Pearway to Heaven

Char and I just came in from some spectacular star gazing.  The Perseids meteor showers are brilliantly displayed in the inky dark of these next couple of nights -so get out there if you can.  The peak is supposedly on Monday, at 3p.m., and of course in our Western Hemisphere that translates to daylight.  Which is not conducive to meteor-viewing.  So don’t kick yourself on Monday that you forgot to go out on Sunday night to look for “fireballs”, the ‘bits of grit (that) spark ionized trails dozens of miles up in the atmosphere.'(Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News)

We were finishing some pies for an order in the morning and the last two in the oven were “Pearway to Heaven”.  The combination of fresh pears and crystallized ginger, hot golden crusts and bubbling syrup had formed a Milky Way of its own and the entire time we were outside, we were intoxicated by the sweet, vanilla-y cloud that followed us from the kitchen.

Skywatching is pretty spectacular when you live in the very rural Green Mountain state.  The only light pollution to infiltrate the night was a bit of glow from the town to the south, so we simply changed our position to look northward.  We got to see 8 meteor streaks altogether.  Two of them were the “fireballs” we’d read about in preparation and we simultaneously cried “Oh!”

Just beautiful.

Now lest you think it’s all wine and roses around here, I must share that at the same time we were intoxicated by pear pie fragrance and magical night skies, our two pups, Jackie & Cricket, were ridiculously alert and attentive to every night sound produced:  A Barred owl “Whoooo!”  The “mehh” of our three nosey goats as they spied on us from their paddock.  The green frog ‘Gung!’   A pack of coyotes howling in the distance.  Just a couple of sheep baaing from the fields.

So to rid ourselves of the barking duo, we brought them into the house and snuck out the back door for a more peaceful observation.

Mr. Schill, the big Maine Coon Cat, found us on the deck and rubbed and wove his soft, fuzzy chubbiness in and around our calves as we sat outside for about fifteen more minutes.

After a brief chat, we decided to lock the sheep in their stall since I never sleep when I hear coyotes in the distance.  I had to lock up the ducks’ coop, anyway, as I’d meant to do it earlier.  The chores very quickly brought us back to earth, but what a lovely, albeit brief, escape it had been.

Perseid Meteor

Perseid Meteor (Photo credit: dmourati)

Baa Baa Black Sheep

The Shetland Lambs of 2013 are arriving, gorgeous and healthy. Three mamas are relieved and contented, grazing and nursing.

The count is 3 ram lambs, 3 ewe lambs with 3 ewes left to deliver in the next week or so.

So much fuss with installing our lamb-cam, much enjoyment of remote viewing, sharing the view with our friends of the farm… and in the end, two mamas delivered in the run-out, out of view of the camera entirely.

We came upon them immediately after delivery and had to make a judgement of who belonged to whom because there stood Maggie & Ruva with 4 darlings at their feet.  They sniffed and licked left and right and seemed indiscriminate.  Quickly we paired them up with our best guesses so that we could ensure everyone would get a proper meal and not be left out in the cold.  Maggie was behaving as though she was ready to abandon one of them.  Who knows?  Maybe she singled and Ruva tripled?  Anyway, they’ve each got, and are nursing, two beauties.  Nikki then lambed 4 hours later and delivered two more gorgeous bundles of wool.  Fortunately we were on the scene then because Pansy, Nikki’s sister, was in the stall with her and SO eager to snatch the babies.  We ushered Pansy out and away from the new lambs with as little intrusion upon Nikki’s laboring as possible.

Pansy, Lily & Winky await, not patiently.  Perhaps Mother’s Day will bring them special gifts?

I hope so.  I’m a bit tired.

But elated.

Nikki's little Shetland ewe lamb & Farmer Tam enjoying a gorgeous Vermont May day

Nikki’s little Shetland ewe lamb & Farmer Tam enjoying a gorgeous Vermont May day

May Day

When I was a girl, my mother and my grandmother taught us to pick any of the blooming flowers available on May 1st and tie them up into little bouquets.  My sister and I would harvest the early daffodils, woodland violets and trout lilies from the woods.  Sometimes there would be spring beauties.  Of course we would pick dandelions.  In my younger years, in Los Angeles County, California, there was no end to the choices.  But in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, on May 1st, the offerings were slim.

My sister and I would then sneak around the neighborhood, lay the bouquet on the front stoop, knock loudly on front doors and then run like the wind to hide.  We’d watch, secretly, while the door would open and someone would peer out, then down, and pick up the bouquet.  Often we would come out of hiding, giggling, and wave hello before heading to our next hit.  It was thrilling!

