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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Retreat to a room of your own


In Victorian times, being able to provide a woman with “a room of her own” was a sign of wealth. In addition to the regular family living spaces, the lady of the house had a small space – sometimes an alcove off the bedroom (in one of those lovely castle-type turret towers) or a glorified closet off the kitchen, or a corner of the porch – where she could lose herself in a few moments of peace. She might keep her books, her needlepoint or sketch pad in there. And she might have a small bottle of brandy hidden in there somewhere, with which to lace her blueberry tea. Who are we to judge? Victorian times were hard!

Fast forward to the next century and the tradition continues, somewhat. Did your grandma or mom have a sewing or craft room that you were not allowed to enter? Turns out she didn’t just want to keep you out of her things. She was protecting her space. Her right to privacy. That sacred little room might be where she indulged her innermost thoughts and daydreams. She might have even shed a few private tears in there.

One thing that real estate brokers are noting through this pandemic is a trend of people moving out of the city and into the country. Everyone is looking for more space, to distance themselves from others and provide a layer of protection from the virus – but also for the mental health benefits. Something inside of us is pushing for isolation, peace and quiet. We are taking more walks in nature, spending more time in the kitchen, reading more. This situation is forcing us to spend more time alone with ourselves. Look around your home. Do you have a room of your own where you can retreat from the world, explore your artistic side, lose yourself in a good book or just sit and be alone with your thoughts?

We spend so much time connected to others through technology these days that we forget the benefits of alone time. If you have a small space that you can convert into a room of your own, now is your chance to transform it. Get rid of the clutter, separating things into piles of keep-recycle-trash. Give your space a fresh coat of paint or just move a favourite chair, lamp, or piece of art in there. It’s even better ‘head space’ if your room has a view. No one is going to judge if you turn your walk-in closet into your own private den. Just tell them it’s for your mental health.

Men have been doing this for years with their man-caves. The garage, workshop or basement is where they go to be alone with their thoughts and we are not supposed to mess with that sanctuary. Well, everyone needs a space to call their own. Decorate it and fill it with your special things and enjoy.

 


 

There are silver linings to this Covid cloud

  “I have a challenge for you. Tell me one way that this pandemic situation has been a GIFT in your life.” Here are some of the 75+ responses I received to this post on Facebook:

Lots of people strengthened connections:

“…Covid has allowed me to bond with my son...I’m happy to be locked down with wife and kids. Lots of laughs!...My 7-year long distance relationship turned into us co-habitating since April!.. I made some friendships even stronger by having real conversations… I was able to spend three months by my father’s side before he passed.”

Even some of the frontline workers can see the positive:

“It seems to have galvanized federal, provincial and county governments to almost conquer homelessness. Other charities and issues are suffering, but I think this focus on housing could be one of the blessings from Covid.”

We slowed down enough to notice things around us:

“…there seems to be more birds visiting our yard this year. Maybe we were home more and maybe it was quieter. Maybe we sat and watched and listened more. We definitely saw some birds we had never seen before including an Indigo coloured bird. We realized if we had to stay home, we were truly blessed to have a beautiful home to lock down in. We missed a milestone Anniversary Trip, but spent a beautiful day on the River enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us…”

“I'm discovering more and more local businesses to support!! …I’m saving money on my commute and spending locally…Every purchase means so much more to both the customer and the business. I'm even reaching out to local musicians to see if I can buy albums directly from them instead of going through a website. Put all the money in their pocket instead of website fees etc.”

Others focused on themselves:

“…I was able to focus on ME for the first time in a long time…I LOVE the slower pace and a forced break from my business and working pretty much every weekend for the last 13 years…I’ve been taking courses and doing a lot of reading…I've gotten to focus more on the art that I love to do. I'm able to practice and get better at my craft…My immune system is compromised right now so I don't go out much. It's broken my restaurant habit and I'm really enjoying cooking more often…I finally quit smoking after 10 years…I’m never going back to being too busy to really enjoy life.”

But perhaps of all the comments, the winner was:

“Not having to wear pants.”

As the end of 2020 approaches, it’s good to look back and count our blessings.

 


 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Waiting for the expiry date

 

 

“Today I will live in the moment. Unless the moment is unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie.” This is the message on my desk calendar. It’s kind of my mantra these days.

After the first few weeks of self-isolation, when the novelty of wearing yoga pants all day and never having to put gas in the car began to wear off, I started playing the game with expiry dates.

It is something I have been doing since I was a child. You pick up a carton of coffee cream, look at the date and imagine what might be different in your life by the time that date arrives. In the past, I have looked at the date and thought, “Huh. By the time this milk goes bad, I’ll be a married woman!” – or – “by the time this cream expires the baby will be here…”

No one could have guessed, back in February, that when we reached the late March expiration date on the carton, life would be very different indeed.

For a family that is accustomed to gathering en masse for Sunday dinner each week, this surreal period of isolation has been very hard. Coming from a journalism background, I realize I read far too much in the way of news and public health reports. My family is getting tired of having their very own Covid police officer.

Over the past nine months we have tightened up, relaxed, and re-tightened our restrictions. At the moment we are not supposed to be gathering outside our household. Again. It feels like a punishment. Does that mean we didn’t do it right the first time, so we have to do it again, for longer? Ugh. I feel like we have been collectively grounded, but we can’t remember our crime. Did we have fun, at least??

By the time we reach the date on my current carton of coffee cream, the year will be over. I am an eternal optimist, but I might need more than the few weeks on a dairy product to consider the future. So as we look forward to the end of 2021, I think we can all start thinking about the expiration date on this particular moment in time.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories. I’ll take science, and a vaccine, when it has been tested and proven effective. And then, when the threat has passed, we might have a huge outdoor party on the farm, with food and live music and a campfire, to celebrate the simple things in life. Like hugs. Harmony. Handshakes. This virus has an expiration date. This too, shall pass.

-30-moment. Unless the moment is unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie.” This is the message on my desk calendar. It’s kind of my mantra these days.

After the first few weeks of self-isolation, when the novelty of wearing yoga pants all day and never having to put gas in the car began to wear off, I started playing the game with expiry dates.

It is something I have been doing since I was a child. You pick up a carton of coffee cream, look at the date and imagine what might be different in your life by the time that date arrives. In the past, I have looked at the date and thought, “Huh. By the time this milk goes bad, I’ll be a married woman!” – or – “by the time this cream expires the baby will be here…”

No one could have guessed, back in February, that when we reached the late March expiration date on the carton, life would be very different indeed.

