The Farm is really greening up. Plants are breaking into buds and flowers, under our ever watchful eye. Buffalo Gal, a rose we brought with us from North Dakota, is covered with buds and today she presented us with her 1st flower.
Irises began blooming yesterday. And we were not surprised that the 1st to flower were Irises from Melanie's 2 Grandmas (Ethel and Dorothy, who have both passed). I noted that the Yellow Columbine is also breaking into flower. And the Bleeding Heart just continues to throw out cascades of flowers.
We got 1 inch of rain last night. We did lose a few limbs, but otherwise, the countryside is in that luscious, after rain, spring-moving-into summer, green.
I do remember that my Dad, when he came to our Farm in 2007 just 2 months before he passed, said: "This is paradise. When I go to Heaven, I want to come here." It surely is beautiful here. The landscapes are radiant.
And the Hummingbirds, with all their energy, have just arrived. They buzz about. I don't know how they have all that energy. They wintered in the Yucatan, crossed the Gulf on those tiny wings, and now are setting up home here. I supposed you could say, they are setting up home just like us.
All this makes a perfect backdrop for wedding preparations and for the wedding itself. Is this for real?
About this Blog
Melanie, Glinda, and Richard Crawford share reflections on our journeys to walk paths where the future matters from our new home on Butterfly Hill Farm. That includes recognizing the sacredness of life, living sustainably and simply, reclaiming family history and traditions, growing our own food. We humbly offer this as our story seeking meaning and not as a cookie cutter for others lives. We invite the sharing of your journeys as well.
Except in very specific circumstances, all photos depicted here were taken on our Farm. Those circumstances off the Farm relate to the purposes of this Farm and this writing exploration. Almost all were taken by 1 of the 3 C's. If not, I try to make sure others are credited. I (Glinda) am usually the one carrying the camera, but not always.
I do my best to gain permissions of Folks whose pictures are shown on this Blog. If for any reason, you are pictured and would like your photo removed, just let me know. Thanks.
Visits to this Blog
...began her professional career as a Home Economist, later serving as a Home Economics Teacher Educator for 2 decades. In 1995, she moved into analyzing the Human Side of Environmental Issues. She went from studying Humans in their Little Homes to studying Humans in their Big Home, the Earth. Those 2 leggeds were, after all, creating a substantial problem for the Earth, which sustains them. After 30 years in higher education, she became Professor Emerita of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies at the University of North Dakota in 2005.
Glinda has a special interest in analyzing the split Humans have with Nature. Her focus is bringing Humans home to the Earth, opening at long last to the awe, magic, and love of this beautiful Earth whirling in the Great Cosmic Sea. She is a writer, teacher, poet, artist. She is the writer for this Blog, the substance of which will likely become a book she has known she would write.
...grew up on a 120 acre Farm about 5 miles west of here. Those humble beginnings have had a profound effect on his Life. He was trained as a Wildlife Biologist and later responsible for the Wildlife Management Program at the University of North Dakota for over 3 decades. Retiring in 2007, he is a UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology.
Richard brings to the Farm a lifelong interest in the Natural Sciences (Birds, Wildlife, Prairie Restoration, Ecosystems, Gardening) and the Humanities. As his wife (Glinda) says: "He is one of those few people in our Culture who can still read Nature's story and make it accessible to those around him."
...would list a bio a little shorter than her Mom and Dad. That's because she hasn't lived quite so long, which is the normal course of such things. But her bio would be no less interesting and perhaps even more so. She has come to this work and this walk far earlier than her Mom or Dad.
Melanie has an interest in healthy lifestyles. It's not something you read about; it's something you do. She brings her love of life, her travel near and far, her love of people known and unknown, her playful curiosity, and her knowing to Gardening, Raising Chickens, Herbal Healing, and the Culinary Arts. She makes a place for Kids of all Ages on this Little Farm.
This Blog includes my exploration (with others alongside) as we seek to gather Family Stories. I have long since known that I cannot completely know who I am or where I am until I reflect on where I came from and those who came before.
In May 2007, we 3 partners (Glinda, Richard, Melanie Crawford) moved to this little acreage in northeast Missouri. We believe life is a sacred gift and we intend to live that practice in this space. This is the story of our journey of exploration and discovery.
We have confirmed our 1st Pullet Egg for 2008. Pullets are the Little Hennies who joined us as Baby Chicks last May. We may have had 1 Pullet Egg before but we weren't sure. There is simply no doubting this 1. The Little Hennies are now 21 1/2 weeks old. They sure have grown up fast.