In our very rural Southern Vermont neighborhood, my own children did the same, collecting nearly the same types of bouquets, and then I would accompany them as they snuck around the neighborhood.  It was harder to get away with being sneaky in such a rural setting.  When you arrive at someone’s home in these parts, there are usually warning dogs that announce your arrival, or you’ve been walking a distance in the open which makes it easy to know you’re coming.  It’s not quite the same in a more thickly settled area.  However, my kiddoes would find a tree or a bush to hide behind, not realizing our dogs were giving them away near their retreat.

Delighted neighbors would find their bouquets and call them out, though it took a year or two to “train” these folks.  At first when the kids hid May-baskets, people didn’t understand what was going on.  One neighbor suspected foul-play, what with the knocking and the hiding and all of that!

My kids didn’t care.  They found the gifting to be as exciting as I had as a child.

Today there will be flowers dropped off for friends, but I don’t know if there’ll be hiding or not.  We’ll see!

My wish for you is that you can find a way to celebrate and enjoy a spring tradition, be it age-old, or something new for you and yours.

Happy May Day!

May flowers

Northeast woods in May – Trout Lilies & Spring Beauties

By the dawn’s early light

Farm report from Arkansas today, folks.  Our amazing Char is holding the fort down in Vermont and has just let me know that there are no lambs yet, the chicks are growing and adorable, peafowl are getting along, Cricket got into some chocolate cake (a bit, before she was able to pry it from his jaws), and she’s got her work cut out for her to collect up some hens that are being sold tomorrow.  She texted me this a.m .with “I forgot and left the chickens out last night.  Now what?”  Chickens do not always want to be caught, in case you didn’t know.

I’m in Northwest Arkansas to cheer on as my son Jody & his teammate David represent Virginia Tech at the FLW College Fishing National Championship Tournament on Beaver Lake.  This has been another exciting opportunity for Jody, for his team, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Because he graduates this spring, the clock is ticking on his college career in an outdoor sport that he’s been passionate about since he was 2 years old.

There are a couple of college fishing tours out there and FLW is a well-oiled machine when it comes to running these events.  TIME Magazine will be here tomorrow, local newspapers, media of all sorts, television airings….they work harder and harder with each season to celebrate these hard-working kids, environmental ethics, and elevating the sport of competitive fishing in an increasingly sedentary world.

I feel selfish this week, being away during lambing and all… Have I always yearned to visit Northwest Arkansas?  Sorry, no, but now that I’m here, I’m taking in the beauty of the Ozarks, the culture, the friendly people I’ve been running into.

Plus, I get to be with my kid, whom I am crazy about.  It’s dark and early when we start the day.  However, when those boats are heading out into the breaking dawn, it is gorgeous, exciting, freezing, and a unique crazy that I get to be a part of.


I sang the National Anthem at the Day 1 Weigh-in in Rogers, Arkansas.

No worries, I won’t be signing any record labels and moving off the farm.

It’s been a dream of mine to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park for as long as I can remember.  Yesterday, our beloved Red Sox‘ game was cancelled because of the unprecedented lock-down in Boston. I found myself in a gifted position, and in the midst of my nerves, sang it strong for all the right reasons.  I can’t wait to get home and tell the sheep all about it.

What I used to project "O Say Can You See" over background construction noise :-)

What I used to project “O Say Can You See” over background construction noise :-)

Duck, Duck, Egg!

The Blue Runner Ducks are laying again.  Finding their eggs scattered willy-nilly about their duck coop since the beginning of March has been both a blessing and a curse.  I’d have to lay on my stomach every morning and crawl into their low-roofed abode, stretching and reaching toward the corners to harvest the precious cargo.  Then wriggle backwards out, still on my stomach, so that I wouldn’t slam my head on the top of the doorway.

I found a tool a couple of weeks into this new daily chore, and pulling the eggs out in the basket of a garden cultivator meant I was spared the (reeking) immersion.  However the long handle would awkwardly slam and jab the coop or me or get tangled in the mesh garden fencing outside -just another little annoyance that I seemed not to master.

This past weekend we pulled the roof off the coop, purged it of the very sodden & soiled (translation:  disgusting) bedding, refreshed it with pine shavings, and in a corner right next to the doorway, placed a pile of straw bits.

Just as I’d hoped, the gals created a stunning nest for depositing the daily golden eggs.

I love how animals communicate.

Indian Blue Runner Ducks' eggs

Know anyone looking for duck eggs? Hands down they are the best to bake with, and also make gorgeous decorated Easter Eggs.

