a little party

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A few weeks ago during one of those hectic weekends I was posting about, you know the ones, right?
We had a little family campout.
In my in-laws hayfield.
Because we just can’t enough of hayfields.
Ever.
Apparently.
Just kidding!
It was so fun and I felt so gosh darn lucky to be such a part of this sweet and fun-loving family.
Plus, my in-laws property is so insanely fabulous and sweet and cool, I often think to myself, that’s the kind of farm I want when I grow up!
I love our farm, don’t get me wrong, but what we have here, it’s the real deal, as in you don’t gather 12 eggs a day you gather 12 dozen. Carrots, sure there is 2000 feet of’em right here and another 2000 over there. So when I look at their sweet and very productive garden and their adorable barn, I sometimes swoon a little.
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This is the cutest barn ever! They even have miniature Jersey’s. Miniature!!! Sorry I didn’t catch a picture of those sweeties. Nor my wonderful father-in-law apparently?
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Marj is very creative AND I’m pretty sure she’s the hostess with the mostest!
She inspires me.
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Here is my farmer with Uncle Larry.
Uncle Larry is a farmer too. A darn good one actually. Really good. He runs a dairy on the farm that was his fathers. My farmer and Uncle Larry have always shared a special kinship, Larry’s wife Sue is also very special to my farmer. He spent many, many days and nights at their farm and loved it so deeply it was all he wanted to do when he grew up. Well, farm and sail around the world.
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cousins!
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This game was new to me.
Cornhole.
Apparently it’s a southern thing. Super fun tidbit is both of Marj’s kids were home at the same time for a couple weeks this summer so my in-laws put these together and the first day they were home they each had to decorate one of the holes.
E did hers completely UVM! (University of Vermont) where she attends school.
G did his in his alma mater Clemson. A little friendly rivalry!
I tried my hand at cornhole and let’s just say I need a little practice.
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This game, ladder ball was a total hit with the kids. Okay, and me.
I really want to make this for our backyard. So fun!
I can just picture all the injuries we’ll get when the kids toss the balls around like numchucks!
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We do so love our Grammy Marj
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It really was a special night. Some of us stayed in tents, some in the house. We all hung out around the fire and in the morning we had the best breakfast ever.
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* sweet side note * My father in-law Gene actually met his fabulous bride Marj at my big girl’s first birthday. She had become a dear friend of my farmer and I and well, they were meant to be I’m pretty sure!

to the sea

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We needed rest, we needed rejuvenation, a moment to breathe.
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After last weeks push, which had been greatly successful, we were beginning to feel depleted. This feeling seems to frequently come in August. Our bodies and spirit are telling us to take a moment.
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My farmer and I have a long connection to the sea. My childhood home was by the sea, where we met. He had craved the sea and joined the United States Coast Guard to get his fill. In a life that seems long ago now we lived on our sailboat in Maine and then spent a year sailing the East Coast and Bahamas. We have always been torn between our deep connection to the land and the sea.

Yesterday we knew the answer to fill our cup was to go to the sea.

So we all piled in the car and drove to Ogunquit, Maine, to the beach my husband went to every summer as a child. Just for the day. It’s a bit of a drive but I have to say I savored the stillness, the chatting, the game playing, the singing, together. Lest you be fooled the drive had it’s share of pokes and snits too!
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I love their little works of art, no grand sand castles this day, just little bits placed here and there with all the purpose a child possesses.
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Inspired by the neighboring farms corn maze, the kids made one in the sand for mama and papa to navigate, complete with tricks and dead ends. Oh the giggles they get when trying to outwit us!
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This here is a sand lady, much effort was put into her. Including her “burnished red curls” Grace tells me.
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Little Rita got out the kite, she and I had a hoot trying to get it up. We ran and ran and it would go up….then dive back down. Over and over we did this in fits of giggles, we hoped with all our might that it wouldn’t crash down on our fellow beach-goers. A sweet older couple watched and laughed with us.
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Finally the gentleman came over and we discovered he was Quebecois, not too far from us in Vermont. He said he had the same kite and the same problem until he realized that you had to have loops or bows in your string. Well I’ll be darned, 31 years old and you learn something new everyday! I have been mulling over this tidbit of physics for the last 36 hours……
A few slip knots and Eureka! It’s up!
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Thank you kind stranger!

