Friday, 11 November 2011

And too another end

Steven arrived safely from ROK after a gruelling 37 hour journey. His stay was too short but enjoyed by all and I can report that he is now safely in place at his last post in the North Carolina's. Truth be known, neither of us really know one another any more ~ I do hope we will be able to tolerate each others company for more than five days at a time after next Spring! I am so looking forward to enjoying this place together, our new home, together.

The pond project started and the 'plumbing' is in situ for draining the area ready for next Spring, when (hopefully) the pond will actually be dug. The area was much wetter than expected (by the excavator) so here are the trenches and you will have to wait for the 'after' pictures.

Our first snow arrived this year on October the 27th and was quite magnificent, apologies that my photographic skills do not do it justice, you will have to trust me, that it was quite majestic.

I am so very sad to report that the Pie died on Sunday October 30th. He was an amazing fellow, a great friend and a total character who I will so dearly miss.

The Pie 2nd July 1996 ~ October 30th 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

Eleven days to go

Web on the Marsh

You know when winter is on her way… when you open up the fridge door and it feels decidedly warmer in there, than in the kitchen. I admit it, I miss seeing the cool air billow out into the room as I pushed myself in to the fridge to cool off. October 1st, we are 30 degrees cooler today than we were yesterday, really. Pie is coated up as it has rained hard for another 24 hours solid. I am starting to wonder if the pond will ever get dug, which is a great shame as it would surely be overflowing by now and a sight to see, patience was never my strong point. Alas I think my days of wearing shorts have come to an end. I did try this morning but the weather beat me back into the house to dig through my winter clothes box for something a little longer and much warmer.

Red Apples on Murdock

The deer group are still hanging out under the apple tree in Murdock pasture, at least six oldies and the two fawns. Tom and I have been delayed (rain) in our latest project of clearing the 30 foot spread of wild rose, thorns, brambles and everlasting honeysuckle from the three (possibly four, still cant really see) intertwined trees that stand atop that pasture to the north.

Thomas, to the right of him is (was) one of the giant bloody English Roses
And then after

The critter in attic is preparing for winter. This morning he didn’t start work until 6am, unfortunately for me, he wears hobnailed boots and uses a jack hammer. How many people can say they have a live four legged ‘thing’ that wakes them daily? Don’t answer that. I have decided it is most likely just a chipmunk, which of course, I think is quite cool, not sure that husband will feel the same way, think that maybe he will think how wonderful it is to have ‘live’ moving targets. Luckily for them (and me) he is only a marksmen with an M16 and not with a rifle or pistol.

Photograph of first Suspect leaving the house via the unauthorized entry/exit

Suspect A. Chipmunk

The monster under the stairs. When I was saying good night to Tom at the foot of the stairs, I heard one of the dogs up on the landing, which is really strange as A. they are not allowed up stairs and B. we have a wooden gate at the bottom of said stairs to stop them going up, which was locked and closed…. So, I hear what ‘sounds’ like a large dog upstairs, then I look behind me, to see C. both dogs laying flat out on their sofa (its an English thing), shit, that means what-ever it is, is not one of our dogs. I tentatively go upstairs to see what such large thing could have snuck into our home undetected. Nothing. I go back down stairs and wait, at the foot of the stairway. There it is again! but now I realize it is coming from UNDER the stairs not on-top and HOW on earth can a dog sized thing fit under the stairs anyway?!….. Must be a bloody large raccoon and how exactly it gets into the house I do not know. I am not overly concerned about going down into the cellar to confirm my theory, not tonight anyway.

No pictures of 'the' monster, just the two regular monsters

Weasle & J

Jackson headed off to his new home at the beginning of October. The Pie complained for six hours solid, then stopped as quickly as he started. He moved back into being head horse of all that he prevails, which appears to be very much to his liking. My mucking out duties seem to have disappeared completely, which I am very happy about too.

See, I really did grow something!
Green tomatoes line every windowsill in the kitchen. The veggies all did their producing and now have been cremated and put to rest. The last standing goodies being sprouts (yuck I hear you say? Never!) and additional asparagus planted for another year. There is a solitary aubergine too, but I don’t think it will fruit in time. Damn and blast those squash bugs for eating the beautiful pumpkins. The other beasties we were pestered by Hornworms (see picture, you wouldn‘t believe me if I told you how big that thing was), which is a totally disgusting name for a caterpillar, but anyway - they eat tomato plants, but wasps lay eggs in them which look like white spot markings on their backs, then the wasp hatches and they die, so all is good there and as noted already, we had plenty of tomatoes to share, so can‘t complain.

