Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The last view of 2008

31 December, 2008, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Today is blustery. No, today is gusty. Wind gusts of 50 miles an hour, or so, are keeping the wind chimes clanging and the trees roaring. Every now and again something odd blows across the front yard and into the edge of the woods. Frequently something ominously bangs or creaks. Still, it's absolutely gorgeous outside.

Yesterday was so mild. I was hoping to paint outside today. I think I'll head out to the studio after lunch and work from a relatively draft-free environment.

The daily paintings are going well. I'm painting more naturally/realistically than I anticipated. And I'm thinking a lot about how I like to make my art. Once I have some sound theories, I'll write them down, or maybe not. Maybe I'm thinking too hard.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The more things change...

too big
From this....

mr. smug
... to this in 9 months.
What a year.

For the last year I have said that 2007 sucked. It did - my mother died, friends died. It was not a happy time. I thought it was the worst year ever. I now revise my earlier thoughts and crown 2008 the worst year ever. Worst. Year. Ever. (Don't worry, this post gets better I promise)

Let's recap, shall we? Back pain, lots of it. Add hip pain as well. No obvious cause. I spend months and thousands on physical therapy. Little relief. I can at least move again. Collapse of economy led to collapse of Charlie's company. I get laid off by my husband. Hmm... Another summer of drought conditions means gardening is hard. Gardening at our level with back pain is hard. Chickens won't lay eggs. Promised money from past clients refuses to arrive in our coffers. Internal restructuring of budget at Little Creek Farm means the Monkey must leave sweet Montessori school and start public education. Two days before Christmas Charlie is laid off from his job.

Now the positive. I can move again and have started my own physical therapy - walking. The Monkey and I are taking daily walks, talking and watching the world go slowly by. Collapse of the company gave me more time to paint and spend with the Monkey. Garden did surprisingly well during drought. We built a root cellar and it is stocked with loads of potatoes, beets, and jars of canned produce. Chickens who don't lay eggs make wonderful stock. They also make us laugh as living yard ornaments. Ducks do lay eggs and are even funnier to watch. Coffers are empty - I'm trying to think of something positive, really I am. Oh! At least we've been able to pay our mortgage. And my anger at the clients who just didn't pay us is subsiding, they are probably worse off than us. Maybe.

And while I love Montessori education methods, Monkey was not really happy this year in a much smaller class. Enrollment was down to the lovely economy and her class was really just too small (there were only 3 first graders). Her best friend left and she felt all alone. It's not good to see your child so lonely. Her new class in public school seems much more suited to her personality. There are lots of kids, a giant playground, the cafeteria, music class, art class, computer lab, LIBRARY, gym and more activities. She is very excited to start.

And Charlie... He's a smart, talented guy. He's been stressing. This was not the plan. He should be able to find another job. I've also accepted the fact that I probably won't find the "perfect" job anytime soon. I'm now looking at anything that will help pay the bills. From my point of view, this is the perfect time for some reinvention. Perhaps I'll find the perfect job. Who knows? And all the drama has actually brought us closer together. We spend more time together. We talk more. And we still have hope. Which is good. Very good.

Perhaps 2008 isn't the worst year ever. Let's call it a year of change. And change is good, right?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Growing with the season

cold frames, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Gardening is understandibly slow right now. Under these little portable greenhouses/cold frames lettuce and greens are thriving. Beets are flourishing. These little plants have been easy to fool, even with the below freezing temperatures we've had the last couple of days. There's no need to pull weeds and nature has been providing the moisture. I could get into winter gardening, if it weren't for the cold.

I happen to think Charlie's design is rather ingenious. The only flaw seems to be their ability to catch the wind and go flying. Far. Far Away. These houses are securely anchored to posts after a couple of blustery days set them sailing. We had high winds the night before last and the one frame that was not covering a thing, thus not anchored, ended up about an acre away in the woods. Remarkably, it held together.

They are neat and tidy, efficient and multi-purpose. I'm planning on removing the plastic in the spring and replacing it with wire. Then the little greenhouses can become little chick and duckling nurseries. They will also allow us to get the tomato plants out and protected earlier. And think how pretty they'll be covered in row cloth. Sometimes Charlie amazes me with the things he comes up with. He couldn't stand the look of my natty row covers and had to come up with something that met his high aesthetic standards. I have to admit they are much prettier than my hoops and cloth coverings. I'm pretty lucky to have him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Purple States

Today is "my" day at Purple States. Check it out.

