“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jock - The Border Collie: A Wonderful Life. A Wonderful Experience.

Jock at two soon after we first adopted him -2004

Its been six weeks.

I knew I had to write this blog, but it always seemed too soon.

I know how many fans Jock had, and he was the last part of On the Pond Farm that we had with us. I saw the immediate reaction from a Facebook post, and that just made things harder.
I posted the night he died when the whole thing hadn't hit me yet, and I think I said it then best, so I think I'll just paste that post here.

Almost a dozen years ago we acquired a hand me down pure bred Border Collie, knowing nothing about working dogs except they needed a lot of exercise.
Well tomorrow, we don't know how we will get our exercise, as our best training partner died from what appears to be a seizure or stroke, possibly from a brain tumor.
Our favorite park near our Connecticut home - October 2014
Jock took a long walk as usual this morning and still looked amazing for a 13 1/2 year old dog.
We learned so much with Jock, and he was my companion and work mate at the farm and at home, always quiet and watchful.
The sadness hasn't set in yet. We expected a couple more good years, even though he was slowing down in his "retirement". I know he made many friends with you my friends, so I hate to pass on this news, but there it is. I hope you enjoy the album of his pictures over the years.
Sylvester and Jock learning to get along in the early days
Snickers with her buddy.
Dressed for the Ando Walk to raise money for the K-9 program

The "retirement" years in Connecticut.
Teaching Jacob how to walk Jock
Jock being gentle taking his bone
In the woods at River Bend

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Toughest People - Farmers

I just don't know how we did it.
Working in this weather. Outdoors. All hours.
We were one of those tough ones, in our own small way. Our animals were guided in and out of the barn every day, even with temperatures in the teens and ridiculous wind chills.  If the snow was too deep, we had to first make a path with our own bodies to get them out there.
Manure would be chipped away into the wheelbarrow and slogged out through two feet of snow and ice.
Just about every goat was pregnant or lactating, so keeping their condition up took plenty of feed. Twice as much hay and grain would be distributed to keep the animals calories ahead of the cold.
This was kidding season. Singles, twins and triplets were birthed in this weather, dried and cleaned and cuddled in that big ole 1800's, drafty, Pennsylvania bank barn. There was always that dumb twin that had to be held under its mamma's udder till he caught on to suck that teet - for hours! Meanwhile our fingers are splitting from the milk and the cold. Or a nanny with mastitis would have to be milked, usually with a fight, sending us on our cold but well padded behinds on to frozen manure, all in this weather. And we just did it every day, no matter what. And when I was down and out with a blown knee, or we had to be away for a day or a week, our fantastic neighbors Karen or Allison did it. It had to be done everyday, no matter the weather.

You and others have asked if we miss the farm. Of course we do. It was a fantastic ten years. The lessons learned with the goats just make me shake my head to myself. A lot of you that followed the blog back then, know the stories. Stories I couldn't have imagined ten years before and truthfully, did my best to avoid by buying the easiest, mellow goat breed I could find. Nice try!

Who could imagine our "first born" dying in this weather and stupid me trying to use the loader to bury Uno when the ground was frozen solid. I did it though, even though the grave was a bit shallow after two hours of scraping and digging.
Who can forget all those wonderful births and the kids(human) and friends and neighbors that came to share the experience.
But do I miss going out on a day like today where the weather was so cold and windy that Jock doesn't even want to go out to do his business? Heck no! But Jock also is a dog in his fourteenth year and living his retirement as a house pet. He has an excuse. And he hates dog clothes! Me. I'm back to being "soft".
Remember this? So cold the eggs split.
At the same time I find it difficult to complain about the cold as most people seem to be in the Northeast. Sure, all this snow has become tedious, if not a nuisance. However, most of us get to be indoors for our daily lives and just run to a car that usually warms up on our way to the next warm place we are running into to. We don't live in the cold or work in the cold and if we have to be out in the cold, we just have to do what the farmer does - dress for it appropriately.

Last month the power company scheduled some maintenance work which turned out to be a pretty darned cold day, and the sight of all that tan Car-hart fabric brought back so many memories of the Farm Fashion blogs. Memories of those ridiculously cold days where dressing and undressing was a chore of its own. And we did it every winter day because there were animals to care for. No days off or going home early. And at the time, I really think we loved the challenge.

