Grit Blogs > Red Pine Mountain

A Lonely Farm

Wood shed and outdoor boiler

Red Pine Mountain logoThis winter, I found myself constantly slipping on the ice. One day, after watching me fall for the umpteenth time, my pragmatic Mountain Man said, “You’ve always got your head up in the clouds. You’re looking at the mountains, at the sky, at everything except where you’re going. That’s wonderful. That’s you; but why don’t you just watch your feet so you can see the ice and then you won’t fall as much?”

“No,“ I answered. “I might miss something and I’d rather fall.”

“I knew you’d say that.” Mountain Man replied.

That conversation in a nutshell sums up the difference between Mountain Man and me. While I’m off in the clouds thinking, dreaming, writing, falling and picking myself back up again, Mountain Man is steadily focused on the task at hand.

Last week, Mountain Man left Red Pine Mountain towing a horse trailer and taking two of the youngest and overly exuberant dogs. I was left alone on Red Pine Mountain and the responsibility of keeping the farm running rested solely in my hands. Mountain Man’s final words to me were “Don’t burn the place down.” To which I responded haughtily, “Of course I won’t.”

Weeks before Mountain Man had started planning his trip. Not only the routes he intended to travel but also the care of the farm and its smooth running while he was away. Daily he cut wood and stacked bin after bin in the shed so I’d be able to keep our outdoor boiler functioning. “Why the heck are you getting me so much wood? I won’t need all that. I’ll be fine.” “You wait,” he said. “You’re going to be surprised how much wood you’ll go through.” And I didn’t have just one pile of wood. He left me three piles. Dry wood, seasoned wood, not so seasoned wood. The techniques of keeping this outdoor boiler running would confound a scientist, and I listened carefully while he explained the burning system. And I learned that if I should let this beast of a boiler go out, the water inside it would freeze and burst our pipes and our boiler which had taken so much of our savings would be damaged.

He dragged box after box of kindling into the house for the wood stove so I wouldn’t have to use the axe to chop it and possibly cut off my fingers. He shored up the well in the barn to make certain it wouldn’t freeze and installed a new heating system and water line so I would be able to run water for the horses. He was afraid I would fall into the well reaching for the hose, a makeshift system he had in place while the barn was being finished.

Worried that I wouldn’t eat in his absence (he does all the cooking), he prepared and packaged individual meals for me complete with instructions for reheating.

Every day he checked the Weather Channel to make sure he wasn’t leaving Red Pine Mountain during harsh weather.

“Don’t worry about it. Don’t make such a fuss about it. If you want to leave, just go. I’ll be fine and I can take care of things. I’m not helpless you know.”

“No, I don’t want to leave you with any more difficulties than necessary. That boiler is a lot to handle. I also don’t want to leave you here with all seven dogs so I’ll take the two trouble makers (his affectionate term for our slobbering, exuberant 165 pound newbie, Tobias, and our German shepherd guard dog, Lilly, who considers everyone an intruder unless instructed otherwise by Mountain Man).

“The dogs will be fine. I’ll be fine. Just stop worrying about it. It’s no big deal.”

Finally, the day arrived when he felt everything was under control, and off he went. I let out a sigh, partly in relief because we had been in such a flurry of activity preparing for his departure and partly because the farm already seemed so empty.

And as the days passed with Mountain Man away, the nature of Red Pine Mountain changed. Gone was the hum of equipment running, gone was the sight of the tractor working, gone was the sound of music emanating from the shop. Gone were our evenings spent together laughing at the antics of our dogs. The farm was still and much too quiet.

The weather turned harsh and I discovered just how much wood a giant outdoor boiler consumes. My arms ached as I threw more logs into the belly of the beast, and I appreciated all the piles of wood Mountain Man left me because they were rapidly disappearing.

One night after crawling into bed exhausted, our 6 pound Chinese Crested dog started barking. “Be quiet Alvin,” I said, but Alvin would not be silenced. I headed into the kitchen to see what all the ruckus was about and discovered flames shooting out of the toaster oven which I had forgotten to switch off. I grabbed Mountain Man’s handy fire extinguisher, put out the small fire and gave Alvin very special treats, for without his barking, I would have been oblivious to the situation. Mountain Man’s parting words echoed through my mind, and I resolved to be more diligent.

This past week, I have come to realize Red Pine Mountain is Mountain Man. Perhaps I put our life into words but without his hard work every day and his attention to detail, Red Pine Mountain would be in shambles.

In his absence, I am sharing some of my favorite photos of Mountain Man, always looking where he’s headed, always sure footed, always working hard. Mountain Man who shows his love through his actions, and a sweeter love I could never find.

Mountain Man processes wood with the help of Lilly

Mountain Man installs drainage lines for my barn.

Mountain Man runs excavator.

