Bloom Anyway.

back-roseI am an Outside kind of gal. Not to say I’m full-on “outdoorsy” mind you. I greatly prefer indoor plumbing ; ) But given the choice, I’d always rather be outside. Food tastes better out on the porch. My mood instantly improves with sunshine. I think better (lots of oxygen to the brain from all the fresh air?) And, for a very visual person…there is endless wisdom and inspiration to be found!

So, I was recently getting some yard work done. Marveling, once again, at the parade of perennials I get to witness throughout the seasons around here. Through no skill of mine whatsoever, most of the floral fireworks happen right in the front yard. It’s all about curb appeal, right?!

As I continued moving around the property, putting in the time in the lesser-visited areas, I came across this old friend. Isn’t she a beauty? Covered in bright fuchsia-colored tea roses, some faded to a soft baby pink, and lots more buds ready for their big debut. Of course, my mind wanders… and grumbles some…as I work (“why am I the one doing all this work??” “does anyone even care if I do this?” “these weeds are only going to grow right back!”).

And there it was. Clear in my mind. This lovely girl blooms her little heart out where almost no one sees it. It is next to the pump house, at the back of the yard. It doesn’t get watered, and it’s a spot that you really have to be looking to notice it on any given day (or week!). It does not worry that it’s not in the fabulous front yard. It does not worry that it has to gather it’s water on it’s own. It does not worry if anyone comments on it’s achievement. It does not worry if it’s blooms fade and fall. It just does exactly what it was meant to do, no matter what! I’m sure I’m not the only who can feel… invisible, under-appreciated and decidedly un-special sometimes. You know what? I’m just gonna Bloom Anyway : )

Fruitful Labor

Peaches for jamAugust means an abundantly full, overflowing, larger-than-life month for me. Not in a bad way, but it always feels like everything is BIG this month.

Monsoon is usually in full swing, so we get some BIG rain (followed by big, beautiful sunsets). School starts; and there’s new everything again. Time to focus on encouraging and helping my smart, sensitive, active–and typical!– teenager navigate the new semester. Also, since it’s started, there’s time once again to tackle BIG projects that were put on hold while we were all chilling out, doing “summer” : )

And…there’s fruit! Lots and lots and lots of it. And vegetables by the bushel. While I’m awed at the abundance, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the work it takes to preserve it all. But I do it, so that all of our hard work to grow it is not wasted. Hubby sees me in the kitchen for hours, on my feet, over the hot stove, canning and preserving that precious produce of ours. He says, “Wow, that’s a LOT of work!” And I always say…’yeah, but it’s SO worth it later on’.

This big month is always full of big jobs…working to raise a child well, managing business and life projects the right way, tackling all the blessings this farm produces (seemingly at once!). But, in the end, it is, literally, fruitful labor. The payoff is moments of sweetness in the future that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Am I tired? Yes. Do I sometimes wish August would get over with already? Yessss…. But, looking forward to tomorrow (instead of looking at my sticky kitchen today) is my winning recipe for August.

Well, Fiddle-dee-dee!

Introducing…Scarlet and Rhett!

ScarlettRhett2

It’s that time of year again, and I’m one happy farm mama! Yep–baby goat season for us! This year is Ginger’s first time kidding. It is…a tense and exciting time, all at once. Always fun to anticipate the kiddos, but I definitely say a little prayer of thanks as soon as they’re out. I can’t help but let myself reflect a little on our past experiences this time of year : )

Day in and day out, goats are goats–differences in personality and temperament, but mostly the same goat stuff (except for Napolean…who really does beat to his own drummer!) But I’ve learned that every goat is different, once it comes to kidding and mothering. Daisy is kind of ‘average’. She’s a big, strong girl. Has her kids easily enough (put out those quadruplets last year no problem!). She’s got great-sized udders, which makes for lots of milk for us…but she’s not the most patient mom. The kids drink, but when she’s done, she’s done. She loves ’em, but let’s just say she values her “alone” time…(I hear ya, girl!) When she’s pregnant, she won’t let me near her belly (to feel for kids moving, or for labor coming on), but once they’re out, she knows I’m her nurse and nanny, and she definitely takes advantage of it!

Now, her mama, Melody, was really something. Like ‘Mother Theresa’ something. I could practically march her into a birthing class to demonstrate…anything, really! “Here, feel where the kids are moving” or “Run your hand along her tail to feel for tendons loosening”, or even “Touch her udders! See how they are filling up?” Patient, beyond patient : )  Then, when her kids came, even more so. They could nurse for an hour, she would just stand and wait. She let Daisy nurse, even up to a year. And, for the Mother-of-the-Year award: one year we had to pull Daisy’s kids a bit early. We put them in with Melody, mostly for their safety, and –yep! she even let them nurse! She was an awesome grandma : ) And, although all goat kids like to climb, for some reason Melody’s kids liked to climb on her. And she let them, endlessly. With her, I always felt she wanted me with her when she kidded. So sweet…I miss her on the farm!

