Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Evening at FairWinds...

The evenings are nippy now that fall is here, and dusk falls sooner.
Last night I happened to be outside and snapped this photo. I love the way our house looks with light spilling out the windows. It seems to me that she gathers herself in as the day fades, sighing and settling and folding in her windows and doors against the dark and chill. I know that when I go inside I will smell supper cooking and feel the warmth of this old house protecting all that is most important to me. I love the place at every hour, but she has a special magic at the end of day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ziva gets a job...

Ziva, my Black Mouth Cur, is an energetic soul. I do my best to keep her busy... she helps with the livestock, (loves to herd the goats!) and we have long sessions of fetch, as well as occasional walks and play dates with her best pal, Trixie. But it's not enough.

Across the street from our house is a beautiful, big field. The farmer that owns it hayed it earlier this summer, and then a few weeks ago he began to work the field. I watched him out the windows of the studio for days. On his tractor he plowed and tilled and disked. At least, that is what I think he did, and I am not sure of the order of these tasks, but it was a lot of work. Then he planted a crop of winter rye. It has been coming up nicely, a soft green blush on the dark soil.

Canada geese are passing through as they head south for winter. There is a lake just beyond the field, and all that nice new sprouting rye makes a fine snack for the geese as they rest from their travels. The farmer is not pleased to see them eating up his crop. He drives past in his truck several times a day, and veers into the field, leaning on the horn to send the birds flying.

I called him tonight. He has a good sense of humor so I started off with, "I'm calling to proposition you." He chuckled. "I couldn't help but notice that you are displeased about the geese in the field." He replied, "Oh I hate 'em. They are ripping up my plants by the roots." I said, "Well,here is my proposition. I have a big bouncy dog that would love to chase them for you, and I'll take her over there every time the geese drop in."

He was delighted by the plan and gave us his blessing. So, at dusk, when a large flock landed in the rye, I snapped Ziva's leash on her and we crossed the road. The geese were there, nibbling on the tender shoots. Ziva didn't understand the plan, but trotted ahead of me, happy to explore a new place. The geese were on high alert. Ziva pressed on, exploring. The geese began to move away. "Good dog!" I said. Ziva looked at me, puzzled. Then a few birds lifted off, heading for the lake. "GOOD GIRL!" She looked at me again, and I could see that she was getting the idea. She is so clever she got the plan quickly, and after glancing my way, headed for the remaining geese, picking up her pace. They, too, spread their wings and flew off, complaining loudly. "Good dog!" I said, calling her to me and giving her a treat. She danced about happily. This was FUN.

We'll go back tomorrow any time I see the geese there, I expect that after a few more visits Ziva will embrace the new "game" and chase those birds with gusto. She's the kind of gal that likes her work.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Glass house...

A few years ago I stopped into one of my favorite antique stores and there, out in front, was the cutest little green house. It was 6x8, and just perfect for someone like me. I asked where they got it, and they told me, but said that store no longer carried them. I was sad, and suffered from tiny green house envy.

This summer the people who owned the green house told my daughter that they were moving, and I arranged to buy the wee thing.

Today our friend Scott called and said it would be a good time for him to help us by hauling the thing here for us. And he did just that.

Chris dropped his plans and jumped on board to go get the thing and bring it home to me.

I currently have it tucked up under the apple trees in the side yard, but that may not be the best place. The nice thing is that I can see it from the kitchen, and I can imagine pottering about out there, growing salad greens and starting garden plants early. I can almost smell the scent of sun warmed dirt and growing things. I'm going to have some fun with this new "toy!"

Saturday, September 13, 2014


We have the nicest neighbors. I can't see a single house from our home, but they are there, and I am grateful.

Our closest neighbor is a marvelous cook, and drops by from time to time to bring me a goodie. This week she gifted me with a Whoopie Pie as big as my head. Dense, flavorful cake-like yummyness with light, fluffy vanilla cream in the middle. Oh my.

Then there is John. He came down a few weeks ago to check out the renovations to the porch and the new studio. He noticed that the front door was sticky, and one had to yank it hard to get it open. He never said a word but showed up Friday with a saw and a smile and took my door right off the hinges. It didn't take him long, but he sawed off the sticky spots, then rehung the door and it now magically works.

We are so lucky.

Monday, September 8, 2014


She was sad, she was lonely, she was young and she took her own life. I worked with her for six months or so, admired her easy smile, her gifted way with animals, her patience, her potential.

She was private, kept to herself, but was pleasant to talk to and be around, always. And now I think about all the things she will never do, never experience, never taste, never try. And I am sad in my soul. I vow to live loud, embrace each day and feel every emotion about her passing as hard as I can. Because she couldn't.

Victoria Frost. It was a privilege to know you. 1989-2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ziva's big adventure...

I have mentioned before that Ziva, our Black Mouth Cur, is very smart. I've lived with and loved smart dogs before, but she beats any dog I've known for having rational thought, problem solving, and just basic good sense. She has flaws for sure, but that brain of hers is admirable.

Today was unseasonably hot in Maine. I was feeling a little tired of it, so Chris put me in his car, turned the air conditioning to "stun," and off we went. I left the little dogs in the house and Ziva outside with a bowl of water and a bone to chew on. She had lots of shade, and in the event of a shower, there is a small sheltered roof over the door.

We decided to grab a quick supper while we were out, and on the way home realized there was a problem. Rain was coming, and not just a little shower. Thick black clouds darkened the sky, and lightning flashed. Chris stepped on the accelerator. He was worried knowing every window in the house was wide open and fans were blowing. I was worried about Ziva. The sky opened up and torrential rains made visibility tricky at best.

