How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?

peek a moo!Good morning!

Here’s a photo of a calf at Schaefer Farms, a landmark here in Flemington, New Jersey. You can visit any season, for chicks and an Easter egg hunt in spring; for flowers and vegetable plants and fresh Jersey produce throughout the summer; to pick pumpkins in fall; and to drive through the holiday lights display in winter. Over the years my children have taken field trips to this farm and we’ve stopped by any number of times to buy mums or herbs or tomato plants or harvest corn at the farm stand.

A favorite stop is often just to visit the farm animals—goats, rabbits, pigs, chickens, turkeys, even an emu or two. Visits to Schaefer and other farms and farm stands in Hunterdon County inspired me to write my rhyming picture book series illustrated by Susan Swan, and continue to inspire me to write stories and poems and manuscripts.schaefer farm goat smaller

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but in suburban Parsippany, in Morris County, although we had two brooks and lots of trees and flowers and gardens, lovingly tended by my dad and grandfathers, on our property. It was magical, watching the seasons change as the plants and animals and weather changed around us while my sisters and I played outside after school and on the weekends.

Remember when children played outside?

schaefer farm wee bunnyWe were tumbled outdoors, out of my mother’s hair, to run and ride our bikes and ride the swings in the backyard. The yard served as a fantastical, ever-changing landscape of our invention, but I soon learned to read the real signs of the growing year. Tiny gold and purple crocus blooming impossibly in the snow meant spring was coming. In summer we held our noses as we hunted wild carrot and field onion around the skunk cabbage in the woods that bordered our backyard. My grandfathers grew amazing vegetable gardens as the tiger lilies burst into bloom. A favorite time for me was the onset of fall, when the purple figs on our fig trees ripened and I knew that pumpkin season was just around the corner.

We ice skated in the brook in winter. At other times of the year I had a habit of running too close and falling in! A happy memory: my best friend Jenny and I sunning ourselves sitting on some big rocks in the middle of the brook as we practiced the flutophone songs we learned in fourth grade. The next year she chose clarinet and I chose French horn as we became part of the school band. It was a rite of passage during childhood and I cannot untangle such memories from what was happening in our yard. As we approach May, for example, and the time when azaleas bloom, it always reminds me of the verdant carpet and blazing hedge that was my father’s pride and joy. My sisters and I all took prom and wedding pictures on that lawn.schaefer farm yellow chicks

It’s amazing what images an encounter with a daffodil or duckling can conjure. The last time we went to Schaefer Farms my son and I met a bunch of cute chicks. They were funny and fascinating and they reminded me of a few of the spreads in my latest book, Sun Above and Blooms Below: A Springtime of Opposites, which in turn reminded me to give thanks, because I feel so grateful to see my inspiration come full circle. My son asked me if we could try raising chicks, and I would love to do that sometime. For now I’m happy with tending memories and raising him—the last of my own chicks—and growing more stories.

Chicks page from Sun Above

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Califon Book Shop Recap

califon book shop treats close upWork and feeling under the weather kept me from posting earlier this week about my Earth Day author visit to the Califon Book Shop last Saturday. The pretty town was bustling, the weather was perfect, and I was fortunate enough to sign books and conduct children’s activities under a sunny blue sky just outside the shop. The shop sits across from the post office and next to a bait and tackle shop. Lots of letters to post and fishing vests passed my way!

califon book shop fans 2
califon book shop fanscalifon book shop signing activity sheets
califon book shop signcalifon book shop signing table If you’ve never been, Califon’s a lovely town with lovely people! Thanks to Mary at the Califon Book Shop for allowing me to share my books with your patrons and visitors!

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I Love Farming!

Some of us are born loving farm life.
dave on a tractor

Others must wander through the maze of life before we find our path…

me, younger, burjan's maze

Either way, it’s impossible not to celebrate Earth’s rebirth on a day like today!

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Earth Day Book Signing at the Califon Book Shop!

I hope you stop by to help me celebrate the green and growing season!

Please visit my events page for information on future visits and signings!

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do everything you do wholeheartedly



I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.


I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.


And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.


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An Eggcentric Sun Above and Blooms Below Activity Sheet

Maybe you’re coloring eggs this week. Well, here’s another eggcentric activity 

for the kids to do based on Sun Above and Blooms Below. Enjoy!

Sun Above and Blooms Below Activity Sheet--Word Scramble

Click this link to download the activity sheet:

Sun Above and Blooms Below Activity Sheet–Word Scramble

Stop back tomorrow for another activity sheet!

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