Fall Weather, Farm Projects, Country Homes

Reader Contribution by Tracy Houpt
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It’s just about perfect weather today, here at our place. No need for the A/C, a nice breeze, sunshine … perfect conditions for drying clothes on the line. When sheets and blankets come off the line, they smell so fresh. Makes me smile to go to sleep with my head on a sun-dried pillow case. These are the days that drive out the thoughts of cold winter hardships and strength-sapping summer heat. We all seem to feel new energy as we take on fall projects.

My new farm friend Diana has just finished a project at her place. She has a nice new goat barn and a beautiful new doeling in her herd of Nubians. Diana retired recently from a long career in social work, so she doesn’t have to get up at 5 a.m. anymore to get the milking done. It makes me happy to think about her enjoying her morning coffee at a somewhat leisurely pace now. She’s a person I am so happy to have met. She is patient with my many goat questions, and like me, she enjoys bartering goods and services. It helps that we live fairly close to one another. She and her husband have lived at their country place for about 40 years, and it’s been well tended. There’s a nice pasture bordered by woods, and of course the new barn is set up to make things easier for the goats and the humans. At the house, there’s a cozy deck that overlooks the yard. Bird feeders abound. Dogs and cats co-exist happily (at least the day I was there).

I love to see other people’s country places, and by “country place” I mean a comfortable home that someone has lived in, altered to suit them and their animals, and made useable without trying to attain some idea of perfection that popular magazines like to set before us. I like to look at those magazines, and I get ideas from them sometimes, but here’s my partial list of what makes a house a home — regardless of its location, size, or décor:

1. The house keeps weather out and comfort in.
2. There are pictures of loved ones throughout.
3. The kitchen stove has been used to cook real food.
4. Handmade goods reflect the talents and tastes of the people who live there.
5. There’s at least one place where you can take a really good nap.
6. Books and magazines are plentiful.
7. Music is available. Lots of it, and different kinds.
8. Quilts and comforters are in good supply.
9. Candles are at hand for gloomy days.
10. A sleeping cat in a rocking chair is always a winner in my book.

While I was thinking of my favorite things in a home, I started thinking of other things I love. There were so many, I set the words to a well-known song:

Fresh eggs in baskets and crisp backyard apples,
Clean quilts on clotheslines in sunlight that dapples,
Mischievous doggies that steal all my socks,
My guy who likes moving all of those rocks!

Starlight and frog songs and bright autumn weather,
Dark Brahmas, Australorps, birds of a feather,
Cute little goat kids that waste lots of hay,
How many times do I sigh every day?

When the gate sticks, when the eggs break,
When I’m feeling mad … I simply remember how much I love fall,
And then I don’t feel … so bad!

Goat milk soap, knitting wools, Grandmother’s crumb cake,
Sweet fall squash, dried bouquets, pumpkins and corn cake,
Woodpiles that grow as the frost nips the air,
Wisdom that comes with the gray in my hair.

When my boots leak, when the wind howls,
When the bills are due … I think of the good things in this country life,
And then I don’t feel … so blue!

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