“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” Carl Gustav Jung

I had no story before addiction.

I’ve never been addicted to heroin or drink. My habit has been idealism. I’ve ridden on high horses more times than I care to admit. I’ve been quixotic and delusional. The other day I remembered a student of mine that I had tried to fix. His parents (from where I sat on my high horse) were neglectful. My student read who I was and got all of the mileage out of my “heroism.” In the end his parents may have been rotten, but the kid knew how to get out of schoolwork with only the hint of a tear and sad tale.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Like Edgar, I lug a knapsack of desperation and doom into every new relationship, but my addiction is a little more hidden to the untrained eye. I’ve heard it said that addiction is seeking escape by means of a lesser god. My addiction is my attachment to being a god. All delusion. Addicted men adore me. Maybe I will be the god to replace the god that is killing them. I’ve never felt like a martyr. I am more a shadow. I can hide behind the BIG stories of a mate’s chaos. I can feel maybe a little more perfect — bit this too is chasing a first high with decreasing returns.

My very first boyfriend, John, still haunts me at times. I don’t know if he is dead or alive. I saw a picture in my friend’s eighth grade yearbook when I was fifteen and spent the entire summer before high school imagining his perfection, staring at his beauty. Out of all the boys on those pages I was drawn instantly to the boy destined to overdose more than anyone else in our high school. I have a sixth sense about those things, though I was obviously innocent of any self-awareness at the time.

It’s no surprise then that my first novel is about addiction and the main character’s name is John Weldon. But would it surprise you that, as I wrote the pages, I had no inkling that I was idealizing all of the addicts I have ever loved? The idea of a strong female heroine irritated me back then. I didn’t like the idea of it at all. I could not relate. Katherine Weldon was the shadow I needed her to be. She was truth for me. She still is sometimes.

Rest assured that the ending of The House on Tenafly Road is idealized

What is your first memory?

My mother had a recurring dream while we lived in the cottage beside the river. Great rains would come and she’d wake to find the house unhinged upon the flooding water. Her brand new sewing machine sat upon a porch the real cottage didn’t have. The machine’s weight tilted the house to one side and she must throw it overboard or lose everything.

The cottage wasn’t this bad.

My uncle slept on the top bunk in our bedroom for a while after my grandparents died only a week apart from each other. While serving as a Seabee during the war, he had put my grandmother in charge of his Navy pay in hopes of buying his own house and starting a family upon return. The lure of buying a house of her own had been too much for my grandmother. My uncle returned from the Pacific to find himself broke and forced to live with his siblings and parents. What could he offer a wife? When my grandparents died my uncle was distraught over not having been able to forgive his mother. He then had a nervous breakdown.

That is my first memory: my father yelling at a grown man in a bunk bed.

The television on the formica kitchen counter flickered the black and white moon landing. I rushed outside with my visiting cousins. The idea of space suits and adjusting to a lunar environment terrified me.

My cousin, Lucy, wore canvas smiley sneakers that she’d just gotten from Valley Fair (the department store our parents shopped at when they couldn’t afford Sears). I envied Lucy those sneakers. It’s funny to think that a four or five-year-old could envy anyone, but I did. We snuck into the dark, swampy woods alive with mosquitoes and skunk cabbage, Lucy complaining of the mud inching up the rubber soles of her sneakers.

Far off and partially hidden by trees lurked an abandoned Volkswagon Beetle with the windows down and Virginia Creeper running riot over the interior. My older cousin, grabbed us by the shoulders. “There’s someone in there! Run!”

We tore back through the woods, our shorts catching on blackberry brambles until my cousin screamed. I saw my younger sister far ahead of us breaking into the light of our spongy but mowed yard — always the tattle tale.

My poor sneaker-clad cousin had trodden through a muddy patch. My older cousin yelled, “Quick sand!”

How we knew about quick sand is beyond me now, but there was Lucy crying and wallowing; afraid to move forward or back. I stood on the edge of the unfolding tragedy. My cousin might be lost forever, but this didn’t seem to trouble me. I only thought about the sneakers. Of course my older cousin, a boy, had to have known that his sister would not die in six inches of mud. I may even remember him smirking.

