Sunday, November 30, 2008


Icy rain all day. The roads are covered with ice. Back to work tomorrow. Gee, these four days weekends are tough. I cooked a lot and got three bags done. The fourth one is still on the machine. I made a fresh batch of hand creme this afternoon before going to my computer session. John fixed my computer and it's working better than ever. He added Dreamweaver software and is teaching me how to manage my web site. Today I learned how to compress the pictures I take for posting to the site. The more I learn from John the more I realize how much I need to learn about computers. He is making templates for me to fill with text and pictures on my web site. I hope to be changing the pages next week. We went to Early's hardware yesterday and bought panels to make into hay feeders. Hope to get that done this week. Too much hay on the barn floor. Every blade of grass is precious. I had a conversation with Hannah and Luke from California. Eric sent pictures of them playing on the beach in San Jose. Hard to believe I am flying there in 3 weeks. I asked Hannah what she wanted for Christmas and she told me to bring her some of the same "ice cream cone" candies I sent her for Easter. Darned if I can remember any ice cream cone candies. I'll think of something. I just put away enough turkey/vegetable soup to keep us healthy all winter, along with turkey and gravy over cranberry/apple stuffing. My no-meat lifestyle has evolved into eating only local, naturally raised animals. Matt is much happier this way. Now I have to figure out how to get all this weight off me from eating too much rice and cheese. I know AJ is disappointed. In Orthodox Christianity eating meat is prohibited on certain holidays and is restricted in general. They consider meat something that sparks a person's passions causing them to lose control. Very interesting. I couldn't find a platter to cook the turkey in so I used my wok. Worked perfectly. I made a ton of turkey vegetable soup and a few casseroles of stuffing, turkey and stuffing. Comfort food that sticks to the ribs in the freezing cold of upstate New York.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sheep in the Snow

There is something so very lovely about sheep in the snow. Snow is the perfect backdrop for their various natural colors. Sheep love the snow, and like it up like a giant snowcone. Andrew and Loren came to help me for a while yesterday morning. We got the rest of the big wethers into their seperate area and I trimmed two goats. Some of the goats are terribly ragged and I can't do drastic shearing this late. I clean them up a bit and leave enough on their backs to keep them warm. The guys went with Matt to pick up hay. Matt is having awful back and shoulder problems, making the hay issue difficult. I made warm cheese biscuits for Andrew and Loren, they left and we went to Louis Gale for feed. They are in Waterville, kind of out of my beaten path, but their feed is half the price. It all comes in 100 pound bags. I can hoist a 50 pounder up and onto my shoulder just fine, but NOT 100 pounds! Poor crippled Matt is left to struggle with them. Big strapping Andrew and Loren have no problem. I wish I started in sheep a LONG time ago, but here we are now, trying to make the best of it. I am going for a computer lesson in New Berlin today. I have to learn to manage my own web site, and get my computer fixed. It is slow as molasses, and even posting a blog pictures takes 10 minutes. John of "Computer Support" sounds real nice, and is willing to teach me using the Dreamweaver software. We'll see how it goes...I have been having much too much fun the last couple of days and have to work harder. I have three bags going and another cut out. I have to make creme tonight for some orders pending and get in the milk room and make soap. It's so cozy and warm in the apt. and I can watch movies while I sew. The milk room is a scary place, in much need of windows, and a new drain. That's way down on the list I'm afraid and Matt is going away frequently now with his new career.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Everywhere you look there is a Currier and Ives scene here in this area of Central New York. I find myself ooohhhing and aaahhing even though I've driven these roads for almost three years now. I passed a farm drive and saw this group of turkeys huddled together in the bad weather yesterday. I wonder if one of them landed on the Thanksgiving table today.

