Barns of the mid-west at 55 mph…


“I have found out that there ain’t any surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

I know good team work when I see it.

In the future, I may need to make it a point to embark, with friends on a trip to test our compatibility. Because if you can make it on the road dealing with logistic snafus, idiosyncratic nuances, digestive challenges, utilizing your Travel IQ, overcoming car breath (ya, know, the I have been in this car for 24 hours with no tooth-brush breath) and physical dissimulation, well, you can deal with the more mundane daily issues of life. And I firmly believe that. But, no, there was no test drive, so, let’s just do this!

We (8) were heading to Iowa from NH, Connecticut and the Capital Region of New York. The logistics of that alone may be staggering to some, hold on though, we had llamas in tow, they all had to get to Dakota Ridge Farm, then they had to fit in one trailer. One trailer, at one farm, so that we could leave at one time! They arrived in vans, well 2 vans, and a trailer; The Trailer. The one and only trailer. Do you see a problem yet?, Nope, me neither.

Load’em up

We’ve all arrived at DRF, everyone with their llamas, showing paraphernalia, clothing, water bowls, llamas, hay, coolers, blow-dryers, tents, health certifications (the llamas, not ours), muck boots, llamas, show boots…pillows, don’t forget the pillows. Yes, all of this has to go in one trailer. No worries, I know a good team when I see one. Paul and Todd have the spatial relations to configure a viable traveling equipment formation – did you get all that? Of course, we were to leave by 8:00, it is now 10:00, but what are a few hours spent in the company of friends.

And Head ‘em out

This travel adventure takes extraordinary determination, chutzpah, daring, grit, and even some intestinal fortitude… Are you up for it? Well come along as we hit the road.

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What a wonderful trip, last June, with wonderful friends. We hope to do it again this year!

Jenn with her favorite girl(Llama) at the Iowa fair-grounds. (a very, very pregnant girl)
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Be well,
Jess

And Just Like That…


And just like that, it’s mud season. Grab your muck boots and lets dive right in. You’d think with all of the snow and ice we have been driving in, we’d be happy to be rid of it, and you are right, mostly.
Winter’s opinion of our driving skills matters very little now. Should we fancy ourself worthy of praise? We made it through, we survived relatively unscathed, free of this foreboding stretch of time. Now it is giving way to the promise of spring, but getting from one to the other required passing through an ominous complication called, mud season, or pot hole season, call it what you will.
The problem with this season? No, it is not merely the gobs of the gooey, sloppy, boot sucking glop carried in your boots or paws. No, it is far more sinister than that.
The problem?
Driving.

This, this makes your road a mighty opponent, a duel between you (your vehicle)and the mud-rutted road. It separates the men from the boys; the wheat from the chaff.

First,logistics come into play; you must figure out where to direct your wheels. The decisions come fast and furious, vigilance indispensable, lest you take too long to decide, even a moment of indecision can slow your momentum. Do you ride on the high part or the low part to stay out of the ditch? You follow the tire ruts that came before you, don’t even think about forging your own path? You must abandon your instincts, and drive like hell. Bottoming out is a fatal blow in an area that is mostly uphill and down and mostly dirt roads. If you are venturing out in New England this weekend, don’t leave your gumption at home.

Do you think I can train the pups to leave their boots at the door.
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The goats won’t muck up the kitchen with mud. They are more polite and mind their manners. (except when the eat the pocket right from the apron I’m wearing)
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Mud-season, a battle of two, a season of indeterminate duration when spring and winter struggle for dominance. A season you won’t find on your calendar, a season all its own; none of spring’s lovely flowers, or Autumn’s showy colors, none of winter’s white billows of snow, nor summer’s freshly cut green grass, just serious mud.

Winter has yet to yield its grip, the snow is still feet thick near the hedgerow, it’s best it melts slowly. A flooded basement, streams, and rivers would not be a better option.

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Girl, you need a haircut!

Be well,
Jess

Blue and Gold


While I am not sad to see it go, (hopefully, it will go) snow does have its own beauty.

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The setting sun casts its long shadows across the crystalline field. I suppose we should appreciate these views, for mud season will soon be upon us.

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I think the animals can sense a change is near. Supper time now can happen in the light and my hands and feet are not quite frozen when the last one is watered and fed. I hope that we have seen the last of the negative temperatures, though morning before last was -17 at morning feed time.

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Revie, needs a good spring cleaning! I took her warming jacket off as its going to be in the high 30’s and 40’s this week. I haven’t seen her undressed since December.

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Revie’s Mom, never far from her first cria.
Looking at these photos, I get a bit excited thinking of shows and fairs.
Last year, we took KatDoll to a large national show in Iowa. A long haul for us; we live in Upstate New York. KatDoll seemed off, we thought it was just the trip. She hardly ever kushed (lied down) during the long the trailer ride, which was half way across the country. Weird right. She did ok at the fair, but she really wasn’t herself. We planned to board her at a friends farm, after the fair; to breed with her beautiful male. Off she went for her intimate vacation.

We were expecting a May baby of this year (2015).
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I really never gave it much more thought; until one morning before opening the shop, I went to the barn to collect eggs and to grain the animals. I looked though the open window at the girls. Looked back to the task at hand… suddenly it hit me. There is a baby in there! What? How can this be? The cria was standing almost under her Mom, so I knew whose baby it was instantly. I ran wildly back into the shop to tell Jenn. I think she thought I had finally lost it.

