broth.

The big kids and I ate our stew and had a farm meeting, discussing fence issues that we thought were fixed, but aren't, since Boaz and Ribeye pushed through a couple of gates. We then discussed goat issues that need to be remediated, since goats used their horns to burst through the formerly repaired chicken fence.

We discussed how keeping our fences maintained will help us to be a bigger blessing to our neighbors.

Then we discussed task list for the next few weeks, anticipating putting the farm on the market. Plenty to work on. Somehow, talking about all that work was not nearly so unpleasant, sitting around a nice fire together, eating our nutritious stew. I hope we can execute those tasks in an efficient and effective manner...

Sunday, March 13, 2011


After a nice Sunday afternoon nap, Rose and I went outside to chase goats out of the yard. Then we walked over to check the little beds I planted a couple of weeks ago. I figured that the floods washed all the seeds out, but sure enough, there were little bitty lettuce plants peeping out of the soil.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Springing forward.

This afternoon I smelled the earth waking up.

This morning I worked on cleaning out some junk in the old milking parlor. It was pleasant weather, but not very pleasant work, coming across Philip's old work shirt, a pair of old shoes. I wondered if it had been a hundred years since he walked around with us here on the farm. So I cried for a moment, hugged the old clothes, then put them in the get rid of stuff since we have saved a few things and don't need mounds of old clothes.

I had been putting off that task, but the bright and sunny day helped motivate me.

Then Nora and I had to take the big girls into a birthday party and I was too dirty to go shopping, so we went out to the Blue Ridge Parkway and tramped around some trails by a stream on the old Explore Park property. Back when the park was open we would go a couple of Sundays a month during pleasant weather. That was some time ago. The leaves crunched under feet and a smell of new life greeted us as we approached the stream. Brought back memories of childhood and early spring, when we would spend hours out of doors. Moss and ferns were greening up by the water. Trees were swelling with life. Nora ran ahead and at times slowed down long enough to hold my hand.

I was hoping to spend all day working on the farm, but was able to give thanks for a couple of hours to tramp around with my daughter. A gift. We saw daffodils in town. And lots of lemony forsythia. And felt sunshine on our cheeks as our hearts pumped.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

I got a phone call from my dear friend at seven this morning. We were getting ready for school and I hadn't turned on the radio.

Her son is in Kona, Hawaii, and was being evacuated to higher ground in anticipation of the tsunami.

I ran upstairs to look at the news on the internet. Saw waves of debris wash over farmlands in Japan. The debris looked kind of like the leaves and detritus washed around the ditches here in our little flood. But if you zoomed in, you could tell this detritus was cars and houses flipped over boats and other things that were indication that life just came to a screeching halt for thousands of people. I haven't been listening to the radio or watching newscasts all day because too much exposure to bad news isn't very good for me. But my mom told me that a train was washed away and noone even knows who was on it.

My acquaintances in Japan are fine. Our dear one on Kona is fine. The tsunami was less violent that it could have been.

But as the wind roars here and I watch the sheep run into the barn for the evening, and I work on sorting clothes and sweeping up little girls' rooms, I can't help but think of those people whose life was just altered. Their homes gone. Their cars gone. What would I do if my vehicles just washed away, along with the vehicles of all my neighbors and friends? What would I do if one of my family members was missing? What would I do if my place of work just disappeared into a pile of rubble?

I suppose I would cry out. Wail. I would pray to God for mercy. And so tonight, feeling a bit sobered by the harshness of our earth, the brutal reality of shifting plates and ocean waves, I pray for mercy for those people I don't know. And pray that a merciful God would sow seeds of hope into a desperate situation. And comfort for those who are in desperate need. I hope God would show each one of us if we have something to give or to share that would help in the reconstruction of those valuable lives that have been turned upside down.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Please Soak In and Don't Wash ALL Our Topsoil to Daleville

"The rain is falling all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea."
R. L. Stevenson

The fields are flooded. The garden is flooded. The front yard is flooded. The streams are racing furiously down the valley.

