Wednesday, December 21, 2005


So yesterday Bill Beyrer brought over a real driving harness and we got Gideon all buckled up! He looked like such a professional and settled right into his new job just like he'd been doing it forever (Bill was very impressed). Bill also brought over a skidder, which pulls logs out of the woods. So we're trying it tomorrow! Apparently, if Gideon had a partner, they would be able to pull a full-sized Ford pick-up all the way up our steep driveway. With the emergency brake on. I can't wait to report to you how this adventure might play out. Stay tuned!

We had a very nice open house, during which we met any neighbors we hadn't been introduced to previously (everyone's distantly related somehow). People were delightful. They brought us housewarming gifts and gifts for the baby and were incredibly kind and responded very generously, even when I started to babble about how happy their cows seemed (I don't think they've ever thought about it from this point of view before)and how we thought it would be funny to put orange vests on a couple of deer just to trip out the hunters in the neighborhood. Suffice it to say, we're very lucky to have such great people around us. I'm thrilled.

Well, everyone, it's getting to be that time of year. We're having a Winter Solstice party at our house tonight, then on to Christmas in Minneapolis with the Cedarleaf clan this weekend. And Merry Hannukah and all winter holidays inclusive to everyone else.

Just doin' my best to be like the Amish,


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thinking about the farm in new ways

Hi ho everybody! Welcome to our snowy bliss here in Wisconsin, where the farm is wearing her winter whites rather elegantly, if you ask me. This is the time of year I'm very happy to have four wheel drive, as we had our first REAL snowstorm yesterday - if I had to guess, I'd say we have around 5 or 6 inches on the ground right now. My walk was serene this morning, with snow perched daintily in every tree crevice - a far cry from yesterday morning, when it was blowing directly into my eyes. Brutal!

I wanted to include this story, told by the guy who has done some of the "more professional" repairs at the farm - in other words, the ones B and I won't let Chris and Jay do because of the dangers involved. Ed is a really cool guy, and when Jay asked him how his hunting trip went this year, he first replied, "Not so good - I didn't get anything." But a few minutes later when they were assessing some work that needed to be done on our quonset building's roof, he changed his answer. He said the trip was actually amazing for one big reason - I'm sure that "not so good" reply is reserved for hunters who are referring to the hunt - anyhow, he told Jay that early in the morning he was sitting in a little enclosed area - perhaps under a fallen tree or something, and suddenly he surprised (and was surprised by) a timberline wolf. The wolf immediately turned and ran with stunning speed and agility - but the thing that amazed Ed most was the fact that the wolf ran along silently, no noise whatsoever. Wild, isn't it? I'm often blown away by just how much racket I make when I trudge through the snow. This seems like a real feat to me.

I also wanted to include Jay's brilliant idea for beginning to make the farm a place for some sort of service project - a small start that wouldn't involve a lot of organization or red tape to begin with. There are many Hmong students in Jay's classrooms at school - in fact, this is really the only minority population in the area. For those of you who don't know about Hmong history, these people have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years - wherever they've lived (Laos, China to name a few) the government has tried to co-opt them, to "civilize" them, to get them to acclimate to they're own culture, but the Hmong have stubbornly refused. They have been refugees often, vagabonding to stay alive. Many have ended up in the USA because their family members fought with the US in the Vietnam war under the promise that they would have a safe haven in this country once the war is over. Of course now the US is trying to keep them out, but that's another story. The point is that the Hmong are a farming culture, and most of those who live here are in apartments with no land of their own. What we'd love to do is to cultivate a piece of land for the community in Menomonie where they could plant and harvest. Jay is going to check with some of the translators at school to try and get this ball rolling.

I also have to talk about my freedom from the television. We don't get any TV at the farm. None (we still watch movies though). If we really wanted TV, we would have to pay for a satellite dish, which, among my other issues, I find disturbingly unaesthetic. I can't tell you what a wonderful thing this TV abstinance has been - how much more I read, walk, think, share ideas, relate with other people, do crosswords, reflect, gaze, play with the baby, cook. I realize that TV is an addiction for me - since June, I've seen the news a couple of times when back in the cities, and I'm amazed by what glittery, base monkey candy it is - and yet by how wholly my eyes are drawn to it when it's on. It's gross. I'm challenging everyone (and realize that I may not have been able to do it if it weren't for the fact that my TV only shows static when I push the on button) to keep the TV off for one month. I'd love your feedback on this!

Okay, I'm off to get some tasty hot cocoa then to pick up Jay for a trip to Fleet Farm (what's new?)

Love and 4X4 madness to all,


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Currier & Ives on acid

That's what it looked like this morning as I made my trek through the snow. Shortly after the sun came up (blood red in the sky, lazing in gauzy suggestions of clouds) a freaky haze came over us and delivered the most amazing hoarfrost all over everything. I think I love this palette so much because I'm not very used to the pales of midwest winter. I have taken up walking - between 3 and 6 miles every morning depending on my mood, energy level, and amount of time. It's usually around 0 (cold for this time of year) and I'm unrecognizable in my puffy blue jacket, blaze orange hat and face wrap. I feel like the character in "To Build a Fire" because when I get home, I have chunks of frost all over my eyelashes and hair. Sometimes I don't feel like walking when I get started, but once I've fed the horses and experienced the chill, I'm invigorated and I want to go. The naked trees make for spellbinding views from the tops of the ridges - it's a whole different reality from the very same spots in the summertime.

Well, it must be getting closer to Christmas, as the blow up Spongebob Squarepants Santa is back to bobbling in the neighbor's yard. This year we're going to hold our first annual holiday open house for the neighborhood. We'll see how that goes!

Ach, I hate that I'm always on the run when I get the chance to blog, but ... I gotta run. Jay's class is doing "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and I'm due there shortly. HEY! Unto you a child is born!

Love and woolly hats and mittens to all!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Let it snow let it snow ... well, you know the rest.

So I don't have long today, but I just came from the grocery store, where in the parking lot, I had to divide my bags in to the ones with stuff that SHOULDN'T freeze (truck cab) and ones that could freeze and it wouldn't matter (truck bed). Little things like this - things I never had to think about in Portland - tickle me to no end.

Also, we're picking up a half a cow on the way home, 80 pounds of which is burger. Now tell me, how many people do you know who could eat a 1200 pound cow a year? Thankfully we're only getting half, and dividing it up among 5 parties at that. By the way, it's Tryston's prize-winnin' fair cow - the one he spent hours blow-drying for the competition. Isn't it all kind of surreal? The Beyrers always sell us the blue ribbon winners and end up eating the dairy cows that broke their legs themselves. In fact, Sherri told B and I that Bill and Tryston weren't allowed to shoot any deer for the family this year because they didn't have any room in the freezer. Crazy life!

So now I have to learn to cook with beef.

I'm off to pick up my cute, bearded grizzly adams husband!

Love and hot cocoa with real marshmallows from Wisconsin, where it will reach a balmy 7 above tonight! More to come soon, I promise.