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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A New Kid - Owen Riley

December is a big month for our family, as it may be yours, with all the holiday madness. In the past few years its gotten even bigger and busier here, with grandson Jacob's birthday on the 4th, mine on the 11th and between the two of us now is Jacob's baby brother Owen Riley, born December 9th. With the hereditary lack of promptness, Owen was able to spend his extra time growing to 21 inches and weighing in at 8lbs. 3 ounces at 8:27AM when he was delivered by Cesarean section.

Once again the labor and delivery area was a madhouse, and the nursery short staffed for the flurry of activity that morning. I was lucky to be waiting in the visitor's room when Owen was rolled up the hall for a visit before he went to the nursery for his "bath".  Because of the lack of staff to prepare and supervise the rooms, I felt like I was at the airport with three peoples worth of "carry-on", sitting there with bags and cameras and reading materials.
Jacob holding his brother for the first time.
My daughter Kristin and son-in-law Andrew were able to bring Owen safely home during one of the warmest December days in history. All the grandparents and Auntie Jess have taken a turn at burping and changing, with some cooking and big brother entertaining on the side.

Now that I have these two December birthdays around me, I am planning my future getaways with my boys. Oh! What fun we will have!
(And I am dreaming of the next little goat farm for the future 4-H duo!)

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.