Wednesday, December 30, 2015


My precious mother in law died in 2002. Because she had lived very frugally, she left money for her children. With the inheritance my husband received, we paid for orthodontia work for our daughter, and we bought a truck. 

A beautiful burgundy Ford F150. It was to be for me to drive, and I fell in love, hard.  It was the only brand new vehicle I'd ever had that was just for me.  I loved everything about her, and named her Doozy.  We had a great many adventures together... driving with friends to grooming competitions with dogs, fun road trips and lovely vacations with family. Rachel and her pals where schlepped hither and yon in it, too.  We moved to Maine with Doozy, (with 5 dogs in the back!)  leaving our suburban home to live in the country.  As I began to add livestock to our place, Doozy hauled hay and straw and shavings and sacks of feed. Other than being a little tricky to drive in the snow, Doozy never let me down.

Late this summer we took her in to be inspected and have an oil change and got bad news.  Rust had damaged her frame and she was no longer safe to drive.  I grieved as if I were losing a friend. 

We bought a gently used Toyota Tacoma for me to drive, but I couldn't seem to bring myself to put Doozy up for sale.  Weeks, then months went by.  Then my husband suggested we consider donating the truck to National Public Radio.  I sat on that idea for a while, but finally made the decision. 

Today I took the last few things out of her console. A few clipper blades, some loose change, one random earring and an ice scraper.  This afternoon an enormous flat bed truck pulled up.  The driver got into Doozy and backed her out of the driveway.  He winched her up and drove away.  It made me sad. 

Until I remembered something. I had that wonderful truck because of my mother in law's gift. And that mother in law?  She LOVED to listen to the radio.  She had a radio in every room, two in some rooms!  And she was a fan of NPR.  Suddenly it seemed so right that this good truck was going to help fund public radio.  As sad as I was to see her go, I am grateful for the miles of smiles I had driving her. And I am happy to think the radio that my mother in law was so fond of will be funded by her gift. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow day...

My grooming customers rearranged their appointments for today. The first big storm of the season is upon us.  While Mainer's are not slowed down much by snow, this storm promised snow followed by freezing rain, a dreadful combination.  I woke to a word awash is shades of gray and white, and it was cold when I did chores, 14 degrees.  The horse was waiting in the pasture for breakfast, her thick winter coat blanketed in snow.  She didn't care.  The goats only came out of the shed because I promised breakfast.  They all got a warm drink from the heated bucket after they ate, and headed back inside, out of the storm. I filled the hay racks up and they settled in for a quiet day of eating and napping.  The chickens refused to step outside, as did the ducks.  I brought them all warm water and a big breakfast.  I added extra hay to the rabbits cage, he burrows down deep and looks cozy. 

I filled the wild bird feeders, then I came inside, made breakfast for myself and looked out the window a while.

Warmed and fed,  I got to work.  I like to start the New Year out with some sense of order in my life, and I decided to give my grooming studio a really good scrubbing. This meant moving all the furniture and decorations from where they were so I could wash walls and the inside of the window glass, and give everything an extra good vacuuming. I wiped the walls and the baseboards, and cleaned every little nook and corner.  I even took the pictures off the walls and cleaned behind them.Pet hair is insidious and works its way into the most unlikely places.  Once the "sitting" end of the studio was mopped and clean, I decided to take a little break.  Next I'll polish all the furniture,  dust and wipe the decorative items, and put everything back where it belongs and clean the "business" end.

That feels like a daunting task right now, since it is piled with everything I moved so I could scrub.

Ack!  I guess my break time is over, back to work.  The snow has turned to frozen rain, there are hardly any cars passing on the road outside. I am happy to be snug in the house, bringing order to my life so I can begin the new year fresh and clean. 

Monday, December 28, 2015


It all began innocently enough.  My daughter's friends were visiting from Philadelphia.  They had been out to breakfast, then came to say hi to us. Next they were off to our favorite little antique store. "Do you want to come with us?" they politely asked.  Well of course I did! 

Sadly, I had some cash in my wallet.  More sadly, the store was having a big old sale. 

