Sunday, July 31, 2011


 After 11+ years of waiting, one of the dozen nut trees planted on The Farm has finally produced NUTS !!  I hadn't noticed them at all until the other day when I was mowing. Literally (honestly), one of them boinked me on the noggin' while I was zooming around the far side yard on the tractor.  I felt the contact, that's for sure!

These trees were started by Dr. David Johnson of Coolville, OH, from seed.  David, an avid nut grower for decades now, has one of the largest collections of nut tree starts in the country.  A former president of the American Nut Growers Association, his passion is now coming to fruition.  His starts are producing nuts!!

At the same time this tree was planted, my ex-husband and I also put two pecans in the other side yard, as well as about 6 butternuts, walnuts and pecans down in the bottom pasture.  The trees below the barn have had to battle deer munchies, lack of water, and poor soil, but they continue to grow a little year after year. 

The trees over near Sherwood Forest (our pine tree grove where the treehouse is) are huge, but there's no sign of nuts.  Perhaps this first year's bearing by Side Yard Tree #2 is a good omen for next year.  (I have noticed blossoms on the other trees, just no nuts.)

Anyways, I'm delighted the patient wait has not been for naught.  I can already taste the black walnuts in my apple bread at Christmas.....Yummy.
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Mac and I just got in from a wonderful morning walk to the woods at the back of the field.  It's a quiet Sunday morning, not too humid nor hot (thank goodness!).  Mac LOVES to bounce down the path in search of things to chase and explore.  It makes no difference to him that I've mowed a path for us to follow so we can avoid getting covered with ticks.  He just takes off wherever his nose and heart lead.  I always know his whereabouts by the movement of the tall weeds and hay as he charts his path off my conveniently cut route.  I often wonder what he sees from his low-rider vantage point.  When he emerges, he's got that sweet Mackers smile on his face, as if he's discovered a new imaginary world in the underbrush.  Meanwhile, I venture to the side of the field along the path and take pictures of lichen.
On the other side of the field, the red-tailed hawk family is out for a morning lesson in flight.  While Mrs. Hawk and her recent fledgling practice aerials over the cow pasture, Dad Hawk keeps a vigilant eye.  This is one of those times I sure wish I had a special telephoto lens for my small point and shoot Canon, for I could have gotten some amazing pictures and National Geographic-type footage of these majestic birds' acrobatics.  For now, I'll post the silhouette of Dad Hawk.

I love Queen Anne's Lace.  I don't ever feel like a get a really good photo of its delicate bloom.  Today as I looked at them, I remembered our Girl Scout Troop learning about their carrot-type roots.  I even pickled some one summer, and they are really quite tasty, and yes, the roots do taste like carrots. 

Every time I look at the Rose of Sharon, I hear Eliza Gilkyson's voice in my mind. It has to be related to the hibiscus family. This bush is a transplant from a sprout I moved one summer, knowing that the "mother" plant was going to have to make room for a flower bed.  Happily, the sprout took hold, and the new bush surpasses the old in size and beauty.

Yep, the tomatoes are coming in, and boy, are they tasty.  When I saw a woman buying those styrofoam-consistency ones at the grocery store the other day, I actually felt sorry for her.  I've eaten tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and supper all week.  Not tired of them yet.....probably won't ever get tired of them.  Tonight I'll make up some spaghetti sauce from the garden peppers, squash, onions, and tomatoes and can it up for later use.  Yummy!

Later today, I'll drive to Fairmont, WV, to meet a possible sister for Mac.  Her name's Penny Lane, and I have to go through the adoption process for her to come live with us.  Today is step one, and hopefully, after I meet her, we can expedite her arrival.....Stay tuned.....


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Monday, July 25, 2011


I think I'm homesick.  I awoke this morning thinking about summers in Pigeon Roost...about the many weeks I spent back in the mountains each summer with my grandparents and cousins - - -before the developers moved in to purchase and alter the land of so many of the original family homesteads....before I realized life had its complications and twists....before I "came of age," as one would dub those days now.

At Grandma and Granddaddy's house at Pigeon Roost, I was indoors only to eat and sleep.  At all other times, I could be found exploring the rhododendron thickets that were my pretend jungle or looking for deep red trillium alongside the little creek that flowed into the woods by Grandma and Grandpa's house. That creek water was cold (!), but I couldn't resist splashing around in it as much as I could and turning over every rock in the branch in search of salamanders...( we called them "lizards" back then).

