Monthly Archives: April 2015

Signs of Life!


Finally! After a freezing winter, the Northeast is thawing out and greening up. There are signs of life! Our kids were treated to a nice week-long spring break from school. (With so many snow days, we thought that might not happen). When Mother Nature finally gives us a break, it’s amazing how quickly things go from “drab” to “fab” in the East!

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SPRING BREAK~ Come Sit On My Porch



MAKE MEMORIES, have a drink, LAUGH, visit with old friends, MAKE NEW FRIENDS, enjoy the view, UNPLUG AND UNWIND, take your time, SIT BACK AND RELAX~

Dear Sisters,

It’s a tiny little thing with a sliver of a view, but it’s pure heaven. Come sit on my porch and catch the sea breeze. It’s spring break! Continue reading

One Good Thing About Music

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” ~Bob Marley

This has always been one of my favorite quotes; and I am proud to say that I regularly listen to Bob Marley’s hopeful–yet often melancholic–tunes.  Music is important in our yurt.  It is often playing or being played.  Music helps make chores easier, car rides more fun and naps more productive.  Evan plays the guitar and sings (he has been accused of having the voice of an angel, before.  It’s true). Evan and I have fairly frequent and playful arguments about our music preferences.  I have a feeling that Ava (and any other children that come along) will either be a total music snob or rebel and have atrocious music taste (atrocious according to me, of course!).

Ava and I are treated with live music multiple times per week!

Ava and I are treated with live music multiple times per week!

My love for music spans many genres and time periods, but I tend to turn to bluegrass, folk and classic rock.  On my computer’s iTunes, the bands with the highest number of plays are Elephant Revival, the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Rush (I think Rush is a result of Evan listening to music off of my computer!).  Raffi is quickly making his way up the yurt’s play charts, as well. I have been nannying for a couple of grade school girls over the last few months, so I’ve ended up listening to enough Taylor Swift to last a lifetime.  Elephant Revival has been my favorite for years (one of the leading ladies rocks the washboard!).  I listened to them for much of Ava’s very long labor, and I try to share them with anyone I can! There are some excellent free songs streaming from their website if you have time to give them a listen.

Elephant Revival is great campfire music.  This is a shot from a camping trip two weeks ago with good friends!

Elephant Revival is great campfire music. This is a shot from a camping trip two weeks ago with good friends!

When I first started farming, I had visions of what my future farm would look like.  One of the bonus amenities I pictured was large speakers with a reliable stream of tunage.  I imagine that I’ll have worldly, progressive farmhands working for me who bring music with them that will continue to open up our musical horizons.  We will craft the perfect playlists to listen to while doing the most common small-scale organic farming/gardening tasks: Stall mucking, transplanting, pea/spinach/tomato/other delicious produce harvesting, CSA packaging, and we must not forget the most common and necessary–weeding!

Now, I see that there are times when recorded music is overbearing and takes away from a task.  Sometimes the sound of a spade in the soil, birds flying over head, cattle mooing from the pasture, and the breeze whistling through a gap in the greenhouse door is the best music one can hear.  Furthermore, there are times when singing a tune can make the most monotonous work bearable.

The sounds of helpful kids shoveling April 21 snow is music to my ears!

The sounds of helpful kids shoveling April 21 snow is music to my ears!

I remember clearing an acre of land in Costa Rica eleven years ago.  There were eight of us in the crew and we cleared it using only hand tools (and machetes!  I need to get me one of those…).  It took the better part of two weeks!  We ended up singing many labor songs, often to the tune of “Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It’s off to work we go.”  We would create verse after verse, trying to give everyone a chance to add in whatever form of torture they were experiencing.  This reminds me of labor songs that must have kept many willing and unwilling farmhands sane while toiling away in the hot fields.  In the same vein, I think of people on chain gangs, rowers on huge ships and the other physical laborers singing and chanting together. Music, even in the worst and most trying of times, provides solidarity, escape and sometimes even JOY!

MORE April snow makes me turn to the music that makes me happiest: Led Zeppelin.

MORE April snow makes me turn to the music that makes me happiest: Led Zeppelin.

These days, I like to sing whenever the mood strikes me.  I make up songs about my animals (“Her name was Moki! Moki! Moki! Cooler than all the dogs…”), Ava (“Her name was Ava! Ava! Ava!/Silliest baby around”), Evan (“His name was Evan! Evan! Evan!”…do you see a theme here?), my students and the kids I take care of.  I’m not creative enough to craft an entirely new song, so I just parody tunes I know.  I’m a fairly terrible singer, but I’ve gotten to the point in life where I really don’t care what others think of inconsequential things like my singing voice.

