Green Acres Tale: LEAN IN

This is a rather long-winded tale, but worthy of someone’s blog, so it might as well be mine.

Our resident farmer, David Flaughers, pastures 40 goats and sheep on Fake Rock Farm. IMG_1883 He practices rotational grazing (see above bucolic scene) by moving them every day or so onto new grass, using a temporary solar-powered electric fence, which keeps the beasts corralled as they munch fresh greenery.  That is, until the goats go looking for greener pastures.

In early July, our son, Henry Gretzinger, was visiting the farm with his girlfriend, Hana Cheng, for his 30th birthday, and Jerry decided to bake cream puffs for the birthday dessert.   I was on duty for salad and marinating the chicken, when I glimpsed a few errant goats and sheep out the kitchen window.  We ran out with our trustee canine assistants, Sugar and Spots, and started to corral the flock before they got into the garden or worse, the road.  After calling David in a panic and finding out he was 30 minutes away, Jerry remembered his cream puffs in the oven and vowed to return, after he put in a second batch.  So I was elected to secure the perimeter with a couple of talented doggies and clogs on my feet.  That’s it.
The goats soon discovered the feed buckets atop the mobile chicken tractors and in going for the feed, just about trampled the poor hens cowering beneath.  While I was manically shooing the goats off the roof to avoid squished chicken dinner, I noticed one sheep who’d polished off a bucket of feed and gotten it stuck on her head, blindly zig-zagging the 20 acres between the woods and the road.  Naturally,  all the sheep followed their  leader!
Jerry did return about 15 minutes later, with his idea of helpful tools: a rake and a cell phone, and disappeared again into the kitchen, muttering about burning dessert.
I’m finally rescued by a couple of our dinner guests, who arrived on time and spotted me out in the pasture waving my rake wildlly.  Minutes later, farmer David showed up on his bicycle and took control.  I collapsed at the kitchen table, and watched our guests take over dinner preparation.
We had a lively supper conversation at the picnic table, one of the topics, amidst the twenty and thirty somethings, being Sheryl Sandburg’s book,  Lean In.  I thought this very apt, though I’m sure Sheryl never thought her leadership principles would be applied to female herders. But in retrospect, having read the book, I’m sure Sheryl has run into a number of corporate hot shots whose style of leadership parallels the sheep brandishing a bucket over its head,  with a flock of unquestioning followers at their hooves (I mean heels).
The cream puffs were perfect.
Here is Henry, Hana and Jerry that fateful evening:

11 thoughts on “Green Acres Tale: LEAN IN

  1. OMG Meg. I was laughing so hard at this story and the photo of the goat w/ bucket on its head that I almost spit my morning coffee all over my keyboard. Just a few quick comments: Why wasn’t half-Australian-Shepherd Sugar doing her herding job? 🙂 Life sure is different for you in MI than outside NYC. And, most importantly, not only does your unbelievably talented hubby make –along with you– the best clothes on the entire planet, but he also bakes cream puffs! Whatta guy! I’ll be laughing all day over this blog. Thanks so much for posting it, AND the photos! Too funny! And a very Happy 30th Birthday to handsome Henry.

    • Judy!
      How nice to hear from you. Sugar has totally reconnected with her DNA relentlessly gathering in the stubborn strays. and Spots, David’s dog, is a straight blue-heeler, so she’s terrific as well. The real problem was their leader, ME. My method of describing the perimeter was to frantically dash from one menacing goat to another and I’ve since learned that you walk slowly in wide arcs behind the flock and the dogs will reiterate that movement. Luckily David’s lessons have only had to be employed 2 other times.

      It is a twilight zone existence at times. I find myself asking of noone in particular ‘when did I sign up for this???’
      But my life in my studio is also so rich and rewarding that I’m far from whining, just momentary dismay.

      thanks for your note!

  2. What a hilarious day/evening (at least to the reader)! You have certainly adjusted well to country life, though we all missed you at reunion. How can we tempt you for a visit back east? Remember your new neck of the woods from childhood at my grandmother’s summer house, but never ventured there in the winter. Can’t believe Henry is 30 already! Yes, Frank just turned 26, and am working on a magical formula to put him back to elementary school age. I still think of my self as someone in her 30s (40s) if really honest, but then I look in the mirror and damn if I do not see my mother lurking there! How did that happen? Xox to you all.

    • Hey Susan!!!
      How nice to hear from you! Where was your grandma’s summer home? There are a number of Chicagoans lurking around these parts in the summer…
      We have a granddaughter, violet, at U of Chicago this fall, so we’ve been the reps for family since all others are east. it’s terrific to have her nearby. It was hard to miss the reunion, but my life has been very mom-centric since the cancer diagnosis, so I’ve been flying to Seattle every six weeks for a spell with her which has cramped my travel to the right coast….She’s doing well despite the cancer so far and we’re all orbiting around her quite closely.

      Nonetheless, we’re traveling quite a bit for Jerry’s map project and next month will be heading to
      Edinburgh for a show of his map in its entirety. For more of that go to

      I get the magic formula wish quite often, though it’s more directed at my image in the mirror than the progeny. I’m so enjoying watching the boys come into their own. They’d probably be horrified to hear themselves referred to as boys, but they will always be “the ragamuffins” in my heart of hearts.

      love to you and Frank!

  3. Lean in … just not to a bucket! Thanks for creating a farmer cartoon in my head, Meg. I demand more Fake Rock follies blogs forthwith! xo Shelley
    p.s. Oh, and how did Hank get to be THIRTY?????

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