When Rose and Nora got off the bus they ran into the house, sopping wet, and proceeded to change into bathing suits. They charged out into the 42 degree afternoon and splashed in the aftermath of the flash flood. They charged back in with numb feet, shivering and blue lipped, ready for hot chocolate, which Patrick is about to make for them, courtesy Coco's milk.

Crazy kids. I sat at my desk and figured out tax and shipping costs and emails for coop customers. Coffee, with plenty of heavy cream, made the tedious task more tolerable. So did Pandora and Fernando Ortega, my favorite calming musician.

I was excited to order compostable bags for our delicious granola. Mason jars were a wonderful alternative to plastic, but too expensive to maintain. Seems kind of silly to get excited about compostable bags, but using sustainable materials for our bakery instead of more plastic to fill up dumps is very satisfying for me. Next purchase from Treecycle (I hope) is recycled, unbleached, waxed paper bags for our bread. Am looking forward in faith and hope that the bakery will continue to generate income while we are here, and wherever we land.

Thanking God for the rain, even though it appears to be a little excessive at the moment. Kind of like the energy exuded by my children right now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sure Enough

This afternoon I thought I saw a little baby out in the sodden pasture.

I sent Patrick out to check because I was afraid it might be dead and I was just too sad today to have to see a dead lamb.

God bless that good young man.

He bundled up, went out to the pasture and found FOUR babies and they were alive!!! Ophelia and Esther both had twins. He rubbed down the babies and put them and their mamas in a dry stall with hay and water.

The rain still falls. I am thankful Thomas made us a nice fire in the woodstove to take away the damp and chill. I made a mexican style venison stew with hominy, cilantro, onions, garlic, celery, red pepper, carrots, green beans and spinach. Cumin and chili powder. And probably a few other things languishing in the fridge. Topped with crunchy corn tortillas and salsa, at least it tasted warm.

I guess some things just can't wait, but it seems like one of those nice seventy degrees and sunshine days would have been a better day for a birthday.


More rain falls steadily on the farm. Perfect weather for putting together the big Dutch Valley coop order. Perfect for paying bills. Perfect for working on the pile of papers for tax season.

Perfect for contemplating.

A year ago today Ophelia had her baby up in the upper field. I hope she waits this year until the rain stops. We want every drop of the rain to fall on our pastures, but it isn't the most lovely day for labor and delivery.

I just finished reading a few blog posts from a year ago. I try to do that occasionally to see where we are on the seasonal charts. To remember the best planting days. To see if where we are is normal or not.

Last year about this time I was calculating and figuring, trying to see if we could make it here on the farm without Philip. We crunched numbers, made business plan, and it did seem possible. Possible with plenty of grace, mercy and help from our friends and neighbors. I tried to factor in everything I could imagine at the time, reeling with shock, grief and loss.

After spending a significant amount of time going through all the receipts and paperwork from the last year, it is apparent that we have a successful business that could continue to generate income that would be sufficient for our family.

I can't believe it.

And even room for expansion. I calculated adding another farmer's market to our schedule to increase our income enough to cover some savings. Make sure we had enough for piano lessons and dentist bills. And then I took my proposed schedule to my prayer partner and best friend who immediately told me that our family couldn't handle such an intense schedule. That my body couldn't handle such an intense work load.

Around the same time, my mom had major surgery and could have used some help. And of course it was too far away for me to go and make her supper or vacuum or clean the toilets. And then my grandfather died and it was too far away and expensive for me to be able to take all the kids with me to the funeral.

For the last several months I have increasingly missed my parents.

I have always loved them and wished to be able to spend more time with them, but when Philip was alive, our home was together, wherever we lived. Whether New Jersey, Japan or Virginia, where we lived, we were home. I assumed that when we came to our dear farm, it would be forever home to me. That Philip and I would grow old, sit on the front porch in rocking chairs and listen to whipporwills with grandbabies cuddled on our laps.