I cannot help but sing songs about our furry friends

I cannot help but sing songs about our furry friends

When I was younger, I spent nearly every cent of disposable income I had on live music.  I would go to concerts, on average, three or four times per month.  Moving to more rural areas was hard at first.  What would I do with my free time? Now that I have a child, the idea of going to multiple concerts a month is kind of absurd, so it’s good I made that transition before Ava came along.  The music scene in Alaska isn’t that great, and most nationally known shows tend to sell out very quickly to people that aren’t even very big fans.  It’s such a luxury to see great live music that people will go to see just about anything!

Evan and I had the pleasure of seeing Moscow, Idaho’s own JOSH RITTER last Saturday.  It was a fabulous show in a new theater at the local community college.  One of the perks of music out here “in the valley” is that the venues are small so the shows are intimate.  The last time Josh Ritter played here (two years ago), he played in a local coffee shop with about fifty people!  How many people get to see fairly popular musicians in that kind of space?!

Josh Ritter at the Glenn Massay Theater in Palmer, Alaska.

Josh Ritter at the Glenn Massay Theater in Palmer, Alaska.

Josh doesn’t sing about farming, per se, but he is a modern folk singer that would appeal to any Farmgirl, I’m sure.  Some of his songs harken back to classic folk characters like Stagger Lee, but he also has crafted tunes about a woman falling in love with a mummy that has come back to life, men lamenting the problems in the world when their loves have gone to war, and some star crossed lovers who find love waiting to push a warhead button to start WWIII in a missile silo, among many other themes.  His voice is soothing and enveloping, his rhythm is flawed, and he definitely has some Farmboy charm. (Check out those two links, I think you’ll like his music a lot! He also did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert a few years ago check it out here, and another live NPR concert that is streaming here).

Another music opportunity in our community!  Ava's first orchestra?

Another music opportunity in our community! Ava’s first orchestra?

Do you have any Farmgirl gems?  A new season is upon us and some new music is in order!  I will start my farming gig next week, and some new (new-to-me classics definitely count!) music to share with my co-farmers would be great!

I just had to share this sweet photo.  Our good friends Bix and Emma left Alaska last week, and this is Bix walking with Ava for the last time in a long time.  Sad Face.  Perhaps I should parody a song for this moment.

I just had to share this sweet photo. Our good friends Bix and Emma left Alaska last week, and this is “Uncle” Bix walking with Ava for the last time in a long time. Sad Face. Perhaps I should parody a song for this moment.

Until Next time,

Sending you peace, love and beautiful harmonies,

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl Continue reading

In the Year 1970…

Earth Day was born. Happy 45th Birthday, Earth Day!

I think this is why I don’t remember it from my childhood school days. It was too new. Nobody was doing anything to celebrate, recognize, or acknowledge April 22nd, Earth Day. It just sort of snuck up on me later in life.

Later this week I’ll dress up as Grandmother Earth (I made her up as one of my “characters”, she’s the Mother of Mother Earth) and head to a local school.

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Taking Up The Rear




I’m not very competitive by nature and when it comes to a competitive sport I’m usually quite happy to be the cheerleader on the side lines.  But back in the Fall before this long, cold winter my daughter in law challenged me to run a half marathon.  She and my son have run numerous marathons together and they recognize the power in the motivation behind it!

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It’s About Time…


Technology’s transformed us, changing how and what we do, from performing all sorts of tasks to communicating. Times have changed so drastically in the last  hundred years, it’s mind boggling! Smart phones have impacted our daily lives, with ‘apps” for everything; bringing on the disappearance of some everyday items (when’s the last time you saw an actual pay phone)?

I’m not anti-technology, but am sad to see some things vanish. Email has replaced hand-written letters. Wiry, corded phones weren’t as convenient, but we did have to actually stop and talk to callers, and they always worked when the electricity went out. Calendars are virtually non-existent, and when I’ve asked my Girl Scout troop to take meeting notes, they pull out their phones. Cursive’s a dinosaur. (I think how unique each person’s penmanship is. My grandmother’s handwriting was beautiful. My father’s is, too).

This hat box is filled with old letters, some from loved ones passed.

This hat box is filled with old letters, some from loved ones passed.

What I think I’ll miss most are clocks. Not everyone wears a watch, but chances are, everyone has a cell phone! How will that evolve with the new iWatch? I recently caught a glimpse of the news, featuring a 911 call released after a traffic accident. A gentleman performing CPR was in disbelief, when asking for someone to time him. Not one person in the crowd had on a watch! Many people don’t own an alarm clock or can even tell time without a digital display.

Once while teaching knitting, a seven-year old student was perplexed by the sound of the wall clock. She’d never noticed the tick-tock before. When asked if she could tell time, she answered, “I look at Mommy’s phone”.

