in which Suki does it her way

in which Suki does it her way

Suki's newest little one

Nag, nag nag. That’s what I heard Suki saying to her good friend Zay the other day. I’m sure they were talking about me, but that’s OK.

I was only suggesting that the weather was balmy and dry which is a rare stroke of luck in February, don’t you think?  If you’re going to have a baby anyway, wouldn’t it be a good idea to pick a warm, sunny day?

What-ever. With lots of eye-rolling.  OK, Suki, do it your way.

So she did. Last night I was pretty sure we’d be meeting our new friend today. So, I gave Suki her own room. Before dawn when I checked this morning, everyone was inside except guess who? Suki.  Somehow, Suki managed to escape and off she went by herself to take care of her very important business.

Fortunately, I have been placing big bales of hay in wind-sheltered places just in case. One mostly eaten bale in the most sheltered spot offered the perfect, fluffiest bed.  Since Suki may well be my smartest cow, I was pretty confident that’s where she’d be.

Hello, hello.

It was still dark but quiet and still. I grabbed my lantern and set off over the hill. And sure enough, that’s where she was with her new little calf. Dried, fed and taking a nap. Very, very far from the barn.

While Suki enjoyed a special breakfast, I carried our new friend up to the barn. A long snow-covered uphill hike carrying about 40 pounds of awkward, squirming calf. And, let me just say – this morning I have no doubt I’m not twenty-six anymore.

We were just in time because as soon as Suki & Co. were safely tucked inside and buried in hay, the wind whipped up and things took a turn for the nasty.  So our little friend is getting a challenging start to his/her new life, but so far, so good.

The pinkest ears I've seen yet.... probably trying to figure out how to get back inside that warm cozy cocoon - this place is COLD!

One down, six more hellos to go…

Like babies? Check out some other hellos:

In which we say hello
in which we say hello again and again and again
in which whine enough already
in which Sprite gets game
in which we begin a new round of hellos
in which we say hello Sammy
in which we say a surprised hello

in which we come bearing gifts

in which we come bearing gifts

It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! Come on, you know it, perfectly said by the King of Christmas Grinchiness himself, Dr. Seuss.

I’m not much in the mood for cookie baking, gift wrapping or braving the crowds this year. I’m a Holiday Dropout I suppose, feeling more introspective than extroverted.  Nevertheless, whatever my whim, it’s always impossible for me to be untouched by the solemn wonder of the holiday season.

Most holidays, my enjoyment comes as much from my preparations as from the generosity I receive from others. While addressing Christmas cards, I am washed with fond thoughts of the person I am writing to. Preparing gifts of baked goods, wrapping holiday gifts and finishing them all with personalized tags makes me feel the same warm appreciation for the intended and gratitude for the people in my life.

This year, it’s a different sort of holiday due to my relatively homeless state; one that is broader in its scope of giving and receiving. Without a house of my own for the holiday, the usual activities are not so usual and feel odd and impossible.

But I’m far from homeless – while I have no actual house, I surely have a home.  And, since my home lives in the realm of imagination this year, so also do my thoughts of holiday giving.  The gifts I want to share this year are not ones found in shopping malls or grocery stores, but ones that have expanded the boundaries of my heart.

I find it often happens that serendipity plays its part in delivering the very message or salve you need in mundane, unexpected ways. This year I have been fortunate to have received many such synchronistic gifts just when I needed them most.

Here’s a few I’m happy to share with you; I hope they bring the same pleasure to you as they did to me. But I expect it’s possible that what’s magic to me may not say much to you. Or me either when I encounter it later at a different time and place in life.

That’s OK and as should be.  When the student is ready, the teacher appears, isn’t that how it goes?  You get the idea – if my gifts don’t speak to you, maybe they will remind you of synchronistic gifts of your own that meant much to you this year. And maybe you can pass those on too – someone you don’t know somewhere you’ve never been is waiting to hear from you.

I love this authentic and special holiday CD produced by Pat Humphrey with her daughters Lynn and Amy. These old carols are from around the world, and their angelic, ancient harmonies are so soothing to me I listen to them all year. Click the arrow below to begin listening or click on the title to visit The Rosa Minstrels site and listen to the whole CD.

[bandcamp track=2675635637 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

The internet is such a mixed blessing. It steals as much as it gives, but what it gives can be a delicate thread of human connection when your world rotates on a slightly different axis.  This heartwarming advent calendar from a complete stranger  Gloria Nicol at The Laundry Etc. in the UK made me feel much less Grinch-ey this  year. Click here to enjoy the calendar yourself – there’s still a few new surprises to come.  A photographer, writer, jam maker and shop keeper, you can visit Gloria here.

A Special Jewel of an Advent Calendar from Gloria Nicol of The Laundry Etc.

In sustainable farming circles, Wendell Berry is all that and more. Don’t take this the wrong way – I’m a huge Wendell Berry fan. But let’s not forget another old friend of the farmer, E.B. White. Not often mentioned in sustainable farming circles these days, E.B. White’s gifts rest in the realm of childlike (but far from child-ish) wonder and observation. His writing about his lovely and simple life in rural Maine in One Man’s Meat is a quiet joy that leaves you with tidbits you’ll be mulling over for a long time.

A gift that keeps on giving. Enjoy the reading first, plenty of rumination sure to follow...

I think it’s time to re-introduce real, old-fashioned mail. Written on paper, by hand, smudges and all.  This hand-made holiday card was just the balm I needed at a moment it meant the most.

The prayer-like and devotional quality of farm chores makes this card so true for me. Caring for the land and God's creatures is most certainly a way to kneel and kiss the ground...

The Digital Library of the Sketchbook Project is a bottomless source of fascination. Enter this rabbit hole at your own risk – you may be gone a while! I am so in love with this project and am blown away by the submissions. True gifts from the heart from not so ordinary people all over the world.  A live exhibit too: what a treat it would be to be able to spend a quiet afternoon with my nose tucked into the real pages – one of these days I’ll be there!  (Video of artist Lauren Nash and her very personal experience with the Sketchbook Project. Shows there’s a bit of magic for giver and receiver.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4CAQFDEXMs?rel=0]

How do we find this stuff? Well, one way is by visiting our our friends at Sustainable Eats who host a wicked good blog hop called Simple Lives Thursday each week.

I hope the boundaries of your heart are expanded this holiday; after all isn’t that the true reason for the season?

The Merriest of Christmases from the Ladies of Auburn Meadow Farm