Sunday, November 29, 2009


The calf is now nearly twice as tall as the goats, and her personality is beginning to shine. Yesterday I enjoyed watching her frolic with the does when they were put out to pasture, then chase a flock of starlings; today I shared one of the sweetest farm moments I ever experienced with her.
I was returning from watering the goats, which I had just milked; they rallied around, pushing and shoving each other, butting heads and biting ears: a street gang of four-legged hooligans. I filled their bucket, then headed in, but was distracted.
The calf was in the higher field with her mother, Buttercup, about 10 feet from the corridor fence. Buttercup's back was to me, and the calf was nursing noisily. I had a great view of this sweet moment, so I stopped at the fence to watch. The calf watched me as she nursed, glancing up with those big, brown eyes, then lifted her head and walked over to me. I reached in with both hands, and began to scratch her cheeks the way she likes; she raised her head, enjoying the caress, then looked at me: huge, brown, innocent eyes without fear or guile; long, black lashes on top and bottom: a wet mouth still frothing with her mother's milk; soft, honey-colored baby-soft fur, moist from nursing, covering her growing brow and glistening muzzle. She closed her eyes and craned her neck upward for more scratching, and time stood still while we merged our souls for a moment. And then we were done, but it was magical; I will never forget it. This sweet baby that I carried in from the field the hour she was born, the baby that grew shy and large, that wandered between the goats and the cows, but never approached the people...this sweet baby shared a moment in the sun with me, and my world was perfect.
What a beautiful day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Two-Days After Thanksgiving Dinner

Right now, if you were sitting here beside me, you would smell the following: a nearly roasted turkey with various local root vegetables also roasting inside of it, a dish of local cauliflower with olive oil and parmesan cheese (I had to...) roasting in the toaster oven, a big pot of chicken veggie soup for the kids at The Caring Place, et al, and a recently completed puff-pastry shell for the leftover peach pie filling from (the real) Thanksgiving two days ago. Why, you ask? Because I love leftovers. You don't get them unless you cook the bird yourself, most times. So I procured myself a lovely turkey and oiled her up and threw her in the oven.
There are a few complications this Thanksgiving. I have recently been informed that my triglycerides are creeping up though my cholesterol is doing nicely, thank you. The answer to this, in my estimation, is a low carb diet. And ixnay on the ine-way (at least mostly), to allow my liver do the job it was intended to do instead of poisoning my blood with excess carbs converted to fat. So I have found myself lively and full of energy lately, trying to navigate my way around excess carbs and bad fats, without the benefit of liquid mood adjustment. It's interesting. I got a lot more done today; it was easy sitting down and noshing my nights away before. Now, I'm looking for stuff to do! Bonus! Of course, I was also looking for stuff to do at 3 AM, but that's why I have a book by the bed.
I found a morning of "things to do" at the farm today, and I suspect I'll find them again tomorrow morning. That works. Then, at home afterward, I found this post-Thanksgiving dinner to make in order to provide decent and easily accessable protein through the week (and those coveted leftovers!). Peter found a day's worth of work at the farm as well, and has just joined me for a well earned dinner. The puff-pastry and peach filling were for him. I expect him to be comatose within moments. The poor guy really worked hard today.
On Thanksgiving Night, the dinner we were treated to at my good friend El's house was wonderful, properly filling, and featured enjoyable company; better yet, no dishes! She was a gracious hostess as always, and the capon she served was excellent: moist and plentiful. I do confess to my final carb pig-out that night. It was Thanksgiving. And I will remember it fondly as I embark upon this journey. Wish me luck! Those triglycerides ARE GOING DOWN!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Memories...All Alone in the Moonlight...