Beautiful timepieces have long been a part of decor, and a big part of history. Think Big Ben or the clock at Grand Central Station. A lovely timepiece would harken a special event, or become a treasured family “member”. Recently, I was out with one of my friends when we decided to check a Goodwill store for antiques. There, behind locked glass, were two beautiful clocks.



I loved the 1954 black enameled clock, and my friend the other. Made by Schatz, the clocks are called “400-Day Clocks” or “Anniversary Clocks”. They were meant to be wound only once a year with a brass key, marking a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Made in Germany from the 1880’s on, they were most popular in the 1950’s as wedding gifts, but known more for their beauty than their accuracy.  Missing paint and without keys, we figured even if the clocks didn’t work, they’d be pretty vintage decor.


A true Anniversary clock doesn’t use electricity or batteries, but mechanics encased beneath a glass cloche. They must be perfectly balanced in order to run, and can be costly to repair. Setting must be done ever so gently. I got mine to run, but it took three nervous people and a borrowed key! We tiptoe past, and I hold my breath when vacuuming. With daylight savings time I’m afraid to set it again! Still, I find it’s spinning movement mesmerizing.


Growing up, we had a wooden Schatz Cuckoo clock, a present to my parents from friends stationed in Germany. I remember the thrill of the little cuckoo alerting the hours, and I’d run to catch a glimpse before he’d disappear again. I remember the sound as Daddy would wind it each week. As an adult, hearing that cuckoo was a trip back in time.


I’ve wished for a grandfather clock forever. My friend Andrea has one her grandfather bought second hand. Made in Germany in the 1920’s by Mauthe, it sat in her grandparents’ hallway for decades. The clock was referred to like a person. Andrea’s grandmother would say, “Grandfather is whispering”, whenever it chimed, and when in repair they’d say “Grandfather’s in the hospital”.  It sits in Andrea’s hallway now. The pendulum, made of wood, expands and contracts with the air moisture, which can cause the clock to run fast or slow depending on the season.



For my birthday recently,  my husband bought me a Grandmother clock at a tag sale. (Grandfather clocks are over six feet tall. Over five feet but under six, it’s called a Grandmother). In a friend’s basement for years, we bought it for less than a nice dinner out! We cleaned it up and got it running, though we’ve yet to get it chiming. She’s a beauty, USA-made in the 1920’s.



This is one of a few scenes on my clock. My favorite is the moon face.

The value of a vintage mechanical clock is in its movement; monetarily you’ll never get back what you put in. Experts are needed for cleaning and repair, and can be difficult to find. Vintage timepieces are temperamental; owning one is like owning a pet or having a living being in the house. Still, I think they’re a beautiful way to witness time fly.

Are you a clock lover? Do you still wear a watch? What other blasts from the past do you see disappearing? Leave me a comment and let me know ya stopped by!

Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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Sea Dreamin’

Here we are looking all magazine-y!

The sea lives in every one of us ~ Wyland

Dear sisters,

Why do I feel as if its been forever since we’ve been to the beach together? That’s just not right! I AM the BEACH Farmgirl after all! Truth be told, we haven’t been able to access our Lil’ ole beach since sometime in January and before that it was too darned cold! To quote our daughter, ” the beach is for summer “. I get it. However, weather permitting ( and drivable roads) we traditionally kick off a new season at the beach by celebrating Easter with our dear friends and family on the shorelines. We made it! Continue reading


“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

~Mark Twain

We found an egg, success!

We found an egg, success!

I did it.


I made it forty days and forty nights with no very few sweet treats.  It was hard at first.  After a couple weeks, however, it was easy and felt really great!

Even though I ate a few things here and there, I was definitely not bingeing on cookies, sneaking brownies or scarfing down chocolate during stressful times.

We have been eating more fruits and veggies and dabbling in alternative “sweets” (I’ve included a recipe for butter mints at the end of this post!).  I’ve been sleeping better, feeling more energetic and saving money, to boot.


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Springy Thingys

There is so much to love, appreciate, enjoy about springtime.

And yet, there is one thing that my soul-horse, Merlin, detests about it.


But let’s start with the good.


Everything is turning green.


The fields, the hills, the meadows, the trees.

But not my wild asparagus patch in the middle of the field. That’s the brown feathery lump to the left in this photo.

I took a stroll down the road the other day for the first time since Fall.

This swing beckoned me.


So I swang.

Been forever since I swang in a swing like this. High, Higher, Highest. Brought back lots of swinging memories from when I was a kid. Air borne!


The skies!
Do you see the blue in those skies? BLUE-ti-ful!

When I walked back home, I went by the Old Baptizing Sycamore Tree. The tree under which folks have been baptized in the creek for at least a 100 years.


White bark. Blue skies. Look at that deep blue sky.

