Love, Life, Laughter and Lavender

Twelve years ago we loaded up the vehicle and left our Cape Cod home for a few days in Newport. On our way my husband suggested we drive through the town of Westport. He was intrigued by the idea of a town with both a winery and a brewery. We had long planned that when our daughters were grown and out of the house we might look for a home with a bit more land, but didn’t want to relocate while they were still in school. A brief tour through Westport had both of my daughters clamoring for an immediate move. A call to a local realtor led us down a laneway to parcel of land located on one of the Westport river’s, and without too much thought we put in an offer. I was confident that our low offer would never be accepted. Imagine my surprise when the realtor called to say that our offer had been accepted.


The land we acquired was barren and ugly. A former gravel pit, the land had been left land devoid of any type of vegetation or grass. Large piles of stumps, wood chips and old tires covered the land. Additionally, the former owner of the land had clear cut all the way to the river leaving a desolate strip of land covered in hard dry sandy soil covered in rocks. It was not a sight to behold!


We spent the first five years spreading horse manure and building structures. A house and a barn followed by a small office building. The work was overwhelming, but rewarding at the same time. The grass started to grow and gardens began to take shape. Somehow more and more animals kept arriving at our farm, and we loved watching their antics. A pair of Khaki Campbell ducks from Dot the duck lady were two of the first arrivals. They bonded instantly with my daughters, and I would often catch them sneaking them in for sleepovers. We named the ducks Donald and Sunny, and they followed all us all over the yard. We would often pick them up just to let the bottoms of their little feet cool off when they got too hot from trying to keep up with us. One time soon after their arrival my daughters had placed them in a small pool off the back of the house. They loved to swim and had a small block of wood floating in the pool that they would jump on when they tired. That morning we had a torrential rain, and my daughters were devastated to find that one of the ducks appeared to have drowned. We hadn’t installed gutters on the house yet, and the massive rainfall off the roof was too much for the young ducks. I immediately started rubbing the little ducks body and requested my hairdryer from upstairs. I gently warmed the little duck with the hairdryer, and we were all amazed to see him start to move again after a few minutes. We placed him in a box on the kitchen counter under one of our cabinet lights and within a few hours he was running around with his brother again. Donald and Sunny went on to live long and happy lives, and it used to amaze visitors when I would squat down and Donald and Sunny would jump up into my arms. Ducks continue to be favorite animals on our farm.


A few years ago I opened a magazine and read a story with pictures of a landscape that was remarkably similar to ours. Over the years, my attempts at gardening have been hampered by the hard sandy soil and the abundance of rocks. The woman in the article was dealing with the same elements and had huge success with lavender. A seed was planted. I began reading everything I could get my hands on about lavender. It appeared that our sandy soil and proximity to the river would be beneficial to growing lavender. I shared my idea with my daughter’s boyfriend, Andrew, who runs a successful farm in Westport, and he was excited to try his hand at growing lavender. We ordered lavender plugs from a grower out West and seed for Andrew to start in his greenhouse. Last year we planted our first two fields, and just last week we planted our third field. Our four year old grandson has his own plastic Kubota, a mini-version of his Papa’s, which he loads with shells and pushes across the yard to be placed at the base of the newly planted lavender plants. You know that saying about being careful what you wish for?


Years ago, I dreamed of a place with green grass, beautiful gardens and fields of lavender reminiscent of the French countryside. Our lavender has thrived, and almost every afternoon I leave the office collect my scissors and head out to the fields. Luckily tax season has ended, and my workload is light enough to afford me this pleasure. The work is hard but satisfying, and that wonderful lavender smell follows me wherever I go.

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