Thanksgiving on the Farm

We had a very relaxing Thanksgiving celebration here today. With the trip to NJ for the wedding on Sunday, then back to work through Wednesday, we needed a break. Matt went to pick up hay to get us through to tomorrow, when we have to get a load that, hopefully, will last a week. Thankfully Farmer Simmonds is only a half mile away. I cooked all morning and made Mattie a fabulous meal. My homemade cranberry sauce and yam/marshmallow casserole was delicious. I wish AJ was here to eat his favorite yam dish. He and Mia were with their father in NJ. We collapsed on the sofa for a while with the History channel on. It's the only channel, besides the evening news, that we always agree on. Tonight they are showing "The True Story of the Mayflower." I just read an article about how the French Calvinists had a settlement in Florida that predated the Jamestown settlement by quite a few years. The Spanish massacred them and their story was lost when the English wrote them out of history. They gave Jamestown the credit for being the first settlement in America. Very interesting, how Anglo-centric our history is. Right now Matt is watching the story of the Sherman tank, and the Allied advance across Europe. He is very animated about this era of history, as his uncle followed Patton around over there during WWII. When they showed a group of dejected German prisoners Matt yelled TOUGH SH*T!! and so on and so forth. If they had Matt over there the war would have been over much sooner.

Let Us Be Thankful

On this cold, snowy Thanksgiving morning with a soft, gray daylight illuminating the hillside, I take pause to consider everything I am grateful for. Let me share a few thoughts.

I am thankful three children, who are a living legacy of fine, sturdy, competent, intelligent, caring, responsible individuals. They represent all my best qualities, and all the years of devotion and energy I put into raising them. No matter what I ever do with my life it pales in comparison to the accomplishment of producing my kids - Eric, Mia and AJ.

I am thankful two grandchildren, Hannah and Luke. They are as different as night and day and are the product of two incredibly talented and capable parents. They are as adorable as can be, and are smart, compassionate and complex. Two walking miracles who are the wonderment of my life. It is an amazing and incredible thing for my DNA to be continued times 2 with such precocious humans.

I am thankful farm. It is a daily challenge which sometimes rips my guts out but it is a symbol of my strength and abilities and proves to me how tough I am. My farm is larger than life. My barn is the best one around, with a good metal roof that keeps me and my animals safe and dry in the worst of weather. I won't live long enough to do what needs to be done with my farm, but it is the quest that is important. So many years of work and tears have contributed to the history of my farm and I am keeping that legacy of dreams alive. Lydia, the Founding Farmer, who is buried across the field, is proud of me. In the worst of times I know her spirit is with me and telling me not to give up.

I am thankful job. It was a miracle I got it, just a month after I was dropped off here with my flock, my trailer and a garden hose. I work with people who are fun and funny in all their complexities and I know they care about me. I have an opportunity to make a positive impression on young people who have not had the advantages I've had, and to convince them to keep trying and that education is the answer.

I am thankful...that AJ is happy in seminary in Yonkers, where he is protected from the wreckless politics of an incompetent president, and where his spirituality and sensitivity can be nurtured and grow. He is sequestered there for another two years and won't be killed in a senseless war. I am also thankful that our country finally woke up and elected someone who is thoughtful, intelligent and capable.

I am thankful...for Mia's success in her chosen profession. This sweet little soft spoken girl who was too shy to say boo, and who I have never heard raise her voice in anger, channeled all she could muster into her academics and got herself into a field where she can exercise all her intelligence, sweetness and creativity to help others.

I am thankful...for Eric's new position in the Boy Scouts. His natural leadership qualities can be put to good use as second in command of a new council in California. He always loved California. Now he can live near the ocean he adores and enjoy it with his ever-faithful adoring wife, Annie, and his beautiful little family.

I am thankful...for these two hands which I use for making functional and lovely things that people buy so I can keep my farm going, and for the wood stove that is heating up this apartment within this giant barn, and the food in the larder, and the coffee in the pot - all of which I am going to enjoy right now!

