Thursday, 14 October 2010
(View from behind Murdock looking East towards Cossayuna Lake with Vermont Mountains in the background)
(Looking West from the North side of Murdock Mountain)
Steven flew directly from London to South Korea on Tuesday 5th October, or so I thought. I decided to give up smoking that day, figured that we could go through hell together. When I checked my email at 8pm that evening, the last thing I expected was a request from him to be collected from Albany Train Station, in less than two hours. Yup, he managed to keep that one quiet.
(Looking East across Cossayuna Lake)
We somehow managed to get there. Due to not having any cash on me (my clever idea of saving money is not having any on me to spend. It works, don't knock it) we had to take the 'non toll road route'. FYI- NEVER take that option late at night. EVER!
We did get there alive and on time. As we walked in, Steven walked out. I slapped him across the face, hard (only in my mind, but seriously contemplated doing it, for a moment). It was soooo good to see him until, our drive home. He suggests we take the toll road as he handed me $5 'for ease, speed and safety'... thirty cents. It cost thirty cents to drive for five minutes on the toll road to avoid the forty five minute 'dirty down town' tour.... thirty bloody cents. He is still laughing. Lesson 1. Always keep 'toll' money in the car. Lesson 2. Don't assume a toll is a high $ amount. Lesson 3. Only give up smoking when you KNOW your husband has arrived at his duty station. He purchased Golden Virginia as a bribe to keep me sane and sweet during his visit. Smarter than I thought, but very very wicked.
(Above and below - home, again, sorry but I think it is amazingly beautiful)
It has been a great month. One husband visited. One completed interview and a follow-up tomorrow. If all else fails, I am getting closer to finding a job and that is good. Need all the help I can get with 'interviews' as I feel as though I am being interigated by the FBI, for murder. The woodburner is amazing, we gave her a trial run while Steven was here. We spent four days together and walked the property daily. The testosterone was a little thick here for a while, but all the boys worked it out eventually, Alpha 1,2,3 and 4 (Pie)!!!
The animals are all well. Thomas, Pie, dogs and Marmite.
Thomas is sure he saw a bear in the garden when we returned late from dropping Steve in NJ. He said it was definitely a bear. Or maybe a Mountain Lion. Or maybe a Lynx. I think that 'maybe' the twelve hour plus round trip drive, the rain and darkness MIGHT just have distorted his vision (and maybe also his imagination), but maybe he did see one, of the three animals it could have been. Or, maybe it was Marmite in disguise?!
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Paddock Phase Two - Removal of the Sumac continues
Thomas’s leg gets impaled by a very sharp branch - he pulls out the branch and all seems good until we realize that there is still a large piece broken off in the bloody mess that is left in his leg, below the knee. I was totally cool about handling this situation, until I felt the piece of foreign debris… it felt like bone. He tells me it is sore but really doesn’t feel that bad, but I suggested we maybe should visit the doctors to get it removed, they would at least numb the area so they could either cut or dig out the wood, but no, he choose scissors, tweezers and some hydrogen peroxide - he would do it himself. Several yowls later he asked for my help, at this point I am seriously nervous because this damn thing would NOT come out (and it still felt like a large splinter of bone attached to his flesh, because if I pulled on one bit, the leg would follow). I’m now green. Tom is screaming to get it out but also screaming when I go anywhere near his leg. We call the doctor. I am now wondering why I didn’t follow Steve’s advice and move to a nice little house in suburbia where doctors and hospitals are plentiful… Our doctor is full for the day and she suggests the Hospital and A & E anyway. “I’ve got it! Get the Tweezers NOW”! he demanded, as I hung up the phone and grab at the tweezers and then pull like hell, he screams some more and finally this very small piece of wood, maybe four millimeters wide by six long comes out, “it felt much bigger when it was in my leg”, I smiled and agreed with relief that it did look much larger indeed, before we got it out. Why was I made to be so calm and collected with blood & guts of animals and totally useless with two legged forms? if they belong to my own family, then I am just about completely bloody useless to them.
