Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year from Glenrose Farm! Posted by Picasa
Looking out on the last day of 2005

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Morning Mist and Cloud- Looking East Towards Skyline Drive Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

We had a good Christmas here on the farm. The lamb count is up to eleven, with two new additions today. The picture below is obviously not the farm. It is instead the view down Main Street in Front Royal, taken tonight on my way home from the office with a new digital camera, courtesy of my in-lawsPosted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

Like Elvis appearing on a tortilla, this simple snapshot shows that the universe is filled with mystery: Behold! My simple flock revealed as ghostly demon sheep! As always, you can click for a large version.

In the midst of the holiday rush, it is good to see someone who is content with the basics of life, a little hay, a little water and a warm spot out of the weather with your lambs.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Posted by Picasa

New arrival on an icy Friday morning

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

December's first lambs arrived this evening. As we walked up to the barn to feed, there were sheep were there should not be sheep, telling me that at least one gate was down, and probably more. As I groped for the light switch, I heard a smaller voice mixed in with the baaas of hungry ewes. Making my way through the tangle of sheep and fallen gate panels, there she was in the shadows, trapped under a gate and calling out to her mother, who was busy with her twin. After a quick rescue, she went into a pen with a heat lamp in place overhead. Too chilled and weak to stand, she couldn't suck, so we made do with a bottle brought down from the house. I hope that will be enough. I hope she will find her strength and make it until morning. She is the one with white on her head, just to the right of her brother. The other lamb is doing well, and in this picture is trying to persuade his mother to stand up so he can finish dinner.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The leaves are a bit past peak now. High winds yesterday took them from tree branches and sent them swirling around the house and barn. Here is the view looking east towards Skyline Drive Sunday afternoon. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

We have an old dog who's sense of time is slipping. He woke me up at 2:00 a.m. whining to go outside. When I opened the door I heard dogs barking in the pasture, at least one low loud bark mixed with the high pitched yapping of smaller dogs. To a shepherd, these are not comforting sounds. They are the kind of sounds that mean sheep running in a panic through the fields and seeing vultures circling in the morning. After letting the old dog back in, I headed down through the barnyard with flashlight and rifle in hand. Four ewes and the llamas were waiting by the barnyard gate, agitated, but unharmed. After herding them through into the field closest to the house, I walked up the hillside, swinging the light over the fields as my eyes adjusted to the dark. The sound of the neighbors' dogs echoed off the hillside, but our trespassers had lapsed into silence. One quick glimpse of glowing eyes retreating towards the woodline, and they were gone. I waited for a while the under the night sky, moonless and star-filled. Finding Orion, then the Dippers and the Pleiades, I listened again. Hearing nothing, I headed back to the lights of home.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fall color, frost and a slice of morning sun.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Here is another picture from last week's sudden snowfall that left us bemused and the sheep in search of any bare patch of grass. One ewe, bottle-raised and still convinced that we are her flock, stood by the door befuddled by the change and loudly complaining. The snow left as quickly as it came, followed by a succession of Indian Summer days, the slanting light on the newly green grass somehow reminiscent of Spring in spite of the fall colors around us. We know though that Winter is on its way and soon enough Spring will be both a hope and a distant memory.

Here is a poem from Wendell Berry's latest collection in praise of the lushness that this last week has been an echo of:

The woods and pasture are joyous
in their abundance now
in a season of warmth and much rain.
We walk amidst foliage, amidst
song. The sheep and cattle graze
like souls in bliss (except for flies)
and lie down satisfied. Who now
can believe in winter? In winter
who could have hoped for this?
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday afternoon with the flock
Saturday morning; mist, cloud, and a little fall color

Thursday, October 27, 2005

After experiencing an onslaught of comment spam, I have reluctantly switched on the "word verification" feature in the hope that I will have fewer messages left by machines that want to sell me something or leave links salted on the page. I apologize to you real people out there for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A sudden snowfall took us by surprise this morning. Cold air that was supposed to bring us frost met wet air from the hurricane here by our mountains. It will be gone by evening, turned to rain as the day warms slightly.

