of bridges and breezes

It’s hard to believe I’m six months along on my journey to new normal. I still don’t know exactly what that means but along the way time seems to have vaporized. Like a retiree, “I don’t know how I ever had time to work!” Except that I’m not yet retired.

In some ways, it did feel like a retirement transition. I left my career behind — but not for winters in the tropics. I’ve started a new business; I’m also pitching in on our family dairy rebuilding from a disastrous barn fire. I’m the first to admit this has been an anxiety-inducing season.

I’ve spent more time breath-praying angst away these six months than in the last six years combined! Turns out, my professional life was among the least of my concerns. Thankfully, we’ve all made good progress. Hopefulness is rising in me like the cool breeze of late summer’s eve. I can smell a new season on the air.

Continue reading of bridges and breezes

sadie & santa’s workshop

img_2066-e1535148049488.jpgOn Wednesday, Sadie turned four and a half. The concept for an all-in adventure (but neither presents nor party) half-way through each grand’s year is new but they have quickly caught on. Sadie has eagerly anticipated her turn since we launched celebrations with Oliver’s five and a half in July.  Rosie is already on record with a request for February!

Sadie agreed on the destination: Santa’s Workshop at North Pole, NY. She doesn’t like car rides but was sold by the website depicting mechanical rides. The Hubs and I were somewhat apprehensive about a long drive with six preschoolers.  Continue reading sadie & santa’s workshop

dill pickle proud

I had no intention of canning dill pickles last week. I was looking for raspberries at the Amish farm stand. I was at least a week too late. But they had several bags of small cucumbers and a couple bags of itty-bitty cukes perfect for baby dills. I couldn’t resist!

Homemade dill pickles are a thing around here. A jar of of my mother-in-law’s (MIL’s) pickles was a highly prized possession. Nothing was more often stolen in the Santa gift exchange game or more fiercely guarded in the pantry!  Continue reading dill pickle proud

big cows

Thursday might just have been another summer morning except for an unusual pre-dawn sky. I stepped outside to retrieve my gloves and tipped my head to scan an expanse of wispy clouds backlit by the moon. They appeared like breaking waves on a dark sea. A half-halo of rainbow light embraced the moon. It was mesmerizing. Not just another day in paradise.

When we arrive at the barnyard early in the morning, I pull off and park to the side. The Hubs proceeds to a small open shed with calf feeding supplies. He leaves his truck running to illuminate our work. He confirms supplies before stepping into a skid steer waiting nearby.

His first job is to check cows on the verge of calving. A cow in labor sometimes needs assistance. By the time he returns to the shed, I’ve finished preparations. We load buckets of milk, bottles, nipples, pitchers and other supplies on the skid steer. I turn off his truck and walk behind the skid steer to the calf barn, not far away.

On this morning, as I stepped out of my car to exchange shoes for boots, a movement caught my eye. “Cows! There are cows out! Cows!” I yelled, frantic to catch his attention before he took off in the skid steer. He could barely hear me across the distance and over his truck engine.

Continue reading big cows

second sleep

There’s one major hitch with my she-farmer gig: sleep. More accurately, lack thereof. Women about my age often empathize with my challenge of getting a good night’s sleep. I’m too hot. Too cold. I toss and I turn. Midnight to 4:00 a.m. is no-man’s land. If I get stranded there, I count on 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to redeem the night.

Well, that’s doggone inconvenient as a she-farmer. I’ve often just settled into my “second sleep” when the Hubs nudges me awake with gentle peck. I stumble out of bed with only one thought: I need more sleep. The mere hope of resuming sleep after I finish chores propels me forward.

The concept of second sleep was introduced some years ago on an urgent trek to locate an Amish midwife. Continue reading second sleep

five and a half

On Monday our eldest grandchild turned five and a half. That gives me pause. “Slow down,” I plead silently. “Don’t grow so fast.” I should know how chids grow, having raised three of them. Even faster now, with so many activities and more intense schedules. I don’t like it one bit.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about this phenomena and lit on the concept of “half birthdays.” Frankly, I never really got it. Suddenly it made perfect sense. Take time to celebrate mid-year, just because. Winter in the North Country sets some limits. It’s cool that two of our six grands can enjoy a summer “birthday” this way. Oliver is first up!

Continue reading five and a half

silos away!

IMG_4773Upright silos are familiar features of North Country landscape. Like iconic windmills of the Netherlands, they were built for another era. Structures rose steadily in the 20th century on small farms with limited acreage. In the last few decades, feed storage has trended to concrete bunks. Some silos are torn down and rebuilt elsewhere. Some, like ours, stand empty in the midst of a farm embracing progress. Others keep quiet watch over barns falling to disrepair.

Once new facility construction was underway, attention turned to clean up of the barn fire site. Included in the mess were two blue metal silos compromised by the fire. Additionally, two 80-foot concrete silos at the main farm stood empty and smack dab in the way of progress. One of those was the monster that almost stole the Hubs’ life in 1997. All four silos were destined to be razed. Good riddance!

Who knew silo demolition could be so much fun? It was like a good ol’ fashioned field day for grands and adults alike. A lot of excitement for our small corner of the word. But when I heard an Amish crew would dismantle all four silos, I was sure I’d misunderstood. Seriously? How does that work?  Continue reading silos away!