Tag Archives: country life

Gardening and Country Life in Glorious Color!


cover-for-swcI’ve labored away adding lovely images to Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about life on our small family farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Given my love of gardening, this includes a strong focus on my gardens and love of nature. The book is already out in print with images, but now that kindle and nook E-Readers support colored photographs, I’ve added heaps more. Shenandoah Watercolors in available in  eBook and print format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I will also get it up on Kobo soon. If someone is dying for me to have it somewhere else, let me know.

Book description: Author/farm wife Beth Trissel shares the joys and challenges of rural life on her family’s small farm in the scenic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Journey with her through the seasons on the farm, owned by the family since the 1930′s, and savor the richness of her cherished gardens and beloved valley. This journal, with images of her farm and valley, is a poignant, often humorous, sometimes sad glimpse into country life. Recommended for anyone who loves the country, and even those who don’t. ***Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 EPPIC eBOOK FINALIST.


The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in springExcerpt:
  The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven. Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.I’ve been thinking about my favorite places.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkThe pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal. I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

***Images of the Shenandoah Valley in early spring and Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge.

For the Loveliness of it All


Crocus AgainI love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.  ~Ruth Stout

Why, some of you may ask, am I so drawn to gardening? Granted, toiling in the earth has its downsides, like the aching back I will soon be complaining of, the chewing bugs, and inevitable weather affronts, but nothing is more uplifting to the spirit than a fair day in and among growing things. The joyous sights of new life returning to our beautiful valley after a long winter, the delectable scents and sounds…the trill of a meadowlark, the song sparrow singing overhead as I plant seeds in the crumbly brown ground…the swoop and soaring of the first butterfly…the pussy willow bursting with fuzzy catkins…the glowing crocus. Snow still obscures the landscape and cold wind nips my face, but the forecast promises better days and I shall soon be out sniffing the air with profound appreciation. The barnyard geese are fussy. Egg laying shall commence.

early_spring2The delights of spring are almost upon us. There’s always a moment that catches and holds me transfixed, and in that moment, all is perfect. All is lovely. My piece of heaven on earth.~

***Images of crocus from last year and spring in the valley taken by my mom in past years.

I’m Calling it–Spring!


Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkSpring is when the meadowlark sings and I heard one in the field across the road from our farm this morning while out walking the dogs. I stopped and listened closely to be certain I’d heard right. Yep, three more unmistakable trills floated on the cold air. In full-blown spring, those sweet calls resound from various places in our meadow and the neighbor’s. Tracking down the elusive songster is almost like trying to catch a leprechaun. Getting a photograph of a meadowlark has long been a goal of mine and daughter Elise’s. We have yet to succeed. Still, hope, like spring, reigns eternal. Yes, we have snow and more biting temps in the forecast, but the barnyard geese are getting fussy and pairing off, our earliest indication of the renewal of the earth, and now the meadowlark has proclaimed the end of a brutal winter is in sight. (*Image of meadowlark I purchased)

Gray Geese sitting on eggsThe dogs and I tramped the yard to survey my dormant flower beds. I wonder how many plants will return after the frigid cold that engulfed the Shenandoah Valley these past weeks. The vegetable garden should be sporting the promise of a glorious cover crop of crimson clover, but the seedlings I knocked myself out to establish last fall are conspicuous by their absence. I will try again next fall. Over the weekend, Elise and I poured over seed catalogs and sent off several orders. I plan to start seeds in my little greenhouse later this month or the first of March. It’s solar, without an alternate heat source, so not much point in starting anything before then. If we really want it going all winter, we will have to install some kind of heat. As it is, the greenhouse is frozen out, so any bugs and diseases that might have lingered from last year are well and truly zapped. One advantage of a severe cold snap.

