Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

It’s officially freezing!

The cold weather has officially arrived. This morning, every water bucket, water container, and duck pond was frozen. Frozen like an ice cube. All this cold water means winter has officially arrived. No longer will I be able to ignore a llama watering source. Ice will have to be broken. My fingers will have to freeze. Today, it was about 1/2 inch thick. That’s thick ice, yo!

Let me apologize for a few days of no blog reporting, but I’ve been in New York City, sipping white wine and missing the llamas. Granted, it was raining. And that made the city a bit of a bummer. You can’t’ walk around like Mary Tyler Moore with full bags from Macy’s and Mui Mui in the middle of a down pour. It’s not chic. All you can really do is huddle in-doors, eating and drinking your way through a broken heart – for shopping is a non-option.

I once thought New York City was the place for me. But really, all I would do there is spend money. Years ago, I actually got into graduate business school in NYC. I choose, as some of you may know, to chase Prince William in Scotland for a year instead. In retrospect, that was my moment to live in the city. Freedom, pre-llama, pre-law school, and before life became complicated. But it wasn’t to be. And I don’t think it’ll ever be. I’ve got a baby llama with a 25+ year life expectancy. While it ain’t no parrot, that certainly is a long time.

I warn you, prepare yourself, for this winter there will be a lot of whining from me about carrying water buckets and tromping through the snow. But don’t believe a word of it. I secretly love it. But a) I wouldn’t be Jewish, and b) I wouldn’t be able to garner the pity from others to make me drinks and cook me dinner, if I didn’t whine a little. And so I’ll trudge through the ice and snow…if for no one else (p.s. I love you llamas), then for me. But ugh, I hate it!

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Poppies, beautiful poppies!

I took a wonderful flower arranging class today with Evelyn of Artiflora in Granville  - We learned how to work with branches and how to make an asymmetrical “Dutch garden” scene. It’s something delightful to learn interesting facts about design and then have all the tools (i.e. gorgeous flowers) available to play with! I want to thank Evelyn for a wonderful day. We’re happy to highlight her work at Orchard House quite regularly. Soon, we’ll have a gorgeous Williamsburg Christmas display with pineapples. I’m giddy waiting for it!

The class was held at Amy Hamilton’s house. An incredible farmhouse in Granville. Amy’s an accomplished milliner and her studio was something amazing to behold! ( We worked in a restored horse barn/carriage house. It was jealousy inducing. And as I dropped leaves and stems and flower parts all over the floor I relished in my environment even more. There’s something to be said for the pristine Country Living home. There’s something noteworthy to be said about the same space that can be used and lived in. Sweep up the rose petals and make a gorgeous hat. That’s a kind of heaven. My kind of heaven!

Today was great. A much needed break from the B&B. Some wonderful soup, delicious bundt cake (pear and cranberry, that I made thank you very much!) and a day to worry about flower placement and the joy of color and texture combination. And now, I’m sipping on some gin (and juice) and watching The Waltons, as there’s a fire a-brewin’, and the dogs are sleeping. And, to boot, there are two gorgeous arrangements in the B&B. All in all, a champagne wishes and caviar dreams Friday!

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Trolling the web.

I’m an Internet troll. I search constantly for new things. I put on a robe, grab some cheesy puffs, plug in a tropical air effects and get logged in. Hello craigslist, my old friend. Am I looking for that lost connection? Nope, my connections are always found. Also, not looking for any antiques. I think you’ve got to be desperate to buy an antique on craigslist. Go to some potentially crazy person’s house with money, hoping there are no cracks in the stone wear jug. Please! If you’re looking for me, I can be found in Farm & Garden.

I like looking at the animals. I like looking at the farm equipment. And I like looking at all the things people try to sell. Sketchy things. Broken things. There are a lot of horses for sale. Horses of all sizes: large, medium, pony, miniature, and tiny. The tiny ones are cute but they look a little mental. Like they should nay in a squeaky voice and poop tootsie rolls.

There are, for sure, a lot of different rabbit hutches out there too! But none are cute. Granted, bunnies are sweet, but even their cuteness can’t freshen up a depressing wooden box. Also a lot of mowers. And farm land to lease. You can buy fresh brown eggs, decorate your patio and purchase miscellaneous mower parts by the ton! The best part? This is all in one place! It’s amazing. Better than the supermarket. Better than those big box stores. Even better the TSC!