After Philip died, I began to yearn to be with my parents more. To have my children be able to learn from them. To be able to help lighten their load when they get hit with surgeries, illnesses or whatever.

For some crazy reason, I dismissed those feelings, thinking that they represented weakness on my part. I told myself that my real family was my community, and that is the truth. Our community is the most miraculous expression of family I have ever witnessed, let alone experienced. To even think of sacrificing this world we love didn't make sense to me. It felt selfish.

Even as I type these words, I sob and wail, and dear Brownie, our dog comes to me and puts her head on my lap to offer comfort. She knows.

Last year as I added up many different factors, the pros and cons, I forgot to consider how much more valuable my family would be to me, now that Philip is gone. Not that they weren't valuable before February 25th, 2010. But I had no way of knowing how much I would need them. And how much my children would need to know their grandparents. And how important it might be for us to be in a situation that would allow us to help each other.

I want my Mom and Dad.

Adding to all these different situations and circumstances, the health issues, the funeral, once we got past the one year anniversary, some heavy reality hit me. The reality that I am a single mom and have to make many decisions without Philip's input. It isn't a bad thing to think that being somewhere nearer to my parents could be helpful to me. In case I haven't told you, my daddy can fix just about anything. It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about a life where I could call up my daddy and not only would he come over to help me fix things, but my children could learn from him.

It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about sharing holidays with my parents. Birthdays and baptisms. It doesn't hurt my feelings to think about visiting my parents' church every once in awhile to sing a special with them. To eat Sunday dinner with them accompanied by giant glasses of iced tea.

It does hurt my feelings to think about not growing old on this farm. I have never felt more home than I did from the moment I first drove up the driveway with our realtor, Sam. But no matter how you slice it, we are not in the same situation we were six years. This reality grieves me greatly. It is easy to think about all the things we might be doing if Philip were alive. But he isn't. And that is horribly sad. But it is our reality.

I want to be nearer my family. I want the kids to know their grandparents. I want to be able to call my dad when a door breaks or the faucet needs fixing. I want to ask my mom for potato soup when I am sick. And I want to be able to help my parents when they need me, so that I can teach the children how valuable it is to care for our family. Never dreamed I would say that. But here I am.

We will continue with life on the farm for the moment. Sheep have to be sheared soon. Tails have to be docked. Orders have to be fulfilled. Leaves will burst forth, flowers will bloom. Spring barn clean out is nigh upon us. But in the middle of all that, I plan to put the farm on the market, probably around Easter, praying to our dear heavenly Father to bring someone here who will love our farm and continue to put it to good use. And if that should happen, then I will trust that our Father, who has been so good to me, so loving and generous and trustworthy, will provide us another dream to replace the one that has died.

I truly do believe in the resurrection.

PS there are many other factors I have considered. For months. This decision isn't being made because we haven't had enough help. Or because we are in dire financial straits. Or because I think that a move will be easy or make my life trouble-free. Troubles have a way of following, no matter where we are! Part of life. The kids are sad, and it will cost each of us many different things. But we each have a deeper peace that transcends the hurting part. And that makes me okay to move forward. And if the farm doesn't sell, then we will happily stay put, continue to milk Coco, run a bakery and enjoy the seasons on the farm. And I won't have to live with regrets, wondering if I should have at least tried to take a few steps forward.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Music to My Ears, Sort of.

The willow trees are covered in tiny little chartreuse leaves.

Some friends came out to the farm for lunch today (and they brought the lunch, too!). We walked the fields, watched baby goats frolic and cavort. The sheep tore down the pasture, were they hoping I was out to give them a midday snack? When they realized no alfalfa was forthcoming, they ventured to the upper field to enjoy green grass.

I noticed watercress growing in the stream.

The day was still a bit chilly, but the sun shone as we shared our dreams.