(*Nesting geese from last spring. Image by my husband, Dennis)

snowy pussywillow by the old red barn on march 25Another early sign of spring is the pussy willow in the back garden. Fuzzy grey buds are beginning to swell. Last year, I planted several pussy willows I’d rooted from cuttings down by the pond. I ought to trek over there and see if any of them made it. I’ll report back, and, if they didn’t, I shall persevere. (*Image of pussy willow by the old red barn from last spring by Elise)

Onward ho.

The Heartwarming Story of Violet the Cow and Baby Buttercup


Colin and Chloe with Buttercup“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”
― Ogden Nash,

In the world of cows, 92% of the females in a boy/girl set of twins are sterile and called Freemartins. The reproduction systems in these cows are malformed and they rarely ever grow to adulthood with the ability to reproduce. One cow defied the odds. She was taken in by our daughter Alison and her husband to raise on their little farmstead.  Her story as told by Alison.

Diron holding baby calf.jpg1 “Early in 2011, a brother and sister twin Holstein calf set from my parent’s dairy farm (Trissel’s Farm) came to live with my husband and me. A female cow, who is twins with a male, is almost always infertile, nature is smart like that, and so they’re generally used for beef. And that’s what we were raising them for. We decided it was best not to name the pair; but our [then] 5-year-old son, Colin, called the twin calves Violet and Moo. As Violet grew, we couldn’t help but notice that once a month it was an incredibly hard job to keep her in our pasture. Our neighbor’s field of a few beautiful Herford cows, complete with a bull, boarders ours. One cold morning in early spring, I was loading the kids in the car, getting ready to take Colin to preschool. I noticed Violet was missing from our field. We drove all around looking for her, and even drove to our neighbors house, twice, thinking maybe she was visiting their cows. The second time we drove to their house, because I had no idea where else she could be, Colin spotted her. “There she is!! She’s making friends already with the ‘bully’ cow!”  So she was, and so our neighbors allowed her to stay for a few days.

Months went by and we hadn’t thought much about the incident with the “bully cow.” But come to think of it, she hadn’t tried to leave the field in a long time.  And well, yes, she was getting big. Bigger than her twin brother.This past fall, a farm vet confirmed that the (almost) impossible had happened. Violet was pregnant and due around Christmas time. Her darling half Herford heifer calf was born a few days before Christmas. Violet the Cow rejoined her sisters of the herd at the Trissel Farm. My neighbor says she thinks Violet knew what she was doing all along. Her baby girl, named Buttercup, is with us now and someday will be a dairy cow too, only not on the Trissel farm, but on a place in the country providing milk for several families.”~

Colin and Chloe holding heavy cream carton with their image on the label ***Baby Buttercup, Colin and little sister Chloe are featured on the Shenandoah Family Farm’s cream label. In 2013, our family banded together with 20 other small family farmers in the Shenandoah Valley to produce and sell our own natural, local, sustainable dairy products. For more on Shenandoah Family Farms, visit our website and like us on Facebook. Also, you can help us bring our local products to your grocery store by signing the Product Request Petition. We’ll send these requests right to stores in your area so you can try our products as soon as they are available (we’re shooting for later this month). It’s a dream we’ve worked hard to achieve and our best hope of preserving our farms for future generations in the Valley.

