Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Family, Friends, French Fries, Feeding Fish and Food for Thought. . . .

Groucho's kittens were one year old on August 1st. True Leo's, they are very Leonine, even Little Girl, the only surviving female. She isn't around much, as she seems to be constantly in heat, though seemingly never pregnant. The boys, however, are visible like lightning bugs, every evening and all night long, making sure there isn't a chipmunk, or "Grinny" as my neighbor Floy calls them, darting around the gardens of Jolico Farm. This picture is of Tommy Tip (on the right) and Tom Boy (on the left) enjoying some catnip. (Unavailable for this photo is Brother #3, named Little Tom, the runt when he was born, but the 2nd largest now, just in case you were wondering!) Tom Boy is my favorite, as he is friendly and allows me to pet him through the open kitchen window. He reminds me the most of his mother Groucho. If you have been following this blog, you will remember that my beloved Groucho found a wonderful Forever Home last fall. She lives with Lonnie, who renamed her "Peppermint Patty".

Sadly, on July 23rd we lost a good and faithful friend, Freddie Oakes, who passed away in Pittsburgh at the too-young age of 65. Fred and Art were friends since the days of their misspent youth and we will sorely miss him always.

Weeping willow trees are gracefully beautiful. We had two towering willows on our property. The older one was planted by a young girl named Joni, the granddaughter of Alfred Barron, the farmer from whom we bought Jolico Farm. The willow tree that Joni planted in her youth grew very big, its trunk measuring 200 inches in circumference after 40+ years of growth. Art planted the second willow tree in 1975 above the bank barn, far enough away (he thought) so that the branches and leaves would never overhang the barn roof. Wrong! This tree grew over 40 feet tall and clogged the gutters and downspouts so thickly with fallen leaves each autumn that the gutters were literally rendered useless. Joni's tree was badly damaged a few years ago in an ice storm, so we had the tree-trimmers out to cut it back and clean up the fallen limbs. This was a job too big for Max and Art and our little toy tractors! The willow continued to grow and thrive, but this spring a terrifying thunderstorm twisted a huge limb off the upper half of the tree, leaving the tree split and badly injured. Sadly, we decided that euthanasia was the best decision, as Joni's tree had become too big and unwieldy and was beginning to rot as well. We called Phil Read, Tree Surgeon Extraordinaire, who not only removed both willows, but a 100+ year old rotten apple tree, as well as trimming the tops of our dwarf pear trees in the orchard.
 The willow tree above the barn is about to come down!

The stump of Joni's willow tree measures 200" around the base and 66" in diameter!

Phil Read, our hero!

Our newly trimmed pear trees. Now the fruit is reachable!

This is the tree Art thought he and I could handle by ourselves.....NOT!

Willow and apple wood is not suitable for burning in the Tarm to heat our home, so Phil hauled it all away.

On August 1st we had the honor of a visit from our Atlanta GA cousins, Linda, Julie, Terry, Sam and Jake. Art's sisters Sheila and Arlene, brother-in-law Robert and dog Charlie came up from Pittsburgh to enjoy the day with us. As a picture is worth a thousand words, and I have so many pictures.... please enjoy!
From left: Terry, Sheila, Sam, Julie, Robert, Arlene, Linda and Art.

Sam holding his brother Jacob!

Lunch! As usual, there was plenty to eat!!

Sam fed the fish while Mo cleaned up the pellets that didn't make it into the water!

The garden, planted so early this year due to the warm early spring, seems to be ripening early as well.  Art harvested potatoes one day recently, digging them out of the ground with a small camping shovel while kneeling in the soft dirt. He finds this the easiest and most back-saving method to tackle an age-old job.

As usual, we planted red, white and blue potatoes, an all-American tradition!

Digging potatoes is hungry work so.......

.....let's go make some homemade fries! Pomme frites!!

These peppers are the size of Bocce Balls, each of the red ones yielding 3 cups of diced peppers! The white eggplant is 8" long and gives some perspective as to the size of the red bell peppers.

We are ecstatic over this years' tomato crop! After a devastating year in 2009 fighting the late blight, we could not be happier with the yields, the taste, the size, the GLORY of our 2010 crop!!!

In memory of Fred..........

With you a part of me hath passed away;
For in the peopled forest of my mind
A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
Shall never don again its green array.
Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
Have something of their friendliness resigned;
Another, if I would, I could not find,
And I am grown much older in a day.
But yet I treasure in my memory
Your gift of charity, and young hearts ease,
And the dear honour of your amity;
For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
And I scarce know which part may greater be,–
What I keep of you, or you rob from me.
(By George Santayana)


  1. I remember those trees from when I was a kid. They were beautiful back in the day.

  2. Grew up with a giant willow tree. Provided shade over my sandbox, plus there was a tire swing attached to it. You're making me miss the east coast now!

  3. A beautiful story of beginnings, endings, and life in-between: poetic harmony that literally jumped off the page, Max. Life is a happy blend of wonderful ingredients at Jolico Farm ... that much is certain! And while we all must grapple with the mysteries of life and death, this post provides a lovely and wise perspective. Joy, acceptance, and noticing the flow of daily life must equal contentment. Just some Dakota observations! Take care & thanks for sharing all the great pictures, I spotted Mo right away :) --Daisy @ SunnyRoomStudio

  4. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Alyx and Gerry. Much appreciation Daisy; you have gently touched the heart of my meaning, and I am rewarded by your beautiful words of observation. By the way, Mo is never far from my side or my lens!