Fawn in the garden
Blue Jay, when I don’t have a camera… red cardinals (again, why no camera)?
The arrival of Marmite… the coolest & most dead looking cat but what a hunter she is. We think she is perfect (this coming from a known cat disliker only proves how incredibly cool she is).
I think I am learning the art of ‘Patience’ - it has eluded me for the past 39 ¾ years but I am realizing that even if I push myself, the machinery and all that goes with it (more so the land I am working) - it is still going to take a great deal of time and will only change when it is ready to. Having said that, the garden here is quite magical, when one flower finishes blooming and starts to die another new form takes its place. This has happened repeatedly since the end of May and gives me no end of pleasure. I have so far only added an Azalea (which J keeps jumping on) and Rhododendrons.
Thank you Billye for naming the Jimsonweed/Devils Trumpet/Datura Stramonium - only I can grow a field full of Hallunicagenic weed that is highly toxic to livestock... at least I am learning 'what NOT to grow'?
Holy crap the hugest spider just walked out of the stove top (must remember to use the stove on occasion to overcome this problem). I do wish I had more interest in the food department, more so the cooking of said food. I so miss watching Steve cook and generally make total ciaos in the kitchen, seeing him relax and enjoy what he is doing, smelling yummy smells, having my hand slapped for stealing something before it is ready, seeing his contentment and hidden pride when it turns out so beautifully. I do love his cooking. I do miss his mess.
I’m giving up smoking in one 50g Golden Virginia packets time (about a week). Can not wait to see how long it takes for the silent comments I think to become vocalized and heard by the people they are intended for, for once. Luckily for me, I like being a hermit.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
(Photo 1. Murdock from the front garden)
Autumn is definitely on her way, the leaves are just starting to change and at last, it is getting decidedly cooler. We spend our days working outside and preparing for the onset of winter… I am getting calluses on my calluses. If I ever get an interview, I will have to hide my hands in my lap, or wear gloves?! (Love, I promise to remedy this prior to your return, or maybe I’ll hire a gardener while you are away. To save my hands...)?!!!
Tom has dammed up the stream so we now have a pond and a ‘salamander & frogs hotel’ which is a pile of slate rocks and stone which they do appear to like. It looks great and will hopefully look a little less ‘excavated’ by the spring. He has had an amazingly long summer holiday, which as I recall started at the end of May and will finally finish next Wednesday the 8th September when he goes back to school ; - )
(Photo 2. Brown Eyed Susan front garden wall)
(Photo 3. 'Hotel' & Pond by TAB)
Murdock hike, hummm lets see, it started out well. Tom and I fully kitted out with hacksaw, axe, giant pruners, water, food etc. etc. We managed to get about halfway up, found a spring & stream and then came the thunderstorm from nowhere, a tree hit by lightening, then a very speedy decent by all! Exhausted, we were only 500 feet from the house and poor Tom crashed through the fallen tree, fell and knocked his head, bloody ear and head. All in all a pretty exciting day, Tom is fine, of course and since then we have managed to clear the fallen tree and make a ‘safe’ and clear pathway to the base of Murdock. We are ever so slowly starting to tame the wildness that is our home.
(Photo 4. Gateway from lower pasture to Murdock - home of the Hornet Monster Nest)
Since then, Tom has been stung by a Bald Faced Hornet - lower arm to elbow swelled like a balloon. Our doctor (via phone) said it was still considered ‘local’ swelling, so nothing to worry about, ice and Antihistamine - she is the best doctor we have had in ages, straight to the point, no frills and not a great deal of bedside but you always know what you need to know and are not left curious. We both look like we have been in the wars, cuts, scratches and many bruises - it’s a pioneer thing.
(Photo 5. Hornet Nest in gateway, two feet long)!
