Monday, March 30, 2009

Golden Memories

There is a great sorrow felt across the Golden Retriever world today as we lost one of our breed's most ardent supporters and beloved benefactors - Mrs. Rachel Page Elliott.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweet March

 The crocus are up, the sap is still running, the air is drenched with the smell of maple syrup being made and the rains have come to melt the remainder of the snow away. I visited a friend who makes maple syrup and has tours this very special "Maple Weekend." I learned how to grade the finished syrup and had the BEST coffee of my life~!! It was made from all pure sap right from the tree, instead of using water. I had a buzz 90 seconds after the first sip. I have never had anything so delicious. Why don't they bottle pure sap for coffee junkies ? I trotted down to see the new lambs and spent time watching the babies frolic. Then I went home to find a surprise. The stork unconventional means, By trailer....and brought me a calf I have been waiting for since last December. Her name is Rachel Ray ( RR ) and she is a Hereford/Red Angus hybrid with some fabulous grassfed genetics.
Read about how important grassfed beef is:
After that exciting present, I had dinner at the Front Porch Cafe. I brought some fresh caught Haddock with me and had the chef there bake it to perfection. I had called ahead to see if they would do this ( since my oven is broken ), and they quickly said yes. Now, they are going to offer this same exclusive service to the public, since so many people commented on how great this was that the chef would custom cook a customers fish. Lots of folks here have freezers full of game and fish they have caught. The Front Porch Cafe is the best kept secret in the area. Its location is in an old stagecoach road house, on the side of a mountain overlooking fields, forests awesome trout stream. I discovered it, by accident, while I was stuck in the mud trying to rescue 2 dogs that were running across the highway.
The day has been full of excitement and surprises. The rain started to fall at dusk. Feeling very confident that there would be no more -10 degree days, I put all my very heavy winter clothing away and reorganized my closets. What a difference. Lots of room now. I awoke this morning with a smile that won't leave my face. My Christmas Calf, RR, is just beautiful and she loves horse treats made from apples. I made coffee and mourned the lack of pure sap to make it with. I may have to go get some or tap a few trees here myself. Its raining cats & dogs today and the 5 Red Winged Black birds, 30 gold finches, 5 downy woodpeckers and several nuthatches are all clustered around my bird feeding station and having a jolly good meal. Its a great day to bake muffins and dream of calves and trout.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vintage Spring Color

Another great, sunny "possibly spring" day here. The landscape is looking a bit brown, now, that the snow is really melting quickly. All over the mountains little dots and dabs of red and yellow are emerging from the piles of snow and shadows of winter. Here is some very interesting color I discovered earlier today as I did errands. Looks like these "flowers" of spring have been buried for decades....
March Madness continues with Maple Sugar Open House Weekend, Grill Off Practice, Trout Surveillance Safaris & Mud Season Bean Suppers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gnome is where the heart is...

As the "snow showers" turned into a beautiful "white out" here the other day, I drove to the local Job Lots store and browsed all the new gardening items that were being taken out of boxes and placed on the racks. I day dreamed about the different gardens I would create this spring and all the vegetables and flowers I would grow. I can hardly wait.
My plan is to plant 5 times more than I did last year so I can sell my surplus at a local farmers market. The Localvore culture is growing in leaps and bounds. Small farmers can't keep up with the demand for fresh food, so there is plenty of room for new growers of new varieties. I am already known for 2 of the products I produce and I hope to increase my resume and knowledge this year. A carpenter is building a special wagon to showcase the future harvest. I want to build a trellis for some of the vegetable vines and morning glories. I will be collecting willow branches and other woods to hand make these primitive garden fixtures. As my daydreaming continued I came across some very happy gardening faces. I want one of each of these adorable garden gnomes. They are good luck and they work very hard in every garden they adorn.
After my garden safari I returned home and was greeted by 2 new blooms on the giant plant in the sunroom. Regardless of the snow and ice outside, every plant IN this house is growing~! Can't wait for the chicks to get here next~! There is NOTHING like the taste of FRESH eggs~!

