The Last Homestead: Sept. 11

Sunday, September 11, 2016: some time in the AM, far too early

I have a thousand questions for Rose and Darrell, who arrived home about 6:30 last evening. I want to ask them about the land, about the animals, about their history here. There’s a really old washing machine sitting on the bunk house porch. At least I think it’s a washing machine. I want to know if that’s what it is and where it came from and how it works (or worked). There are all kinds of stuff like that around, bits of farm equipment that I vaguely recognize, and so forth. Some of it might actually be still in use.



I’m getting a bit more acquainted with the space and the animals. Mona likes tomatoes and onions, but not parsley and lemons. The piglets are (still) very cute. It appears the animals are designated by their status as breeders or meat suppliers. The breeders get extra careful feeding and attention. They are more attuned to people. The meat suppliers (“intended for the freezer”) are also taken care of carefully but they aren’t as beloved as the ones who stick around for a longer time. I saw Rose feed the two pigs who are in an area by themselves. The biggest pig wanted desperately to get into the trough before Rose was finished filling it. Rose pushed her on the hind-end (firmly) and said something like “Around”. The pig, much to my astonishment, moved back behind Rose while she finished filling the food bin. Wow. Very impressive, although I’m not sure who I was more impressed by, Rose or the pig.


The adolescent pig and his mother, eating fruit from the Thompson fruit farm. The Howes have two or three bins of nectarines, peaches, and plums, a wealth unimaginable to me. The pigs seem to like the fruits as much as I do – hmmmm.

I walked down into the east/southeast timber before breakfast this morning. Ponderosas and junipers dominate the woods, but there’s also another kind of fir tree. Something else to ask the Howes about.


The track through the woods

Thus far, I go to bed at 8, get up at 6:30 with the cows, and am not too lonely. Every time I get lonely I inventory my options and find another thing that needs doing. It seems I have lots to do, although nothing requires being done except eating. Soon I will have to cook at least one of the pork chops that I bought from Rose – I wouldn’t dare let it go to waste. I ate soup last night; opening a can was all I could manage.

And now I must stop and go paint. Today I’m going to start a panorama using perhaps seven of the small 4 x 4” boards. I’ll be facing east to paint, right into the early sun, definitely the wrong direction, but because it’s a larger project, I need to at least start it there. Perhaps I can finish it with the sun in the west.


The center four (out of seven) panels of the panorama.

Later –4:30 on 9/11/’17

After saying Rose was reserved, here she was this afternoon after they came home, wonderfully chatty, telling me about her plans for the 37 Chevy and offering me the use of the ’55 Chevy (or a truck and or a wheelbarrow) to get my painting stuff up the hill. The Howes drove down the lane by me as I was dragging my cart back to the bunk house, and I think they felt all the painting paraphernalia was a bit much to lug up the hill in the small cart.  And just a bit ago, Rose brought along 3 ears of corn for my dinner. I don’t think I’m going to starve.


Another view of The 37 Chevy that Rose will spend the winter, under Darrell’s tutelage, fixing up. The interior is a mess, and the engine needs work (so I am told), but it’s definitely my kind of car. If I wanted a car. It’s sitting in big arena, which served as an equestrian training area as well as hosting a wedding — and is now a convenient space to put the old cars awaiting servicing.


Rose’s ’55 Chevy, Nessie, that she drives to farmers’ markets where she sells her cheese and sausage and soap bars and cakes. With Darrell’s help, she turned this beauty into a useful tool (as well as a fun accessory).

I did paint _seven_ little 4 x 4s, a panorama as usual, and also took a pano with my camera, using the camera panorama setting. It was a 4-hour painting session with another hour getting up the hill, setting up, and then returning. Far more than I intended or normally do. But since there’s no FB or Jer to distract me………


The seven little paintings which form a panorama, sitting on a woodpile on the back porch of the bunk house to dry

It was chilly today, although yesterday’s painting excursion was hot and sunny. Today, the wind was stout, gusting so it sounds like traffic. A strange sound, after being without wind for a couple of days. I had forgotten how quiet afternoons in the country can get. For the last couple of days, between 1 and 5 PM, in the heavy heat, everything went sleepy and still. But not today. Luckily I was working with the little boards that I can hold in my hand, so they didn’t turn into sails. I’m going to have to choose a calm day to work on the big painting surfaces; you remember, they are birch, bonded to 2-inch stretcher bars, and much heavier than canvas. Today the wind is so strong that the boards could have been picked up and flown across the meadow, clonking some poor deer in the head.

