We now have a pet turtle. Her name is Turtle. Yeah, well. Roy came home with Turtle the other day, claiming to have rescued her from the middle of the road. “I kept her because I thought Libby would like her.” Yeah, right. I said, “Libby?” And he laughed and admitted that he was just reliving his childhood. As it happens both he and Libby love turtles (and pretty much anything else creepy-crawly, including snakes and lizards). And one of the charming idiosyncracies of this property we live on is a series of old stone fish ponds in the woods. One is still holding water, so Roy is creating Turtle paradise over there. (Turtle is a large Painted Slider, by the way. She also happens to be female, so now with Ellie the Lovebird, Cocoa Bunny, and 8 hens–not to mention Libby and me–Roy is outnumbered here by females, 13 to 1! Tough luck.)
It’s funny though—this concept of reliving our childhoods. Because I seem to be doing exactly that here on the farmette. Or maybe it’s not so much reliving my childhood (I didn’t grow up on a farm), as it is trying to recapture that spirit of wonder and fun I had as a kid. I say trying, but it’s not really an effort—it comes easily around here.
The other day I was hanging the laundry out on the line—an activity I adore for its Zen-like peacefulness—when I realized I had created a fort out of our quilt. I stood underneath it, looking out on the fields like a rabbit snugly in its hole, and remembered the forts my friends and I used to make by draping a blanket over the twin beds. I felt safe and happy and a little bit giddy.
Then there’s the rope swing that Roy rigged up on a branch of the giant maple in the back yard. (This is the massive tree—more than 10 feet in diameter at its widest point—that gave us maple sap this winter and provides beautiful dappled shade for all kinds of outdoor activity, like the tomato seedling repotting project I’ve been obsessed with.) Anyway, Libby loves the swing, of course. Especially when Dad pushes it higher than high. But Susie loves the swing too—loves arching back to look aloft at the world going by in a whirl of undulating maple branches against a smeary, smoky blue sky.
Little thrills are hiding everywhere. This weekend we found two blueberry bushes in bloom on the property—oh joy! There are wild raspberry canes all over the place. A little thatch of wild asparagus is poking up beneath the kitchen window. Barn swallows are building a nest in one of Roy’s work bags in the shop. And we think a turkey hen has built a nest in the maple grove.
But I’d have to say that the chicks (now more like little hens) are still providing the biggest thrills around here. On Saturday—that rare warm and sparkly day we haven’t seem much of this spring—we moved them out to their permanent home, the chicken coop. Libby and I stood sentry at the coop door while Roy carried each hen from their brooder box in the mud room out to the coop. He started with Martha and Opti, the two Buff Orpingtons who are so big and so friendly that not only do they love to be picked up, but they will stand still to be petted. Perky, our nimble and self-confident Sicilian Buttercup, came next, followed by pudgy Miss Personality, Oreo. Sugar, Jelly Bean and Chippy are a bit skittish, so Roy brought them next to last. Bringing up the rear was our tiny Little Squawker (above), who still has some baby chick fuzz on her.
At first The Ladies (as Roy calls them) were overwhelmed by such a big space. They all huddled in one of the five nesting boxes, sticking close for comfort. But once they realized their food and water were out in the middle of the new space, they started to investigate and romp around. Pretty soon it was Party Central again, and everybody was hopping up on roosting bars and staring out the viewing window. (Staring in the viewing window is a fun way to keep an eye on them. I call it the peep show.)
The whole moving-day adventure was so much fun for all of us (not just the actual 8-year-old among us) that we felt the need to take silly pictures of ourselves at the coop door. And we celebrated by making grilled pizza Saturday night, with chef Libby at the controls.
Up until today we limited the chicks’ new world to the inside of the coop. But late this afternoon, Roy nailed up a ramp, opened the door, and welcomed them to come on down and explore their “yard” (an enclosed pen). This in itself was pretty hysterical as nobody wanted to go first. Predictably, Martha made the first tentative foray halfway down the ramp, and Roy carried her the rest of the way. Slowly the others crowded at the door, looking at Martha having fun in the grass. “What do we do?” they seemed to be saying to each other as they stared down the ramp. One by one, they finally all hopped down (except for Little Squawker, who kept her perch at the door). We didn’t stray too far, as we didn’t want to leave them alone just yet. But watching them is hardly a chore. It is totally fun and fascinating. More like a privilege, really.
This coming weekend holds another thrill—we’re planning to open our farm stand for the season. We’ll have a small selection of salad greens, arugula, radishes and seedlings if all goes as planned. I’m sure the weather won’t cooperate, we’ll be up all night washing greens, and there will be any number of bugaboos to work out. But I’m not worried. As I am prone to repeating—It’s all good.