“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

[Annie Dillard]

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/06/10/12937/

Farm Catch Up

The hens and turkeys have been moved out to the coop!  Hooray!  We were only able to leave for 48 hour increments for a few months while they were in the brooder so this feels like freedom to me.  Our flock is tremendously beautiful and diverse.  Our turkeys, too, are beautiful birds.  I never thought I would say this, but I really love those turks.  I’m a turkey girl!  They’re kinda chill but also sort of zealous.  It’s the strangest thing and difficult to describe.  If you’ve raised turkeys you know just what I mean.  We bought three meat birds from our local ranch supply because we didn’t want to order 15 birds from afar, 15 seemed like too many but what we were really after was a mixed bag of heritage turkeys.  Did you know that white and bronze turkeys (your run of the mill meat birds) have been so selectively bred that they cannot reproduce without the aid of artificial insemination and at about a year old, their legs actually give out?  They are not physically equipped to hold themselves aloft!  It’s just the saddest thing.  They have been so tampered with they’re ill equipped for life.  Anyway, Robbie found a local heritage turkey breeder in the Boise area and we managed to score 7 more turkeys for our flock and they are all hybrid heritage breeds.  YES!  I can’t wait to see their adult plumage.  We’ll hold our heritage turks over so they can lay, hatch and rear their own broods in the spring.  All of this is to say, I think it’s great to buy (if you can) a locally raised, organic, heritage, free range turkey for your holiday  meals, additionally, those birds are most likely raised by your local ranchers and famers and since we’re on our way to being a small, niche market farm, I will say thank you in advance for knowing your farmers and supporting your farmers.

Check with your local butcher shop and order up a beautiful turkey when the holiday seasons roll around.  I think they taste better, too.  Whether it’s my soul telling me so or my tastebuds…I’ll never know.

Our place continues to be an amazing oasis for every living critter you can imagine.  But the bird variety, well it takes the cake!  I suspended a pair of hummingbird feeders in front of the studio windows and I feel my friends keep me company all day long while I work or tinker.  You can’t even imagine what I see on a daily basis.  I love to work and create at my benches but more often than not, I feel mildly tortured by the view of the outside world.  I want to be out there all the time, walking, running, hiking, rafting, fishing, exploring.  I want to be nestled by the river edge with the wind in my hair and the scent of wild rose all around me.  But while I work, if I look up and catch a glimpse of a oriole or hummingbird or hear the doves sighing from the pine trees or the yellow-winged blackbirds in the weeping willow at the trout pond…I know I can make one more solder, one more hammer strike.  These small sensory things sustain me as I work and what a gift it is to be able to explore and find treasures in my own yard, or out in the hayfields.  I love it here.  This land of ours gives me so much, every single day.

On a side note, last night while I was running, Tater Tot was sprayed a few times by a skunk.  I could smell him downwind by a quarter mile.  I recalled him to my side and we kept moving together across the landscape.  I suddenly saw the skunk that sprayed him in the distance.  As we gained on her, I noticed her gait looked a little strange.  She was loping down the path ahead of us and suddenly she turned to the side and I could see that she was carrying her skunk-pup in her mouth as she ran.  She was ferocious.  When she saw us at her six, she wheeled around and galloped at us with hellfire in her eyes!  I screamed and hollered at Tater Tot to heel and we booked it out of there.  She chased us for twenty feet before she dove with her baby into a thick clump of sagebrush.  It was magical and darnit that baby stinker was cute!  From now on, when ladies talk about how they are a mama bear regarding the safety of their children, I am going to correct them and let them know they are more like mama skunks.

The kittens continue to be my everliving joy.  I love them so.  I am currently transitioning them into the outdoors.  They are nine weeks old and they lived those first nine weeks of their lives in my studio which is where they were born!  They’re my sweeties.  But the time has come for them to sow their oats and learn to hunt and be in the bigger world.  I’ve shifted them out of the studio and into the garage.  From there, a few days hence, they’ll be moved outdoors full time.  One kitten (the one with the tail) is headed to a fire family in the McCall area and I will keep the two manx kittens — Sausage Patti and Pilgrim.  They’re something else!

