Thursday, March 31, 2016


Thirty two years ago, on a beautiful mountain in Lynchburg, Virginia, I said "I do," to this guy.
And he did, too.

It's been a wonderful, magical, love and laughter filled union.  I am grateful every day.
We eloped on my birthday, and today I turned 56.
We both took the day off work. He drove me to Pemaquid Point, one of my favorite spots. The surf crashed on the rocks, and bell buoy called out a lonesome song.  We scrambled around on the rocks, not very gracefully, and both felt our age. I leaned on him as we went from boulder to boulder, much as I do every day, as we go through life.

This is the spot where some of my ancestors were shipwrecked in in 1635.
Chris refers to them as my "navigationally challenged ancestors."

We then grabbed some excellent friend clams and scallops at a favorite little lunch place, and continued our adventure.  We drove on roads we had never been down before, and popped into interesting little shops that beckoned.  There was hand holding and chatting and comfortable silences... the kind you can appreciate when you have spent decades together. 

And then we came home, our favorite place to be. It was a lovely birthday and anniversary.  Or, as we call it, "birthdaversary." 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Winged visitors...

A Red Shouldered Hawk has been hanging out in the trees around the perimeter of the property lately. It worries me, because it could attack my poultry.  When I see him I go outside and throw the ball for Dutch, reminding the bird that there are dogs about and he should look elsewhere for a meal.
But I can't help admire the feathered beauty. 

Bohemian Waxwings are migrating through. They travel in flocks, and call out a signature "Scree" song.  The travel from fruit tree to fruit tree, eating the old apples or berries with gusto.  They are skittish and shy, making it especially sweet if I manage to snap a decent picture or two.

 They don't stay long, but certainly do liven the place up when they visit. I don't begrudge them a meal of old fruit in the way I would that hawk a meal of one of my ducks.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Rembrant light...

When late afternoon sun streams down and washes the world in warm tones, my husband calls it "Rembrandt light." After a full day of snow the sun slanted in and I grabbed my camera while I did chores.  The dogs explored the meadow, the hoof-stock enjoyed supper and the chickens found their roosts.  I looked for the ducks.  At first I couldn't find them, but then I heard one mutter and looked down the low end of the pasture.  They had waddled a long, cold way through the snow to the wet spot that I refer to as "puddle pond." 

And that was the prettiest part of my day, for sure.

Spring in Maine...

I have been hurrying the change of season. I hung spring wreaths on the doors and a bright, flowery flag is flapping over the deck.  The calendar assures us that spring is here.

I bought daffodils, hoping they would attract the season with their magnetic cheer.

But outside the backdrop is white on white. Winters last (hopefully!) hurrah is covering any signs of seasonal change with a chilly blanket.

 The ducks seem miserable in the snow, but refuse to stay in their dry hutch, where food and water and deep shavings await them. Instead they forge forlornly about, plopping down every few moments, to (ostensibly) warm their feet.

Little Mr. Bluebird was joined this morning by a lovely female.  He showed her where the meal worms are, and they have been gobbling them all all morning.  He looks forlorn in the snow.
The doves hunker down. This is old news to they who winter here.  They know the cold and snow will lose its grip on us very soon. That warmer days await.  I am hunkered down, too, yearning for reality to catch up to the calendar.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New Bird of Happiness...

In the previous post I mentioned that I had heard a Bluebird singing, and had caught a glimpse of him, too.  He has been  spending time in my birch tree, singing his happy springtime song. And to my delight he is frequenting the feeder where I placed some meal worms for him.  The feeder is very close to my window, and he is a bit skittish of movement, but I think he will soon get used to me.

I took this picture from just inside the window.

 Eastern Bluebirds winter over in the southeastern U.S. or Mexico.  It amazes me that these wee, delicate birds can travel hundreds or even thousands of miles between their winter territory and their summer nesting grounds.  I hope this guy can rest, stock up on food and scout out a place to woo a female and raise chicks right here at FairWinds.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


When I woke up Saturday morning, the very first thing that registered in my sleepy brain was that I could hear a bluebird singing.  It was the first time this spring, and a joyful sound.  I saw him, too, perched on the birch tree in the front yard. I hustled outside and stole the tub of meal worms that I keep on hand for the chickens. I put some in a prominent feeder.  The bluebird obliged and came to check out my offering. I don't know if he sampled the fare or not, but I was so happy that I had something to present him with.