Hornworm - not to scale, larger in life

On a final positive note, I am enjoying my work immensely. We seem to have taken the world by storm and have been receiving many new buyers from all over the world, quite literally. I have the occasional day when I am bored out of my brains but mostly we are working flat out and the days fly by. I have been bringing garden goodies in for Junko & Louis, my last delivery was some rhubarb. The very next day I get a pot of the most deliciously smooth, light, tart and oooh sooo sweet ‘rhubarb fool’ which I thought I would not like, but having gone to bed with stomach ache for eating it too fast, my stomached begged to differ.

The Weasle

11 days to go and THEN Steven arrives in America!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Much ado about nothing

Lillies in full bloom
Phennie arrived in late July!

We had a fantastic two weeks before she headed off to her new home in Springfield Missouri at MSU. It felt as though she had never left.

They canoed at Summit, swam in ponds, lakes and even in 'real' swimming pools.

We watched Polo at Surya Park, thanks to an invite from CD. We had a blast!

Even a day at Saratoga Races with a new found friend (with even more grateful thanks to CD for that introduction). We counted down the days until her arrival and then counted down the days until her departure.

August 1st brought the arrival of Jackson

A beautiful 17.2 TB gelding, who is here for some short term recuperation. He is a splendid fellow and has settled in well to being a ‘country‘ horse with the Pie. We fenced the bottom hill pasture, behind the house

and the horses enjoyed some new grasses and terrain for a month, until the imminent arrival of the storm (preceding the possible arrival of the hurricane) when we brought them back to the barn pasture. Very thankfully, we only experienced the very tail end of it, which although unpleasant was no more than a really nasty storm, which took twelve trees (not hardwoods) and did little damage to buildings or property. Poor old Vermont got thrashed and here in Washington county we are still dealing with a great deal of excess water. Much flooding has occurred, dams have broken and bridges collapsed. We really were so very lucky considering what everybody else got. The week prior, there was reportedly an earthquake…

The wildlife is as amazing as always. The deer seem to know where to graze safely and spend a great deal of time behind the house, checking out what we get up to, two fawns in the garden this year which Phennie got to see. The hummingbirds have been out in force, especially around the time of the storm, they amaze me every time I see them, quite magical to watch. We seem to be inundated with frogs at present, and heron (maybe because of the frogs). Pleased to report that the dreaded skunks have not hung around, as they did last summer.

Today I went shopping for something but came home with something entirely different, a large wooden bench and a bicycle for Tom. My lesson here is that I should follow what is on my list ONLY with no deviations allowed for ‘interesting bits of furniture’. The dogs love the bench and it reminds me of a horse drawn sleigh, so there it is. My job is (still) fantastic and allows me to buy benches when I should be finding other more important things, it should also keep me busy and out of trouble for a while. Goals and dreams are good. They give me reason to go to work and not stay at home ‘playing’ farm girl all the time, can‘t be having too much fun now,that would just not be right.

Winters hay in place (top of the dairy barn).

October will mark Steven’s return to the United States and his last few months of active duty. I have to remind myself that late Spring early Summer will be his ACTUAL retirement from the military and it can not come soon enough. Oh My it has been a long 23 years and 8 months (I will get back to you with the days, hours and minutes when it is finally completed, signed off and finished forever). He deserves a medal (and not the one they are currently offering him) for what he has given to his work/career, sacrificed himself and that throughout it all, that he has still been able to support us in every way imaginable. I could not have done it. He is an amazing man who deserves a seriously good retirement and many years with his family and friends, to make up for all that he has lost and missed to date.

Thomas pretending to be a dragon....

Dog walking 'teenage style'!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Springing into Summer

Muddy March, wasn’t. We finally lost all the snow by the 9th April but still had ice slabs in the fields well into the end of the month, then it rained, for all of May. Steven arrived on the 11th April and Phennie and Tom reached their 19th & 13th birthdays respectively.

