Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Haven't Seen Anything Like it

Folks in these parts are talking about the unusually wet summer with Thunderstorms and Big Rains we’ve received. It seems like we have had one deluge and one intense storm after another.

Just last week (July 24-25), we had 13 inches of Rain in 25 hours. During the Night, we had continual Lightning and Thunder with close Strikes all around. Then July 27-28, we got another 2 ¾ inches.

With these 2 rains, flooding has hit places that had not been touched in recent memory. Folks had water in basements. Gardens, Roads, Ponds were stretched and many took hits. This time of Storms was coupled with 3 weeks of heavy rains and storms in June.

Just today, Melanie and I noticed that the ground was wet and soggy everywhere we went. Sometimes we could hear a “sucking sound”.

During these past few years, I have visited with many people who make their homes in other parts of this Beautiful Earth. Similar themes resound. Weather Patterns have changed. Storms seem more frequent and more severe. Winters don't seem to last as long. Migratory Birds are sighted far out of range, sparking trips by enthusiastic Birders to remote spots. It's easy to get caught up on the details and to forget to poke a little deeper on the "why" of these things.

People talk about these changes sometimes in vigorous and at other times hushed tones. Often the conversation touches on awe. Other times it is inconvenience. Sometimes there are glimpses of fear. What is going on?

"Global Warming" comes up. Many are quick to discount it, particularly those with vested interests in another agenda or those who prefer not to look at tough questions of life style changes needed by Humans.

But the data on record by scientists worldwide is coming in hard and fast. Global Warming is real and it is happening at a faster pace than originally thought. Those data carefully recorded by scientists are being confirmed by people watching dramatic shifts in weather patterns in the place they call home.

We just received the Summer 2008 issue of the Leopold Outlook, a publication of the Aldo Leopold Foundation. This courageous and insightful publication arises out of the work of esteemed conservationist Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) and is designed to "reaffirm our connections to the land, and to explore what we could do individually and in partnerships to conserve the health of the land that sustains us all" (Buddy Huffaker, Executive Director, page 3).

An article by David Orr strikes a chord. Orr sites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 1000 plus scientists who study climate from positions of authenticity, replicability, data, facts, and logic. This esteemed group, a recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, sites that a hotter world will have many consequences, with rising odds of (page 5):

  • More heat waves and droughts
  • More and larger storms,
  • Bigger hurricanes,
  • Forest dieback,
  • Changing ecosystems,
  • More tropical diseases in formerly temerpate areas,
  • Rising ocean levels probably a lot faster than once thought,
  • Losing many things nature once did for us,
  • Lots of things becoming rare, like Vermont maple syrup,
  • More and nastier bugs,
  • Food shortages from drought, heat and more and nastier bugs,
  • More death from climate driven weather events,
  • Refugees fleeing floods, rising seas, drought, and expanding deserts,
  • International conflicts over energy, food, and water,
  • And eventually, runaway climate change to some new stable state most likely without humans.

Global Warming isn't happening as an accident of Nature. Rather, Global Warming can be traced to one species: Humans. Us. It can be traced to Humans who treat the Earth as object, the Earth as endless resource. It can be traced to Humans who use the Earth and Her resources as if we are independent of Her Laws and as if there will be no consequences of our actions. Global Warming is traced to those industrialized nations whose affluent citizens aspire to a material lifestyle which fulfills their insatiable wants.

O.K. It is easy to point fingers. But it is far more important to look at how our individual actions contribute to Global Warming and take on practices which will change them. That is the bedrock of our decision to move to this little Farm. We want to lessen our footprint on this Earth. We want to develop a more sustainable life style. We want future generations to look back at us and know that in the face of these things, we tried.

Is that easy? No. But we 3 C’s believe it is the foremost work of our time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Heavenly Angel Food Cake

Today is Rachel Long's Birthday. We invited she and Eric Bell to the Farm for a Birthday Dinner. His Birthday was yesterday. As is custom in our family, the Birthday Guest (and in this case Guests) get to decide the meal. Eric said he wanted to make a special dessert he remembered from his Grandma. That requires an Angel Food Cake.

So he and I have been making an Angel Food Cake this afternoon. Such desserts present a number of challenges and they were surely from Kitchens of Wizards of Considerable Skill. You can't buy the old Angel Food Cakes which were standard fare of those Cooks just a few decades ago. Today's store bought mixes, eggs which don't hold volume, and store bought cakes just don't cut it.