Haikus along 81

Just back from a visit to my son in Virginia for a few days.  Mommers had  loaded up the car with frozen Shepherd’s‘ Pies, Turkey Soup, Beef Barley Soup & Pot Pies for college-kid’s freezer, a few birthday presents & a cake(well, it was actually a trifle.)  Headed south for 11 hours of driving with Abe and bestowed the goods upon the birthday boy. Had a really nice visit, got to guest-star on his & Jesse’s Schultz’ podcast show, took a great hike up to Cascade Falls of Western Virginia, laughed our heads off watching Seinfeld episodes (a requirement for a class he’s taking), and outfitted his kitten, Smallie, with a halter to train him for potentially being walked on a leash someday.

Doesn't everyone bring their stand mixer to visit their son?

Doesn’t everyone bring their stand mixer to visit their son?


Into the Mountain Laurel Grove – this must be gorgeous in the springtime


Jody & Abe alongside one of the pools on the hike to Cascade Falls


Smallie with his new halter -conditioning him to wearing it so that Jody can take him on walks eventually.

On my way north again, I seemed to be churning out the haikus.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may know that I’ve a penchant for haikus and often craft them to describe our latest happenings.  They’re not necessarily great haikus -none to compare to my friend Kelly, a haiku-goddess, that originally inspired me. Nonetheless, here they are:

  • Bluebird morning skies
  • Crisscrossed tic-tac-toed contrails
  • Short term graffiti
  • Skyscraper-tall poles
  • Posting roadside signs aloft
  • Shout “Pick me! Pick me!
  • Weigh Station ahead
  • Big Rigs line up for the scales
  • Keeping their shoes on
  • Tri-Cross plantings grow
  • South of the Mason Dixon
  • Wait…where’s Calvary?
  • Silos, corn cribs, cows…
  • Rude billboard interruptions;
  • “Adult Store Exit”
  • Cop must be ahead
  • Brakes light up like dominoes
  • Pious drivers creep
  • Lebanon, P A
  • Cow pond with basketball hoop
  • I’d like to see that!
  • Road food makes no sense:
  • Chai & pastry breakfast, lunch,
  • “Bugles” for dinner.
  • Turbine sentinels
  • Spinning Schuylkill County breezes
  • Coal Miner Angels
  • Adirondacks rise
  • 2 & a 1/2 hours North,
  • then east to V T
  • Familiar north woods
  • Relief replaces fatigue
  • Snowy, colder, Home.
  • Billboard pollution:
  • You don’t miss it at all if
  • Home is in Vermont.
  • Heart Warming Welcome Home

    Heart Warming Welcome Home


Weathering the weather

Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot.
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we
Like it or not!

(You all knew this little rhyme from childhood, right?)

Only 5 below this a.m. and the report on the barn critters is that Shetland Sheep are impervious to cold weather, horsies have frosty muzzles, hens have turned tail, ducks are tucking in and the goats NEVER enjoy the windchill.  Indoor pets have been enjoying luxurious sunny naps on the couches, yet spring into action to run around in the brisk outdoors whenever there are chores to be done.  I’ve been dosing on Vitamin D & lots of hot tea to help with the deep-winter slow down, getting excited for what is around the corner.

Enjoy the cold day photos from the farm, thanks for popping by!

January 24  Sunrise in Shaftsbury

January 24 Sunrise in Shaftsbury

Wethers weather the weather

Wethers weather the weather

Cold Ducks - thrilled with the extra hay I gave them this morning

Cold Ducks – thrilled with the extra hay I gave them this morning

Rear View of our little white leghorn - she peeked out into the cold, cold morning and then turned around fast to go back into the coop!

Rear View of our little white leghorn – she peeked out into the cold, cold morning and then turned around fast to go back into the coop!

Nite Nite enjoyed peppermints this morning

Nite Nite enjoyed peppermints this morning

Izzy had a frosty muzzle, too, but not too frosty to enjoy some peppermints after her breakfast.

Izzy had a frosty muzzle, too, but not too frosty to enjoy some peppermints after her breakfast.

Games on "Goat Rock" helps the girls to forget the cold for a bit.

Games on “Goat Rock” helps the girls to forget the cold for a bit.

