Newsletter 25 Fall/Winter 2015
Around the Farm
I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but Hazel Ridge Farm is our 40-acres of paradise. Lots of hard work, to be sure, but a labor of love. The spring garden began with a rough start. So much rain that I replanted beans, beets, carrots and parsley several times..and still they never flourished. But that just meant more space for "bee" flowers. No blight on the tomatoes this year and a great crop of potatoes...tallying seventy-five quarts of tomato sauce and two bushels of potatoes at summers end. After two years of hobbling along, I finally got a total hip replacement. Being without health insurance made it beyond our price range but thanks to Obamacare, I am now the bionic woman and worked pain-free all summer. Nick, on the other hand, endured an inguinal hernia for the first part of summer and recovered from its repair during the second half. This opened up time and "permission" to sit long hours in his blind photographing all manner of nature. A small sample of what he captured is: several bluebird families from nesting to fledglings, baby wood ducks surviving and raising themselves without the help of parents (tho Nick did see the snapping turtles pick off a few), watched a snapper laying her eggs, snapped a few blurry pictures of the new resident Pileated Woodpecker and many images of unsuspecting does and fawns. Nick's prairies continue to expand as he collects and spreads the seed throughout the property, benefiting everything that resides here. There was only one glitch in the summer of 2015... so many mosquitoes that if you opened your mouth you would more than likely inhale a mouthful. No leisurely walks or relaxing meals on the deck. August though October made up for it with wonderful weather! My bees. Don't get me started. I love them and could write pages about their wonders. They are my Zen and I am their steward. I caught 7 swarms this year and will go into the winter with 14 hives. I harvested from four of my strongest hives and they shared 275 pounds of honey. Kelly has returned to Michigan and has started grad. school at M.S.U. in journalism and communication arts. I think she has found her niche. Our gypsy daughter has finally put down roots..for awhile anyway. Heather and family have moved to a new place (still in Ft Wayne). Not quite the country, but lots more space for three active kids. Ahmed has already built them a tree house. I look forward to many tea parties up there. Heather is still maintaining very high grades in her nursing courses and was voted one of Ft. Wayne's 2105 top 20 Millennials Making a Difference by the Greater Ft. Wayne Business Weekly. It's nice to see our kids have turned out to be nice people.
We did our usual up north book signing gig promoting Nick's newest books (more later) and signed to long lines and happy customers. We continue to visit schools as visiting author and illustrator, receiving rock star status from the kids. School visits are the best part of our job. I continued to learn more about bees by attending two bee conferences. Three days in July at the Heartland Apicultural Society conference at Albion College and two days at M.S.U. this spring. All day long talkin' about bees. Ya can't get much better than that. Last year was a trial run for Fall at the Farm. Instead of our usual Holiday Open house in December, where we are at the whim of Mother Nature, we decided to try the event in October. The weather was glorious for family hikes on the back 40 and consensus was "keep it in the Fall!" We aim to please so the dates for this year's open house are:
Hazel Ridge Fall at the Farm
October 22 through 25, 2015
Thurs. & Fri. Oct. 22 and 23, 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (limited goodies)
Sat. & Sun. Oct 24 and 25, 11 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
The quiet, relaxed hours of Thursday & Friday have been an ongoing success so we will continue the tradition. But many of you still prefer the food & festivities of the big weekend hoopla. We welcome you whenever you decide to visit the farm and gallery. Originals, prints and books will be available. Remember parking can be a hassle. Since we only have our open house once a year, we rely on the common sense of you responsible drivers. Our parking lot will accommodate quite a few cars but please keep the circle drive open and flowing. There will also be parking just west of the farm across the street on our neighbor's property. Signs will be posted. Some folks like to drop passengers off at the door and then park at the other spaces. Also, for you adventurous hikers, wear outdoor clothing and boots if you would like to hike the back 40 acres. Discover/explore all the areas highlighted in our Hazel Ridge Series books. Two reminders: 1.We do not take credit cards. 2. You may want to bring along a list of the books you already have so you know which ones you need/want. Feel free to bring along friends and family. All are welcome.
Nick has two new releases this spring and they will be available at the Open House. Continuing in the Legend series is The Legend of the Beaver's Tail as well as his beautifully illustrated S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes: a National Lakeshore Alphabet. It is a wonderful complement to The Legend of Sleeping Bear. I Love You Just Enough continues to win awards and accolades. It received the 2015-2016 Great Lakes Great Books Award, 2015 Children's Choice, awarded by the Children's Book Council and International Literacy Association, 2016 Teachers' Choice Awards for Children's Books winner (Learning Magazine) and finally Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) Readers Award Preliminary Nominee for 2016-2017 Show Me Readers Award. Pretty cool.
People continue to ask what I am reading. I am usually a sci-fi/fantasy gal but a friend suggested I try the Maise Dobb's series. Loved it, read them all and am waiting for number thirteen to be released. They are about a female detective (but with a twist) during the 1930's and 40's. Jacqueline Winspear Novels
I couldn't settle on one quote to end with so you get all three..
"The earth has music for those that listen." -George Satayana-
"You should try to sit in nature for at least 20 minutes a day..unless you are busy, then you should sit for an hour." Zen meditation
"People say walking on water is a miracle, but to me walking peacefully on earth is the real miracle."
-Thich Nhat Hanh -
That'll do it for this year. Bee safe, healthy and hope to see you at the open house.
Nick and Robbyn
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