It’s cool. Fog is such an interesting presence. It can be eerie and foreboding. Think Scooby Doo where a good fog cues in the ne’er-do-well ghost every time. Or it can be achingly beautiful in its peaceful quietness, laying out a simple landscape through which to drift unfettered,
and I do like my drifting unfettered.
Looks like someone else is doing some unfettered drifting…hey cat, let’s get back to the barn. It’s dinner time:
Thanksgiving heralds in the beginning of the holiday season. And our little town decided to have an art walk this year along with its annual holiday parade in the hopes that people would linger around a bit longer on parade night. When this was in the planning I thought I had enough going on that I wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t participate. Until the Brew Goddess twisted my arm. See, the Brew Goddess and her illustrious husband run the local craft brewery in town. It’s a cozy hang out that attracts some eclectic bands and good folks looking for craft beer and local food. One day I walked in and she announced that she was to put the pressure on me to participate in the art walk. That’s all it took. I said yes. Okay. I like being asked. And I like being a participate in this little town that I now call my own. I am here. So after the paper work was all signed and sent, I was assigned a window of a participating business. How ironic that it happened to be the Brew Goddess’s brewery. Hello Hydro. I’m sweeping in and taking over your window. Sorry for the mess…
In a flurry of excitement, mixed with a quarter cup of panic, I decided to just do a simple red and white color scheme, using vintage dining furnishings which is fitting for this brewery. Also, that’s pretty much all I got. Lacking easels, I went with “gift boxes” to prop up the work. These were desperate last minute measures. I needed props and all I had were boxes.
Of course next I had to figure out a way to weigh down the happy, holiday boxes to support the weight of the art work, otherwise, blap! down they would go! And since we go through laundry detergent so much here, I thought I’d buy a few big-butt bottles of laundry detergent, gift wrap them and use them for support. And what a happy Christmas it will be to unwrap them and know we’ve got lots of cleaning power on hand. After the art walk that is. Until then, the art work went up with the help of gift-wrapped laundry detergent:
And it all stayed up! And the Brew Goddess was thus happy. So was I. The Holiday Art Walk went off well with a slew of wonderful and talented local artists in various windows in our little downtown. And Pete and I had a nice little nightcap and dinner at the Brew Goddess’s craft brewery listening to a very entertaining band.
They were called the Yogurt, Yogi, Yoga, ummm wait…
I got it! The Yoga Jug Benders!!
They were a lot of fun and very entertaining. Apparently they were also doing a little filming for a documentary to keep the jug band music alive and well. I wish I knew that beforehand. We have plenty of jugs at home we could have brought with us. We would have been happy to pass them around and get jiggy with the juggy. Meanwhile, let the holidays begin!
I had a little fantasy when I first moved to the farm. In my dream-head I imagined that a stray animal would come to my door, and I would take it in from the cold, lonely nights it previously had, and it would live a warm, happy life with three square meals, belly rubs and a warm bed on which to curl.
This is what I got:
Crazy ol’ one fang, with thumbs and ear mites. We adoringly call her “Gray Ghost” or “ow” when she gets too rough with the paw play. I guess in my fantasy, I neglected to specify dog because that is what I really had in mind. Dog.
It doesn’t end there though. Once Gray Ghost took over the house, (but not the payments, what’s up with that?!) another cat landed on our property. That would be Hans, barn cat number one. A few months after Hans arrival, another kitty plopped in for
a visit life. We dubbed him Rainy and figured okay, that’s it, we have ourselves one house cat and two barn cats:
So I thought we were all good and done with the kitty drop-ins, and my fantasy had been abundantly satisfied until this happened:
A few weeks ago we found a tribe of kittens in our barn! We have officially become the kitty flophouse of our town. Welcome to the Kit Kat Lounge and Dance Hall…
where kitty dreams come true and they all find warm homes. So for the past couple of weeks we’ve been trying to palm off cute kitties to friends and relatives. So far three kittens have found new homes before the snow began to fall. I’m glad for that. But we still have two hold outs:
For now they are a boisterous, playful pair of kitties. I was a little worried about the winter cold settling in before they got bigger, but they seem to be doing just fine. They have a constant supply of water, food and companionship. The Kit Kat Lounge is carpeted in fresh straw, and the Dance Hall above the lounge is the hot spot to be if you’re a big cat. Kitties are not allowed on the dance hall without authorization, supervision and proper i.d. We have our standards after all.