J has managed to eat all but one of the pears from the tree. Tom got hold of two before she did, brought them into the house, offered me one which I ate, J then stole the other from the kitchen table right in front of us! Tom swears he would have eaten the other, if J had not, but I have my doubts. Next we have apples to collect from behind the house - the others, backing onto Pie’s paddock will have to wait until we can clear a path to them through the bramble bushes (most likely, a NEXT year task).
(Photo 8. View from gateway south)
I finally have my NY State driving license (which means I am NOW legal to drive unaccompanied in NY state. Enough said)…. Thanks to dear M. who came with me, talked me into calmness (I was a wreck), drank coffee’s and gave me a good heads up of what the examiner was like. She suggested I drive like ‘Miss Daisy‘, which was the perfect advice. When he asked me what I thought of driving in Germany, I said “oh they do drive rather fast” and tried to sound convincing, which he clearly believed and approved of. It took maybe fifteen minutes from start to finish, a three point turn, parallel park and that was it. I didn’t even get out of third gear. Feel a complete pillock for getting so stressed about it now, as it was the easiest and fastest test I have ever taken!
We were given tickets by the Saint Jacque’s family to attend the Washington County Agricultural Fair in Greenwich, which was a great day out. They had every imaginable animal on display, including a barn full of Draught Animals, to include some magnificent horses that made the Pie look small, Oxon and some other giant looking cow types (you see, I have a great deal of learning to do on this subject), pigs, goats, sheep, every bird imaginable and some not so imaginable. Tom enjoyed ‘trying out’ all the tractors, gators and farm implements, noting which ones he felt we really should get (which was most of them). He tried archery, which he did well at and was then treated to some new arrows for his bow. We have almost agreed on getting a Gator (this varies from day to day: a Tractor or ATV or Gator ) with a dump body & winch, a brush hog that tows behind BUT this has to wait until I am actually a paid employee of someone, somewhere. We ate Candy Floss and Fried Bread Dough (yes, I know it sounds disgusting but it tasted magnificent, covered in powered sugar, to sop up ALL the oil) and went home thoroughly exhausted, again.
We think we have a raccoon living in the dairy barn… a pile of empty boxes, all inside one another, tied in a big black Breckland Council Bag (thank you Breckland), found ripped to shreds ….. to be continued. Pie found a Praying Mantis, Tom captured it:
(Photo 9. Praying Mantis by TAB)
Next, we experience ‘Fall’ and all that goes with it….the stunning colours of autumn and the Hunting Season starts...
(Photo 10. The next project, transformation of this bramble boggy mess into grassland).
Can anyone please identify this plant below? It grows to 4' in height, smells of peanut butter when you pull it up, single root, prickly seed pods. Has a single flower, white turning purple flute, similar to the Morning Glory but more angular. Have been told it is in the Nightshade family, but can not find any information on it at all.
(Photo 11. Monster weed, grew with avengance after land was disturbed)
Sunday, 1 August 2010
We got to spend Sunday relaxing, which was fantastic. A lovely lady took us on a tour of local gardens. We drove over our first covered bridge (very Madison County). The last property was stunning, a stone built house with amazing farm buildings, pigs, turkey, sheep and a giant Pyrenees Mountain dog which lived in the barn to protect all the before mentioned animals. His name was ‘Bear’ and when he came flying out of the barn barking at us, I could see he would be quite the guard dog to have. There was also a huge pond, well, really a lake and a swimming pool, a fire pit that was actually dug into the ground with two almighty stone slab benches (imagine Narnia). The gardens were pretty impressive too. The owners were very welcoming and supplied delicious cookies and drinks.
A gentleman from Georgia came & shod the Pie, both were well behaved and we are ready now for his final trek home. He has rather fallen head over hoof with a sassy Dun Mare who has been keeping him company, Tomo is going to ride her on Wednesday, he is stoked about riding full stop and now in a western saddle too, he is just besides himself!
Humming birds - now seriously, would you expect to see them in up state NY? I didn’t, but they are here in abundance and just stunning. Turkey vultures, bald eagles, wild turkey are a few of our latest sightings.