Guineas squawked. Geese honked. George gobbled and ducks quacked. Chickens cackled and I wondered who was singing lead and who the harmony.

There sure is a lot of noise on the farm when springtime comes along.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Showers of Blessing

The rain comes down steadily.

The three rouen ducks who have managed to survive coyotes over the years have taken their morning swim from the pond to the giant puddle in the front yard.

Steady soaking rain.

With moon beginning to wax, and temperatures forecasted to stay in the 50's over the next couple of weeks, I predict a thorough greening up of our little valley.

Makes me think of the hymn we sang in my childhood.
"There shall be showers of blessing.
This is the promise of love.
There shall be seasons refreshing,
sent from the saviour above.

Showers of blessing,
showers of blessing we need.
Mercy drops round us are falling.
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,
precious reviving again.
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance and rain.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need
Mercy drops round us are falling,
but for the showers we plead."

I can see you leading the music, Daddy and hear our voices ring out as Mom plays the piano.

Am thankful for sweet memories and for the rain! Little precipitation this winter means drought, and drought is awfully hard on our hay fields. Thank you God for the rain.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Evening on the Farm

It has been awhile since I have had to chase cows.

Got a call from the neighbors letting me know that a couple of steers and Boaz the ram were on their property. Rose and I put on a coat and hat and walked down the pasture in the drizzling rain. It was not so terrible. The bad thing is knowing that some gates need fixed. The good thing is getting outside and hearing the gurgling creek.

We moved the errant wanderers back home and I fixed three gates which had been pushed down. Well, I didn't exactly fix them, but I wired them closed, hoping that when Daddy comes for a visit next month he can maybe help me fix them. Walking along the pastures made me see many fencing issues with which I need to deal. I picked up a little trash that the winds have blown around.

Ophelia and Esther have yet to deliver their lambs. I wonder if they will come when the moon gets full? The goats and ewes seem happy to be out grazing the little bits of fresh grass. Have you ever seen baby goats? Those kids are so funny.

I put Carmelita, Coco's baby from 14 months ago, for sale on Craigslist today. Kind of made me sad, but I am happy to think about her going to a good home to be a sweet family milk cow. She is one good-lookin' gal. Wonder if she will sell?

All is calm and quiet for the moment. Thomas is heating up some leftovers for supper. Soft rain is working its magic on our fields. Mild temperatures make peepers sing their evening song. I have many thoughts on my mind and the music outside my window seems to be just the right accompaniment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baby Lambs and Baby Goats are Good Medicine

Today as I drove in the driveway I saw the sheep and cows grazing in the west field. I had to laugh when I saw the kindergarten lambs on recess. The mothers were busy eating and the lambs all ran around together in circles. They would charge up the steep hill, leap in the air, cavort and twist, then tear back down, fast as they could go, all seven of them. Black long legs. Black long tails. Little white topknots on their cute little heads.

The little goat babies were in the preschool class. They climbed to the top of the manure pile in the barnyard, cavorted and twisted, then all ran back down again. They are so cute they look like living toys. Which I guess they are, at this point. What was the cutest moment? When it was snack time, all the babies ran to their mamas and tucked in for their drink of milk, little tails wagging merrily. Is there anything more precious?

I am thrilled to see Maggie kick back into goat milking mode. Since Angel only has one baby, she must be milked. Her mama was Mama Chevre, a sassy Alpine. She appears to have inherited Mama's good dairy line genes. Goat cheese, here we come! We will let the other goats give their milk to their babies for a time, then Maggie and Rose will be milking at least two more ladies. With the goat milk and Coco's milk, our fridge is once again full of jars of the white stuff. Must make butter.

Patrick got his cast off today. I think that spring must be here. We are getting quite busy with farm chores. That is a good thing.

PS Nora has graduated to chicken duties. She is seven and now old enough to feed them and gather eggs. Patrick assists with the watering, but she will handle that by herself soon enough.