So, now it was Ginger’s turn. She’s a skittish one normally, so I didn’t expect to get near her to feel anything. But I found if I let her get up on the milk stand and munch away on her favorite grains, I was good to go. She’s very petite, and I had been feeling what felt like at least one good-sized kid. Slight concern because…did I say she’s petite? ; ) Then, a week before her due date, I thought I’d feel those tail tendons to see what was “normal” for her, so that when they loosened, I’d know the difference. Well! There were none to be felt, they were already gone…labor was imminent–usually within 12 hours. So we watched, and watched. And checked her throughout the night. And the next night…! Remember when I said ‘every goat is different’? Well, this is how Ginger was going to do it: I glanced out the window and she was already pushing–Two beautiful kids. Ten minutes. Total. Silly Ginger! As I watch her these first few days…turns out, she takes after her grandma : )

“Heeeere, Chickie, Chickie, Chickie…Chickie!”

IMG_1482 IMG_1483 IMG_1484Seems like our critters are coming in quadruplets this past year! First the goats…now, four little fluffy bundles of cuteness taking up residence in the living room in a big Rubbermaid bin (for now).

Since we get new chicks almost every year, there’s a nice familiarity about the whole thing now: tiny, tiny things, all fuzz, huddling underneath the warmth of the lamp, barely peeping ; ) Then, growing bigger–so fast you can almost watch it!–lots of running around in their bin playing “steal the feather” and making such a racket we have to turn the TV volume up! That’s when we relocate them to another room, away a little, so we can actually hear ourselves talk ; ) and know that they are getting closer to moving into the coop and becoming part of the “grown up” group of ladies out there.

The funniest part is how they already do all those “grown up” chicken things…stretching out a wiIMG_1481ng and a leg (mmm…yum! just kidding!!) together at the same time, ‘chicken scratching’ at the ground (stirring up imaginary bug treats?) and knowing to hop up on the branch we put in there to roost at night. Although they are four different breeds, they bicker one minute and cuddle up the next, like sisters. And, from our experience…these four cuties will still hang together more often than not, years after they join the rest of the flock.

the Wearin’ of the Green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! What can I say? With a name like Erin, this is a big week for me : )

Well, Spring has definitely Sprung around here! Which makes me verrrrry happy because Spring has a tendency to come right before SUMMER!!! While I wait for that mercury to rise, there’s so much to take in this time of year. My favorite thing to do is take a slo-o-o-w stroll all around the property and see what’s new.

You know it’s good stuff when these photos are unfiltered, un-messed-with, straight from the camera… and 40 shades of green…Erin Go Bragh!

Green.Clover
Some clover, just in time for St. Pat’s
Green.Hollyhock
No, not lettuce…it’s Hollyhock poppin’ up!
Green.Pear blossoms
Pear blossoms…
Green.Purple flwrs
Our favorite purple weed : )
Green.Rosemary
Bloomin’ Rosemary
Green.Tulips.Hollys
“Tulips and Hollyhocks, living together” (for those old enough to remember the real Ghostbusters ; )

“Overachiever”

Apricot blossomsHmmm…I sometimes get called that ‘name’ (but never before 10am, that’s for sure!) Not so for our small-but-mighty apricot tree. That’s when I took this picture the other morning. Yes, those are blossoms. It’s loaded. Yes, it’s February. Yes…it does it every year.

Out of all of our fruit trees, this one was the mystery, season after season, because it just had to be the first to bloom, every time. And every time, normal “winter” here in Prescott would zap those blooms. We suspected it was an apricot tree, but never knew for sure. Last year, if anyone out there remembers my posts, we finally had a bumper crop! And they were scrumptiousness…

Here’s a little secret: the reason we got such a great crop, is because we finally figured out the right way to protect it after it blooms. We got the right supplies, and, even though I hated being out there on a cold night covering, tucking and tying knots, we did it anyway.

I can appreciate my little tree’s Type A tendencies. After all, it’s just doing exactly what it was made to do, with ALL of it’s might. A little overly enthusiastic sometimes? Yep. It neglects to think about the possibility of frost. But it’s so intent on joyfully making it’s delicious mark on the world, the risk is not what it’s focused on. And we, it’s care-taker’s, tenderly protected it so it could just do it’s glorious thing!

One of my favorite quotes, by Anais Nin, says this: “And then one day the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom” Don’t know about you, but in my life, when I’ve really ‘gone for it’ (“you overachiever, you!”) in way that I am truly meant to do (knowing full well that my care-taker’s got my back)…the results have been, well, delicious : )

 

Wonderland

Farm snowYou can bet your Powerball winnings on it…I’ll never, ever be a fan of winter. At all. (well, just the hot chocolate part maybe). This Northern Arizona winter, which is pretty wimpy by any standard, is quite enough for me! Yes, yes…it IS pretty.