There has been a definite theme to my experiences this year; it's nostalgia...old friends. And you know, I've heard the same from other individuals in that group (not just referring to their relationships with me). We are searching out (or being searched out by) people with whom we shared significant memories, or repeats of the experiences themselves. What I want to know is...why?
As a 52 year old woman, I believe that most of my emotional angst is behind me. I am in a stable, happy relationship, am independent, am well established in my profession, and have grown a healthy adult daughter who has a family of her own. Things are pretty calm right now (knock on wood). There are the usual problems; we have financial struggles, illnesses in the family to deal with, young grandchildren and aging parents, and all of the logistic problems of a family spread to the winds; but in terms of my day-to day life, it's probably the most stable time I have ever actually experienced. So why the nostalgia? Is it because I'mfinally stable enough to look back, or be looked back at? I don't think so, but I may be too close to it to see the reality of the matter. I feel like it's something outside of me...something that I am being drawn into.
Tom said it best. He said that this last year, for him, was all about reconnecting. Not just with his living friends, but with friends and lovers who are gone. For him, it was so real that he nearly expected to see them; the veil between this world and the next had thinned for him, at least when we spoke of it a few weeks ago. The only time I expect to see my friends who have passed is in my dreams, where they carry on as if nothing has changed; maybe it hasn't, in some dimension untouched by time and our mortality. In my dreams, we still boat and fish, and cuddle under warm blankets. Is it real? We won't know until we...know.
My other experiences, here in the mortal world, have more to do with people who are seeking me out and chance meetings. In the past two years I have been reclaimed by several old, old friends...elementary school friends. Friends I used to go to "sleep-overs" and first dances with. I have been contacted by students from the first few years of my teaching career, now 22 years past. I have observed (from a discreet distance) one of my first true loves, now into his retirement years, looking like his father, demonstrating the traditional craft he and I learned together as teenagers. Though I had to look deep into his face to find him, I could see it was him by the curve of his forearm; I know his bones. I have begun to remember phone numbers, addresses and other trivia from my single-digit years, when I can barely remember the ones I have stored in my cell-phone now. I have been dreaming of my childhood as I approach my later middle life.
I want to know why. Is it a natural process we go through as we age, or is it something more? Is there a new paradigm? A change in reality that is about to occur? Friends involved in most religions seem to think a change is coming; some call it "End Times"; some call it a "New Millennium". World affairs remain ominous. The Mayan calendar is rolling quickly to its end in 2012. Nostradamus predicts dire consequences for our actions...and I sit back and watch it all, and wonder what on earth (or otherwise) is going on. While the world is apparently going to hell in a hand basket around me, and everyone is searching for the happy memories to hold on to, I'm living my naive life. Day to day. I'm content, amidst this desperation and memory mining, and I'm confused about the newly emerging pattern. I'm not ecstatic, I'm not anguished, I'm not desperate or rapturous...I'm just content, and it's all I ever wanted to be...(desperately, rapturously, when I wasn't). I don't understand. I welcome the renewed friendships...but I don't understand why, NOW.
I do admit to vast expanses of lost memories. I have led a tumultuous, dynamic life, and in the manner of people who have had emotional trauma, I have forgotten much. Sometimes this bothers me; more often, it doesn't, because I don't want to relive the pain associated with those experiences. I wonder if this personal history of mine has distanced me from the nostalgia others seem to be searching for right now; I don't know. Again, I don't understand.
Are you feeling nostalgic a BIG way? Do you have any idea why? Do you think it's the zeitgeist? Or is it just that my peer group is aging, and I'm still misanthropic? Help a buddy out, here. I need some answers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We're Beautiful. Winter is Coming.


The first shitakes.
Dinner tonight: Shrimp and shitake stir-fry with Thai peanut soup. Mmmmm.

