This morning I went on a walk. I wasn’t planning to, but I was all caffeinated up and ready to get going in my day, but I had 40 more minutes before I actually needed to get in my car and drive off to my first appointment. I could have caught up on emails, but then I looked outside and the sky was blue and cloudless. In England, especially in the autumn, this is rare. Even if there are not clouds, there is usually fog in the mornings this time of year. And so I was compelled to go outside. I have a busy day – lots of errands locally and then I’m headed up to London later – and as soon as I got outside I felt grateful for the few extra moments to do something purely pleasurable before the obligations that lay ahead. ..
Every autumn when I was a child, my family would chose a Saturday to pile in the car and drive at least an hour north from our home in Westchester to pick apples and buy cider. We always returned with huge bags of tangy, crisp fruit far better than anything you could buy in the supermarket. We ate as many as we could and then my mom would make the rest into apple sauce.The years of memories are hard to differentiate in my head – they have all melted together into one collection of happy fruit-picking nostalgia.
When we moved to England, and I found myself surrounded by more apples than you could possibly pick come September, the abundance quickly weighed heavily upon me. Yes we picked them. And I made a pie or a crumble, and then as much apple sauce as I could possibly make. But that didn’t even touch the surface of making the most of our apple supply. ..
I took this photo of our old tack room in 2008 which by chance turned out to be the summer before it was disassembled and moved from the old farmyard into a make-shift new tack room in our stables. We kind of threw it together spur of the moment, so the design and decoration of it hasn’t really been thought through. I’m thinking of making some improvements so I’ve been asking myself what it is I want from a tack room...
My husband loves to tell people that he rode ponies as a kid, but that once he got on a motorbike around age 15, he never rode a horse again until only recently. When my son Zach grows up I suspect he’ll tell a similar tale, but in his case it will be pigs that lured him away from horses. When Zach was 7, his uncle Charlie got two rather large KuneKune pigs. Knowing that Zach had a bad fall off his pony the year before and had shied away from horse riding since, Charlie had it in his head that Zach would find it more fun to ride the pigs! I thought it was a silly idea and didn’t give it much thought until one afternoon when Charlie turned up in our garden. ..
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. ..
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!..