Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hay bales and haystacks

With our ever-changing weather here in northern Illinois, one finds it hard to know whether to wear sweats or shorts... and yesterday's shorts may not be enough for today's cold.
Still, it has been dry enough to get our hay cut.  I love the smell, I love the "cut grass" look the hay field has when the work is done.
It didn't take long for the hay to dry either, about 36-48 hours and it was ready to bale.  I grew up with my grandfather baling hay with the rectangular baler--or what I have called "square bales." The E. brothers traded their square baler last year and now only use the round baler.
 At first I was bummed.   Round bales just seem like cheating; after all, I have memories of jumping around in Grampa's hay mow with my brother, Matt and cousin, Cindy, when we weren't supposed to be up there...
But then, there are less hands available to load the hay wagon as the bales come out and the round bales work best to feed the cattle in the winter and early spring.

The evening after the baling was finished, the sunset was amazing.  As I took pictures I had to smile.  The round bales reminded me of Monet's Haystacks.  He painted a series of haystacks during different seasons and they have such a tranquility to them.  A sense of "job well done" even in the way they stand in the painting.
The series hangs in Chicago's Art Institute.  Every time I am there I spend a large amount of time in front of each painting, blocking out the sounds and trying to imagine the smells and the air and the complete experience of each one.
So, here are my haystacks... I hope you find your place of peace, quiet, and a job well done.

Sending love and sweet hay kisses from the farm. oxox

Friday, May 18, 2012


Today is my day off from my part-time job. I love work, just errands, a prayer meeting in the morning and then an afternoon of whatever I choose.
a new view from an old farmhouse window 

 Today is a beautiful day, one that just whispers, "Come outside, find a porch swing, a rocking chair, or a hammock and enjoy. So, I decided to obey that whisper and I have been sitting at my picnic table under our red oak tree just listening to the breeze and the birds.

This morning while Arliss and Travis waited for the bus at the end of our drive, I was greeted by the high-speed buzzing sound of hummingbird wings. I stood silently as it taste-tested our feeder and the drank its fill.

 Later as I walked around the out-buildings and down the toward the fields, I watched red-winged blackbirds alight on the wild grasses growing in the hay field.

 Our ducks are old enough now to "free range" a bit and have been enjoying the bugs around the tree stump, as well as the shady places--perfect for a nap.

 As I came back from a short walk, I heard a new birdsong and saw my first Oriole. Their chests are a deep orange, like Kool-aid.

 I love days like TV, limited time on the computer, by choice... Just a book, a snack and the country.
 sending love and sweet lazy kisses from the farm. oxox

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day

Being Saturday doesn't mean a lazy, sleeping in until noon, kind-of-day on the farm.

The day started at 6 a.m. when I woke up and began to mentally run through my day... I had the grass to finish cutting, Arliss had guitar lessons at 2 p.m. in a nearby town, the ducks needed to be fed, so did the dogs, and laundry, dishes, and the usual pick-up needed to happen.
last of the lilacs for the season
So, I got up, brushed my teeth, put in my contacts and went to let the dogs out and get the ducks cared for as well.
Rufus and Rover went for a run and to investigate any smells from the night before.  We have a young rabbit or two that scatter to safety every time Rover comes outside.  So far the rabbit has escaped each time.
The ducks' pen is a converted cyclone fence dog kennel, that wasn't big enough for the dogs.  Every day we give them fresh water in plastic dish pans and then food in an elongated chicken feeder trough.  The ducks hear me coming through the grass and begin the cacophony of quacking to tell me to hurry up.

Once the door is opened it's like the last day of school when all of the students are released.  The ducks spread out to find new bugs to munch on while I get their food ready.  It's a combination of course cut feed mixed with gravel/sand.  Ducks (and geese) do not have saliva to help them digest their food so the gravel works like a grinder breaking down their food once it is eaten.

The dogs supervise as the ducks gather around the trough for breakfast.  Once they are fed Rufus an Rover come back inside to be fed breakfast as well.

Then it's quiet time (if possible before the family wakes up), to set my mind on things Above.  After my breakfast, I put on overalls and go get the lawn mower started.  Our yard takes between 7 to 7 1/2 hours to push mow each week and lately it takes me two days to finish it all.

The grass is done by lunch time so I go in to grab a quick bite, get cleaned up and spend a few minutes with my husband and Arliss before he leaves for his lesson.

yarrow... I love the color.....
Once the dishes are done and the house is picked up (straightened pillows on the couches, floors swept of any shed dog hair and hay from the barn) I sit for a few minutes to play a quick game or six of Solitaire on my iPad.

Then as a Mother's Day gift to myself, I take a quick nap before the next thing.  Once I wake up I take a basket from the pantry and a pair of scissors and a paring knife before calling the dogs to come with me for a walk.

We walk down the lane that goes toward the pond and I look for any wildflowers.  I know it is a bit early, but I am hopeful.  All I find is wild mustard.  Rufus and Rover find the silt-filled low spot in the field and promptly get black from foot to belly.

We turn toward home and I avoid stepping on our corn seedlings which now stand about 2 inches high.

As I walk up to the barn my dear husband and Arliss return from town.  Eggs were on sale 50 cents a dozen at the store, so hubby bought 4 dozen.  Gotta love a man who shops like that !!
my mother and her's a few years ago on Mother's Day

The day is nearly over and it's almost time for dinner, which means it's time to feed the ducks again.  More water to the ducks, then go inside and feed the dogs.  Finally, eat dinner.

A quiet evening spent with Travis (who returned home from camping, dirty, scratched from riding his friend's ATV through the brush--where he lost his glasses....), Arliss, and hubby all watching a "guy" movie.

my dad with his mom a few years ago
The day is done, the sun sets in a beautiful sea of pink and gold and now it is time for bed... church in the morning and a day spent with family.  What could be more wonderful??

I have included a few pictures of Mother's Days gone by... enjoy.
Sending love and sweet kisses from the farm.

My gram and me -- picture taken by Arliss

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Good Day

After spending the day with Travis' class on a field trip I came home to a wonderful husband making dinner and a peaceful house.  

When I went outside to put the ducks into the coop for the night I spent a few moments taking in the scenery.  The cattle had been turned out into the pasture this morning.  The mommas were more relaxed with the larger space to roam and the calves were frolicking with their new found freedom.  
The barn swallows were swooping and diving through the cool evening air gathering one last beakful of bugs before nesting for the night.  
The sun was setting and the sky was turning a beautiful blush color, like the cheeks of a young lady in love.  

As I turned to go back into the house I was reminded of a book I used to read to Travis and Arliss when they were young.   
Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Lewison.  The story is simple, the artwork warm and sweet.  A little boy is getting ready for bed and he asks his father how various farm animals go to sleep. 
"How does a cow go to sleep?  Tell me how, how does a cow go to sleep?"  He asks.  His father answers, "The cow lies down in the soft sweet hay, in the cozy barn at the end of the day, and that's how a cow goes to sleep, moo, moo, that's how a cow goes to sleep."

As I drew in deeply the sweet smell of spring grasses and wild mustard in bloom,  I smiled and thought of my two adolescent boys who were ready to go to sleep down on the farm. 

Yep, it's been a really good day.