Friday, November 20, 2009


One is a cow. Two is a pair of cows. Three is a group of cows. Four is a herd of cows. Three of the four cows in this herd are related to each other.
Say "AHHHH"!
I have a standing invitation to sample smoked beef tongue with an old and earthy friend of mine, Bonnie. I typically have enjoyed organ meats, and assumed this would be similar. This woman essentially taught me to cook, and is culinarally (is that a word?) adventurous. I will be forever grateful to her for that.
Today I saw our little calf licking her mother's shoulder. Mother was in a state of bliss. I have seem mother Buttercup wash the membrane from said calf, and lick her little wet body after she began to stand; I in turn have been licked/kissed by both of these sweet cows. Buttercup's sweet summer baby outweighs me now, and has outgrown the goats she plays with. The knee I blew when I helped carry her in from the field has healed and we're all moving on. Evolving.
I won't be eating that beef tongue. Sorry, Bonnie. I'd be vegetarian if I knew my meat animals. Even though our calf is still unnamed, she's family. I'm calling her Baby-cakes in my mind. I can do without eating my friends...but those darn roosters better watch their backs. We're NOT friends. I'm thinking "soup".

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Goat-rillas in the Mist

Need I say more?
I'm beautiful. Yes I am.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sheee-itake! Those are some quick mushrooms!

OH MY-COLOGY!!! Will you look at that oyster mushroom!
2 days growth? Are you kidding me?
Sheeee-itake! Those are some quick mushroom logs!
I hope the morels do as well in the spring!
Seriously, these kits are incredible. It's amazing to see the growth that ocurs in just one day.
I'm beginning to work on some of my homemade holiday gifts. A good recipe for chai showed up yesterday at "Cheap Like Me", one of my favorite blogs. I made up a batch last night, and had a cup before bed. It was heavenly! And the house smelled great when I was brewing it. So I made a few kits today, for some lucky friends this holiday season. I gussied them up a bit, and included ingredients and the directions..
Tomorrow: Ceramics with Stephanie! WooHoo!

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's in the Stars...or Meteors

Are you going to watch the Leonid Meteor Showers tonight? I don't know if I'll be able to do it; maybe I'll take a look when I wake up at 3 AM like I usually do. The peak hours are supposed to be from 11 PM - 4 AM. If I didn't have that pesky 5:45 wake-up call each morning, I'd be much more willing to make the committment, having experienced it before (an amazing celestial event!). If you CAN do it, DO it. You will never forget.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grow 'Yer Own

I am surrounded by remarkable people. They inspire me. Kathy, who has already mastered chevre, mozzarella, fromage, etc., has begun to age her cheddars. She runs a non-profit educational center, works as an obstetric RN, teaches, administers, writes grants, and mucks stalls. She trims hooves and trains dogs and horses, disbuds calves and goats, teaches children and adults, and mothers her own flock of children and grandchildren. She drives a team of draft horses. She helps animals birth their babies (and has done the same for people, as a nurse-midwife!) She introduced me to the cheese cave today, and showed me how she's aging her cheddars. Awesome.
Stephanie creates wonderful ceramic pieces based upon nature. She's an excellent printmaker, and my partner in the goat-milk soap line. She cooks wholesome, local foods, and is a budding entrepreneur. Excellent teacher, caver, homemaker and renovator. She can do anything she sets her mind to. Awesome.
My daughter, Megan, is a fantastic cook and baker. When she's not being a domestic goddess and a fabulous friend, she drives a several-stories-tall forklift and risks her life daily for her family. She's a loving and giving mother, a sensitive and strong soul, a crafty and hard-working woman. Awesome.
Shara knows where the ramps grow, and how to identify local mushrooms. She's a self-taught and fabulous forager. Daughter of one of the most human and intelligent men I know, niece of his equally wonderful twin, daughter of the woman who really inspired me to cook, she's ...Awesome.
There are so many more, and I'm so lucky to know them.
They inspire me. I love strong, motivated people.
They give me hope.
My new adventure: Starting today, I am growing my own mushrooms. I have always wanted to try this. This is day one. I'll keep you posted. Below, you see the Pom Pom Blanc and Oyster Mushroom logs.
Shitakes...YUMMMMMMMMM The Morel bed has been sown, and will hopefully fruit in the late spring. -------------------
And my previous "Grow'yer own" home made, natural wine. First decanting: Thanksgiving. This is the white grape batch. There are some other fruits as well, but these things are meant to be dealt with slowly. It's such a gift, to live creatively, in harmony with the earth. Good karma. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our Most Excellent Adventure

