Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome the Rooster and the Blue Barn

In recent weeks, there has been a rooster heralding the morning at about 5:15 a.m.  He lives within a mile radius from us yet his ruckus travels right up.  I don't mind this during the week - I am usually up anyway - but on the weekends I wish that he would sleep just a little later.

Even though I live in the country, our area is developed enough so that I have not heard a rooster crowing since grammar school.  Let's just say that there was a school project of hatching chicks and at the end of the school year, my brother and I begged to bring home Herman, Hectorine, and Clydine - obviously we initially thought they were all boys.  Herman was the grand crower.  Hectorine and Clydine gave us the most glorious fresh eggs - many with double yokes.  We absolutely adored our chicken pets and they had long and happy lives.

The new rooster lives at a farm that had been owned by the same family for generations.  When the last family member moved out to live in an assisted living facility, the farm was vacant until it was purchased by a group of enthusiastic individuals who have established a farm co-op.  The farm is once again looking spiff and is productive.  They have put up a greenhouse for foul weather growing and have painted the old barn blue.

Traditionally barns here are painted red or white.  Blue initially caused much consternation and conversation at the local coffee shop.  Now, despite this color, folks are glad that the farm is once again thriving.

The Blue Barn.
Mr. Rooster lives here.

There is an old story around town about "the McNiff boy" (not his real name) who in the 1950s shockingly went off to L.A. to manage a jazz club rather than continue the family tradition of farming.  The details of this agricultural betrayal are still regaled by locals in a tone of horror.   Even though this was 60 years ago and the McNiff boy is now in probability an elderly gentleman, the point of retelling the story is that the family farm eventually fell to rack and ruin.

There are farms here now that are going to bits because they are "in estate."  This term essentially is the seal of doom.  What it typically means is that those that once farmed have passed on and that the heirs cannot determine what to do or are fighting.  In the meantime, the farm and house become decrepit.

There are several once productive farms in town that are now in a sorry state.

This house looks so sad with the blank, curtainless eyes.
A family once grew and thrived here.

Although Walker Evans-ish, how awful.
Note the two pristine barns in the back.
I think the land is rented out.

A buckling barn.
One more winter and it could be down.

Where did the house go?
Consumed by poison sumac.

That sign by the door says, "No Trespassing".
If one looks in the windows, there are
old cobwebby teacups on a table.

Given all of this, do I really mind the rooster at 5:15 a.m.?  No, not at all.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dog Walking Essential

Snack Pack with dog motif.

Filled with assorted dog cookies for Puppy Weston, neighborhood dogs, and those dogs that one comes across who snarl and need to be told to sit before being given anything.

Kept in the key bowl  so as not to be forgotten before heading out.


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Deer Doily, Marilla-less Matthews, and Green Peppers

A few years ago when I was on my morning walk and was about to turn down a field road that led to some woods, a gentleman farmer pulled up in his truck and said,  "Missy, you don't want to go down there.  There is a fisher cat."  I was a little taken aback both because I did not know what a fisher cat was and because his truck was probably older than the combined ages of my parents.

Still, since this sounded like a warning I ought to heed, I  turned and went the other way.  Later, I Googled "fisher cat" and similar to when one conducts online research about a rash or a disease, I wish that I had not.  It was a fearsome looking thing with the most terrible stories.

A couple of weeks later, I was walking again and ran into my farmer. 

"It is all right to go there now," he said with a nod of his head.  "The fisher cat has been taken care of."

 Since I do not like to think about harm coming to anything, I did not ask for details and preferred to think that the fisher cat had been relocated.

After our second encounter, we became friends.  He would wave to me everyday sometimes stopping to give me something from his farm.  A quart of strawberries, a few potatoes, or Indian corn.  These gifts made for interesting walking the rest of the way home.  Picture trying to look normal with a dog leash in one hand and a cabbage in the other.

One day my farmer casually asked me where I lived.  That evening there was a crate of green peppers on my door step.  What a wonderful and generous surprise.  When we brought the crate in - there were easily over 100 peppers.  That weekend was a flurry of making and freezing stuffed peppers.  What was left was chopped up and frozen for winter cooking.

To thank my farmer, I made a pan of stuffed peppers for him.  I had asked around and found out that :

  • he was bachelor who lived alone in his old family home
  • went to church every Sunday - always cleaned up and dressed in a suit
  • cut out every item about town folk that appeared the local paper and pasted them into leather bound scrapbooks
  • took his mailbox in every night from the post in front of his house so that no one would steal it (Loved this!)
Intent on my delivery of stuffed peppers, I drove to my Marilla-less Matthew's  (my term for bachelor farmers who live alone, see "Anne of Green Gables") house and and knocked on the door. 

Hanging on the inside glass of the door window was a deer doily only it was hung sideways so that the deer was standing on its head.  This was a clue that no woman had commanded the house for quite some time and I expected the worst. 

Yet when he opened the door, I was ushered into a neat hall that had a pretty, red toile wallpaper.  I handed him the stuffed peppers and he invited me in.  He was so proud to show me his scrapbooks - the oldest from at least 70 years ago.  These were all meticulously arranged to awe any librarian.  Besides realizing what a historical treasure they were, I made a mental note never to do anything of a spurious nature that would cause my name to be printed in the local paper.

Last Thursday was the day for the annual green pepper delivery.  Part of the weekend was spent in the making, mixing, parboiling, and stuffing with delivery and scrapbook update on Sunday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Green Sweater and Tie

As fall approaches, I am thinking about sweaters.  I love this photograph of Charlotte Dellal, of Charlotte Olympia,  in her green sweater and tie.  I can see myself in this exact outfit traipsing through the fields and woods here with Puppy Weston.  Not sure about the red lipstick though.  Can never get that to look quite right.

From Tatler