P.S. I have just been reminded by a dear old friend that I forgot to be thankful for my husband, Matthew Redmond. I have not managed to run him off in ten years, although I have done my best to do just that. When I bought this farm and told him I'm going, you can come too if you want, he came! He doesn't mind that I am older - he says he likes being with someone who lived in the sixties era, and the fact that I had "previous relationships" doesn't bother him a bit. It adds to my Curriculum Vitae. I drive him crazy, but he tells me I am the first woman who he didn't get bored with after a year or two. I know I have "father issues," after growing up with a cold, remote father, and put every man to the test to see if he will measure up. Matt seems to be test-proof. I warned him that I am looking for a Big Daddy. My previous husband complained all the time that he didn't want to be the father-figure who would spoil me and dote on me, that he hated the Knight in Shining Armour image I was always trying to foist on him. Matt says it's no problem for him. He loves being my Big Daddy. He's got big enough shoulders to carry the weight. Fortunately, I've grown out of the need for a doting father figure, and I don't need to be spoiled anymore. The farm has helped with that. I think more in terms of filling my barn up with hay, or a few dozen bales of fence dropping out of the sky...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Very Snowy Drive

I knew it was snowing, but it's always worse in Brookfield. I thought for sure once I got on route 8 and headed south the weather would improve, but it didn't. It was slow going all the way to New Berlin, so I kept on route 8 to South New Berlin instead of going over the mountain on Kings Settlement Road. I had new tires and 300 pounds of corn in the back of the little Jeep Mia gave me. Everybody was going around 30 tops, just fine with me. Often I'm passed by sets of three cars at a time, extremely annoying. Now I just move over a little and let them pass. I won't speed up in bad weather for anyone. I cut over to Norwich on Tanner's Hill, much easier climb in snow. Most of the teachers came in. Last time we had a bad storm I was the only one who didn't make it in. I seriously lost face, and being a Jersey girl it was even worse. We had a total of two students all day, as most of our sending districts closed or were delayed and the kids stayed home. We had a very relaxing day. Gretchen made pancakes for us and we ate a leisurely lunch together. The ride home was much better but it's still wet and dreary. Sister Bernadette was shovelling her walk in her habit when I pulled into the driveway of the farm. She must be home from the convent for the holiday weekend. I'm cutting out bags before doing chores. Half day tomorrow, very few kids will show up I think.

Men in Ties

I don't always get to see the men in my life dressed up...looks pretty good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to the Farm

After taking AJ to the train so he could get back to the seminary in NYC, Matt and I went to Mia's apartment to get a few hours sleep. We needed to get up at 4 am Monday morning to get back in time for work. Guess who didn't set the alarm correctly. I woke up when the recycling truck upended the can of bottles in front of the apt. To my horror, it was 5:30. Matt got a shower while I made coffee. I was not in such great shape, and there was no time to take me back to the farm. Matt had a 10 am appointment with some "state officials" who were coming from Albany to his training center to talk about weatherization funding, etc. I had to go to Syracuse with him, then drive back to the farm. Candace had taken terrific care of everybody and gone to work at Hamilton Whole Foods. I had to lie down (old ladies shouldn't party quite so heartily) and take it easy before chores. Got some shut eye, then hayed the sheep and fed the piggies. Matt's boss took him as far as Barnes and Noble in New Hartford and I picked him up there. Snowing hard on the way home from there. Don't know what we'll face in the morning commute. So many happy wedding memories. I saw people I worked with THIRTY years ago at Morristown Memorial Hospital, and parents of Mia and AJ's friends. Some of us have aged well, some of us haven't. So much water under the bridge. It was wonderful for me to be with them, like a ride in a time machine. Matt and I NEVER go out to party like this. Too bad, it was so much fun, even if I was seeing double.

Wedding Babies

I love when babies attend weddings. I never understood why some people leave babies at home. Weddings are all about families and babies are part of the family and the tree of life. There were several babies at Lisa's wedding. Wish I got pictures of all of them. I couldn't take my eyes off this little angel, Julia, Lisa's brother Peter's child. Lisa's family has a tradition of wedding dolls, handed down from bride to bride. They were on display at the reception.

Mia's Toast

Mia spent some time writing a little speech to make with her toast, then forgot her notes at the Hyatt. She winged it so amazingly well, I couldn't believe this was my daughter. She spoke so passionately and articulately about her friendship with Lisa, about how they met "in the womb" when Susan Palmer and I slipped and slid down an icy path to our cars after a medical dinner, holding on to each other, pregnant bellies rubbing together. She talked about how awful it was when Lisa moved to California and how Mia worried about their friendship, but how it was strengthened by the seperation. She went on and on, and I was so proud of my little daughter, who was always so quiet and shy. Not any more. She has blossomed into a self-possessed woman who can hold the room in awe of her beauty and intelligence. And then we danced, and danced some more!