Good Roots = Good Genes

Joyously, most of my seeds came and I have already planted tomatoes and two kinds of peppers in tiny sod pots. I placed them on a heating pad to insure their comfort and growth. Regardless of the weather inside this house, the strongest seeds will drop roots, survive, thrive and grow. Seeds that won't grow have no roots and poor genes. I believe the same of people. I have met many people who do not know what they want or where they want to "put down roots." I have observed that their lives are often confused and some what meaningless. They do not volunteer for charities, they don't give of their time in any way and spend most days programming their MP3, Smart Phone and other techie equipment or updating their Face Book, My Space, Tweeter or Blogs.... A very superficial and self centered life. REAL or NO REAL ? Four of the 5 of these "typical" NO Roots folks also have plastic plants in their homes. The fifth one has 2 dead plants. I rest my case.
These same people complain relentlessly about the weather. It was a glorious sunny windy 12 degrees today and you would of thought it was -50 degrees the way they yelled and agonized. The way they move around from one location to another, I firmly believe they will never be content anywhere and will always be a source of "noise pollution." They certainly are not real New England Yanks. Personally, for me, New England is home, with a capital H.
My roots and integrity run deep. Although its nice to visit other places, my intense homing instinct always brings me back here. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR HOME IS ?
Plant some seeds and find out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SPRING Paws & Reflect

Spring arrived in a subtle way, with the snow quietly receeding from the north facing fields. Birds sang, streams swelled and thundered while the wind kept me bundled up in 4 layers of winter clothes.
The hens began to lay many eggs in the past few days as daylight hours increased and temperatures climbed above the 20 degree mark. The colors of the eggs have ranged from blue, olive, brown, pink and the occasional white egg. I suspect they are gearing up for Easter. Lots of wildlife were crossing the roads today, including a porcupine and a mink who obviously did not look BOTH ways before they crossed the busy highway. Dogs were out walking their owners this morning. Robins were on the ground searching for worms. Today is the beginning of many things and much hope. However, today was the last day on earth for a very special companion. Sleep well my Scout, until we meet again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vermont & Dog Mountain

Vermont gave this country TWO presidents:
Chester A Arthur of Fairfield and Calvin Coolidge of Plymouth.
Vermont is the only New England state with no coastline, however Lake Champlain and all the hidden ponds, streams and cystal clear lakes make up for that fact. Forests make up 3/4 of Vermont! This is why the air is clean, the water is pure, the soil is fertile and people who live here are healthy of body and mind. Cleaner air and water make the soil and plants, as well as the animals who eat those plants, healthier.
No billboard advertising is allowed in Vermont. No "visual" pollution in this state either. Vermont is all "eye candy."
There are many unusual and exclusive things in this state that no other state or country have.

Here is one of them:

Thank you Stephen for making a difference.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Let The Dogs OUT ???

The day started with a bang~! Two loose dogs ended up in my yard in the pouring rain, disrupting the relative quiet of the house as my canine alarm system ran from room to room barking "INTRUDERS!" The 2 dogs crossed a major highway to get to my side of town. I ran out in my pajamas and grabbed the friendliest of the two and immediately realized both were wearing Invisible Fencing collars along with regular collars with their ID tags taped together so they wouldn't "jingle" and disturb their owners. The tape was difficult to remove on the black labs tags, but i did it enough to find a phone number. Cell phone in hand, I quickly punched the numbers in and anxiously waited for it to connect. "This number is no longer in service" is what I heard next. Great, another dog owner who doesn't update their dogs ID tag OR notice they have blown through the Invisable Fencing~! The black dog was trying to get into my house and was scratching on the walls. Did I mention it was also pouring rain out and both dogs were covered in mud ? And now, so was I after wrestling with duct tape, tags and collars. I was able to lure the skittish yellow female over to me and took her regular collar off so I could cut the tape off the tags and read them without freaking her out. Her tags were different. An old license with the town clerks phone number was on it, AMEN~! I called the clerk and told her the story and gave her the old license number, hoping they had an updated phone number listed on a possible newer license. Not. I ran upstairs to get some clothes on and my boots and ran out of the house 2 minutes later but both dogs had dissapeared. Into my truck I jumped and drove up my road looking in all directions. I didn't see dog tracks in the mud, so I feared they had crossed the highway again. The mud was hard to navigate. Now I know what they do with tires and wheels that fall off when they get stuck in the mud around here.. Use them as road signs. I turned around and headed for the highway just as both dogs ran in front of a tractor trailer hauling fuel. The yellow dog barely made it across and into a field. I hit the pedal and sped towards the nearest road parallel to where I estimated they would come out.

I shut my truck off and started running to where I thought they should appear, calling their names ( Boo-Boo & Tanner ) until both appeared. I got the black Boo-Boo into my truck as The very skittish Tanner circled and recircled my truck not wanting to get near me. i crouched down and snagged her as she came around the front of my truck and directed her to the back and boosted her into the back of the truck bed ( it has a cap on it ). I shut the big window and headed up to where I thought their home was. Two miles of road and 3 feet of mud, puddles and sink holes greeted me as I drove up a rural mountain road, wondering if I would be able to get out.