For a family that is accustomed to gathering en masse for Sunday dinner each week, this surreal period of isolation has been very hard. Coming from a journalism background, I realize I read far too much in the way of news and public health reports. My family is getting tired of having their very own Covid police officer.

Over the past nine months we have tightened up, relaxed, and re-tightened our restrictions. At the moment we are not supposed to be gathering outside our household. Again. It feels like a punishment. Does that mean we didn’t do it right the first time, so we have to do it again, for longer? Ugh. I feel like we have been collectively grounded, but we can’t remember our crime. Did we have fun, at least??

By the time we reach the date on my current carton of coffee cream, the year will be over. I am an eternal optimist, but I might need more than the few weeks on a dairy product to consider the future. So as we look forward to the end of 2021, I think we can all start thinking about the expiration date on this particular moment in time.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories. I’ll take science, and a vaccine, when it has been tested and proven effective. And then, when the threat has passed, we might have a huge outdoor party on the farm, with food and live music and a campfire, to celebrate the simple things in life. Like hugs. Harmony. Handshakes. This virus has an expiration date. This too, shall pass.

-30-



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Back in the saddle again

Now that Covid numbers are back on the rise, it’s time to come up with some creative ways to spend time with family and friends. When my daughter posted a photo of herself taking horseback riding lessons, I asked if I could tag along.

I haven’t been riding for over ten years. And even then, I was just refreshing my childhood knowledge of the basics. I didn’t even get past the level of a trot. Not on purpose, anyway. I was on a horse once who had ‘spring fever’ with a heat thrown into the mix. She took me on an unsolicited canter that had me laughing maniacally as I flopped around the ring. That episode marked the end of my last session of riding lessons.

I am a bit nervous around horses, as they tend to be unpredictable. Of course, horses are very sensitive so if you bring your nerves around them, it has the potential to be contagious. The instructor, Debbie Williams of Turnout Stables, has known me for about 40 years so she chose a horse that was particularly well-seasoned and easygoing for me to ride.

His name is Nigel. I once had a roommate named Nigel. He was from London, England, and he liked to make a teepee out of his toast in the morning after it emerged from the toaster, to make it crispy. As a result of this mental connection, I spoke to my horse with a British accent for the remainder of the lesson.

The horses were just being let into the barn when I arrived at dusk. I say let in and not led in, because the girls in the barn literally opened one door at a time to allow in their various charges, who seemed to know which stall was theirs. Some of them tried their neighbour’s stall first to see if they had better treats.

Once my horse Nigel was brought in, we attached the cross chains to each side of his halter and I introduced myself. I followed my instructor’s directions to brush the horse all over. I noted Nigel had huge burrs in his mane. He must have been rolling in the meadow that sunny afternoon. I always get nervous lifting the hooves to pick the mud out of them, but Nigel was fairly agreeable. To be honest, I think he slept through most of it.

Once in the riding ring, Nigel walked in a slow wiggle around the ring, allowing me to reacquaint myself with the necessary leg placement and hip movements. I gave him a tap with my bedazzled riding crop and we moved up into a nice trot. An hour of squatting, posting and bouncing gave me quite a workout, to which my muscles would loudly attest the next day.

Debbie says her riding school membership has multiplied exponentially since the beginning of the virus restrictions. I’m happy to be back in the saddle again. I will have to stock up on allergy meds, though. I just remembered I'm allergic. 

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Do like the Danes and find your Happy Hygge

 

As November approaches in Canada, that time of year between coloured leaves and sparkling snow, we prepare ourselves for the bleakness. To lessen the depressing effect of the damp chill that is coming, set yourself up for some good old-fashioned “Hygge” in your home.

The Danish cultural tradition of “Hygge” (pronounced “HOO-ga”) refers to the practice of gettin’ cozy. It’s about pulling ALL the pillows and blankets out of the linen closet and making yourself a huge nest in the corner of the overstuffed couch, in front of the fire, with a hot drink and a good book. Hygge is about lighting a scented candle and padding about the house in your flannel pj’s and slippers while your homemade soup simmers on the stove. But it’s much more than that. Hygge is about being in touch with your surroundings, whether they are indoors or out. It’s about building yourself a tiny piece of sanctuary – a retreat from the world.

If you’re truly looking to experience a moment of Hygge in your busy day, you need to eliminate distractions for a moment. Don’t worry – you only need about 15 minutes of Hygge to feel a positive, relaxing effect. So put your phone away, turn the radio and TV off and close your laptop. Find your comfy spot, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of your own breathing. Try to spend 3 to 5 minutes concentrating on nothing but the sounds inside your own body.

Hygge doesn’t have to be indoors. Maybe you feel more relaxed when you are in the great outdoors. This season might need a little help, so think about where you might be able to get yourself next to a source of heat like an outdoor fireplace or heater. Steal another tradition from the Scandinavians and heat a cheese sandwich over the flame. Just do yourself a favour and use quality sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese. It should be a complete experience for the senses.

You would think that Canadians have their own version of Hygge. Of course we do. It’s anything that you do that blocks out worry or stress. Like taking a bubble bath. Take a walk, or bike ride, or mystery tour in your car. Take time for some Hygge every day.

The best way to amplify the effects of your Hygge is to share it with others. During Covid that might mean picking up the phone (I know, but I’ll make an exception in this case) and calling a family member or friend. If it’s safe to gather in small bunches, consider inviting a few close friends or family over for a walk in the woods. Bring a thermos of cider or tea, and make sure you make plenty of stops, to listen to the forest around you. Breathe in the earth smells. Listen for the sounds of burrowing animals.

Practice regularly, all winter long. Happy Hygge.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Bird in the House

The cats told me there was something in the ductwork. The three of them were sitting on top of the boxed Christmas decorations in the basement, meowing and leaping, knocking garlands and ornaments to the floor in an attempt to reach the ceiling. Junior, feeling agile, managed to launch himself up and onto the ductwork. I don’t know how much weight that stuff can hold so I shooed him back down. The object of their interest was making a fair amount of noise in the tin and causing a great deal of feline excitement.