On this day, I feel a special kinship to these Little Hennies. I can imagine the shock, awe, disbelief, excitement, the mix of feelings this Unknown Little Hennie must have felt in laying her 1st Egg.
In some ways, I think that this Little Farm is our Pullet Egg. We are new. We haven't lived here very long. We too look with a mix of feelings, including shock, awe, disbelief, and excitement at this Little Farm and her Farmers after only a little over a year.
The last 4 Weekends have been pretty intense with the Making of Sweet Sorghum Molasses at the Crawford Family Farm in Millard. We were ever on Edge. Our "Antenna" were always looking for just that Right Moment to work through the details of Production.
Weather was a factor and had been this whole Summer. We were not sure if we would pull off a Crop and if that Crop would be successful in producing the Molasses we treasure so highly.
We did pull off a Crop and that Crop was successful. We certainly pulled off the most Molasses since the Crawford Family has reclaimed this Family Tradition in 2004. We produced 48 Gallons total (Batch 1: 10 Gallons; Batch 2: 11; Batch 3:16 1/2; Batch 4: 10 1/2). I wonder how many Gallons Richard's family produced. Richard is unsure. Perhaps Hollis, Gerald or John will know.
Today we 3 C's are tired. I am reminded that Life is a Gift from the Divine. I used to work pretty much 24/7, as if my Energy reserves would last forever. I too am a product of my High Speed Culture which is never satisfied with the Present and always demands More. I did that to myself too.
In all those years of being super busy, I got pretty worn out. I kept waiting for Someone outside me to change, Someone to show me the way, Someone to at last say "Enough". I now know I have a choice about these things. I get to decide the Life I choose to live every minute of every day.
In the process of sorting out these things, I could most easily see the consequences of "overdrawing" on one's Cash. Overspending one's Reserves robs one from Tomorrow's Resources. You start out each Day a little further behind than you were the day before. With such consistent practices over the long haul, you can be in a lot of trouble. You can dig yourself a pretty deep hole and it is hard to get out.
I believe that overspending one's Vital Energy gives the same results. Now why would we want to do that?
We 3 C's have learned that we need some Balance. We need "Rest" and "Reflection", which are just as essential as those Days when we have pushed really hard. Somehow, Resting is a way to honor that Sacred Gift of the Divine in Us.
We will be taking it a little easier over the coming days. Life is an amazing Gift. We try to express Gratitude and cherish that Gift of the Divine in us in every step. Why would we even consider doing anything else?
Our little flock of Chickens has given us occasion to ponder many things. A few moments ago, Richard said: "If you aren't with the Little Hennies every day, you miss something." I know that is true with Babies and Young Children. Is it true with all of Creation and all of Life?
Richard and Melanie have noted that the Roosters on the 2 Neighboring Farms close by seem to be striking up a conversation with our Freddie, the Buff Orpington Rooster. I wonder what they are saying. They probably wonder what we Humans are saying too.
Roosters crowing over the Country Landscape is quite a sound. I wonder when neighboring Roosters 1st made their presence known upon this land. My understanding is that settlement in Adair County by European Peoples occurred in the 1830s through 50s. That's when our Ancestors settled here too.
Richard's Great Grandparents Abel and Mandana Stukey homesteaded about 7 miles from here just north of Millard in 1843. We have a remnant log from that original cabin. My Great Great Grandparents William and Elizabeth Hart homesteaded in the northeast part of Adair County near Wilmathsville in 1851.
The Stukeys and the Harts would surely have known that sound of the Rooster crowing over the Country Landscape. I can imagine they and especially their Wives would have taken great comfort in that sound of those Roosters and their Hennies. Abel was married to MandanaCowen Cunningham and William married Elizabeth Cragg. The Stukeys had traveled from Fairfield County, Ohio, while William and Elizabeth immigrated from England.
For a long time, most Farms in these parts were small and most Farm Wives had their flock of Chickens. Since the mid 1900s, Farms became larger to be profitable, People moved or took their jobs from Farms to Town, and People depended on Grocery Stores and Farms farther away for their Food. Flocks of Chickens on rural Farmsteads increasingly became a memory.
I can remember how attached Richard's Mother was to her Chickens. When she left the Farm for the Nursing Home in 1987, her flock of Chickens was one of the last things she gave up. During those years, the Rooster's Crow and the Sounds of the Hennies on the Country Landscape became more infrequent. In our own small way, it is wonderful to see a bit of that return.
