Thursday, March 31, 2016


In an effort to keep things quiet for Ed in the morning, allowing him to catch up on needed sleep, I open the coop for the cheepers, then stay outside and work the yard for a good bit of time.

farmette life-1.jpg
(a flower bed, from a chicken's vantage point)

You could call it a poor day for gardening -- it's muddy, it's wet and there's a trickle of rain now and then, but I don't mind. Weeds are easy to dig out, wet leaves are pungent with earthy aromas, new growth looks fresh, as if bathed in the wetness of spring.

farmette life-3.jpg

Eventually, Ed and I eat breakfast in the front room...

farmette life-6.jpg

... and then I'm off to be with Snowdrop.

If grandmas occasionally have lazy days, I'd say this would be mine. The little one and I watch the rain fall outside and I think to myself that any activity with my granddaughter that does not require being in an upright position this morning would be just fine with me. Luckily, her mood is equally mellow.

farmette life-14.jpg

You could say we chill together.

farmette life-12.jpg

At least until she has a nap and I have my own quiet time.

The rains pass and my desire to get up and get going grows strong again. And for a short interlude, the skies are less angry looking. Snowdrop and I are off!

But not for long. I see some menacing rain clouds hovering just to the west. We pause at the closer coffee shop. If the rains come down, we can wait it out here. And that would be just fine. Snowdrop shares this love of mine -- people watching.

farmette life-8.jpg

Over a (coffee and a) cookie, but the cookie I swear is just an excuse.

farmette life-12-2.jpg

Indeed, if you put together all the crumbs she has had in the course of one month, they still would not add up to a whole cookie.

farmette life-14-2.jpg

The point is to nibble slowly and watch the world go by.

farmette life-16.jpg

Just like her grandma, the little girl loves to go out, but she also loves then to come back home, where you can be yourself (newest love: walking on all fours, perhaps imitating an animal?)...

farmette life-27.jpg

... and do what your heart dictates, be it hugging a penguin, or studying for time on end books about pliers and wrenches.

farmette life-24.jpg

It's evening now. Time to put away the cheepers -- that's Ed's job. But I like going out with him, if only to make fun of the job itself, which is no job at all, because, as he'll tell you -- he's got them trained.

Scotch and Java are in the coop. Butter is on the fence. Henny is -- yes, laugh if you want -- in a tree. This, apparently, is the norm.

farmette life-3-3.jpg

Ed approaches. Butter, as if on call, rises, walks the length of the fence, then jumps down and goes inside the coop. Ed mumbles -- your turn -- and Henny flies down and follows suit. The door is latched, the job is done.

That's all you do?
He grins. Trained.
You can't train chickens!

Or can you you? Perhaps "train" is the wrong word. Encourage. Teach.  Support.

The coop grows quiet. We walk back to the farmhouse listening to the sounds of the night. At this time of the year, even with the fading light, it's all so very beautiful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


A pouty morning soon turns into a wet morning, with rumbles and thunderous grumbles reminding us that everything comes in a package: sunny days are mixed in with rainy days and you have to be equally cheerful about the rainy ones because really, we need plenty of both to make our gardens grow.

(And the winning clump of daffodils to show the first set of blooms is this one!)

farmette life-4.jpg

We eat breakfast in the front room...

farmette life-1.jpg

... and then, very quickly, I'm off to be with Snowdrop.

She is just waking up and so I have the pleasant task of feeding her breakfast and watching her play for a few minutes before her bath (hence the astronaut pj's).

farmette life-14.jpg

I'd been thinking recently how intense her play can get. In the photo above, she is playing with penguin nesting dolls. She has always loved the nesting doll idea, but this one is most perfect because of the animal under consideration and because they're fairly easy to take apart.

The putting together is trickier. There are four dolls, but since each is composed of two parts, there are really some 28 combinations of joining parts together (and that's before you include the second step of pairing multiples of the pieces). I swear she tries them all. She is so determined to figure out how it all works! And what is most remarkable is that she does not get frustrated when it doesn't fall into place. (Me on the other hand -- I can hardly stand it. Several times I can't hold back -- I nudge her to the piece that fits, but she doesn't want my help and she continues to soldier on on her own.)