I told my husband I suspected something was trapped in the ductwork, again. It has happened at least three times before. Following the noise, I pulled the end off the pipe and the bird flew out to sit on a pair of cross country skis braced over the rafters. As usual the Farmer was no help whatsoever. He came downstairs, grabbed a broom and started waving it at her.

“What exactly is that supposed to accomplish??” I asked, exasperated. I directed him to stand back, as I turned out the lights and climbed up onto the shelving to reach the basement window. As the only source of light it was an obvious exit, if she could reach it before the cats did. She did.

“Now will you get someone to climb the roof and fix the screen on that chimney?” My husband doesn’t do roof climbing. He is not fond of heights. So we have a few spots that need attention before winter, if we don’t want to welcome other wild houseguests.

Some people say it is good luck to have a bird in the house. Others say it means a change is going to come. Still others believe it is a bad omen, or a sign that death is coming. It certainly has been a sign of death coming to the birds, anyway. This one was lucky that I was home to hear her in the inner workings of the ducts. Others have not been so lucky. I’m just glad it was a bird and not a squirrel. Those things freak me out.

But wait – I looked it up and apparently a squirrel in the house OR ON YOUR BED is a sign that you should let go of useless thoughts and forge ahead with your plans. A squirrel ATTACK is a sign that you will soon be blessed with luxury and a special relationship.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think having wild rodents in your home is an attractive quality in a person. Occasionally I hear a squirrel or some other little beast in the attic. We tried putting a live trap up there but they didn’t bite. We had better get a handle on this situation before winter. The last thing I need is some animal giving birth to an entire litter of critters between the walls of our house.

-30-??” I asked, exasperated. I directed him to stand back, as I turned out the lights and climbed up onto the shelving to reach the basement window. As the only source of light it was an obvious exit, if she could reach it before the cats did. She did.

“Now will you get someone to climb the roof and fix the screen on that chimney?” My husband doesn’t do roof climbing. He is not fond of heights. So we have a few spots that need attention before winter, if we don’t want to welcome other wild houseguests.

Some people say it is good luck to have a bird in the house. Others say it means a change is going to come. Still others believe it is a bad omen, or a sign that death is coming. It certainly has been a sign of death coming to the birds, anyway. This one was lucky that I was home to hear her in the inner workings of the ducts. Others have not been so lucky. I’m just glad it was a bird and not a squirrel. Those things freak me out.

But wait – I looked it up and apparently a squirrel in the house OR ON YOUR BED is a sign that you should let go of useless thoughts and forge ahead with your plans. A squirrel ATTACK is a sign that you will soon be blessed with luxury and a special relationship.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think having wild rodents in your home is an attractive quality in a person. Occasionally I hear a squirrel or some other little beast in the attic. We tried putting a live trap up there but they didn’t bite. We had better get a handle on this situation before winter. The last thing I need is some animal giving birth to an entire litter of critters between the walls of our house.

-30-





Thursday, September 17, 2020

I've become an agoraphobe

 

I once met a woman who had to rent out an entire restaurant just so she could go out for dinner. She was agoraphobic. Basically she only left home when forced / encouraged. She had all of her daily needs delivered to her, after ordering them online or over the phone. The UPS man, the grocery delivery person, the mailman and the Purolator courier knew her well. They left her purchases inside the covered porch, where they would not be damaged by wind, snow or rain. As per her instructions, they rang the doorbell and left, without saying hello.

Since the middle of March, many of us have been pretty much confined to our homes. I don’t know about you, but I think I am developing agoraphobia, to an extent. The only time I leave home (or the cottage), is to buy groceries. I don the mask, the hand sanitizer and I check off the items on my list, quickly and efficiently. Following the arrows on the aisles. Keeping my 6-foot distance from the other shoppers. I see someone I recognize, but I don’t call out their name or start a conversation. Why? I don’t know. I just keep moving. Trying not to touch things that I will not buy. Thinking about all of the hands that have touched, and all of the mouths that have potentially coughed on the things that I have put in my cart.

I know that it is entirely possible that I have become a bit paranoid. It’s amazing what the brain will do when you restrict its interaction with other human beings. I see the Farmer, of course, and other members of our “10”; our 5 daughters and their mates, pretty much. My mother. My sister. But when I’m out in public, I tend to be a bit freaked out, lately.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed a strange reaction to interacting with the general public following a period of self-isolation. In the winter of 2017 I worked on a compilation of columns, publishing a book. In April, after basically being home since December, I went to a networking event. I remember feeling slightly offended by the first person who made eye contact and asked me a question. I felt my privacy had been invaded. Weird? Yes. Normal? Probably. This was my first exposure to people outside my family group, in about 5 months.

I am nearing 5 months now of just family contact. I suspect the next time you see me out in public, I might be acting a little strange. It’s ok – we are all adjusting to the new normal. And we might be a little “weird” until we get used to each other again.

 


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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Just call me Batwoman

 The scritch-scritch-scritching between the walls was waking me in the middle of the night. At first, I was quite convinced that it was a squirrel, climbing the back wall of the cottage, entering through the last remaining unfinished section of the house and burrowing between the walls under the gabled roof. When I heard the noise, I made a fist and pounded the wall until, like a rowdy neighbour, it finally stopped. But I was wrong. It wasn’t a squirrel. It was a bat.

One night, I heard the noise coming from the closet. I opened the huge barn doors and out flew my little noisy friend. S/he soared awkwardly around the room, confused by the cabinets in its centre and the mosquito nets hanging over the beds. Finally she found a comfortable roost on the rafter, where she sat and stared at me. My heart pounding from the adrenalin, I remembered my father’s advice. I turned all the lights off inside, turned the patio light on, and slid the door open. Immediately a swarm of mosquitos and other bugs formed a cloud under the porch light. The bat flapped out the door and into the night to enjoy an easy meal. I slid the door closed and went back to bed, my heart rate returning to normal.

Two hours later I was awakened by the soft BOP of something against my forehead. The bat was back. And this time she was IN THE MOSQUITO NET WITH ME, flapping around aimlessly. She had been using me for bait! She must have been as alarmed as I was because when I opened the net she flew straight to the patio door as if asking to be let out. She didn’t return that night.

I shared my bat invasion story online and a friend offered me a spare bat house. Yes! That’s exactly what I needed, I thought. Four of us sat on the balcony that night and watched the bat swooping overhead, consuming her 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. I definitely want her to stay. Just not in my cottage. I can do without the toxic bat droppings turning to guano dust and polluting my environment.