There was my little sister again, furtively glancing back, only once, at the light from the adult world of the yard. She carried three pale blue bathroom towels in her arms, the corner of one trailing through the muck of the undergrowth. Do skunks eat skunk cabbage? My mind wandered. My sister and two of my cousins pulled Lucy, sobbing now, to safety — minus one of the sneakers. They did their best to wipe off the remaining one, but even my older cousin was unwilling to attempt fishing the other from the depths of the quick sand. The towels were tossed beside a moss-covered stump teeming with creepy white worms.

The cousins were loaded into their boat of a car soon after, Lucy still crying over her lost sneaker. My uncle was squeezed between my cousins in the back seat that afternoon. My father had enough of his wallowing. He must go back to the family house he never wanted and make peace with his bachelorhood.

That evening it rained, the spongy earth bled into our basement again. My father spent all night like a crew member on a sinking ship pushing water with a big broom out the door of my parents’ newly finished bedroom. My mother read to us in our bedroom, the bunk bed ours again.

What I didn’t know back then was that my father blamed my mother for the cottage on the flood plain located so far from his parents’ home — a home he would have gladly stayed in (even after marriage) if it meant it would have prevented his parents’ deaths. My mother had saved her money to buy the house while he was away in Germany. He hadn’t spoken to her in months.

From the bunk bed I sometimes worried about the house tipping over. I thought about my cousin nearly vanishing in quick sand. The world felt so wet and slippery. The smell of mildew was everywhere.

How about you? What’s your first memory? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve never written to anyone before and I quite like it.

A loyal friend is like a safe shelter; find one, and you have found a treasure. Nothing else is as valuable; there is no way of putting a price on it.  A loyal friend is like a medicine that keeps you in good health. Sirach 6:14-16

There is nothing like the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding a handwritten letter inside. I strongly believe in genetic memory. Even before our letters drew us closer, I felt an immediate knowing, a bond on a deeper level than made any sense with my distant cousin, Peter.

I met Peter for the first time two years ago when I was researching our shared ancestors. He’s an older gentleman (just turned 88 this past May). Peter drove us through the valley and up onto the hills now covered with state forest that once belonged to our ancestors. His wife, Grace, and daughter, Patti, brought along a picnic of homemade potato salad, sandwiches and cookies. We sat chatting beneath dappled August sunlight by the pond it is my dream to someday own.

McKenzie, my daughter, was along and was most grateful for the cookies and the way she was treated like instant family. After only a few hours touring the haunts of our forebears we said goodbye. A few months later I sent Peter and his wife a card to let them know I was thinking of them. Peter responded with a letter and we’ve been happily corresponding ever since.

At first I wondered was it just that as a writer I was enjoying his letters because of his answers to questions I had about our shared homeland, but it wasn’t that. Once last winter Peter’s daughter called to ask me how I was doing. It was unusual because we had hardly spoken after the picnic.

“I’m well. How are you?” I asked. “Is everything okay with your parents?”

“Oh, yes. The reason I’m calling is because Dad asked me to. He’s worried since he hasn’t received a letter in the last few weeks.”

No longer did I have to worry if my questions had been too intrusive or my letters too rambling. He liked receiving them as much as I did receiving his.

When he told me things about his childhood I would realize that I had already focused on those same themes and come to the same conclusions about our shared relations from the past while writing the story about my 3x greatgrandfather and his 2x great grandmother (my 3x great aunt). The dynamics Peter talked about between himself and his father were almost identical to the ones I imagined when writing about his great grandfather and his sons. Somehow our letters and my writing were tapping into the same magic!

This last summer McKenzie and I went to the family reunion in the same valley by the pond and I was thrilled when I saw Peter and Grace arrive dressed in their Sunday best — overdressed — but perfect to me. He tipped his straw fedora and his wife gave me a hug. It felt like all we did was eat that day. First at the reunion and then when Peter and McKenzie conspired to keep the day going with dinner out.