*Images of Baby Buttercup and Colin and Chloe and their father Diron

Superstitions and Lore from the Shenandoah Valley


(The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mother Pat Churchman)
These sayings are taken from Shenandoah Voices:  Folklore, Legends, and Traditions of the Valley by late historian and author John Heatwole. I also threw in some cures. Images of the Shenandoah Valley and Mountains were taken by my talented family.
I knew and greatly respected John Heatwole.  He even helped me with some of the initial research for my first historical novels. The wealth of knowledge he amassed is just one of the rich legacies John left behind.
Shenandoah Voices is my favorite book by him.  I recommend it to anyone interested in the old ways and days of rural Virginia, especially the valley and surrounding mountains. I was also privileged to hear John speak on this fascinating subject. He’s best known for his vast knowledge and books about the Civil War. He was also an amazing wood carver/artist, a man of many talents.  Much missed.
(Image of log hog/chicken barn by my husband Dennis.)
****
Many early valley settlers were Scots-Irish, my ancestors among them.  People from the British Isles tended to be superstitious.  Also prevalent in the valley were Germans bringing the influence of the Pennsylvania-Dutch, another superstitious group.  To quote Michael Scott, boss from NBC’s hit show, The Office, “I’m not superstitious, just a little stitious.”
It’s bad luck to lay a hat on the bed.~
An itching nose means a visitor is coming. ~
A cardinal bumping against the window pane is an indication of an early death~
*To this I have to add ‘or an insanely jealous bird regarding his reflection as another male which tends to happen with cardinals.’
Peel an apple all in one piece and throw the peel over your shoulder.  When you turn around and look at it lying on the ground, whatever letter it reminds you of will be the first letter of your future husband’s last name.~ (This is an ancient Celtic Custom)
It’s bad luck to point at a rainbow. ~ *I suspect we are all guilty of this one.  Who knew?
It’s bad luck to bring a shovel into the house ‘because it is a grave tool.’ Some also think a hoe in the house bodes no good.~ (Image of old smokehouse from the outside and from the inside below. The smokehouse is at our favorite Christmas tree farm outside the tiny hamlet of Singers Glen.
(Images by daughter Elise.)
If you enter a house and leave it without sitting down it is bad luck.  Particularly if you leave by a different door than the one you entered.~
If a bird flies into your house there will soon be a death in the family~Within six months if a whippoorwill comes to your treetop and sings at night. ~ *How many of you have even heard a whippoorwill?  I have.
If a baby smiles in its sleep, the child is talking to the angels. ~ *My personal favorite.
Rain isn’t far behind when a tree shows the underside of its leaves.~
Count the number of foggy mornings in August and that is how many winter snows there will be.~ I heard this one not long ago and suspect it may be true.  I’m also a believer in wooley bears predicting winter…
A new moon with the points up means dry weather, and a moon with the points down means rain will soon fall. ~
If a full moon has a ring around it there will be snow by morning. ~
If the ring is large, the number of stars you count in it will be the number of inches that fall.~ *We say a ring around the moon means rain, or snow, within a few days.
(Creepy old barn up behind our house taken by Daughter Elise.)
Sheep shearing takes place around the first of May.  A cold rain will follow within a few days of shearing called a sheep rain. ~
On Ash Wednesday people made pancakes or the chickens wouldn’t lay.~ *We still have pancake suppers in the valley on that day.
Horse chestnuts carried in the pocket are thought to ward off rheumatism. ~
Sassafras tea is good to thin the blood. ~
Broth made from the hind legs of mice is good for kidney ailments.~ *Not tried this one. ‘Swamp root’ tea is also recommended for kidney disorders.~ I’ll have to research exactly what swamp root is.
(The Alleghenies by my mother)
For someone who is weak and recovering from long illness, make them sparrow broth tea. ~ *This supposedly saved my grandmother’s life when she was sick as a child.
Before taking a new baby out for its first ride (this probably applied to a wagon or buggy) the ‘herb lady’ rubbed warm bear grease on one of the infant’s palms and the bottom of the opposite foot thus insuring that the baby was protected from the rigors of the journey.
A hog’s tooth carried in your right pocket will ward off toothache.~ *Maybe I should take up this one.
Catnip tea was made for children with colic.~ Tea from peppermint leaves will stop a stomachache.~ *These are still practiced.
Sage tea will keep a woman’s hair from turning gray prematurely.~
(old bridge in the valley, bordering the Alleghenies by my husband)
Treat measles with sheep manure that has been boiled, strained, and diluted with moonshine.~ *I assume with enough moonshine the patient didn’t notice the manure so much.
For a bad cold put lard on your chest sprinkled with salt. Another remedy is a mustard plaster made with mustard, lard, and egg whites and laid on the chest~
Freckles on the face can be washed away on the first of May. If they are washed in morning dew, they will be transferred to the hands which can be dried on another less visible part of the body like the arms or legs and left there permanently.  It’s recommended that this practice be repeated for three years in a row to work. ~ Quite an investment in time.
(Image of river in the mist by my mother)
When mumps invade your house put hog manure on the throat as a relief or cure. ~ *Considering the stench of hog manure, I doubt the sufferer would find much relief.
To get rid of warts, tie a knot in a string for each wart you have and bury it under rock.  When the string rots the wart will be gone. ~

