out there

{First off, friends, I just want to say a word about this lovely new artwork on the blog’s header. Awesome, huh? It was created by our sweet friend, Hannah. One of the sweetest people on the planet. I feel so lucky to have her as my closest neighbor. She’s a mighty talented person. We all thank you so much Hannah!}IMG_8521The stars this evening were pure magic. I went outside after the rest of the family was tucked snugly in their beds and oh, my, those stars. No other lights to be seen. Not in any direction. Just the darkness filled with glitter. Who needs party dresses when you can step naked out the back door and be clothed by all those shimmering stars?

I went out into the world today. The first time in a while. I can go for very long spells without leaving the farm. I feel best surrounded by trees, or sheep. But I needed some apples and chocolate. What a woman will do for chocolate. Geez. I actually bought some frozen pizza, too. I’ve never done that before. I figured a peace-offering to the kids for allowing me to fly solo might be a nice gesture. They all agreed to stay home and split wood with Papa. Well, maybe they didn’t agree necessarily. Maybe they were not given an option. Town trips with three side-kicks are rarely smooth. But they were thrilled with the pizza. It would have been awful if we hadn’t topped it with our own hamburger, roasted red peppers, pesto, and minced hot peppers and garlic. There’s my forgiveness.IMG_8528

There were a few other things I needed in town, too, but I can’t talk about those things right now. Some one might hear. I keep my secrets. My kids can’t stand how good I am at keeping secrets.

So, when I make a foray into town, I can function for a spell in the midst of the current, blending in. Only for a spell, though. And maybe I don’t blend in at all because I don’t have a device in my hand. Am I the only person that is not talking on the phone, texting, or browsing the internet while I shop? (When I was in college, the internet was in its infancy and cell phones were behemoth things only for the rich and famous. That has not even been twenty years and now look at us. Some say “progress” but I’m not convinced.) I mean really. I find shopping in stores overwhelming enough as it is, but to then try to hold a conversation while reading labels and navigating the myriad options? Goodness. Sure, I understand that cell phones and such have their place in our modern world… but all the time? Constantly? Really?IMG_8536

And another thing. I have cow shit on my boots. Perpetually. Even my “good” boots show the signs of my true existence. I did go so far as to put on a clean pair of pants, but there is dirt under my never-manicured fingernails and my hair probably smells like Lilly where I lean into her as I milk. I wonder if any other person in the store started their day off by milking a cow? Probably not, which is so unfortunate. It’s such a lovely way to start the day.

But the clock ticks and the crowds start to overwhelm me. So does the stuffy grocery store with blaring music and too many options and fluorescent lights and people perpetually in a hurry. Running, running, running in the hamster wheel. While texting.

Just like everyone else, I suppose I’m in a hurry, too. A hurry to get home to the trees. The sheep. The stars. My forest children. My husband that smells like wood smoke and clean air and chainsaw oil all at the same time. I’m in a hurry to get to the place where cell service still doesn’t quite reach.

I know where I belong.IMG_8537

hands on. hats.

Tis the season… for hats. I’ve found a new pattern, for a balaclava, that I’m a little obsessed with. I made one for Eric first, because he was in need of something just like this… close-fitting, not bulky, warm, and versatile. Kind of like a good pair of long underwear. He can wear the hat alone, but it’s stream-lined enough to put an additional hat or hood over the top of for an extra layer of warmth. The hat can be worn many ways, too. It can be worn as it was designed to be worn, as a combo neck and head warmer. But, it can also be folded up to wear as a simple hat. You can also pull the neck part up over your face to block the wind, which is perfect for when he tools around in the golf cart or on the tractor. IMG_8560IMG_8561

I found myself so envious of Eric’s hat, that I just had to make one for myself as well. I wore it for the first time this morning when I went to milk Lilly, and it was just perfect. IMG_8544IMG_8545IMG_8542IMG_8551

And then, we have the most prolific hat maker in the household… Opal. She can whip out hats at a fairly brisk pace. And they are all of her own design. She improvises as she goes. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don’t. But when they don’t fit her just like she wants, she quickly decides who the lucky recipient of her creations will be. I have a feeling that our dear friends and neighbors, Jesse and Hannah, who are expecting their first child very soon, will never be short on hats for their new baby. IMG_8509IMG_8550IMG_8552One can never have too many hats!!!! And I think Sparrow might be a little jealous of Opal’s fashion statement…

two days

i remember a day, probably a decade and a half ago a new friend was touring me around his high tunnels in the middle of winter. surrounded by amplified sunlight, row upon row of of green leafy vegetables, and an engaging host, i was first introduced to seasonal affective disorder. WHAT? yep, my friend claimed he was prone to the lack of sunlight, short day, long night, winter blues and his high tunnels full of work and light and warmth and produce were his cure. funny, i thought, kind of funny.

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i guess at the time i hadn’t ever had the winter blues. i was new to farming, new to parenting, new new new, it was all too thrilling to notice the gray skies. but now friends, RIGHT NOW, i know all about it. when day after day dawns cloudy, when the dense gray cover refuses to part and let my beloved sun come through, i start to go a little batty. sure i have a cozy house. heck, we don’t use solar power as my beloved farm wives do, so i can still work on the computer, i can do indulgent things like plug in holiday lights. but nothing, nothing, beats the sun.

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when last week gave me two glorious mid december days of full sun, i knew without a doubt i needed to spend every waking moment in it. i picked the biggest possible current project and dug in. literally. full of straw, hay and aged manure one of our livestock facilities was in need of a clean out.  we had been talking of it for weeks, now that hay feeding season is upon us, we wanted to build a compost pile from last year’s leftovers and have a clean slate for our milk cow to over winter. the timing was perfect. the job was perfect. the weather was perfect.

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last winter’s residents at the shed

two sunny days passed. seven truck loads were moved. one big compost pile was formed. we felt great, the sun and work restored us. the gray has returned. i know this cycle will repeat over and over again until the sun comes back for good next spring. in the meantime, i will treasure every ray i can get!

DSCN0110wishing you all peace and pleasure as the days shorten. soon we will celebrate the solstice and welcome the return of the light. oh yes.