And then I took a photo looking back at my Farm from the tree. Look at that interesting shadow. Question mark. Yes, I have lots of questions these days. You? Yeah, we all do.


One thing about Spring is that the hens are laying well again. Here’s a bucket of our Easter Eggs. Why an old tin bucket for an Easter Basket you ask? And is that real hay instead of colored plastic grass from the store?


You see.

My boxes of Easter decorations are in the attic.

Remember about my attic?


So, we made do with what we could find NOT in the attic.


I always enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt. Even before I had a child, I’d dye eggs and have a hunt.

Here are a couple of favorite photos from our little hunt this year.

This is THE CLASSIC place for an Easter Egg to be hidden. Classic! In my childhood, in my adulthood, in my everything. An egg must be hidden in the greens of a blooming daffodil. It is required. Is there a place like that from your history of egg hunts? THE place?


And this was one of my favorite spots this year. My daughter did the hiding on this round. So creative! I did the finding. Almost missed it!


One thing I enjoy on other people’s farms are all the babies.

As I drive to town, I pass just born calves, goats, sheep.

It takes my breath away every time.

I love seeing them on other people’s farms.

As for me, I don’t want any babies right now on my farm. I’m good. I have my hands full.

Like, Lola. You remember my chicken Lola? I thought she was injured. But you were right. The vet came and diagnosed her with bumblefoot. He treated her and now I spray her foot several times a day with Vetericyn. She is eating and drinking, just isn’t mobile. She keeps her other foot curled up under her. :(


Do I want any eggs to hatch this year? Do I want chicks? No. No, I do not.

Here’s a cutie we saw down by the creek. I bet it has spring babies already.

Do you see it? I think it had made a home in those rocks. Hmm…let’s call him Rocky Raccoon.


I never know what to do with all those dyed, boiled, cracked Easter Eggs after the festivities are over. I think this year I’ll leave them out for Rocky R.

And how’s this for a change of pace?

I am outside being WILD and FERAL in this spring weather.

Mustache Cat is on the back of my loveseat looking out the window.

He is inside. I am outside. Ha!

Lately, I’ve been calling him “H.C.” “House Cat.” He has no interest in the OUT any more.


So, can any one guess what Merlin dislikes about SPRINGTIME?

Think about that for a minute while I show you my Angel Merlin getting X-rayed.

He has had an injury on his front leg. We have been watching it for a while. It seemed to get better, then it got worse. My friend, who is a horse person, thought it was a SPLINT. However, when it changed form and wasn’t healing, she wanted me to have it checked out by a Vet. That’s what the Vet is doing here, X-raying my Merlin’s leg. Merlin doesn’t love the process. He is concerned about the radiation. I told him what my dentist office always tells me. No, don’t worry. You get more radiation than that at the airport. Or when you talk on your cellphone. Merlin said he had never been to an airport and that I still refuse to allow him a cellphone.


What Merlin has in indeed a SPLINT. The doctor advised stall rest. But we don’t have any stalls. “Well, he must not be worked until this heals.” Let me see. When was Merlin last “worked”? Oh yeah. In January when we went on the Polar Ride. He has a very easy life here. Not much WORK.

I’m trying to keep him quiet and calm. And I have ordered him a SPLINT BOOT to support the leg while it heals.

But what he HATES about spring?

I must remove him and his herd from the lush, sweet, spring grass in the front pasture. He is already a bit plump. And I have two other horses that are gluttons. So we have to limit their intake. You know that amazing sweet smell the first time you mow your grass in spring? That’s from the sugars in the grass that have been hanging out all winter just getting sweeter and sweeter. Just like the rich sweet maple syrup flows, so do the sugars in grass. For horses, it can mean trouble. Their bodies can’t process all the sugar.

So Merlin and his herd stand and stare across the driveway at the sweet delicious grass that they have been ordered off of. Merlin will soon get moody and mad about the gate that separates him from the spring smorgasbord. I will have to go out and have a talk with him, reminding him of all that he has to be thankful for. Like not having to go through an airport.

And hey, he has ME, who is and always will be….his. I mean, come on, what else could he want in a soul-person?

He has his herd, who adores and follows him everywhere.

He has a warm, dry barn. It provides shade and cool in the hot summer. Warmth and dry in the winter.

Oh yeah. He also has the upper pasture with lots of yummy grass.

(by the way, this is not a recent photo. I haven’t hiked up there yet this spring!)


And come summer and the first cutting of hay, he can have his front pasture back.

So, I loved winter. It was an awe-inspiring, snowy, cold winter here.

But, welcome springtime. Time to burst open.

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of Love, Rebekah

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That Flaky Goodness!




Do you have a food that speaks to you?  That tells you all is well and life is good?  I’ve got several different foods that do that for me, but one of my very favorite is home-made, fluffy, right out of the oven biscuits!

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