                   (Old house in the Blue Ridge Mountains by my husband)
If you are sitting up with an ill person and a spark flies from the fireplace in the room, it is a sign of impending death. (From Hardy County, West Virginia).
It would be a terrible mistake for you to kill a lightning bug because lightning might kill you during the next electrical storm. (From Wise County, Virginia)
In the Blue Ridge Mountains it was believed that if a glass fell from a table after midnight and rolled across the floor, a coffin would have to be made the next day.
And I could go on, but this is enough for now.  Well, maybe one more.
When springtime rolls around again, and if you are fortunate enough to make a wish on the first toad you see hopping by, you will have abundant good luck. (From Wise County)

(The Alleghenies by my husband)

August in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


COVER FOR SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS NONFICTION BOOKAn excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life,  Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 Epic eBook finalist. Available in Amazon Kindle and in print.

We’ve had many misty starts to the day this August. Haze hugs the pond, parting just enough to reveal the long-legged blue heron fishing for his breakfast. There’s a country saying about the number of foggy mornings in August being an indicator for the amount of snows we’ll have this winter––a heap, at this rate.

Dozens of swallows skim over the pond as the sun sinks below the Alleghenies. If I were standing on a distant ridge, would it sink behind me, or the ridge beyond that one?

TheTrisselPondThe water is calm now but was awash with waves during the storm that hit a short time ago. The grassy hill and maple tree are reflected on the surface, silvery and streaked with rose from the western sky. All is peaceful as a soft twilight settles over the valley. Utterly idyllic, until I pause to consider what all of those swallows are after. There must be clouds of mosquitoes.

Here’s another thought, where do all the birds spend the night? Are the woods up on the hill lined with birds perched wing to wing jostling for space on the branches? I’ll bet they make room for the big red-tailed hawk. He gets the whole tree––as many as he wants. It’s good to be king.

Hawk

Dennis, Elise, and I once saw a magnificent rainbow arching across the sky over the meadow. The magical multihued light streamed down into the pond and gilded the back end of a cow as she stood in the water. It startled us to discover that this was where we must seek our pot of gold. Though it’s apt, I suppose, for dairy farmers.

This is the day, sprinkled with fairy dust and frosted with gold. Go forth and find treasure, or seek it deep inside your heart, at true rainbow’s end.~

Huge Rainbow Pic

**Image of our pond taken by my mom, Pat Churchman

**Image of Hawk by daughter Elise taken up in the meadow behind our house

**Rainbow by Elise

 

‘Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.’ ~Regina Brett & Other Inspirational Quotes


mystical holy rays of light“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” ~Regina Brett, Author of God Never Blinks

My daughter Alison reminded me of this excellent quote. I contemplated what image I might use to symbolize the Divine and decided this mystical holy rays of light (royalty free image from istock) seemed best.

Ms. Bret has much wisdom.  Here are a few of her most noteworthy quotes.  With commentary from yours truly, of course.

colin and Grady-soft-coated Wheaton Terrier“Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.” ― Regina Brett

*Even a sympathetic dog will do.  Or a purry kitty, very comforting.  Although the dog will probably care more.  Cats have their own way of relating.

*My grandson Colin and his best friend Grady taken by daughter Alison.

“Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.” ― Regina Brett

*This is more true than many of us realize.  Definitely worth bearing in mind.

