There are 5 cars parked in the driveway. Eleven people, ages 11-84, follow the Bearded One under the entry arches he made from huge cedar branches and into the backyard gardens — past the hoop house and over toward the berry trellises and onto the Nature Trail.
“Watch your footing up in there,” he says. He is in charge of the Thanksgiving Tour since I still have to make the gravy, but I pop in and out when I can. It’s interesting to see what he considers amazing and noteworthy on the farmlet. We both love it like crazy.
First up, the Civil War Stumps in the Circle Garden. We had two big trees taken down to get some sunlight, and then we built the barn from the milled wood. We’ve counted the growth rings and they are at least 150 years old. Second growth.
Next interesting thing? The back stairs. Our house is a pole house, a true wonder constructed on a 16-pole foundation built within several huge cedars. The four-foot diameter tree on the southwest corner has impacted the back stairs over time — kind of a funhouse situation — and we really should rebuild them next summer. I’m a little shocked this made The Tour.
“What’s that?” the 11-year-old asks. She points to the little building beside the back stairs. “The Hut,” answers the Bearded One. It’s a tiny 100-square-foot studio with a Murphy bed that Garfield currently sleeps in. It’s been a study, a greenhouse for a couple of springtimes, and a place our girls could actually sleep overnight with the dogs.
The young ‘tween girl and her 13-year-old sister spot the painting hanging inside the hut. “I was the model for the lady’s hair in that painting,” I say, and the young girls are speechless. Everyone seems to be speechless when they see this painting.
I have to duck back into the house now as the group heads to the Nature Trail. Before long, they’ll be photographing the 8-foot-diameter Cedar Circle the Bearded One made from cedar branches. “It’s just a big Christmas wreath,” he’ll say. But it’s exquisite.
I’d certainly include it on any farmlet tour I gave. When our little neighbor girl first saw the Cedar Circle, she said “It’s bigger than God!” Her brother smacked his own head — in humiliation, not out of any sense of sanctity. Just basic intelligence. God is the absolute biggest, everyone knows that.
I make the gravy, but keep checking out the window at the movement up the hill. They’ve made it to the chickens and I can hear laughing and shrieking. This makes me so happy. It’s okay that I’m not there, witnessing the shenanigans. The sound of family and friends having fun here on the farmlet soothes my soul.
I finish the gravy and do a dozen more little things, at least, before all is ready.
When I get up to the barn, things have quieted down. The Bearded One has told all of his stories. “We heard about the Civil War stumps already,” my sister says politely. So I pick up the thread and show off all the shelves and stalls he’s made. “Big boy shelves,” our oldest daughter says.
“Sometimes animals need to be kept separate,” I explain as I run my hand over the stall gate. “This area is for the mamas and babies, sick goats, or the just plain ornery ones.”
My sister’s best friend, the mother of the ‘tween girls, wants to spin and weave wool. She loves everything about the farmlet, she says, and she wants me to show her the stuff that didn’t make the Bearded One’s tour — the plants and the root cellars.
Back at the house, the tour is almost complete. Everyone files in and I tell the story of the turkey, how we picked it out across the road at Momma Goose’s, that it was the biggest tom turkey they raised, 4 months old and a whopping 30 pounds after processing, that we helped harvest and pluck it, then we brined it for a day, and roasted it for 13 hours at 250 degrees.
Finally I am finished talking. The room is silent in thanksgiving. The Bearded One breathes deeply and sweeps his hand toward the awaiting feast. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he says, his voice full of wonder, “The Biggest Turkey on the road! Step right up!”