Friday, June 24, 2011

Playing in the rain

I'm glad I was taught the skill of playing in the rain. When we were kids growing up on Long Island, and summers up at Candlewood Lake, there were always rainy days during summer vacation, and houses not big enough to contain the energy of three kids and their friends. I can distinctly remember being sent outside to play, even if it was raining. It didn't happen very often, but it did happen. And that is something that we don't do with our kids any more. I fondly look back at those times with wet sneakers and soaked t-shirts and shorts, having a ball in someone's backyard. The license to run out in the rain and stay out for as long as we wanted was radical, but it was the thought was that the temperature was the same as the lake or the pool that we were so desperately trying to get permission to get into-that rain couldn't possibly hurt us-and it didn't. I hope I gave my own kids that sense of freedom and fun. There is nothing like it. We went for our evening walk a few days ago and it was lightly raining. I brought me right back to those summer days when I was younger. We only did one lap because I wasn't THAT nostalgic, but it was enough to jar my memories and make me smile. Sometimes I have to stop myself from being so rigid-I have to try and have that same sense of WOW that I had when I was young. I'm not that terribly old, after all. But it is a slippery slope and I don't want to find myself at the botton, already rigid and unbending. Getting out in the rain and just letting go-doing whatever it was you planned on for a sunny day, and acting as though the rain were not a deterrent. Just do it. It is a beautiful chance to get outside and see what the rain brings out in nature-it's a different bunch of singing birds that hang out when its raining!

It could have gone either way

It never seems so long between blogs until I sit down and look at the LAST blog I wrote-and then I realize how long it's been. It's been dreary here, after a few glorious days over the past weekend. The bullfrogs are getting louder and louder-they sound like men now-deep throated and bullish. We're expecting company over the weekend and our house is spit and polished. I was shopping in town last week at a little shop on Main Street, and as I was browsing I heard the little old lady behind me say "do you know what you're having?" I was afraid to turn around because then I would KNOW that she was speaking to me. There were a few other people in the shop. I turned around and again was asked "do you know what you're having?" I should have been outraged that she was considering me to be pregnant due to the baggy shirt that I had on. I twas a totally reasonable assumption considering the outfit I had thrown on to get into town for certain errands. Just a baggy shirt over a pair of shorts and sandles. But really! I was mulling this over as I quickly worked out in my brain how I was going to respond to this horrific insult. I do know that even if I see someone about to drop a 10 pound baby inn the next hour, I make no mention of it until she FIRST says something about her pregnancy/imminent blessing, because I would be mortified if I was ever wrong. But this woman had no fear. She had gone where no man had gone before, the horrific social gaffe of assuming someone is pregnant. But in that split second of decision, I decided to be flattered that she thought I was YOUNG ENOUGH to be pregnant! Because at my age, that is quite a stretch after all! I just smiled and said "oh no, not me, it's just the shirt" with a laugh. She has no idea how lucky she was! It could have gone either way. I could have been outraged! As I got into my car I just had to laugh and thought "me? Pregnant?" Wow! Do I look that young? I guess it's just how you look at things. I walked with a certain spring in my step after that compliment! Have a great day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pick, Pick, Pick, talk a lot, talk a little more!

It's definitely going to take a little time to get the chickens here on the farm. Jerry doesn't say much about it, which translates into "I don't want to get involved". We have been crazy busy, to say the least, and I know that he's feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I am ready to take this on, and hopeful that our variance request will be accepted, just as soon as we write it and send it in! I've been reading up on chicken care, and basically, they raise themselves. Once you provide a safe coop and a fairly safe predator-free yard, they can be pretty darn easy to care for. Aside from cleaning and feeding, which I would imagine becomes second nature after a few tries, the chicken yard should be a moveable and easy access wood structure, which is strong enough to withstand at least a few snowfalls. I know that raking the roof on our OWN stucture becomes an issue in the wintertime, but I am confident that I could tackle at least that much. I like having some responsibility that is tied into the weather because of course the house is too much for me to get involved with, but the chicken coop should be more manageable! For an environment that has the potential for snow seven months out of the year, snow roof-removal is something you have to consider. Although I would like to free-range the chickens during the spring-summmer months, I know that keeping their yard near to the house eliminates the need for a distant walkway to the coop. We want it as close as possible during those bitter cold winter months-who wants to tread through the snow on a freezing November morning to get to the hen-house? NOT ME! And so, I have picked the corner of of the pasture that is closest to our house. I am scoping out chicken coops, and the slope roofed A-frame seems like the best sort of house to me, for a starter chicken farmer: It's compact, it can be easily wheeled around the property, and the hens can hang on on the grassy area below when they are confined. When they are NOT confined, a simple door on the side will allow their grazing and nit-picking to be done whereever they like. Now these are plans to be purchased, and I think with a materials list I might be able to pull this off. Right now I am observing Caroga Carl (our own personal ground hog) making his way around the pasture, so there is plenty of nature's gifts available for the chickens to find on their property. I'm not investing any money into the coop until we are given permission by the town of Caroga, but I'm getting all my chicks in a row, so to speak. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