And I came home with some neat stuff. 

On top is a rather unique silverware caddy.  The edges are curved, rather than square, and the wood is lovely.  It is very old, but sturdy and in excellent shape. I plan to keep my "good" sliver there, ready for entertaining.

Under the caddy is an antique candle box.  Mellow, glowing pine...

With a lovely lid that slides. I already have put a whole stash of candles in there... and freed up a useful kitchen drawer where they used to be stored. 

Treasures!  Things I didn't know I needed, but am glad to have.  Next time I am invited, I think I'll just stay home. It's less expensive.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


My oldest sister and I were chatting early on Christmas eve morning. I told her of the very fattening feast I was planning to cook that evening. It consisted of prime rib and other delicious things, and I also planned to make popovers.  She countered that Yorkshire pudding was far more traditional.  I argued back that I had brand new fancy popover pans and wanted to use them.  When we were kids our mom made both popovers and Yorkshire pudding with some frequency.  They were special treats, and we all loved them both.  To me, popovers always seemed a little fancier.

That night I did, indeed, make popovers, and they turned out quite well.  If you have never made them, they consist of a thin batter made from eggs, milk, flour and a little salt.  Popovers are made in pans similar to muffin tins, greased with butter.  The batter for Yorkshire pudding is about the same, but it is cooked in a larger pan (like a cast iron skillet) which contains some of the fat and drippings from the meat.  Traditionally the "pudding" was cooked to absorb the fat from the roast-on-a-spit meat, and it served to fill up hungry farm workers on inexpensive baked batter before they dove into the expensive meat portion of the meal. 

The magic of both of these is that they puff up with no leavening.  The outside is crisp and golden and the inside moist and tender.  It is best eaten hot out of the oven, and (in my opinion,) dripping with butter. 

We have a bit of the delicious prime rib left over, and are enjoying it so much.  Tonight I decided to make Yorkshire pudding, while the taste of popovers was still fresh in our memories so we could compare. 

It puffed up as it should, and oh! it was so good.  Chris said he prefers it to the popovers, which makes me a little grumpy because, as I previously mentioned, I just bought a special popover pan. 

I think I will need to do further tests to compare.  Lots of them.  Maybe once a week!  Stay tuned. 

And the gifts keep coming...

The phone rang at 8:00 AM.  "Daryl, do you want some Christmas trees?"  It was my friend at the local hardware store. He knew my goats liked the taste of tree. He had a pile of un-sold greenery and was happy to share it with me.  "You bet!" I told him. I had just enough time to make myself look somewhat presentable when the truck pulled up. I directed the driver to back up to the pasture fence, and he did, skillfully.

The truck was filled high with beautiful evergreen trees that never got to be the delight of someones holiday.  That made me sad, but I was delighted to think that the fragrant things soon would be goat snacks. 

Two young employees wrestled off the ropes that were holding the trees into the truck bed, then they cut the string holding the branches of each tree together.  Then the guys tossed the heavy, rather awkward things over the 4 foot fence with ease.

The horse and goats were eating some hay about 100 feet from where the tree tossing was happening.  They all looked up, alarmed at the activity.  The horse stared, ears forward, tail up. Then she snorted, pivoted and took off in the opposite direction at a rapid rate of speed, the goats behind her.  After the guys had left, I walked around to the pasture gate, and the goats and horse all joined me.  Clearly I was their "fearless leader," bravely approaching the dark shapes that had just arrived in the pasture.  They followed closely behind me, alert and on guard. 

Luna, the herd queen, took the lead. Neck stretched, taking tentative steps.  Once she realized what those hulking mounds on the ground were, she took a nibble. Then she pressed right in, sniffing the lush greenery and tasting, tasting. Ella and Celeste followed closely, not wanting to miss out on tree treats.

Little Jane Doe was still concerned.

She looked at the pile of trees, the big goats, and then me.  It seemed she asked, "Is this OK?"  I gave her a reassuring kiss on her little worried face, and soon she, too, was sampling the bounty of Christmas. 