Monday, October 24, 2005

This morning's forecast from the National Weather Service makes it official, summer is over:


The late rains these last few weeks brought the pastures back to life after a dry summer. I was hoping the frosts would hold off and allow a little more late grownth before we head into the winter. The more forage left in the field, the less hay we have to feed through the winter. One of the first signs that you are thinking like a farmer is realizing that there is direct link between the weather and your wallet. Sun and rain are, of course, beyond our control, which builds in a certain level of uncertainty into even as small a farming operation as ours. Being dependent on forces beyond one's control can have a salutary effect on a modern such as myself. I am not by nature a pious person and, left to myself, would agree with the old cowboy in a Tom T. Hall song who said "it don't do men no good to pray for peace and rain. Peace and rain is just a way to say prosperity, and buffalo chips is all it means to me." Nonetheless, there is something about the sight of the flock content on good pasture that brings pleasure apart from the economic reward. It leads almost inevitably to prayers of thanksgiving. Likewise, thinking of fields turned brown by drought, and the prospect of winter snows, I find myself praying the words of intercession from the Sunday liturgy: "For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons" with an unaccustomed fervency.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My apologies to those faithful few readers who have been stopping by this past month in the expectation of seeing new material. When I wrote last it was the end of Summer. We are now well into Autumn; leaves beginning to turn and a noticible chill in the morning air. With the change in season, perhaps I can have a change in habit and return to daily updates. In the meantime, here is the view from our hillside farm on an October Sunday morning. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Morning shadows, mist and cloud.

We get up early out here and, as the days get shorter, easily beat the sunrise. Here is another of Susan's pictures looking from our house over across the fields last friday as the first light comes through the morning mist.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Lines in the landscape. (Picture taken one morning this week by Susan)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A llama comes calling.

Crossing Lines

Up sleepless a few nights back, I pulled a book by my friend Jonathan Chaves out of the bedside stack and read this translation of a poem by the Sung Dynasty poet Yang Wan-Li:

Crossing Jun-p'o Bridge

I started to walk over Jun-p'o Bridge,
wondering when I will reach Chiang-tung.
Suddenly I notice a marker in the middle of the bridge
and realize that half my foot is already there.

I have always loved boundaries and that odd feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing a state or even a county line. It is a kind of game we humans play with ourselves: Draw an imaginary line across a piece of the world and live as if it were as real as the landscape. But nonetheless, I never tire of the idea that, with the first step you are one place, with the second you are someplace else entirely. In the poem cited above, a twelfth-century Chinese scholar-bureaucrat amuses himself with the same thought, showing that my observation is neither new nor original.

It brings to mind an old joke about a man in his late 90's who has lived all his life on what he thought was the Canadian side of the U.S./Canadian border. As the joke goes, a survey crew stops by and tells him that, with their new instruments, they have determined that he is actually an American citizen and ask how he feels about it all. The old man considers it for a moment and says he is greatly relieved, because he really didn't think he could survive another Canadian winter. I know; it is not that funny, but it's always been a favorite of mine and seems to capture exactly the oddness of our habit of drawing lines on maps.

A friend told me that once, at Four Corners New Mexico, starting at the point where the map lines came together, she danced through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and back.

Friday, September 02, 2005

It seems that I am not quite back to daily updates yet. The lawyer part of my life has been demanding more time lately, and like everyone else, I have been glued to computer and tv screens following the events in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The hierarchs of the different Orthodox jurisdictions in America have called for the faithful to give sacrificially to the relief effort. You can donate on-line to the Greek Archdiocese Hurricane Relief Fund by going here. The Orthodox Church in America is requesting that money be funneled through International Orthodox Christian Charities. Online donations to the IOCC are being accepted here. The Antiochian Archdiocese is taking special collections the next two Sundays in all their parishes for Katrina relief.

The appeal from Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese can be read here. Metropolitan Herman of the Orthodox Church in America writes here and the encyclical sent to his parishes by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Archdiocese can be read here.

Update: Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese has called for a collection from his parishes. The text of his appeal can be found here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

In the country, everybody loves a pick-up truck.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Things I have braked for this month

Box Turtle
Sheep (many, many Sheep)

Monday, August 22, 2005

End of the day, looking out towards Hogback Mountain.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

No, we have not opened a gyro stand here on the farm. The picture above is from the Greek Festival this weekend at the Orthodox Church in Winchester, Virginia I attend as an alternative to the long drive down into the city. For those of you who check in regularly, my apologies for the lack of updates this past month and a half. The press of work, a bit of travel and the odd bout of illness have all contributed to my blog holiday. Nonetheless, I am back, and regular farm blogging will resume shortly.

Here is your blogger doing his anglo best to master the art of Greek fast food. Who says an old dog can't learn a new trick?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sheep stops by for a chat after breakfast.