In this case, we used Grandma Crawford's (Ethel May Kirkpatrick Crawford) Recipe, which is above. I got this from her in about 1966. I can tell because I wrote "Mrs. Crawford", which was before Richard and I got married in 1966. I loved to cook and I was busy collecting recipes then.

As I think about Eric and my little experiment today, I smile. Somehow, I think his Grandma (whom I have never met) and Melanie's Grandma would be pleased.

The volume of the Cake is everything. Egg Whites are the base for volume and they must be treated very very carefully. Some little tricks of the trade to enhance volume would include:

  • Use Farm Eggs from Free Range Chickens (like Grandma Crawford raised).
  • Use Eggs that are not too fresh, but rather a few days old.
  • Make sure all equipment is clean, as oil, specks of food will reduce volume.
  • Use cold or cool Eggs as the yolk will more likely stay intact.
  • When you separate the Egg whites from the yolks, do not allow any Egg yolk (even specks) into Egg whites.
  • Let Egg whites stand to room temperature and then begin to beat.
  • Follow Grandma's instructions (above) for adding ingredients.
  • Use Cake Flour, not regular flour.
  • Triple sift flour before measuring, and later the flour and sugar mixture. We do not have a Triple Sifter. In fact, I have not seen one recently. We use a strainer with wire mess instead.
  • Fold in flour and sugar very carefully. Use a spatula and a "cutting motion". Do not over-stir.
  • Do not oil or grease Angel Food Cake pan. This allows the Cake to "crawl up" the pan as it rises.
  • When removing Cake from oven, invert Cake to cool.

I chuckle when I think about all of these details. The Old Timers knew such things and they followed them to a "T". When they were making these sophisticated culinary treasures for their families and friends, they were also busy gardening, canning, freezing, tending their kids, feeding their families, making quilts for those they knew, reading the Capper's Weekly, and keeping up with their extended family, friends and community. We think we are busy.

Getting back to the Cake of the Day, I hadn't made an Angel Food Cake in years, until we moved to this little Farm. You can't have a Farm without making Angel Food Cakes. I have to admit that this cake had the highest volume of any I have made this past year. I attribute this to the triple sifting of the flour prior to measurement and the flour and sugar. Before this, I thought I could sneak by.

As the Cake was cooling from its prestigious inverted spot on 3 cups, the beautiful cake fell from the pan. Eric watch it and heard it go thunk. This was a 1st for me. I have never had that happen before. I am wondering if the cake was not quite done...

My family is very forgiving about such things. They stand beside me as I continue my experimenting. They are ready and able for the next time I am ready for a test. This cake is actually just perfect for Eric's recipe as it calls for breaking the cake apart and putting it with Chocolate Pudding and Whipped Cream. Melanie and Eric are making the Chocolate Pudding from scratch as I write this Blog entry.

Yummy... The Slow Food Movement is alive and well on Butterfly Hill Farm. (Resources: 1, 2, 3)Happy Birthday Rachel and Eric!

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Rain

We had Thunderstorms last evening. We had Rain most of the Night for a total of 2 3/4 inches by 9:30 a.m. this morning.

This is another of our Multi-Functional Rain Gages with our Multi-Functional Handy Dandy Measuring Device. Some folks have to have a Fancy Schmancy Rain Gage which means they have to head to some shopping event to buy something that will break in no time. Not Us. For a lot of things, we just like to make do. It's fun. It's creative. It's cheaper. We get a big smile out of it too.

A lot of places on this vast Earth are drought stricken and that is very serious stuff. People in these parts talk about the drought of the last few years. That seems to be over.

We 3 C's know that Weather and Climate Patterns of this Great Earth which is our Home have shifted due to Human Activity. In a nutshell, that is Global Warming in particular. For our Friends in areas of drought:

  • We try not to complain about the Rain.
  • We know everything has a purpose, for which we may have no clue.
  • We know that we are here to learn and grow.
  • We try to be open to the teachings.
  • We limit our behaviors so that we contribute the least to Global Warming.
  • I hope you Folks out there are doing the same.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In the midst of challenges of this growing season (including the heavy Rains last Thursday and Friday), I look at our Garden and I see all the things that could have been. We had a plan and Nature had another plan.