“When in doubt, take the next step.”
― Regina Brett

And from Folk Singer John McCutcheon, “Step by step the longest march can be won.”

To this I add, it helps to have a friend walk with you.

*Image taken by my husband Dennis of two little Old Order Mennonite brothers.

“God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.” ― Regina Brett

*Thank heavens for that!

My Fall Garden in the Shenandoah Valley--Beth Trissel“Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.”
― Regina Brett

“Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.”

― Regina Brett

*Yes, yes, very sound advice.  Tough to do.

“I once heard someone say that prayer is more than words. It’s a stance you take, a position you claim. You throw your body against the door to keep the demons from advancing and stay put until they go away.” ― Regina Brett

*Stand firm.  And may God be with you.

“Life isn’t about how you survived the storm … it’s about how you danced in the rain. Dance with me.”  ― Regina Brett

(Image of the garden and old red barn in the background)

*Perhaps a gentle shower, or mist.  It’s raining outside now and I don’t feel inclined to dance in it.  But her sentiment is lovely and I suspect not meant to be taken literally.

*Image of North River in the mist taken by my mom, Pat Churchman.

“…there were two kinds of women: those who wear nail polish and those who don’t. Which do you prefer?…” ― Regina Brett

*Actually, those who don’t.  There’s no way an avid gardener can keep their nail polish looking good, and I feel more at home with earthier sorts like gardeners.  Not that I will shun you if you wear polish.  You may have other superb attributes.

To Ms. Brett’s trove of wisdom I add my own adage, When the going gets tough, the tough get kittens.  And if it’s really tough I recommend a basket of kittens.   I also adhere to the eating of dark chocolate.  And to that Regina Bret says, “Resistance to chocolate is futile.”  I’ve already had my chocolate ration for the day.  May need to up the ration.

*Kitten image is royalty free, but perfect so I bought it.  We didn’t happen to have a basket of kittens on hand for this post. Although they are scampering among the corn, pumpkins, and potatoes in the garden.

“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.”
― Regina Brett

*Ummm, but not if you have anything contagious, please.  But I suspect that’s not what she intended.

*Image of my niece Cailin as the fairy princess.  An ardent believer in fairies whom I fully support.

“Your children get only one childhood.”
― Regina Brett

Unless you’re Peter Pan, or headed to Never Never Land.  In truth, some of us never really grew up, we just got older.

Lastly, do no underestimate the wonderfully restorative value of naps.  Even a cat nap does a body good.

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”  ~Irish Proverb

“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”  ~Carrie Snow

Had mine today.

Bring on the kittens.  :)

Gardening and Country Life in the Shenandoah Valley–Beth Trissel


lilacs blooming in mid MayThis has been a challenging week in the garden weather wise–a hard freeze Monday night took a punishing toll and then the temps soared Wednesday and hot winds blew. My poor plants. The past few days have been blessedly mild and I’ve done as much damage control as I can. Fortunately much of what I grow is tough, plus I’m planting out new seedlings I grew in my greenhouse. This is one weary gardener with much left to do. On a brighter note, daughter Elise got our her camera and took some lovely and endearing shots that remind me why I bother. For better or worse, this is my life and I wouldn’t trade it. There’s nothing like living in the country, especially the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. But I’m praying for rain. A light mist is falling now. More, please, but not a flood. You have to be very specific with your weather prayers. Onward ho.

(Very hardy late season lilac with the sweetest blooms)

mama goose and goslings

***Mama Goose taking our latest goslings on an amble.

Eons ago husband Dennis bought two pair of barnyard geese because I was into decoupaging eggs. That hobby has long since passed, but the geese have thrived. They eat grass, peck corn that spills from cow feed, and swim on the pond. We have a cantankerous gaggle that are part of the farm and always will be.

