Pinch me. I keep thinking that these beautiful days, this week, are a dream.
Summer has arrived (perhaps not quite on the calendar, but definitely here on the farm) and it is a stellar one!
It's days like this that leave my heart so full of contentment, I long for them to never end.
As we finished up morning chores, the farrier came to work on the herds' hooves... a necessary service every 8 weeks... done to keep feet and legs healthy. These visits are always uneventful, as far as the herd is concerned. Everyone minds their manners and does what is asked of them.
Everyone, that is, except Sammie - who insists on slinking around beneath hooves looking for tasty (stinky) hoof trimming treats!
Above our heads are the barn swallow "row homes"... three this year,
with mammas and papas coming and going all day long... always staying out of the reach of two black Beatrixes.
While the farrier trims and files, I sit at their head and have a little snuzzlefest. Typically, and yesterday was no exception, one of the barn kitties, Moll, comes into the donkey yard for a little attention.
As I snuzzle with Daphne, Moll rolls onto her back to have her belly scratched. If only I had more hands! Luckily, yesterday, I had just enough hands to attend to everyone who needed a little special loving.
With everyone polished and shined, the gates are opened and the herd goes out for some pasture time - although later than most mornings, it is still luxuriously cool out.
There's no place more peaceful than in the midst of my herd as they nibble away on the grass in the pasture. It's the perfect tonic to keep one's blood pressure on even keel.
Normally, Hubbs and I split the farrier visit in half. Hubbs takes the first half and I finish up the second... so that I am the one that deals with the donkeys - whom Hubbs swears hate him, but never give me an ounce of trouble. Truthfully, my donkeys and I are deeply bonded. But, I digress....
While Hubbs was busy getting Red and Ollie in the stall aisle for the farrier, I was off having an adventure of my own. I had stopped by the sheep yard, where the pigs were happily grazing. Never missing an opportunity to visit with Ginger and, especially, MaryAnn... I opened the large gate to the sheep yard and locked it behind me. MaryAnn came right over...
and laid down (as she always does) so that I could rub her belly. Note the smile:
Then I happened to notice that Ginger was on the opposite side of the fence, happily skipping down the lane through the orchard.
Apparently she had found another gate that had not been locked earlier, and slipped out. Off on an adventure (in search of better food, no doubt) she went. Do-do-do-do-do.....down the lane, past Maven Haven and almost to the main driveway leading to the house. Oh what fun she would have if she discovered my pantry!!
I dashed to the treat box, a mailbox located on the fence between the pigs and sheep yards, and rattled the wrapper hoping to entice her back. Do-do-do-do-do.... she just kept skipping along, on her happy-go-lucky, little high-heeled feet. I jogged after her (if you know me, you know that I am not a runner... never have been). Finally I got close enough for the sound of the graham cracker wrapper to overpower her senses and she turned on her heels and came running towards me. Not wanting to reward naughty behavior, I made her wait until she was safely back in her own yard before giving her a treat.
And of course, because she got a treat, MaryAnn and the sheepy girls had treats as well. It just occurred to me that this might have all been a plot hatched by the seemingly innocent sheepy girls!
"Yes, that's it MaryAnn... you distract her with belly rubbins, and Ginger will escape. Then we can all have extra helpings of cookies! YAY!!!! Great idea!!" - A well thought-out plan by a couple of sheepish masterminds!
I'm on to you girls!
By late morning, it was time to bring the horses back in from the pasture and also clean up their calling cards.
As I drove the gator around the pasture looking for manure piles, I had my ever-present velcro cat on my lap. Griz has turned into the sweetest, lovingest kitty. If he had his way, he'd be attached to us 24/7.
As I drove through the pasture, I was elated to see that the wild day lilies had begun to bloom...
as well as the wild roses that grow on the rocky hillside across the road from the front pasture.
Where just a few weeks ago, the old log cabin was surrounded by vibrant spring colors, it now floated in an emerald sea of tranquility.
Once back at the house, I was greeted by the tiniest ruby throated hummingbird on the step from the garage into the house. He had obviously gotten caught in a spider's web and could not fly. I gently picked him up (he weighed nothing) and cleaned all of the web off of him.
Then I took him to the feeder, hoping he might take a drink. He seemed a little dazed and tired, so we sat for a while with me just gently holding him.
Eventually he tried to fly and ended up in the greenery next to the house. When I went back to check on him later he was no longer there, so I am hoping he recovered and flew away. To me, there is nothing more precious than these tiny creatures. I hate the thought of one perishing.
With a little free time saved for the afternoon, I started the process of making vanilla extract. I had found Madagascar vanilla beans at a spice shop in Pittsburgh last weekend.
To make vanilla extract, I simply sliced the beans in half and placed them into a large bottle of vodka and then set them inside one of the closed cabinets in my pantry. Here, in the dark, the vanilla beans will turn the vodka into vanilla extract over the next few months. Easy as can be!
With blueberry-picking season just around the corner, I made a blueberry buckle to help use up last year's frozen berries.
And then with a little time left in the late afternoon, I began to draw this photograph that I had taken with the hopes of painting it. This project will take me a few days...
The evening was spent tending to animals, watering the garden and working on the current knitting project- a perfect summer day spent the perfect way. As I closed my eyes and let sleep wash over me, my heart was filled with gratitude.
It may not be a life that everyone would want, but, to me... I could imagine no other.
Lastly, Happy Birthday to my big little man, Tyler. No matter how old you get, you'll always be my first little buddy!! Believe it or not, he turns 11 today! Where has that time gone!!
And with that, it just occurred to me, that Ginger and MaryAnn are now ten!