A Rare February Weekend

What a treat this past weekend was!  We were in the mid 60’s on Saturday and almost hit 60 on Sunday.  I can’t remember having days this warm in February in Upstate New York, and the coming week is shaping up to be just as warm.  While this weather is welcoming after the cold and snow we’ve had over the last couple of months, it’s not so welcoming knowing that this warm weather will confuse all the plants and trees.  I noticed some of the buds on my apple trees starting to pop.  I have a feeling we may be seeing flowers much sooner than normal.

We definitely took advantage of the weather and got outside both days.  We do most of our tree pruning during the winter months when it’s healthier for them and easier to see all the branches.  It’s also nice to have it done when Spring hits so we can focus on the gardening and landscaping, and of course mowing. We were able to tackle quite a bit of the pruning, and were able to do it in short sleeves…IN FEBRUARY!

Pruning trees in the orchard

The chickens were let out for some free ranging on both days, and does that ever make them happy!  I only give them supervised free-range time because I’ve seen foxes, hawks, raccoons, coyotes and a mink on our property and would be worried sick if they were out there all day unsupervised.  I get too attached to my animals, so I want to protect them as much as possible.  Plus, I’ve put a lot of time and money into raising those chickens, and we love their eggs, so I’m not going to put them in a situation where a predator could snatch them up in an instant.

I also spent some time experimenting with my new camera.  Right now with everything still drab outside, my best subjects are the animals.  It gives me such joy to watch my dog Garbo interact with the chickens.  She is the most gentle little creature, and they treat her like she’s one of them. It makes for some great pictures too!  I am really looking forward to everything coming to life around our property soon and capturing it all on the new camera.

Garbo chilling while the chickens scratch in the garden

It’s amazing how a couple of warm days in the middle of a cold, dreary winter can energize your soul.  I can really feel my motivation kicking into high gear to get seeds started, get the garden ready for planting, and get some new baby chicks.  Now excuse me while I get back outside to enjoy another beautiful sunny day!

Odyssey

As a child, I loved spending time on my grandparent’s dairy farm.  I was often in my grandmother’s large garden picking vegetables, or selling sweet corn at the little table in front of their house, or picking wild raspberries all around their fields which my grandmother would turn into jam and cobblers.  I would visit the baby calves in the barn a lot, feeding them and letting them lick my hands.  It is there where my desire to garden and my compassion for animals started to blossom.  

I was able to enjoy all those experiences on that farm up until I finished high school, and eventually the farm was sold.  At that time in my life, I cherished all my memories of spending so much of my childhood on the farm, but I had no desire to pursue a life of farming of my own.  I wanted to get out and see the world outside of the bubble of Western NY.  Eventually I landed in Washington, DC in my early 20’s and fell in love with being in a large metropolitan area.  From the job opportunities, to all the fabulous restaurants and national museums, to the swirling nightlife and cherished friends I made, it was quite a culture shock for me coming from a small farming town.  I was now the proverbial city mouse who left the haystacks behind (or so I thought!)!  While I was caught up in all the excitement of living in such a busy area, I remember driving back with friends from a hike at Great Falls one day and passing all these beautiful farms and thinking to myself how I’d love to have a small farm someday.  Not a big operation like my grandparents had, but a place with a barn where I could have some animals and a big garden.  Maybe it would be in Virginia, maybe it would be elsewhere, but that is the day I remember having a clear vision of the type of home I longed for once I settled down.  

After four and a half years in Washington, I moved on to an even bigger city…New York.  I thought I was well equipped for city living after being in Washington, but New York was on a whole other level!  I loved the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, but after each visit back home I appreciated my roots more and more.  It’s funny how I couldn’t wait to get as far away from home as I could when I was younger, but as I got older I realized the beauty in the area I grew up and how valuable it was to live close to family.  After three and a half years, with my sister about to have a baby boy, I left NYC to move closer to home.  

While I loved being around family more and spending time with my baby nephew, I felt out of my element.  In hindsight, I recognize that though I was drawn back home, I really hadn’t gotten the city out of my system.  So back to NYC I went, with no roommate this time, no job lined up, and single!  Once settled, I decided to give online dating a try.  After a couple of disappointing years, I knew I met “the one” when he expressed a desire to leave NYC for the country (that and other characteristics that made us so compatible!)  He fell for Western New York’s charms on a visit to my hometown.  Plans to escape the city ensued, and a year and a half from our first date we were married.  How lucky was I to find a guy willing to walk away from an 11-year career and life in NYC, and join me in fulfilling what has become a dream for both of us!

How We Got Here

I still pinch myself when I think about where my husband and I were six years ago compared to now.  We were living in Queens and both working in Manhattan, planning a move to Western NY with the hope of someday buying a farmhouse on a little chunk of land.  I’ve always had country blood running through my veins after growing up in a small town where there were more cows than people, so I was really longing to get back to my roots where I could sink my hands in the dirt.

I was checking out real estate sites before we had even moved, knowing that we would need to rent at least two years before we would be ready for a house, but I wanted an idea of what we might find.  This charming 200 year old farmhouse on 8 acres was listed for sale and I kept finding myself clicking on the listing over and over, but my husband told me to stop torturing myself because there was no chance it would still be for sale by the time we would be ready to buy.  We left the city and settled into a duplex apartment where we adopted our first dog together.  Fast forward about nine months and the same farmhouse was still listed and had even dropped in price.  At the advice of my realtor friend, we got pre-qualified for a loan and set out on our mission.  It was the first home we looked at, and we were in love!  We checked out two others just to say that we did, but we were drawn to that place from the moment I saw the listing back in NYC.  A few months later it was ours!

Our little piece of paradise right after we moved in. Things were a bit overgrown!

The homestead needed WORK.  Renovations were needed throughout the house and nature had long since overstepped its bounds outside, but we put our noses to the grindstone and can honestly feel proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.