That said, even I can see the wonder in this season. Around the farm, all things seem quiet and still, hunkered down against the chill. But take a closer look and I see much more.

Little Pearl, our girl, born in the spring, has grown herself an impressively cozy thick coat! Nope, no “faux” fur here…it’s the real deal, and it’s keeping her toasty as she navigates her first winter ever. It’s really something to see them born and watch them grow so fast. On that note, her mama Daisy and her big sis Ginger are busy growin’ kids in their bellies over winter. They lay low, no more milking for now, as they put their energy towards bringing new life come springtime.

I wonder how the chickens handle it so well, with their thin skins and fine feathers! They are out and about every day, no matter the weather, mining the ground for tasty bugs and having their morning coffee clatch just outside the coop. Braver than me…! And braver than Button who, if there is even a trace of white stuff coming down, retreats to his barn. We don’t even see his footsteps until it’s all gone….And of course, the sparrows. Taking every chance to go over the property once more for any seeds left behind. They know where every icicle drips down, for a tiny drink or maybe even a bath.

Most of all, I’m amazed at how they all know when to slow it down, rest up, take care of what’s really needed, doing what really matters. No resolutions, major sweeping plans. They just wait, contentedly, living the present day (Spring will eventually come, but they are patient now). Hmmm…I could learn a thing or two watching them. From right here, inside. With cocoa. : )

A Small, Still Voice

LettuceLadybugLike everyone else, my days are busy. Filled to the brim, with a generous topping of “even-more-to-do”. Accompanying me all day is a never ending hum of noise– one-sided cell phone conversations, advertising on the radio, TV on too loud (“turn that down!”). The dishwasher running, the dogs barking and, even though I love them dearly, the ongoing chatter of my fellow house dwellers ; ) And, most days I wake up with my to-do list already running in my head, waiting for me to get TO it already!

That’s why I treasure my early mornings on the front porch, with my ever-present cuppa’ of hot tea. I look. I listen. I take it all in. I do NOT think. That’s the best part! I allow my senses to just…do what they do best. A million shades of green to enjoy. The way sunlight plays and moves the shadows around. That hummingbird that goes about his daily to-do list right in front of me. Songs of so many birds (“…have I heard that one before?”).

Time like that let’s me hear what I really need to hear for the day. That small, still Voice that strengthens and energized me for my many, many tasks ahead. If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend it! Find a place, any place (preferably outside). Turn off the phone ringer, hang up the “do not disturb” sign and give it a try. I promise, you’ll hear it too ; )

Easy Does It

BocceAhhhh…summer! It’s finally here, after a sweet and lovely April, followed by a downright mean May. Don’t know what was going on with that, but thankfully the baby goats n’ the baby garden survived…

To celebrate, we’ve pulled out the Bocce balls and the games have begun! I hold tight to the belief that food always tastes better outside–preferably when you’re barefoot. But it’s even better when someone’s keeping a casual eye on the grill while I refill cold drinks and do justice to my Italian heritage with a laid-back-yet-actually-very-competitive game on the grass. Y’know…friendly competition where someone likes to sneeze loudly, just as the other team is throwing ; )

But what better time to slow it all down than right now, right? Too much, too busy, too complicated, all the time. That’s not gonna work. There is a time for every season…and it’s time for SUMMER!

Abundance

CherriesI love that word. (Some days I don’t, like when I’m feeling kind of down. Then, it seems like I have nothing, and certainly nothing in abundance.) But…I wear a little pendant all the time with that one word on it. Tiny as it is on there, it packs a huge punch. It keeps me happily aware of my surroundings, and my circumstances. And when need be, it yanks my thoughts back to where they need to be: focused and thankful for the awesomeness around me.RedLettuce

And it’s everywhere, especially at the moment, here on the farm! So much so that I got lost outside with my camera today just capturing it all. My girl Daisy is quite happy to be back on the milk stand (and maybe a little too happy to be off mama duty with the kids; hey, we’ve all been there!), the ladies in the coop are earninDairyRosesg their feed, and things are blooming and growing everywhere you look. Roses, wildflowers, and the very first Hollyhock of the year decided to show up today…

FirstHollyhockIt’s a bumper year for our fruit trees, starting with the cherries, thanks to a mild winter. I probably should be preserving them…but, we’re just eating them straight from the trees! The branches on the peach tree are already hanging low, so heavy with deliciousness to come, that I’ll be canning those for sure (well, hello, peach cobbler!).

PurpleDaisiesMilk, eggs, flowers, fruit…so much provision and beauty. But I’m also reminded of the intangible things we all can have as well, that matter more: contentment, laughter, peace, simplicity and time for the ‘good’ stuff. Funny how when you actually do “stop and smell the roses”, that’s where those things are, in abundance.