At other times in the early morning,  hundreds of bumblebees buzzing around the morning glories growing up the side of the Grandma's house piqued my curisoity, and I would catch one with a clothespin so I could examine it closely.  The bees didn't like that at all.  More than once when I came in for breakfast,  Grandma took her dishrag to my head to swat bees out of my thick hair...I had no idea they had latched on and were ready to sting me in retaliation for depriving them of their morning nectar.

The particular picture above would certainly not win a prize in any photographic competition, but it's one of my favorites because it transports me to my time with my grandparents....The back door at Grandma and Grandpa's was always open in the summer to let in the breeze. As clear as if I were emerging from the woods at this very  moment, I can hear Grandma calling me in for lunch - frequently fried chicken, gravy, green beans, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy.  Many times I would head in before she called, for I could smell lunch on the stove.  I can see her standing in the kitchen as I walked in the back door, her apron tied around her waist with biscuit flour sprinkled down the front.  I can see Granddaddy walking in from the front room, taking off his hat, and sitting down at the table, and I sense the love I felt as I joined then at the table to eat before heading back outside for my afternoon adventures. Grandaddy always chuckled at my escapades and imagination.

I also associate the back door at Grandma's with  morning milkin' time.  I wasn't so good at milking, but Grandma was patient with me (as was the old cow). Grandma milked on the edge of the woods, just about at the spot from which I took this picture.  As she milked and talked to me, I sat on the ground and fiddled with little rocks from the creek's edge. The steady rhythm of her milking was soothing....something one would describe today as a "zen-like" experience, and I realize now that precious morning time was my special alone time of the day with Grandma, for when we were done, she was off to do her chores.

The back side of the house was my view from that vantage point.  When she finished filling her pail, Grandma would pat the cow on the rump and head  back to the house with her bucket of frothy milk. I'd watch her go indoors, and then I took off on the path back toward the barn, to a little galax patch where I had an imaginary world of my own, or I'd run across the lower pasture to see if my cousins who lived down at "the old homeplace" site were up. 

I include the other photos just for nostalgia's sake....milkweed flowers ready to pop open bring back memories of their sweet scent...and a birdhouse my dad made and put up on the edge of Grandma's yard years ago when he was still able to get about and make a few things in the basement still stands. 

I could live in Pigeon Roost.....I could live back in the mountains where my blood runs strong and every cell in my body connects to the love I felt there. For now, however, I live there in my mind and feel just fine.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011


As one comes down the driveway and circles around the house, The Farm Barn looks to be in rather good shape.  Yes, there are a few missing boards, but the paint has held relatively well, and there aren't gaping holes in either the siding or the roofing. Obviously, the front doesn't receive the fury of winter winds and violent summer thunderstorms.

From the backside, however, there's a different story to, and age have taken their toll.  If the back view were the one I looked at every day off the deck, I think I would have acted long before now to make a decision as to what's the best move for the barn. Obviously, I can no longer deny that "yep, we've gotta problem."

Here's the plan.  Although the collapse is serious, it's happening in a way that will facilitate its teardown since it's coming down in sections.  And once we get the addition that's crumbling away taken care of, I do believe there is a possibility that re-siding the back southwest to northeast corner is the repair that's needed to keep the barn stable and intact. 

Neighbors have told me the barn was the "gym" for the schoolhouse that once stood across the end of the driveway.  I understand basketball games took place in my barn, and indeed, one can see the remnants of the hoops on the raters.  Others have told me the Farm Barn is one of the oldest in the county.  It's an amazing structure, sided by 130+-year old red oak.  That idea, in and of itself, is enough to make me think this barn's worth saving IF I can.. 

I need to win the lottery.  A teacher's salary is not such that one can accumulate savings year after year that amount to the money necessary to maintain a barn of this size.

SOOOO, if anyone's getting an intuition for the winning numbers on the next mult-million dollar PowerBall, I'd appreciate a head's up.  I promise to share the wealth in all sorts of directions.  I wouldn 't be asking for much.....just enough to ensure that the barn doesn't fall totally apart. 

Monday, July 18, 2011


I've always had a fascination with wild flowers from the Appalachian Mountains.  There's something about their unhybridized beauty that reminds me of days gone by. Having grown up in Boone, NC, I can access many memories of walking through the woods and finding ladyslippers (pink, yellow, showy), trillium, jack-in-the-pulpits, bloodroot, solomon seal, and lilies. 

I have seen Gray's lily before but have never photographed it.
Gray's Lily

I was fortunate enough to come across the Turk's Cap Lily along a road near outside Banner Elk, NC.  When I saw the stalk with more than a dozen blooms, I felt like a child at Christmas.....what a gift from nature!