The girls and I went out into the waves to body surf and dive into them.

The taste and smell of the salt and the slight sting makes one feel so alive! It was pure bliss.

I’ve realized the feeling and simplicity of the sand and water has the power to quiet and soothe our spirits.
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We are rejuvenated and ready for more joy and challenges of life on the farm!

*quick side note- about the bikini. In general I put a lot of thought into children and their sacred short space of childhood. As such I have a few firm guidelines on clothing which includes no bikinis. To each their own on these things, it’s just my thing. That being said, it’s a little unnerving for my big girl to be in one this day. Her suit had gone missing and we needed to hit the road. I figured I could pick one up inexpensively on the way. This mama isn’t much of a shopper apparently because we could not find a suit anywhere, this was the ONLY thing we could find. I allowed it to save the day but we are happy to have our real swimsuit back…This parenting thing I tell ya!*

Good Friends

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I called my dear friend Kathleen yesterday, we had more hay to get in and most of our great hay helpers are also church-goers. It was Sunday and my farmer and I were in a bit of a conundrum. So I called Kathleen because I thought maybe her 19 year old son might be able to help us out. Okay well I also called her to wail about my super intense and crazy week because she had been camping and I had missed her!!!!

It turned out her son had plans but she said she wouldn’t mind coming out to the farm to help for a bit, in fact she thought it sounded fun! I’m not sure why it never crossed my mind to ask my girlfriends to hay, I guess I just always figured my farmer and I are crazy but that doesn’t mean our friends are.

Well she came, AND her husband Roger came long too. Our kids played while we worked, running wagons back and forth, she and I stacking in the hayloft while Roger unloaded the wagons.

Let me just say that this is true friendship.

Stacking square bales in the barn is hard work. Hard as in sweat dripping, legs feel like jello, hayloft 15 degrees hotter than outside, itchy, crazy hard work.

As we were up there, catching our breaths between wagons she said something to me that really moved me. She said she figured if people want to live in world where we help each other out and really raise neighbors barns together, then we really have to be willing to show up.

I hope I get the chance to show up and when it’s there I hope I take it like Kathleen did yesterday.
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Today we did more hay. My farmer told me tonight that between yesterday and today (the hay which we had been working on in the field for the last three days) we baled and stacked with the blessed help of friends and a great crew 1,862 bales.

Here is the amazing thing. TODAY, my same sweet friend showed up with supper for our family. She knew we were still haying and that it was extremely hectic around this place and so she brought us dinner.

2 quarts of chili, 1 quart of gazacho, the most amazing cheesy cornbread ever, and chips and an avacodo were waiting for us when we came in.
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And what a treat, because not only is Kathleen a great friend, she is also one of the best cooks we know. This woman is a whiz in the kitchen and her knowledge of nourishing, healing local foods is outstanding.

It was one of the best meals I’ve had in ages! Yum! Thanks Kathleen, we are indebted forever!!!!!

Also in the friends department our friend Blanka stopped by today for our annual barter of a gallon of their honey for a gallon of our maple syrup. We have been doing this for several years now we love it. Win-win here!
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I am soooooo grateful for our friends. They are amazing and we are truly blessed.

In other news today, got girls to piano lessons, manned the farmstand (gotta love my favorite subcontractor),tried to put my kitchen back together from this crazy haymaking week, picked some lovely kale and lettuce, ran wagons, unloaded, stacked…..whew!
Done haying for a while.
I think tomorrow we are taking a family day.
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Hay Hay More Hay

IMG_1181Are we tired of hay yet? Almost. I know it seems like it’s all we do around here and I swear it’s not true. It’s just that the early part of summer was QUITE wet and you know what they say,” make hay while the sun shines” and so that’s what we are doing these days.

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Sharing this day does help.

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When the exhaustion is starting to set in, when the house is getting messier and the kids are almost at their limit being flexible. I realize that these farm kids are growing so fast and that I’m often so grateful for a 6 year old willing hand.

