Here's a group of the best pictures sent by my sister Carol after she and partner Wayne came to visit. It looks like we had a good time, although so much has happened at work and home since then, we've forgotten that we did have a good time.
Apparently we spent a lot of time on the swings.
And we went to the fair. That must have been nice for us.
We ate apple crumble...
...and were even at the lobster pound. What tourists we were. Proper grockles.
Since then, Roo has officially walked. She can now walk short steps between myself and Aimee or between a supporting piece of furniture and one of us.
The first time this occurred was around Tuesday this week. Happy walk-day, dear daughter.
She also says words. Sort of. She likes the word "up", meaning "pick me up, mommy (or daddy)". And the word "ot", for "hot", is now useful when food is too hot, or we want to keep her away from the woodstove.
In other news, work.
The four letter word.
Notwithstanding the rush of midterm grading, there has been a further rush of "essential", late meetings.
I have around a twelve-credit teaching hour semester. In addition there are my administrative duties, and the need to make lesson plans for three classes and a lab. Ordinarily, I teach a night class Wednesday, teach early classes on MWF, meaning I have to be there by seven or seven-thirty to prep, and must be on campus at least four weekend days this semester. I also get up at four or five am each morning, sometimes earlier, and use most of that time to get writing, lesson planning, or grading tasks done.
Once you take into account all the early morning prep and grading and
office work, all this would amount to about a sixty hour week, were I to stay on campus until five pm.
Instead, I've felt justified in clearing out of there by around two pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and around three-thirty pm on Fridays, thus recapturing some of my time, and getting me down to a "mere" fifty hour week, a number I can live with.
But these late meetings are eating into this scheme for sanity. In addition, they make for some long days in daycare for Roo.
Aimee, for her part, is teaching an introductory Biology class with a high grading load. So that makes for two overworked parents. Most weekday evenings we just feed ourselves and her, play a little, and then collapse in front of the TV to watch Sesame Street with her, before her bedtime at 7.30.
On weekends whichever of us has least work to do looks after her, while the other grades or does some farm work. We just had a long weekend of four days that followed this pattern entirely (hence my bad pun for a title).
Our poor kid is getting shortchanged here, so something will have to give. However, with just over a month until Thanksgiving, and only a couple of weeks after that to do, I can see my way to the end of the semester and winter break, and should have fewer classes in the spring.
It's fall, and we've been letting it happen to us without much of a fight. Not that we could do anything if we wanted. Snow will be here soon enough, and it's best just to enjoy the wind and rain and blowing leaves and, of course, those wonderful New England Indian summer days, when we have time, that is.
Here's a couple of shots of the Womerlippis goofing off. One of the advantages of having a kid is that you get to visit the park and have a swing set in your yard, and you can play if you like. Roo particularly enjoys the swing set we built for her this spring. She also likes the Belfast City Park. Here she is on their big swing earlier this year with Aimee.
School is busy, though and grading season is upon us. The midterm grades are due later this month, so we need to get all our grading done. Grading is a brain-sucking chore that spoils your weekend and ruins your family life. Sometimes I wonder just how much time we spend grading. If that time were to be added up then divided across the summer days we have off, including the early morning and late night office work we also have to do, would we even break even?
A British left-of-center newspaper, the Guardian, has been reporting research that shows British school teachers work between 54 and 60 hours a week. If you count the time we spend working at home, it's easily that much.
In other news, my sister and her partner Wayne came to visit. This was the first time Aunty Carol had set eyes on her niece. They seemed to have a good time, and, among playing with Roo, managed a couple of tourist outings.
The "Womerlippi Farm" is actually a homestead or smallholding where most of the food is grown for our own consumption and that of our friends and family. We raise Corriedale/Romney-cross sheep, feeder pigs in season, and Golden Comet, Aruacuna, Black Laced Wyandotte, Brahma, and Buff Orpington hens. We have wooded pasture, old apple trees, and a large kitchen garden. We build and maintain our own energy-efficient buildings, service and fix our own vehicles and farm equipment, and generally live a thoroughly self-reliant lifestyle. Our farm goals are less economic and more psychological/spiritual and lifestyle oriented. We like an independent, quiet home life with a lot of interaction with animals and the earth. Farming, building and energy-related engineering is also part of our education work at Unity College. Having said all that, we're practical people and grow a lot of pretty solid food and fiber. We're also happy to sell you some eggs or yarn or lambs.