April also marked our twentieth wedding anniversary and we decided to celebrate by having a pond dug, which should A. look beautiful and be a great source for wildlife and B. if we are really lucky, make a difference to the marsh and accessing Murdock in something other than waders - only time will tell. The day was finished off with a delicious meal at Max London‘s in Saratoga Springs, then puds & flowers gifted to us from Louis & Junko. I am a very lucky girl indeed. The following day we decided to walk to the top of Murdock (walk off all that food we ate previously). Steve actually found the far east boundary. It was even better than when I found it previously AND just happened to be somewhere entirely different to! The views from up there are spectacular, seeing east to the Green Mountains of Vermont and to the West far beyond Saratoga and the Mountains marking the start of the Adirondacks.

The pond project will hopefully start at the end of this summer. It will be along process (being a couple of years), as once the pond hole is dug, the deposits of soil (at 80 feet by 60 feet and 12 foot deep, that is a lot of earth) will be left to dry and then the following summer the soil will be spread and made to look somewhat normal once again, then we wait for the grasses to re-grow and all should re-establish itself.

Arrival of a Kubota RTV - seriously fun and terribly , terribly useful, no really, you can attach a bush hog to the back, a harrow, you can fill the bed with incredibly large rocks (and manure) AND I have even moved small but long tree trunks on it ;- ) We managed to get it across the marsh, just, but attempting this again has been over thrown by the thought of getting it bogged down in three foot of silt and mud. Maybe soon it will be dry enough to do with ease, eventually the thought being to take the chain saws & other equipment needed to finish clearing the pathway to Murdock & fencing pastures on the far side.

Spring sprang, then summer arrived and with that comes mowing, and more mowing and then even more mowing, which thankfully, we all love to do!

Tom’s incredibly long summer holiday started with a telephone call to my office, requesting that I get home immediately, he had cut himself ‘badly’… this was NOT good as we are all pretty rugged when it comes to our war wounds, so if he says it is bad, it most likely is. A trip to the Emergency Room, four hours & ten stitches later. All was good. The funniest part of that day being when Tom stated to me in the car en-route to the ER, sallow in the face, suffering from shock and covered in blood, that ‘the doctor better seduce me before I get stitched, I don’t want it to hurt’. I tried to contain myself as I roared with laughter, swerved all over the road and then pointed out that it was ‘sedate, not seduce’, we will remind him of that in years to come.

Tom’s work day at Silver Eagles Farm, topping paddocks.

And so it came, the release of dear old Stuffing…. So, it is alright for some to have free-range guinea fowl & chickens (who, for the record spend a great deal of time here with us) it is apparently not ok for us to be offered the same freedoms? Due to Steven finding Stuffing being chased down the road by the city dwellers in cars harassing and chasing him away from their property. He decided that for the turkey (and the city dwellers) it would be better to release Stuffing far far away from these people. A wooded area of around two hundred acres of ‘private non-hunting grounds’ was a spot we chose - if he chooses to stay within the area, he should be very happy and mostly safe.

I returned Steven to the military once again, I’m getting rather bored of that. You would think that with age and time, it would get easier, but it does not. A fantastic month of mouth watering memories and new changes to our home and surroundings (stone walls, raised beds, a shed just to mention a few) make me smile each time I see them. I managed to get a speeding ticket going through the Easy-pass lane to the thruway leaving Albany, which of course must have been a mechanical mistake on their part. I have lost count of all the speeding tickets I have got when I have been either collecting or depositing Steven back into the arms of the USAF. Now that I think of it, I ONLY get speeding tickets when I am collecting or depositing on the orders of the USAF. Seems somewhat unfair.

The barn swallows fledglings have left as has the noisy little house finch - whose parents decided to build a next in one of the hanging baskets - luckily for the finch, I hadn’t needed to water the basket until after he hatched and moved out!

August will hopefully bring the visit of the Phennie before her start at MSU. October should also bring Steven back from ROK to North Carolina. We will all be on the same piece of land, a rarity but very welcomed at last.

Pie's paddock - a huge improvement on last year!