Speaking of deer, I frightened the herd from its nap time today.  All bounded off (deer seldom just flat-out run), except for two little ones, just past fawn stage, that got stuck behind a fence. The two of them tried again and again to bound over it, but kept bouncing into the wire and boing-ing back on the wrong side. I felt bad – they were spooked and wanted to get with their families (who waited on the other side of the lane, giving me the stink eye). After about 10 tries, with a lot of backing up and shaking of heads on the part of the little ones, I went on past them – watching them was too painful and I hoped that if they weren’t in such a panic, they might succeed. I heard a couple more boings and, then, nothing. Finally I looked back, and there they were, on the other side, looking quite calm.  I don’t know if they went over or under but great relief was felt all ‘round. The whole group bounded away into the woods, not waiting for my applause.


Small deer fleeing

So that’s today’s excitement – Mona doesn’t like parsley, the corn is just coming on ripe, and the young’uns got safely over the fence. Also I took a nap after painting up a fury. I’m afraid you will have to bring me another pair of jeans – these were decent until today’s painting stint, but what with the wind and all, I smeared enough paint that these won’t be appropriate for travel.

I’m going to off-load my photos and then meander down to the house and send this along. After that I’ll make my pork chop and corn dinner. And so to bed. Ah, days in the country.

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12 Responses to The Last Homestead: Sept. 11

  1. olganorris says:

    I’m really enjoying these posts; you make me feel as if I’m experiencing back stage of one of Jane Smiley’s novels. I absolutely love your seven squares lying on the logs – both the painting and the photo of them. Context in context. I love that you capture the great space in such small pieces – somehow a multiple of pieces makes it seem greater than if you had had one single long horizontal piece of wood the same size.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June says:

      Hey, Olga, so good to hear your voice. Thanks for the insights. I’ve been working on these little 4″ squares since 2014 and find them versatile–and easier to handle. I too liked the way they looked on the wood pile. I need to have my current work in sight to e valuate where to go next. Anyway I’m so pleased to be in touch with you. June


    • Kit Szanto says:

      Perfect comments, Olga

      Liked by 1 person

  2. snicklefritzin43 says:

    What a busy, active, interesting environment you have chosen for this “retreat”. The painting you have set up to dry are very nice…the panorama is probably my favorite. Seeing the little deer running safely across the field must have been a big sigh of relief for you…wondering and not having an answer can be a niggly issue to pack around. Your time on the homestead is truly a lovely journey…thanks for writing the story and sharing it with us all who read your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • june says:

      Thanks, Kristin. Those little deer really were everywhere — and so beautiful. I did worry about them, but they are resilient. I learned a lot about all kinds of critters — love sharing it with you.


    • Olga has read my mind! I’d put these posts aside as I’d gotten too bogged down with other things and am taking time today to read through, one after the other, the 5 or so that I was behind on. And had that same thought that this was like reading a novel. Then I came to the panorama – so June on residency – and of course envisioned this as big – maybe painted on 10 x 10’s or 12 x 12’s. So when I saw their true size in the follow picture, I thought, “Oh, how cute!”, and immediately hoped you would not be offended by that description. That 4 x 4 works very well grouped this way and you are giving me ideas for my own textile work.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jerry Underwood says:

    Yay! Love the photo of the washing machine and those of the two old cars. The saga continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kit Szanto says:

    Love the panel of 4 image – thank you! And loved seeing the 7 lined up on the word to dry – good work, ma’am. Very evocative – doubling the pleasure of reading these blogs.
    And the deer – love seeing them, fleeing or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • june says:

      Thanks, Kit. I’m always startled to see my paintings in photographs like this. The context is fun, too, along the wood pile. I took a lot of deer photos, but they were just a bit too far away for the photos to capture them well. But more are coming, including some of these (or other) little ones.


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