Little lights

little light, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

It's the season of waiting and watching. It's the time of lighting candles against the darkness. I have been in such a dark hole, and am slowly climbing out following the little lights of Advent. Monkey is counting down each day of Advent in anticipation of Christmas - more for the hope of presents than for the coming of longer days or the messiah (whichever you prefer).

Me, I'm watching and waiting for many things. I'm watching the ground and the rain in anticipation of spring, still months away. Seed catalogs have started to arrive and I'm dreaming and hoping, plotting and planning. I'm patiently (although patience is wearing thin as a virture) waiting for promised funds to arrive. I don't as well with debt as I do with the cycle of seasons. In the mean time I'm trying to hold all the little pieces together.

Our Christmas may not be extravagant this season, but we have each other. The days will get longer soon and the light will begin to return.

In an effort to keep my thoughts positive and engaged, I've started a new project. I'm doing a painting (or drawing, or something) everyday. You can view them at Little Visions. For my birthday, Charlie winterized my drafty studio and now I can work! We may not be romantic here at Little Creek Farm, but we are practical sometimes...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm not a fan of cold...

11 December, 2008, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

We had two days of warm weather and rain. Four inches of rain. There is finally water in the creek again. Now we're back to cold. The goats are not happy. At least the sun is shining. That always helps my spirits pick up a bit.

We got the release from Monkey's school district yesterday and today are meeting the principal of what will hopefully be her new school. She doesn't seem to be sad at all to leave the Montessori school. I think this has to do with the fact that one of her friends told her all about the school cafeteria. There's nothing like the promise of nachos for lunch to lure a first grader.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What can I say? It's been awhile.

Life has been throwing me lots of punches lately. So, I just put certain things on the back burner for awhile. I have missed my blog, but the need to focus on family, finances, and sanity were a stronger pull. My friend Cinnamon has pulled me back. She and her husband have a project - Purple States and invited me to be their blogger from North Carolina. So, I'm thinking and planning and will be posting soon. North Carolina is coming up awfully fast!

Life on the farm keeps chugging along with the seasons. As long as we can make that mortgage payment we should be ok. I'm getting used to not really working and not finding a job. It really sucks to have to close a small business. Being laid off by your spouse is the worst. (I'm not bitter at all...) Charlie is loving his new job, although he did take a 10% pay cut along with everyone else this fall. Times are tough when you are even remotely connected to real estate. We have been making lots of cuts here at Little Creek Farm. Monkey will be leaving her private Montessori school at Christmas Break and will start the second semester of first grade in the world of public education. Right now we are working on getting her into the elementary school of our choice. You see, we sit right on the wrong side of a district dividing line. We are closer to one school (the one we want) than the other one, but such are the vagaries of the county system. Keep your fingers crossed for the Monkey.

We finished our root cellar earlier this fall and it is stocked with potatoes,sweet potatoes, beets, cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple sauce, apple jam, apple butter, strawberry jam and way too many green beans. Who needs money for groceries??? It's not that bad, yet. Really.

We managed to put together some great row cover/cold frames and have a huge crop of greens, lettuce and beets thriving under cover. Gardening is easy this time of year... And the seed catalogs have started to arrive and make us a little more optimistic about things. The thought of new things growing in the spring, even though it is far off, can't help but make us happy.

The animals are all hunkered down for the winter. I'm saving up for a new batch of hens this spring. My old girls are not laying. I haven't seen an egg in weeks. For the last couple of years we kept the henhouse lighted. That meant by fooling the hens we got more eggs. They didn't really get to rest though. So this year no artificial light means no eggs.

O.K. Everyone caught up? Charlie has a job. Maggie doesn't. Maggie needs one (or will accept winning the lottery in place of gainful employment...). The farm is ok. The bears are hibernating. The goats are fat and wooly and the chickens are lazy. Monkey will learn about standarized testing this year. And everyone is receiving jars of jam and barbeque sauce for Christmas.

I'm back, I promise.