From early on I have been a caregiver. At first for mostly animals. My horses and then the farm with 70 milkers and at least 50 youngstock to care for.

 We were treated with the delights and disappointments of birth and of course dealing with death. Both needing lots of care and attention and requiring both Dick and myself to be up at all hours and to work in the weather extremes, winter sub zero with snow, ice and wind and blazing hot sun with a steamy barn. I did better in winter. There was an order to our chores and it became a daily ritual caring for the farm.

Checking the cows before milking

    As time went on my husband Dick suffered from bad knees and it became harder for him to do the things he used to do. Eventually he had a knee replacement and required lots of extra care. Thankfully he had less pain, but still limited abilities and he stood high on the replaced side but low on the other making him unbalanced. The other knee needed work too, but insurance refused to pay. (This after many years of paying for insurance ourselves as self employed people must.)

Me and a calf in Tyringham

     My Mom passed during our farming years and I helped my Dad with my mom but he was incredible in caring for her. Years went on and my Dad who managed to call his strong life force continued to tend to the property he and my Mom had restored and beautified. The doing it all alone left an empty feeling in his heart. I usually spent Sunday afternoon looking at all the beauty up there and doing projects in the yard or house. I called it heaven here on earth.

     As years piled up, Dick could not do many things in the barn and there was a lot of heavy work I could not accomplish. I milked, at first with him, cared for the youngstock, cleaned the milkroom, handled the books and payroll and was in charge of the rotational grazing program we had. Dick had been in charge of the equipment and much of the veterinary herdsman care of the cows. He put out the feed in the outdoor bunks and he also wrote many articles for a grazing group. He was sent to Moldova one summer to assist the farmers there (It was like the 1940s there) to improve their land and utilize grazing for the good of farmers, livestock and land.

Dick meets with the New York Pasture Association President, Lee Wilson

   It became more and more difficult to hire people to do the work that Dick could no longer do.  Prohibitive financially and finding helpers who could handle the work without a routine was inefficient. We faced having to sell our beloved farm.

    This was physically and emotionally very hard and as I had my art and few animals, not having the farm broke his heart. We moved to the house that was part of the farm that my mom and Dad restored and were able to be there helping my Dad in his last years. I could not have done it alone.

    After my Dad was was gone some of the shrubs and a few trees just disappeared. As did many of the gorgeous flower beds that were here when my Mom had them bursting out in bloom. I did not keep the huge vegetable garden that my parents did,  only a few that I can maintain and enjoy eating.

I started new flowers and ferns and tried to maintain the beauty that my parents had created. Dick took care of the lawn but he never felt as good as when he mowed a hay or alfalfa field. As time went by, his memory became clouded and he had trouble remembering things. He also had health issues when he got pancreatic cancer and we went through treatments in Glens Falls for radiation every weekday for six weeks. There were also trips to different doctors for many other health reasons he was experiencing, and this really cut into my artwork time.

I became a full-time caregiver at that point. He and I would go to the gym and the store together, but later Dick might take off in the car and leave me at the store and forget where he had left me. And he’d be quite concerned about where I went, but we survived a few of those incidents and I spent more time at home keeping an eye on him, sneaking out to do yard work and help my animals.

He finally developed a very slow heart rhythm and went into the hospital and received a pacemaker, but his condition was so bad that he now lives in a nearby nursing home up the road from where I live, at Slate Valley Center. I am grateful that he is nearby and I visit him every day and I have more time to work on the yard and my animals, but I still always feel crowded and am finding it difficult to sneak in creative time. My creative time has turned into time with my camera just looking and experiencing the beauty around me for now.

But as the season warms as it is now, you will find me starting and finishing a few batik that have been brewing in my mind for quite some time.