Farm life is like your life, but we get up earlier.

10 Aug

On Wednesday, August 13th, we celebrate ten years at Paradise Farm. My, how time flies. I remember that Friday the 13th that we closed. We spent a late night before at Tom’s, packing the rest of his house (except the sun porch, where we camped the last night) into a moving van. Early the next morning, we drove it, and our cars (in stages and via park and rides) to the “new” house, where the owners, Reen and Jay, were still packing. We had formed a good relationship with them (after we submitted our bid, we had lunch with them, and they hung in there – refusing other offers – while we spent the spring selling our two houses to get enough for this one.) They were headed to Florida that day, and we knew they also had to leave things until the last moment. We parked the trailer outside the new house and drove up to the multiple closings.  A few hours and a good lunch later, we drove back down and, with the help of my good friend Janet and our wonderful realtor, Bill, unloaded the trailer in less than two hours, under a threatening sky. The minute the last heavy tool came down the ramp and into the garage, the skies opened.  We cracked beers and sat in the gazebo, our first day in Paradise. And the next day, never sitting long enough to let the moss grow, we cut four 20+ foot encroaching cedars surrounding the house foundation (probably freaking the neighbors a bit – we move quickly!) and later that afternoon, got in the car to drive to North Carolina to pick up my daughter and niece from my folks’. Oh, but we were so young.

In ten years, we’ve had geese, chickens, pigeons, llamas, alpacas, dogs and cats, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc. etc. on these seven acres. We’ve buried one llama and one alpaca, sold a lot of baby alpacas, and much of our herd. We’ve also buried three dogs (Spooky, a Norwegian Elkhound mix – a lovely, warm old lady; Jasmine, my mother’s black lab who came to stay; and Jimmy, the big brown galumph with the heart bursting out of his ribcage and a brain like a faded but precious postage stamp.) We’ve caught some woodchucks, and once, a fierce (but pretty – at least from the back!) Fisher Cat. And one moonlit winter night, we had a horse come barreling through the yard, hesitating under our window and huffing billows of silvery, smoke-like breaths. We had four holiday season open houses, drawing hundreds of folks from all over, with a makeshift “store” selling alpaca stuff, tours of the barn, and once, an obstacle course. We have taken alpacas to farmers’ markets, where Tom spun magic yarn and I led alpacas (followed by many, many children) around with a halter.

We wake up early. Even on weekends.


Tom, Charlie and Coco: morning chores.

We’ve learned some things the hard way. For example, regular humans can not, and should not even attempt to, shear alpacas.


Even though Tom did a great job. Danny looks pretty happy to be getting all that fiber off. Whew!

We learned that 20 pigeons is too many pigeons. That 18 alpacas means scooping poop twice a day, rain or shine, or snow. Even when you just got married an hour ago. Even if your husband is in the hospital with appendicitis. For a week.


We have downsized in the past few years. Since LMB went off to Art Skool, it is rather quiet. Three alpacas (two ladies and a gentleman) and one llama and a handful of chickens make much less poop to scoop these days.  It is quieter.


I think about this. We made a conscious decision to quiet things down. A hundred years ago, we would not have had that choice. We would have had to stick it out, even when we didn’t feel like it was the right thing for us, anymore. I think about this when I scoop poop on a Sunday morning. I have a choice. I go to work and this is all for fun. I don’t panic when the tomatoes come up spotty. I don’t look at the alpacas and see dollar signs. I just get up every day and say hello, and get on with things before going to work.

When I run, I pass evidence of Farms Gone By. The only reminder of the hard work, knuckle-rawing daily sculldudgery that went into sustenance farming are stone walls, cellar holes, and new pine overtaking what used to be fields. All returned to the woods.


Will Paradise Farm look like this, some day? A hole hidden in the woods?

Who will remember this?

2006_alpaca_openhouse_empire_011 2006_alpaca_openhouse_empire_004 2006_alpaca_openhouse_empire_005-335x249 Luna_072406__HERD_0192-395x288 Luna_072406__HERD_019-250x187


People say to me sometimes “how do you do it – with school, and the farm, and the training for marathons – where do you find the time?”

Simple. We just get up really, really early.




6 Responses to “Farm life is like your life, but we get up earlier.”

  1. T Shaw August 10, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Well said.

  2. runkeysrun August 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    I met Jimmy in 08 when i ran Boston. He reminded me of Michael Keaton in the movie Multiplicity. I think it was the 3rd clone. The one that liked pizza.

    • anjshaw August 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm #


      • Jane Unright August 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

        Thank you I love this can I come and visit??

  3. anjshaw August 10, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    Jane, yes! Come and visit.

  4. Roz Shaw August 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Great blog, Anj. Had my taste all weekend with you,Tom,the “un-teenager,” Charlie, Coco,Molly,Sticky, and the alpacas! Plus QUIET and PEACE on the deck. Thank you. 🙂

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