Bizou and Dash There is no shortage of rabbits on Green Hill Farm this summer. I’m not kidding! We are Plum. Covered. Up. There are big rabbits, little rabbits, and even teeny-tiny rabbits. They’re everywhere: running across the driveway, darting into bushes, chasing each other around the vegetable garden, sunning themselves on the lawn, hanging out in the sheep pasture, munching on clover in the back garden, and sitting under the window in the dogs’ play room—tormenting poor Bizou. We simply have too many rabbits! Don’t get me wrong. I love all critters, especially cute, furry bunnies. But, lately, they’ve been making our lives somewhat stressful. These wascaly wabbits are driving Bizou and Dash to distraction, and me right along with them. Bizou is completely obsessed. Once in a while, I’ll hear a groan and a moan and then a whimper. This melodic trio quickly escalates into many high-pitched whimpers, followed by lots of frantic whining and running around the room. And, of course, jumping up on window sills—all in a vain attempt to glimpse rabbits. Understandably, this behavior isn’t good for Bizou, the window sills, or my nerves for that matter. So, whenever the rabbits decide to hang out under the windows, I usually encourage Bizou to leave the room, and I shut the door. The other day, Bizou was so wound-up, running in circles and launching himself at the window to get the rabbit that no amount […]
I absolutely love fizzy and sparkling wines! And, since New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, I thought it may be fun and helpful to share some information about Champagne and sparkling wines. I’ve also included a few of my favorites. Champagne: First, all that sparkles isn’t Champagne. Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region in France and made in the traditional method (méthode champenoise). The traditional method is a labor intensive, multi-step process (two fermentations) that contributes to the expense. Champagne can be made from three grapes: chardonnay and red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier. Sometimes the label will use the terms “blanc de blancs” meaning the wine was made from white grapes, or “blanc de noirs” indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. There are also different levels of dryness/sweetness in Champagne: **Grower Champagne refers to sparkling wine that is not only made in France’s Champagne region (as a protected designation of origin), but is also specifically crafted by families who are cultivating the grapes on their own land. It is made in much smaller volumes, and can really showcase the terroir of each farm. Since the elements that inform the terroir can vary (sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically), each year’s output is different than the one before. Brut Nature/Brut Zero: Bone dry. No residual sugar. Extra Brut: very dry Brut: very […]
Farmgirl with Scottish Blackface sheep A while ago, I wrote a post about having the “winter blahs” and various methods that help lift my mood. A couple of these mood enhancing strategies included music and dancing. I even joked about installing a disco ball in the sheep shed, especially since I enjoy bee-bopping to radio tunes as I do farm chores. Well, after writing that post, I was gifted with not one, but two disco balls: one for the the sheep shed and one for the house. 🙂 Here’s the thing: Whatever your mood…whether it’s the “winter blahs” or the “dog days of summer,” all you need is a little music. So, go ahead, put on your boogie shoes and come on over to Green Hill Farm. Because, the disco ball is up, and this farmgirl is ready to dance her way right into fall. 😉
Life isn’t perfect. It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be REAL: a messy “learning lab” of experiences, mistakes, and practicing our ability to reflect on all of it—hopefully cultivating a positive outlook. An outlook that creates a meaningful, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind life. A life we can share by loving and uplifting others…..and, ultimately, ourselves. So, here’s the thing: Life isn’t a picture-perfect bowl of cherries, but with the right perspective, we just may end up with a banana split. Yes, a messy dessert to be sure, especially with all of the gooey and sticky syrups, melting ice creams, and whipped cream; but, you know what? Those garnishes sure do make that banana a lot more interesting….and definitely worth enjoying! After all, it’s the messy stuff that teaches us to be our best selves. And, let’s be real….being our best selves is truly the “cherry on top” of the banana split of life.
Basilica di San Lorenzo Chapel of the Princes Florence, Italy It’s summertime, and the living is….HOT! Hot enough to melt! The temperatures have been soaring. So, the idea of something cold and refreshing seemed timely, especially something cool and creamy…like gelato from a gelateria in Florence, Italy that’s been around since 1939. A few years ago, I was introduced to Gelateria Perchè no!… (which means Why not!…in Italian). It’s located Via dei Tavolini 19r and has been a favorite in Florence since before World War II. Mr. Ugo Ravaioli, the founder and for decades the owner of Perchè no!…, believed this to be an ideal location. Paradoxically, it was due to the shortage of raw materials for making ice cream and whipped cream during the war that lead to Mr. Ravaioli’s inventiveness to create a special formula for this delightful treat consisting of egg whites and cream as well as its semifreddo texture. This gelato is the perfect balance of sweetness. And, it’s not too wet. Add to all of that its extreme creaminess, and you might think you’re in heaven. Treasured by its faithful clients–both famous and local, Perchè no!… has survived a war as well as the disastrous Florence flood of 1966 and continues to be a success today. If you visit this wonderful gelateria with its beautiful marble mosaic floor, make sure to taste Crema, cooked in the old way with lemon rinds and vanilla and […]
“La Vie en Rose” performed by Catherine Carraway Quartet “La Vie en Rose” is a song that expresses the bliss of being in love. It brims with pure emotion and beautiful sentiment. To me, it’s one of the loveliest songs ever written. “La Vie en Rose” or the English translation, Life Through Rosy Pink Glasses, was released as a single in 1947 by French singer, Édith Piaf and is one of her most famous and beloved songs. Édith Piaf, also known as “The Little Sparrow,” became an icon of France during World War II. She was a symbol of French passion and tenacity. Piaf’s signature song was about finding love after a trying time, and many people saw it as an anthem of hope as it was released shortly after the end of World War II. Here’s the thing: “La Vie en Rose” isn’t just a song about romance; it’s an anthem of love for life, especially when everything around you is considered a source of joy. Life through rosy pink glasses isn’t about being foolishly optimistic. Instead, it’s about a state of being, where we stop…and, are truly grateful for the many blessings and small miracles that occur in our everyday lives.