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Childhood revisited - Had a most fantastic ride in deep powder snow with CD on one of her steeds, Harley, the magical centipede, who took such good care of me and was impeccably well behaved, considering I was acting like a giggly four year old and appeared to have lost all sense of balance due to this. It was a totally wonderful experience and I was grinning for the remainder of the day. I love how everything changes visually so drastically each season, it is like living in four different locations, without having the hassle of moving.

I‘think’ I can hear the cry of fox hounds…. wow I really think I am loosing it, ‘cabin fever’ must have set in. Later to find out that they were running hounds, to catch coyote. The hounds were calling, up and behind Murdock and then the sound of a chase as they headed off towards Summit Lake, the sound was amazing. I had to laugh, in Europe we ride horses to hounds, here, they ride in pick-up trucks.

I had only heard the Coyote once late last Summer. It was dark, I was in bed, all the windows were open because it was so hot and any hint of a breeze would have been welcomed, then I heard the eeriest noise, it sounded like a pack of wild dogs barking and yipping for a few minutes, then total silence for a few minutes more, finished off with a roar of howling. Amazing how having the windows open (even upstairs), makes you feel so incredibly vulnerable. I could see the Pie in the moonlight and he was watching for what-ever it was too, but he was fine, so that was good. We live in a valley and it ‘sounded’ as though they were right outside the house and I was SURE that what ever ‘they’ were, that they had taken down some huge deer, horse or cow (because something smaller just wouldn’t have been so impressive, frightening or scary plus my imagination was in over-drive). I will be quite fine if that is my only experience with coyote.

The Expo in NYC went rather too well and we have been suffering with a huge work load ever since, but that is the point, right?! L & J returned with a British Goodie Bag from a chocolate shop in the city loaded with all my favourite Cadbury pieces. Pure heaven - great people.

This weekend we had The Winter Raptor Fest at Fort Edward - Falcons, Hawks and Owls in free-flight displays. I lost Thomas for over an hour and a half, so I KNOW he had a great time. Over the brow of the hill, in deep snow, came two giant Belgians pulling a beautiful red sleigh laden with laughing people. It was like something out of a bloody Norman Rockwell scene!

You may recall the rogue wild turkey. I have decided he can not be wild, though maybe the rogue part was correct. He appears to be a Black Winged Bronze, so therefore a domestic. He spent about a month with us, ate all the barn cat’s food, patrolled the Volvo (very well I might add) and then decided to move down the road to where he found some cooped chickens (Casanova of a turkey that he is, if not a little mixed up with identifying species type). Unfortunately I received a call from the chicken's owner, who was visiting his property and very upset to inform me that the turkey had attacked him whilst he was leaving the coop, in fact, he could NOT leave the coop because the turkey stood in his way, he was terrified of said turkey and had to contact another neighbor to rescue him from this situation. He stated that the turkey’s head was in fact UP to the window of their Jeep when they fled their property in fear of their lives. I said I was very sorry, that the turkey was not mine, but that I would go straight down to collect him. He pointed out that this would be a dangerous task and HOW indeed could I catch the attacking wild turkey? .... a few minutes pass.... I get Thomas's assistance ..... we track turkey, who follows us quite happily back to the farm, then into the barn where he THEN he spots the Turkey House inside and darts for his freedom but is caught by the Thomas who then confines him to Solitary. NOW. The turkey isn’t mine, he is a free entity the way I see it, so what now? I can not leave him locked up forever as that would be cruel and unkind but if I release him he will surely return to the city dwellers abode and cause mayhem on their return visits, although I am sure the chickens don‘t mind him hanging around… Help!

Kathy & Billye - today we see gravel in the driveway and the stone wall is reappearing, Spring IS coming?! We survived our first winter and still, for the record, think this is the best place on earth. Thank you.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Baptism of Fire (then snow, then ice, then even more snow)

This morning was frosty, the day was bright with no wind or rain, perfect for a bonfire, or two… (yup - this was written well BEFORE the snow arrived, which was about four months ago, but now I have found this, its going in, so here it is).