A Grand Celebration

Everything at the Basking Ridge Country Club was perfect, with food galore, and a drink I thoroughly enjoyed...raspberry Chambord with champagne. How did they know? We ate, drank, danced, then ate, drank and danced some more. I can't remember having so much fun. I didn't want the evening to stop. The time came and we were invited to leave, while the bridal party piled into limousines to motor back into Morristown. The partied until dawn at the Hyatt where they all had rooms. The happy couple are on their way to Costa Rica for a honeymoon, where, I trust, they will have some relief from this unseasonal cold.

A Heavenly Affair

Lisa's wedding was perfectly beautiful from start to finish. The weather was sunny and cold, and everyone was quivering with happiness for the bride and her man. Candace came to watch the farm, Matt and I somehow got off on time and changed in Mia's apartment, a half mile from the church. I got an aisle seat and got some good pictures of the ceremony. The bridesmaids were breathtakingly beautiful, and Lisa was exquisitely prepared by her Maid of Honor, my Mia. I gasped when I saw Mia come in, followed by Lisa in that gown that could have been designed for her alone. Regi and his men were dressed in traditional Filipino wedding clothes. After the ceremony AJ, Matt and I drank coffee in Greenberry's on the square by the church before motoring to the Basking Ridge Country Club for the reception.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

10 F.

Okay, now it's cold. Woke up at 5 with my beeswax candles making an eery glow in the room. I have to have some kind of fire nearby when I sleep, and the jar candles I make are perfect. I lie in bed for a while, stroking doggies, whispering in their ears, and trying to sort out my day. The wood stove was out and it took a bit of doing to get it going. Matt uses a torch, but I prefer kindling. Fortunately there was a little bit left on the hearth. The apartment is a wreck, as it usually is at the end of the work week. When my work room is done the fabric and cutting table will be out there. When someone comes Matt is apologizing for my mess, but he likes it when someone writes a check for $100 to buy a bag. I forced myself to lie on the sofa for a while, flipping through movies and news programs, waiting for the stove to heat up the apt. I know the doggies can only wait so long. If I don't make too much of a fuss I can get them to bed back down for a while. I drank coffee, and pulled on my ski underwear under my "new" LL Bean flannel purchased yesterday at the Salvation Army. I've wanted this gown for a couple of years, but it's $50 - for a nightie! - not including postage, and here I am wearing it for $5. It's a little small, but I can deal with it. Leashes on and here we go, exploding out the three doors to get outside. There's the thermometer - 10 F., not even Thanksgiving yet! Soft snow, the moon and pink dawn, I love it. Baby roosters are crowing at the sound of us. They are so funny when they are finding their voices, like a boy whose voice is changing, scratchy and uneven. I hurry the doggies as I'm not used to this kind of cold, but they need time to do their business. On the way back in through the milk room and outer barn (still waiting for the gas pipe to be removed from blocking my "front" door - but we won't go there) I notice the teenaged chicks roosting all over the angora goats. That mohair must feel so good to those cold chicken feet. Back inside I notice the stove is melting the ice off the windows. I'm going to spin some angora for an order I have for two doggie coats. One for a Yorkie and one for a mini dachsund. How precious!! I'll spin for a half hour, then get to making creme. Have to get to the feed mill by noon.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I got out of the Troublesome Boys workshop (very interesting but nothing I didn't know - boys are trouble!) and went to the Salvation Army thrift shop. It was gray and snowy, and I would rather have been headed home. I was all ready to be depressed about shopping there, but a group of college kids were busy putting together all kinds of outfits and having a ball. One beautiful, blonde girl was roller blading up and down the aisles - reminded me of my Mia and how much fun she must have had when she was at UVM. They were trying on clothes, laughing and fooling around. Their behavior gave me a lift. What I saw in the mirror of the dressing room was definitely a downer. I tried on a few beautiful pants suits (no dresses other than wedding gowns!)and nothing fit. My middle is a real problem. I've already started a push-up regimen. Married life has not agreed with me physically. To think I was so skinny and beautiful, but terribly lonely, ten years ago. I found a man to cook for and - look out! I kept looking and found a cute outfit for Hannah - a red plaid kilt and a denim vest with cute brass buttons and closures. I finally found a neat Liz Claiborne tan, brown, and orange tweed jacket, the size I won't tell you, a beige blouse and a brown skirt. I was a little strung out by then and don't know how they will all look together. I might have to make myself a long skirt tomorrow. It was snowing hard and I had to get on to the Earlville Opera House over covered roads and slow, heavy traffic. Got my bags tagged, inventoried and hung up. There were lovely artists goods all over the place. Made my way home after stopping for Chinese in Sherburne. Route 80 was icy and treacherous over the mountain. I finally pulled in and greeted the doggies, kitties, goaties, bunnies,sheep and chickens. All the water frozen. I wanted to sew tonight but after Chinese and chores I am done in. The wood stove makes the apartment an oven and when I'm tired the heat makes me very drowsy. Candace is coming tomorrow to look over the place and find out what needs to be done when I'm gone to the wedding. Matt picked up hay today and is getting more tomorrow. He's not happy with it and wants to buy hay somewhere else. This first cut hay is loaded with alfafa sticks and make sounds like pretzels when the sheep chew. They love it and I pray it's nutritious. Matt is going to help the people who promised they would give me all the hay I needed to get through the winter. Promises, promises.