Monday, July 04, 2005

This afternoon older son and I went down to the Browntown 4th of July celebration. The festivities are kicked off with a small but enthusiastic parade through metropolitan Browntown, followed by food, games and fireworks at the old Browntown School, now a "Community Center."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Peacock on a Sunday Afternoon

Monday, June 06, 2005

I downloaded some pictures from my wife's camera and found this one of your blogger communing with our visiting snapping turtle. (By the way, the t-shirt was a radio station freebee from last year's County Fair. If I had to hand out an endorsement, it would be Dr. Pepper or maybe the cheap diet ginger ale from Giant.)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Today would have been my father's 73rd birthday. I went down to the city for Church, and after teaching my high school sunday school class, went on to Arlington Cemetery, where he is buried together with his mother and father. Through a quirk of fate, Arlington is his family's graveyard. His father, my grandfather, died at age 48 when Arlington was just one of a number of government cemeteries and not yet our national shrine. My grandmother, left a widow with a son to support, found out that her husband's brief service at the end of the first world war qualified him for a funeral beyond what she could otherwise afford and provided a grave site only a few miles away from her home. Thirty two years later she was buried in the plot she had reserved next to him. At my father's death, his own time in military service allowed him to be buried together with his father. It is a beautiful spot with the finest company imaginable. I believe he would be pleased.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Turtle wins!

Sheep v. Snapping Turtle

After hanging out on the lawn, our turtle friend turned and strolled over to the cluster of trees where part of the sheep flock was resting.

We had a surprise guest this afternoon when a snapping turtle walked across the lawn up to the front of the house.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sheared sheep with lamb.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dottie, the woollier one on the right, is a bottle lamb, hand raised by a friend of ours this winter when she failed to thrive at the barn. She is, perhaps, a little too people friendly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tuesday morning sunrise.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Another day down at the barn shearing sheep. It still amazes me to see them step on the stand looking like ragged clouds and step off sleek as a greyhounds. Tonight I plan to soothe aching muscles and settle down with a copy of Theodore Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom, a collection of bleak but wonderfully written essays on the life of the self-perpetuating underclass in contemporary England. After almost twenty years of the practice of criminal law on both the prosecution and defense side, I experience the shock of recognition on almost every page. The pathologies he describes may be more acute in urban Britain, but they are progressing nicely even here in rural/suburban small town Virginia. I would recommend the book, but if you want to sample Dalrymple's writing on-line, try here.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

White sheep on Black sheep.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Busy day on the farm. We rounded up the sheep from the various pastures in which they were hiding and ran them down to the barn in preparation for drenching and shearing. Matters were delayed by a mid-morning thunderstorm, but enough sheep were under roof and dry so we were able to shear ten after lunch time once the drenching was done. (Yes, a professional shearer would do that many in an hour with time left over for a stretch and a cigarette, but it is an afternoon's work for us.) Many thanks to Lynn, Eleni, and Robin who came by to help out .

Friday, May 27, 2005

We have had several days of rain, with sun finally breaking through yesterday. Here is the view from the house looking east towards Skyline drive. An almost perfect afternoon, with one small dark cloud to keep us from getting too carried away.

For those who check regularly, my apologies for the lack of posts. Busy schedules in court and farm, as well as some new books by the bedside have cut into blogging time. I promise to do better in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Orthodoxy has a rich tradition of choral music. Our services are chanted and sung rather than spoken, with the human voice as the only instrument. Each national church has its own musical traditions, but underlying all of them are the eight modes or "tones" of Byzantine Chant. The traditional tones can be quite a shock to someone who has only encountered Orthodox music in its lush, more westernized Russian incarnation. It is emphatically not western sounding, with a modal scale that strikes the uninitiated as sounding positively middle-eastern. Nonetheless, once you get your ears adjusted, there is a delicate and somber beauty that is hard to reproduce in Western notation. I have made a few attempts at the traditional tones over the years. The result was disheartening, rather like listening to the Lawrence Welk Orchestra working its way through the B. B. King songbook. Nonetheless, I still have hopes. The Greek Archdiocese has a resource for the do-it-yourself student at its On-Line Chapel; a whole page of links to introduce the novice to Byzantine Chant.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today Huw links to a site on apocalyptic ideas in Old English literature. It brought back fond memories of staring bleary-eyed at my copy of Beowulf back in 1977 trying to turn the oddly familiar yet foreign phrases of Anglo-Saxon into something I could understand. Besides the links to the apocalyptic material (no, it did not start with the "Left Behind" books) there is a wonderful set of links to materials on Old English life and literature, including language lessons. The site contains my own favorite Old English poem, The Dream of the Rood, a uniquely Anglo-Saxon poetic meditation on the Cross.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It has been a while since I have put up a post linking back to one of the bloggers who show up regularly in my referrer logs. Todays link is Ever So Humble, a blog from the New Hampshire Seacoast. She has become a favorite stop for information on everything from seasonal changes to high school lacrosse to the Weekly World News.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

We had planned on shearing the first of the flock this afternoon. A thunderstorm had plans of its own, so we spent the afternoon inside watching rain blowing down sideways instead. With each lightning flash, the portable phone in the kitchen would ring once before the thunderclap. Mother Nature calling!

Ready for rain.