Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Time Visits, Lounging Dogs, Bloody Sheep Heads <---Farm Life Continues

June was a pretty good month on the farm. H.'s boyfriend M. came for an extended visit, and it was quite lovely to add him to the relatively tiny social scene we have going on around the property. Also, the addition of N. and L. (two intrepid young men from Minnesota/Wisconsin) led to a more robust milking force, which gave me and H. a little break from doing quite so many shifts every week. When I started writing this post (before Blogger inexplicably deleted all of my text and made me start all over again) we had just said goodbye to H. And about two weeks or so before that we said goodbye to the boys. So it's kind of bittersweet to be recapping an era that has already and entirely come to an end. But such is farm life. On one evening the boys (which is how we refer to N. and L.) were going to sleep down at the beach with S. and A. H., M. and I weren't going to join for the sleeping portion, but we did come down for a visit

You can see their fire as a blip along the shoreline.
A. as fire seamonster.
My collection of mainly natural curiosities. From a deer's antlers found in New York State to our dear departed Penny's spurs and feathers. With Atlantic coast shells, Bahamian coral, Whidbey Island May Crown, cedar otter talisman made by W. for me, and paper cranes made by H. Altogether a pleasing display, says me.
In late May and most of June I found myself going on a number of dates with the same dude. On one such outing, we went to the beach and played cribbage, a game I only recently really learned. I won.
M., H. and me after dinner at the house one night.

What M., H. and Rodo look like when I'm standing on my porch and they're hanging out on the ground.
Elderberries I spied whilst driving a load of hay in the tractor.
Rodo found our new paper towel disposal system to work just as well as a bed. This is also a pretty good view of what one sees when milking sheep.

Last year there was much talk of L. and Fat T. coming to visit and play at the farm. There were tentative dates and everything...but in the end they went to Africa instead, which makes some sense. This year L. said she was really going to make it, and while I believed the sincerity of her desire to do so, I did not believe she was actually coming until she emailed me her confirmed plane tickets and itinerary. This is the photo I texted her on the day she was to come, which should illustrate how excited/chipmunky I felt about the whole thing. Fat T. couldn't come because he's too fat to fit on any plane, but maybe he'll lose some weight or they'll build bigger planes next year. Fingers crossed.
I picked L. up from the shuttle and drove her to the farm, where we quickly dropped her stuff off and then I took her on a tour of a life time...well, a tour of the farm. When showing her the 'upper lambs' we ran into S. filling up their water with panache.
Later that same day D. and G. were playing some music in Bayview, so L. and I went. It was entertaining and good as always, and allowed L. to see at least one small South Whidbey social ecosystem. This girl is just one of my all time faves, and having her finally see where I've been living and working for so many months was really exciting and important. She texted me from the highway impressed by the pretty, and I think became even moreso once she actually saw what the island can offer. Especially all the trees.

We took Rodo and Coco with us when we went and ran a farm errand and picked ourselves up some coffee. Coco is pretty intense with the face licking/biting. Rodo is generally not amused by her whatsoever.
And then it was time to show L. the beach.
I think we joined M., H. and A. down there...or they joined us? I forget the order. But we were all there and it was a good time.
Of course I wanted a photograph to prove that L. came and played. And of course H. is the master of taking many, many photographs when requested to do so. The following are just a few of the best from our friend photoshoot extravaganza. I kind of wish I had put the beer can down in at least one of them, but meh. RIP favorite sunglasses. You served me well at at least one Preakness and at least three summers.

Love love love.

We love each other and our double laugh chins love each other too.

And then we had M. take one million photographs of us as many good ones I couldn't decide, so here are a bunch.
Boat and Ranier in the background.

Here I think we were going for 'tough' or 'stern.'
Moods that we all embody differently, apparently.
And M.'s selfie since he didn't get to be in any of the group shots.

We went to Langley at some other point in time and L. found a magical staff and demanded the sea to recede, which it did.

An evening sky.
On L.'s last night T. came up from Seattle and we had dinner on the farm and then hung out with everyone around a fire. The next morning I had to milk and this was the view from my bed: Rodo and T. on the air mattress, L. beside me. Have you heard of gravity hugs? No? Ask me about them because they are awesome.
 A photo L. took of me delivering hay with Rodo. I was not posing as much as concentrating on not dying.
On another day ricotta was made. Sweet, sweet ricotta.
Totally out of order, from the first day L. came to the farm.
Garden poppies.
Another beach day. Another boy and his dog.
Tasty Prima foie gras.
Rodo spends more time in my comfy/ugly chair than I do.
The dates continued. This one featured darts. The games were all generally close, but I tended to clinch the bulls at the end of cricket. For example, double bull for the win. Eventually the dates ended. I think the best that can be said was that it was good for the most part, until it wasn't.
At some other point in time we moved about 40 sheep from one grazing area to another. With a smaller group we may have used a trailer, but we decided to walk 'em the 1/2 mile or so to the new digs. This was done generally well...only three sheep escaped our corralling forces.
But N., L. and I tracked them down, tackled them, and transported them to their rightful home via golf cart.
An always entertaining view.
More beach time funs.

N.  built Rodo a nice little shade tent.
An abandoned robins' nest became a lived-in swallows nest on my porch. One baby either fell or was pushed out. The nest was too high up for me to be able to put Charlie (what I named the baby) back in, so until a taller person could come and give us an assist, Charlie and I hung out.

I braided H.'s hair one night and realized I should have been doing such things far sooner and far more often.
Another shot of me and Charlie...except you can barely see him.
"I find almost everyone interesting. Perhaps because it always strikes me as quite strange that any of us is alive." A line that resonated from Mary Gordon's The Love of My Youth. One of many, really.
More beach times.
One night, after milking, H. and I were having drinks on her porch, and then N. and L. came by, and then G. and D. came by. D. and H. guitared/sang some songs. G., who is adept at all things illustrative/artsy, did a sketch of the scene, which is exactly accurate.
When Coco comes to the milking parlor to get her share of the milk, we put her on top of the sheep to keep her from chewing any number of things she shouldn't chew. She doesn't love this.
E. dispatched a ram lamb at some point for a private roast. It's messy and bloody work, but also, to me, strangely beautiful.
Perhaps not the best next photo, but this is the delicious egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce, cheese and avocado sandwich I made for myself one morning after milking. De-fucking-licious.
An afternoon where somehow I ended up with a gaggle of guys all hanging out on my porch.
I realized that the wine chilling device NC Catherine gave me for Christmas a few years back doubles nicely as a beer chiller.
In my first attempt at writing/captioning this post, I wrote a bit about how I know my body isn't perfect, but that I'm generally pretty pleased with it nonetheless. I think I'm probably as fit as I've ever been in my life. Certainly leaps and bounds stronger than I ever was when I lived in Philly and sat at a desk nine million hours a week. I hate exercise with no purpose, but I love using my body and feeling strong when there is one. Usefulness remains key, and if the consequences include having the confidence to wear a bikini, well then it's really coming up Milhouse.
Zombie beer swagger gut machine.
I braved climbing a ladder and then another ladder to check the grain level in the silo. Pretty high up. A good and different view of a piece of the farm. And the giant spider that lives on the roof.
And that's that. I wish I could rewrite certain passages I had included in the first draft. Waxing on topics including how much I like L. and other such things. But I just don't have it in me.