Early on in my time living in Boston, over drinks at Colleen’s mother’s house, I was listening to her neighbors talk about the farm in New Hampshire that they had recently purchased and their plans to summer there and raise some animals. I half-jokingly offered up “I have years of farm experience, so let me know if you ever need a farm sitter,” not expecting anything to come of it. A week later Chris and Jim had booked me for a weekend of farm sitting in May. Or, as I like to think of it, a paid vacation hanging out with some very cool animals.
On Friday, after a short drive up 93 from Boston, I was in New Hampshire. I was prepared for it to be scenic, but I had no idea I was going to be spending the weekend in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. (See lead photo.) As Chris said, “I don’t want to offend anyone, but I’m pretty sure this is Heaven.”
Beyond the scenery, I got obscenely lucky with the weather. It was sunny and in the mid-high 70s all weekend, with a great breeze to keep the air fresh (and the allergies at bay). I know this sounds weird as someone who has done farm work in hot, humid summers since I was like 11, but I really hate wearing jeans when it’s that warm. So I went with an alternative outfit:
My two main charges for the weekend were not so much farm animals as they were the couple’s dogs, Oliver (Ollie) and Roswell (Ros). I’d met these dogs before and they were the perfect companions for the weekend. Playful, sweet, but also protective of me. Spending the night alone in the countryside makes me highly value a dog that will bark at anything foreign coming onto the property, no matter how ridiculous! We bonded over carrots (they like them as treats!) and have become friends for life.
Oliver is a Chow/German Shepherd mix, still puppy age. He’s the sweetest thing, and also a fantastic shepherd, which came in handy when I was trying to round up the other animals. I wish he was my dog.
Ros is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, which is essentially a smaller, more energetic Golden Retriever. I’ve always loved this kind of dog, and Ros is the MOST playful dog I’ve ever met. Be careful if you ever throw a ball for him, because you’re signing away your next few hours… My right arm is actually sore from throwing so much this weekend – Ros took me way over 100 pitches!
And then, of course, there were the actual farm animals. They have a pair of lambs, a boy and a girl, and a goat named Precious (she came with that name).
And three chickens and a rooster. I call that group “the ladies.”
The ewe lamb is named Dolores, because of her markings. The only white on her is in the shape of a tear beneath each eye. The name Dolores means “sorrows” in Latin. Kinda perfect, huh?
The ruminants spend most of their time grazing on a hill. But you’d be surprised at how much they appreciate human (or dog) interaction. Precious loves going on walks, so we took a stroll up and down the 1/2 mile long driveway on Saturday. And the sheep are extremely curious and cuddly, and like to climb all over you if you let them. They kind of reminded me of curious kittens.
Ollie and the lamb have a funny relationship. I think they’re trying to figure out some kind of pack pecking order, which is mostly leaving the lamb feel like he needs to charge/head-butt Ollie. This always leaves Ollie confused.
Beyond the head-butting episodes, the weekend was like an extended episode of Planet Earth. I encountered snakes, newts, chipmunks, an unlucky baby squirrel that was murdered by the cat, a turkey, and best of all, a MOOSE who strayed onto the property. (The dogs FREAKED out, incidentally.)
After the last chicken was put in the coop and the last flake of hay put into the manger, and as the crisper evening air set in, nothing was more welcome than curling up next to the wood-burning stove with a good book and a glass of wine. I always say that when it comes to city life vs. country life, I’m “all or nothing – nothing in between.” I love living in a fast-paced city surrounded by noises and clutter and things to do and people to meet.
But I’m also completely happy in the middle of absolutely nowhere.