The driveway to their home was steep and about 1/4 of a mile. I walked to the front door with Tanners collar in my hand. I knocked. Nothing. I wondered if I was at the right place or if I was going to end up with these 2 mud encrusted guests for the day. I peeked in the side window and to my delight I saw two extra large round fluffy dog beds on the immaculate white floor. I knocked again. In another 30 seconds the door opened and there was a bloodshot, boxer short wearing, red faced 40 ish male who couldn't even talk. St Pattys Day must of been his own national holiday. I asked him if he was missing 2 dogs, he nodded yes. I told him to update the phone numbers on the ID tags and he grunted. I went back to the truck, opened the back window, dropped the tailgate and escorted the 2 mud mavins out. They were in so much trauma from being jiggled around in the back of my truck with all my gear plus firewood, buckets of sand and other winter survival stuff that they sped to the front door. The trip home was hazardous. The rain was relentless. As I rounded the last curve, the sun came out. Three hours had passed from the moment I saw the dogs til now. I immediately thought....... Lets go find some trout.
So I did.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Odd Dogs & Irishmen

Another colorful sunrise this morning. Guess what I found in the garden ? The first snow drops popped up and opened. More coming as the snow melts around the magnificent perennial garden.
Today is a very special day and I intend to commemorate it.
The sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful blue, the nearby stream is making a thunderous noise as more and more snow and ice melt into it. My chores are finished and my companion is ready to go.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Dance of Life

A beautiful sunrise this morning and a call from a dear friend informing me that her only daughter was getting a divorce and all the reasons it happened. As I listened, my mind immediately drifted to all the things I knew about relationships: it takes TWO to tango and ONE to ruin the dance. My heart has been my own faulty navigator my entire life, instead of my brain. And for me, old love never dies.

That's the part and parcel of all I have learned on my painful relationship journey.
I know much more about nature and the wonderous animals I share my life with. Especially the deer that come down to eat the remaining apples off the trees at dusk. I see the bulges in their bellies and know they will have fawns in May and June. The deer are consistant visitors. They always arrive at the same time every evening.
The apples are almost gone and as the snow melts they will gorge themselves on all the apples that fell and were covered by the winter snows. Fermented apples = drunk deer. I hope they don't attempt to cross the near by roads when they are under the influence of the hard cider. 

I also know, when visiting or travelling, inorder to find the most comfortable and warmest place in a house, go find out where the cats hang out. Felines have an uncanny ability to claim all the good spots in a home, cafe, library or yard.
The sunset tonight was spectacular. Complete with FIVE male red winged black birds singing in the tallest tree hoping to attract a mate. Tomorrow I will go on another rural safari typical of my digital nomad lifestyle. Its just an excuse to do more trout surveilance.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trout Surveillance

The past serveral days have been great ones.
An unexpected snow storm caught me by surprise as I was visiting a friend in a secluded mountain top cabin. What a thrill. Isolation, solitude, nature & a romantic setting. Life doesn't get any better than this~!! We snowshoed & XCSkied down to the road and after we slowly shoveled ourselves to the nearest vehicle, we headed out to find our future "secret" fishing spots. Last year I sustained myself with the fish I caught. They made up a large portion of the food I ate, so I had to find isolated spots that weren't fished out yet inorder to continue providing myself food that I could afford.
With good maps and local stream information I knew I could again have another successful summer of foraging. Found several potential areas and look forward to returning to these areas once all the ice is melted and the fishing season opens (April 11th).

The day had many bonuses.
On a rural trail I now call "BEAVER BEND" I found the best fishing area. No one visits this area because the pond is out of sight of the main roads and it is not on any of the area fishing maps. It's a little far to drag or carry kayaks but I recently was given 2 kayak transporters with wheels, so hiking in with boats won't be difficult at all. The scenery alone is breathtaking. The water is crystal clear. The tracks of several winter hardy species can be seen all over the snow, ice and trails. Including Bobcat. I can "hear" fish in the deeper areas. There are 4 magnificent beaver lodges in the middle of the several interlocking ponds. My heart has a special place for beavers. Last winter most of my scavenged fire wood came from old beaver chews and logs they couldn't get to the water. Help nature and nature will help you. Thank you beavers for helping me keep warm during a very painful and difficult winter.
On the long trip back to the cabin we stoped at "Dog Village" which is the local Humane Society. Within seconds of entering the facility I found a skinny, terrified hound that needs some help. I inquired about his history and was told he originally came from France with his owners who lived in Montreal. A divorce and the economy forced his surrender to the shelter. He just arrived and was placed in the kennels with the other dogs. His baratone howl haunts me. I sent his photo to all my friends who may want another dog, but all replied that they are "down sizing" and are not in a market for any dog over 30 lbs. With some research from another hound loving friend, we discovered him to be a French White & Orange hound. Yes, its actually a breed. Dog Village will be finding me on their front steps this week.
After saying a long arevoir to Garcon the Hound, we again attempted to head back towards the cabin. I saw the greenhouse sign and again we deverted our direction so I could see color, smell spring and feel texture. Within seconds of entering the delicious aroma of the colorful greenhouse, my ankles were attacked by an unknown marauder. Quick with the camera, I stalked my attacker until I had it cornered: GrainStore Gilbert is this outlaws name. 4 months old and a real charactor. Click on the photo to see it in its larger size. Those eyes are amazing.

