Oct 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

A Father’s Love

DeanDean has always been a good father. As a new mom it took me a long time to realize that fathers parent differently than moms. Moms naturally want to nurture and protect our kids. When our children are little we mothers often worry about father’s being too laid back in protecting our kids. Fathers let their kids, (especially boys) take risks, play rough and learn through experience. But if we moms can take a step back we can see that both parents play a vital role in raising happy, productive and well adjusted kids.

Now that our own kids are grown with children of their own, Dean is still a great father to them. You probably don’t know that Dean juggles many jobs besides Alabu. He does I. T. consulting for K-12 education as well as a few book keeping jobs and keeps everything on our small hobby farm maintained and running. Somehow he still finds the time to lend a hand to our kids when needed. From jumping on the tractor ( after he is already showered and ready for bed) and driving out to help our son-in-law bring the deer he just shot out of the woods, to becoming part of the fall clean up crew for our son’s landscaping business. Right now we often take care of one set of grand kids or the other. At the end of a long day, he is right there to help take care of the grandkids when I’m tired and trying to get them fed and in their pajamas. Thank you Dean for all you do for our family.

Sep 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Celebrating 40 years


Last week Dean and I celebrated 40 years of marriage.  I always like to go to the seashore if we get a  chance to go away for a few days. This year we wanted to take a whole week away, but things weren’t coming together for a  shore trip. So I did something I hadn’t thought to do before, I asked Dean where he would like to go (I know, my bad). I was a bit surprised when he said The Ark Encounter. I knew he has wanted to go there. It’s not that I didn’t have any interest in going, but it wasn’t the romantic getaway I was I had imagined.


I took on the logistics on planning our trip.  The first order of business is always to see if one of our kids and their family would like to stay here and take care of the farm. Fortunately our daughter and son-in-law were able to stay, that includes five kids the youngest 2 months old and their two dogs.  Somehow our daughter managed to take on the added burden of caring for all the critters living here and the garden which is abounding with tomatoes, green beans and raspberries right now ( did I mention she homeschools her kids?).  In my research I found that there is a nearby sister attraction, the Creation Museum.  We decided to go to there first.   It is a 12 hour drive for us from Saratoga, NY, too long for me as a one day drive. So we planned to take two days to drive there. I also planned to stop on the way back at Lake Erie, to try to work in my love of the water. 

Things didn’t work out perfectly. The first night we ended up in a motel that reeked of stale cigarette smoke. Then the second day the engine light came on.   Dean wondered how serious it might be.  I got out the owners manual to see what might cause the light to come on. In a strange way, this seemed romantic to me. I was able to contribute to our drive time. Dean always does all the driving when we are together. I would take it personally, but it doesn’t matter who is with him, Dean always drives. I read that there were 3 reasons for the engine light, one was bad gas. That one made sense to Dean, he thought the last station we were at looked a little sketchy.  We were hoping it was just bad gas, but the truck is 10 years old and Dean wasn’t too hopeful it would be that minor. We put it out of our mind once we got to the Creation Museum.

We stayed about 4 hours, and didn’t see it all but we were tired and wanted to get to our hotel.  Once school starts there are a lot of seniors traveling, many were on rented scooters which made it a little congested. But we had an enjoyable day and we were thankful we are still in good health.  After settling into the hotel, we went to an Advanced Auto to have them read the computer code, then called our son.  They both thought the truck we would be ok till we got home. Our hotel was very nice, although Dean was disappointed the hot tub wasn’t hot. The next morning we drove to the Ark Encounter.  The Ark is the main attraction, but the grounds also have many other things to do. After 7 hours, we didn’t see it all but gave in to our tired feet and headed to the hotel.

Ark EncounterWe stopped for gas on the way,  we made sure it was brand name this time. As we were pulling in I saw a sign saying something like “drive your engine clean”, we figured that couldn’t hurt. Sure enough the next day the engine light turned off on our way to Erie. Once there we headed out to the “Presque Isle Pennisula State Park”.  It was a nice drive with varied environments, the bay on one side and the lake on the other with several sand beaches on the lake side. Our hotel was on the bay and was excellent. Dean appreciated the hot tub, it was hot this time. While it was all very pretty, it wasn’t at all like the ocean. All in all we we had a memorable  adventure together. We truly enjoyed each others company without all the daily distractions.