It was late when we said our goodbyes. Peter and Grace have a caretaker of sorts. A somewhat pushy lady with a good heart but lacking in sentimentality.

“Give me your email and cell phone number so Peter has it,” she said in her no-nonsense way.

Peter had sent McKenzie a few letters too but she’d lost interest in writing replies. “I can’t read your handwriting,” she said, much to my annoyance.

He laughed good-naturedly, but the caretaker jumped in.

“Okay, from now on you can tell me what to write and I’ll type it into an email,” she said to Peter.

Peter looked as crestfallen as I felt for a moment.

“I’ve never written to anyone before and I quite like it,” he said.

. I couldn’t let this happen no matter how well-meaning the caretaker.

“Peter, this doesn’t let you off the hook with me,” I said. “I love your handwritten letters and I can read them just fine.” The very idea of an intermediary!

He clasped my hands in his. “I love them too. I won’t stop. I promise,” he said mirroring my own devotion.

True friendships are so rare. Finally I am old enough not to take them for granted.

On the drive home the next day I received a text from an unknown number. “Are you home yet?”

At the next stop I answered. “Who is this?” though I was pretty sure I knew.

“It’s Peter.”

It’s never too late to make friends and write letters.

Anyone out there still have pen pals?

“The worst of all fears is the fear of living.” Theodore Roosevelt

Spring has come despite the fear swirling around the parking lots littered with tossed away masks anytime I venture off the farm and into the “real world.” I try not to believe too strongly in this real world created by men and women who will never be held accountable for the tales they tell.

I choose to believe that I will live here until it is time for me to go. I do my best to tread lightly upon other people’s fears because I have so often fallen prey to the habit and weird allure of fear and victimhood. Yet there came a time after the worst things happened that I realized I would survive. I had to decide if the pain of fear was truly the companion I would take with me on the rest of the journey.

There were many frosty days of fear promised, but I began to notice the new and emerald growth in the valleys. I used to fight my fears by diving into deep pools to see if I’d swim or sink in the tangles of worldly cares and ambitions. And then I realized these acts of daring and fight were useless and silly.

To live without any longer needing to prove to the egotistical monsters my value was truly the most fearless thing I could do. People debate health topics and kill friendships. I believe what I believe and get on with my life. Maybe I will die tomorrow. Who knows? I may as well be nice to people especially if they are still gripped in fear.

If I finish a project or don’t it no longer matters. This worry used to keep me from even starting. The Y2K scare, the 9-11 scare, the illness and disease scares — and still I am here. Don’t get me wrong. I mourn the death of my uncle who died after getting the shot and for others who died from sickness. Yet I know we all will die and that it will seem unfair or terrible. In the meantime I like having goals.

I still want to make tons of money writing so that I can buy a pond. I still haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I’m writing a novel that I’m thoroughly engrossed in, yet for now it is enough to love my characters and immerse myself in research.

As an artist and writer I no longer fear living or dying. I only fear not creating, not sharing, not encouraging beauty, goodness and truth — wherever that takes me.

I encourage you today if you are fearful to accept that the emotion is only useful to a point. Sometimes talking to a friend helps or turning off the news. We are all born to create — to bring a little heaven to earth for each other — don’t deny us what only you can offer.

Since my daughter is still in the mental health facility I’ve had time to not only write, but to make crafty things for the sheer fun of it:

Over the winter I started making gourd head dolls too. Little Zack has been wanting to kill them for weeks and yesterday he climbed up and got one!

Have a wonderfully fearless week!

DIY Maple Syrup

In 1860 the United States produced more than six and a half million gallons of maple syrup. In 2019 only about one and a half million gallons were harvested. What’s wrong, Americans?

My husband “sugars off” the sap alone at our house after the one year he slipped out of a church function to tap trees and left the rest of us to endure an awkward after-church potluck and games gathering. As a family of introverts, we (as one) revolted. Soon after our two strong sons disappeared into adulthood and far from the sugar bush. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I’ve had weird luck with broken arms and hands in March so I’m never much help and stand by the fire only now and again to see how things are progressing (I am the main imbiber of the golden sweetness though).