Today Chris and I cleaned out the blue bird boxes.
The top nest, from last summer, was built by Bluebirds. It is made from meadow grass, and tucked into the bottom of the house we provided. 

The second nest was constructed by Tree Swallows, not Bluebirds.  You can tell because it is lined with feathers.  Tree Swallows like Bluebird houses, and they love white feathers.  I have seen them playing with feathers, dropping them in the air, then swooping down to catch it. Drop, swoop, repeat.

The boxes are now clean and ready for birds who want to have a cozy spot to raise a brood.  I so hope some do!

Spring shots...

Just a few snapshots from daily life at FairWinds...
 The Silky chickens are very excited to explore the pasture on fine early spring days. They are so comical looking... guaranteed to make me smile every time I catch a glimpse of them.  They are so dumb, though... when they get too far from their coop I have to go round them up and show them the way home.

Chanel and Celeste both enjoyed a long drink of fresh, warm water on a chilly spring morning. So sweet, cheek to cheek.

Friend Marion has been busy welcoming new lambs to her farm. I may have lost track, but I think 9 new little babies have graced her farm so far.  Several sets of twins and one "litter" of triplets.  I don't think she has been getting much sleep in the last few weeks. 

These two will be coming to live here for the summer when they are a bit bigger. I can hardly wait!

Goat quote...

My daughter offered to cook supper for our family last night. She invited her boyfriend to join us. Rachel is a natural cook, intuitively adding seasonings that would never occur to me, and creating delicious taste sensations.  She planned on cooking some goat chops, which made me a little worried. 

Several years ago I bought some very expensive goat chops at the local farmers market. We had never tried goat,and thought it would be a good idea to taste it because we were planning to butcher a buckling.  I cooked the chops carefully.  My husband, who has eaten my cooking for over 30 years with never a complaint, literally spit the meat out of his mouth.  He ended up eating a peanut butter sandwich for supper and we thought we just didn't like goat meat. I sold the buckling instead of putting him in the freezer.

 This fall our daughter had a young goat butchered and she has so far cooked goat shanks, (with Italian flavorings) and an Indian inspired curried leg roast. Both were slow cooked, highly seasoned and delicious.  But those chops had me concerned, due to our unhappy earlier taste of them.

She looked up some recipes, and then added her own spin, rubbing the chops with herbs and olive oil.  She cooked them up hot and fast.

I shouldn't have worried.  They were delicious. Tender, moist, and flavorful.  Her boyfriend cleaned his plate then said, "I never thought I'd be eating so much GOAT."  Neither did we, but we find we like it quite a lot!

New/old hobby...

When I was in high school I took a sewing class and loved it. The beautiful fabric, the magic of the machine joining pieces together, the fun of creating, all of it.  I learned to put in zippers and create button holes, I made myself a cranberry wool skirt and was so pleased! I stitched several quilts, too.
Then I got busy with life and my poor sewing machine languished. I finally gave it away to a teenage girl who had big aspirations and little cash.

Last year I was given a beautiful, new, modern sewing machine. I stitched up one little craft project and that was the extent of my efforts.  So when my daughter suggested that we take a sewing class at the local high school I thought it was an excellent idea.  We became more familiar with our wonderful sewing machines (she has one just like mine,) and last week we actually completed a delightful project...

Pillows!  I found happy fabric that looks like a wildflower garden. We created our own pattern under the watchful eye of our instructor, and beneath my hands the machine magically whipped up these gems.  Much of it came back to me, the rhythm of the work had a lovely familiarity.  It was such fun to be there, on a cold and rainy night, creating.

In the hall of the school an excited woman showed off an amazing basket she had made in her class, and the air was scented with cooking food from another room where a group of laughing people were experimenting with some new recipes.  I think I'll need to take more of these classes. Who knows what new/old hobby I can discover next?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Road trip...

Chris and I enjoy going for a drive in the country together, and today we did just that, with a little purpose.

