• Category Archives Relaxing
  • Making a Life

    Over the holidays, a friend strongly encouraged me to read Kristin Kimball’s memoir of her beginnings as a farmer. I knew I had a copy of The Dirty Life on the shelf but I had someone managed to avoid reading both it and all the other memoirs of life as a farmer. For me, reading is something of an escape, and I wasn’t really interested in escaping to other farms as I settled in to living on mine. I was making my own life and wasn’t ready for outside influences.

    But my friend’s insistence and a lovely long holiday break provided me with the incentive to dive in. Kimball’s story captured me and didn’t let go. It was a story of farming but also the story of her own life journey and how it was impacted by her relationship with her husband. I found myself wondering how things would have turned out if she hadn’t met Mark and been taken in by his passion for living close to the land. As I’m feeding the pigs on a cold morning, I find myself wondering the same thing. I may not have chosen the farm life if it weren’t for my husband. But, like Kimball, I would never go back.

    Kimball’s tale is compellingly honest: her life is not for everyone. I laughed at her description of her fashionable clothing slowly being turned into work clothes. I sympathized with her struggles to become skillful with the horses. And, I completely understood the dirt. There are days when I just strip down in the mud room. After spending the day in a very wet and muddy pig pen, I soaked my jeans in a bucket first because they were too filthy to go into the washing machine. Sometimes, even the simplest chores like feeding the chickens, end in dirt when you step in turkey poop or rub up against a wet hay bale.

    I was awed by the challenge Kimball and her husband undertook to produce more than just seasonal vegetables. From dairy to grains to meat, they are showing the way to not just local but personal eating and some of my favorite passages are her descriptions of the simple meals they shared at some of the toughest junctures on the journey. I am planning to add dandelion greens to my spring cooking this year.

    I may not tackle the rest of the new farmer books on the shelf but if The Dirty Life is an example of their quality, maybe they are worth a try. Or maybe I’m just ready to welcome fellow travelers into this new life we are making.

  • The Quiet Life

    We look forward to nothing better than a weekend at home.  This one started early with a family visiting on their way to Florida.  We have not seen them face to face for many years so it was a joy to stay up late telling stories and getting caught up on the rest of the family.  We love being able to share our new life with them as well.  They headed out after a late breakfast leaving us to nap a bit on the couch.  (We are early risers so staying up past midnight can take its toll.) Now, we are waking up for a second time today and deciding how to make use of the warm weather.  Shucking soybeans is on my list and Bob may work on the kitchen window.  But for now, we are enjoying a cup of coffee and relishing in the quiet.

    Even as we settle in to winter, signs of spring are all around.  There are daffodils up behind the cottage and buds just starting to show on the apple trees.  The strawberry plants seem a bit greener each day and I am longing for that first sweet bite.  Meanwhile, my freezer is full of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries so I have resolved to do some baking.  Once spring does arrive, there will be little time for sitting on a Saturday afternoon so we must take each season as it comes.

    My chair in the library has the best view of the front porch.  We’ve hung our suet and sunflower seed feeders so enjoy good looks at the red-bellied woodpecker, chickadees, cardinals, and white-throated sparrows.  After a week of listening to squirrels scampering across the metal porch roof–our family visitors thought they were hearing thunder–we discovered they are nesting up in a corner of the house, very close to the bee hive.  A little too much nature too close to home that will have to be removed at some point but for now, we share our home with them.  Perhaps we will get to see the elusive baby squirrel!

    The puppy is growing each day it seems and will be quite a handful as he can already scale the barriers we put up and is now entertaining himself by chewing paper.  The floor is littered with toys but it is evidently much more fun to chew on our feet and the big dog’s ears.  We have a crate where he can take time outs when he gets too rambunctious.  I’ll take him out with me when I head out to do the soybeans.   He likes to dig and is showing promise as a retriever as well.

    So that’s the new from the farm: quiet and domestic, just the way we like it.