"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

January 1, 2011

Farmwife at Midlife

Here it is: 1-1-11. The first day of a new year and a new decade. So a most perfect time to launch a new blog. I live on a farm in Kentucky. I'm a writer. A mother. A farmwife. (Not necessarily in that order!) A collector of too much vintage stuff, books, cookbooks, unfinished projects, dreams and canned goods. I am obsessed with pantries (and literally wrote the book on them), great architecture and gardens (as well as the gnomes in them). I like to cook (most days), love to bake, and am learning to 'put up' much of our food (and raise it).

Several years ago we moved from New Hampshire to a Kentucky ridge where we've put together a cattle farm along with some chickens, pigs, and a few stray deer. It is total 'boy world' but I like it, too.

Lately I've become a chicken lady. And a deer whisperer. Sometimes I sing. And dance. And I usually wear an apron while doing so. Or flannel pajamas. Or my favorite denim skirt and shirt combo. I don't like to wear socks, unless it's winter. Pantyhose only when I must. I seek comfort in all things: in old and new friendships, family relationships, food, a good book, my home, or the natural world around me. For some reason, however, I can never leave the house without lipstick on (well, the chickens don't seem to mind).

Remember that scene when Meryl Streep, as Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa, is hollering to the native Kenyans from the back of her train car: 'My crystal! My Limoges!'? This somewhat counters her lilting phrase, 'I had a farm in Africa.' and all that evokes and yet it rather sums up what we brought down from New Hampshire and how we brought it. In several box cars. Most of it is still in boxes. Perhaps one day we will use it again or it will remain, in our barn, only to be unearthed in some future salvage operation.

'I had a mansion in a New England village.' It was beautiful and sometimes too perfect. It was not really either of us, my husband or myself, and yet 'these things we carry' from our past we can't quite leave behind––just yet. We all kind of grew up in that house, but we grew out of it, too. It is hard to pack up your life into boxes, especially when from a house that has the layering of generations. Yet, it is the best thing we ever did for ourselves. Our room-by-room inventory is still ongoing.

So I can't help but share a quote that I read recently, by Ellen Goodman, a former columnist for The Boston Globe:
We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential.
This is what I've been doing at this place and time in my life. It is an ongoing process. I am grateful for the opportunity, sometimes fearful. But always blessed.

For now, it's practical magic in a doublewide. In a cottage that we're fixing up (more on that as the weeks progress: Chick-a-Biddy Cottage will be my haven, writing studio and farm-meal central). All in the rolling and lovely backdrop of Kentucky knob country.

How we came here is a story in itself and I've been telling that along the way at my other blog, In the Pantry. Recently I decided that the venue for the tale needed changing. Because I now really am a farmwife, a firmly middle-aged woman (at 48 and not quite firm, either), and totally perimenopausal, I realized that Farmwife at Midlife was a much better moniker and place in blogland to be telling my story.

Here I will share musings, thoughts, many photos (mostly my own, so please use only with permission), and recipes from our Kentucky farm. I will try to be more 'bloggy' and less verbose and save my personal essays for publication. [And I promise you, I do write in complete sentences.]

As my neighbor Margaret on the next ridge always says when I leave, 'You come back when you're ready!'

I hope that you will.



  1. Congratulations on your new endeavor! I really like the look of your new blog and your profile picture is absolutely perfect:) Looking forward to reading your musings and learning a thing or two too.

  2. Positively brilliant! What a marvelous blog. You write beautifully and I look forward to your future adventures.


  3. Love the new blog! (I have always felt connected to Marjorie Main, too)

  4. Catherine, nobody does a better blog than you. It's just fantastic. I look forward to reading it.


  5. Oh ... those things we carry. If we don't let go of them, they will carry us to places we wouldn't choose to go on our own; esstentially clipping our wings. I too am learning to let go of those "things" I've inherited so that I can take flight in the things I (me, myself) truly value and enjoy.

    I just love the tone of this new blog -- it's wonderful, Catherine, just wonderful.

    Thank you for allowing me to join you on your journey. I think it's going to be a fabulous adventure!


  6. I will be back, I bookmarked ya!

    This is gonna be interesting. Even though Miami has roosters, it's not quite the same thing.

    "Farm Living is the life for me"..... not really (I think I am more Eva Gabor than Eddie Albert), but you make it sound good.


  7. Thanks for all of your lovely comments! I appreciate them and look forward to visiting in the months and years ahead ~


    PS Jane is that you?

  8. So glad to see you back Catherine. I so missed reading you at The Pantry and look forard to your new blog. I can relate in many ways to your recent move and change in life. No pun intended! Good luck! Really loved your book!

  9. Lovely new blog! I so enjoy your writing! Having moved cross-country (to New Hampshire) myself, I can relate to the boxes, boxes, and boxes of unpacked items. The Limoges? I unpacked that though. Blessings on your new endeavor!


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