We headed towards Fryeburg, a lovely trip past woods, rivers, and lakes and into the White Mountains.  We stopped and had a little breakfast first, and eventually ended up in Stow.

We went to meet someone.

A lovely lady, named Bandit.
An English Shepherd, carrying puppies. I wanted to meet her to see if a pup of hers might be a pleasant addition to our little farmlette. Calm, elegant, and obviously very intelligent, she made an excellent impression on us.
She hopped up into my truck, hoping we might take her for a ride.  I hope she was not too disappointed when we politely refused.  With any luck, however, we'll bring one of her puppies for a ride in May!  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Signs of spring...

Vernal equinox is a mere two weeks from today.  Last year this day in March found us surrounded in snow.  Today was cold, but there is no snow to be seen.  When I did chores this morning it was 17 degrees. I accidentally got my gloves wet while watering the animals, and that was regrettable.  Despite the chill, there are hints of spring all around us.

Among the brown shades of dirt and leaves, chives are poking up in the garden.

To my delight, daffodils are braving the season as well.

There is open water where last year it was hard as iron.

And joy!

The Canada geese are here, maybe headed for more southern climes, or maybe here to stay.  Either way, its a good sign.

My friend reports that one of her sheep lambed today. Yes, spring is coming, rich with new life and possibilities.  If I had to choose a favorite time of year, this would be it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A nod to my childhood...

I had a dream last night that Chris and I were moving into an enormous house on the ocean.  It had a big swimming pool, and each room was marvelously decorated, though not to my personal taste.  I had mixed feelings, in my dream, about moving to this house, which was so large I couldn't even find all the rooms.  I have had similar dreams in the past, but last nights house was different.  At the end of the dream, which came to me just in the moments before dawn, I had a very clear image of my mother.  She was sitting down, wearing her favorite turquoise blue shirt.  Her head was turned towards her right shoulder, looking at me.  A meaningful glance.  And then, in the way of dreams, poof! She was gone. 

She was around 55 years old in that dream glimpse, and looked strong, healthy and fit. All day long I've been thinking about that peek I had of her, and wondering if there was some message she was trying to pass on.  Some say that we are open to visits and messages from those who have passed on in the moments before we wake.  But I digress. 

While I worked today, and thought about dreams and my mom, I also thought about my childhood. 
If you were to ask me, I would tell you I had a happy youth. 
The youngest of 5 kids, I was doted on by my siblings, and I grew up feeling well-loved.  We had a nice home, a marvelous swimming pool and several acres to play on. Best of all, my parents let me have pets. We always had a dog or two, and I had a long list of personal pets. It started with a yellow canary in a domed gold cage. He was my 6th birthday present and I named him, "Peep."  He delighted me, lovely in his sunny window, singing a breath-taking song. There were turtles the size of quarters in a plastic bowl with a plastic palm tree, parakeets that I trained to fly to me when I raised my index finger and held it out for them to perch on.  There were hamsters, gerbils, friendly guinea pigs, an unfortunate lizard, and mice, (no matter how often I cleaned their home, they made my bedroom smell terrible.)  For a long span of time I kept multiple aquariums. Some with tropical fish and others with fancy goldfish. I loved them all, and no day was ever happier than a day that a  new pet arrived. 

In the above picture I was 8 years old.  Crazy for animals, even then.  Fast forward to today, when each morning begins with me up and out the front door before I am fully awake.  My dogs follow me, and in a moment I am alive with the dawning day.  The weather, the sun rise, the scent of the air, the very earth beneath my feet jars me into the joy of being.It is the most wonderful way to begin a day.

And then there are the animals. Goats at the gate, waiting for breakfast and milking.  The horse at the fence, impatient for her grain.  The chickens and ducks, waiting to be released from the safety of their coops. When I open their doors they race out. SO much to do, and see, and eat.  And I am there to witness them embracing their next adventure. 

Chris often asks, when he sees my joy during times I interact with my animals, "What would 8 year old Daryl have thought of this..?"

I can answer that question easily.  Eight year old Daryl would have been in a delirious hurry to grow up. And she would have wanted to live right here in this old house, and spend her days with animals.  It's a dream.