Below is a pic of our two bantam roosters, buddies and brothers, who have the run of the place and roost on the rafters in the barn at night, which keeps them safe. My daughter in law, who has chickens, gave us this pair. The few times she’s tried to add a hen it becomes a quick snack for some predator or other. Everything eats chickens. I’d like to have hens that can free range like these roosters but they’d have to be big and strapping, and learn to roost at night like the boys. The barn kitties get along with the roosters and the geese. An odd mix but they sort it out.

barn cat and roosters

May in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia–Beth Trissel


COVER FOR SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS NONFICTION BOOKThis excerpt is from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 Epic eBook Finalist, available from Amazon in kindle, and now paperback with lovely photographs taken by my talented family.

May

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,

Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

~William Shakespeare

the meadow and woods above our farmThe heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven.

Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkI’ve been thinking about my favorite places. The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal.

I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.

Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

moms-kitten-gosling-pic***Goose update. We spotted four new goslings yesterday.

*Images of the meadow and wooded hills above our farm taken by daughter Elise, Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a royalty free image, Kitten and baby goose taken by my mom, Pat Churchman

 

It Isn’t Spring Without Goslings–Beth Trissel


bluebells and jonquils2Mother Natures takes a long winter’s nap, and then Bang! Wakes up and there are a million things to do, especially if you’re a gardener. And I am. I have the aching back and carpel tunnel flare up to prove it. But my flowers, herbs, and vegetables beckon and the call of birds floats through the window like a siren song. Every living creature is busily about the business of spring. I can hardly bear to be indoors on these gorgeous days,  so keep looking out the window, promising myself I can go back outside soon if I rest my hand awhile. Or dart back out anyway. (Image of daffodils and Virginia Bluebells in my yard.)

Old red barn April 2011 243Yesterday, I saw three goslings with their mama, papa, aunties, and uncles waddling past the white flowering pear trees up by the old red barn. But they escaped before anyone got a picture. Later in the afternoon, daughter Elise, my three year old grandbaby Owen, and I walked all over the farm beneath a sparkling blue sky seeking the goslings. We never did find them. Then today, I spotted the trio and their family foraging in the flower bed along the road. Not a safe place to be, so I raced out to shoo them away. A friend tried to take pics, but they fled in a frenzy of honks. Geese are fussy at best and especially protective of babies. Dennis caught up with them in the meadow. He also got some pics of a pair of gray geese nesting in the barn. They were not happy. The zoom feature on his camera is handy to have as geese will pinch you hard if provoked. Getting anywhere near their nest is against the rules.

Geese and goslingsAn Excerpt from my nonfiction book about Gardening and Country Life, Shenandoah Watercolors:

“Our meadow is as lush as I’ve ever seen it. Thick grass, reaching past my knees, spreads in a green swathe from fence row to fence row and sparkles with bright gold dandelions and buttercups. The elusive meadowlark, my favorite songbird, trills sweetly from some secret place hidden in the green. Rarely, I catch a magical flash of yellow as it flies, just before it tucks down again. Sandy brown killdeer dart around the edges of the pond on their long legs, sounding that wild funny cry peculiar to them.

???????????????????????????????The green-blue water that fills the banks of the pond now had dried to a painful parched puddle last summer. Migrating mallards and ruddy ducks ripple over the surface, bobbing bottoms up, and fill the air with busy gossipy quacks, content and happy creatures. Not so the plump gray and white barnyard geese. Their honking clash and chatter punctuates life on the farm, more or less, depending on their current level of hysteria.

Gray Geese sitting on eggsSome of the geese have been here for ages, waddling about with their broken useless wings, reminding me of nervous old ladies who can’t find their glasses and are forever misplacing their grandchildren. Even well-intentioned geese are extremely absentminded. More than once we’ve had to rescue a frantic gosling inadvertently left behind by its addled elders in a hole wallowed by the cows. Silly, silly geese. I scold the dogs when they’re tempted to chase and annoy them. Too easy, and it doesn’t seem fair.”

Images of our geese and the babies. Old red barn above.

Goslings and three geese