The tiny little bat shack (about the size of a Kleenex box, open at the bottom), came with instructions. It said we should install the house about 4 metres off the ground on a structure that is 20 feet away from anything else, facing South-East. I hauled the ladder out and had the Farmer climb up and nail the house to a tree that had no low branches to confuse the blind bats. I took a picture (as you do), and posted it online.

Immediately I was scorned for my bat house placement. Apparently it cannot be on a tree, not because of branches, but predators. It needs to be painted with flat black non-toxic paint to gather heat or the 24 bats that can fit inside (24?!) will freeze to death. Ok. Back up the ladder we go.

-30-

 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

This dog has a purpose

When my first granddaughter was born, her mother’s yellow Lab, Rupert, was about 5 years old (or 35 in human years). Rupert had witnessed the births (and ensuing drama) of his housemate Beretta, a black Lab. He may have started to develop a protective instinct then – when puppies began to crawl out of the toddler pool-turned-whelping bed and wander through the house while the humans were away. He followed them and kept them out of trouble. Perhaps he even ushered them back to their mother, who no doubt appreciated the extra set of paws. But those were someone else’s babies. When my granddaughter was born, Rupert seemed to claim her as his own.

Rupert was introduced to the baby with a sniff of the receiving blanket she had been wrapped in at the hospital. When the snuffling, rooting creature was carried into the house and placed gently in the bassinet, Rupert took a good, long inhale of her scent. Then he wriggled beneath her bed and stayed there until his owner forced him to go outside for a pee. Rather than staying outside to romp and play with the other family dogs, Rupert returned quickly to the baby’s bed, where he stayed until she woke.

The dog followed that baby from room to room as she was carried around for feedings and diaper changes. As she grew, he sat under her feeding chair and cleaned up the scraps. When she crawled, he nudged her away from furniture toward the middle of the room. When she stood to walk, he was her escort, and her cushion when she stumbled and fell.

The first time she was snapped into a life jacket and placed between her mother’s knees in a canoe, Rupert stood on the dock, vigilant. He whined and paced while they set out without him. Then, over the next hour as the canoe travelled farther away along the shoreline and became a tiny speck in the distance, Rupert sat on that dock and never once took his eyes off his floating family. When they returned and the toddler was placed back up on the shore, he inspected her from head to toe to ensure that nothing had happened to her in his absence.

As his little girl grew and went off first to daycare and then to kindergarten, Rupert had to content himself with evenings and weekends, where he would once again follow the child from room to room, allowing her to dress him in costumes, sitting patiently on her picnic blanket as she served him pots of imaginary tea, supervising her baths and running to catch every ball that she threw in his direction.

Rupert is now almost 70 in human years. He conserves his energy, napping while the child is away. And now there is a new baby in the house. It will be interesting to see if he takes on the role of her protector as well.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Put your hands on those critters



One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given concerning the care of animals, is this: “put your hands on those critters.” This is what the Farmer suggested during my first week as a Farmwife, when I pulled on boots and gloves and ventured out to the barnyard to see what trouble I could get into.

The Farmer has always been a solitary creature, preferring to do most things on his own. He does occasionally need an extra pair of hands, however, and that’s where I come in. And he has learned that if the animals are comfortable with my hands, they are far more likely to agree with whatever sort of treatment we are trying to administer.

Take Ginger the cow, for example. She was so excited to see the Farmer approaching with a round bale of hay one winter morning soon after we bought her that she ran in front of the tractor and got herself impaled on one of the forks. For the next few weeks Ginger found herself penned up, receiving medical treatment on her wound. New to the farm, she didn’t trust us and kicked at any approach. I watched as the Farmer put the salve on the end of a pole and wiped it on her cut from a distance. Imagine how much easier that would have been if Ginger was used to being touched. Things were much easier with cattle that were born on the farm, because they were used to us being in their space, brushing them, checking their feet and moving them around.

The donkey, sheep and even the chickens got fairly used to having me in their living spaces, brushing them, handling them and feeding them treats. Some of them became quite tame. Others remained wild but not as mistrusting as they would have been if I had kept my distance.

Even dog training books recommend you get the animal used to you handling their sensitive ears and feet and checking their teeth. It’s much easier for a vet to treat a dog that trusts human touch.

One day I had a feral barn cat show up on the back porch with a huge swollen abscess on her cheek. I knew it would be difficult if not impossible to examine and treat her, as she was never one to allow human touch, even as a kitten. In the end we had to lure her into the house, corner her in the basement and catch her with a fishing net. Once trapped, she was resigned to her fate and lay quietly while the Farmer administered a shot of penicillin and I wiped antibiotic cream over her face.

If you have a barn full of animals, I highly recommend you get in there and put your hands on them, regularly. I have found visitors are also typically willing to assist in this exercise, especially where puddles of new kittens are concerned.
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love, generations, tolerance, people, hands, animals, happy ...

Monday, July 13, 2020

Has anyone seen the dog?



In recent days we have experienced a cacophony of loud noises at the cottage. The Farmer has been hammering to finish trim and the gabled end of the roof. Occasionally the air compressor lets out a large belch as it gears up for its next expenditure of power. These noises are startling to humans. To dogs, they are next-level disturbances.

Thunderstorms are another source of concern for the dog, and he knows when they are coming before we do. One slightly overcast afternoon we were just floating around on our inflatable unicorns, commenting on how the sky appeared rather ominous at the distant end of the lake. Suddenly we realized Fergus, who had most recently been barking at us from the dock, was missing. We thought he was protesting the fact that he couldn’t join us on our floaties. Perhaps he was trying to alert us to the coming storm. In any case, he was gone.

We had just enough time to gather our things and head up the hill when the skies opened and the wind started blowing sideways. The thunder boomed as we entered the cottage. We found Fergus upstairs, wedged in the dark space between the wall and bed.

The situation reminded me of my sister’s dog, Mandy. The Rottweiler-mix was not a small dog, but she was terrified of thunderstorms. As soon as the barometric pressure began to change, she would blast through the screen patio door to safety. Upon hearing the weather report on the radio at work or in her car, Mom would call home: “Open the screen door! Mandy’s going to bust through it!!” 
Sometimes we caught it on time. Mostly we didn’t. I think Mom replaced that screen door half a dozen times during Mandy’s lifetime.