Many of the Sunflowers are tilted or down. Many of the Potatoes are exposed from their tidy homes in the Soil. A small percentage of the Tomatoes don't have the leaves they need to protect their fruit from the Sun. We have lost to wilt some of the Cucumbers, Brussels Sprouts, and my decorative Gourds. I guess some things are just not meant to be.

Why is it that People in my Culture always focus on wanting more? We seem to driven to go after more, more, more. Big, bigger, biggest. We seem to hold as sacrosanct our Human plans. Why cannot we simply feel and say: "I am deeply grateful for what I have." "I have enough."

Yes, we 3 C's have enough and we are deeply grateful for what we have. We have each other. We have this beautiful little Farm. And a whole lot more.

On the Gardening side, Farmers always have plans. Nature also has plans. When these plans are in conflict, Nature always holds the winning cards.

I look at all we have in the Garden and I smile. Mrs. Peach Tree is loaded with beautiful Fruit which is beginning to have that lovely fresh Peach aroma which signals the hot summer season. We have sampled a few on the ground and they are wonderful. If all goes well, we should have Peaches for freezing, canning and sharing in the coming days.

We have a variety of Potatoes and they are simply great. We have had enough Peas to munch on for snacks and to have stocked in the freezer for the coming days. Most recently, we have lost some of the Blackberry crop to the heavy Rains, but we had the best pie last night (with Vanilla Ice Cream and Lemon Curd Sauce). And we will have more Blackberries to freeze and make into syrup and jam, assuming all goes well. That's a biggy: "Assuming all goes well".

Melanie has a load of Peppermint drying in the dehydrator. We will be having some wonderful tea. The Zinnias are a riot of color. We have plenty to enjoy and share.

From this beautiful bounty of our Garden and the Earth, we are deeply grateful for all that we have and will have. We have enough.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rain, Rain, More Rain

July 25:Yep... Our Official 5 Gallon Pickle Bucket Rain Gage recorded an unofficial 13 inches of Rain on the fence just outside the Little Rooster Pen from daybreak July 24 until 7 a.m. July 25.We are told more official Adair County records in Kirksville (some miles away) showed 12 inches. Whatever you call it, that was a long Day and an even longer Night.

We are pretty certain of the accuracy of our Accidental Rain Gage. Of course there is some margin for error. The Rain Gage sits on the fence outside the Little Roosters' Pen. In this location, it is away from Trees, Structures, and such which might influence its recording. We feel affirmed that reports from this end of the County received higher amounts than in town. For your information, the Accidental Rain Gage is actually a 5 gallon Green Pickle Bucket which has a multitude of other uses, unlike conventional Rain Gages.

Most of the Rain came Thursday night and Friday early in the morning. We surely must have been in a long line of Thunderstorms that continued to dump on the area. Folks tell us that such volumes of Rains are highly uncommon in these parts. In fact, late July usually has little Rain and thus a late Summer brown color.

During the night, it poured. Sometimes we would have a lull with lighter Rain, but very shortly thereafter, the Skies would just pour. The Lightning was intense and actually quite beautiful. It was continuous, Cloud to Cloud, and Cloud to Ground. We had several Strikes and Thunder Booms almost simultaneously. There was little Wind, until the end. Wind is especially problematic for Plants who are tall or can't get a grip in Soupy Soils. It was a Night of Little Sleep, at least for me.

We did some walkabouts in the Garden in the Morning and Afternoon. We had full buckets in the Garden verifying similar results. Preliminary looks in the Garden show some damage but it really is too early to tell. It will take a while until we can get out into it. We are exceedingly grateful that the damage was not so great.
  • The Sorghum Cane looks very good overall. Again, roots are exposed. Some have taken a tumble but most are upright. Yea! (Photos 1 & 2)
  • The Soil is back to the Chocolate Pudding stage.
  • Open Soil shifted "downstream". That which was covered by Plants and protected by their extensive roots stayed pretty close. (Photo 3)
  • Some Onions are about washed out of the Soil. (Photo 3)
  • Paths in the Garden worked well to channel water, seemingly decreasing damage.
  • Sunflowers took a hit. Many of their roots are exposed. Some will be OK. Others we will lose. This has definitely not been a Sunflower year, at least so far. (Photos 4 & 5)
  • We had wilt with the Brussels Sprouts but they perked back up when they were out of the Sun.
  • Some Potatoes are exposed. (Photo 6)
  • We will not know the complete effects until the coming days and weeks. Nature is resilient and robust. Damage to roots and sitting in damp Soils can set up challenges. We are here to learn.