The flowers are beautiful and unusual here. There was one in particular I would of loved to have because of its odd shape, silky texture and stunning color. I have no idea what it is called and do not want to know any more about it. A photos will have to surfice. Having Hound-on-the-brain and counting down until I can fish for food is enough to contemplate for now.
On our ride back toward the mountain we saw one last sight before the sun sank over the mountain range. Decorated agricultural equipment is the norm here during the holidays and this exceptional high quality antique wheel escaped the 6 feet of snow and damaging ice to remain fresh and vibrant at the end of its snowed in driveway.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Moore March Madness

Still more signs of spring.

For any good farmer, this is the ultimate sign of spring: Fence posts. Hundreds of them.

Cedar fence posts are the preferred kind. They last longer. They will hold electric fence wire and keep the livestock in, and strangers out. Unfortunately, fences don't deter the coyotes and other 2 legged predators. With the current economy, cattle rustling is a serious worry. The cold weather prevents mosts rustlers from attempting to kill and field butcher livestock, but the warmer weather will bring trouble to local farmers this year. Please be a watch dog for your local farmers. They all need your help.

Another sure sign of March are the bargains and trades that farmers are doing amongst themselves to get set for the upcoming haying season in June. With money in short supply and the cost of all needed farm supplies too expensive for the small farmers, bartering, scavenging and trading are the menu for the day.

Fence posts are coming in and tractors are going out.

Farmers are the ultimate recyclers. They MUST Reuse, Rethink and Reinvent just about everything to stay in business. AND they feed us.
Have you hugged a farmer today ?

The Persistant March On


After exploding 4 hard drives and 4 cameras in 4 years, I am finally re-paired, re-homed, re-located and re-set.
New Beginnings in 2009, the Year of the OX and
March is my favorite month of the year. My favorite holiday week has almost begun as well.
The signs of spring are abundant, especially today, and life is getting better and better with each passing moment.

March is my favorite month for many many reasons.

Yes, it is still freezing, snowing and somewhat like the Ice Age, but I LOVE that. I love the variety of weather that Mother Nature throws at us. In March, it is a constant weather surprise.
 Like a gift you don't expect.
I enjoy watching generations of men and women, side by side, tapping trees for the sap that they will boil down into delicious ( and addicting ) maple syrup. This usually starts with the arrival of daylight savings. And sure enough, last Sunday was like demolition derby up here in the mountains.
Last week there were hundreds of pickup trucks driving the rural backroads, stopping every few feet to tap another tree and hang a bucket with a cover on it. 100 gallon plastic tanks, in assorted colors, sit in the back of 4 out of 7 trucks going up my rural road. The air is full of sweet smelling smoke from the many sugar shacks in the immediate area that use cords and cords of firewood every day to make the sweet "Liquid Gold" syrup.
Mud season happens in March and is one of rural lifes real challenges. Sometimes there is more than one mud season in a year and that makes life REALLY challenging. We had a premature spring thaw in February that made my most travelled roads one big sludge fest. I watched several smaller vehicles drive right off the road in front of me because their tires got stuck in a rut that took them off the road and into a ditch.
Desperate motorcyclists come out in March. I saw 4 last week.
Calving season starts in March and every day is like Christmas. You just never know what you will find out in the barns or the fields. All the anticipating and guessing comes to a climax in March. I pray that all the calves are born alive and healthy and all the Mama cows just pop those kids out like bullets. No more repeats of the depressing calving season last year.
Everything that could go wrong, did.
Crocus make an honest attempt of coming up in March, and many did last week before a 9 inch snowstorm buried them. I know I wil see them again in a few more days.
I saw a red wing black bird last week. And that flock of 100 robins & cedar wax wings that have been here since January 11th have moved up the road. Birds return in March.
The seeds I ordered usually come in March.
There is so much hope in March.
And winter is now 9 months away.