I did a little collaboration with Anthropologie the other day. I have always loved their home things – I recently bought the Italian Campaign canopy bed for my daughter’s room – and then discovered that their clothes also suit my life on the farm so well. So in celebration of my London launch of Always Pack a Party Dress with Anthropologie, I chose my favourite things from their store and worked them into my life here at Fairgreen. Since then, I’ve found myself checking their website regularly so I don’t miss good things that come up and then go quickly – like a set of copper colanders I bought last week. I’m into it!
Our five month odyssey of babysitting foxhound puppies came to an end the other day. I had been bracing myself for the inevitable tears that I thought would come from taking in eight week old puppies – loving them, training them, walking them, nurturing them and very often scolding them – for nearly half a year and then one day sending them off to go live their intended life with the local hunt. Why had I set myself up for such heartache? But in the end, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them – the huntsman came to collect them unexpectedly when I was on a trip to New York. And that was ok. I was a bit sad and nostalgic but also comforted by the knowledge that they are just about a couple miles down the road and we can see them when we wish. Mostly though, I was relieved. ..
I could probably fill up most of my September and October blog posts documenting my manic effort to make the most of the autumn fruit growing just outside my cottage and around the farm. But since I am still new to this and have varying levels of success, I will chose to focus on the highlights here. First and foremost, I think of September as FIG MONTH (even though you could equally argue that it’s apple, pear, blackberry or quince month). I eat figs just about every single day, mostly by choice, but there is a certain urgency to it as well. Whether still on the tree or just picked, figs are only really good for one day. You pick them a day early and the seeds are too crunchy, or a day late and the whole thing is mushy and likely half-eaten by a wasp. We just have one tree in our garden and I thank god for that because it supplies more figs than I can eat or preserve for a full six weeks each year. ..
Hi there! It’s been a while. The truth is, I thought I was done with blogging. Between the long term commitment of writing books and the instant gratification of Instagram, I felt it was extraneous to keep going with the in-between of maintaining a blog. I also felt I’d evolved beyond the look, feel and function of my starter blog, and while there was maybe something charming about the low tech aspect of it, I was left craving a more effective way to communicate with you.
But after a year of freedom from my blog commitment, I missed it. In retrospect I realized that my best ideas had actually come from the discipline of sitting down a few times a week to clarify and express what was going on in my creative mind. Blogging helped me maintain focus and track the progression of thoughts and inspirations. In fact, my next book, about what I’ve learned from living on a farm, was sold to Penguin based on the collection of my blog posts on that subject. I’m always preaching about the importance of gathering visuals and displaying them together so you can actually see who you are aesthetically, and it turns out that my blog is simply that – an inspiration board of ideas and experiences and images that capture my attention. ..
Jack Bauer and his field mate Inspector Clouseau (Jack and Clue for short) actually belonged to my brother-in-law, but because we all live on the same farm, the donkeys would spend part of their year in the field next to our house. A few months ago, my husband Christopher was walking past that field when Clue ran up to him in utter panic. He was hee-ing and haw-ing as loud as he could and he looked scared. Christopher jumped the stone wall into the field where Clue was crying and followed him towards where it looked like Jack was lying down. Christopher instinctively knew in that moment that Jack was gone. Why would he be resting or sleeping while Clue was in such a state? As he approached him his fear was confirmed. Jack had died. Clue continued to run around, completely freaking out. Poor Clue. That afternoon we rang a neighbour who has donkeys and she agreed to adopt Clue right away so he could begin bonding with hers. ..
When I was at a crossroads in my career in my late twenties, my mentor Diane Von Furstenberg encouraged me to strike out on my own, saying to me, “Every woman needs to be known for something, even if its for making the best apple pie.” I don’t think either one of us thought I would eventually take that idea so literally, but it seems that I have (if you switch the apple for rhubarb and pie for crumble). Yes, rhubarb crumble. That is my thing. ..
As I’ve often told you, there is no shortage of heartbreak on the farm to balance out the intense joy and deep sense of happiness we often feel from sharing our lives with so many wonderful animals. Sometimes I look out my kitchen window while I’m making tea in the morning and see a cat or two, a dog or two, a pony or two, a handful of hens and/or the occasional lamb or pig escaped from their enclosure. I can also usually hear a combination of calls from the horses, the donkeys and the rooster. Often the whole scene makes me laugh out loud, but other times it makes my throat tighten up and my chest hurt. We came back from our Easter vacation to the news that our three hens – the only remaining three that is – had been eaten by the fox while we were away. It was particularly sad because we had raised those last three from birth and they had just started laying a week before we left. After giving ourselves a week to mourn them, we decided to start again and went to see Mabel at the local bird sanctuary to collect a new rooster and ten hens. ..
You all know I am such a huge fan of Todd Selby, and that he paid us a visit in the summer of 2012 when we first moved to England. Some of his photos ran in The Guardian last year and I posted them here. This week he posted his own edit of the pictures on his website. I loved seeing the additional pictures of our kids living out their farm life dreams, and Christopher was delighted that he included the more real, messier parts of the farm like the abandoned barns, the storage sheds and the compost pile...
Coco is my twelve year old. It was always her dream to live on our farm in England – to spend her free time outside and be surrounded by horses. Fulfilling that dream in the last year and a half has arguably been the highlight of her life so far. The paternal side of Coco’s family is known for their dedication to horses and Coco clearly inherited that gene. When she was just a year and a half old, we spent Christmas here in England and every morning she ran to the window pointing at the horses in the field and yelling “hotchy!..