I took my class to the farm to study natural fibers today. It was a most excellent adventure. Though I'm not comfortable posting images of the students' faces, here are a few cute pictures of their day.
Say Cheese! or "Hay"!
The kids had a tour of the farm before we had our lesson.
Louie L'amour
Some had never seen goats up-close and personally before, and Louie was a big flirt.
Miss Kathy Spinning Her Wheel.
Kathy provided a wonderful power-point on wool, as well as hands-on experiences with pulling, carding, felting and spinning. It was a great day! I truly believe authentic experiences are so much more valuable than simulations or theory. Thank you, Kathy. We had a wonderful experience.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.

OK, I have an idea. Let me know what you think.
The way I see it, I have about 8 years max. to decide what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. Now, I know I'm not young, but there's no reason to just roll up and die if you reach a certain age, whatever THAT age might be. There's probably enough time to plan something pretty darn good, unless something cataclysmic like the end of the world in 2012 comes up. My life NOW is pretty darn good; I love my students, I love my subject, but I am becoming aware that I'm creeping up on the top of the age curve in my school. In 8 years (max.), I will have reached the age where retirement is feasible. But what the heck is RETIREMENT? I might want more control over my time, and more flexibility then, but I'm NOT QUITE DEAD YET.
I may have found the answer today. There are several contributing factors: 1. I need to formalize all of this post-grad education I have received before I retire in order to get my income where it should be. I've been giving it away for a long time, by choice, but I have my future to think of. 2. My husband's position as a researcher at Lehigh University allows me access to their graduate programs free of charge (for tuition). And my school reimburses a portion to the university as well, so this is a no-brainer. 3. They have a program that sounds........promising.
I do NOT want to sit through meaningless courses in order to get my income up. My district wants us to be in a graduate program in order to advance on the salary scale. I am interested in the following things: Art, education, farms, crafts, food, helping, animals, and the community.
Lehigh University has a graduate program called the Community Fellows Program. You work with a community organization for a year, intensely investing yourself in partnerships that benefit both the organization and the community. You take a few courses, and you get your masters degree. Boom. IF I can do this with the farm, and IF I can get accepted to the program, and IF I can get my school to approve, and IF I can integrate the traditional Pennsylvanian arts into a community based art education/cultural program (I KNOW I can!), I have a goal! This is where I can see myself in 10 years, when my work in the school district is done. In the mean time, I can benefit the school, the farm, the historical groups in the area., the arts, the children...I can see special needs children benefitting from this partnership, I can see the elderly included, I can see significant public school opportunities, opportunities for traditional artists, support for the just seems like a blossom waiting to unfurl.
Do you think the summa in 1988 means anything now?
God help me...I think I may see the future. I hope the pieces will all fit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The Gourmet Delight Package
Today I was the recipient of a late birthday present from Peter: The Gourmet Delight mushroom habitat package. Above, you see the potential beginnings of pounds of shitake, morel, pom pom blanc and oyster mushrooms from Gourmet and Mushroom Products. Though I'm home with a beginning cold today, I hope to begin these habitats soon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

If I Could Talk to the Animals...

I have been enjoying reading "Mondays with Martok", a clever blog written by columnist Sue Weaver, of Hobby Farms. Martok is the name of one of Sue's goats, and through his voice, we gain all sorts of insight into the subtleties of farm life. It's very clever and informative.
As I was checking out the Hobby Farms website, I found one link to their "Say Cheese" section, where you can submit pictures of your favorite critters. If you check it out in the near future, you will see Louie (a big white wether with big pretty horns) and one of our saanen goats, next to each other on line 4 of the current page of thumbnails. I submitted one of Faith today, with her Mona Lisa smile; check back soon to see if it was accepted!
I witnessed an incredible moment yesterday at the farm. Rebecca didn't know I was watching as she stood near the stalls and talked to the horses. I heard her voice, but not the words she was saying. I watched her body language, and she was quite matter-of-fact and emphatic. I suspect (now that I think of it) that my experience may have been much like the horses', considering the inter-species language barrier and my inability to make out her words. When she finished saying what she had to say, her hands went to her hips (her back was toward me), and the horses stood for a minute, then Star, who was in the stall nearest her, began to nod his head enthusiastically. I started to laugh out loud, and blew my cover. Rebecca is our very own horse-whisperer. It was beautiful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