Visa Biometrics (for my green card) all done, now we just wait ’for up to six months’ for it to be processed and delivered. Now I am legal to work, joy. Driving licence stage one and two done, now just have the driven test... yes, I know. August 26th...
The people who looked after Pie for us, have also purchased an old farm, that also needs huge amounts of time (money) and more time to get back into shape (but they do have an AMAZING horse barn) - so we have such empathy for each other and an understanding that only people in this situation, can understand. We had an amazing ride out together, Thomas in tow on the dun. Allison rode home to Bain with me, on a stunning skewbald four year old (my God they teach their horses manners here), she found a Painted Turtle on her ride home from us, which Tom later took to the stream while I put the Pie in his ‘paddock’ (I use this term lightly), then we released them and watched with anticipation to see what would happen next…
not much, thankfully.
It has been two weeks since (maybe three) and all is good. Horse has settled, turtle disappeared, dogs still here - just. We had a fantastic week when Phennie came to stay with us en-route to North Carolina. We collected her from Albany Airport and drove home through yet another almighty thunderstorm. It was so good to have her at home. I did something crazy, for those of you that know me, will know I would never do this, but I saw a car, then the number plate and then I went up to the lady driving it and said “hello….” Yup, I know, anyone would think this place is making me sociable but I am so glad that I did. We have since become friends and were lucky enough to be invited out for the day with them, to a waterfall not far from here. We were expecting a small falls of some sort, so when we heard the roar of water from quite some distance, it became apparent that this was not what we had expected at all…
… then finished up with a delicious ice cream from an iconic type diner which had a duke box and enamel signs covering the walls. I can not wait to take Steve there and for him to meet some really great people. Their son will be off to London next week and Phennie back to Norfolk. We wish them both all the luck in their new exploits and for a safe trip back to England. I drove Phennie to an airport in Vermont down a long narrow (almost dirt) road. The was a small modern building with a viewing area to die for. We drank coffees and awaited the flight, looking out to what was the most beautiful view I have ever seen from any airport, anywhere. Just mountains, hills, trees and not a building in sight. We deliberately tried not to talk or think about the fact that it may be a very long time until we see each other again, and said good bye in a typical British manner - then we hugged, burst into tears and I cried all the way home to New York.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
The never ending paddock – ended this week! 600 meters of electric rope ran, more posts than I care to mention and most importantly, I now know why the farm was originally called ‘Shale Hill Farm’. Something that I thought would take me maybe two days, in fact took me two weeks, mostly due to the ground being full of rock and/or shale EVERYWHERE – even where grass lay atop, underneath was sure to be solid stone. The earth is really rich here, so hopefully if and when the seed takes, we should have a good two acres of pasture to start with.
Latest animal finds include brown bats, orange newts, HUGE doe and her babe and of course, more snakes and a skunk, which actually put more fear into Tom and I than any snake we have seen to date! They make foxes smell sweet.
I managed to download the last few episodes of Dr Who (THANK YOU to BBC Wales), we watched them all, back to back in total awe. It was the first ‘TV’ (via small laptop) we had watched in over a month. We actually have a TV here now, just that neither of us have cared to hook it up yet, which I am secretly thrilled about.
Still awaiting paperwork for the car to be registered in NY state and then I take my driving test No.6. Visa appointment for Biometrics is on the 13th July – once that is done, all I need to do is find a job. Hope the household goods have arrived by then, as my shorts are getting pretty threadbare and they might not be considered correct interview etiquette (tomb raider look maybe).
The Pie had an abscess in his near hind which has come out through the bulb of his heal. Typically, it is his bad leg, so all the carrots in the world would not convince him to stand his leg in water to soak it; it is healing well with daily cleaning and antibiotic spray. We collected some heavy rubber mats for his run-in shelter today. That was fun trying to get them out of the car …. They weigh more than Tom and I together and we had four to move into place. Amazing how good one’s driving skills become fitting a large vehicle into a small barn, when needed.