Notes: The 2 pictures are especially intended for Hollis and Deleta. This is Sorghum Cane, one of 2 crops the Crawford family will be using for the making of Molasses in September. So far, the Cane looks pretty good. Again those fine roots are exposed. More Rain is predicted the next few days. Time will tell. I guess, as always, it really is out of our hands. We will do the best we can.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gardening Notes

  • Richard planted Onion Seeds this spring. He also planted sets and plants which are now mature. Planting Onion Seeds for the 1st time has been a real find. They offer us Green Onions now in the hot season and a possible "second crop" to harvest in the Fall. They are considerably cheaper than sets or plants. We will want to do more of this next year.
  • Melanie notes that Fleabeetles are a big problem with Eggplants. They turn the plants to "lace". Last year, she tried row covers but the plants didn't seem to get enough light. She also tried Garden Guard, but killed the plants because she used too much. (That wasn't what she intended.) All the while, she was reading all she could find. Her discoveries led her to find that those vigorous little Fleabeetles do not like wet conditions and ground cover. They seem to thrive in hot, dry conditions which describes our garden in certain spots and at certain times to a "T". This year, she tried to fool the Fleabeetles by interplanting the Eggplants with Marigolds. This may have worked to some degree but not to the extent she desired. In order for Companion Planting to work, she concludes that Companion Plants need to be set up and growing to begin with. You need to have a mature plant to protect the seedlings. Until then, she has been planting them in pots in the front or in Grandmother's Flower Garden, where there is mulch and fewer fleabeetles. She is kind of "sneaking them in". She checks the Eggplants daily. While this may be a little over the top for some, she talks to them and touches their leaves every day. The Eggplants are doing very well so far. This is a new experiment. She has had some blooms, but is not sure of fruit set yet.
  • Glinda loves Sunflowers. She likes all varieties and all kinds. Sunflowers love drier circumstances than we have had this year. Their tall stout habit does not seem to be supported by an extensive array of roots where an abundance of rain turns the soil to pudding. While some Sunflowers in the Garden are certainly still standing and look great, others have fallen or tilted. On Sunny Days, they then turn their heads to the Sun for an interesting twisted look (which is not the ambiance she desires). Their sturdy stalks then need stout support. Maybe, they just need to be taken out. Those that are planted too close are particularly susceptible. Although they are all in a line, they seem to be hanging onto their Friends to keep from going down, or fighting to see who can get the most Sun.

Dear Friends, what have observed of these things?

Gardening Lore

In these parts, those Gardeners who came before had a kind of wisdom and lore about planting. We'd like to keep track of those we hear. We are seeking exact wording, but so far, we know that my Grandfather Fred Albert Brenz would say:
  • "On the 25th of July, plant your turnips hot or dry."

Gardening Notes

O.K. We've been busy busy in the Garden. With the challenges of the Season, we have hardly come up for air. Of course, we've come up for Air or we wouldn't be here. And we have received Good Garden Air.

We 3 C's are Newbies to gardening in these parts. After our 1st season gardening in 2007 and now halfway through the season of 2008, we have learned a lot. A lot. But perhaps we have learned very little in the scheme of things. (Nature would probably laugh.) The more we know, the more questions we have. But time passes and Nature launches teachings. Some we remember. Others we miss. Hopefully those teachings we have missed will come around again in just the amount and quantity that we need when we need it. (We are trying to be patient.)

Nature is an incredible teacher with infinite lessons tailored to our needs. We have found her to be patient with us Humans as long as we hold up our end of the bargain and don't mess up too much.

We 3 C's are eager learners in the Garden. Maybe too eager. As time and the dramas of Gardening and Nature go by, we are increasingly humble learners. We need to start noting little teachings that come from the Garden, especially those Questions.

This little entry of Gardening Notes begins our keeping track of such things. Stay tuned.