You would think that due to a marsh environment, the ground being saturated - safe place to burn? No? Well I did. Apparently, unlike my first attempt with the sumac pile (which was disastrous and WOULD NOT burn for love nor money) the vine pile flew into action the moment the match arrived, really hot, really fast and burning like a furnace in no time at all. Whilst I ran around the inferno I had created, stamping and batting down all the tall ‘dry’ grasses that decided to join in, just for fun, I started to see streams of flames go off in all directions. Having thoughts of burning down my dear neighbors property, which I did not want at all, I then fell on the thought of it reaching the woods, then Murdock Mountain, which is, totally covered in trees, brash, brambles and thick undergrowth (I am now down to jeans and a sleeveless shirt, jumper, scarf, coat, gloves all off). Panic really setting in. It really was bloody hot and I had to keep stepping back into the stream (didn’t want my wellies to melt). It then stopped as quickly as it had started. Note to self: if you think you have thought of all the precautions and possibilities, you haven’t.

Now having realized that I hadn’t lost my pyromaniac skills after all, I decided to re-build the large pile and try again, to no avail or so I thought, it smoldered away in a very unimpressive way (this pile was NOT on the marsh but on a flat piece of land with a mud ring raked around the outside - I did learn something). Pleased to say that it too, burnt, eventually. By the following morning the great pile had vanished into a flat pile of ash - very satisfying indeed.

Friday October 22nd, our first snow in Argyle, I still act like a four year old when it snows, am sure that will change by the Spring time, but I desperately hope not (yeah, well, no, no comment there February 26th 2011 -still under six feet of snow and an especially good storm yesterday, CAN NOT WAIT FOR SPRING)!!!

Met an amazing woman who runs her own barn with 33 horses, she does everything herself, I do mean everything. The place is amazing and every horse lovers dream set up. Came home with even more ideas of what to do and how to improve what we have. I now have a headache. Did I mention all the horses have amazing feet - she is a barefoot farrier and does them ALL herself too. She is a strong, smart lady who I think is pretty amazing.

I did finally get a job and it started on October 26th. Really interesting people who have travelled a great deal and I look forward to getting to know. Somewhat anxious about how I am going to fit everything in, but winter will soon be upon us (oh wasn’t THAT the truth)! and that will mean less work can be done outside so this should be the perfect time to get it all organized and ready for next Spring, Steven’s ‘half-way’ visit and time to get everything into action once again.

Tom has made an (another) impressive fort on the big flat rock behind the bridge over the stream. He found the old cattle fence, which we are trying to re-erect where it should be. Locust posts are the most amazing wood I have ever seen, hard as rock and seem to last for ever - the posts all stand where they have for goodness knows how long, the wire has long since wondered all over the place, but that is easily remedied. Juniper bushes surround the rock, they work well as a natural deterrent to the dogs, which helps with the ‘fencing in’ of the property.

Amazing horse lady before mentioned arrived today, with a chain saw, a Sawzall and some giant loppers (pruners English translation). While the trees were dropping like flies (c/o amazing lady) I cleared them and broke them into workable sections to move, Tom used the Sawzall with gusto (which yes, saws ‘all’ and just about ‘anything’ you put it too). I think about sixty in all. Then - it took my body a month to recover.

I’m not sure what happened to November, December, January February but apparently they have all gone by. I also forgot to mention the Rogue Wild Turkey (who might actually be a domestic Bronze, a wiser person than I has hinted at this) who has decided to come and live with us, please see pictures below of ’Stuffing’ the turkey stealing Marmite’s (the cat) food… My dear mama named the turkey, so all credit is to go to her and not me!

WHO? Me?!

Smoking cessation has worked on the whole, a couple of relapses but now on the way to doing it completely and for good. I enjoy having a pink tongue again, instead of a yellow one (my God that sounds disgusting, but sadly true). Until next time.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Mount Murdock Conquered

Looking south through Murdock.

Yes, that much snow!

Looking west back over the farm (the small red triangle is the dairy barn roof)

Top Pasture beyond the woods, east

Another nest...

Westward view

One Exhausted Child

Starting to get delirious

Blue sky

I am now having a much greater respect for those funny looking things they call 'snowshoes'. Having walked for the past two and a half hours in knee deep and sometimes, thigh deep snow, over some seriously steep hills (which I hasten to add, the above photos seem to flatten out completely and give no justice to at all), I would have very much liked to be wearing a pair.

I have on occassion wanted to throttle the snowplow driver... but the good days far out weigh any bad ones. The weather is harsh, stunning and quite magnificent.

Only two months to go.