Alright. Bath time, running around time -- a good mooded girl is with us today. What does it matter that it's a rainy day? Inside, there's so much to do!

farmette life-16.jpg

So much!

farmette life-21.jpg

Like any kid, she is active in a number of ways, but what again astonishes me no end is how at a certain point, she'll apply herself to a task and then spend long long minutes working through it. Here's one more example: she picked up a small cook book off of her mommy's shelf. I'd never seen it before -- it looks old. Perhaps a gift from a past satisfied user? In any case, it's small. Snowdrop wants to master turning the pages one by one.

farmette life-2.jpg

Not in a clump, not just a few, but all of them, one by one.

farmette life-11-2.jpg

All the while showing no exasperation. If it doesn't quite come out right, she goes back and does it again. There is no frown, no disgruntlement. Merely quiet determination.

farmette life-3-2.jpg

I cannot tell how long she sat doing this, but I can say this -- she showed unbelievable patience for the job (me -- less so; again I reached to hold down something for her and again she gently picked up my hand and moved it away).

farmette life-9-2.jpg

So are we born with patience? I know Ed has it in vast quantities. But in Snowdrop's case it surely isn't learned. Do some of us (most of us?) lose it over time? I've not seen Snowdrop be frustrated with failure yet. Will she not know frustration in the way that I know it?

She continues her task standing up...

farmette life-23-2.jpg

Finally, she is done. Off and running.

farmette life-24.jpg

In the afternoon, the rain comes in gusts and sprinkles. I propose an outing to the store. You tell Snowdrop we're going somewhere that requires shoes and a jackets and she is on it!

We make our way to Trader Joe's for life's essentials: flowers, nuts, chocolate and a bottle of wine. The checkout guy teases her about the wine and when she looks a little uncertain, he offers her a bunch of stickers with flowers on them. This is the first time I've seen her be bribed with stickers and I consider it a real rite of passage.

We're just across the street from a cafe she and I like and so we stop by for an espresso (for me) and a scone (for Ed, but she gets a nibble). She is mesmerized. Not by the scone (though she likes her crumb just fine) but by a baby at another table.

farmette life-7-2.jpg

She cannot get enough of that scene where the mom and dad attend to some work, but also to the kid who by my estimation is exactly half Snowdrop's age.

farmette life-10-2.jpg

But when we pass by the table and the sweet dad tries to engage her, she turns shy, as if it's too much to enter a world where she was once the observer but now is expected to be an active participant.

And finally, I swing by a house where I pick up our week's supply of CSA spinach. It's raining again but Snowdrop and I don't mind. Besides, there's a reward at the end of the road: I let her sample a leaf of our winter indulgence.

farmette life-20-3.jpg

Yes, she likes it as much as that crumb of scone.

We go home singing in the car the whole way. (That is -- I sing and she babbles. But I swear, she tries to be part of the same song!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


These last few days of March are so beautiful that expectations run high: what are your plans for us, April? Because, you know, we're kind of spoiled.

I wake up to a clear sky. It seems that overnight, every new growth gained an inch. The chickens are now energetically scratching for bugs (even as they still fight over the bits of corn or bread I give them), though they chase me when they see me go toward the house. Girls on the run!

farmette life-3.jpg

After a winter of hiding, the bulbs are all pushing through, promising a long and varied flowering season. It all looks rather wonderful out there!

But I do not linger. After an early (and very sunny)  breakfast...

farmette life-8.jpg

... I'm off to be with Snowdrop.

She, too, has grown by very many leaps. Perhaps her own trip (to visit her grandparents in Buffalo) had expanded her vision of the possibilities because I surely notice a huge change in her. She has always known her own mind, but there is a certain insistence now that I hadn't quite seen before.