Heads Up

When the Winds came a few days ago, some of the tall stuff in the Garden began to lean or hit the ground. That included the Sweet Corn, the tallest of the Sorghum Cane, and some of my big tall Sunflowers. In the few days since, some of the plants have begun to "right themselves". Would you believe, those stalks actually began to stand straight up again?

I don't know what will happen to the plants with this Rain. Nature knows. Nature has a plan. We Humans just wait and watch.

Rainy Day

On Sunny Days, we seem to be in high gear. Rainy Days are of another sort, as the gears shift down.

Today is a Rainy Day. The gentle Rains began just about Sun up. And it's been raining steady and sometimes heavy ever since. As the Day goes on, Weather Forecasters keep increasing the probability of Rain. It is now 90%. Weather Underground shows a big system. We are mostly in for an "indoor" day.

Rainy days are wonderful days to: slow down, think through progress, get a hair cut, dry wet clothes, put your nose in a book or magazine which has been set aside for a while, try a new recipe, prepare a "Welcome Home" pack for someone who returns today ("Welcome Home, Rachel!"), have a quiet conversation, journal, write a letter to a friend, call Mother, snuggle with a Cat, and nap. Horizontal is good.

The Little Rooster Boys

July 22:

The Little Rooster Boys are just about as big as the year old White Plymouth Rock Hennies. They are almost 3 months old.

These growing Boys are quite a bunch. They can get a little rambunctious especially when they are rearranging their house for bed (and their Brothers too). Here they are hanging out on the porch roof of their house after a Rain.

I remember that Melanie said their lives would be short but they would be well loved. We have been enjoying and loving them a lot. Their short time is growing shorter. Where has the time gone?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Do List

The Little Hennies who came to us as balls of fluff in late April are just about ready to join the big Hennies (and Rooster) in their house. Scheduled date is about August 1.

You know how it is. The "To Do List" grows and contracts; stuff rises to the top based on need. Some stuff doesn't get done. Perhaps it wasn't supposed to. But this is one thing that will get done. Those Hennies and their Rooster are depending on us. Today, Richard and Melanie began the process extending the big house. They have been thinking on this for a while.
It's now time to put those plans to work.

1st Tomatoes

Melanie picked her 1st Tomatoes from her Garden earlier yesterday. They are called "Black Pearl" and they were yummy. Richard picked a small bowlful for supper. Harvest is picking up steam.

Storm Effects

We got 1 and 3/8 inches of Rain. The Hail was 3/8 inch across. We don't know the extent of the Wind. Preliminary effects of the Storm on the Garden were variable. The tall stuff did take the biggest hit. The head high Sorghum Cane is down. The shorter cane isn't much affected.
Melanie's raised beds are working generally very well. This area of the Garden has a problem with water draining. It can become so wet, you can't get into it. The raised beds permit the water to run off. She can still get in to work.

The Sweet Corn turned topsy turvy. We can't get into it to try to straighten it. Yet. Hopefully we can salvage some. As it stands (or doesn't), the Raccoons won't need to reach as high as last year.

More delicate flowers were cut by the hail, including the Morning Glories. Most leaves stood up very well.

In other places, no damage was seen. The Peach Tree (which is very Pregnant and has had damage due to weight of fruit) seems O.K. We are so grateful.
This is one of my favorite Day Lilies: Catherine Woodbury. We carried starts from our home in North Dakota last year. This transplant is settling in well. As we were out in the Big Garden, I looked out at the surrounding area. The plants in the Meadow showed no effects from the storm. They were standing tall on their sturdy flexible stalks. We are ever so grateful that the Garden seemed to weather well in the Storm.

Challenges of this Day

Yesterday was one of those days when you knew something was coming. We had oppressively high heat. The air was often still. It was hard to move. Sweat ran in little rivers.

As the Day turned to Evening, severe Thunderstorms moved in from the Northwest. Mother called to report a severe Thunderstorm alert. We appreciate that since we don't always connect with the news when we are out and about on the Land. We do however watch the Sky. You just can't miss it in these parts.

We could see the Thunderstorms approaching and hurried up to get the Chickens into their houses. The Hennies mostly moved in by themselves without much to-do. Those last few Roosters who were filled with youthful exuberance were pretty reluctant and none too pleased at our insistence or our rush.

After we tucked them into their houses, we 3 Humans hurried into the protection of our House. Dark Clouds raced overhead, Thunder rumbled, beautiful Lightning struck alternately in the West and East, and the front edge of that vigorous Wind came roaring in.

