Saturday, July 31, 2010

Camping Tonight

Shepherd Mary traded her nifty pop-up camper for the trailer I lived in for a year. She even delivered it to the pond for me. Hannah, Luke and I are breaking it in tonight with an all-night camp out. We have a fire ring set up and lots of bedding. It was cold enough last night for me to wear flannels and get up to close the windows around dawn. The doggies should help keep us warm.

New Choppers

Matt is enjoying his new choppers. He's still getting used to them and can't eat everything he would like to. I notice he is smiling a lot more lately...


Just how much can a bag take? Plenty. It takes two Bundaflicka Bags to carry around what I need. I just wish my arms and shoulders were as strong as my bags.

Farmer's Market

The weather was lovely and the tourists came out. It's a lot of work to get to the market, set up, chat with patrons and passersby, then take down and drag ourselves home. The kids had a good time. Hannah loves to shop. I make a "boy cave" underneath the table for Luke to hide in. I wanted to crawl into it and take a nap myself. The market is a happening, festive place where I see friends on a regular basis. It's good to rub elbows with people who are trying to scratch out a living by growing or creating things themselves, rejecting commercialism and wholesalers. Blueberries are in season here in Central New York. I bought five quarts for Hannah and I to make jam. I brought home some kale for my bunnies and some handmade cheese from the Dutch lady in Leonardsville, the next town up on route 8. Luke thinks it's way too much work to do the market, and is recuperating on the sofa now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Making Creme with Hannah

Hannah and I made a batch of Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme today. She did a terrific job and I will take the creme with us to the Hamilton Farmer's Market tomorrow. Before we started with the creme, we took a walk to the pond with the dogs, then diverted over to the Hidden Pond by the old apple orchard. Hannah loves this pond, which is more like a giant puddle as it doesn't hold water properly. She picked wild mint and made us hot minty tea for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Men At War

Luke was such a patient, passive observer of the bridal shopping activities that I was almost happy to see him enjoy Andrew's X Box Halo game so much. Back on the farm Luke tried to get me to buy the game for him in exchange for barn chores. When I declined, we put a call in to Mom who is on duty at the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill in Virginia. Luke's birthday is in August and he is hoping Mom will buy him one. We'll see what happens...In the meantime Andrew, Mia's fiance, sent Hannah the fifth book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series, which she finished the same day it arrived. Luke received the Dangerous Boys book which is a compilation of all kinds of crafts, historical information, and scientific knowledge the author deems necessary for a boy to learn. Luke has not let go of the book and is working on the knots.

Back on the Farm

Some thoughts on urban vs. rural come to mind. The hustle and bustle of town life is very attractive if you don't mind having no privacy to do what you want. Every bit of your outside life is observable by neighbors. You can't raise your voice without sharing it with whoever is within listening distance. I like rural life. The beauty of Brookfield and surrounding environs is breathtaking. I look out my barn apartment window and see my flock spread out all over the hill and listen to the baaing of moms calling to the lambs. Yes, even at six months old sheep moms still keep track of their offspring. It's nice to be able to visit Mia in Morristown, but so hard to get away from the farm. The same lifestyle that is so satisfying to me keeps me grounded, in more ways than one. I will have to find a farm-sitter to get away to Mia's shower in November, and the wedding in February. Easier said than done. If I go away it's for a good reason. I'm doing better at not worrying and obsessing about this and that, but the farm is never far from my mind. I loved staying with Mia in Morristown and wish I could have stayed longer. I realize now why Matt rented a cute little Passat for me to drive there with Hannah and Luke. He said he was embarrassed for me to drive my rusty old F150 to upscale Mo'town. I'm not embarrassed to drive my truck at all, and it's the ultimate safe driving vehicle as nobody can run me off the road. If you are in a crash you want to have all that heavy steel around you. With the rental I had to get the car back in two days. I just figured that out...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Finalist

With so many bridesmaids gowns and only a few months to go, the ladies went to work. We hit three upscale salons in Morristown and found many lovely dresses to chose from. A major contender was a black and white gown, picked out by bridesmaid Missy Moore and adored by Mia. Mia has always gone for black and white combinations. We ultimately decided it was a little casual for an elegant winter wedding. The current finalist is a beautiful classic, chiffon, violet colored bare-shouldered gown from "Dress to the Nines" on Pine Street.