On Canada Day, I got the great idea to buy some fireworks to send up over the lake. We started with the smaller ones, watching the dog to see how he would react. Fergus appeared to be doing ok with the explosions – he just kept running out onto the dock to where the Farmer was setting them off. Maybe he was trying to protect his master. In any case, we thought he was fine. Certainly he didn’t react the way he does in a thunderstorm. My daughter’s dog Vitor, however, was another story. While his mum and dad were lakeside, Vitor took off.

We searched every corner of the cottage and took a flashlight to peer under every parked car. Finally we found him (another Rottweiler mix, by the way), trotting down the road. I don’t know where he thought he was going. Maybe next year we will lock the dogs up with a movie and a snack before the fireworks begin.
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Fireworks - Wikipedia


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

It's hot. Find your spot.




I love this time of year when the leaves are popping out on the Virginia Creeper that I transplanted to the back porch. The Farmer built a trellis roof, much like they have in wine country. Soon we will have a living roof to shade and cool us.

A robin built her nest on the top of a post at the edge of our porch. The leaves of the vine have now sprung up to completely shield her brood from view. Two barn swallows sit on the knobby bits of the vine, watching for June bugs. They eat mosquitoes, too. They may be building a muddy nest atop the porch light but, as far as I’m concerned, they can stay as long as they like. They are earning their keep.

The vine also grows thick around, over and through the old log barn at the edge of the property. When you step inside the structure, the thickness of the logs and the vine insulation drop the internal temperature by at least ten degrees as compared to what is happening outside. Maybe this is what made one of our cows (Ginger) decide to force her way in through the single door one hot June day.
I was doing my morning rounds when I noticed a rather large cinnamon-coloured behind wedged in the entrance to the tiny building. Upon inspection, I could tell the cow had gotten herself firmly stuck.

“Oh, Ginger. What have you done?”

She just turned her head slowly round to peer at me, completely nonplussed over her situation. I put my shoulder against her rump and gave her a hearty shove. The logs gave an inch and in she went. She happily took up the tiny pen, rearranged herself and continued to chew her cud, looking at me.

“I suppose you want to stay in here? I’m going to tell the Farmer what you have done to his barn.”

The tiny feeding trough between the two little pens had been shattered by the cow’s bulk as she forced her way inside. My husband started the tractor and brought a big, fermented hay bale outside where the cow could smell it, and waited until Ginger squeezed her way back out of the building. The walls strained under her effort. Once she was out, he nailed a big board across the door.

The next day, which was even hotter and muggier, Ginger was back inside the log barn. She watched us through the tiny window as we approached.

“Well, it looks like she has found a place to get away from the bugs,” the Farmer decided.

Ginger was allowed to stay in the log barn. Like some sort of bovine fairytale princess, she had found her own little cabin in the woods to escape from the blackflies, mosquitoes, wasps and June bugs. I guess I’m lucky she didn’t try to get up on my shaded back porch.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

We're all poets and we just don't know it



“We are in a storm together, but we are not in the same boat.” I read that statement online and it really spoke to me. We are all trying to make sense of this surreal situation we find ourselves in. Life in one household during this pandemic may be completely different from the other houses on the street. In fact each household on one street may have a completely different experience during this strange period of self-isolation. Some are experiencing financial difficulty and anxiety about the future of their small business. Others are exhausted and frustrated from trying to work from home while also supervising their children’s home learning sessions. Still others are just feeling alone and cut off from the ones they love. But the fact that we are all going through something new and strange is drawing us closer together, and it’s doing something else. It’s bringing our creativity out.

Maybe it’s the silence. There is a lack of highway, train, plane and general industrial noise that normally pollutes our soundscape. It’s eerily silent. It’s actually quiet enough, that we can finally hear our own thoughts. And those are coming through, loud and clear, aren’t they? I know personally, that I have had my clearest, most inspirational thoughts come to me during times when I was forced to be quiet. I was laid up in bed with a fever (not recently, don’t worry), or in a location where I was happily cut off from the technological distractions with which we have so thoroughly encumbered our lives.

It could be an overwhelming of feelings and a desperate need to express ourselves, that is causing this burst in creativity. It could also be that we have been creative all along – we just don’t normally make time for these types of pursuits. Normally our days are broken up by what is known in the corporate world as ‘high revenue’ activities (our jobs or businesses) and practical things we need to do to get through the day (eating, sleeping, and caring for our families). How often do we make time to be creative? I think that the need to express ourselves artistically is clearly emerging and claiming its place on our hierarchy of needs, right up there with food, sleep and some sort of regular human interaction.

I think this is another reason why we go to the Internet so often during stressful, unprecedented times like the one we are in right now. We are looking for solidarity and like minds. We may not be able to clearly express our thoughts until we see them written out by someone else, in a meme. There! That’s exactly what I was thinking! (Like, Share.)

And for those who do have an overflow of words tumbling out of them right now, in an effort to make sense of it all, there is poetry. If you go to Facebook and search Quarantine Poetry, you will find a whole inventory of creativity born in isolation. On Facebook, my friend Katie Nolan posts a daily #covidhaiku. This is one of hers, following the 5-7-5 syllable rule: 

Social media – Increases anxiety – And yet, here I am.

And for those who are not on social media, a quarantine poetry chain mail is going around, via email (and possibly good old fashioned snail mail as well). I recently received a poem in response to my story about Forest Bathing, so I will be submitting it to the quarantine poetry chain. It goes like this:

Skipping Stones
                                Poems are like stones
                                Skipping across the water
                                Wherever they touch
                                A new world begins
                                And where they finally
                                Come to rest
                                The truth is not far away.
                                                                Murray Kelly, 2020                              
Springtime normally makes me feel like doing something wild with my hair, getting my hands in the earth and writing a poem about new life. This year I’m reading the poems of others around the world who are feeling rather uncomfortable with this particular plot change, including this:

“The cycle of unfinished tasks, completed in a noiseless room…the silence becomes unsettling and I am left to worry…like a bruised little bird, too confused to fly…not knowing, when I will be let out.” ~Didi Kasana, Vienna, Austria.

If anything, this Covid-19 situation is a reminder to all of us that our life’s plan can change at any minute. And our “new normal” might mean social distancing for the foreseeable future.
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 Photo of Person Writing on Notebook · Free Stock Photo




When this is over, things should never be the same


 (please forgive my attempt at poetry)...