As we watched the drama outside, Richard noted a 180 degree change in the Wind. In the beginning, the Wind had rolled in from the Northwest; then it shifted to the Southeast with the same exuberance. Throughout the night, we had Thunderstorms, with some lulls inbetween.

When I awoke this morning, I asked Richard if he had been to the Garden. He said "Yes". "Damage?" I asked. He said the tall Plants seemed to take the most damage: the Sunflowers, Corn, Sorghum Cane (the tall stuff which was head high to Melanie and me). He thinks some will "right" themselves and others, we may be able to "right". I haven't been out yet, but I am on my way.

I continue to marvel at the dependence we Humans have on the Will and Whim of Nature. What a powerful Force. How could I have missed this drama before? We Humans are so small in the order of things.

We 3 C's are committed to grow as much of our own food as possible. That is a tall order. For a lot of folks, it is a lot of work. Yes, it has been. But it is also a calling in our times. I can see why some would just move to town and buy most of their food at the grocery store and farmer's markets. They'd just let others see the Power of Nature, take that risk, and work their lives around it.

I am heading out to the Garden to visit my Friends the Plants and to begin the work of this Day. In the meantime, things seem pretty normal. I hear the Quail calling "Bob-White". I see Robins flying about. I hear birds singing their own signature songs. While I do not recognize their names with their songs, they too are at home on this place. I see a Rabbit washing his face at about the same time I wash mine. A Hummingbird is dashing about looking for sweet morning sips of nectar.

Yes, we have some challenges and we are finding our way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


In the world of my Culture in this day and time, privilege has come to mean material things: house square footage, number of garages, one's toys, latest of fashions, sporting certain logos, vacations to exotic places. I disagree.

I have been pondering privilege and what it means to me:
  • My basic needs are met (healthy food; adequate housing and clothing for protection, shelter, and creative expression).
  • My family and community surround and support me with unconditional love which I give in return.
  • The work of my hands and heart is meaningful.
  • I know my purpose here on this Planet at this time.
  • I live in a place and time where I can seek to fulfill that purpose.
  • I have free access to knowledge which allows me to question, learn and grow.
  • I can consider questions which are at my growing edge.
  • I can grow toward the fullest expression of what I am to be while I am here.
  • I seek truth and speak truth.
  • I am on my own Spiritual Path.
  • I see wonder in all things.
  • I see rays of hope in these challenging times.

Monarchs Are Arriving...

In an earlier Blog, I lamented the missing Monarch Butterfly. We had seen them earlier in the Summer and then they just disappeared. I did talk with other Gardeners who noted a reduction as well. I surely should have written about this sooner, because once I did, I began to see an occasional Monarch. Where did they go? Did they get washed away in the earlier heavy rains?

Yummy Desserts

Melanie made Dewberry Basil Crumble, inspired by the recipe in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle. She used Dewberries, which she just picked right here at the Farm. Plus, she also made Honey Ice Cream. Yummy.

Wanted: Scarecrow Clothes

The Corn is responding to the heat. You can almost hear it say: "I love heat. I love heat. I love heat." As a result, Mr. and Mrs. Corn are growing, growing, growing. Tassles have appeared on top and those wonderful Ears are developing under those silks. We can almost taste it. Melanie just made homemade butter today in preparation.

But we also know that the neighboring Raccoons probably have this site marked on their GPS. We do have a Deer Fence up, but the 'Coons are probably just laughing at that flimsy thing all the way home.

My response is to create some artsy Scarecrows which will also be included in the Big Garden/Cane Field. The latter Garden has no Deer Fence, so we will be creating Scarecrows to either ward off the Deer (or greet them). I plan some sound effects with tin pans clanging in the breeze. It may or may not work. But I intend to have some fun in doing it.

For anyone in the area who might be following this Blog, we need some clothes (including hats, scarves, and so on) for the Scarecrows. If you have any to contribute, just give me a call. They are likely clothes which no longer have use for either personal wear or thrift store sale. They need not be in "style". Color is good.

Stay tuned for pictures to come on the Blog.