You have to try this!
A combination of drawing, doodling, meditation and guaranteed success...what could you lose? This is the ultimate feel-good drawing project. It looks complicated, but it's not. Check out the instructions, explanation and gallery at

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Deborah Butterfield Horse. ART.
Today; what can I say about today? Just this: Thank goodness for the farm. Thank you Kim, for letting me ride Apples. Thank you goats, for being funny and difficult. And thank you Kathy, for welcoming me into the fold. Thank you puppy, for being enthusiastic. Thank you rooster, for looking into my eyes and not making me scared like everyone else. Thank you cats, for purring and playing.
A difficult day, otherwise. Someday, when I'm able, I'll write a book. Or a blog. Or a telling self-epitaph.
Art chronicles the history of humanity. It is a vehicle for self-discovery and expression. It is a language and a science. It has expressed our spiritual, intellectual and emotional experiences. It is a large part of many of our souls, and all of our histories. It is not "crap". It is not a frill, or worthless. If it is, so is my life, as I have been all about art since I drew my first breath. My life is precious. So is art. Without art, our lives would be meaningless. From the religons we practice to the advertisements we see, to the video games our kids play to the patterns on our drapes; it's so intrinsic to our experience that we no longer see it. Open your eyes. Art is everything.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hello, Moon!

I have had a few good horsehair evenings lately. Here are some of my newest pieces. I enjoy how portable this work is.
Red and black horsehair, 4 strand braid
Gold-filled wires with horse charms.
Gold filled wires, brass findings, with agate teardrops Sterling silver findings with black glass drops.
4 strand braid bracelet with magnetic clasp
4 strand and 5 strand bracelets with brass findings and magnetic clasps
If you might be interested in purchasing any of these, please inquire. They all benefit Flint Hill Farm, a Non-Profit Agricultural Education Center, and as such, are tax deductable.
There's a beautiful full moon out tonight, and if goat and human behavior are any indicators, I'd say it's about reached its apex. 'Nough said. I won't go into the human aspects, but I actually had a goat grab my pigtail (I have a long braid down the back) and flip it in the air as she was leaving the milking stand tonight. No kidding (pun intended!).

Busy Monday

Dinner at my Daughter's Place Yesterday Evening...
Birthday Flowers for Me!
Thank you, Sweetie!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome November

November 1st, a Beautiful Sunday.
Peter treated me to a class at My Father's Beads, a little shop in Coopersburg. A small but MIGHTY little shop.
Meet Susan Newquist, a horsehair and porcupine quill artist, who taught me to do a 4 strand braid today.
Susan creates custom work, and is very willing to work with her clients.
(Her work, below) This is my rendition of her 4 strand braid, using Flint Hill's horsehair. Who knew there was such a variety of thicknesses and textures in horsehair? Those drafts have big, strong hair, too.
My neighbor and good friend Pam accompanied me to the farm after my class, where her beloved cat Patches will be living now. It was a hard decision for her to make, but we know he'll be happy there, with no threat of nasty neighbors, brand new cat friends and acres of mice to hunt. Cat heaven. So many changes; life marches along.
It occurs to me that one of the few things that remains constant is our love for each other (and our pets). We come and go, but the memory of those emotions is as real in memory as it was in the moment. Loved ones gone remain beloved.
Today and tomorrow, All Saints and All Souls days, the Days of the Dead...let's celebrate our love for those that are gone from us, in one way or another.
Love survives.