Sunday, April 28, 2013


The North Auburn Fisheries Unit only became known to me last year and I've lived in this town over 20 years! With over a dozen small lakes, trails everywhere and its huge amount of bird life, I believe it to be Auburn's most precious gem.

Since last October, this has been my place for long runs.  Even after 20 miles, you see only a few of the same trails again.  Being as I had been remiss in my running after the March marathon, my last long run out there had been in February.  

I took Cole there this morning for our 14 miler.  What a change of scenery from the dormant Winter doldrums to this lush green landscape.  Where were the other runners?  I'd always crossed paths with at least one other trail runner.  Only fishermen today.  

Today's 14 mile run
Our ever vigilant guardian angel had me put Cole back on the leash around mile 4.  No more then 1/10 mile up the dirt road, a copperhead was sunning himself.  He was watching us and I hesitated to squeeze past him.  I found a long stick and flipped him around like a wet spaghetti noodle until he was off on the shoulder of the road.  

Two years ago, I forked over $100 to enroll Cole in a snake proofing class.  After repeated negative reinforcement, I was pleased to see him notice the instructor's snake and back off.  Today, he never saw the snake.  I was using one hand to keep him behind me and he was busy trying to take my stick away.  Laurel and Hardy.

A file picture of a copperhead, I will pack my camera next time.

Later, Cole almost ran over a big black snake somewhat off side of the trail.  I couldn't stop or go around, I was tethered to the oblivious nit wit.  Best I could do is scream and jump.  In a blur, I think it was a black rat snake, non venomous.  

File picture of a black rat snake.
 Every stick in the trail looked ominous after that.  Note to self:  put contacts in next time.  
Even if I find more ticks on us, get poison ivy all around my ankles or don't get my MP3 player dried out after a thunderstorm caught us, it will be worth going back next weekend!

Sticking to my coach's advice, I ran more conservatively for the first 8 miles and then cranked it up as the miles progressed.  I've never had any illusions of being a kind of sports car.  Mack truck.  That's what I am.  So cool to visualize shifting gears to go faster.  Yes, I do amuse myself! By the last few miles, I was running over a minute faster per mile than when I'd started and I was on target for the pace the coach had set.   Having a tailored training program is far superior to fumbling around in the dark, hoping you're headed in the right direction.
Running ever so happily, Jamie

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


After the Albany Marathon, after the elation abated, after job and farm demands, I was running on empty.  Training took the back burner.  I rationalized that a break was due anyway because the arthritis in my hip had become a bother again.  Guess what?  Two weeks without running and my hip pain was getting worse. 

With a 16 day multi-state trail running trip coming up in May, discouragement barely describes how I felt.  One night, I happened upon Erin Henderson's blog, See Mom Run Far.  Erin is on a mission to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  I gave 110% to run my last marathon in 3 hrs and 34 minutes, her goal of running almost an hour faster at 2:43 (or less), blows my mind.  Consider also that she's in her mid thirties with 12 kids.  Before you start taxing your brain to do the math...3 are her bio kids, 9 are adopted.  

Erin and her brood
 A week went by, still no running and the pain coming from hip socket was now a constant burn.  Sleeping wasn't restful, I awoke one morning across the head of the bed atop all the pillows.  I must have been trying to find a comfortable way to prop my hip up, or Cole was hogging the sheets.  Another perusal through Erin's blogspot and I noticed that she offered coaching services.  Hmmm.

Maybe a woman who obviously can balance her goals with family, fiscal and work responsibilities could help me find my equilibrium again. 

Receiving my custom training plan was like Christmas is April!  I poured over every daily entry like I was digging goodies out of a Christmas stocking. 

Pasture running

I'm back to running my loops at the farm, enjoying the beautiful scenery.  This is the second week on Erin's plan and I have officially completed two speed work runs.  Apart from the occasional dash between telephone poles, I'd never done anything like this before.

Cheat sheet

Not wanting to screw up my first speed work, I penned the instructions on my forearm.  After my second such workout today, I get the gist of it:  you run as fast as you can for a quarter or half mile, until you feel your head throb, then you slow down, before you can recuperate, you do it again and again...  Fun, eh?  Really, it is.  Jamie's got her groove back!!!

Tonight, Cole and I registered to run our first ultra marathon in October.  We're both very excited.  And, no, I'm not trying to kill my dog.  Another runner from Washington state ran it with his dog a couple years ago.  I have contacted him and his dog is still very much alive and running! 

Goblin Valley Ultra50,  in Utah
 Can you see why it would appeal to me?  No crowds, no buildings, no cars, serenity.
Dad will be crewing for us, he doesn't know about that yet...all I said was:  "Dad, want go out West with me this Fall?".  

As for running the Boston Marathon next year, I have one foot on the ground on the "not going" side, but my other foot is stuck in the fence.  It's been a dream to participate, a validation for all the hard work long distance running entails. To run in a city (confined asphalt place), through throngs of screaming people (it's called cheering, but I still have anxiety issues about it)---I was uneasy about it even before the bombings.  But, ten years from now, I'll lament if I don't go.  It will be a chance to meet my coach from Wyoming.  Erin has definite plans to be there.  Always focus on the positive!

Sometimes, you have to reach out when you need help.  Tip of the hat to my new coach who's helped me locate my misplaced vim and vigor!  I still felt froggy after my run this morning, so I trimmed the draft horses' feet.

Angus being very obedient, Bella waiting in the wings

 Life is good.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Farm Affairs

With so many things going on around here, it's hard to know where to begin.  How about being grateful for still being here?  An F-2 tornado cut a path through the county on April 11th, passing five miles from the farm.  Two homes gone, dozens damaged, hundreds of trees down.