PS: "Womerlippi" is a combination of our last names, "Womersley" and "Phillippi." The one is broad Yorkshire, the other Greek, although Aimee's ancestry and home culture is Pennsylvania Dutch/Shenandoah Valley Church of the Brethren. When Aimee and I married, she didn't take my name. She said she "wasn't trading up."
Why is this "A Great Farm Diary?"
Because the setting for the events recorded here is the "Great Farm" of Jackson, Maine, that's why. (Not because this is such a great farm, although we like it.)
Started by privateer and financier Israel Thorndike in 1806 as a vacation home, the famous Great Farm of Jackson was an agricultural showcase for this area of Maine, and Thorndike used it as such, an advertisement for his private land office business, as he disposed of the famous Waldo Patent, in which he was a part owner. Land purchasers could work off their mortgages as laborers on the Great Farm. Most deeds in Waldo County trace back to Israel Thorndike.
Thorndike, born to a family of modest means, went to sea to make his fortune. He captained a privateering vessel during the Revolutionary War, and tweaked the nose of the great Royal Navy more than once. He then settled to a life as a financier, merchant, and captain of industry in Boston. He remains listed as one of the fifty richest Americans of all time. He was the author, with Eldridge Gerry, of the first recorded gerrymander, and so his name went down in history for that peculiarly undemocratic deed too.
He was, in short, a rich, arrogant, unrequited arse, whose primary redeeming feature was impressive ambition. If you are such a person, you should feel ashamed. My work in academia has introduced me to many such wealthy people, and frankly, I'm tired of them. The world doesn't revolve around you and your silly ideas of what is important. Grow up.
Our own much smaller farm sits on a few acres of the original 2,000 that Thorndike developed as an agricultural showcase. As he was a famous Federalist, while Aimee and I are obvious neo-Jeffersonians, of sorts, I doubt he'd be pleased with what we've done with the place. But we don't give a rat's wotsit. As I said, we like it this way.
Read the very last posts in the archive for more details, or use search terms like Israel Thorndike or "Great Farm history" in the Google Blogger search engine (above, on the left).
How this Diary is Arranged:
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.
The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive below, click on the link provided, and read backwards from there to get it all in chronological order.
To find out what is happening right now, read the first post first.
Purchasing Womerlippi Farm produce in season can be done by email arrangement, and/or by shopping at the Marsh River Coop in Brooks or the 47 Daisies Farm Stand in Vasselboro.
We sell yarn, fleece, pesto, and livestock for meat or breeding.
The yarn is Bartlett Yarn's 4-ply, a medium-thick yarn, in natural gray and brown, as well as natural dyes. It is soft and bulky, and makes nice old-fashioned knitwear. You can buy it for $7 a skein by emailing email@example.com. We ship priority mail, minimum ten skeins at a time. The shipping is extra. Or you can get it for a few bucks a skein, either over the counter at Crosstracks restaurant in Unity, Maine, at the 47 Daisies Farm Stand in Vassalboro, Maine, or at the Marsh River Coop in Brooks, Maine.
We also have raw white and brown (natural colored) fleece in large quantities each spring, unwashed, untreated. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and name your price. Expect to pay shipping. This year (2015), for the second time, skirted fleece will be available at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine. Look for our tags in the fleece tent.
Our pesto is available in the frozen food section of the Marsh River Cooperative in Brooks, Maine. If they happen to be out, tell the person behind the counter and they'll ask us to deliver more.
At various times of the year we have live breeding ewes and/or feeder lambs and pigs, and frozen lamb cuts by prior arrangement. Again, use email to set up your purchases.
We now have a child who naps during the day and so have curtailed our former farm stand egg operation. We also have dogs who bite. We like that they bite, because we have a child we want to protect. If you come unexpectedly to the farm, stay behind any temporary hot-wire gate or fence, or park in the driveway, until someone comes. We'll know you're there because the dogs will tell us. Loudly. Annoyingly. They will wake our kid, if she is asleep. We will be mad about this.
If no-one comes, we're not home. Go Away.
If you are yet more foolish and try to get out of your car and/or cross a gate or fence, expect to get bitten by a shepherd dog, rammed by a ram, or chewed out by a shepherd.