It is hot. It is so hot. Our thick Vermont blood was nary prepared for this. With the snap of Mother Nature's fingers, the slow, plodding spring turned suddenly, trading its gentle and cool breezes for the humid, utter stillness of summer. It feels... like Ohio. Convenient, because we're headed back to Ohio. One of life's funny ways.

We didn't exactly see it coming, though we'd be fooling ourselves if we espoused that moving home hasn't always been a Real Possibility. We are Midwestern to our core. Whatever it means to be so, we are it. Last night we were defining aloud the idiosyncrasies that make a Midwesterner middle-western, a New Englander northeastern. While hardly an expert of New England, it surprised us to feel pretty familiar with its kind. For all the reasons we have loved and needed this adoptive landscape, now we need Home more. Sojourns here and explorations there, the taproot of our heritage remains rooted in Ohio. Sam's great grandparents immigrated to Ohio from Poland one hundred years ago, and in Ohio their offspring remained. Though the branches of Mark's family tree are more far-flung, Ohio is, and always has been, home.

And, come August, home will actually be home again. When that oppressive late summer heat wraps itself around us, it will be a familiar (if unpleasant) embrace: a welcome back. Like a casserole dish of cheesy potatoes or a whole Saturday spent watching football—it might not be for everyone, but to us it just feels right. 




I have joined a troupe of millions of others: those of us who have Flown The Nest. Sure, sure, this isn't news. I've been far from the Midwest, absent of the daily comforts of my truest true home,  for many moons. Seasons have blossomed and gone dormant. It's not often that I get a taste of home, though it does happen. The allure of this Vermont dairy goat farm is enough to bring our Ohio family + friends our way. Likewise, I remain prepared on a moment's notice for the chance to head westward — straight into my grandma's arms, directly onto my parents leather sofa, or swiftly into my mama-in-law's garden. To convene with any of our seven siblings over food + shared memories of childhood; honestly, is there anything so good? Rejoining physically with our two families is a desire that all but consumes Mark's and my thoughts. Farming together in Vermont is one step along the way to our enormous dream of creating a haven of animal + earth where we all live. Yes, all of us. A family compound, not unlike the sort that still exist the world over. While we work towards that someday reality, we (try to) accept the necessary distance and give thanks to God for the occasions when we are reunited. Reunited like we just were with my mama, who spent four blissful days with us. How to speak of the joy to be found when mama comes to town . . . 

I have written plenty about my mom, the undisputed queen of my heart. And still it is not enough. I could share a recipe for a cake or write about the farm, but all I want to write about is my love for the woman who raised me. Do you know this feeling? Is there someone, or many someones, in your life for whom you are eternally thankful? From the moment I picked her up at the airport, we resumed wherever it was we had left off. Over the course of four days, I learned about all the happenings of our extended family. We baked a rhubarb + black raspberry tart, plus an almond raspberry cake, and we ate a whole bag of jolly ranchers . . . for good measure. She cooked potato soup + her impossibly good buttered rolls to share with our friends. Every morning we'd have tea and coffee with broccoli + cheese omelettes that I'll never be able to make as well as her. Our last supper together was a pork roast from one of the farm's pigs, along with heaps of homemade sauerkraut. For us spoonful-of-peanut-butter-on-the-way-out-the-door folks, these four days of home-cooked goodness were divine. But vying for my favorite part was the afternoon where mama and I curled up on the couch and watched The Man from Snowy River while it snowed outside the windows. Several nights we prayed the Rosary together, a blessed experience of mother and daughter and Mary that my words could not possibly illustrate. She even woke at 5:00 a.m. to milk the goats with us! No moments of potential togetherness went missed.

She left traces of herself everywhere, as she is oft to do. She and I share a love of gift giving, so when she wanted to gift Mark and I a vintage copper skillet, we lovingly accepted with the knowledge that it will become a family heirloom. Now each time I use it, I think of her visit. I picked out a vintage chrome toaster while out and about with her that we put to use straight away with butter + jam toast. Similarly, when I look at the handstitched clementine quilt at the foot of our bed, it can almost feel as though she is still here with us. Almost. These are just objects, true, but they are objects with special meaning. I would be remiss if I did not praise my incredible husband, who went so far as to sleep on the couch so that his mother-in-law could sleep in our bed. In his words, "we all just really took care of each other." His love of sharing can stop me in my tracks. But, then again, we're dreaming and working towards a family compound, so togetherness is non-negotiable.

It feels important to chronicle the visit, a visit that we desperately desired and were divinely afforded. But I also write this with the hope that it sparks in you a keen appreciation for the ones you love, be them near or far. It's never going to be a bad idea to tell them so, or to hug them tightly. 




Having emerged on the other side of kidding season's busiest week—still standing, if a little wobbly—we decided that our only day off together in weeks would be for one thing only: Rest. We slept until our bodies woke us at the luxurious hour of eight (!); and then parked ourselves, along with our trusty french press, on the couch for the remainder of the morning. A hot water bottle (outfitted in Sam's latest woolen creation: a turtle-neck cover, knit with yarn that she bought from a sweet, elderly sheep herder at the Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference) made a worthy companion for our sore muscles. A little later, a berry tart from a beloved cookbook provided more comfort yet. 

Even after a particular difficult stretch of work—during which we welcomed more than one hundred kids onto the farm, tended to several goats with health issues, and saw our days routinely stretch well over twelve hours—it is easy to be called to gratitude for all that we have. The work that we have to perform is meaningful to us, and this temporary state of weariness comes with an enduring sense of satisfaction. We are humble witnesses & facilitators of a rush of new life into the world and into our lives, and the challenges that manifest during that process are cause for even greater appreciation of when things do go well. 

This all goes without mentioning how incredible it is that we, as farmers, are even able to enjoy a day of rest together during a busy time. We are oh-so-aware that a consequence of realizing the dream of farming your own land is the death of the day off, as well as any other workplace-related benefits, for that matter. But the skilled hands around us now, together with the people who had the vision & gumption to start a farm-creamery business that employs people like us, make possible each treasured day of rest such as this. That such an occasion takes place alongside a warm fire, with food in the pantry, in a home that we love . . . it calls to mind a blessing that Sam's dad says before nearly every family meal:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"




Around here a lot of photos get taken and stored in a computer folder, never to be printed, shared, or even admired, really. Usually they're just one-off photos that one of us took for no particular reason other than the moment struck us. It seems a real shame that we might have loved a moment, but feel it's not good enough or clean enough for our blog. Don't get us wrong, we've shared plenty of less-than-perfect images, but they have tended to fit into the context of the entire post. But no longer! Mark was the one who expressed his growing weariness over crafting blog posts, coupled with his growing desire to post single images with little or no writing accompanying. Thus, 'Photos From Afield' is born.

This particular image is home exactly as home looks in the winter: post-work beers on the coffee table, a box of yarn, our cat asleep fireside, bits + bobs strewn about. A well-loved space. That's all.