Once the shock wears off, where do you begin to clean this up? One of the Notasulga homes.
 With tornado warnings all day, my gear was at the door, should I need to flee the house in a hurry.  Thinking the worst was over, I'd gone to bed when a friend called to say:  "Look at the radar, there's a tornado headed straight for you". My sleepy eyes popped wide open when I refreshed my weather map on the computer.  I put on my bicycle helmet and my parka, Cole got strapped into his life preserver and I opened the door. It's not the 80 mph winds that kill you, it's the 80 mph flying debris that will do you in.  The driving rain slammed the screen door back on my face and made me realize that I couldn't make the run over to the neighbor's house.  My house is flanked by two huge pecan trees, gracing us with shade in the Summer, but threatening to cleave my place in two during storms.  So, I ran for the derelict old farmhouse.  Sandwiched between two mattresses, I could hear the change in the wind.
I do remember the roaring train sound that a tornado makes from the time a year or so ago when I was on a client's porch awaiting for the rain to abate so I could run to my car.  That day, half a mile away a tornado touched down at the high school and skipped through a neighborhood, not stopping until it was well into Georgia.  

The problem is that the railroad line does pass by the farm, so was it a tornado or a train?  Stupidity forced me out of my hidey-hole and I looked out the window, in time to see the bicycle wagon, ordinarily hung on the outside porch wall of the farmhouse, go flying past my eyes.  Two seconds is all it took me to dive back into my mattress fort!

Thankfully, we were spared any damages. The unfinished chicken coop had been safely tucked away in Dr. P's equipment shed. I was relieved to catch the livestock's glowing eyes with my flashlight.  Finally, I fell asleep around 3.

On the subject of the infamous coop, I finished building it last week.  I had the ribbon cutting ceremony and moved the chicks in.  Finally!  What totally astounded me was that my retractable bottom pan actually works.  It was 1 AM on Wednesday night when I tested my crank and pulley system.  A five minute happy dance ensued.

Initial construction phase.

Many hours spent at the drill press.

Portable chicken coop...finished!
    The concept is to park the coop in different places in the pasture, letting the chickens graze the grass through the bottom mesh floor and allowing their droppings to fall through.  I overbuilt the thing in order to make it harder for a gale force wind to knock it over and also to resist attacks from the oxen, horses, goats, raccoons, coyotes, ect.

Bottom's up! The SS Poultry Princess' inaugural launching.

Yes, that is Cole at the helm.  He was instrumental in the Research and Development phase.  I left the fully occupied coop parked in the backyard for two days and challenged him to devise a way to break in.  Valiant efforts on his part, but no flaws detected.

Two packs of head lantern batteries, multiple titanium drill bits, custom shade cloth, custom sun tarp, quart of Rustoleum black, cattle panels, two rolls of chicken wire, chain link 1/2" mesh fence (leftover material from a prison building job in Montgomery, essential component for the raising bottom), too many pots of coffee, too many cuts on my hands to count  =   portable coop!

Oh yeah, I rerouted the wiring so the trailer lights still operate and I did get a license plate for it.  Technically, it's road legal!

On a somber note, the whole Boston bombing business hasn't settled in my mind yet.  I'll never understand what prompts people to believe that violence and anger can solve problems or further their, I'd best not even try.  The only thing I know to do is to keep living life the the max, grateful that I have been given yet another day to enjoy.  

Other farm blessings:  Morel has moved back to the barn.  She still gets bottle fed 4X a day, but she's feisty enough now to hold her own in the herd.  I miss having that little stinker around 24/7!

Morel's former digs

Cole is happy to return to Numero Uno status. 

His Highness

Irises are top on my list of favorite flowers and they're bursting with blooms in the flower beds.  What a treat for my eyes and nose!

Bearded Iris 'World Premiere', a jewel!
The vegetable garden is growing like mad.  The Winter vegetables are being harvested to make way for the incoming Summer crops.  Yesterday, the leeks and potatoes ended up creating 4 gallons of cock-a-leekie soup.  I'm not making the name up, it's a Scottish version of chicken, leek and potato soup. 

Sun's up, I'd better get started on my chores! 


Monday, April 1, 2013


Easter Sunday:  vegetable garden planting  in Birmingham

Enter the problems:  Morel, the goat, needed bottle feeding every four hours, so she was loaded in the backseat.  Due to long hours at work, Cole and I hadn't had any time together lately...he was riding shotgun.  Two of my regular boarders showed up this week, so they made the journey too.

Adapt and overcome.

 My friend, Mark conceived the idea of gifting his grandmother with a vegetable garden two years ago.  I have been his eager assistant ever helps that this particular grandmother, only a few months shy of her 100th birthday, is a whiz in the kitchen, providing meals and snacks for the laborers.

Easter was no exception.  A huge spread had been prepared by Mrs. H.  She had started making and freezing her casseroles two weeks in advance.  Such zest for life and a heart for giving, it's a privilege for me to call her my friend.

Even Morel did not escape without being doted on by Mrs. H!

Morel making herself at home in Birmingham
       Back on the farm, Morel was reintroduced to her herd after work tonight.  She mingled for an hour and then came back inside for a night cap of milk.  Tomorrow, we're shooting for 4 hours out amongst her kin.  She'll be fine, me..?

In case anyone in town is looking for goat milk, I should let you know that I emptied Earth Fare's cooler.  My girl will not be going hungry any time soon.

Got milk?