Mountain Man works on the barn with helpers, Katie Whippet and Lilly.

george boothe
7/17/2010 9:18:16 PM

Hello mountain man and mountain woman. Love your place. looks really pretty there. I have one big question. How did you guys decide to give up city life for the country. See right now I want to move out like you folks and live off the land. I used to farm every summer with my grandparents on their farms. I loved it, and would love to share that experience with my kids and maybe teach them so skills for their life. My wife... not so thrilled... and very hesitant. some times she's like yeah lets go.. and other times she's like ... I'm not sure what i want to do. Any ideas on how to convince her it's the right thing to do? thanks, Big G

mountain woman
5/14/2010 10:06:54 AM

Samantha, Thank you. I do feel very blessed to have Mountain Man in my life.

5/14/2010 8:47:56 AM

Love this! What a blessing your life and your mountain man is!

mountain woman
5/13/2010 3:48:20 PM

Susan, Thank you for visiting. I know what you mean about a quiet house after a while. I also love my alone time to read and spend more time on the computer but after a couple of days, it really gets much too quiet.

5/13/2010 10:48:59 AM

Mountain Woman--what an awesome man you've got there! I had to chuckle as I read your responses to his concerns. I do the same thing when my hubby goes away--"quit worrying, I'll be fine, I can handle it." Inevitably some appliance goes kaput right after he leaves and I have to call his friend up the hill. And although I like having the house to myself for a bit, it does get awfully quiet. Susan

mountain woman
5/12/2010 7:23:13 PM

Oz Girl, Thank you so much for your kind words. I never know if I should send in posts such as this one that are more of me from my heart or just stick to technical stuff so thank you. I'm sitting here waiting for darkness to fall and the bear to hopefully not arrive and your cookies are keeping me well fed. I really appreciate your visiting me.

oz girl
5/12/2010 6:49:46 PM

You have a wonderful life in your northeast kingdom, with a wonderful man and sweet, sweet animal companions. As much as you feel that MM keeps your farm running (and I'm sure he does!) you are a team. I am sure that he would feel the emptiness of the farm were it you that were gone for a few days. I cannot express in words, adequately, how wonderful your writing is. This blog post was exceptional...keep up the good work! :)

mountain woman
5/12/2010 5:23:57 AM

Shannon, Thank you. I do feel very fortunate to have MM in my life. Cindy, I'm so glad someone else can relate to the toaster incident :-) Thanks to both of you for visiting me.

s.m.r. saia
5/11/2010 8:37:33 AM

What a beautiful post. That's a good man you've got yourself there. :0)

cindy murphy
5/11/2010 6:44:29 AM

Awww, Mountain Woman, what a beautiful post, and a lovely tribute to your Mountain Man. I have to admit, I got a bit choked up near the end. And psst...I have to admit also, I can totally relate to the toaster oven incident.

mountain woman
5/11/2010 5:31:21 AM

Andrew, Thank you. Yes, I agree that a relationship built and sustained over a dear piece of land is certainly unique. I loved the way you put it too "One's dreaming is complimented only by ones rationale and ones steadfastness is augmented only by one's fancy." That's just beautiful. Yes, we are a team. Hard to imagine we've been together only a number of years. Right now, he's away again and I'm coping with a black bear intrusion and as if he could do anything about it from miles away, I called him as the bear was trying to break in. Sure enough though he sent a friend out to help me. Thanks so much for visiting me!!

mountain woman
5/11/2010 5:25:12 AM

Rodeo, Thank you so much! Nebraska Dave, Yes, I totally agree with you about home and the heart. It's a special place that always calls to us. Mountain Man does try to prepare for every detail but this time my adventure with the bear is something he didn't anticipate because they have never come up to the door before. He did have his friend board up my windows and while the bear is wandering our farm, he's not come back to the house. I'm slowly calming down and getting some sleep but I'll be glad when MM is back again. I'm off to read Lori's post. Thank you for sharing the link and thanks so much for visiting.

5/10/2010 8:06:19 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this post. It truly is a unique relationship between two people when a farm is anywhere in the mix. One's dreaming is complimented only by ones rationale and ones steadfastness is augmented only by one's fancy. I am glad to hear nothing came of that toaster fire. What a great dog and companion! Seems to me Red Pine Mountain is a team!

nebraska dave
5/10/2010 7:58:57 PM

MW, my perspective comes from the other side. During my married years I was required to attend training schools in Ohio, Illinois, Texas, and California. Many weeks at a time I would be gone with only school, TV, and restaurant food. Now some folks enjoyed thoroughly the time away from the family and kids. I was usually miserable and couldn’t wait to get back home to family. Restaurant food was good for about a day or two then I yearned for home cooking. There’s really no place like home. In my opinion home is NOT where the hat is but where the heart yearns to be. I was always glad to get back home even if it was just for a weekend. I have to admire Mountain Man for preparing everything for his absence even down to the meals. It gladdens my heart to know that there are still men like MM that know how to take care of home even when they are gone. Oh, Yeah, and he can sooth a frantic wife from long distance even when a bear comes knocking. I would have never thought about ammonia, but even I don’t that smell. I think you are correct in thinking a Mountain Women should learn to shoot a gun. Lori one of our bloggers here on Grit had an encounter with two black bears while bow hunting last fall. I hope your bear and his sensitive nose stays away from your house until more drastic measures can be taken to assure the safety of you, your animals and the bear.

rodeo princess
5/10/2010 6:28:05 PM

oh my. I am so happy for you.