Today I just want to thank all the tough working farmers out there for doing the job they do in this weather, and every day, for you and me.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pay It Forward

I think I did my pay it forward thing tonight.

This older (based on her voice) woman has been calling me on my cell for the past month.  I think the first time I missed the call and called back. 

When I said, "Hello! You called me?” she said, "I don't know you", and that was that!

Then about once a week she continued to call. I picked up and she said "Mary?". The first couple of times I just said, "No Mary here. You must have the wrong number", and she would apologize and hang up.

Just a few days ago I was getting a bit annoyed and said, "It will always be me at this number. Maybe you need to send Mary a note to get a new number.” She agreed and I thought that is it.


Tonight Jean called yet again.

I give her this. She is persistent.

So, being in a charitable mood (!!) I said "Perhaps I need to help you find the correct number."

Jean was SO thrilled.

So as I went through a few searches for Mary, Jean opens up to her new best friend and tells me how she was/is in the hospital in East Hartford after suffering a blood clot (I translate "stroke"). She feels she hasn't forgotten much, but maybe a few things. Hmm!

After five attempts I find a site that shows a land line, although Jean says Mary no longer has one and is only mobile. But the name and address and age are a match and so I CALL Mary at that number that is ONE NUMERAL different than mine.

It rings.

Jean audibly giggles.

Well it isn't a totally happy ending yet.

And rings!

I have my land line on speaker and the cell phone on speaker when the answering machine picks up.

And so I leave this very loud and clear message with names and phone numbers and how Jean is really looking forward to hearing from Mary, and I hang up.

Jean is just so relieved that you can hear her smile.

She promises to let me know what happens and that she really owes me.

I wonder if she will remember!


I started this as a Face Book post and it just got so long that I decided to finally get back to the blog.

Some of my past year has been staying with my mom who had a revision (replacement) of one of her hip replacements one year ago this week. It’s been a rough, rough year, especially for her. Because she is far away, I count on the staff at her place to help her a lot. I thought about Jean after I hung up and perhaps her frustration of trying to find her friend. My mother has not been able to handle the phone as well as she used to, and I know she’d like to talk to her friends more, but it’s just not that easy anymore, and I know she also gets frustrated.

I didn't think this far ahead as it was happening, but I hope what I did for Jean works out and that we all do something for a stranger once in a while just because we can. No pay back - or forward!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hartford Connecticut's Bushnell Park Carousel and Elizabeth Park, West Hartford

After the rains of Hurricane Arthur, yesterday involved more of the activities that the Fourth of July normally would have included: outdoor fun, and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Kristin and Jake were here for the holiday week-end while their kitchen was getting painted and prepared for new appliances and renovations.
For a little entertainment we stopped at the local elementary school playground to stretch our legs and test the swings.
Next we drove into a fairly quiet Hartford, CT to see the 100 year old Bushnell Park Carousel.
It is a wonderfully maintained work of art, and for one mere dollar, you can have a long, fast, dizzying ride on these precious antiques. The horses were a bit wild, so Jake chose a chariot.
This carousel, as well as many others, is repaired with the help of the artists and craftsmen at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, CT, also a wonderful place to visit.

Lastly we drove over the border into West Hartford to 116 year old Elizabeth Park to see the famous Rose Gardens.
From the cool shade of the Gazebo
Welcome banner created from grey santolina.

 My only disappointment was that we didn't see any brides, as it was a Saturday. 
As you can imagine, it is a popular stop for bridal parties for photographs.
Another salute to our flag. 
I hope you are enjoying the park offerings in your community.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wet and Happy Fourth of July

 Happy Independence Day Friends! 
Its raining and cool and we love it, and the gardens love it. 
Its the heat break and rain that we needed.
Hurricane Arthur has cancelled all the fireworks around here till tomorrow, but our little firecracker is having fun in the rain and puddles. A town event for children had great attendance in spite of rain that poured at times. You would have thought that playing in the rain was a planned activity.

All the animals in the barn at Northwest Park in Windsor were visited and spoken to(Baa! Quack! Etc.) and then we got to the car before the next deluge for the ride home.
Have a great holiday!