Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Long, drawn out, better late than never Year In Review.

Well, I didn't figure out the meaning of life this year.

I did, however, spend a lot of time looking for things I thought were true. But the more I try to sort things into good and bad, beautiful and ugly, the more I miss the point. Like Nea here. Simultaneously good and bad. The great Snarfer! That's been her name this year. Snarfy, Snarf Face Killer - the renditions are infinite. Sometimes I sing her the song Little Surfer Girl, by the Beach Boys but instead - you guessed it! - Little SNARFER Girl!!!

This year Eric and I built up a lot more of our lives, the stuff of life at least. The home building, the animal husbandry, growing food and flowers. The business of trying to sell some of that stuff so we can build more. Here's a picture of the main room in our house back in April when we had young chickens inside, and trays of soil blocks on every surface. Eric says "farm house?" that means you farm in the house, right?

Of course the chaos of it all is appealing to me. I love a beautiful mess, more than anything. When I die, hopefully here at Worlds End decades from now I want it to be ten times the mess. And I hope that when that time comes, I will have learned better how to be around people and connect to them. This year I have been working on my intimacy issues; trying to figure out why I want to be alone all the time or why I favor brief encounters with strangers. 

That sounds funny, like I've become a hooker, which did not happen this year, trust me.

I did fall in love with chickens though. They are incredible weird little things - so social, so bossy. Everyday they follow complex agendas I can only wish to understand; fanning out across the homestead in patterns coinciding with times of day. There's the mid morning rest followed by lunch at the coop (usually), then foraging west out towards the drive. Noon? Siesta. Two o'clock you can find them under the lilac dust bathing if the weather allows, and by 3 they are on the move south towards the kitchen garden. 

Our girls have shown (limited) moments of uncanny intelligence. I hug them and make up stories for them. I call them the beep-beeps. In the morning when I open the doors of the coop they pour out in a gaggle of clucks and tweets and suddenly it's time  (cue music!)  for the BEEP-BEEP show!!! ... Featuring the BEEP-BEEPS!!! With special appearances by (you guessed it!) the BEEP-BEEPS!!! God I love that show.

This time last year Nicolette and I went teaching in Australia...subsequently I've been connected to a lot of Australians. Working with flowers makes the world shrink. Infinitely small, this flower world of ours... [insert winking heart blowing emoji]

This year I thought a lot about doing a book, publishing a book of my own or working on a bigger book project. I talked to lots of people about it - agents and publishers but in the end I scrapped it all, it never felt right, too forced, or I'm just not ready. Why rush? People say it's the cornerstone of your brand. Wait what brand? We don't even have business cards.

We started our flock of Icelandic Sheep here at the farm. A bit earlier than we had planned, but fools rush in. There are 9 ewes ranging in age; two older stragglers we adopted from friends and 7 strapping young girls with good milking lines. Next year we'll get a ram, breed all the girls and in spring 2014 we'll have lambs - hopefully 15 or so. When you have lambs, you have milk...this all took a while to comprehend, for me at least. Here's a picture of the day we drove to Vermont to pick up our sheep guarding dog, Puccini otherwise known as Poochi.

Poochi is a Maremma, a dog bred in Italy since ancient Roman times (salve canis! I took latin in school) to protect flocks from wolves (lupus - not to be confused with lupus the disease which I also thought I might have this year). Around here he wards off coyotes and the occasional cougar. 

There is no training with this type of guardian dog; as long as he bonds with the sheep (ovis). He has to think the sheep are his family. This means we're not allowed to take him out for walks or love him too much. This has been really hard.

Tu non potest diligere canis qui habitat cum ovibus. (You must not love the dog who sleeps with sheep.)

Last spring we threw a big plant sale in the city to raise money for a tractor at the farm. It was one of the best days in our Saipua history, and the following week we put a down payment on a John Deere. (Which ironically, is called 'going green' around here because of the paint color on the tractor, not for the gallons of diesel fuel it consumes)
Plants for plants! I love this idea so much; this year we'll do it again on March 8th.

The tractor let us really get into growing this year -- we planted all sort of things. 
All these ^ flowers? We grew them ourselves! In hindsight feels like a big deal. I learned a lot about timing. I learned a lot about the fragility of some plants and the resilience of others.

In 2013 I did not have to buy one can of tomatoes. When I get frustrated with what feels like slow progress it's small facts like this that keep me motivated.

We installed solar panels at the farm this year. My dad has always been a geek about alternative energy, and lately -- parasites -- but that's another post. In the eighties we had giant 1 foot thick solar panels on the side of our house. He helped us finance the project, and we are now gratefully receiving approximately 95% of our yearly energy from the sun. Still putting diesel fuel in the "green" tractor, but hopefully that will change this new year if we can hook up the deep fryer. That's all you need for bio fuel right?  

I can't write a post about 2013 without mentioning all the amazing help - interns and apprentices and volunteers we had work with us.

Bianca, the sensitive lover of beauty. I've loved watching her bravely change careers and seeing her excitement as she discovers flowers for herself...

Nicole, the type of woman you look at and then you have to look at again. She is mysterious and witty. A dancer, and (she's gonna hate me for writing this) a real deal intellectual! God, I want to keep all the interns forever!

Evelyn, our most committed apprentice. She came from SanFransisco for three months for an immersion experience. I miss her can-do attitude at every event since she left. And her indispensible graphic skills (without which we would never have finished our 2013 soap sampler box.

Reuben! He wrote me a letter from the perspective of a feral cat last year..wanted to come on as an apprentice for a few weeks. I like to work but there's nothing like an enthusiastic 21 year old in the field, let me tell you.