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Their independence amazes me.
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When the whole family has come in for dinner after 9pm again.
Looking at the pictures, sharing them with others and reminding yourself what a great life you get to live on a farm and how much fun the kids really do have and how insanely beautiful your workplace is.
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Sharing here helps. It makes this farm wife grateful, instead of grumpy.

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One thing I love about spending so much time outdoors is how heightened your awareness is. When the sun dips behind the mountain you are keenly aware of the instant chilliness.

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After looking at waves of hay, the tiny turkey feather that you pass by or the small patch of bright yellow rudbeckia on the side of the field seem so vibrant.
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It gives you time to watch the different shades of color as the sun gets lower and lower on each pass.

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Time to appreciate how sweet that milk will taste this winter and how happy the cows will be with their delicious hay.
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I am reminded that I will miss wiping away their tears when their adventures turn to misadventures.
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and that giving children the gift of nature and self entertaining on the side of the field while their mama and papa continue working is indeed a worthwhile gift
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And like all good work, it reminds me how good it feels to be done. How wonderful home is.
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evening glow

It’s been a humdinger of a week, I can’t decide if I should spare the details or not, let’s just leave it at humdinger of a week.

As always with a week like this, there is beauty in there too. Sometimes hidden and sometimes right there in the midst. Tonight the light was so beautiful I grabbed the camera to capture the blessings.

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this day… one for the books i think

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We have had a pretty full plate these last few days, haying Mon, Tues, Wed, birthday party Thurs. Back to back Farmers Markets Fri and Sat. Saturday night we went to my in-laws for a family party campout in the hay field, got home Sunday…. you get the point.

The thing is, as I’ve mentioned , we homeschool. Well not much school happening these days but basically, my children are my constant companions, sort of. They don’t go to daycare or have a nanny, etc. They are here, playing, biking, reading, working, haylofting (I sometime make up words Sorry!) etc. So with those busy days, and mama on the tractor and everyone in and out, the house, well, it was looking pretty grim.

The problem is, between the wet and cold start to summer we have had here and the kids and I going home (my home that is) to Alaska to visit my mom for 2 and half weeks, we hadn’t gotten in single day at the lake all summer!
This is madness!
Completely abnormal for us!!!!

Well, my homeschool mom friends had been sending messages back and forth planning to go to the lake today.
I so dearly wanted to go.
A morning to catch up with friends, let the kids play with their friends…sounded perfect. The rest of this week was booking too fast and with the weather this seemed our only chance in the near future to have such a day.

I didn’t go.

Lately my heart has been reminding me that I needed to really focus on my home, and being a mom and wife/partner, for the benefit of our entire family, especially during the summer months on the farm. It just gets too hectic.

I knew that my laundry and dishes and home were calling. My farmer told me he needed me to watch the farmstand today as well, so it was a done deal. PLUS the girls had piano lessons at 1pm. I knew it was the right thing even though I was a “little” grumpy and sad about it.

But here is where the day goes from there! I was doing laundry, got my kitchen cleaned. I was paying my 8 year old $.50 an hour to read on the farmstand porch and come get me if she had a customer. Subcontracting is brilliant isn’t it?!

At 12:30 my farmer got all the kids rounded up to drop the girls off at piano while he ran errands to the bank, grain store and diesel. I was getting into better spirits and looking forward to two hours to myself. Went down to the basement to throw in another load of laundry and slipped on a wet spot and smashed my knee! Man oh man did it hurt! I was ready for a full on pity party!

I went out to the farmstand to help a customer and decided to treat myself to a pint of blueberries. So I grabbed the berries and a jar of milk and went right inside to enjoy my treat.

An iced coffee with our raw whole milk and maple syrup to round out the treat!

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I sat next to window to keep an eye out for customers as I took a minute to enjoy my treat, answer emails, blog etc.
A couple of kids were walking down the road to the swimming hole, a blissful summer day…

Sure enough a customer came and out I went to help them!
When I came back in, MamaCat had drank all my milk from my blueberries!!!!!
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Seriously MamaCat! That was supposed to be my treat since I didn’t go to the lake today! and I banged my knee!!! Waaa!