My husband is not 100% selfless. He loves to plan, to improve, to go bigger, to make more, to give away more, and especially how by the second or third week the sun warms the chair he sits in as he listens to the bubbling sap. There is nothing like the smell of maple on the wind. The dogs instantly lift their noses to it when I take them outside on their little rambles. Nala the farm dog used to lounge with my husband until a local marathon runner started jogging by. Nala hates fast moving people and makes it very plain. Nobody likes a big white wolf-dog snarling and hopping at their heels.

In pioneer days the young people loved a good sugaring-off party for sweets and sparking. We do that too when I remember to bring my husband out coffee. Here’s how native New Yorker THURLOW WEED remembered it:

This is a season to which the farmer’s sons and daughters look forward with agreeable anticipations. In that employment toil is more than literally sweetened. The occupation and its associations are healthful and beneficial. When your troughs are dug (out of basswood, for there were no buckets in those days), your trees tapped, your sap gathered, your wood cut, and your fires fed, there is leisure either for reading or ‘sparking.’ And what youthful denizens of the sap-bush will ever forget, while ‘sugaring-off,’ their share in the transparent and delicious streak of candy congealed and cooled in the snow? Many a farmer’s son had found his best opportunities for mental improvement in his intervals of leisure while ‘tending sap-bush.’ Such, at any rate, was my own experience. At night you had only to feed the kettles and keep up your fires — the sap having been gathered and the wood cut ‘before dark.’ During the day we would also lay in a good stock of fat pine, by the light of which, blazing brightly in front of the sugar-house, in the posture the serpent was condemned to assume as a penalty for tempting our great first grandmother, I have passed many and many a delightful night in reading. I remember in this way to have read a history of the French Revolution, and to have obtained from it a better and more enduring knowledge of its events and horrors, and of the actors in that great national tragedy, than I have received from all subsequent readings. I remember also how happy I was in being able to borrow the book of a Mr. Keyes, after a two mile tramp through the snow, shoeless, my feet swaddled in remnants of a rag-carpet.

Thurlow Weed, History of the Town of Marathon

Here’s the way the season goes:

When the days of the thaw and nights of cold are balanced perfectly (days 40-52 degrees/nights 24-32 degrees) the sap starts flowing — for how long nobody knows so you have to be ready!

My husband has a source of free pine which is the preferred wood for boiling. He cuts, stacks and ages it all year long.

In late February we tramp through the snow, falling in when there’s a layer of ice on top, looking for the maples marked for tapping the previous summer. In the old days farmers would sit by their hearths in winter whittling sumac spiles (spouts). to tamp into the bored holes on the sunny side of trees at least 10-12″ in diameter and 1-4ft from the ground. Nowadays you can buy metal or plastic spiles online (but do it early!).

The average farmer in the olden times relied on a good cooper for his buckets. My 4x great grandfather was a master cooper until the drink dulled his skills. A leaky bucket then was very bad indeed. I imagine my poor grandmother doing her best to keep the family in funds with her spinning, but from what I know, the children suffered. Drink sap to play it safe. Sweet water (before it’s boiled down) can give you a bad stomach ache so don’t be greedy!

Millions of sap buckets were required in the mid-nineteenth century and each one was made by hand and sold for six cents a piece:

They were shaped not for finish nor beauty, but solely for utility, and not one unnecessary stroke went into their construction. Almost invariably the material was the very best old, free-splitting white pine … Neither the inside nor outside of the staves was touched with any tool, but left with the grain showing as rived from the block. The edges of the staves, however, must be beveled and jointed with almost perfect accuracy, and the bottom must fit the chine, the groove cut to receive it, with the same preciseness.”

The Golden Age of Homespun by Jared van Wagenen, Jr.