A Garden Walk: July 19

The Garden is growing by leaps and bounds. After that slow and rocky start earlier, it is really taking off. We have been having heat characteristic of July in Missouri: that sticky hot heat that sends Humans inside in the afternoon and Watermelons and Corn off in all directions. Plus, we thankfully have had good amounts of moisture. Look at things grow! The following are some snapshots of a morning walk July 19.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Melanie headed out to pick Dewberries today. She brought back 6 cups, washed them, spread them out on cookie sheets, and put them in the freezer. Later we will bag them up. Quantity-wise, they aren't much. But they will be a special addition to cereals and things in the coming months.

Smell of Rain

I love the smell of Rain.

Just before the Rain, that wonderful fresh uplifting aroma announces the coming Rain. Sometimes the Smell is pervasive; it's everywhere. Other times, one gets an occasional whiff on the wings of the Wind. In that moment, you know Somebody Somewhere is getting Rain. Maybe we will too.

During and just after the Rain, the Earth smells fresh and new. Everything comes alive, even the Air. I can just imagine those Seeds that we planted wiggling and doing their Coming Alive Dance in the Soil. It's just what they and we have been waiting for. The Plants uplift to become all they were intended on yet another Day.

These past few days, we have had some heat and it has been dry. Such things are characteristic of the July in Missouri that I remember from childhood. The heat and humidity build. These last few evenings, the northwestern Sky suggested what seemed to be a coming Rain. But, until today, nothing much had happened. And now we are having a blessed nourishing Summer Rain. At times, the drops have been so heavy they look like Milk raining from the Sky.

Years ago, I bought a spendy scented hand cream called "Spring Rain". At the time, I loved it. I thought I was so smart. My work kept me inside and disconnected from such simple but grand things. I thought such a hand cream was the next best thing. But it's not the same.

Today, in a reversal of views, I head outside to take 3 shirts I bought from the thrift store to hang in the Rain. As so often happens, the shirts smell with all the chemicals of the modern laundering process. I have washed them twice with detergent, soda, and vinegar. They still stink. Perhaps the Rain will help to wash the smell away. In the meantime, I return to these keys and I smell of Rain. I smile.

You can't buy the Smell of Rain. It is a gift from the clouds and the Creator on this glorious Summer Day.
Photo: Freddie, the Rooster, heads to the Deck (on what will be another short excursion). He intends to preen and dry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nature Notes

  • Red Moon arises in early evening in the East-South-East. It appears full, but the calendar says the Full Moon is tomorrow.
  • Summer is shifting into harvest mode. The Cool Season Plants are at peak or spent. The Warm Season Plants are growing what seems like leaps and bounds every day. Melanie placed at stick by the Orange Glow Watermelon Vine to check its daily growth.
  • Tomatoes are beginning to get ripe. We won't need Cucumbers at the Farmer's Market on Saturday because we can see them beginning to come on. Potatoes are coming on. We will likely freeze Peas tomorrow.
  • The Peaches on the Peach Tree are hard, but "blushing". I check them almost every time I go by.
  • We heard our 1st Cicadas (Locusts).
  • The Goldenrod is growing tall but no buds are in sight.
  • Some parts of the Meadow look brown with the maturing seeds of the Grasses.
  • Black Raspberries are done, Dewberries are in mid-harvest, Blackberry harvest is near.
  • We are having our last package of frozen Blackberries 2007 tonight all baked into a Pie. That's in preparation for expected harvest 2008.
  • A few Spider Webs have begun to appear on the deck and across the path through the Meadow.
  • The 1st nests of birds are probably long past. Richard thinks some may be on 2nd or 3rd nests, and the Goldfinches, who are always late nesters, may have started. Summer is moving on.

Morning Glories

I wondered today if we may be kin to Morning Glories. They say everyone in the County is either related or knows each other from way back. I suppose they are talking about Humans as related to Humans, though.

We 3 C's do have some things in common with Morning Glories, which are among my favorites. We seem to have more energy and a brighter bloom in the mornings. So we head to the Garden to take on the tasks which need to be done. The temperature climbs, sometimes imperceptibly. By afternoon, we are a bit wilted. We head inside for a bit of rest, some quiet reflection and perhaps some indoor chores.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Missing Monarchs

Where are the Monarch Butterflies?
At this season,
they are usually flying about,
nectaring, laying eggs,
gracing my yard with their regal wings.
Our Swamp Milkweed should be
alive with eggs and
crawling with caterpillars
dreaming of becoming Butterflies.
I look and I look.
I see only an occasional Friend.
Where are the Monarch Butterflies?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The Food we 3 C's eat
has maximum living vitality.
That's both Promise and Practice.

