A farmhouse Christmas

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We've been in the farmhouse for a bit more than a year now, and while we still have a few projects left to do here and there, we couldn't be happier with to celebrate another Christmas in this house we've made a home. 

A little greenery goes a long way towards welcoming the season. A wreath here or there and a fresh blanket of snow, and it's a welcoming sight at the end of a drive. 

The house doesn't ask for much for decoration. And I prefer the simpler touches anyhow. I had made garlands of walnuts years ago that I store away and pull out each year. A few sprigs of greenery for the fireplace mantles, and the dining room is ready for family dinner. 

I walk down to the woods and cut a few fresh boughs to hang on the house and the door. A few bows, and a simple garland on the bannister. 

The library's beautiful murals and brick red paint are almost enough decoration for the season. Stockings hung, nutcrackers vigilant next to the fireplace, and a small tree wrapped in burlap garland to hang a few special ornaments. 

The family room gets the big tree and presents waiting for Christmas morning. The house is cozy and warm, with a lived-in feeling that I can only imagine the more than two hundred years pf families and Christmases that have made this home has seen would approve of as well..

At least our pup George declares it good enough. And so do I. 

Merry Christmas to all - I hope to see more of you in the new year. 

Happy merry.

Dear friend,        

This week my lovely Bride asked me why a pile of lumber had appeared in our driveway, thinking maybe I had some Christmas project in store.

“That’s for the garden beds,” I said.

 “You do know it’s December, yes?” she replied. Which, from her perspective, was probably a perfectly rational thing to ask.

“Yes. But one day, it will be warm again. And I want to be ready.”

 Every once in a while, someone asks me where I’m from. I’m always mildly surprised that my liberal usage of words like “Y’all,” “Ma’am,” and “It’s not breakfast without gravy” don’t give it away.

 The guys in the local feed store know where I’m from. I’m the guy buying packs of vegetable seeds in March, a full two months before the locals put away their snow shovels. It’s the South in me that’s in an ongoing struggle with the length of a Maine growing season. Which is rather shorter than my Georgia roots feel is appropriate for anything called “summer.”  I’ve come to love all the New England seasons (except maybe that six-week interval between Winter and Spring, which locals call “Mud”). However, calling the two and a half weeks of mild heat we get in Maine ‘Summer’ is more of a polite euphemism than accurate description.

 This is not the South, where you can lazily decide to put in a tomato plant or thirty any weekend between April and June, and expect to harvest a bumper crop of red awesomeness to top your sandwiches with for months to come. You have got to be *ready* in Maine, or you’ve missed your opportunity and you’ll have to wait for at least one more Mud to come and go before you get to plant again. And like any good child of Appalachia, I like my winter pantry stocked full of the bounty of summer. My Bride will pickle and can corn, zucchini, beans, watermelon rind, and pretty much anything else that used to be tethered to a bit of dirt.

 Last year, I managed to get a little early spinach in the ground, and some lettuce that was worth eating. But I got so busy that even the zucchini I managed to eventually get out into the garden struggled to grow.

When you’re struggling to grow zucchini, either you’re from Los Angeles, or you’ve something seriously wrong.  I’m pretty sure there are Inuit families that can grow enough squash to get sick of zucchini bread before the 4 hours of Barrow, Alaska summer is over.

So yes. Garden beds in December.

It’s snowing outside at the moment. But I’m going to ignore that white crap falling from the sky and go build me some raised beds. Screw winter. And screw Mud.  

Maybe I’ll plant a Christmas tree.

When you come visit, bring seeds.

The Gradys   

March came and went. And it left pigs.

March went by pretty quickly. In part because I was traveling quite a bit for work. Which isn't my favorite way to spend my time, but it sort of comes with the gig. And it tends to come in waves, when it comes. I think this March was a particularly big wave. I was gone 3 out of the last 4 weeks. But on one of my few weekends back in Maine, I managed to go pick up two piglets. 

The kids got to name them this year. The darker one was named 'Apples' by the Boy. The Critter asked if she could name hers after a character from a book. Sure thing, kid. The lighter one thus named 'Beth'. 

(I didn't ask, but I'm pretty sure she was thinking of 'Little Women' - Beth was the sister that died later in the book, for the record. There's not much doubt about the fate of these little bacon seeds in our house). 

A couple of days or so after the piglets showed up, it snowed. (Because: Maine). George is still trying to figure out what kind of dogs these things are. 

The pigs this year are a different breed - they're a Yorkshire x Tamworth x Oldspot cross. A leaner, longer, bacony-er pig. Which is totally a thing. The Oldspot is a fattier, heritage breed, which grows great hams. A longer pig gives you more belly. Hence: more bacon. But I still fully expect these to make great prosciutto. 

These particular prosciuttos will be ready for slaughter in early fall. In the meantime, we'll all enjoy their presence, and - when I'm not traveling - I'll get to enjoy my morning livestock rituals once more. 

Happiness.