Today: Life is cold…and awesome

chilly waters

cold, cold Battenkill

The daily race was on. I fed a bunch of pets, poured cups of coffee & cocoa, packed lunches, taxied north and back to deliver Char to school, attempted a tank fill-up with $3.56 (which gets you a little over a gallon of gas), taking photos here and there along the way. Back home, in the warm kitchen, I chit-chatted with the downhill skiing crew that was preparing to depart in the 11-below January cold. I moved hay and water, herds and flocks, and cuddled with wooly sheep. After sweeping the barn, I realized I was about to be late for a funeral for a friend.

Flying out of my coveralls and into a wool coat, I threw a beret on to cover my unbrushed, unwashed hairdo, hoping no one would notice my pajama top if I put a nice scarf around my neck.

When I got to Denise’s funeral, I was indeed about 5 minutes late. The funeral parlor gent greeted me so kindly and assured me I wasn’t late at all, escorting me to my seat. Right behind Denise’s family.

It began with a eulogy by her 22-year-old son- same age as my eldest. He broke the ice with “Well, this sucks” and then, of course, after the tension was eased, shared the most poignant speech I ever want to hear a 22-year-old boy give for his 50-year-old mom. Sean’s job has him arriving home at a variety of times and in the last year, he and his mom had a ritual of sharing a cocktail on the porch at possibly all hours after work. Sean wanted us to remember Denise’s good humor, smiling love of life by playing “It’s 5:00 Somewhere“,(Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett version), and of course, we all sang the chorus together in high spirits.

Curiously, though I’d never met her, I was seated next to Denise’s best friend “Tammy.” When she stood up to speak, I was dumbfounded. For years, Denise had told me about her best pal, the “Southern Tammy” (I am her “Northern Tammy”), and here I was, finally meeting her, in a funeral parlor. Isn’t that just life, people?

Cassie is Denise’s 17-year-old daughter, good friend to my own 17-year-old daughter. She stood and spoke with so much courage, so much beauty. I know Denise was beaming upon her. Cassie announced, “I’m going to sing you a song now. A song that mom and I used to sing together…I never understood, though, why mom would start crying at a certain point. Now I know.”

After she paused to check her tears, blow her nose and have a sip of water, she stood up and, as clearly and passionately as if she’d sold a concert hall out, sang The BeatlesIn My Life“.

There were more words we filled in the time together to try to make the celebration of Denise’s life fitting.

I thought I had it all together, I thought I’d be o.k.. When Cassie sang “The Parting Glass” at the very end, well, that was my undoing.

On my way home, I decided I’d freeze my arse off in a cemetery. It had the right sobering effect.

Robert Frost lived in my hometown here in Southern Vermont. He’s buried in Bennington in the Old First Church cemetery. I thought I’d go find him to say “hey” and “It’s cold today, Bob.”

In small town Vermont we are not always on guard. I left the car idling alongside the church, purse and all in the front seat, and headed into the snowy forest of tombstones. Frost’s grave is a shortish hike from the road. Downhill. At some point I realized maybe I should’ve turned the car off and locked it, and so I hurried along.

Thought my lungs would explode with the sharp, cold air while I hustled. I arrived frozen at Frost’s grave. It was good to bawl. I’m all good now.

Life is awesome, folks. All parts of it. Thanks for the lessons, Denise.


Cemetary in Old Bennington, VT


Old First Church, Old Bennington, VT

Happy Christmas!

Runner up to the Winter Solstice as my favorite time of the year is Christmastide.

We have fresh snow out there this morning. I enjoyed watching my kitties tiptoe about the front stoop at about 3:30, and by 5:00 their prints were filled in again.

Just finished prepping a goose which I’d bartered from “Garden of Spices” in Greenwich, NY, where I get help processing my turkeys. I rubbed it with a plethora of zest from oranges, limes and lemons, as well as various other spices and salt. My sticky-bun dough has risen, hallelujah, it has risen indeed. I’m starting to hear showers and footsteps, so there are just moments to go before this morning quiet is dispelled.

My favorite gifts? Last evening, my daughters and I presented music at our church’s candlelight service and it is always rich being able to share that kind of work with them. Old friends and new friends have been making many appearances. My kids are all home from college. The hens are laying again. The sheep and horses are frisky & healthy. There’s snow on the ground.

Advent, leading up to Christmas, is so much about hope, so much about how I live my life. Christmastide is a joyful season, and though there are moments in every day that we have a thought of a loved one that isn’t with us anymore, oftentimes, sorrow is deeper during the holidays.
So it is, a time steeped in significant sentiment. For me, I take every ponder as a gift. Blessed to have love in our lives, blessed even when we lose our loves because of how we can carry on for them, in them, with them in spirit.

Holiday greetings from all of us at the farm!







Christmas Card 2012