This has been a contrasting year in that at times it has seemed to have passed so quickly, and yet at other times, so slowly.
The move on to the land, setting up the home here, putting in a new drive a third of a mile long, water lines, septic tank and electric all proved very stressful, and I am not sure that if I had known then what it would entail I would have gone ahead with it.
Of course it didn’t help that we did it at the hottest time of the year, which we had said we wouldn’t do but delays took it out of our control.
Sitting here now though it all seems worthwhile. I am on our deck, the three dogs asleep by me, looking out to our fields and trees. We get deer up to the house most mornings and evenings and the birds are amazing, red cardinals, bluebirds (the state bird of Tennessee no less), vultures and so many more, plus squirrels, groundhogs, coyotes and snakes – it is a bit like living on a safari park here on Hickory Moon Farm! (A beautiful bird of prey, beige, with a huge wing span, has literally just flown by me here on the deck, into the woods).
Now it is autumn, or fall, the leaves have fallen from the trees in the woods that line our land and the trucks on the highway are now more audible as they make their way across the state line to or from Kentucky, which is about fifteen miles away from us. It conjures up for me images of bootleggers, driving down back roads with their contraband evading the sheriffs.
I have to say that everyone has been so amazingly friendly and helpful, Southern hospitality at its finest. There is an underlying current of racism in some places and with some people, stuck as they are in the past, ignorance still prevailing.
Also we are in the middle of Tennessee and hunting! Again it is not for us but respect that it is a way of life for many here. Deer are the main victims, squirrels and rabbits smaller targets. Our neighbours across the fields are avid hunters, and can and tin up deer meat that lasts them the year.
There are a number of meat processing firms in the area, and deer is one of the main meats. We will be using them for our own use though – we plan to get a cow next year and subsequently a calf. We are also getting goats, for meat and for dairy as well as chickens, ducks and possibly turkeys.
Once the holiday season is over we have a lot of work ahead of us – ploughing the fields and sowing our seeds! We intend to be as self sufficient as possible.
We plan to get a couple of donkeys, as they are apparently great protectors of stock from coyotes, of which there are a number around here.
All of this has had an impact of course on my work, my recording and writing. The studio is set up to go but I have put back the release and publication of the new CD and book until next year, when I can give them the attention needed.
Our dogs have settled in and love it here, running in the fields until they can run no more. Hope, our chocolate lab that we flew in from the UK, is like a puppy, defying her nine years. Willow, our wolf dog is now huge but loving, playful and protective, and they have now been joined by Miss Daisy Mae, a bloodhound mix puppy who has certainly made her presence known! She is also loving, very naughty, and is going to also be huge. What have we done?!? They all get on now wonderfully and as I type this Miss Daisy Mae is barking at Willow – no fear!
There is also Possum, our cat who thinks he is a dog. He comes down the field with us when we take the dogs, and sleeps right next to one of them every night. I simple do not understand cruelty to animals and would easily lock up (at least) any one found hurting an animal but it happens. We rescued Miss Daisy Mae from a shelter and Possum, and will probably rescue more.
We had tried to survive without a landline but have this week succumbed. The signal for our cell phones is appalling. We are also having to do with only 15gb a month through our satellite internet service – we were using 350gb before we moved!
One of the best things has been our deck, 360 square feet, it’s another room! Covered by old red tin roofing, (very Southern, the rain falling onto the roof, wonderful sound), the deck has a bar, table and chairs and a vintage television and video, with two further chairs, and heating is courtesy of a big chiminea. There’s also a grill, a fridge, another television at the bar, and finally, a hot tub! Sitting in this at night, with the stars above, trees blowing gently in the wind in the distance and nature all around is simply surreal – and hugely therapeutic!
Indeed the stars are amazing. There is no light pollution at all here so on clear nights we can make out constellations and planets and it has been wonderful, taking me back to my childhood interest and imagination regarding space. The meteor shower in late summer, with shooting star after shooting star, took our breaths away.
It has been hard work, and there is a lot more ahead early next year, but it is and will be so rewarding.
Well I’d better finish for now and take the short cut across the fields and walk the quarter of a mile up to our mailbox, passing our new beehives, and then back again. I’ve lost thirty pounds at least this year, without trying, (and much needed!).
There’s a storm predicted for tonight so also time to ‘batten down the hatches’.