We're just back from my cousin's wedding in Wales. Rachel stayed with us on the farm for five years running when she was younger, and partied with all the local lads. But that was then, and now she's married a Welsh rugby player. My aunt made the dress, and my uncle made the cake, and we all decorated the church hall - simple and gorgeous. I love the fields and hedges of Wales, centuries old, a green and permanent contrast to California's dry season. Speaking of favorite things, we should introduce Teddy. Our local reverend, Wendy, now retired, emailed to ask whether anyone might like a mild-mannered, largish dog, now rather too much for her elderly owner. Well, anyone who knew Wendy knew the vast number of people on her appeals list. There were probably tens of Pescadero ranch-owners lining up for the dog, but I replied too, thinking the farm would love a dog, and the dog a farm. So, next came a call from the elderly owner. She would inspect our premises. My husband, not a dog fan, was grumpy. Then we visited the dog at her home. Teddy was meek but had a spark to her. Finally, Teddy and her owner visited the farm together. The dog was not interested in the chickens, but that wasn't the clincher. It was baseball season, and Teddy was ready to play. She's a magnificent catch, retrieves all balls, and practices willingly with my son. Teddy is a huge part of the farm. She's always about, in a slow and friendly way, and I can predict where she'll nap - her cool spots - throughout the day. She is one of our favorite things. Reverend Wendy saw her settle in at the farm, and then she told me she knew Teddy was perfect for us, and that email came only to me.
The farm was action-packed this week. We hosted the local garden tour's reception, and held our Mother's Day lunch, so the gardens and shop had to look extra-gorgeous, even in the heat. Luckily for the sheep, they'd been sheared a couple of days before it got really hot! And no kidding, our shearers really do have the perfect last name.
Julie as the Queen and Chloe on the left in Pescadero's Chamarita parade, last weekend
I am not one of those efficiently scheduled mothers, with whole baseball teams of children packed into their clean cars. I know many lovely people with large families, but our five foot eleven, fourteen-year-old Ben seems quite enough on his own. Partly, that's because we live in a village, and Ben and his friends have grown up in and around each other's houses. Ben has a real presence on the farm - he feeds both the babies and older goats, and can answer your questions with authority. He has company, though, every weekend. We've known Jessica, our office manager Sharina's daughter, since she was tiny, and she's often at the farm. There's Chloe, too, who perfected her Spanish working on the till at the gas station and tacqueria in town, and is all charm in our shop. Julie, sixteen like Chloe and a fantastic singer, works in the office. Occasionally, there's the very reserved Felix, just to throw an extra English accent into the mix. Roisin, ten, makes our folk art wool designs. And our series of goat cards were photographed and designed by sisters Claudia and Ellen. Claudia's twelve, but she's got all the poise and style she'll ever need. You may meet Fiona and Carina, too, if you're visiting Tony's pen at the weekends. The girls are local nine-year-olds who like to manage our petting time with the babies. I know, it sounds like a child labor camp! - but they're talented and reliable, and I don't even have to feed them.
People often ask about when we retire a milking goat. We'll keep most of the goats for eight to ten years, and they'll live another three or so years in retirement. So far, our elderly goats have moved next door. Our neighbor Pattie has provided comfortable browsing and shelter, but there won't be room for the thirty goats retiring next year, so we have a "Harley Herd" plan! Our goat grannies will be your weedbusters!! We'll be leading the retired herd to your difficult-to-clear land, keeping them on the premises with portable electric fencing, and polishing off the weeds, including poison oak and bramble. The Harley Herd will start with the local ditches next spring, and we'll let you know when they're available for you!