Bridal Mania in Morristown

We are back on the farm after a whirlwind trip to Morristown to shop for Mia's bridesmaids gowns. Mia had two days off, and with bridal salons requiring 4 months to order gowns we were pressed to make a choice. With Hannah here on the East Coast for her annual visit, we jetted south to NJ to find a dress. Mia put us up in her lovely apartment, just a block off the town square. I feel like I just spent a day in Miami Beach, with all the upscale shops, restaurants and fancy automobiles parked end to end up and down South Street. The temp soared to 90 and people were eating outside all over town. We accomplished a ton of wedding tasks, and witnessed the unveiling of THE GOWN, which was just delivered from the San Francisco boutique where Mia picked it out with Matron of Honor, Lisa. We found the perfect cathedral veil, a vintage tiara and a pair of fabulous open-toe bridal pumps at the new salon, "I Do, I Do" in Morristown. As tempting as it is to put a picture of Mia wearing the gorgeous Marissa bridal gown on this post, I would risk excommunication from the affair altogether. Hannah loved trying on all the ladies' dresses and, just having turned 12, looks fantastic in anything she puts on. Luke tagged along and with the help of his DS (I call it The Box)and Harry Potter he was sufficiently amused to go the distance with the girls. We think we have a winner for the bridesmaids' gown - for the moment. So many dresses, and only one wedding!

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Chicks in Town

We found these tiny chicks in the barn yard, running around the duck pen. They must have been separated from Mother Hen. We took them in and have them under the light. Hannah and Luke have been having great fun feeding them flies, plucked from the sticky fly tape hanging from the ceiling. There are no shortage of flies this year and the chickens know what to do with them from the very beginning.


Today was a day for clouds. The crystal clear sky set the perfect backdrop for the white puffs, artfully placed there by some unseen hand.

Monkey and Her Boys

Monkey, Billy Goat and Benny Goat tootle around together quite a bit these days. We've come a long way from the awful night when the twin boys were born. Monkey didn't want anything to do with Billy. It wasn't until she butted Billy repeatedley against the wall of their enclosure that I decided to take him and raise myself. Now she tolerates him following her and Benny in the barnyard. Billy is still a spoiled brat which is all my fault...but how could I resist?

Chicken Caravan

I'm lusting after Mary's nifty rolling chicken caravan. She can pull it around her fields so the chickens always have clean green grass to eat and unsoiled ground to play on. A neighbor built it for her and I think it's a real sweet arrangement.


My ducklings have grown into beautiful adult ducks. The Pekins are gorgeous, big and perfectly white. They love to bathe in their own individual spas. The Blue Swedes are pretty, too. The black one shines turquoise in the sun. Some Rhode Island Reds like to hang out in the pen outside with the ducks. They climb the chicken ladder to get into the room and roost at night. The ducks like to huddle together outside. So far, no intruders that I know of have gotten into the pen.

Once More to the Pond

We decided to go to the pond today. After all the excitement of the weekend we needed something a little more calm. Today was one of the loveliest days of the year. We had to make a run to the feed mill, post office and a very important stop for Omi's COFFEE, but once we got settled back on the farm we went to the pond. I could have stayed, floating with Izzy and Luke, for hours. The kids were antsy and wanted to leave too soon for me. I don't know how many more perfect weather days we'll have like this one.