Some say that Native Americans boiled down sap and showed the process to the first pioneers, others disagree and say it’s only folklore because the Native process in the way that it’s spoken of doesn’t seem to get the sap quite hot enough to be true. Maybe they just drank the sweet water as-is which with the minerals may have seemed a healthy tonic. Who knows?

The first year we tapped trees, we boiled sap over a metal grate sitting on cinder blocks. My husband’s set-up improved over the years and now he boils on a converted fuel oil tank.

HOW TO BUILD A MAPLE EVAPORATOR FROM FUEL TANK

In the last month he picked up two old oil tanks, some angle iron and a welding machine off Craigslist. I steered clear of the sparks that he said could blind me until the tank looked like this:

The tank was empty so my husband welded the shelf within–I had no idea what it all meant until it began to come together .

First we put in some sand and leveled it:

Then I had the job of cleaning old mortar from the bricks also gotten off Craigslist while husband cut a door into the tank.

Cutting through metal is loud!
This looked so pretty!
Oliver the cat (who stares down foxes) loves the cozy vibe of an evaporator.

Carrying the full buckets of sap back to the evaporator is a test of endurance when snow is still on the ground (some years a foot or two of it). The pioneers used to have yokes to wear over shoulders with hooks on the end for buckets or big barrels as reservoirs on sleds to bring the sweet water to the fire. We lug the buckets out of the woods (the reason the boys go AWOL). Some people have intricate systems of plastic tubing running into a reservoir at an easier location to access the sap. We’ve had years where we’ve had to climb snowy hills to retrieve the buckets –a lot of splashed out sap! We’ve also dug out snowy trails in February. The boys did not approve. Now my husband uses a mix of human and tractor power to get the sap. It’s not as picturesque, but I’m not complaining. I like my coffee sweet.

Once the maple trees start to bud and the peepers come alive in the puddles and ponds of melted winter, farmers know the Frog Run has come, the final sap drips just as the daffodils begin to stretch from the garden beds. And just like that the robins arrive and the buckets go away for another year.

The neighbors greet my husband with grins as he tramps up their driveways with gallons of the real deal.

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
      Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends—the few
Who yet remain—shall pause to view
      These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
      To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown ...
John Greenleaf Whittier

Maple Equipment Suppliers:

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GOODRICH’S MAPLE FARM

Maple Recipes

MAPLE MILK PUDDING

MAPLE SPICE COOKIES

MAPLE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

The door to oblivion, kitty …

Some of this post comes from my old farm blog at RAISING MILK AND HONEY

We no longer raise milk or honey. After too many bee swarms my husband realized how much he hated seeing bees die. I felt the same about my goats. Despite years of vet bills and consults we just couldn’t figure out why our goats always failed to thrive. We have some theories about our sulfur water preventing uptake of copper in goats, but who knows? Our sheep are much healthier and just as cute.

“DOG: A kind of additional or subsidiary Diety designed to catch the overflow or surplus of the world’s worship.” Ambrose Bierce

My husband’s mother cancelled Christmas one year after her dog Mopsy died. She didn’t get another dog for over twenty years. When my husband’s favorite Golden Retriever died I said I thought it was a little disrespectful for him to want a quick replacement, but I immediately jumped in to seek out another. We picked up a new puppy a week after burying Elizabeth.

When my best friend Rosie died suddenly last summer, I vowed never to get another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – then I started looking. Over the years the breed has become a status symbol. The interview process can be ridiculously grueling. I tried to explain to my husband why the breeders had to be so — particular.

“Golden breeders aren’t such snobs,” he would often say, and it’s true.

And then I discovered a new breed, one I had never heard of, one that intrigued me, one with a LONG life expectancy. Losing two dogs in less than a year had been tough on us. I wanted to avoid the pain if we could.

I deleted all of the Cavalier Instagrams I followed. I couldn’t handle seeing so much cuteness knowing I would never have another Rosie. I started following Tibetan Spaniel Instas instead. My husband was still bent on getting me a Cavalier puppy.

“It’s your signature breed,” he said. “I don’t care if they cost $6000 and still have heart murmurs that slowly kill them.”

