July 31, 2016


I speak here too often of my overwhelming work list and my anxiety about it, the machines that break down and my frustration. I realize I don’t often enough mention those moments when my heart sings.

Looking up from mowing to see my geese waddling down to graze under the apple tree, the mountains behind them, was one of those moments. Sheer happiness.


July 30, 2016


In between mucking, mowing, moving sheep, walking the dogs, and driving Lucy, I’ve been weeding the big future garden in hour-long snatches. I believe I’m about eleven hours into it now. I’ve filled two pallet compost bins that are almost 4′ x 4′ x 4′ high. I think three more hours and one more bin of pulled weeds will see it done. I don’t have a cow in milk this summer, but my forearms are getting a nice workout anyway.

It’s slightly discouraging to think that all this sweating in the hot sunshine could have been avoided if I’d been able to tackle the garden eight weeks ago. However, there are bigger problems in life.

I listen to hymns and pull weeds, and peace like a river attendeth my way. I’ll get it done eventually.

Tick Tock

July 29, 2016

Many of the songbirds have already departed. Crickets and grasshoppers jump away from the mower. Dragonflies hover in the air. My baby girl leaves for college in three weeks. The summer is rushing by.

And my list is still so long! So many things I haven’t even started!

Breathe, breathe.

Fencing the Cabin Field (Again)

July 28, 2016


Last evening at dusk, I turned the cattle into the cabin field. I had worked for several hours yesterday to fence it (and put temporary fencing around the cabin, to keep them off the porch).

I actually had this tiny field fenced last summer. Unfortunately, only a few days after I finished sweating to get the fencing up, Kyle misunderstood an instruction and ripped it all down in fifteen efficient minutes. When I walked out of the barn and saw all the steel fence posts lying on the ground, I’d thought I might faint.

It is always hard for me to be patient with mistakes, harder still to be patient with mistakes I am paying for. However I have learned over many years to (mostly) control my temper. Besides, I make so many mistakes myself that I have become slightly philosophical.

Still, it’s encouraging to regain this bit of lost progress.


Good Enough

July 27, 2016


When I set up my sheep shelters back in May, I didn’t have fresh tarps or enough zip ties on hand. I put up the three-year-old worn-out tarps, fastening them with the last of my ties, just enough to hold them on. I told myself I’d fix the shelters later.

On my next trip to the hardware store, I obediently bought the necessary tarps and ties. Yet somehow I have never gotten around to removing the ripped tarps or even snugging them down with extra ties. The shelters look trashy but work fine. They are good enough.

I’ve long since moved onto the next chore.

Similarly, though I always promised myself the shabby look of baling twine holding things together wouldn’t happen on my farm, there is quite a bit of orange plastic pressed into service around these acres. Here the gas lever is tied open on Allen’s old pull-mower. Eventually this had to be officially repaired by Mike, but for quite some time, the baling twine solution kept me (and the mower) going.


I’ve used my barn addition for two years without building the side and rear doors; I haven’t built the front doors for the garden shed I built last year. I’ve had the cattle grazing in the back field without wiring the field’s own, separate charger.

In several areas of my life I am a perfectionist. I don’t have that luxury at the farm.

I dream of having enough time to finish every project and not rushing from chore to chore, telling myself that whatever I’m dealing with is good enough.

Ironman and Farmer Tan

July 25, 2016

Yesterday was Ironman Sunday here in Lake Placid, when all the roads are closed from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM for the triathlon.

Though many locals resent the Ironman, a part of me always looks forward to this day. The road shutdown puts me in a bubble where no other needs can intrude. I cannot drive anyone or shop for groceries or arrange family appointments. It’s like a travel day in that sense, except that I can’t travel and thus can work, uninterrupted, on whatever my heart desires for hours on end.

This year was different in that I have Stash. Stash is a bit like a child, very dear but also young and needing exercise and entertainment. I could not leave him from morning until night. So we drove down to the farm early. He “helped” me move the sheep (having been shocked by the fence, he stays away and runs around the field while I do this) and then watched as I mucked the barn and brought the cows in.

Stash is always on a leash at the farm. It feels important not to awaken his prey drive, which is considerable. When we hike, he will race off at 30 mph and leap into the air after ruffed grouse that explode out of the brush.

On a leash, unable to run and chase, he watches chickens calmly as the water trough is scrubbed and refilled.


My barn cat, Flossie, twines around him.


The desire to pounce and play is kept under control. Just barely.


But yesterday we were done by 9:30 and then I had to think of what I could work on with a toddler at my side. I could not mow. I could not weedwhack.

I decided to weed the future garden.


Stash was bored but happy to be with me. It was hot but a merciful breeze kept off the biting flies. I pulled weeds for hours. We took occasional breaks for walks to stretch his legs. When my right elbow gave out, I switched to my left.


I got about a third of the garden length cleared and clean, but it is the wide third — the garden expands from 2 feet deep at the top to 10 feet at the bottom — so in my mind, I’m half done.

Having Stash with me made me much more careful to go inside the apartment regularly to drink water and cool down. At lunch time, I peeled off my sweaty double-front Carhartt jeans and hung them on the deck to dry. As I munched on a peanut butter sandwich, I glanced down at my hand on my knee and laughed out loud.

It’s clear why my family teases me about my farmer tan!



July 24, 2016


Thursday I drove to Wadhams to pick up 44 free bales of hay that had been used as seating at a hilltop wedding. The couple had planned to return the bales to their local farmer but the wedding was interrupted by a brief shower, ruining the hay (but not the wedding, as a double rainbow immediately appeared over their ceremony). The hay will be mulch for the soil of my back field, which though improving and sweetening bit by bit every year, still has large areas of sour moss.

Of course I could not pass up $100 worth of free mulch hay. However, neither picking up mulch hay nor spreading mulch hay were on the typed, four-page, single-spaced To-Do list I made in late May. (This list includes line items ranging from “burn the burn pile” to “paint the garage.”)

Lucy leaves for college three weeks from today. I’ve taken her for a physical exam and her last vaccinations and an eye exam and new contact lenses. She had her wisdom teeth pulled this week. I’ve filled out and submitted pages and pages of forms. I’ve been teaching her to drive. But I have yet to take her shopping (to one of two cities an hour or two hours away) for clothes or supplies. That wasn’t on my list either.

Meanwhile, some of the work I’ve already done needs doing again. The fences are growing up in weeds and once more need weedwhacking to keep their charge. I mow in the pastures for at least an hour every day, but remain far behind. Ten days ago I began weeding the future garden and made forty feet of progress. Now that cleared bed is re-sprouting and the untouched length is nearly waist high.


DH tells me we will be hosting another party this week and will have more houseguests the week after.

A friend came over yesterday for tea. She was a half hour late and stayed ninety minutes. We had a wonderful talk — the first time ever since we moved to this house that I actually sat by the lake, and we watched a loon fishing, chatted, and laughed — but that two hours hadn’t been in my plan. The cabin knoll did not get fenced.

I know I need to add more relaxation into my life. However it’s hard to make myself slow down when the days are sliding by and I feel so much pressure to speed up.

I look at my list of undone chores and feel a flutter of anxiety in my chest.