Coffee Debacle

I am in a fog Monday morning, waiting to see if the few coffee beans I found in the back of the cabinet are not the dreaded decaf variety. It's a terrible thing to be addicted any substance, and coffee is the one for me. I fix the pot the night before, stumble over to it on the way to the royal throne room and flick the switch first thing in the morning. Kimmie Cornerstone always brings me Multatelli coffee from Canada every time she comes to visit me. I mean always, always, always. She must be mad at me about something because she didn't bring me any coffee when she came to visit this past weekend. She will never tell me because I know she loves me, but something is wrong. Anyway, I didn't realize I was almost out and last night, around midnight, after clipping three bunnies and making an unbelievable mess in the apartment, I went to fix my coffee pot. No coffee. Where does one go for coffee in the middle of nowhere at midnight on a Sunday night? I decided to woman-up, go to bed, and face the problem in the morning. Funny, I woke up three times, probably worrying about no coffee. This morning I found an old, crumpled bag labeled "Hazelnut" with about five beans in it. I ground them and made coffee, not very enjoyable because I HATE flavored coffee, but perhaps it has the magic chemical that will enable me to face the mountain of dishes, find the broom to sweep up the bunny debris in the apartment, get bathed, dressed, feed Hannah and Luke, do morning chores and go shopping for coffee. You can be sure there will be some hidden pounds of French Roast in this apartment shortly, to avoid this debacle in the future. What's this? I am starting to wake up! YES!! Maybe the five beans are not decaf after all! I'm saved!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lindsay and the Chickens

Lindsay loves to collect eggs from the nest boxes but is a little afraid of the chickens. It can be a bit scary to step down into a room full of hungry little peckers who are curious about your toes. I helped her feed the chickens this morning and get some of the eggs from under the moms. I know just how to do it so they can't peck me, but that took some trial and error experience. I go under their tail feathers and tip them up slightly with my hand while grabbing the eggs. That way they have a hard time reaching around to peck my hand. We have to take their eggs every day to know how fresh they are. Random eggs found around the barn go to the cats and dogs. The hens would love to sit on all their eggs until they hatch into chicks, but we have enough chickens now to give us eggs through the winter.

Friends from Foreign Lands

Kimmie Cornerstone brought her family to visit the farm for the weekend. Although rain conspired to thwart most of our plans (which included the Farmer's Market, camping in our new pop-up by the pond - a gift from Mary - and attending the Renaissance Festival) we managed to have a wonderful time. The intrepid Canadians loved scrambling down the steep gorge to the waterfall and swimming in the icy water. Truth be told, the young Canadians enjoyed the icy water more than their parents. We managed to get Kim in for a brief, but not complete, dip. Matt said no-way, too, but Maggie had a fabulous time swimming with Hannah and Jared in the jacuzzi. Kim and Darryl fixed my Louet spinning wheel and Kim plied a few bobbins for me so I can spin some more.

A Natural Jacuzzi

The rains of the last few days made the waterfall a thunderous cascade of water. We can't climb up to the "wash tub," a hole in the cliff about half way up, without getting pushed off the rocks. No problem for me as I just stayed in the pool and let the water pound on my back - oh, what a good feeling, even though it was reeeaaally cold!

Luke and Lindsay

Luke and Lindsay play so well together. They are both 8 years old and love to catch frogs, dig for fossils in the creek bed, and ride in the back of the pick-up.

Button Mania

Hannah and Lindsay Parkinson made me some fantastic buttons for Bundaflicka Bags. Now I'm set with buttons for the upcoming fall shows. They are very creative and dream up designs I would never think of, like swirls and checkerboard patterns. I tend to make squares and leaves mostly so I was glad to have the input of the young clay artists.