When this is over, never again
Will I take for granted, the embrace of a friend,
The hug of a child, around my knees
The ability to dance, with ease  
At a concert, a party, a bustling pub
Our hands will touch. Our shoulders will rub.
We’ll share this thing that we call life
But for now…there is strife
There is fear…for us all
And so we must heed the call
Sit at home, stay apart
But look around, have a heart
What is this? Something new
The world ahead for me and you

The things that were important to us a month ago, just before this period of self-isolation began, seem kind of trivial now. What value would I place on being able to pull my granddaughter into my lap and read her a book? To kiss my daughters on both cheeks? To hug my mother tight?

A virus has brought us to our knees. I remember reading this forecast not too long ago. There have been many prophecies and much soothsaying but I heard from more than one source the idea that the next World War would not be fought with guns but with germs.

And no – I’m not buying into the conspiracy theory that this virus began in a laboratory – there is no proof to back up that particular story. But it seems that Covid-19 is having a more widespread, global effect than any other type of bomb would have. Everyone is affected. Even if you manage to escape contracting the virus and having your health compromised, even if your job is safe and you can pay your bills, your life is being affected because, like everyone else, you can’t do the things you used to do, right now. But I do believe there is something good to come of this.

In the earlier part of the 19th century we had an Industrial Revolution. The world became mechanized and automated. In the early 20th century, the automobile was introduced and by the end of the First World War, many families had a car. After WWII, factories ramped up production to bring the global economy back up where it was before the war effort shut it down. Maybe we are heading for our own Revolution. Let’s hope it is one that leaves less of a carbon footprint than the last.

While our leaders, scientists and healthcare workers fight the battle for us on the frontlines and our essential services workers keep the home fires burning and our bellies fed, the rest of us are shifting our priorities, paring down, and getting back to basics. We are learning that we can do without some of our previous habitual luxuries. Yes, some of us will go back to getting our hair and nails done by a professional someday…but will we all go back to working outside the home? Perhaps not.

It might take a while for many businesses to repopulate their core staff. Many will decide that they did just fine on a lower headcount, after being forced to lay off dozens when Covid-19 shut things down. I have no doubt that several industry leaders will discover the benefits of a smaller bricks and mortar presence, relying instead on a core work force that is primarily working remotely from their homes. It makes good financial sense, and many companies have been thriving with a 100% remote workforce for years. The rest of us just discovered that it can, and does, work. I wonder what the effect will be on air pollution over big cities if the majority of the workforce no longer drives to work 5 days a week?

We are already discovering, after just one month, how the reduction in industry is clearing up smog in places like India. Residents there are enjoying better views of the Himalayan mountains, and beyond the city lights they can even see the stars in the night sky for the first time in ages.

When this is over, let’s remember to take our long, solitary walks in nature, and let’s continue to meditate, exercise and do the things that are helping to reduce our stress during this anxious time. When this is over, let’s appreciate the things we are missing now, like dinners with friends and visits with our seniors as well as huge sporting events and rock concerts.

And when this is over, let’s remember that for many generations now, humans have been actively polluting the environment. Our daily activities have been the problem. We have been the scourge on the Earth.

Let’s not miss the opportunity to change that, somehow.
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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Come bathe in the forest with me


man walking trip free photo



“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

“Let’s go for a walk.” The activity of walking is often compulsive – it’s what our brains yearn for when the chaos of everyday life reaches maximum volume. Many people like to wear earphones when they walk so that they can listen to music or take in a favourite podcast. Keeping up with a dance beat might be good for your cardio fitness, but that isn’t why I walk. I walk to reap the benefits of nature.

Our 200-acre property includes rocky meadow, open field, and forest. My favourite place to walk is in the forest. The Farmer even cut a swath through the woods with his ATV, bush hog and chainsaw so that I can follow a trail in any season on foot, snowshoes or skis. It’s a bit mucky on that trail right now, but soon it will be dried up enough for me to resume my forest treks. At the moment, I stick to the perimeter of the forest.

Turns out there is a name for this blissful walk in the woods. It’s called “Forest Bathing.” You aren’t bathing in water, but rather the energy, scent and sound of the woods. The forest is abundant with life. Everywhere you look, there is evidence of wild things. A pile of droppings alongside the path, a scratch mark on the nearest tree trunk. And then there are the trees.

All around you, majestic trees reach for the sky. Their roots trip you up and their branches tickle your face as you invade their territory. In one remote corner of our property there is a stand of four massive trees, with trunks the circumference of a California Redwood. Someone has built a ladder into the side of one of the trunks, so I climb up. I step onto a platform and survey my kingdom.

According to www.mamanatural.com, Forest Bathing has the following benefits: time.com
·         The creation of virus-fighting cells (would be handy right about now)
·         Decreased risk of heart attack.
·         Protection against obesity and diabetes.
·         More energy and better sleep.
·         Mood-boosting effects.
·         Decreased inflammation.
·         Clearer, more comfortable skin.
·         Soothing relief for sore muscles.
So if you walk in the forest on a regular basis you should be slim, muscular, well-rested, happy, energetic and immune from the coronavirus! (Invalidated).

The practice of “forest bathing” was initiated by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the 1980s. It is not a workout. Forest bathing is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural surroundings of the forest. Soak up the energy of the trees. Listen to the sounds of scampering rodents, twittering birds and (possibly) bounding deer crashing through the underbrush. Allow your senses to awaken. Breathe in the damp, wild scents of moss, bark and ferns. Feel the difference in temperature as you step into the natural cool of the woods. Allow the dappled sunlight to filter refracted, through the trees onto your face.

Forest bathing is the opposite of meditation, because you are summoning all of the energy of the forest into your being, rather than emptying your mind of all thought besides your breath. Feel the energy of the forest transfer to your own cells. It’s better than an espresso or a Red Bull. For full effect, remove your shoes. Not for the full walk, because you might impale your tender instep on a twig. But stand tall, reach your arms up over your head, extend your fingers to the sky, wriggle your bare toes into the earth. Breathe.

This is the forest. This is life. It’s free, it’s eternal, it’s here for all of us. Why not try a forest walk this week? Bring the whole family. We used to do this as kids. We called it a nature walk. Bring something to collect your treasures: pine cones, coloured leaves, bird nests, acorns, ferns, pussy willow, red dogwood branches. You can make a spring arrangement for your front step when you get home.