Friday, December 25, 2015


I'm pretty sure it was Dutch's first Christmas stocking.  Inside was a smoked duck foot, some grain free dog cookies shaped like gingerbread men, and a chew toy.  She accepted each treat happily.  Flirt, on the other hand, knew full well what to expect. She ran up the steps and sat expectantly next to her stocking. Santa did not forget her.

Chris surprised me with magnificent vintage transitional cut diamond earrings. 

  What wasn't a surprise was the fact that the day was lovely, calm, quiet and just the way we like it. A happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas eve...

For the past many years we have invited our friends Scott and Marion over for Christmas eve supper. This year was no different.

We cooked a 17 pound Angus prime rib. Chris was most concerned that we cooked it perfectly... well done on the ends, rare in the center. He had calibrated every thermometer in the house last night. I had to laugh when I saw he had used them ALL to make sure the roast was the proper temperature.

It was perfection.

I turned these huge potatoes into to "twice stuffed spuds." They were very tasty./> We sauteed mushrooms, steamed broccoli, and I made popovers that were quite delicious.

Rachel made the most amazing Boston Cream Pie, all from scratch.

I normally don't have time to fuss with table, but today I did. I used some of my favorite china, my grandmothers flatware, some fresh greens and lots of candles in crystal. Chris brought me roses. I put them in my mom's antique cruets.

We met a new friend. Jerome, Rachel's boyfriends father, joined us. We enjoyed meeting him so very much.

I have enjoyed this Christmas season... the decorating, the plotting of gifts, the music. Today was a treat;working in tandem with my daughter, producing a feast. I was so happy. And so grateful. This season has been a gift.

Merry and Bright...

May your days be Merry and Bright!
From me and all the little faces at FairWinds, we wish you a joyous holiday and a delicious New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


I saw this on the internet a while back and liked it very much.

Last week some of my family members jetted off to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. They minimized the Christmas holiday and opted to sip fruity drinks on a pristine beach instead. The day after they left I was working in my grooming studio, and looking at the very full work schedule I had in the time before Christmas. The thought occurred to me, "I should be jealous, they are in a tropical paradise and I am here working hard in chilly, dreary New England." I tried to work up some envy, but you know what? I couldn't. Not even a smidgen.

It was then that is occurred to me, I had reached the goal. I was (and am) perfectly happy grooming pets in my little studio, looking at the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle on one side, and my livestock outside the windows in the other side. Although I am certain that I would have a fabulous time if I were with my family frolicking in the waves and sitting in the sun,(and I hope they are having a blast!) I am perfectly happy and content right here, right now, with my day to day life.

And that makes me feel incredibly lucky and blessed.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Most years the holiday season is so busy that I don't have time to make Christmas cookies until Christmas Eve. We eat too many, we give them to the neighbors, the chickens get the leftovers. They don't complain. This year I have been making them for the grooming studio, and it's been such fun.

I found a fun frosting recipe, too, and have been adding some sugar crystals. Not high art, but mighty tasty. I'd love to create cookies that look the way they do in magazines,but that is not my talent. However, these make up in flavor what they lack in beauty. My customers are so cute, looking all surprised about Christmas cookies and having a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. "It's so cozy here," they tell me, and "It's so nice to take a break." They sigh deeply and settle into a rocker. I sigh,too,happily, and get to work. It's all very sweet.

The only problem is that I keep eating the cookies. They are buttery and delicious. The scales will register a gain. I've decided its worth it.

This holiday season has been delightful. Busy but not too busy. Full and festive and fine. And with all those cookies? Delicious.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A dangerous place...

Today I went to the local livestock auction. It was my second trip. The first time I came home with two little brown hen ducks, which have turned out to be delightful characters. I had no plans to bring anything home today, but I did take my truck, with a crate in the back. Just.In.Case.

The little calves make me sad. Some are brand new, as in, just born in the last 24 hours. They've been taken from their mamas, shipped, poked, prodded and paraded. I try not to think about it.

See all those cardboard boxes to the right? They are full of chickens, mostly. The occasional duck, goose, or rabbit appear as the auction continues, as well.

