Goings and Comings

December 1, 2017

Early to barn chores yesterday to put out hay, turn out the cows, then sort out the four ewe lambs and turn out the rest of the flock.

My buyers from Maine arrived exactly at 7:30 AM as promised. Unfortunately they arrived in an open truck with a stake rack only two bars high. My sheep would have been loose on the highway — except that they’d never have made it to the highway; in their panic they’d have hopped out at the farm. I had a moment of inner rage. (My patience is a thin veneer, especially under the time pressure of having to shower and change and get to work on time.) However I managed to smile and move on to problem-solving. In the end I gave them half of a welded wire panel and we tied it on over the top of the stake rack with baling twine.

The couple was very pleasant and their obvious delight in the beauty of the sheep — so much bigger and prettier, they said, than their flock of Clun Forests descended from stock from another breeder — that I was mollified long before they drove out. They spoke of moving their sheep to fresh grass every day, and it always makes me happy to have my animals go to good homes. Meanwhile I am relieved to have lower numbers in my barn. (I have two handsome ram lambs still to sell. Given the lateness of the season I may be wintering them over.)

After teaching my four classes I went to town for errands. Imagine my surprise and delight when I drove in after dark to see a college van dropping off Lucy for the night! The ski team was in town to ski on the neighboring trails and will be returning today, so Lucy elected to sleep at home.

Happiness is having your baby girl showered and in p.j.s doing homework in front of the fire, even just for one night.


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2017

Our neighbor Sue took this picture of dawn coming up on the mountains this morning. DH and I are alone this Thanksgiving, as Lucy is in Canada with her college ski team and Jon and Amanda are in Connecticut.

This has been and continues to be a year with a lot of stress for DH on the work front, and considerable sweat for me on the home front. However, we and all our loved ones are healthy, and, despite its being unfinished, we are in our new home on the farm! I am very grateful.

Thank you, God!

Lucy is 20!

October 30, 2017

My baby is a sophomore in college and twenty years old today.

I tend to think of her as a bit younger. Maybe 5, as in the photo above snapped by DH with his Palm Pilot in 2003, showing us that she’s lost her first tooth. Or 7, snuggling in my lap on Christmas morning.

I miss my cuddly girl, but I’m very, very proud of the smart, kind, strong, dedicated, and extremely fast young woman she’s become.

Happy birthday, Lulubird!

Anniversary Shower

October 21, 2017

Boy! It’s been hectic! In the midst of the non-stop schedule, however, DH and I were able to drive to Vermont last Sunday for a beautiful anniversary luncheon thrown by Amanda’s mother, Judy, at the Trapp Family Lodge, where Jon and Amanda were married exactly one year ago.

The meal was festive. Judy made a delicious squash soup and served crusty bread. There was cider and champagne, and everyone had a slice of saved wedding cake. It was great to see everyone from the wedding and to reconnect with our great old friends, Jean and Jerry, whom we’ve loved and admired for over thirty years.

Since Jon and Amanda’s firstborn is due at Christmas, we celebrated the anniversary with a baby shower.

This child is destined to be very stylish, like Amanda.

Jon seemed a bit incredulous as he unwrapped some of the tiny items.

They also received almost all the classic children’s books — the baby will be well-dressed and well-read!

In my practical vein, we gave them a car seat. (The giant box had barely fit in our car and DH had helped me repair the slightly squashed wrapping paper in the parking lot before it was carried in.)

Too soon, we had to leave for the long drive home. Before departing we took a few family pictures:  DH, Amanda, Jon, Judy, and me…

… and: Jean, DH, Amanda, Jon, Judy, me, and Jerry. Jerry was head of the school where Jon and Amanda met at age 6.

A bright and happy day — thank you, Judy! — and I did my best to keep my germs from everyone. A week later, my cough is finally almost gone.

Fleeting Visit

August 26, 2017

This is the first of what I hope will be many years of photos with my kids on the front steps of our farm house. Jon and his wife Amanda came up for a quick double overnight. Aeons ago, I had invited them up to celebrate their 30th birthdays in June. With building delays, the celebration was then pushed to the 4th of July. However after the disaster of our move into a construction zone and the ensuing flood, all plans were put on hold. Last week I suddenly woke up to realize time was running out (Lucy returns to college on Monday), so Jon and Amanda dashed up for brief stay.