Just then I heard a boy’s voice in my mudroom
“M’am?”
Who is calling me M’am???
“Hello!”
I call out and head out to help him.
And out front are the boys who had been to the swimming hole and our vegetable manager Dennis, holding a young black lab by the scruff in one hand and a dead chicken in the other.
” I am so so so so so sorry” the boy said. ” What can I do, I don’t know what to do? I will never let my dog walk down here with me again. I’ll always have him on a leash…..”

Poor kid.

Dennis handed me the chicken, remember this farm wife is pretty used to life and death with animals, it’s a farm.

I just stood there holding the chicken, telling him it was okay, accidents happen, asking Dennis to get a loop of baling twine to make a leash…

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In my mind I thought, well he could “pay” for the chicken, or he could work it off with an hour of weeding… but the sweet boy was already so repentant, I didn’t want him to think I was angry, I seemed to just stand there, just saying it was okay until the boys headed off down the road with the dog.

Dennis and I stood there chatting for a few minutes about kids, dogs, accidents, life, when a car drives up and pulls into the driveway instead of the farmstand. Dennis and I both look to see who it is and I say, I hope this lady isn’t freaked that I’m standing here holding a dead chicken!

It was the boy’s mom, she had just found out and felt soooo bad. She apologized profusely and I told her the boys were very mature and polite about it, accidents happen, and that it was okay. She handed me a twenty to pay for the chicken and I mentioned that I had thought of letting them work it off weeding but didn’t want to upset them, the $2o was fine and more than paid for the chicken. She apologized more and was on her way.

Dennis and I could only chuckle, I was still holding the dead chicken!

Soon after the kids and my farmer came flyin’ in. The girls asked if we could pleeeeaaaase go to beach and my farmer said we should go. He had a little hay to put in this afternoon but he could handle it.

The phone rang and while I was on the phone I looked up to see the boy.
“Hi! You’re back! What can I do for you?!” the chicken all but already forgotten for me.
” Can I please do that weeding?” he says as he burst into tears.
Bless his heart he was so sweet! I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big hug and told him he didn’t need to do that, his mama had already paid for the loss.

” I know but he is my dog” he said through sobs “I was responsible for him!”
I could tell, this kid wasnt leavin’

I told him he didn’t have to but if he really wanted to, he could weed for a little while, while I got organized for our outing. He could work on the strawberries and my kids would happily help him. I walked them down to the berries, the kids and I showed him the ropes and I left them weeding.
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Ten minutes later my oldest came in with a gash in her foot. She had stepped on a rock in the strawberry field.
This day! I swear! Good gracious!

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Have I mentioned that my kids pretty much don’t wear shoes all summer? A little strange, I know.

Half an hour later, with Grace in the house soaking her foot, I joined them again and we all chatted about the satisfaction of weeding as I showed him how to look down the row and see how good it looked, he was looking so much happier. Soon his little brother showed up and asked if he could help too. So we showed him how to tell what was the weeds and we all worked together chatting.

It was such an amazing transformation.

That sweet boy NEEDED to pay me back so that he could get that feeling off his heart!

After an hour I told him we were done and handed him back the $20 his mom had given me. He didn’t want to take it but I told him a person couldn’t pay for a chicken twice, and made him promise to give it to his mom as soon as he got home.
Off the boys went, we had made new friends who only lived half mile down the road.
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And off we went finally to the lake around 4pm
Ahhh it was so good!
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Kids played
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We ran into our friends Tiann and Lindley who had just got a new Hobie 16, boy was my farmer gonna be jealous 😉
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And this day just. kept. going. We got home at 6 and I started on supper when Grace came in saying Papa needed my help. I turned off the stove to go find him. He was just finishing unloading wagon and asked if I could grab the truck and bring up the flatbed to the back field. No problem! I got this! Although let me say backing up a truck onto a wagon by yourself is a bit of a pain. Tractor is much easier. Wagon on. Up I go.

When I arrived he motioned me to hop into the wagon and move the bales tp the back. I’ve done this plenty of times, it’s actually pretty fun, the bales come flyin’ at ya.

But this time I was in flip-flops, not work boots and I didn’t have any work gloves, and my knee was hurting… you get the point?!

But it’s a farm and there was no one else to do it so up I went.