During this time of self-isolation, we are all looking for ways to relieve stress and anxiety, work out the kinks, exercise the body and clear the mind. Forest bathing sounds like the perfect solution. The Ferguson Forest Centre is accessible to everyone, as is Limerick Forest. Just remember – if you round a bend in the path and encounter someone else standing there, barefoot, give them a smile and a wave, from a safe distance of 2 metres.

Be well.


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Monday, March 23, 2020

This is our generation's shared experience



Your grandparents might remember World War II. That was the last time something took over the global consciousness this way. We are all affected by this viral pandemic. It’s surrounding us, reaching us at every level, on every media channel. And for good reason. But unlike WWII, we do have some control over how this goes. Each of us is a factor in how this plays out.

A year ago I was packing for a trip that would begin in Italy. How many people did I see in the streets of Rome last April who are no longer with us? Experts say the outbreak there completely overwhelmed their medical infrastructure. It gained speed and strength due to the fact that people were just doing what they always do: meeting in parks and coffee houses, kissing on both cheeks, greeting each other with a warm hug before spending the next few hours discussing the situation at great length over a bottle of Chianti. Italy is not Italy right now. It’s under lockdown measures, in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of this virus that is minor to many but deadly to others. As I write this, 793 people died in one day in Italy. Let’s hope and pray that was the peak. Now that everyone is practicing self-isolation, the virus will not be able to find a host. Spring will come. The warmer temperatures will stifle the virus, and life will slowly return to normal over the course of the summer.

In our part of the world it is more the self-isolation than the actual virus that seems to be affecting lives in a negative way. I know it’s hard, for those who are suffering financially during this time. Some are laid off, others are seeing their livelihood shrivel up as customers stay away, people stop spending, and everyone stays home. But we do live in a country where our interests are protected. It may take some time, but the government will bail us out. Every last one of us. Have faith.

This period of the unknown can be rather unsettling, even for those of us who don’t typically struggle with anxiety. I thought I was handling the situation quite well, until I realized I had cleaned every flat surface in my house until it shone. I am a stress cleaner. You can literally eat off my floor right now. When times get scary, I don’t freak out. I just turn around and say, “Where’s my mop?”

Yesterday I even found a recipe for gluten-free blueberry scones on my phone and took over the kitchen to whip up a batch. I guess I’m a stress baker too. Not a very good one, but it did take my mind off the news for an hour or so. My daughter (another stress cleaner) says we do it because it is something we can control. Well, that makes sense. Carrot muffins are next.
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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Surviving the dog days of winter



We have all heard of the expression, “dog days of summer”. In our house, those are the 30+degree days when our Golden Retriever lies over the air conditioning vent on the cold tile floor in the guest bathroom, groaning like a teenager. He hates the extreme heat. I told him the basement floor is even cooler but there are cats down there. He puts up with the cats (they were here first, after all), but he can’t relax around them. They can’t be trusted. So he suffers upstairs.

If the hottest days are the dog days of summer, then the winter equivalent must be when there is so much snow, the Ferg can’t find his favourite item on Earth: Ball. After our last big snow I used the ball launcher to throw not one but three different coloured rubber balls into the same section of the yard. I always throw in this direction. He doesn’t seem to realize I can throw in other directions, and he never actually looks to see which way I am throwing, so to keep things simple I usually pitch in a northerly direction. He uses his nose, you see, to find Ball. He can find it under a certain amount of snow, but if there is too much white stuff, he loses the scent. We lost 3 balls last week. We will find them in the spring. I will buy reinforcements, and make sure I throw them right in front of him so they are easy to find. For Ferg, there is no quality of life without Ball. Especially in winter.

When it’s really cold out, Fergus goes for a quick trip out to relieve himself, then he sits at the door with Ball. He is a creature of habit so he will paw the door and give me the look…but if it’s too cold I will lure him inside with the distraction of a dried liver treat. It doesn’t take much convincing. His favourite spot on these cold days is right in front of the wood stove, on a sheepskin rug. At first, when he was a puppy, Fergus thought that lying on the pelt of another animal was a bit ridiculous. I used to laugh at the face he made every time I lay him down on the fluffy fleece. Now it’s his go-to, especially when it’s in front of the fire. Besides, there are 3 cats taking up his dog bed most days and he is too polite / intimidated to ask them to leave. He really only gets his bed at night when the cats are locked in the basement.

Winter is also a time when trees are bare. To Fergus, this means that he has a much clearer view of the activities at the house next door. He rests his chin on the table and peers out the window for long moments. A chicken will wander past, then a squirrel will appear and Ferg’s ears will perk up. Finally, the door will open and Rocky, the muscular full male next door will strut over to the fenceline. Slowly, all strength and sinew, Rocky will slink along the bare brushes and sniff the air. He is sniffing for Ferg. Our dog’s hair stands on end. He shivers. His eyes are locked on Rocky.
“Oh. I see Rocky is out,” I comment. Ferg turns his head in slow motion and gives me the side eye. Part of his vision is still on the big dog next door. He goes back to his watch. Life can be exciting, even in the dead of winter.

I imagine, being born in Canada, dogs learn to appreciate the 4 seasons just as the rest of us do. If Fergus had a favourite season, for sure it would be fall. The cooler temperatures are perfect for long walks in the woods, and the rich, deep smells of rotting leaves and roaming wildlife are abundant for a sniffer dog’s nose. Winter is devoid of smell. It just smells cold, with a touch of wood smoke. Fergus’ nose gets a bit of a rest in the colder months.

His sense of hearing seems sharper than ever, however. With no leaves on the trees as a buffer, the sounds of deer crashing through the underbrush and coyotes yipping at the moon carry across the acres as if it were happening right in the yard. Then Fergus bursts out of bed and comes bounding up the stairs to bark a warning outside our bedroom door. Sometimes at 3 in the morning I have to turn the fan on to block out the sound and close the curtains so he will go back to sleep.
Spring is at least 6 weeks away, pup. Winter isn’t over yet. You might as well settle in.

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 No photo description available.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Once again I can hear, my dear...