Our bouncer makes sure of that:
There’s been lots of movement on and off the farm today. While I was in town, corn harvesting had begun. In fact, not just on our farm but neighboring farms as well. I’m realizing that I need to pick my routes to town carefully now so I don’t get myself squeezed in between combines and semi’s. My little car is no match for them. I’d lose if it came to a throw down. Word of the day, respect the tractor. So while I was having myself a nice Bloody Mary this Sunday morning and discussing business (Seriously, I was discussing. Business.) this shiz was going on:
Golden corn raining down. I just happened to pull into the farm to drop off some supplies when the corn came from above. Good timing. I like big tractors strutting their stuff. Today I got the chance to get up close and personal with it all.
In the two and a half years I’ve been here, I’ve not yet been on site when the corn is harvested for one reason or other. But today, I stood under a shower of corn flakes! It really is a beautiful sight to see all that golden corn filter down and shower us with its touch. I got to see those kernels of corn make a journey from the field to the bin and on into the elevator:
While we were standing around under a haze of corn flakes, this semi rumbled in. I know for some this may be routine, but for me I feel like I’m on a big field trip in the literal sense. It’s an impressive operation finely tuned between farmer, field and operatives coordinating the timing for when to harvest the crop. That has always felt like a balancing act to me, or a game of chance. And what with snow coming tomorrow…dang you played it close Pete. But you’re a farmer and I’m not. Today, non-farmer me turned my face up to the sky and gleefully felt the corn flakes fall onto my face, stick on my eyelashes, settle in my hair and catch in my clothes. I watched Pete’s face split into a big grin as he played with Bowzer under the spell of corn flakes drifting down upon us.
Among a number of tractors, Pete has one in particular of which he is most fond. It is an Allis-Chalmers WD 45, circa 1950s. He grew up riding on it with his dad. Every time we happen to see an Allis-Chalmers tractor somewhere, comparisons are made; the model, the make, the year and the color. Especially the color. Is the color correct? That is important. There is a trademark color for tractor brands and if you are restoring one, then you better get it right or go home.
For about the past two years now, on our way to visit our Portage friends, we kept passing by a house that had a restored Allis-Chalmers tractor sitting in its front yard. And with each pass, our conversation rarely varied. It usually went like this; “It’s still there”. “Looks just like mine”. “The color is correct”. “It’s still there”. Two years. Same tractor. Same conversation.
Well, not too long ago, one of our Portage friends gave Pete a call to tell him that the tractor that elicited so much scintillating conversation is still there, and is up for sale.
Guess who bought it.
Now “It’s right here”…next to the other Allis. Two Allises. One farmer. And one farmer’s wife who is now scheming how to take over one of them and make it her own. I mean really, does he need two? Sure, I get that he wants to refurbish the old one and use the new one while old Allis is being upgraded. But I see room for possibilities here. I’m thinking big. I’m thinking I’m going to be driving that nice, shiny tractor in a vintage tractor parade some day. Pardon the gratuitous cat photo. That was bound to happen. Anyway, back to my big plans for tractor and me. Allis and I are going to go places. We’ll start local. Maybe the town’s Fourth of July parade. Then we’re going to practice our steps and work our way up to the Steam and Gas show. Maybe get on the cover of a vintage tractor magazine. Maybe work a barn cat into the cover. Maybe that’s too much. Delete cat. Focus on tractor.
