Happiness Is….

Whenever I forget to live in the moment, which is ohhhhh all the time, I just have to visit the farm with my dogs. First off, a view like this will jar the grocery list making out of your head and straight into the moment.

If that doesn’t work, this should help.

Second, a crisp pear off of the tree will make you stop in your tracks. Nothing from the grocery store will ever taste like one of these farm pears.

Third, and this is my favorite, are the dogs. When the farmer borrows your trailer to haul some wood and him and the husband tow it home, just down the road and empty, hitching a ride is necessary. The only thing that makes riding on a trailer better is when it’s filled with hay and kids giggling in their Halloween costumes every year.

The only thing that makes a trailer ride better for Winnie  is – absolutely nothing.

So if you want to forget the 7,000 things that still need to be done, or where you left your keys, or what you want to make for dinner, or how on earth to get all of this primer off of your arm because you’re terribly messy when you paint…

Just go to a farm and forget the rest, just for a little while.

Happy Happyness,

Heather

Moo-ing Me

It’s pretty clear that I’m completely enamored with the small cattle farm up the street from us.  It doesn’t just woo me, it moo’s me. Horribly ridiculous bad jokes aside, I love that place. One of the hayfields is our backyard, and the cows are sweet and have wonderful personalities. You can literally walk up to most of them and never think twice if they are going to buck into you. Besides the pastures are absolutely stunning. So is a Maine summer sky. This photo sums up everything that is perfect about where I live.

When we moved in 4 years ago there were over 20 head. Long before that there were plenty more. Today, in August of 2011, there are exactly 10 cows left. This includes the three calves born in the spring. I don’t really have much more to say on it except that it’s kind of sad. It’s something I feel like is happening to a lot of small farms around the country, not just “ours” (it’s not ours, but it feels like a part of us). That’s probably why it feels a little defeating to me. To me, small farms are the heart of America. The hardworking men and women who bring food to our table are slowly losing their farms; they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. I understand logically both sides of it, but my heart will always side with the small farm where I know the cows by their markings and the farmer and his wife’s door is always open.

Mostly, I just love seeing the cows. Yes, I’ve eaten some of them before. I know, it seems weird – but it’s actually nice knowing how well they are treated and exactly where their food comes from. We help harvest it after all.

All I’m saying is that I hope the cows are still up at that farm when their grandchildren grown up, and when we potentially have kids of our own down the line. One of the most calming things to me in the world is sitting in the pasture and hanging out with the cattle. I hope future generations get to experience this too.

I’m pretty sure Mr. A and I would do anything we could to save that farm. The best part is there are a lot of other family members who would do the same. It’s a good feeling.

That farm is my dream living scenario. Cows, pear trees, apple trees, a big beautiful old farmhouse and even more massive barn filled with all sorts of good antique farm & farmhouse items. Here’s to embracing the cattle that are left, loving the sweet smell of the fall air rolling over the pasture and the feel of a cows tongue as it hits your hand while grabbing an apple.

Happy Small Farm Loving,
Heather

Haying Doesn’t Wait

I have a love hate relationship with the month of June and July. I love that the grass is green, the hay is tall, the flowers are beautiful and the birds are singing. My body hates that the grass is green, the hay is tall and that the flowers are blooming. Thankfully there are no problem with the birds because I really like them.

It turns out I have allergies and we’re not quite sure what it is. Could it be the hay? Sure. Could it be a weed or flower blooming in the hay field? Absolutely. Or it could be the trees, grass, pollen of something or other. Who knows. The fact is, it’s kind of miserable. The best part is that it’s hard to actually be miserable when it’s so beautiful out there.

Another fact is hay doesn’t wait for your allergies, neither does the farmer. Head pain and congestion aside, I somehow ended up driving a tractor with trailer attached for part of it. When the headache and general malaise got the best of me I went on kid duty. I.E. watching four kids under eight years old and making sure they stayed safe.

There is an inherent difference between girls and boys. The 3 boys were trying to hay, but generally roughhousing since they are a few years out of being strong enough. The little girl just followed me around being a perfectly beautiful free four-year-old soul, and taunting me with hay.

At the end of the day the barn was almost filled to the brim. With so many helpers (of the adult variety) the work went fast.

Later on in the weekend Mr. A and I went back to help get the final bales in. This is where things got fun; we hooked up the kicker to the baler and went to town. I of course grabbed my camera and crawled right up to get photos of Mr. A catching the hay as it flew overhead and into the trailer.  As old equipment goes, there were a few flukes where the twine didn’t work quite right.

Damn he’s cute.

There’s just something about country living that will get you every time.

Even if it’s allergies. I wouldn’t trade living here for anything, but I wouldn’t mind some benadryl.

We’ll be doing this again next Friday. Two more fields to go!

Happy Haying & Sneezing,

Heather

A Barnyard + A Happy Soul

As I sit here snuggling a hot cup of tea (yes, snuggling, it’s tucked by my side while I type) I realized I couldn’t wait to share an exciting experience I’ve been wanting to see for years – a live calf birth.

When I was in sixth grade I loved the smell of a farm. I loved cows. I didn’t even mind the smell of manure. So my family indulged me by getting me a few cow trinkets, including a mug I still own. They did not indulge my desire to paint a farm mural on my wall or drive me to the local farm (in a suburban town) at 5am to muck stalls before school since they figured the cow thing was a phase I’d get over.

Wrong.

This morning when we stopped in after church one of the cows was stirring, her bags were full, she was swollen and she was agitated. This was my chance.  We drove home, I did a few crafts here (which I’ll post about later) and then threw on my $2.00 church fair shit kickers (can you say church and shit in the same sentence?), flannel and camera and went up to the farm. Sure enough the lady’s water sack was out. There was no way I was leaving.

First I stood outside the gates. I didn’t want to upset her.

Then the farmer, seen below, said it was no issue if I came closer. Because she wasn’t gated yet I stayed by the feeder. Okay, I stayed in the feeder.

Yes, I’m in your feeder. No, I would not like to explain myself.

Once the mother was gated by herself, I plunked down on a fence about 5 feet from her and sat quietly, for about an hour while she gave birth. It was windy, it was cold, but it was incredibly worth it. You can click on the photo below to make it larger. In the first picture you can see a calf born about 5 days ago.

I can’t believe I got to see this. It was an incredible experience and I’m forever grateful. While it was happening I sat there up on the fence, smelled the farm, heard the tractor, watched the cows, crunched the hay and thought “well, I never got over it”.

My soul was happy.

Here’s to living a wished for experience whatever it may be,

Heather