“No. I want a Tibbie,” I said, not sure at first if I meant it, but then I did.

My husband stayed up nights scouring the breeder map and was willing to drive all the way to the Mississippi if need be (we had only driven a few hours to get the Golden puppy, but there’s no stopping him once on a mission). The phone rang one day (it was one of the top breeders of Tibbies!). “Oh, so you have no litters planned? But you have a retired show dog who sticks his tongue out too much? I’ll ask her, but she wants a puppy. Yes, send us a picture.” My husband turned to me. “You’re already settling on the breed and now it’s a two-year old dog …”

The email came through and I gasped — I actually really gasped. I was instantly in love with ZACK. Even the name spoke of greatness somehow. And he is pretty terrific. Before him we had only female dogs and they always fought. He walked in the door, glanced around, claimed the best couch and put all the other dogs in their place. Nala, the big white non-farm dog always seemed jittery in her alpha dog position. Now she can finally relax.

All dogs need to ask if they can join Zack’s humans on the couch and the bed. Actually the bed is off limits to the big girls now. He gathers all of the toys and doles them out as he sees fit and lounges at my side when I write. Sometimes you have to try new things or new breeds.

My husband has more than returned the favor. I still miss Rosie and Elizabeth, but there’s always more room for love.

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”

― Dean Koontz, False Memory

Dean Koontz

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.” Wendell Berry

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

The morning begins. Those first sleepy moments are driven off by the cold in the mudroom as I tug my thick overalls and muddy boots on over my pajamas. There is something to knowing you’re needed, a mutual, satisfying feeling between the animals and me. We always say that every day is a good and pampered one for the animals except for their last.

I can’t imagine the loneliness of a farm with no animals. When we must load lambs off on their last day I cry and seriously consider giving it all up. But then I remember how sick I was without meat, and think too about the state of factory farming, and how life is a series of compromises. Not a single human soul is truly pure or innocent.

“I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.”

Wendell Berry

When you raise animals you tend not to waste their sacrifices. I laugh at the ram lambs as they gambol about and admire the proud ewes as they murmur sweet nothings to their newborns. They clean and dote over them with such soft looks in their eyes — looks that disappear after the little brutes get bigger and nearly upend her seeking milk.

Every night there’s the big sky in its various moods as I trudge down to the barn. The wind, the snow, the sun, the autumn leaves in little whirlwinds in the apple orchard — all things to keep me forever in the world, forever in the seasons, forever dirty, forever unfinished.

For the curious there is always so much more to learn. For someone like me who is so attached to the past, there is nothing better than discovering how my ancestors went about doing the same chores I do now.

Eric Sloane feeds my soul.

Work keeps me sane and the seasons keep me from ever complaining about the monotony of chores. Yet chores aren’t really monotonous. Chores are dependable. Every night I announce, even when we have visitors, “Okay, I have to go do the animals.” It’s funny to think that for ten years I’ve said it exactly the same way. Not a single word changed. The tone is almost a complaint, but not really. Once I’m alone and outside I’m happy to be there.

“He who tills his own land has food in plenty, but he who follows idle pursuits is a fool.”

Proverbs 12:11

The mini horse with his big personality always whinnies at the sound of the house door slamming. He still likes to push me around but I’ve charmed him into doing things I want to do as well. We’ve become friends. Every year I get quieter. I think it’s a spell that comes over some people who grow lots of things and keep farm animals. There’s so much to witness, tiny signs and bugs that hint at future doom or survival. Intuition, that feeling in your gut, becomes attuned to the dull look in a sick sheep’s eye. Sometimes in this quiet you know exactly what that dull look means.

I love the sound of a ticking clock. When I’m writing I prefer that to be the only noise. The other day the house was silent but for the ticking. I sat to write but was nudged by some spirit to go to the window. There against the white snow stood a fox staring right into our chicken coop. He looked curious, but I’m pretty sure he was just deciding which color hen he wanted for lunch.

