"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

May 26, 2014

The Open Road and Home Again

The beautiful prairie of eastern Kansas where the only vertical punctuations
on the horizon of clouds and land are churches, grain silos and windmills.

I was recently in Colorado for a few weeks to see our daughter and then we drove back across the wide prairie so she could spend some time here at the farm between ski and summer seasons (and before starting a great new job). It's been such a good stretch of time together. While Addie ended the season with her job I was productive during the day in her cozy condo: I sent a children's book to a publisher (on spec), got an article assignment for Early Homes (from Active Interest Media which also publishes Old-House Journal and other magazines) and reviewed my manuscript for The 1950s American Kitchen for Shire Books in England which was submitted to my editor in April. [I also have a new book-related blog, The 1950s American Kitchen]

Yet despite my occasional love of the open road, there is something so comforting about being home on the farm with my husband and all three of our children and our many animals and pets. As a mother it is immensely reassuring to have your chicks all safely back in the nest for a bit. I feel centered and as if we are an impermeable unit tucked into the hills and haven of our farm. When the world seems like a challenging place, as it often is, the rhythms of our days here seem to be a small contribution to a larger wholeness or sanity. There are struggles, yes, but I have reached at midlife, at long last, a kind of Zen-like contentment with where we are and in what we are doing.

I'd never spent so much time in the high mountains before: 9,600' altitude took
some adjustment but I was fine after four days. Didn't sleep much, however.
This is the Continental Divide at over 13,000 feet just south of Breckenridge.
It snowed on Mother's Day: over a foot from Zephyr in the Colorado Rockies!
Addie and I made carrot soup and Mexican food and caught up on Bravo television shows.

Silly Mother's Day "selfies."
A view of our farm looking east from the top of the Pennywinkle Field
(named years ago by the former owner for the snail-like shells found in the nearby creek).

Eli getting ready to ted the hay fields. He designed the work shirt that he is wearing.

The Pennywinkle Field with Eli tedding.
Henry finishes the mowing of the first hay on the farm (more down the road to do yet!).
Temple with a new baby lamb and Alice, our rescue deer (she was one of triplet fauns
that her mother abandoned last summer in a hay field after leaving with the other two).
[NOTE: this is before Temple was shorn for the summer!]
"Sheep and lambs may safely graze..." [for now]. Eli bought ten pregnant hair sheep (no wool to shear) and most have had their lambs. Trying not to get too attached as the babies will be in our freezer this winter. [We love lamb meat.]
Henry with the brand-new baler: we decided to do our own baling rather than hire it out.
Edgar surveys his domain (and his new harem of yearling heifers).
My husband Temple and Edgar, our beloved bull, who he found and rescued from the mud on their shared December birthday in 2011. The view is looking southeast towards the farm and above one of our many natural springs.
Loading hay to be wrapped.
Henry counts bales.
The great county wrapper guy cometh! The view of our farm is from part-way up our knob field and looking southeast.

The boys and my husband are done with first haying––and before the next stretch of rain––and that's always a good feeling. I'm catching up on the gardening in this coolish May weather after being away for several weeks during prime garden time (and our very late spring pushed everything back a bit). School has been out for the summer for over a week. Sports are done.

Storms can rage or equipment can break down, someone you love can be hurt or in need, you might not get a job "off farm," when needed, but always there are things for which to be so grateful. There are the green rolling hills, the proximity of good neighbors and friends (but not too close by: we can't see another house from our farm but we know there are neighbors just over the hill and down the lane), the breezes coming over the knob, the chortle of bird song all day, and the long stretch of summer ahead. It is like heaven on Earth and we are so blessed to be here. No matter what is happening in our lives, I seem to always be a "glass half full" kind of person. There is always another way to look at any circumstance or even sorrow. And while I was in Colorado when I thought of home, I thought of Kentucky. It has taken six years to say that but it is true. Now each day feels like a gift, every moment a song.

We are almost all back in the cottage––with recently repaired plumbing after our January 6th pipe burst (where we fortunately had the doublewide to return for a few months)––and DSL is now fully operational! No longer do I have to trek to the nearest town to blog or email (not that I did a lot of blogging in the past eighteen months but I have missed it). I've learned how to manage without ready access to the Internet here and need to continue to pretend that it isn't here for much of the day when I really should be doing other things around the house and farm. But it is handy for being in quick touch with friends, family, and my editors.

We are home. As I wrote under my blog heading, above, Wendell Berry said it best:
"It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey...And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here."
If you are still out there, dear reader, in blog land, you come back when you're ready!



  1. Wonderful to hear from you again. Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing them. Home is where the heart is....that's the truth! :)

  2. Love those wide open plains.that's the kind of "farm girl" that I am.

  3. periwinkle shells

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Yes, "Pennywinkle" is a vernacular altered version of "periwinkle" -- a name told to us by the former owner but the shells are, indeed, fresh water periwinkle snails.

  4. Goodness, Catherine, I am envious (sounds sweeter than jealous!) of the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis. Life on your ridge sounds absolutely wonderful, not to mention delicious, to me. I know it's immeasurable hard work, but the pride from which you speak, even makes the difficulties sound desireable. Glad you are back to blogging... Destiny


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