good enough

The weather this weekend was perfect for getting in more hay. After it was all cut on Sunday, our round baler broke in a way that was not easily repaired. Parts will have to be ordered which takes time, and rain is in the forecast for Wednesday. Luckily, Billy was able to borrow our neighbor’s round baler for the afternoon. They are the worst bales he ever made, so loose and floppy and the strings never tied, but we don’t care too much because at least they are done.

yesterday and today

Yesterday I barely remember and today started at four am. I’ve been busy getting back to the outside work I didn’t do while it was raining. Thursday is trash day, we were out of bread and yogurt so I made both after breakfast, did some cleaning in the barn, fed the pigs, made roasted kale for lunch, spent a couple of hours in the studio, and pushed the lawn mower a bit before the girls got home. The butcher called too. By the late afternoon the boxes of pork had all been delivered. Then the girls and I left for our Lego League meeting. We pulled back in our driveway at about eight thirty and found the sheep out, running loose in the yard and through the car barn. The girls were sent in to get ready for bed and Billy came out with a flashlight to help with the sheep. It is much easier with two people.

All done now.

The coyotes are out tonight too. I hear them down in the woods all yapping at once. I was thinking of them as I walked through the darkness looking for stray sheep but they were quiet then.

No photos today. You know what pigs look like, lying in the sun under a blue October  sky, don’t you? That would have been my photo. Or, a photo of my cat giving me a lazy look before she fell back asleep on my side of the bed. Maybe she is still there keeping a warm spot for me.

picking apples

Our neighbor invited us over to pick apples from his trees which we did as soon as it stopped raining, taking eggs to offer in exchange. First stop was in the barn to see the cats (there are many)  while Billy and Paul talked for a minute about the quality of hay that has been rained on repeatedly. Luckily, it isn’t our hay this time. The ground was so soft from the rain, any apples that dropped sunk into the sod. We sent the girls up and caught the ones they threw down which filled three bags and makes me feel a little less guilty about keeping the stove going this time of year. Apple sauce is bubbling as I write.


After all that rain the sun came out today and we left the house to sit under the trees and then to move slowly through the garden. We had a full house. My brother Michael and Gloria brought up my parents who just flew in from California. Gloria told us a story about their flight to Spain for her brother’s wedding and about being bumped up to first class. She has determined that perhaps Michael does not actually get motion sickness. After champagne and a multiple course dinner (Gloria chose the cod, while Michael had the braised short ribs) they lay flat under hand stitched quilts and had to stretch across the space between their chairs/beds just to have their fingers tip touch. Before the six hour flight was over, breakfast was served as well. Michael didn’t miss a meal and flew without illness. After all this time, we are now able to properly diagnose him with coach class sickness.

We didn’t talk about it because really what is there to say, but the flight home must have been hard.


letter from 2006

I was searching for something in our gmail inbox and found this letter instead. It’s from February 1, 2006 written by Billy. Henry is our nephew and he recovered from the accident after a long scary stay in the hospital, of which he has very little memory.

Dear W, Here is the update. Now please bear with me. Appearances not withstanding, what follows is not me rambling incoherently, or at least not more than usual. Ahem. My godfather and cousin, the late Paul Beatty Harlan (also Kate’s grandfather, but that is another story) owned and operated several successful dairy farms in Churchville including Homelands where David milked before building the new barn at Broom’s Bloom. Thirty five years ago or so a new relatively upscale (they like to think) development was built adjoining Homelands on the south side. In church one day, after a week where a field next to said development had been used to spread manure, a rather haughty woman approached Paul Beatty and said,” Mr. Harlan,the smell from your farm is atrocious lately. I can scarcely breathe. What do you have to say?” His reply, in that half-yell of the partially deaf was,” LADY, THAT’S the SMELL OF PROSPERITY!!!”  He enjoyed telling that one until the day he died.       The staff at the hospital told Ariel that the sense of smell is the last to leave, whether under anesthesia or just on the way out, and suggested they bring an object with a familiar aroma that would evoke a positive response, so David brought in a well used barn hat and placed it next to him, the barn of course being Henry’s second home. The response was swift. It may be an exaggeration to say that he was flopping like a fish on the beach, but David said that he began moving so much that they had to remove it for fear of dislodging the myriad tubes in him. Today they backed the machine down to 20% from 60% to see if he could take it. He did. Those numbers are basically the amount of work the machine is doing compared to what Henry is doing. That was good, and they then went back to the previous ratio in order to let his lungs continue to recover unencumbered. They also brought him out of sleep slightly and asked him to open his eyes. He did so. He was asked to squeeze their hand and this he accomplished also. Then they put him under again because of the whole tube thing. They intend to keep him under several more days before bringing him out. They currently feel that any brain damage is likely to be slight, if at all. Only time will tell, but signs are more positive today. Should things continue to go well, I intend to think of manure only as THE SMELL OF RECOVERY!!  He is a long way from out of the woods yet, there is so much that can go wrong, and quickly wrong at that, and much uncertainty about the extent of the damage that will only be resolved after he wakes up, but we are feeling more positive today. Never underestimate the power of positive stinking. Pass it on.-WDV

Hay Day

C is for clover.

                                                            . . . . . . . . . .

I asked the girls to hang out the laundry, which was done in record speed. It isn’t done the way I do it, but do I care when I didn’t have to lift a finger? Not even slightly.


When school gets out for the summer we head over to Knapp’s Farm in Preble to pick their organic strawberries. I think it was last year that my friend Beth and I stopped by to pick berries and found that they were closed for the season.  Very disappointing.  This spring I decided to plant our own  patch but it takes a year to harvest so I was pretty happy to see the Knapp’s sign out on the road again this week. A very nice girl warned us upon arrival that the rain last week was hard on the berries and that we would have to look pretty carefully, and that did turn out to be true. We ran out of time before we could fill our last container but maybe it was just as well. The two green boxes were nearly eight dollars. We will have  to savor the few we have this year. For anyone who is interested, there were lots of nearly ripe berries, so picking will be great by the weekend. Don’t forget to take containers.


Today feels like the first real day of summer. It is Monday morning and instead of packing lunches at six, the girls slept in and I have the quiet house to myself.

The alarm clock still went off at its usual hour but it feels good to be moving at my own pace. I just need to remember to that the entire summer’s worth of work can not done in a week.

Then the girls were up and busy.

On a  Monday morning, the fact that I have time to notice barn swallows perched on the old Farmall M makes me happy.