When I saw this photo on my computer, I immediately thought of calling it "encouragement," because that's how it felt to me, this very touching friendship between a blind pony and an intense and loving working dog. Every day, Rocky and Red bump heads. Rocky sniffs Red and Red sits still, looking calm but alert. It seems that Red is at ease as long as he can see me. I do not know what goes on in the minds of animals like this, but I feel as if the two are in some way encouraging one another. Perhaps Red makes Rocky feel easier in his darkness, and watching out for Rocky seems to settle Red down – he does it every day and for long periods of time.
What, I wonder, do these two disparate creatures touch in one another, what chemistry? I will be sharing this friendship with you at the new farm, it is one of the reasons moving sometimes can be so important. See the new and wonderful things that emerge.
Almost everyone who reads this knows the story as well as I do. Times are changing. I have always put as much time and resources into bedlamfarm.com as I could, because I love it, I need it, it is the future, it supports my work, and it is the engine that drives much of my creative spirit. I call it feeding the blog, and feeding the blog keeps me writing, thinking, taking photos. Like most everyone reading this, my financial life has changed. The recession, changes in publishing, changes in my life – blah-blah-blah. It seems everyone's financial life is changing, and we are all struggling to adjust to it. I am pleased that my creative life – my writing and photography – continues to grow in popularity and focus. And it has expanded – the blog, Facebook, You Tube, Twitter.
The blog remains my focus and the center of my creativity – and my life – and I have worked hard to keep it free even as the cost of everything about it rises and a writer's revenue doesn't. I think I've hit one good partial solution. I am negotiating with a premium dog food company – the food my dogs eat – that involves their putting a tasteful banner ad at the top of the website – separate from the photos and my writing.
It is an easy thing for me to do as I have been using this dog food and enthusiastically recommend it. I will get paid a small monthly fee and we will do a one month experiment starting in November to see if the company and I are comfortable. They will judge it's success by click-thrus and coupon use, etc. I will see if it looks and feels right.
Secondly, I am adding a Google ad program to the blog entries alongside the new calendar and topic lists going underneath each blog entry. You will not see any change if you look at the main blog page but if you click on an entry you will see a calendar and list of recent topics and small tasteful ad links at the bottom of the page, also separate from the editorial content. Everytime you click on these – they will change as the content changes – I will get a few cents. This will go into effect in a day or so. I think it's potentially a good solution. Maria has already begun this ad program on her website and she is pleased with the aesthetics and results. The blog has a lot of traffic and these adjustments could pay for some of the cost of bedlamfarm.com and some of the photography – cameras, lenses, equipment, software, flash drives. I am committed to keeping the blog free and to offering the photos free also to be used in any way people wish.
I wanted to give you all a heads-up so the changes will make sense to you. I think they will help me maintain the blog as it is and keep working to improve it. And thank you, as always, for coming along with me on this amazing trip.
This morning, drooling over my new cable connection, I took my video camera and Red over to the new farm and decided to make a movie of the new farm, inside and out. I wanted to capture some of the renovations, the new work on the barn, Red and Rocky, the slate excavations and the very special feel of the place. It is rich with character and characters. There are many actors on this farm – Red, Rocky, Florence Walrath, Maria, the old farmhouse, Ajay, our neighbor Jenna Woginrich, Momma's, the collapsed barn, the old wood stove (already the subject of many alarmed e-mails from unsolicited advisers) the traffic outside, but I suppose if there was a single star, it would be Ben Osterhaudt, a carpenter, restorer, friend and the supervisor/producer/maestro of our frantic and underfunded efforts to move into this place on a magically shrinking budget.
Ben has been amazing, and if we pull it off it will be largely due to his creative, energetic and resourceful self. He is everywhere, talking to electricians, negotiating with scalpers, putting up the pole barn, crawling around repairing the slate roof, spackling and sanding, encouraging and helpful. We have not yet found anything Ben does not do. He understands that we are working with a small budget and he is finding all sorts of ways to save money and so great work.
When he finishes with the pole barn – I was shocked to hear him say he expects to finish it by the end of the week – he will take on the renovation of Maria's Studio. Maria has worked as hard or harder than Ben, painting, cleaning, scraping wallpaper. But she and I both have our real work to do, and this is Ben's real work and he is the hero of this drive, the star of the movie. His presence is felt everywhere, and is much appreciated. Today he took a break for 10 minutes and lunch was a can of Red Bull. He does all of these things with a smile, an easy and honest matter and a desire to do good work and help out. We appreciate him. While the movie goes on a tour of the house and the barns, and Ben is only a part of it, this film is dedicated to him.
Ben got the five posts for the Pole Barn buried in cement. Rocky walked into two of them, and we are confining him in his stall for a bit. Roof supports and some tin roofing go up tomorrow. The scrappers want at least $1,200 to haul away the collapsed barn, with dump fees and all, so we may just wait on that or burn it ourselves. Or wait until next Spring. We can't do everything we'd like now. The fencing work will start later in the week. Will Lindenholl, the electrician will upgrade the service to 200 amps next week and bring electricity to Maria's studio and to the barn.
Ben and Ajay began work on the new Pole Barn at New Bedlam Farm this morning, to be attached to the standing barn where Rocky lives. It will extend out 14 feet from the existing barn, and be enclosed on three sides. This is where Rocky, the sheep and the donkey will find shelter from the sun, wind, rain and snow. Should be up by the end of the week.