The good news is, it was so stinkin’ gorgeous up there with the sun setting! And the kids playing in the hay wagon. It was almost causing me physical pain to not have my camera!!! or maybe those were just hunger pains :p

When all the wagons were full we switched to the flat bed. We were running out of daylight. The only other times we have done this, I have run the baler.
But this time he motioned me up onto the flatbed! So there I was, in my flip-flops, standing on the flatbed wagon crouched like spiderman trying not to fall off and CATCH the bales and stack them, with no sides! on a hill! Did I mention this was the outside row and the hay wasn’t that great so the bales were HEAVY!

I swear, my farmer just shrugs like it’s nothing.

He has no clue how challenging this is for me and that in my mind I’m thinking I’m a total badass for handling this! without a single complaint! and that I should get wife of the year award!!!

The sun had set, it was getting dark and finally he switches with me. Running the baler at just the right speed while operating the hydrolics to aim the bales just right to my farmer without knocking my kids of the wagon, in the dark, takes a good amount of concentration in itself.
We then made two trips each DOWN the hill with the full loads, in the DARK. My farmer warning me repeatedly to GO SLOW. At one point my wagon almost tipped as the wheels on one side lifted, it hung in balance I stopped! Close one! A first for me!

Kids and I came in at 9:30, 1 kid down for the count snoozin’ in the cab of the pick-up.

I re-start dinner and serve my farmer and my girls as he comes in at 10:30 pm.

WHAT. A. DAY.
Whew!

Little Helpers

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My little 6 year old chickadee, she is a wonder.

I often don’t see her for hours as she is out helping with the chores, or harvesting or transplanting. I’m pretty sure she knows more about our operation than I do. If I don’t know where the new lettuce planting is, or if I’m looking for a tool, this here is my goto gal.

Most nights one of the girls are responsible to head up to the pasture to drive the cows down to the barn for milking and then drive them back up after milking. They love this job. They are quite good at it!

Such a blessing this is, for them and for us.
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Market

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Headed to the Saturday morning market. What is so amazing is that for our little corner of the world, the products here are world class.

Here are a few pics of our farm products, yum, yum and yum. I can attest to that!
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Auntie Dee Dee’s baked goods are A-MAZ-ING
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Our dear friends and fellow homeschool family sells Kettle Corn—I have to say you can NEVER stop with one bite here. Have I mentioned the super barter system we all run at ends of the market?!!! IMG_0321
…and a cornerstone of the market. Our community’s very own Coffee Roasters!
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This guy, such a neat young man. He calls himself The Singing Smith. He is an incredibly talented musician and blacksmith. IMG_0328
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and this dandy little invention….to hold your hot drink in your pint mason jar. Coffee anyone?
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a basket of herbs I brought along from the cutting garden…
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Just look at all the talent here! Goat cheese, gift cards, maple syrup, hot sauce. it’s a feast for the eyes! Every week! This here folks, is gold. And this is just a sampling…
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and here is my little 4 year old guy, untangling my straps on the top of the pickup as we pack up to go home. What a helper!IMG_0378

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All packed up headed back to the farm!
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Boots

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I love our town.
I love our park in the middle of town.
On Friday nights while I am selling my wonderful,delicious, local products in this sweet little park, the kids often splash and play in the fountain or put together a pickup game of soccer.
It’s great.

It was a gorgeous morning in the park today. The light was just beautiful.
Doesn’t this look idyllic, my sweet 6 year old running in the park!
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I mean the light was perfect, not a single edit was done to this photo!

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You may ask yourself…what is this farm wife doing in the park at 8am on a Saturday. Shouldn’t she be at farmers market?
Why yes actually she should!

However, last night when we got home from market I realized no boots came out of the back of the truck while unloading.
“Rita? Did you leave your boots by the fountain?”
” Maybe.”
“I hope they are still there in the morning!”

And so here we were gathering our boots. And they were right where she left them, they were her water scoop she said.

Of course they were.

Thankfully they were still there. I love our town.
I love our little park. And I suppose since the light was so beautiful as she ran across the grass to fetch them this morning, I was dissuaded from pulling my hair out at the idea of leaving her best barn boots in the park.

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So I tossed them in the back of the truck. Hoped they didn’t bruise the zucchini and off we went to our Saturday market.