I can make an "ooo" sound, grandma -- no problem!

farmette life-17.jpg

Snowdrop, I need to trim your nails. Perhaps running around with the scissors isn't such a great idea... But you can run with penguin!

farmette life-19.jpg

You seem so very grownup, little one...

farmette life-28.jpg

After lunch, we practice letter articulation (her idea)...

farmette life-7.jpg

... then go for a walk. This is a day to spend outside -- it has to be one of the warmest ones we've had this year.

farmette life-12-2.jpg

We do stop at a cafe and for the first time, we sit outside.

farmette life-18.jpg

As always, what takes place around her is as interesting as the crumb she gets from grandpa Ed's cookie treat.

farmette life-23.jpg

Me, I'm day dreaming about all the times I'll eat outside in the months to come.

Back at the farmette, I am so happy to see crocuses popping up in various places, including by the path to the farmhouse door.

farmette life-29.jpg

No time to dawdle thought. Today is the day Ed and I plant the tomatoes (with a few melons and cucumbers thrown in). I didn't quite count the number of seeds planted, but it looks to be at around 130.

farmette life-40.jpg

From a gardeners perspective, the crucially important (and therefore most wondrous) growing season has officially begun.

Monday, March 28, 2016

such a day

Perhaps this wasn't the warmest of March days. Maybe it didn't start off with that brilliant burst of sunlight. It could be that there have been more radiant beginnings.

But for me, it was plenty grand.

It's Monday and so much of my time is at the farmette. Glancing at my photos, I have to wonder -- is today about grandparenting? About chicken antics? About the garden? Obviously it has a little of everything.

It begins, of course, with chicken care. Here's Scotch (with the other three girls), shaking herself free of night dust...

farmette life-1.jpg

As I walk back to the farmhouse, I notice that the daffodils are definitely swelling.

farmette life-2.jpg

The girls chase after me. It's one of the funniest sights, to see them run along the path toward the farmhouse, or, in the alternative, run with their behinds wagging back to the barn.

farmette life-3.jpg

And now the sun comes out full force and our moods go from very good to very pink and downright grand!

farmette life-10.jpg

Even though it's still a little cool, Ed and I go out to do some weeding. Working side by side in one of the back flower fields (too neglected last year -- we have quite the digging to do!), we are radiant. This is the essence of pleasure for us -- to improve something here at the farmette, digging, uprooting, clipping, heaving -- it's all important and as the contours of a better landscape take shape, we feel immensely satisfied.

Snowdrop comes over in the late morning and she is a whirl of energy as she rediscovers her play areas.

farmette life-11.jpg

Ed shares an orange slice with her. She is delighted with her acquisition.

farmette life-12.jpg

She looks outside then and spots the chickens and now her attention is focused only on them. I take her out in her little red wagon and here's a change: she likes the ride just fine! And of course, she loves watching the hens eat the scraps of bread we throw at them.

farmette life-22.jpg

I pull her toward the barn and of course, the cheepers, not wanting to be left out, run behind us. A delightful little scene!

farmette life-29.jpg

Is the girl happy?


farmette life-49.jpg

And as I wheel her to the mailbox, I notice that by our gravel driveway, the later crocuses have burst into bloom. I am so thrilled to see them!

farmette life-51.jpg

Snowdrop, get out and smell the air around you!

She does. She does...

farmette life-53.jpg

In the afternoon, I thought a lot about what it means to be a grandmother. Are you there just for the smiles?

farmette life-1-2.jpg

Of course not. Are you there for the excursions that you know will make your grandchild happy? Well, now this is trickier. For the baby sitting grandma (as opposed to the one who shares in childcare in all ways), maybe the answer here is closer to yes. Ed and I are low on pickles -- ones that we can only purchase at our local cafe. I quickly volunteer to pick up some more. I know a coffee shop visit will thrill Snowdrop.

And it does.

farmette life-8-2.jpg

In the evening, the weather is so beautiful that I am almost tempted to tell Ed that I would not be cooking tonight but instead -- concentrating on the yard work outside. But, the purchased fish is ready for the pan and so in the end I turn my back on the fine weather. I mean, it's not as if we're nearing the end of the beautiful season outdoors..