Mikee; graceful, stylish and inquisitive. I miss his help getting dinner ready talking and sipping wine together. I feel his flower talent is about to rise so fast...watch out!

Natalie - I met her at a class we taught last January in LA. She loves animals and it must be said that she was the first intern to really bond with Goldie (the prettiest chicken). She's thinking about flowers and how they are going to fit into her life, I'm waiting to see.

What a strange year of figuring things out, an unsettling year of unknowns. Back in the summer, at the end of the day I would walk the rows of flowers and cut things, making bunches in my hand till I couldn't hold anymore. I'd walk these fistfulls back to the work table - a makeshift studio in front of our house. Usually I would just toss them into a bucket and forget about them. This is a florists ultimate luxury I would tell myself. To pick all the most beautiful flowers for yourself and then never arrange them...

Maybe this year was a year of resting a little more. Leaving the flowers be while I worked on the farm or...didn't work at all. There in lies the root of my moody troubles this year. 
My one new years resolution?



Anonymous said...

your posts are my favorite!!! the pictures make me feel things i dont understand :)

Leah said...

My resolution is the very same. Of course, I find myself reading blogs again instead. But perhaps we still need leisure time to fuel all that hard work?

Lovely photos.

I can't believe you can't love that dog (although I did see one at a farm last year and s/he was definitely more sheep than people person). Must be hard.

Anonymous said...

"…trying to figure out why I want to be alone all the time or why I favour brief encounters with strangers."

So open in your confessions and... it puzzles you.
Your posts leave nothing out.
You are an open book. All you need do is to have the code and all will be obvious.

You are a walking Remedy. Explore it (if you care).
It illuminates a lifetime of wondering.

♥ tinyWOOLF ♥ said...

wonderful round up, great peek into your lives. i sense the dedication.
so, yeah. i once knew an italian maremma, and all that you say, about the dog and his flock (of sheep). absolutely true. love form afar.

i have so enjoyed the depth, the imagery and the honesty of this post.

Mlle Paradis said...

what can i add? gorgeous pics as always and you keeping it real! thanks for it all!

Anonymous said...

Your honesty and your talents are inspiring. I hope 2014 brings wonderful moments your way and I look forward to reading about them!

Alison said...

you are such an inspiration. Thank you.

count buckula said...

that last picture of nea is *serious*

Erin said...

Beautiful as always.

One of my resolutions this year is to make it out there to see World's End in all of its messy glory.

You're such an inspiration.

LydiaMary said...

how you are taking these kinda information and pictures too. really admirable. I love your blog very much.

buy instagram followers

Suzonne said...

You inspire me!

lea blüm said...

you're so great. Take your time with the book, when it does come together it will be miraculous.

Terri Todd said...

Cheers, Sarah! And here's to another great year!

kim said...


kim said...


Erin said...

you are an animal.

Nella Miller said...

You blow me away...remind me of me, ten years ago...let it be....N.xo

Carol said...

Sarah, You are so delightful! Wishing you a balance of time alone and serenity with others and may all your dreams unfold in their due course. The world will be better for your book to be, as it is already with your incredible talent and generosity. It has been lovely watching, from afar, your end of the world grow. I will have to come visit you one day this year! Beautiful images of your gorgeous work and I love your humor and openness in sharing your art and life process. Many Many Blessings! Carol

_rheingruen said...

Thank you for sharing the beauty of your life. Iris

Anonymous said...

love, love, love your writing. it has that thing, calming, dreamy sense that you can't turn away from it. and the combination of great pictures and great writing, brilliantly done. captivated to say the least. and for that i thank you.

styletomoveblog.blogspot.ca said...

Beautiful pics - so glad I found your blog.

Lizzy said...

It was so nice to read such an honest post from one of my biggest inspirations! Thank You!
PS... how does one get to be an intern with you? That would be a dream come true!

ella said...

Never have I seen a photo of a dog (sheep?) looking so proud. Always your words are the ones I'm never able to articulate myself. Thanks.

qaseerabbas123 said...

This is a specific show that I watch and listen to. The host, Andrew Warner, interviews successful entrepreneurs, mostly from Pakistani Dramas the online startup world. If that's a topic that interests you, the interviews are excellent and there are transcripts available with each show.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thought-provoking thoughts and, of course, the beautiful images. It's comforting to read someone who feels things in a similar way - wanting to connect with people but preferring animals and nature, solitude aloneness quiet. struggling with sustainability, being a better person. all the things that make us human but also apart. it's good to work on "improving" ourselves but I know deep down it's ok to be as we are too.

christel said...


Wenzday said...

I have been following your blog for awhile. My dad was in the flower business, and I started arranging flowers at age 13. I just love your arrangements, and the beautiful photos you take of them.

I, too, wondered why I had to spend so much time alone. Then I read a recent book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain, and it all came clear!

Fishing Rod Holders said...

Excellent post. Its really beautiful and natural post. I love it. I think its can inspire any person. Thanks for your nice post.

Bianca said...

Thank you a thousand times over.

Akshara Naitik said...

Fabulous post. I love your blog very much. employment news

wedding flowers Millburn NJ said...

Brides and grooms to be avail the most personalised and exclusive wedding flower design services available in Millburn NJ. Call now to make your day special

wedding flowers Millburn NJ said...

Brides and grooms to be avail the most personalised and exclusive wedding flower design services available in Millburn NJ. Call now to make your day special

John Peter said...


First of all i feel very much glad to vie your Post the Post gives me Lot of interesting information about the Nature

celebrity gossip

Anonymous said...

I heart your photos
-Rose Bud