It was a magical day last Friday. We were honored to watch our son Brian be sworn in as a Suffolk County Sheriff after six months at the police academy. It was a grueling time for Brian, and the following poem shares the sentiments of his Father Jerry, retired Detective from the Port Washington Police Department: When I earned my shield, thirty years ago I didn’t yet know what life would throw Like you, I wanted to be in the law As long as I’d known that was all that I saw. My Father was in a much different field It wasn’t his footsteps that sought out the shield. It was something in me that was mine alone. As it should be with you, as your footsteps are sown. I love nothing more when I hear it said, “A chip off the old block, he’s just like his Dad” And I couldn’t be happier to hand off my gun As you finally graduate, and I mean finally! My son. You are well-trained and confident! Of this I am sure. As were years of recruits who have gone-on before. You don’t need my assurance, you know what to do I don’t want to re-live my career through you. Make it your own, start with pride on your journey Understand that my job now is praying and worry. A moment, a second, will never go by that you aren’t in my thoughts, in my prayers, on my mind I love understanding - we’ll be able to chat About your experiences - this thing or that. And I’ll know when you’re suffering, so you won’t cry alone, when you speak of a loss, when we talk on the phone. I couldn’t be more honored, as this moment comes to pass My pride is even brighter than your uniform and brass Emotions aren’t likely when a cop is on the job When you asked me to pin your badge, I had to squelch a sob. To go through what you went through once, and take it on again! The studying, the endless tests, the sacrifice and pain. You are the greatest son, a Father ever had. God Bless you in your long career, from a proud and loving Dad.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Which came first? The Chicken, the egg, or the variance?

As spring winds down here in the northeast, summer is barreling in with heat and humidity. Today I will water the garden, water the porch plants, and water myself. I am grateful that I am not dressing for work these days, as shorts and a tank top is the way to go. I was glad when I was working to be in an environment where dressing "down" was OK during the summer months. For the civilian staff anyway. I pitied the cops with their wool uniforms and bullet-proof vests. It's hot out there. We've been experiencing a wildlife boost here, with all kinds of stuff appearing and making themselves heard. Yesterday I heard a "woofle, woofle" kind of cry from the woods. It sounded as close to a Jabberwocky would, in my mind, then I had ever heard before. When I went to the window to try and get a direction on this wild sound, it stopped. That led me to believe that this incredible creature was watching ME! As much as the woods have become more benign to me since we live here full time, there are still moments when I realize we are living in a wild environment and to watch my step. I haven't heard the jabberwocky since, but I am listening carefully! I am always amazed at the ability of the flower and fauna to grow up in such a short period of time. Nature is constantly amazing me. Just weeks ago, we were surround by grey and dead looking trees and branches, and pow! It was spring! The plants make up in strength what they were lacking in time! Healthy and brilliant plants surround us now, and I'm loving every minute of it. We finally got our full vegetable garden planted, and yesterday I made the trip to the local town hall to "inquire" as to whether or not chickens would be possible here on our property. It's a stretch, and we're still in the discussion phase of this possibility, but first step is getting a variance to allow "livestock" on the property. If you've been following our blog for any length of time, you remember our trip to town hall to request permission to raise Alpaca. We are in a very different place now, and due to health restrictions, I think chickens would be as large a livestock as I could take on right now. But I am inclined to raise our own chicken for eggs, and possibly meat, which I know is abhorrent to some, but ever since reading the book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (which I highly recommend) I am inclined to take on chickens for our own consumption. I'm not yet ready to become a vegetarian because the truth is, I love chicken. Beef has appeared less and less on our table, and we always discuss the pros and cons as we're eating it. More cons than pros by the way. But now, with me faced with a long summer ahead of us, I am really in the mode to produce SOMETHING besides bees on this farm. I'd love to give the chickens free range, and a humane end. I have a farmer in me somewhere and she's just screaming to get out. Now, if we were given permission to raise our own chickens that would entail some type of coop for egg hatching (another great chicken product that I happen to love) and winter protection. The plot thickens. So this is step one. We'll see!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Not that kind silly! I'm talking about lawns. I'm not sure I understand why we spend a fortune tilling and planting and rolling and all that, only to cut that which we have been nursing through growth. It becomes this war - growth against mowing. We spend a ridiculous amount of time and money cutting our well fertilized plots of land, be it a postage stamp on Long Island, or acres here in the north country. To me, there is nothing more lovely than a field of wildflowers. I know that our field does have them, but they have never been given the opportunity to grow. They are cut down in their prime, and the gently waving wildflowers of summer are not to be seen out my window. Instead, I see a manicured field of dreams. We have no baseball team here (at least none that I can see) but the field is beautifully manicured by Jerry, my personal landscaper. He is good enough to do the grunt work for the flowers and shrubs that I am requesting, and so I feel somewhat bad about commenting on the field/lawn. But truthfully, I would rather see the unmanicured wildflowers blowin in the wind. I wonder if we would see MORE wildlife, or if the animals like the landing field look. We had a turkey land here last week, and he hung around most of the day. At one point, he was sniffing and exploring the campfire, which hasen't been hot in a few days. I don't know what he thought of the whole area, but he was checking it all out. After quite a bit of time, he waddled under the deck and behind the house, heading towards Rogers next door. We haven't seen him since. We thought of inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner, but alas, he was a little young. Speaking of fields, we have been power walking after dinner each night, and last night we decided to bring Bailey with us. He is the only one of the three dogs who could possibly keep up with a brisk walk, and the only one who is interested in doing that. He was like a ball of fire! In and out of the cemetary headstones, he was running 3 miles to our one! I know he had a ball, because when we got home, he went to bed! And so, we do keep busy here, waiting for spring and summer, and just getting a little more cold weather than we were hoping for. 42 degrees this morning on the porch! We'll keep you posted! Anyone a member of the Caroga Lake Book Club? Our first meeting will be held this saturdaya at 7 PM at the clubhouse. The chosen book was "Water for Elephants". Get reading! Keep in touch-I love your feedback! Jen