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A beautiful, baby she was. A young male had been precocious enough to set up a secret rendezvous. We knew who the cheeky suitor was. Though he wasn’t telling. Long story short; the reason KatDoll wasn’t herself, at the show was readily apparent; we had unknowingly trailered a her at 9 months pregnant half way across the country. Uggh. How awful. Luckily all was well.

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Be well, Enjoy the day.
Jess

A Handwritten Letter


When was the least time you wrote, received, or even thought about writing a letter to a friend or loved one? Not an e-mail, nor text, no, a real pen to paper letter.

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There are few things more cherished in my box of saves; collected moments of my life, held in my hand as only a written page sent can be. A tangible gift written with care, bringing back the day young lives intertwined not to be forgotten as lives moved on.

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This young love will remain as new as the first kiss, relived each time the note is unwrapped and aged eyes are set upon it.

Letter from a dear friend, sent to bring comfort on your saddest day.

I remember the days when they were penned and sent to our hand in celebration, passion, sorrow and hope ~ like photos of the past a moment of time is captured on the page.

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A thing of the past. Am I forced to accept this truth?

My Husband is half way across the globe for some weeks, I think I will pen him a note today. It will fly across the sea on ly to return home in his work weary hand.

Perhaps, I’ll write a note for you.

Be well,

Jess

A Meandering, Winding Path


Where will life take us? Or is the question where will we take our life?

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It’s a question I have been pondering as of late. You see, one of my long time dreams was to open a cafe; not just any cafe, but a cafe with healthy choices and welcoming homey vibe.

I did!

I worked as hard at it as humanly possible, and used every cent I had. I loved being there and loved our regular customers. I met wonderful people from all walks of life.

As much as folks and patrons loved it, and spoke of our delicious food; it couldn’t sustain itself. The Community could not support it, and we were not on a road traveled by tourists, nothing in town to pull them off the main road and into our quaint village.(well, that will be another post, another time)

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Grateful, for having the chance to try my wings and live that dream; to try, to step out in faith.

I am left with the question, what now? This question weighs heavy. Surely, I am not alone in questioning life’s path.

What is my plan B? Or C-Z for that matter? Is this a mid-life crisis, e-gad! Surely not. 50(ish) is the new twenty,right?

Everyone I meet now is at least ten years younger than me. I feel like Rip van Winkle with breasts!

Now to find where I left that path of mine…or should I let it find me?

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Be Well,
Jess

It’s almost March…It’s almost warmish (almost)


Although the shortest of days have gone by and whatever nastiness of weather we have before us; the month of February passes.

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March is near, and each day we ebb out a few more cherished moments of sunlight.

Minute by minute, the days lengthen out, almost imperceptible, even as the growth of a child. All at once the moment comes as if by epiphany; we notice we are out of doors in twilight for another quarter of a precious hour.

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The air is still bitingly cold.

The sun shines strong enough to cause icicles to drip, that is hope.

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My fingers ache to dig in the garden’s soil. To feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my neck.

I think I will spend some time today sorting and gathering seeds saved, seeds bought, clay potting pots, and all of the thingamajigs, and whatchamacallits a gardening crazy girl could wish for.

I wonder how many seedlings will survive a Walker Hound 3 month old pup? Maybe I should hold off on that.

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Be well,

Jess

To Begin Again…Let’s start from the very beginning. Winter


The sun is rising over our little home. It will be a day like most days around here. Not much changes from day to day; I take solace in that.

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As the year progresses and seasons change a subtle shift is created in our lives and routines.

Before we even realize, the tides have turned. We are sitting on the far edge of winter~ a brutal, beautiful, cold, white winter.

Blasts of cold and snow temper our outdoor exploration driving us, in retreat, back to mugs of tea and steaming bowls of stew.

I don’t mind.

It’s cozy and comforting to sit, gazing out into the postcard that is my yard, pencil in hand, waiting, hoping for something to write or an idea to sketch.

My eyes wander out at the farm yard, llamas stepping gingerly into the billowy mounds of snow. Goats swaddled in their winter’s growth, content to linger beside the barn, soaking in the the late winter sun’s warming rays.

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The chickens have found a course of fence long enough to hold the lot of them. Clever those chooks, as even with the stiff north wind, they bob and sway in unison never loosing their grip on their uncertain perch.

The dogs curled up at my feet, resting, waiting for me to stir, a signal of the afternoon’s work ahead. Richard, the Yorkie; settled onto the top of the over-stuffed chair safe from errant drafts.

I reluctantly move from this moment of reflection. I don layers of armor against the bone chilling winds.

It’s chore time.

There are mouths to feed and barns to freshen, An extra ration of grain fed to each in hopes of warding off the the biting cold.  Water buckets are filled, heaters checked  ( to keep the filled buckets from freezing), and hay is given freely.

As I close the gate, I turn back to be sure our youngest cria’s (Revie) warming jacket is securely fastened. It’s going to be a cold, bitter night.

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My thoughts turn to warming my families bellies, a hearty vegetable barley soup with homemade biscuits should do the trick.

With the veggies chopped, sautéed, and the soup now simmering gently on the back burner; I find my seat by the window. The dogs follow suit.

I have a  precious hour to write…the sun is setting far too early for my liking.

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The biscuits are in the oven, the coffee is brewing… Let’s eat.

Be well,

Jess