I’ll also need to focus on learning how to drive said tractor. I’ve only been on the old Allis once. I nearly pitched my husband off the back of it. Ha ha, that was fun. Fortunately he has a good grip on things. So, it’s back in the saddle for me. I’m determined and excited about this new venture. Baby steps though, I’ll start with a tractor whose pedals I can actually reach; Yeah, the prospects are promising. That shiny tractor will soon be mine.
Here we go again, moving from summer into fall whether we like it or not. I do love the change of seasons but there is a mournful feeling about leaving the warm days of summer behind for the chilly season of fall. But somehow we slip into it and embrace that crispy air and crinkly crunch of leaves underfoot, along with the promise of pumpkins, squash and apples. And tales of ghosties around the campfire. Here I go again with the ghosts. Speaking of things mournful, I do mourn the seasonal loss of my studio. To refresh you, my milkhouse is only a warm weather studio. In the winter it becomes a skating rink if you’re into skating very tight rectangles. So come fall, I look upon it and want to cry, and try to relish the few remaining days before I move everything to warmer quarters and close the doors tight till the following spring.
With warm weather running short, I made fast and grabbed a little bit of time just to be there in the studio and sketch. I feel I haven’t done enough of that this summer. So I’m desperate. Just let me hold on to a few moments in the studio while the glowering sun sinks to the horizon. That’s the best time for me to be in there. That glow just warms me up to the point that I just want to sit and stare at the light playing on the walls. I have to shake myself to get back to sketching. Because that’s where I’m at right now…just sketching. Working up new ideas or returning to unfinished thoughts. Perhaps it’s just the impending season, but who should I return to but my old buddy Primitive Guy: Really? I still can’t get over him? Nope, not yet. He still haunts me after a couple of years. I’m not done with him yet:
Or perhaps he’s not done with me. Yikes. Make to the Mystery Machine everybody! Oh man, how did I sequeway from sketching to a 1970’s cartoon?? Easy, it’s all a mystery. And that’s what Fall is about, the mystery of the season…transitioning from uplifting light to impending darkness. And so we make ready to light the lanterns and tread carefully for the shadows that grow in its stead. Relish the harvest but heed the dark. And for goodness sake, tell me a good ghost story!
The other day I went out and bought my own farm. I decided I couldn’t do without another barn and a few more animals. Hence: I’m very proud of my little farm. It’s built of solid wood and though a little worn on the edges, fits into my pocket quite nicely. The barn itself features a gambrel-style roof and the iconic barn red siding. Classic. For the purchase price of 4 dollars and 50 cents, it even came with its own animals. We have here a pig, sheep, hen and what I’m guessing would be the barn dog. Or wolf, I’m not entirely sure. Land purchase comes separately. Fortunately I have desk space so I bowed out of the land option. I’m expecting great things from my recent purchase. At the very least, some fine wooden eggs, woody wool and plank-board pork. And companion wolf. Or dog. Still not sure which. There is one, little thing missing which would surely have driven the price up to 5 dollars had it been included: Yeah, that’s right. One, mighty Holstein. This one is having a beef with me for not being represented when I broke the news. “What??! What kind of pocket farm are you running without a piece of this?” he said to me as he came running full tilt. I made a swift apology and a fine jump over the fence to safer pastures. So, I guess I’ll be on the lookout for a barn-board bovine to add to my pocket farm. If you happen to see a little piece of black and white spotted wood vaguely in the shape of a steer, I’ll take it. Anything to stop one of these guys from following me to work and giving me the evil steer eye.
Whitewashed, glass-tiled, cool in the summer, cold in the winter. That is the milkhouse that has become my studio where I hope to get back to my basic roots of drawing, painting, and at some point, printmaking.
And just in case you think this is all about my artwork, I'll be posting about daily life on a small, working farm as well. And since I didn't grow up on a farm, and have no idea what to do in many cases, you may find a few amusing anecdotes as I grow accustomed to life here.
This will be an evolving, and in all probability, ever-changing site as I figure things out. So stick around and let's see what happens!