Some are packaged better than others. This guy kept us entertained as we watched. A man in front of us that farms nearby bought him. I think he'll have a good home.

A few rabbits were auctioned off. I have been sort of wanting a rabbit. We had one which we loved, but she died of natural causes a few years back. Out of the blue, the woman next to me said, "You need a rabbit." I smiled at her. She continued, "When we bought our farm a few years back, someone told me that if you kept a free range rabbit in your barn you'd never have rats. They don't like the smell of the rabbits urine." I looked at her, gobsmacked. We've had a bit of a rodent problem of late, and I have trapped a few rats. I fear there may be more. When the poultry handler pulled this tiny rabbit out of a soggy looking box a moment later I elbowed my companion, "Bid on the bunny." She looked at me as if I had sprouted a second head and held her number high. The bidding was fast and furious, and quickly went over $10. My friend said, "I'm not bidding any higher." I gave her another vicious poke, "YES, yes! Bid!" In two seconds the deal was done. I spent $17.50 for an unknown rabbit. The woman to my left looked appalled. "That is the most expensive rabbit here." I shrugged. Farewell, rats!

Turns out he is a 7 month old Netherland Dwarf rabbit. He is currently settled into a crate in the garage with a bowl of water, (he drank and drank when I offered it to him,) some fresh food and tasty hay. He seems to be a friendly chap. I think his name is Mr. Abbot. Mr. Peter Abbot, (say it fast.)

My friend brought home a loud goose. It could have been worse. We didn't bring a calf or pig or anything with hooves. I should avoid this auction. It's a dangerous place for me.

I can't wait to go again.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Decked halls...

We keep Christmas rather low key here at FairWinds. But there are traditions that must be upheld, and putting up some decorations is one of them. There are little candles in the windows, shining bravely into the long New England night, and looking so cheery as one approaches the house. Simple wreathes on the doors, fragrant and lovely.

Daughter Rachel and her boyfriend did much of the decorating of the tree this year... with some pauses to decorate patient Evans. Chris laid out a platter of cocktail shrimp, and another of sliced vegetables with ranch dressing. We popped a bottle of bubbly and played Christmas music, snacking while we festooned the tree.

It is the best tree yet! (And yes, I do say this every year.)

There is just something about unwrapping the ornaments each year. All those memories...

I stitched this little heart the first year we were married.

And the ones Rachel made when she was wee always make me smile...

There was a slightly squished birds nest in the tree when I brought it home. I plumped it up and tucked a little bark bird inside.

In the kitchen my Santa Clause collection has taken over the little antique hutch my mom gave me.

These Santa's have been gifted to me over the years by some of my favorite friends, family and customers. They are so cheery!

And in the front room the nativity's have reign.

My daughter made the blue figures on the left when she was in high school, and I treasure them. The ceramic set was made for me by a sweet friend in Memphis. I particularly love the little angels up in the shelf, especially the sleeping baby one on the right.

Random shelves are topped with greens trimmed off the bottom of the tree. The pine cone lights delight me with their warm glow.

The halls are decked! I do love the beauty of Christmastime.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Laughing in the rain...

My animals are expensive to keep. And they are a lot of bother. But they make my laugh, and that is worth riches.

It's been raining for several days. The world is gray and awash in cold mud.

I took a break from work around noon today to take the horse and goats some fresh hay. I pulled on my tall boots,shrugged on a jacked, and slogged outside. I got a few flakes of hay out and made my way to the shed. I noticed, as I walked, that there was not a chicken to be seen. They were all snuggled up somewhere, hiding from the damp skies. The ducks, however, were waddling from puddle to puddle, commenting loudly, and seemingly having a fine time.

Once inside the dry shed, I hoisted one flake of hay into the horses rack, and she and a few of the goats tucked into it as if they had not been fed for a week. Then I went to the goat room. Luna goat was lying in what I like to think of as "her" corner. She presses in close to the wall, leaning her shoulder and hips against the wood. She is the herd queen, and takes the prime spot of the shed as her own. She looked regal and dry there, snuggled up on the shavings. Goats dislike the rain with a burning passion, and flat refuse to go out in the wet. They look upon it as my duty to serve them food there when the weather in inclement.