Those wonderful treasures on our Plates
were grown on Healthy Soils,
without Chemicals,
with the utmost care
to the Earth and All Beings.
Most of the Food is Local.
We either grew it ourselves
or someone else close by did.
When we buy Food,
we seek to insure
these principles are also important
to those who tend the Land
and those who bring the Food to us.
We want to make sure those
who grow our food are well treated
and given a Fair Wage.

When we 1st began eating
and practicing in this way,
we couldn't get enough.
Our Bodies and Spirits
had finally found
Good Nourishing Food.

Now that we have eaten this way,
we find ourselves eating less,
eating just the amount we need.

I wonder
if our tendency in our Culture to overeat
comes from the Fact
that our Bodies yearn for Something More,
Something Not present in the Food We Eat.

Sunday Brunch

I said: "I can't believe we eat this well."
To which Melanie replied:
"I can't imagine everyone doesn't eat this well."
Most things on this plate
are from the Farm or Local.
Check out the 2 Jellies from this Season:
Black Raspberry (Richard made this)
and Nanking Cherry (from Sarah Saltmarsh).


In the time it took me to write and post the previous blog, Richard built 3 benches for the Garden. We had the wood on hand. They are in the Aldo Leopold style.

The benches are simple, sturdy, comfortable, and easy to make. When she visited us this spring, Chelsea Hummon made 3 benches. Counting the 3 Richard made today, we now have 6 on the Farm: 3 on the trails and 3 in the Garden. Just thinking about them invites a meander.

An Early Morning Walk in the Garden

The Growing Seasons had brought some challenges to the Garden: a prolonged, cool, wet, slow Spring, and an early Summer 10 inch rain in 5 days which turned the Garden Soil to the consistency of chocolate pudding (and later hardpan when the Soil dried).

During the wet, Weeds grew just out of reach. Many Seeds and Plants could not survive the swamp. We Humans tended what we could reach. The Rabbits did too. We kept checking disease and pest books for every new and unwanted change.

We did what we could. We dug little ditches to get the water off more effectively. We planted and re-planted. For many days, Storms and what seemed like Often Angry Skies were constant companions. Not much seemed to work. Progress seemed elusive. Had we bitten off more than we could chew?

You wouldn't know any of that on this Day.

As the soft Early Morning Sunlight began to spill in, I headed out for a Walk in the Garden . My eyes, heart and camera were open and ready for all that might greet me at the beginning of this day.
Magic abounds. At long last, the Garden is growing in profusion. A good start for the Walk is the Rainbow Gate.The Big Hen House seems to be getting smaller as the plants grow and grow.

The Teepee barely can contain the Native American heirloom plants which are at the center of a Medicine Wheel garden. Richard's Melons, Cantaloups, and Squashes are taking off.Glinda's Mandan Bride Corn sports tassels with pollen grains that fall down on silks and enabling ears to grow below.Horticulture Beans reach high for the sky.The newly installed Bird Bath invites Birds to partner in the Garden. We love their company in the Garden. Plus we have some bugs that we hope will make them tasty treats.
Looking closer, the Garden is beginning to produce in profusion, tickling the fancy of our Culinary Delights.Garden paths invite endless inner and outer exploration through all of these beautiful things.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


July 11:

As the Sun was announcing the Gift of a New Day, Richard was tapping away at these keys. He looked off his left shoulder and noted a mesmerizing pattern created by the Sun as it came through the glass of our new door and brought Light to the opposite wall. This is the picture he took.

You can decide what this means to you. To me, it is Hope Arising. We Humans live in some pretty dismal and challenging times, many of our own making. We are being pushed to and we are pushing ourselves to the Edge. We are being challenged to become all we are meant to be. It is not easy. Birthing never is.

In the middle of all of this, Hope is Arising in our midst. We saw it here on Butterfly Hill Farm on this day with an image which was Gift of a Master Artist. Wherever you are, it is all around. When you see this image, please do not think of it as just being here or in some far off place. Hope is everywhere. We have only to look.

Thank you, Sun, for the Gift Given of this Day.