More Snow

Seems to be cold and snowy up and down the eastern seaboard. The lovely, soft Lake Effect has been coming down all night, but only a couple of inches of accumulation. Misty new moon peeking through the clouds and a pinkish sky showing over the ridge behind us. I got up and wiggled out from my doggie sandwich to put another log on the wood stove. Happy to see the fire still burning this morning. Feel better about the purchase of this stove. With the additional stove pipe section on the chimney it is drawing much better. With the propane gas tank full for cooking and the wood stove operational we should be okay if the power goes out. The State made us take all the hay away from above us so there is no insulation to keep the heat in. Not a good situation. The White Boys barked all night. I don't know if it's coyotes on the move or deer running from hunters. Have to get going on chores. I'm attending a conference in Support Services entitled The Trouble With Boys. Should be interesting. I'm going to the Salvation Army thrift shop in Norwich after work to see if I can get a decent dress for Lisa's wedding - fingers crossed. I have to take bags over to the Earlville Opera House to check them in to the sale after that. Long day...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Arriving home is both a relief and nervewracking for me. I am the last one to leave, and bear the responsibility for making sure everything is secured. I am the one to find any disasters when I come home. The dogs are crazy, the sheep are bellowing, the cats are swarming around my feet. Everybody is hungry, thirsty and has their legs crossed. If I wait, I am always sorry. If I make a stop or two, and I always do, it's getting dark when I pull in. Yesterday I found four or five sheep in the driveway. With the way cars and trucks speed by on this road, sheep wandering around could be disastrous. The quickest way to get them back in was through the milk room, which requires going up steps and through two doors. I got a bucket of grain and tried to lure them in. I made the mistake of putting down cat food for the starving kitties. The sheep stopped to munch on it before stepping in the bowl and scattering it everywhere. I got them looking at the bucket of corn again and into the milk room. Closed the door, then opened the next door into the barn. I had to hold the door opened while the sheep filed through. Once in the barn I had to get them through the gate to where the other sheep are. After all this I could use a drink, or at least some hot coffee, but the doggies are waiting. It goes on and on. I try to wind down a few minutes, check the news, etc. and maybe play with some fabric before deciding what in the world I am going to make for dinner. I finished Candace's special order bag early this morning after doing more than half of it last night. It's real nice and I bet she'll like it. She picked out the outer fabric but I added the soft, wooly orange suit fabric for the lining. It comes from Porter Studios in Hamilton and is matches Candace's hair color! Candace is house sitting this weekend when we go to Lisa's wedding in NJ. Lisa is Mia's best friend from kindergarten, and she is the Maid of Honor. Going away is frightening for me and it usually doesn't happen because it is impossible to find someone to take on this madhouse. Candace is mature, loves animals and is happy to farm sit. She worked in an animal shelter at one time, and should feel right at home in the chaos that is Maggie's Farm. Out to the barn to tote warm water to everyone. Cold all week with snow every day. Winter is here to stay.