Aug 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

For Love of Family


This is our beautiful daughter- in – law, Jordi with her children. Jordi is down to earth, kind, fun loving, humble, considerate and loyal. Born and raised in North Carolina she is a charming southern girl through and through. Jordi grew up near her close-knit extended family, grand parents, aunts, uncles and lots of cousins.

Jordi has many happy memories of playing at her grandmother’s home with all her cousins. Dean and I are blessed that she is carrying this tradition forward. She looks for opportunities to come to our home when “the cousins” are here so they can all play together. This is such a great way of bonding families and building fond memories for us all.

Her college roommate was engaged to our son’s best friend and I think there was a bit of matchmaking going on there. Our son eventually won her heart, which brought her into our hearts, our family and New York State. I know she misses her family, the Blue Ridge Mountains and her southern roots. But she is a welcome member and adds a lot of love and joy to our crazy family.

Jordi is devoted to our son Hal and their 3 children. She loves being a wife and stay at home momma. Even though they presently live in a 3rd floor apartment, she manages to get their 3 little ones ( ages 4, 2 and 9 months) out and into nature. Besides the usual trips to playgrounds, she really loves to have adventures to more natural places like the Saratoga Battlefield.

Jordi is teaching her kids about patriotism and the history of our country while exploring and finding bugs and dragonflies and waterfalls. I love that Jordi shares her love of the outdoors with her kids and getting dirty isn’t something that has to be avoided.

Jordi has a strong christian faith that she is sharing with her children and this warms our hearts to see.


We are blessed to have her in our family.


Jul 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Guinea Hens


IMG_2069We let our guinea hens free range during the day because they are very good at eating ticks and bugs. The only problem with this ( other than the noise) is they will lay their eggs outside in a place they think is hidden. In the evening I call them home and lock them in the coop for the night.

A few nights ago one did not come back, which most likely means she has decided to sit on eggs for the next 28 days to hatch them. Unfortunately, she would be a sitting duck (well hen) for the many hungry predators that live in the woods. I looked but didn’t find her. The next night two did not come home. This means her mate has decided to stay and guard her. The bad news is a predator would probably get both of them. The good news is it makes it very easy for me to find the sitting hen. Sure enough I could see the male at the bottom of the hill standing on a fallen tree. All I had to do was search the weeds nearby and I found her, she was not happy about it either. I explained to both of them that I am very sorry but since I found them that means the raccoons, fox and fishers could find them too.

I finally was able to get her off the nest though she complained bitterly and I don’t blame her a bit. I removed the 31 eggs she was sitting on and brought them back to the barn. They did not follow me so I had to go back down the hill and herd them back to the chicken coop. The first time we let a guinea hen sit on a nest she was killed on the first night out. After that I did my best not to let them stay out. Last fall one didn’t come home  and even though we all searched for her many times we never found her, and then one day she came back with 12 keets ( their babies aren’t called chicks) which we then had to scoop up and get warm under heat lamps. I really wish they would lay their eggs in the coop, but I’m keeping a look out for the next nest.

Jun 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Growing up

IMG_1852This month I posted pictures of our puppy, 2 months old and now a little over a year old. Puppies grow up  fast. It got me thinking about how much our grandkids have grown. You don’t notice it so much when you see them frequently. They don’t spring up seemingly over night like a puppy, but they are growing, maturing and learning everyday.

It’s been hot here  and the grandkids have been up a lot lately. They willingly help in the garden before cooling off in the pool. Thanks kids, Grammy appreciates you. They are all making great progress in their swimming skills. Last year most of them didn’t even want to put their face in the water (except for Little Miss Number Five, she is part fish). It makes me want to slow down and take in this season of our lives. There is more than a garden growing here. I need to try harder to remember that each one is an individual and growing and maturing at their own pace.

One loves to get into mischief ( well maybe more than one…). I wondered out loud why she would line up the toothbrushes on the upstairs bathroom sink and not own up to it at first. Her mom reminds me she is 6,  I say oh, yes she is six. All of our grandkids are growing and thriving and we are thankful for each one.