We all know life can be challenging. But, we’re hopeful that most of the time, things go smoothly. And, to that end, we work to avoid disappointment and vexation. Maybe, if we modified our view of these challenges as a course correction, we wouldn’t be so upset when they occurred. Also, what if we stopped attaching to these experiences and interpreting them as positive or negative? They're happening, accept, and move through it. You know, stop judging the stuff. Of course, this is A LOT easier said than done. Some situations look really negative–even devastating. And, it's hard to be philosophical, especially when you feel like your life is a wreck. Which brings me to a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert that I absolutely love: “Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” What if the hard times we’re facing are part of the journey to an authentic life? This is when our faith must be bigger than our fear. And, when we have to believe in our ability to navigate challenges with strength, competence, and grace. After all, it’s only when we’re knocked down that we truly learn how to rise. You may wonder where I’m going with all of this. I'll be the first to admit that I want to keep my life on course. I'm an all my ducks in a row kinda girl. I try to follow the rules, keep my word, and act decently, […]
Wine requires two assessments: Subjective and Objective. Just because we like a wine, doesn’t mean it’s a great wine. One way to illustrate this point is with art. You may not want to hang a reproduction of a Claude Monet painting in your home, but you agree that Monet is a great artist. So, getting to the point where you have both a subjective and objective opinion is one of the most rewarding stages in developing knowledge and comfort in wine; thus, allowing you to separate your liking of something from its quality. So, the point is this: You can love a wine but understand that it’s not a great wine. For example, I have weekly wines and weekend wines. Weekly wines are inexpensive wines ($15-25) we enjoy with our simple evening meals; however, weekend wines are the special ones ($50 or more) we may take to a favorite gourmet restaurant that has a corkage fee. Most of us know what we like, but having an objective opinion means increasing our knowledge base. So, let’s get started! The Five Ss: –See –Swirl –Sniff –Sip –Savor All together, they’ll enable you to maximize your enjoyment of your next glass of wine. SEE A wine’s color can tell you a lot: Taste, intensity, condition, and most likely, its aromas and flavors. The best way to examine the color is to tilt the glass over a white surface, such as a white table […]
*This post originally appeared in September 2014. I was celebrating ten years of living on Green Hill Farm (purchased in 1912 by my great-grandparents) and the restoration of my family’s homeplace. I thought remembering this milestone seemed like a good way to start the blog, Fourth Generation Farmgirl. Every May, I like to re-publish this post for new readers. It’s an introduction to this blog, but even more, it’s a nice reminder for me of the importance of continuity. May 2020 marks the 16-year anniversary of living in my ancestral home (circa 1790). For those of you who may have already read this post, I apologize for its repetition; however, if you choose to read it again, you have my thanks. : ) There’s a sign that hangs in our vestibule or small covered porch that reads “PERSEVERANCE,” and it’s been our mantra since moving to Green Hill Farm. My husband and I were in our early 30s when we decided to take on this project. Sometimes when we look back at pictures we say, “WHAT in the world were we thinking? Were we INSANE?!!” Whatever the answer, it was the path taken. This path has lead us on a journey that has been difficult and challenging at times but rewarding and enriching, too. Anyway, we all know that anything worthwhile isn’t easy. Which brings me to the next piece of our story. The first day we visited the house after construction […]
Ivy Green Hill Farm This is Ivy. She is a tiny sheep with a really loud BAAAH. I like to call her my littlest sheep with the biggest BAAAH. She’s almost 14-years-old and my only ewe now. The rest are wethers. This time last year, Ivy had been in the hospital pen for nearly a month. Something had happened with her back legs, and she couldn’t walk. The vet made recommendations, and I administered dewormer and anti-inflammatory shots as recommended. I’d go to the barn multiple times during the day to check on her. Her appetite was good, and she had a strong will and determination. But often, I’d find her fallen over and unable to get up without assistance. Over and over, I’d push or pick her up. Sometimes, I’d just hold her up and help her take a few steps. I’d feed her grain from my hands and give her water with a drench gun. And, everyday, she got a little stronger and less wobbly. All through the spring and summer, Ivy would spend time outside in a fenced section of the pasture where the sheep are sheared. This area is protected and away from the other sheep. A sun umbrella was attached to the fencing for makeshift shade and protection from rain. With each passing day, she got stronger and better able to stand and walk around the pen. She loved being outside and eating grass. During […]
Farmgirl Circa 1975 “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” ~Oprah Winfrey “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” ~Maya Angelou Wishing you a wonderful week!