Sugar Baby has started bringing home vole kills and mouse kills for the kittens to check out.  She plays with her kills so they can see how to bat, snatch, catch and dispatch a critter and she also teaches them some etiquette…she growls if they come to close to her while she is handling a kill though it’s all for show.  The lesson she is trying to teach is that they can’t approach and take another cat’s kill.  Her teachings are obvious to me and I continue to be fascinated with her mothering skills.  She’s been entirely remarkable.  I’m thankful these kittens have been living so close to us, it’s been tremendous to watch our critters do their thing.

Robbie was home for the weekend and he took an extra two days off because he is headed for the smokejumper satellite base in Silver City, New Mexico!  YEE HAW!  We’ve wanted this detail for years and I’m thrilled he is headed there this year.  He’ll be in that great state we love so well until the monsoons come (probably the end of July) and I hope to travel down and stay with him for a while.  This is all to say we had to do some serious mega work at the farm this week — I’m talking sun up to sun down sweaty, grubby hard work.  We took our first cut of hay on Sunday and the swaths look gorgeous.  In some parts of the fields the hay was as tall as my chin.  It’s glorious to see it all down, smelling sweetly and drying in the sunshine.  We also hired a local boy to be our farm boy — this is answer to prayer for me.  He’ll help us with all the irrigation and cutting schedule this summer as well as checking on livestock when I am away.  I cannot even begin to tell you what a relief it is for me to have his help in Robbie’s absence.  Every time I think about it I feel a tsunami of peace.  We also finally planted the garden over the weekend and we put in a beautiful, classy irrigation system, like we always do…well, like Robert always does.  He’s an irrigation genius.

We were talking last night about how we’ve been married for 13 years and no matter where we have lived — Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Washington — we have never missed a single summer season of gardening.  We’re passionate about it and we’re good at it.  When we lived in the low desert of Arizona, we had two gardens a year, a winter garden and a summer garden.  It’s one of the things that makes a place feel like home to us.  At any rate, the garden space we are using is a total reclamation project.  It hasn’t been tended to for years.  It had a mature elm tree growing in the middle of it (Robbie cut it down).  It also had a gorgeous lasagna of straw, sheep poop, chicken crap, grass clippings and compost so it’s pretty beautiful, rich soil.  Black gold, as some say.  That said, getting that space planted was a full on war with rogue root systems, crab grasses, wavering pitchforks and generally low electrolytes for the human consortium but we got the darn thing planted.  Alleluia.

I always feel lucky that I grew up under the wing of a mom who is a gardener.  She always planted and tended a garden wherever we lived and I know that part of why I grow things is because she led me in this direction by example, as her mom (my grandmother) led her.  Growing things connects me to all my mothers who came before me.  When my mom puts a plant in the ground, she pats the dirt around it and says, “God bless it.”  I think there’s some kind of honest, beautiful magic in that so I do it too.

God bless it all.  And may every root travel deep.

I made it.  I made it through 2.5 of the most busy, most full, most wild months of my life.  Starting in April, I traveled for photography work, I zipped home to Canada to see my family, we made the transition into the fire season by moving the Airstream up to McCall for the summer, the transmission in our big Dodge blew up in the middle of nowhere putting us down to one vehicle between us (while living in two different places), we bought a car, we bought $500 worth of high quality poop for the gardens here, Robert planted a huge asparagus patch, I traveled for work, I slaved in the studio, I traveled for work some more, we began irrigation on the hayfield, the farm was a revolving door and we had rich visits with many friends, I traveled more…a couple of days ago we wrapped an enormous shoot in McCall and that was that — the end of the line!  I have been extremely cognizant about keeping my schedule uncluttered this summer because last summer nearly killed me, I was stretched so thin by work. Currently, I see my summer months looking relatively wide open, there’s a whole lot of white space in my dayplanner, and I’m thankful I’ve practiced saying no as much as I have to photography gigs and various other work trips.  I need my life to slow down, especially during these fire season months when so much of our life details weigh heavily on me.