As we pulled into the driveway I expected to see Ziva there by the door, under the little roof. My heart sank when she wasn't there. I checked the yard. No dog. The rain was coming down hard and the wind whipping. All I could think was that she'd been spooked and jumped the fence, and was out there in the storm, wet and scared. There was nothing to do until the weather blew over a bit, so I began shutting windows and mopping up where rain had swept in.

It occurred to me that perhaps, just maybe, she had sought cover in the goat and pony shed. But that was a bit of a stretch.
Although Ziva is very good around the livestock, she is young and sometimes naughty, and I keep the gate between the yard and the pasture closed snugly to avoid temptation on her part. Sometimes goats and horses and poultry are fun to chase! Ziva has never once gone in the pasture uninvited and of her own accord.

After we had the windows shut and the fans off, Chris donned his rain jacket and went out to the shed. The rain had begun to let up and I was getting ready to walk the neighborhood looking for my poor dog. But here came Chris with one wet Cur slinking behind him. I was so glad to see her.

"Where WAS she?" I asked as I gave her a hug. "In the goat room," he replied.

For the first time in her life, Ziva had pushed the gate open and sought shelter in the best, safest and driest spot she could have possibly found. She was wet but safe. This is one clever dog.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The path...

It is finished!
I am so happy with our new walkways.

The path was dug out, then sand placed in the new space.

The guys that laid the pavers were just so nice. Polite, grateful for cookies and coffee, and truly good at their jobs. They came in on their lunch break to tell me they were going to get food and asked if I wanted anything. I was deeply touched by that gesture. It was pleasant to hear them chatting and laughing together while they worked. It was even more pleasant to look out and see the progress of the amazing path they were creating for us.

And the guys went above and beyond. They laid landscape fabric between the path and the house and shoveled in a layer of stone, which looks very nice. Better yet, Ryan, the owner of the company said to me, "There is an awfully steep grade between the new path and the lawn. I sighed deeply. Those words sounded like they were going to be expensive. "I'm going to take care of that," he said. I didn't understand what he meant until a bit later when he showed up with a dump truck full of beautiful loam. He dumped it, then raked it out, creating a nicer grade. Then the team seeded the loam with grass seed and layered everything with hay, then watered it all in. This was much more than the job he had quoted me for, and I was just blown away by that extra work.

The end result is a wonderful, attractive, safe pathway that will last for a very long time. I am delighted.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor day...

This morning, like every morning, I was up early to take care of my animals. I let the dogs out, milked the goats, let the chickens and ducks out of their nighttime enclosures and fed and watered them. The day spread out before me, a blank slate. The sky was overcast and the day was warm. I felt... LAZY. I wanted to do NOTHING. Actually, what I really wanted to do was snuggle up on my oh-so-comfy sofa and write a few articles.

Chris and I went out for breakfast. On the way home, the sky threatened rain and I happily planned my quiet day writing. And then we got home and the sun burst out of the clouds and I decided I could NOT waste this day. There was so much to be done outside, and the sun was inviting me to come out and play.

One of the happiest things in my life is the end-of-day feeling of "I got a lot done." I've posted about that before, in fact, I semi-jokingly tell my family they should have those words engraved on my tomb stone. But as I reach my mid 50's I find that "getting a lot done" takes a lot out of me. So, when I manage to do "a LOT," I am doubly happy.

I keep a rather impressive "to do" list. Today, with some help from my power tool wielding husband, I crossed a number of those things off of it.
Rearranged some furniture.
Painted the door of the chicken coop to match the pretty new blue I have painted the house doors.
Stained the goat and pony shed (to be fair, I started it yesterday, but finished it today.)
Scraped and got the first coat of paint on a wonderful bench destined to grace our deck.
Got the wrought iron table that was my mom's freshened up with a new coat of paint.
Created a "loafing bench" for the goats. It was made from our former front steps with a board screwed on top. (Re-purposing is GOOD.) The steps got a fresh coat of stain to brighten them up.
Chris hung some very funky old hay forks I had bought at an antique fair on the freshly stained shed to decorate it.


Though my wonderful new grooming studio has been up and functional for several weeks now, I have had no pathway for people to come from the driveway to the door. Every day I apologize to people as they come in, "Please pretend there is a lovely pathway here for you. It's coming soon!" This is what has been available for people to traipse across. It wasn't good.

The problem was I couldn't decide what I wanted for a path. Whatever I chose would be expensive, and I was afraid I'd make a choice that was wrong or bad or unattractive. I needed a path that was pretty. And it had to be safe for people to use, and it had to be easy to scrape snow off of during the long, cold, Maine winters. I thought I might want flag stone, but that would not be so easy to remove snow from. Someone recommended I have a boardwalk made, and that seemed like a good idea, but I was worried it would be slippery and might not last long. My painter suggested I call a buddy of his, who happened to live right up the street from me. So I did. He didn't call back right away, but showed up at my house a few days later. I liked him instantly. His name is Ryan Lanphere, and he seems honest and bold and he surely knows his business. He suggested I use a certain kind of paving stones and though his quote was not inexpensive, I believed he would do a good job and give me a path I would have for many years to come.

Today, a holiday, he arrived with heavy equipment and an irrepressible grin. I fed him a couple of cookies fresh out of the oven and he got right to work.

Tomorrow they will begin to lay paving stones to create the path. This is very exciting!

So, today I will happily claim as one in which, "I got a lot done." I labored on Labor Day. And it was good.