It was lovely to have them here, even for this short visit when DH had to work fourteen-hour days, the house is unfinished, and boxes are everywhere. I loved seeing them curled up in the living room chairs and hearing them laughing with Lucy in the basement. They tried out their Lake Placid bedroom. Jon unpacked books onto basement shelves.

In the evening, the four of us watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens on television. Despite the rather battered appearance of Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher (the latter my own age at the time of filming), our family has watched the Star Wars saga so many times — with two children a decade apart — I had the odd sensation that time had rolled back and all my chicks, now including Amanda, were back in the nest and it was years ago.

It is so exciting to know we will have a new little one at Christmas!


Pressing On

June 28, 2017

Yesterday young Nick and I cut and hung sheetrock in the corner of the basement. I have never worked with sheetrock before and made sure to read about it online before starting work in front of the smiling pros.

The job was difficult primarily because the space is so packed with boxes and furniture that it was hard to find room to tilt each piece to stand it upright. Then we had to shuffle with each piece (just short of 8 feet high) through the narrow aisle without catching it against the 8-foot ceiling or the floor.

Moreover, after we had our first three sheets up, contractor Nick (working nearby on plumbing) glanced over and realized he should not have told me to place the top furring strip so far down the wall, because it was too low to be a brace for a future dropped ceiling. He jumped in to help us fix this problem with more furring strips. We had only proceeded by another sheet when he similarly realized we needed some bracing behind the long vertical seams, to help keep the drywall from bowing. Again young Nick and I unscrewed, removed, braced, and rehung the sheetrock.

Two more sheets to cut and hang today to finish the corner. I’m not sure young Nick will be with me. It will be a challenge to stand up and carry the sheets on my own, but I imagine I will figure it out.

Then it is on to moving all the boxes out of the way, moving all the bookcases into place, and unloading books onto the shelves. It actually would be a fun assignment if the time pressure didn’t feel so crushing.

And if I didn’t have the potential disaster of Moxie’s impending calving in the back of my mind.

Fetching Furniture

June 22, 2017

Here is Moxie’s expression yesterday morning at 6:30 AM. “Who, me? Calve?”

Here is her udder, swollen and hanging below her hocks, when she limped into the barn for the day. Surely it can’t get much bigger?

But since there was no immediate milk fever crisis at hand I decided to jump in the truck and head to Connecticut.

Early this spring Jon and Amanda began driving all over Connecticut, picking up furniture bargains I found on Craigslist. After thirty years in faculty housing DH and I owned no furniture apart from a couple of beds and two dozen bookcases, so we needed a lot. Connecticut options seemed to be nicer, more available, and less expensive than those I saw in the Adirondacks. Amanda and Jon were kindly willing to lend a hand.

First up, appropriately, was a dresser and mirror for their room. This is a solid piece, extremely cheap due to a couple of chipped and scratched drawers. I think I will be able to repair the two chips and hide the scratches.

Jon and Amanda were able to get both the dresser and the mirror into their Explorer and safely home to their garage.

(I asked them to document their trips so I could enjoy them vicariously.)

Next up was a dresser for DH and me. This one came with not only a mirror but a matching nightstand.

I like this dresser. It reminds me of the furniture I grew up with. It is a knock-off of an expensive piece, but still heavy, decently made, and, second-hand — cheap. Jon was dubious that they could fit both the dresser and nightstand in the car.

But with squishing and Amanda’s finely-tuned packing ability, they succeeded!

On another trip they picked up a dresser I found for Lucy. It was the heaviest yet, in white cottage beadboard style, exactly what Lucy wanted. (Sadly, no photo — we’ll have to wait to see it in the room.) In an amazing stroke of luck, a few days later I found the matching nightstand up here in the Adirondacks.

Finally, they picked up a set of six ladderback chairs to go with the dining room table I had previously bought in Vermont.

Yesterday I drove to Connecticut to fetch it all (except Lucy’s dresser and a couple of the chairs, which Amanda had brought up on her recent solo visit). When I saw their packed garage I worried that we couldn’t fit everything in the truck, but with some climbing around, adjustments, and clever repositioning, we succeeded. Jon and I were damp with sweat by the time we had the tailgate safely latched.

It was wonderful to spend a quick hour with the kids over lunch. I am so grateful for their hard work traipsing around Connecticut to get all these things for our home. I dream of lots of happy family times in this house.

Thank you, Amanda and Jon!

It was a whirlwind 12-hour trip. DH had baked a frozen pizza and was just pulling it out of the oven when I got home in time for a late supper at 8:30 PM.

And… still no calf!