Cliff Dwellers

The Waterfall as we refer to it is our new favorite cooling off spot in Brookfield. The froggies at our own pond are jumping for joy as we have been leaving them alone lately. With storms drifting in and out the last few days I'm concerned about being high up on our hill if lightning strikes. The falls are hidden in a shady glade. We took Auntie Mia for a swim after a morning of shoveling you-know-what in the barn. Izzy joined us as we explored the cliffs and Hannah fished for dinner. That night we had a lovely campfire, talked and sang songs until we were too tired to stay up any longer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Afternoon Delight

After morning chores and some serious sofa time watching cartoons, and maybe a little CNN if Omi is lucky, we head out to get wet. The spring water is so cold we are sufficiently refreshed to last the remainder of the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Goodbye Uncle AJ

We said goodbye to Uncle AJ today. He is driving back to Princeton, NJ, where he is currently living while doing a summer internship at an Orthodox church there. We loved having him here for two nights. Luke was especially sorry to see him go. He swam with us, built campfires for us and kept them going (which requires preparation beforehand and constant vigilance while burning)and helped us with chores. AJ has a new car, his first in a couple of years. He was living at the seminary and taking trains/planes wherever he needed to go. Now he can travel in style at leisure in his new Honda Accord. His first and last car was a Saturn which took him over 300,000 miles all over the country. It was still running fine when he donated it to Catholic Charities. Congratulations, AJ, you deserve a classy reliable car. Please don't forget to come back and visit us soon.

Barn Cleaning

Omi the Taskmaster put the whole crew to work after breakfast this morning. We raked and dug and scraped the one section of the barn that we can do without a machine. It's still hard, nasty work. A big barn is a blessing but requires major effort to keep it clean. Maybe clean is not the right word. It will never be "clean." Having several pairs of hands, big and small, is very helpful. After three hours we can see the concrete. Some old hay and wool went to the future garden area, much went in the dumpster. I found two bags of lamb fleeces, buried treasure, that I can still use. Luke found old toys from past visits. Baby Thunder had great fun watching us, as did Thor. This is the area that Thor lives in, and the area I walk through to get in and out of the apartment. We still have a lot to do but this was a "lick and a promise."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Swim

We took some time out from farm chores to swim with Mary today. The heat wave has abated and left us with a lovely, sunny day. The ponds and springs are flowing nicely with cold, fresh rain water. Life is good.

The Bride To Be Takes a Breather

The Bride to Be continues to work and play in New Jersey. The wedding is set for the United Methodist Church in Morristown. The reception will be held at the Morristown Hyatt. The fabulous band will be travelling from Binghamton, New York, to perform. THE ROYAL DRESS is en route from San Francisco. The next big decision will be what the bridesmaids will wear. Hannah, Luke and I will be visiting Morristown shortly to look for dresses at upscale salons with Mia. I am looking for a place to hold Mia's Bridal Shower, not easy with the Matron of Honor, Lisa, just giving birth to her son, Kai, and living in San Francisco. In the meantime, Mia and Finn share a contemplative moment while hiking in northern New Jersey and taking a swim in the Monksville Resevoir.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


A wild storm came through tonight. A giant black disk of a cloud drifted over the farm and poured buckets of rain with spears of lightning and booming thunder. The pink sunset was still shining around the storm cloud making a beautiful aura. Luke and I climbed the ladder to the hay mow and watched the storm rage for a while. He decided it was safer in the apartment beneath the hay mow and asked if we could go back inside. I knew we were alright with the extensive lightning rod system on top of the metal roof and we were well away from the door. I was enjoying sitting with Chris my llama and some sheep who had run in upstairs instead of down to the lower barn where they mostly live. But we went inside and could still hear the pounding on the roof and windows. I trust the pond is replenished with the downpour and the springs that run into it from underground. It was getting a little "thick" with aquatic plants and needed a bit of a flushing. Now maybe the fields will start growing again. It's been so ghastly hot and dry.

Floating With Luke and Izzy

Back to the pond we went to cool off after a day in Hamilton at the Farmer's Market. Izzy still wants to jump on the float with me, and puts his front feet in the water waiting for me to get situated on the tube. As the SS Lukiepantsington guided us around the pond we noticed some sheep grazing on the other side. They took occasional drinks of water and moved around the grassy bank before crossing the field. Luke spied a lovely bright green frog in the glade, patiently waiting for us to depart his watery home.