The above picture is from a different day, but you can see the corner behind the goats. That is where Luna was today. And let me add here, that my goats are large. A hundred and fifty pounds or so. This is important to the story, as you will see in a moment.

When Luna saw that lunch was served, she rose, regally. First she rocked up onto her knees, then lifted her haunches. Next she straightened her lovely front legs. I watched her admiringly. I just plain like the way she looks, and I spend a lot of time gazing at her fondly. While I was watching, to my total and complete surprise, a hen came flapping out from behind the big goat. The bird was damp from the rain and it looked... curiously flat. And furious. I stood there a moment, trying to comprehend what had happened. Then a thought occurred to me and I looked tight into the corner, where Luna had been pressed just a moment before. This is what I saw:

A little cozy nest, and a fresh egg. The first egg my new pullets have produced. What I surmise is this: the chicken, following some deep, primal urge, made herself a little nest in the cozy shed. Then she settled down on it and went through the process of laying her very first egg. When hens lay they appear to go into a trance. When she was hunkered down there, trying to have a private moment and work out some strange internal forces, Luna chose to take a nap. And she laid right down on bird. When goats lie down to rest, they tend to settle in for a while. They ruminate, digesting the food they have recently ingested, and look for all the world as if they are pondering great things. Sometimes they doze. Chances are, Luna had been there a pretty long time. And the poor chicken had been squished behind or under her, trapped.

The damp, flat bird stalked off, squawking and indignant. As she ran, her feathers resumed their puffiness and she regained her round shape. Once I was assured she was fine I began to laugh. And laugh some more. Those critters? They are worth every cent and moment.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Beauty rediscovered...

When I graduated high school my mother offered to take me shopping to buy something I really wanted.
I knew just where I wanted to go. There was a wonderful jewelry store in Ipswich, Massachusetts that specialized in sterling silver, and featured Native American and turquoise delights.

I looked at everything, and finally chose a "Squash Blossom" style necklace. It cost $150.00, which seemed a very extravagant gift, indeed. One of my best friends mom had a necklace in this style, and she looked so classically beautiful and elegant when she wore hers.

I wore and wore it, and it began to become dull and tarnished. I was afraid to try to polish it, because I didn't want to damage the turquoise. It was so tarnished I couldn't enjoy wearing it. Recently I asked a local jeweler if he could help, and he said to bring it by, he thought he could.

He was right!

37 years of dirt and tarnish is gone, leaving the lustrous glow of silver and sweet memories.

Friday, November 27, 2015


It was a lovely Thanksgiving. Maybe the best yet.

The turkey, pasture raised by my friend, was by far the most delicious we've ever had.

The tables were festive.

There were visiting dogs.

And visiting with dogs.

And other random visiting.

There was a gracious plenty of food.

Sister Deb and I paused before we called everyone to dish up their meal, and just listened. We listened to the sound of all the happy voices, the laughter, the sweet strains of soft music threading throughout. It was a magical.
And the teamwork that happened to make the whole event run smoothly was very fine. Chris stocked the pantry and refrigerators so that as we cooked every single thing we needed was right at hand. Daughter Rachel helped me clean and organize and decorate and cook. Sister Deb brought lovely ironed tablecloths and pretty linen napkins, and pies and breads and other yummy contributions. She also made enviable gravy. Other folks brought things to add to the enjoyment of the day. And the day was undoubtedly enjoyable!

When the eating was over the "kids," all headed for the most comfortable spots... covered up in quilts and dogs and giggles.

And there they stayed, until they'd digested enough to fit in some dessert. The day ended with us full, in so may ways.

Then today it was up and at 'em, putting the house back in order, and eating. Again. Dessert for breakfast, leftovers for brunch. We took fall decorations down, and put some greens up. Just for fun. And then we participated in a tradition my niece Emily started a few years back. We decorated gingerbread houses. Such a delightful thing to do.

Before I knew it they were all gone, the last car sliding out to the road and away. And the house sighed and felt very, very quiet.
An air of contentment lingered. Yes, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving.