The Scoop

It’s been a month since my last confession… or my last post.

I don’t know the proper penance for blog neglect, so I’ll just say “sorry” and move along.

Here’s a book report on my absence.

I tackled the Vineyard in a prior post, but this is my photo book report. I’m kick-starting it with a sunrise shot from the island.


photo by Mike Johnson


Things are pretty loosey-goosey during beach week. We sneak the dog along; everyone eats junk food; the grown-ups booze it up; the kids stretch their artistic wings.

And any canvas is fair game.





Sadly, all vacations must come to an end.

Back home and a week later, a stranger deposited a car on the farm. Unfortunately, the delivery method obliterated two sizable sections of our pasture fence. Wood shards, mangled wire, and vehicle shrapnel laid in the car’s wake.



Said vehicle did not fare well, either.


The driver was not present when Martin discovered the car “parked” in our pasture. Thankfully, the horses were not in that field that night. The sheep were, but they avoided impact and didn’t have the sense to capitalize on their nocturnal freedom.

The police documented the scene and the tow-truck driver removed the car and gathered most of the mangled, scattered car parts.

Let’s see…what else happened?

Well, I tried to make sense of our cluttered kitchen. It wasn’t as disastrous as the vehicular damage above. But the outcome was lackluster.



Foxhunting kicked off a little early this season. (The first weeks are focused on legging up horses and hounds). Brynn and Hadley made it out a few times — of course, with me in tow.



I rode Jazz in a horse show at the Maryland State Fair at the Timonium fairgrounds. Jazzy was surprisingly tolerant of the carnival rides and the fair’s freakshow environment.


Tempting and allegedly famous, but no pork sundae for me.


Amidst all these events — right when the kids went back to school — my mom decided to downsize her living arrangements. And when she makes a decision, she’s off to the races. In an instant, I was catapulted into 4 days of sorting through 150 years of family records, photos, documents and momentos from my father’s side of the family — in preparation to show the house and move on. (No time to shop for school supplies; the kids went to class with pencils in sandwich baggies and IOU notes for supplies later.)

Much of what I’ve earthed is boxed and stored. I’ve had scant time to review anything but here’s a sampling. This photo dates back to 1877 and the faint scrawl on the back is in Hungarian.



Other photos are well marked, like this one of my father and grandparents after the war. Their years of DP camp living were history; in 1951 they were happily living outside Philadelphia.


There’s lots to peruse, catalogue and label, when time allows.

Back to daily farm life.

Frog the cat disappeared in late-July. Although I hoped she’d found better digs, after a five-week absence, I feared the worst. But then she reappeared — dirty and scrawny but alive. I rehabbed her in Martin’s office. (“Why is Frog living in my office?” he asked as I set up a litter box. “Because she’s filthy and might have fleas or something else,” I said. “I’m not putting her in the house, for Pete’s sake!”)

Fortunately for Martin, Frog recovered quickly. Now we feed her far from the barn bullies.



There’s more I could add to my book report. For example, Rocky, our beloved pony, had eye surgery last week. But it’s late and that story can wait.

And I’m not closing with a picture of a cancerous tumor bobbing in formaldehyde.

I began with sunrise and I’ll close with sunset. We have some fabulous ones here. My photos sell them short, but this one will have to do.




Sorry, one closing journalistic sidebar: I planned to call this post “The Down-Low.” (Later, I realized that I confused “down-low” with “low-down.” But you get the idea… I wanted to give readers “the scoop” or “what’s new.”)

Anyway, I checked “down-low” to confirm that it’s hyphenated, and I spied the definition: down-low: pertaining to men who secretly have sex with other men. “What?” I thought. “WTF?”

So I looked up contemporary definitions and the results weren’t much better: a discreet activity or relationship, or men who identify as heterosexual but secretly have sex with men, particularly African American men who want to avoid the stigma in their community.

Wow, well there you go. You learn something new everyday!

Now that I’ve got the low-down on the down-low, I’ll just dish dirt, share the latest, or tell it like it is.

Happy Friday Visual

Our friend Mike Johnson was recently hanging out and shot this time lapse video from the deck.

Check it out; the passing planes look like shooting stars.

And thanks, Mike. I dig the ethereal music, by the way.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Hop farming and other sketchy activities


Let your guard down for a minute — one minute — and they’re up to no good.

I’m not talking about the kids.

I’m referring to Martin and Mike.

Seriously, I tune them out for a few days (okay, a few weeks) and the next thing I know: A cottage industry has sprouted in the sheep field.



“Mike and I have an idea….”


That’s how Martin & Mike roll. They’re constantly scheming, plotting, conjuring up business concepts to launch. They come up with a ton of ideas; some leave the starting gate, but they don’t always cross the finish line.

Like what?

Let’s see, they started a pest control business to knock out stinkbugs… which lasted about 15 minutes. For a couple weeks, they hosted a podcast from the farm on Sunday nights. (“It’s on hiatus,” Mike claims, but all the broadcasting equipment mysteriously disappeared.) They announced plans to start a parenting magazine for fathers. And for quite some time, they planned to sell Hell Insurance, or more specifically, an insurance policy to use if you land in Hell. (Don’t ask.)

No matter what the plan (“We’re going to buy a cargo ship and cruise around the world…”) I’ve learned to say, “Ok, sounds good.”

And that was my stock answer when Martin announced, “Mike wants to grow hops here. You cool with that?”

“Sure, sounds good.”

I paid no mind to the bulk plant bags in the fridge, and I didn’t ask when Mike and Martin tilled long rows in the old orchard. But last weekend I noticed the industrial-sized auger they rented, and the pallet of tall poles and bags of concrete. Lots of activity. Early Sunday morning I found Martin finishing out the deep holes along the rows.



I surveyed the entire scene before sputtering, “What the hell is going on here?”

“What? We’re planting hops,” Martin replied.

“How many hops are you planting?”

“I think we have 400.”

Four hundred hop plants?”

“Yea and I read that each plant yields two to three pounds.”

I did a quick calculation. “You’re growing a thousand pounds of hops? What in God’s name are you gonna do with a 1,000 lbs of hops?”

“I don’t know. Ask Mike.”

I did. “Sell it,” Mike said. “And make beer!”

Apparently hop farming is very labor intensive, so we’ll see if this scheme succeeds.

Or goes the way of hell’s insurance policy.


Tired and muddy on Sunday night


Maisie, just plain muddy…