The indoor farm dog was sent out to chase as I stumbled into my boots shouting from the garage (as if a fox would ever listen to me). The snow was so bright I was nearly blinded and didn’t get to the coop as fast as I would have in better weather. We lost one chicken. I spent much of the morning trying to corral the frightened flock inside for safety. Some regarded me as their savior and let me carry them into the coop. I felt complimented. The chickens are lucky. We take the eggs they couldn’t care less about and they live until they die of natural causes (whatever that means for animals with so many predators loving the taste of chicken).

Nala after losing the scent of fox still looks as regal as she acts.

I’m so happy that there are young people as entranced with the old ways as I am. The ideal of total independence is just that — an ideal, but without a grassroots embracing of the small and local, our land and independence will be swallowed up by an ELITE FEW who want to control (and change) our food supply. Slavery starts when the few control the very sustenance of life.

How Eric Sloane Retold American History

Wendell Berry Food and Farming Quotes

Writing as a Search for Wisdom

THE POET by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
The poet in a golden clime was born,
     With golden stars above;
Dower’d with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
         The love of love.

He saw thro’ life and death, thro’ good and ill,
     He saw thro’ his own soul.
The marvel of the everlasting will,
         An open scroll,

Before him lay; with echoing feet he threaded
     The secretest walks of fame:
The viewless arrows of his thoughts were headed
         And wing’d with flame,

Like Indian reeds blown from his silver tongue,
     And of so fierce a flight,
From Calpe unto Caucasus they sung,
         Filling with light

And vagrant melodies the winds which bore
     Them earthward till they lit;
Then, like the arrow-seeds of the field flower,
         The fruitful wit

Cleaving took root, and springing forth anew
     Where’er they fell, behold,
Like to the mother plant in semblance, grew
         A flower all gold,

And bravely furnish’d all abroad to fling
     The winged shafts of truth,
To throng with stately blooms the breathing spring
         Of Hope and Youth.

So many minds did gird their orbs with beams,
     Tho’ one did fling the fire;
Heaven flow’d upon the soul in many dreams
         Of high desire.

Thus truth was multiplied on truth, the world
     Like one great garden show’d,
And thro’ the wreaths of floating dark up-curl’d,
         Rare sunrise flow’d.

And Freedom rear’d in that august sunrise
     Her beautiful bold brow,
When rites and forms before his burning eyes
         Melted like snow.

There was no blood upon her maiden robes
     Sunn’d by those orient skies;
But round about the circles of the globes
         Of her keen eyes

And in her raiment’s hem was traced in flame
     WISDOM, a name to shake
All evil dreams of power–a sacred name.
         And when she spake,

Her words did gather thunder as they ran,
     And as the lightning to the thunder
Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,
         Making earth wonder,

So was their meaning to her words. No sword
     Of wrath her right arm whirl’d,
But one poor poet’s scroll, and with his word
         She shook the world.

Sheep Therapy

Okay, so here’s my solution:

Let me back up to let you know what the problem is.

We suddenly have a ton of cute and cuddly animals I don’t want to eat. My husband has been diagnosed with a weird form of arthritis that only seems to respond well to a strict vegan diet. Our sheep are meat sheep.

But the sheep are more than their supposed foodie purpose. They are distinct personalities who in many cases adore human friendship.

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So here’s my idea: sheep therapy or basically sheep chill time. I’m not a therapist and don’t want to be one (I already have the high maintenance little girl to contend with).

But I’m wondering if people would enjoy coming by the farm just to hang out with the friendly sheep, goat and horse.

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I’m envisioning a very quiet version of a petting zoo … maybe?

There are some concerns though. I do want to get back to writing some day. Lately I’ve had to begin training myself to be a horse trainer. I’ve had to help a few ewes give birth and our daughter has ratcheted up her boundary breaking (a common after effect of adoption) so I’m not sure how many days I could even devote to this new plan.

 

Any ideas??? I’d love some input from you all. Do any of you have daydreams about opening shops or selling tea online? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave any advice you might have!

Look! My books are in the library!

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The Tenafly Road Series
“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”