So if you’re looking for me at night sometime, I’m probably on the ‘list. Looking at the goats, and wondering what I can do with 500 cedar shingles and a rare spotted pig. At the moment, I don’t know, but I believe magic is in the air!

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What a busy 24 hours!

We’ve been busy at Orchard House for the past 24 hours! A ram was castrated, the pig’s hooves were trimmed and his tusks sawed, we had (and continue to have) a full house of guests, and, a few hours ago, a llama was on the ground, unable to get up, her feet running in the air like a dog might do while dreaming. I need a gin and tonic!

Never fear, the ram is okay. He is a bit of a loaner these past 24 hours, but it may just be the pain. When you approach him he licks you like a goat in heat. A strange new behavior, but his hormones are a wreck right now. And I’ll take licking over ramming any day of the week!

Bacon slept a lot today. But he did have his teeth sawed off. Even in these desperate times, however, he still eats. And drinks. And squeals. And oinks.

The llama was a sight to be seen – and not wholly in a good way. It’s disconcerting to see an animal the size of a horse unable to stand. Her stomach was the size, and consistency, of a yoga ball. And surprise, another frantic call was made to the vet.

After some simple instruction we hoisted her onto her side. She started burping like crazy. Then, suddenly, she stood up. Wobbly, and still burping, her baby began to suckle. A few minutes later, all were eating hay. Crisis averted. Luckily, the vet called back, and didn’t make the trip out for this one.

We believe she laid down for a good sunning, and on an incline, was unable to get up. A downed llama with no Life Alert! Do I need to buy these for them too know? Did I mention this is the llama with the crooked neck? Unable to get the momentum to stand, she rolled over, and once over, the bloat set in. And her stomach became a yoga ball.

Another 24 hours of this and I’ll apply for my Farm Bureau gold card. In the meantime, I’ll drink a gin and tonic, and reminisce about the days when all I worried about was where my next cashmere scarf was coming from.



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What someone should have told me!

Today, I start a new topic on the blog. “What someone should have told me!” We’ve been on the farm for over a year now, and are still learning new processes, tools, and information that continues to make our lives easier. So easy, in fact, that someone should have just told me about it in the first place! Oh, I read books. And I google. But I wish someone would have told me the easiest, most cost-effective way to handle any number of situations. So that is what I will do for you.

If you’re planning on moving to the country, or are already installed and have some questions, I hope you’ll ask. This is meant to be a dialogue. I’m not afraid to ask the “experts” even the stupidest questions. I know, almost for a fact, that when I call my vet, he’s rolling his eyes as I speak. But that’s ok. As long as he doesn’t hang-up. Or call me an idiot (in person).

Today, I’ll offer 2 lessons.

1) Pigs dig holes. They digs lots of holes. And can destroy a pasture in matter of days. Our pig, Bacon, roams around rooting up grasses and bugs, followed by a gang of ducks. The solution? A ring through his nose. This is considered cruel – and there are no puppy coats in my closet!

Lesson: If you’re going to get a pig, be prepared for a mess. I guess the word “pig” has its meaning because they’re messy beasts. But not only messy, also destructive. Perhaps a girlfriend would occupy his time. There’s differing views on this however, and my vet is coming tomorrow. I’ll ask him. In person, I really don’t think he can roll his eyes when I ask him what to do. That’s what his car ride home is for.

2) Farm fences are the simplest way to save time, energy, and contain an ornery beast. And they’re easy to install. For about $100 you can get the fence (10 ft.) and some decent hinge-type things. One hour later, and badda-bing! It’s done. If I can do it, anyone can do it! I have trouble putting IKEA furniture together. But this, I can handle. Perhaps it’s innate Americana or something.

Lesson: I’ve had a lot of farm fencing installed by professionals. Never did they mention a farm gate. Chain-link they say, chain-link. P.S. a ram can easily butt his way through a chain-link gate. Not a farm gate! Mwahahahaha! I have won the day, but no thanks to the professionals. I had to discover this by myself. And now you know.

If you’re interested in something, please ask. And I’ll be sure to share whatever information I learn, and what I have learned, so that you don’t have to spend the money, time, and energy that I did in order to get it right…the third time.

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