Make hay while the sun shines…

What a beautiful weekend here in Central New York! Big sky. Gentle breeze. Great haying weather. Thankfully. Farmboy cut the field behind the house Thursday evening as the sun was setting. Once its cut… you’re committed.

Ryder reading with Toonces on the deck.

Friday was nice but Saturday was amazing. Farmboy brought over the older tractors to spin out and rake the hay. Ryder drove the tractor that Farmboy learned to drive as a boy. It was monumental and sweet. Having not been raised on a farm, I am fearfully afraid of spinny things and children being around heavy equipment.

Farmboy is a good, patient teacher. : )

La-La got a ride in with her dad.

Oliver is my right-hand man while documenting events.

Farmer Russ (grandpa) and I got the fancy tractor to bale in… complete with an air-conditioner and stereo. For the record, I did not run into anything large and metal. Although I did accidently back over a bale with the baler as I was practicing my backing up (who knew one fell out?). If you have seen me trying to back up my trailer at a show you will understand why I need to practice whenever possible. Parallel parking… no problem. Backing a trailer/implement… shoot me now.


The horses will be happy this winter… a little taste of summer.

Harvesting Wheat

This weekend the wheat was ready. When the wheat, oats, corn or hay is ready everything else takes a back seat. It doesn’t matter what it is… it’s that simple. After 16 years of marriage I’m finally getting it.

I love this time of year when the wheat turns gold and the oats are that lovely blue-green. The strips of color in the fields always draw my eye. Every year the colors change due to the crop rotation to keep the soil healthy. I’ll never tire of painting and studying this place.

Farmboy enjoyed his day spent in the air-conditioned combine listening to the radio… long enough to hear the same songs start playing all over again. It must be a nice contrast to his 9 to 5 office job with computers.

The rows of straw left behind the combine will be baled this week and stored to make a soft bedding for the horses. Word has it I will be running the baler tomorrow. I hope that I won’t feel that magnetic pull towards another large object that I sometimes do while driving a tractor. Houses, barns and other tractors… beware.

Summer is ramping up… and I’m already worn out.


May was a whirlwind of activity.

Will one of you sweethearts remind me of this next year?

All of those snow-filled days last winter amounted to one very pent up gardener who was ready to dig up the entire yard this Spring just to enjoy being warm, outside and being active.

I now understand why Farmboy loves the winter so much. It represents rest. As soon as the soil wakes in the Spring the rush for planting begins. The crops getting in are the biggest priority for the month of May. Farmboy comes in from his IT job, changes clothes, grabs and bite to eat and then heads out. Numerous nights during the month we would meet in bed at midnight- exhausted from deadlines, orders and planting.

Just as we breathe a big sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks that the crops are finally in… albeit late, it’s time to cut hay, cultivate, mow as well as pack the trailer for my next show (Allentown Art Festival this weekend) and do three nights a week of lacrosse practices.

The potager layout… before.

This year I decided to splurge and purchased one of those handy Mantis garden tillers for the vegetable garden. It is very light-weight and its narrow width works well in the small beds of my potager. Speaking of which, the potager is almost completely planted… I’m thrilled! I think this year it will be a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Getting started with planting.

I always “plan” to put a “plan” on paper before I start planting… but I never do. It feels like painting when I am out there planting on the fly- thinking about lines, shape, color and repetition. At least this year I do have rows marked and I plan to do an “after” drawing of what is there for next year’s reference. I have threatened everyone that they will “rue the day” if they touch my plant markers as this is the first year that I am actually using them to keep track of which varieties grow/taste better than others.

The Mr and Mrs.

I’m thrilled this year to have an Eastern Bluebird family in a nesting box right under the studio windows on our rose arbor!  It has been such a joy watching the coming and going of those busy parents. The male will come right out to the potager when I am there and perch on the pea trellises or tomato stakes. After years of never even seeing a glimpse of the elusive New York State Bird… its wonderful to have a family of them living here next to the garden.

Outside the studio window.

So friends, thanks for stopping by. I will soon be posting some recent paintings that I’ve been working on, a great list of vegetable gardening references, potager progress, and a fun French-themed dinner menu you will not want to miss. Now let’s all get to work on enjoying the upcoming LAZY days of summer as demonstrated by Pongo the cat.

Pongo taking his afternoon nap.



Spring Plowing in Waves of Umber

It’s that time of year again. I am so ready. Spring has finally arrived in Central New York. Did I say that I was ready… that my mood is greatly determined by the temperature this time of year? A chilly day can make me feel down right cranky and completely out of sorts. I wait like a child at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning for those first bulbs to pop up. Sometimes its a challenge being transplanted from a warm climate to a cold one. We won’t go there…

Spring planting. It’s a busy time of year here at the farm. As soon as the ground is dry enough to work the harvesting equipment gets moved out of the way and the planting equipment starts to make an appearance. The plow gets new points, worn out pieces get replaced and the planting depth gets tested and set. When Farmboy and I were dating I often rode around in the tractor with him. Seeing the plow systematically slice through the earth and turn it on its end was quite an experience. I found it mesmerizing… almost hypnotic, artful and lovely. The soothing way that waves roll onto a shoreline, the waves of green sod would turn, roll, fold and come settling down upon itself to expose the dark loamy soil underneath. Powered by an enormous tractor, the plow cuts the earth like butter. Smooth. Clean. Almost effortlessly until an underground stone is snagged sending one of the blades springing up into the air with a loud bang.

I find it interesting- the beauty and simplicity of the process juxtaposed with the forceful way the carpet of the earth is sliced and then exposed. It is harsh yet graceful. From a solid carpet of green comes a textured pattern of umber. Down folds the sod, full of nitrogen to fertilize this year’s crop. Up come the grubs, worms and bugs- a feast for the birds following behind.

I told Farmboy that I wanted to photograph the process and he suggested making a short video which I thought was positively genius since it would show the action. If you look closely you will see the vertical rotating wheels in front of the end blade slicing into the surface leaving a clean path for the crest of the dirt wave. I hope you find it visually interesting. Double click on the image below to start the video.


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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