Pictured the road home.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Thunder and lightning storms have been plentiful. The weather tends to be warm to scorching hot during the day followed by an occasional storm with lightening at night, a little rain and then it all starts again in the morning. Looking forward to autumn already.
Forgot to mention the birds, they have a blue bird that is electric dark blue with a slight hint of purple, looks like a very expensive taffeta, woodpeckers, little wren sized bright yellow birds, the red cardinals which are vivid lipstick red and hawks. The mail man tells me you can see bald eagles here too (he also tells me there are mountain lions, lynx and the odd bear in the winter)….
The neighbor’s generosity never ceases to amaze me. A gentleman came by today to offer help in delivering 100 bales of hay to cover Pie over the winter period. He will be using a full sized trailer so has offered to bring the whole lot in one go, which will save me five trips with a small trailer. He also suggested ways to keep the water from freezing once the temperature drops below -32 in the winter, which would have been taken should we have had electricity in the barn… have to look at other possibilities for keeping water ice free
Phennie will be off to University soon. Tom will start his enormously long summer holiday and then High School. Steve will be off to Korea and I will just be trying to keep things running smoothly here until his return home. I do miss them both very much.
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Steven had organized for a lovely gentleman to drive us all the way up to Saratoga Springs. We were expecting a taxi so Thomas squealed with excitement and awe when he saw a black stretch limo... he then spent the next three and a half hours pressing every button, opening every compartment, drinking every drink, putting the air conditioning on and off, off and on, lights on and off, seat changing and then finally falling asleep in a heap within minutes of our arrival!
We stayed in Saratoga Springs on our first night in anticipation of Steven’s arrival the following day, when we would all meet at the house. We were thrilled to hear that he did manage to get himself AND the dogs out of London, then to Paris and then on to New York with no known problems. Thank you so much to Angelo & Wendy, Mike, Jo, Todd and to Steve who organized all of this, the 'taxi' was a great surprise and luxury, it was priceless to see Thomas' face and his utter enjoyment of it all.
J sadly did not travel well and arrived in a bad state after the flight. We rushed her to the vet and I am pleased to say that after a big op to her twisted gut, she has recovered fully and had her staples removed. Weasle travelled well and they both now 'enjoy' Chipmunks - being their new favored sport.There were a few teething problems on arrival – no water, no electric, no phone and a carpet of dead ladybirds in the house to greet us BUT WOW – when we pulled up outside the house, I was so thrilled to see that it was so much better than I had imagined. We are surrounded by hills and trees and Mount Murdock which really took my breath away. Tom went off and explored the streams and came home with armfuls of frogs. He has spent most days since, outside exploring. We walked up to the base of Murdock and found a couple of small pastures, some pear and apple trees and what appears to be one hell of a hike to the top. Hope to do that soon.
Thomas started school a week after we arrived and is currently off on a camping trip to Lake Chingachgook for three days – he is loving school and is more enthusiastic than I have ever seen him about anythingSo the work starts. The to-do list is quite long and ever growing. As one project gets crossed off another ten projects appear to be fixed and/or repaired. The water has since been shocked – so we now have safe drinking water that looks like water and not potting soil. Electric is on. Shower & bath now works. Phone is connected, garden is mown – thanks to a wonderful neighboring farmer who caught us struggling with a strimmer and came to our rescue with his tractor mower and sickle bar machine. Ladybugs have been put to rest ‘outside’ the house. House had been standing empty for nearly two years, so considering this, finding only a few ladybugs was really not so bad at all. Barns will need much help and support to make good, but this will have to be a later project as a ‘priority list’ now has to be adhered to IN ORDER, when finances permit further actions!