It’s weird, this place I am in with work.  I like to go back and forth between the metal and my cameras but flipping back and forth between the two mediums causes so much life chaos.  I didn’t plan to work with my cameras in this capacity, but the experiences I’ve had through photography work have been grand.  I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.  I reckon I’m in my 30s now, anyway, now is the time to have a cup that overfloweth…or in my case, many cups that overfloweth.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago now, right in the middle of the truck breakdown, the shift into the fire season (Robert was in the thick of the season refresher in McCall which entails lots of classroom work and practice jumps), we had a gaggle of baby animals at the farm and I was about to leave on a New Mexico shoot I was under contract for.  There was no way I could get home to his funeral and because of the speed of life here, I had to bundle up my emotions regarding his passing and shove them into some empty, echoing chamber of my heart, just to get by, just to get through the month and my work commitments.  It was difficult for me.  I felt emotionally taxed.  I am not repressive by nature.  I feel guilty for not getting home, I worry about what my extended relatives must think of me for missing the funeral, I feel thankful I was able to get home to Canada for a fast visit in March — to see him alive once more, to hug him and kiss him and tell him I love him…

Day by day I am pulling those emotions up, regarding my grandfather’s passing, and sorting through them.  I’m sure it will be a lifelong endeavor.

There’s a lake in McCall I love to go to.  I feel it’s generally overlooked by tourists and locals.  I go there because it’s empty and beautiful and I can be alone with the dogs and hear my thoughts.  The lake is edged by timber and snow capped mountains.  The shore is littered with tattered, water-washed driftwoods.  I often find myself hoping that my heart is like that lake, bottomless and blue and silken to the touch, framed with friendly timber and the enduring grit of granite.  I find myself hoping that the breeze on brilliant sunny days will keep the sapphire pulse of my heart free of debris, clear of log jams and winter killed trees — that those scruffy objects, bobbing and rotting and fading, will be pushed aside by winds and storms.  I hope that there, in the center of that blue heart-world, there is fathomless clarity, undiscovered depths and the sweet seam of mercy that stitches the water to the sky.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/05/24/12874/

Five pronghorn relics built of deep, solid sterling silver, turquoise, prehnite and a trace of 14K gold.  I’m listing these rings in my shop this evening at 8PM (mountain time).  Sizes range from 6-9.

Hope to see you there!

XX

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/05/15/12868/

I made a pronghorn ring yesterday.  You probably don’t remember but I worked with a similar motif 3 or 4 years ago.  I don’t know what made me suddenly return to it.  I simply sat down in my studio and said to myself, it’s an antelope kind of day, I think!

I’ve been slowly turning over my personal jewelry collection, selling bits and pieces, giving things to friends and family.  It makes me really happy to give my work away, to see an old piece I never wore much gain a new life with someone who cherishes it fully.  More than anything, I like to see the ladies of my life wearing my work.  It gives me a sense of closeness to them, to see something my hands made on their fingers, ears or around their neck.  I don’t know if they have a similar sense when they wear my work, maybe they don’t feel anything at all when they wear it, but it really does mean the world to me to be kept so close to them, to literally have echoes of my own pulse worn closely against their own.

I kept one of my original pronghorn skull rings until perhaps 6 months ago when I parted with it and sent it to a friend.  I reckon, if I miss a piece of jewelry enough, I can always make myself a new one…but I rarely do.  Once these things have left my hands, I generally feel the design has moved past me and out into the ethers.  However, I might make myself a new pronghorn ring.  For me, they are one of the ultimate and unmistakable symbols of the interior West.  When I see the pronghorn in the sage, all the scattered parts of me feel a sense of home.

To see the antelope is to be home.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/05/10/12862/