Iced Over

Came home from work to find everything still frozen in the barn. It doesn't get warm enough during the day to thaw. I give the bunners their water in dishes now, twice a day. They are even more thirsty when it's cold. The giant stock tank freezes into a solid block. I have to buy a floater. We carry water to the back of the barn for the boys and the piggies...lots of walking while bending over with heavy loads. The pigs are so funny. Have to feed them more than I'm giving them as they are screaming for food when I bring them their slop twice a day. They drink the warm, creamy mixture then lie down on the hay, dizzy with satisfaction. Holly and Izzy run up and down in front of their pen, playing games with the piggies. Izzy could squeeze through and get in with them, but I hope he doesn't as he might become piggie dinner. I'll buy them some pumpkins from Homestead Feed on pay day. There are plenty of pumpkins rotting in fields around here but I'm not crazy about scraping them up off the ground on someone's property. Deer hunters everywhere...just my luck I'd get my head blown off. I have not heard all that much shooting this year. Western NJ was like a war zone during hunting season. I had a bullet hole through the bird feeder on my porch! I guess there is much more room for the hunters to spread out here in CNY. Out of hay as of tomorrow. Talked to Farmer Simmonds about starting pick ups this weekend - just what I thought I would be able to avoid this year. "Lake Effect" snow falling now, pretty little flakes that make the land look like its lightly dusted with sugar. Four inches more tonight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Very Cold

Okay, it's cold. 24 F. on my milk room steps. Poor kitties...I gave them new wool in a nice cardboard box, but they are suspicious of the smell I think. I let them in the milk room b/c I just can't stand the thought of my kitties freezing. They don't want to go into the inner barn, which is a big scary place with another tribe of kitties who might not like them in there. Bigger creatures (sheep and goats) are everywhere. I have three tribes of cats...the Hay Mow Gang, the Milk Room Stoop Gang and the Lower Barn Gang. The Lower Barn cats are always under foot. I finally started walking slowly and deliberately so they would just learn to get out of my way, and they seem to have gotten the idea...but once in a while I trip over one or catch a tail. Good thing they are so cute and keep those rats away. I've seen a couple of kitties running around with rat legs sticking out of their mouths lately. Good kitties! Good kitties! I stayed up late and got up early to make this bag. Oh, it's so pretty. Too bad the picture downloaded sideways. My computer is on it's last legs, I think, and with the hay I have to buy I don't think Santa Claus will bring a new one. I adore the paisley chenille fabric and the coral microfiber from the dressmaker in Hamilton is sooo nice as a lining. Getting the snap frame in before chores this morning was a bit tricky. I will take it to Hamilton for the Opera House benefit. Another bag on deck tonight after chores and dinner. I made a double batch of mac and cheese....perfect for a cold blustery night. Better get myself into winter gear and get out there. Wind is blowing hard. Bunny water will surely be frozen - oh, joy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cold and Snowy

I took my beautiful and artsy nuno felted scarf to work today. Didn't quite know how to wear it, and don't think I can carry off that kind of garment, but it felt good to show it around. My principal wants Lisa to come to school and do her felted snow flake ornament workshop with the kids. She made felted bags with them two years ago and it was such a big hit. We can combine it with a science lesson on snowflakes. Who was that guy in Vermont who devoted his life to studying snow flakes? I forget...but it's sooo interesting. No two snowflakes are alike! Came home and passed by the farm to get to Brookfield and pick up the mail. Barb, the Postmaster, was happy to see me. It's a pain to get into the village to pick up mail, but I get to see Barb and the locals, and check out the town bulletin board. Home to take the doggies out, put out cat food and tidy up after leaving the "kids" in the apartment all day. I get home first and clear the decks, do some early chores, figure out what to make for dinner, and maybe sew for a few minutes. I have to take some items to the Earlville Opera House for the month long sale. It's so much fun to go there and see the artists setting up their displays. Such a combination of pottery, jewelry and fiber arts you have never seen in one place. It's cold again and feels like winter.