Turk's Cap Lily
(Photo: Tanya Wilder, July 2011)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


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If I could bundle the energy generated by the three buddies pictured above, I do believe I could heat the farmhouse comfortably on the coldest days of winter for many a year!  Pictured left to right are Oberon Veladota, Spunky A. (Alpha) McLovin Wilder, and Paco Davis, best friends and the official farm canine unit. All youngsters (Oberon, the oldest, just turned a year old), their play provides a level of hiliarity and lightness to The Farm at a time of bittersweetness as Joe and Paco prepare to move to Oregon.

Oberon, the Aussie, is a canine gazelle...overflowing with limitless energy, grace, agility, intelligence and sweetness.  Sometimes referred to by Christy as "full of bananas," his love of affection and engagement often overtakes him as he jumps to meet his people friends on eye level.  His facial expressions reflect a keen intelligence and understanding of his (and our) world.  The star of his agility class, Oberon teaches us humans about loyalty and love, while mentoring Mac and Paco in their attempts at clicker training. (An aside: Paco and Mac are catching on to the clicker; however, Mac thinks the "down" command's useless for him since he's so close to the ground anyway.)

Mackers, the corgi and the youngest of the three, thinks Oberon's the "bees knees!"  Since both of them are herders, one notes similarities in their behavior and instincts. When Oberon's around, Mac follows him like the nerdy little sibling who thinks older kids are really, really cool and who wants to be just like them.  His short-legged structure allows him to run under and around a very patient Oberon, and boy, oh boy, does Mackers try to keep the pace as Oberon races across the yard!  After about three trips around the grapevines, down the hill, back up into the yard, around the grapevines again, up toward the field, down to the grapevines for a third time, etc., Mac's ready to concede that he can't keep up, so he waits to crouch and pounce when Oberon runs by. If being "alpha" means barking the most and causing the most uproar, Mac's gets the certificate of honor.

Paco, mister majestic bassett hound, and Oberon have grown up as brothers and have spent lots of time together at The Farm and in Athens. Mac has never known life at The Farm without Paco. Paco and Oberon play so hard that when Paco comes home from a visit to O's house, he lies virtually comatose on the couch for 24 hours. Paco and Mac are into silly play 24/7 around The Farm. Their chase games provide great evening doggie-watching for Joe and me as we ice our knees from the deck or try to listen to music as the two youngsters run around and around and around the sofa in the TV room.  Although Paco's face might give the impression of a laid-back, slow-moving hound, both Oberon and Mac can attest to this bassett's speed and strength.  Paco's fast, and he's strong, like a lineman on a football team. When all else fails to subdue a pesky corgi, Paco just throws Mac a butt block and then sits on him or sticks Mac's entire head in his mouth.

Put the three (or any combination of the three) together, and expect chaos....laughable chaos....energetic chaos....loving chaos....noisy, rambunctious chaos....chaos probably not humorous for those who aren't dog lovers...And, beyond the chaos, expect entertainment and delight, for these three friends with their silly antics are amazing creatures to observe and love....

Paco and Oberon - BFF's from puppyhood!  Paco and Mac - Farm brothers.  Mac, Paco and Oberon and craziness to reckon with!

The Three Farm Musketeers....our goofball pack!

Saturday, July 09, 2011


He's rectangular and golden, like a long loaf of freshly baked bread, 
He's short, with squatty but stocky legs....
His nose is long, with a large grey freckle underneath his white snout hair...
His shoulders and rump muscles are firm and strong, the result of chasing a stick and barreling after his friend, Paco...
His face portrays his every emotion -  99% of the time, he wears a smile that melts one's heart.  The other 1% of the time, the look's a dead giveaway that's he's been into something forbidden, like my flower beds....
His eyes, as if penciled with the finest eyeliner, sparkle with love and happiness...
He talks a lot - at times with a grunt of approval or a morning wake-up call....
And, he barks - loudly, repeatedly, shrilly, when he gets excited or senses cows crossing the upper field....
He harrasses the cats, only to realize they have him figured out and really don't pay him much heed...
He loves his treats, his favorite a blueberry and apple dog biscuit that cleans his teeth and freshens his doggie food breath.
Many mornings on our walk, he finds something (like a plastic flower pot, a pine cone, an old stick or one of his toys) and searches for the perfect spot to bury it and then cover the burial site with leaves or sticks he pushes around with his nose....
He's a great fan of barn swallows and loves to watch them zoom down at and around him...
His passion for playing non-stop with a stick surpasses his desire to eat when hungry, and he leads me to his stick every time I step outside.

And oh, how he smiles and makes me laugh.....all the time....

He's a happy boy, and I'm a happy person...!!