The acreage behind the barns ends up being a little more overgrown than expected, so tomorrow a bulldozer is coming to remove the Stag horn Sumac trees that have taken root on every piece of land they can find, this will hopefully then become the first of three pastures. We have managed to paint all rooms in the house but one, the kitchen, which due to its high ceilings of 15-20 feet will have to wait until we can get scaffolding in and then have a week off to complete the task, together. Found an asparagus patch, herb garden (which might not be recoverable, but I will try) and vegetable garden in the stone ruins of a previous barn.
Wildlife is amazing: chipmunks, raccoons, beaver, fire flies and deer the size of small horses. Bull frogs, lizards and only one small garter snake, so far. No bears but I will live in hope to see those. Things called Snapping Turtles (for good reason I am told) which look like something from prehistoric times, they are absolutely HUGE.
The Pie arrived on Saturday and came out of the trailer at noon and rolled until about 4pm rolling over and over and over. He looked thoroughly pleased with himself once completely covered in mud. He travelled much better than I had hoped for, having only a small blemish to his nose where he took some hair off. Very little weight loss at all, which is great. New York seems to be to his liking. To Matthew, Marcus and Vicky a HUGE thank you for getting him off safely for this monster trip. I cannot tell you the relief and happiness I felt when he arrived. He is getting a great deal of attention from his new neighbors , four legged and otherwise, who all think he is some sort of giant mystical creature.
Volvo arrived (sadly without Customs paperwork, which will cause no end of problems when I come to register it at DMV) and ‘express’ shipment of household good, does not arrive at all, delayed leaving England due to the Volcanic activity in Iceland.
I have never experience people like this before. Since arriving, people have turned up to the house with cakes, water (when the weather hit 97 degrees and we were without running water or transport on our first day), and machinery to help tame the wild gardens. General help and support is always offered. This truly is an amazing place.
Friday, 21 May 2010
Tom has been SO patient and I can not wait to see what he thinks of it all. I hope upon hopes that we all love it and I think I KNOW that we will because it is meant to be (and Steve SAID we must)!!!! Phennie will be visiting in the summer and again at Christmas, which is truly fantastic and something to really look forward to.
We ALL leave on Monday morning at sparrows fart for Heathrow - arrive in New York at mid day their time, then hopefully end up in Saratoga Springs in the evening. Steven and the dogs will be meeting us the following day at lunch time THEN we will all go to our new home together. The Pie is now due to ship out on June 3rd so should be with us three to four days after that.
Fear and Fairies because, Fear, well that part is obvious and Fairies because I am having such wild and vivid nightmares that they make reality seem not so bad in comparison! What ever happens - if there has to be anything bad it will be balanced by something very good.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
So, he does it again. Mr Becker has managed to get himself AND the dogs a flight with Air France (at a third of the price I was quoted JUST for the two dogs), who so far state that they are happy to take our dogs in their kennels from London to Paris, Paris to New York... THIS really is going above and beyond as "they sneak into 'his' kitchen, leave hair all over the house, eat too much, bark too much, lick and love too much and J especially 'smiles' too much" (she really does this with Steve). For a lad that likes city lights, hustle and bustle from his unsociable, aloof country wife, THANK YOU so much for this amazing opportunity and new adventure. I really do take my hat off to you for this one.
Friday, 14 May 2010
The picture above is one of Steve's planes - how fantastic?! Although desperate to get the dogs over there with us, might have to give that idea a miss! We will keep hitting the books and hopefully find a company that can help us out. Feel a bit like we are being screwed for wanting to take our dogs with us - they have us over the barrel and charge what ever they like, because they can. Hope to find a company as professional as the one below (who are shipping the other four legged creature) - they have been kind, informative and have kept me fully up-to-date with all the goings on, their needs and advised of changes immediately. Maybe I should ship the dogs as miniature ponies - think it might be considerably cheaper?!
The Volvo was delivered to the transporters on Monday and is already in possession of the Ocean Liner which will shortly be on her way across the Atlantic. Cleaning a vehicle for entry into the US is almost as time consuming at the Embassy interview - if you are British!!! ; - )
Only one week and two days to go....