The Farmer has been deaf in one ear for as long as he can remember. He suspects it is a result of hunting, because it’s on the side where he holds his gun and is most affected by the sound of gunshot. For the most part it has been a non-issue. He doesn’t always ‘hear’ me when I’m in the next room, because he reads lips. But I think he is fairly comfortable in his quiet existence. He sleeps really well, on his good ear.

My husband has hearing aids – the really good kind. But they have to be adjusted to his environment and he has to take the effort to maintain them. And he has to want to hear. I don’t think he feels he is missing out on anything by not being able to hear every little sound. He hears the big ones. That seems to be enough.

He himself must have made a big sound back in August when, after hastily climbing the ladder at our cottage building site to apply one final coat of stain on the trim, he fell. Normally he nails a brace bar at the bottom of the ladder but as it was the end of the day and he was anxious to get home, he didn’t bother. The ladder began to wobble and slide and shake. He shook along with it. Suddenly it flipped, flinging the Farmer to the rocky ground below.

He landed on a rock, bashed his wrist watch, jostled his brain a bit and broke two ribs. He didn’t want to call an ambulance, because not only would they find it difficult to locate him at this out-of-the-way building site, but he might be forced to leave his beloved doggo behind. So he gingerly lifted himself out of the ditch where he had landed beside the cottage, succumbing to dog licks all over his face while he remained low to the ground. He took his time closing doors and turning off equipment before gathering his things and ushering the pooch into the back of the truck. It was difficult to hoist himself into the driver’s seat, but he eventually managed. He drove himself to the Smiths Falls Hospital.

Our daughter is a nurse in Smiths Falls. It was her day off but as soon as he called her she jumped in the car to meet him there. He was a bit disappointed to be informed that if you drive yourself to the hospital, you have to get yourself inside. They do not come rushing out to greet you with a wheelchair or a gurney. The shock of the fall likely kept the pain at bay, or at least under control, until he was safely in the emergency room.

That’s where I found him an hour later. He was quite a sight, with the red wood stain that had spattered his clothing making him look like he had attended a violent murder scene. His hair was standing straight on end, he was topless and he had a Golden Retriever tied to the end of his hospital bed. Fergus was drinking from what appeared to be a plastic bed pan. I was assured it had been sterilized.

“Oh, you look like a hobo!” I cried, relieved to see he was in good hands.

The next week was difficult, as I attempted to work from home while playing nurse to my busted-up husband. He had been prescribed opioids and I was determined to watch over him as he took his daily dose of painkillers. Luckily I had the real nurse at the end of the phone line so I could text for advice when necessary. They don’t bind broken ribs anymore – they want you to take deep breaths to avoid fluid buildup on the lungs. We just alternated hot and cold as per the doc’s advice but fluid built up anyway and we had to go to the hospital to have the lungs drained.

The Farmer suffered through a family wedding that he was loathe to miss out on, and that is when he revealed a side effect of his fall. Suddenly I felt I was in the middle of a National Lampoon movie – or an episode of Corner Gas.

“I may have broken ribs when I fell but you know what? I think I got my hearing back!” he announced proudly.

This is the Farmer’s new response every time I tell him he should be getting his hearing aid adjusted. He says his hearing is perfectly fine, thank you. It’s my mumbling that is the problem.
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Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Farm has a Memory



In the winter when there are no crops in the fields, Fergus and I go for walks. I take off his radar collar and he bounds like a deer to the farm gate at the edge of the lawn, where the barnyard begins. He sits and looks at me out of the side of his eye.

“Wait…wait…and….go!” A flash of furry red disappears around the side of the shed, toward the big old barn. We do the rounds before we go on our walk, just as I always did, even though we don’t have livestock anymore. I think Fergus knows that many animals lived here before he did. He can sense them.

As we round the old log barn at the end of the lane, a black squirrel scolds us from the top of the tree. Fergus puts his paws on the trunk and wills himself up to no avail. He whimpers, then gives up, distracted by something in the corn field. I worry that his leaping over ragged wooden cornstalks will cut his feet but he has perfect dexterity and returns without a scratch.

I peek into the log barn. We used one half as a chicken coop, covering the windows with chicken wire to keep the birds in and blankets to keep the draft out. That was before the day some animal decided to teach its young how to kill one night. We lost 67 birds that day. Now we keep our chicks in the shed close to the house. There is enough activity there that a predator isn’t likely to strike.

The other half of the log barn, with its tiny pen, was a favourite of our cow Julie. She wedged herself and her calf in there as an escape from the mosquitoes, I think. The logs have a magical cooling effect as well. That was one smart cow – but the logs suffered a bit as a result of her big butt body checks.
We rounded the barn and I remembered the first time I witnessed a calf being born – in April, 2008. 

Betty hadn’t even looked pregnant. She was such a big Hereford – she carried it well. Sure enough, though, she gave birth to a healthy girl: Mocha – who went on to have calves of her own. We were lucky that most of our calving seasons went off without a hitch – but we did learn that there is no use waiting around the barn for something to happen: the cows always waited until we were gone to give birth. If we were lucky, we caught the tail end of the event.

As we rounded the end of the barn I remembered the first winter with our big Belgian horses, when Ashley stepped on my foot with her big dinner-plate hoof. I just sunk down into the mud and snow beneath her, but she froze, holding her hoof up in mid-air as if she had stepped on something rather squishy and distasteful.

Ferg stops to peek between the barn boards at my daughter’s sports car that is over wintering in our barn. The Mustang is the only animal in there right now. I wondered how many ghosts were watching from inside the structure. Death is just another part of Life on the farm. Over the last decade we have lost lambs, calves, barn cats, one beloved horse and two precious dogs. I wonder if they left anything behind that Fergus can smell. Perhaps not. He is ready to move on.

We follow the diagonal path that the cows’ hooves beat across the pasture, to the soy bean field at the top of the tractor lane. The tiniest rabbit prints I have ever seen – smaller than a kitten’s – have Fergus’ full attention now. But then he discovers a spot where someone ate some soy beans and lay down for a nap. And here is a corn cob that someone carried from the other field. Wild turkey tracks. Deer scratchings. Coyote scat. So many stories to tell. Ferg’s nose can read them all.

As we come to the end of the tractor lane, something darts into the bushes beside the creek. Was that a fisher? A coyote? Or was it a deer? The sight of the dog scares many animals away. I don’t want to encounter a coyote – it might try to attack my dog – but I would love to see a deer. I know they are there. And so does Fergus.
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