We will process the 4th Batch of Sweet Sorghum Molasses tomorrow (Saturday, 9/27) at the Family Farm in Millard. This will be the last of the 2008 Season.
Hollis, Hollis Dale, Gerald and Richard harvested the Sorghum Cane yesterday from Hollis' field. It will likely be a smaller batch. We are deeply grateful for the Earth's Bounty and Loving Hands that have gathered to produce Molasses this Harvest Season. The Ancestors would be proud.
Freddie the Rooster (on the left) is pictured here with one of his Lady Friends. He has 35 of them; 19 are from the 1st year (2007) and 16 are the Little Hennies from this year. This one happens to be one of the more seasoned Matrons, Marshmallow.
Freddie takes his job as sole Rooster very seriously. He is ever on the alert. He keeps things safe for the Hennies. He can sound an intense alarm which can be heard across our little Farm. If one of the Hennies sounds an alarm, he comes running in his heavy, grounded, loping run. He finds the best of food for the Hennies and sounds a little call in Chicken Speak. Sometimes we offer food to the Hennies and he calls them too.
Mr. Fredster, as we sometimes call him, has a serious interest in continuing the Species. We haven't "set" any of the Hens yet, but probably will next year. Freddie makes a great doorbell. Whenever a car comes to the top of the drive, Freddie begins to crow.
At night, he sits on a high perch very close to the west door of the Hen House. If anyone even thinks about coming in through that door, Freddie will be 1 of the 1st they will meet.
Freddie reminds me that we all have our roles here on the Farm.
We're making Homemade Pizza tonight using our own recipe which was posted earlier. Rachel and Maria are joining us. All the Fresh Produce except the Onions was from right here on the Farm. The Onions were from either the Farmers' Market in Kirksville or Columbia.
This time, we included Slow-Roasted Peppers Melanie had made. This is a new Recipe for us. We have tried them at other Meals and they are yummy. The Recipe is from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets (page 175). This cookbook is a great resource for anyone wanting to eat locally and seasonally.
We just popped the Pizzas in the Oven and they should be out just in time for Rachel and Maria when they arrive about 6pm.
Photo: The Pizza is ready to go into the oven. As it often happens, we were so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture after it was cooked.
These days, Melanie has the Dehydrator going a lot. She has dried Tomatoes, Apples, Peaches (Plain), Peaches (with Lime, Cayenne, smidge of Honey), Pears, Herbs (Holy Basil, Celery Leaf, Basil, Peppermint, Red Clover, Lemon Balm). Numerous others are waiting in the wings. The little note on the counter reminds us the Dehydrator is on in the Basement.
As we move into this final push for Harvest, Ms. Dehydrator is an invaluable part of the Team. Melanie used the Previous Ms. Dehydrator so much we bought a new one which has 9 large trays.
Some day, I'd like to try some Sun Drying. Mother tells a story that my Great Aunt Lula Myers Hart dried Apples and other produce on the Roof of the Shed. This would have been when Mother was a Child in the 1920s. I'd like to learn more about Sun Drying. We seem to have plenty of Heat, Sun, and Air around here to do just the job.
We planted the Gladiolas a little late. On this day, I am Glad. The Glads are simply gorgeous surrounded by the jubilant Cosmos on their Feathery Foliage. This little bit of Color is in Melanie's Garden right next to the Rainbow Gate.
Today is one of 2 Special Days of the Year when Daylight and Dark are in Balance. The Sun rises due East on the Horizon and sets due West. Today we cannot see that Glorious Morning Event because we are cloaked in a luxurious and mysterious Fog. But, beyond that blanket of Fog, we know the Sun sits radiantly in that prescribed spot.
During the coming days, we will watch the Sun's steady progress toward the Southern Horizon. As the position on the Horizon changes, our days will be shorter and Winter will take its hold. As I sit here typing away on this Blog, I feel the Morning Coolness. I should really head upstairs to add a heavier shirt. A cup of Tea would be nice. We shall have to turn on the heat soon.
The Fall Equinox marks a time of Harvest and Abundance. Here at the Farm, we been gathering Earthly Delights by the armload for some time. And just when we think we might have a moment's rest, the Earth blesses us with even more. We are entering the Season when we need to move more quickly. Arms will not be big enough. We need to use the Wagon and Wheelbarrow too.
A Companion to this Season is Gratitude. While our Intimate Tie to the Earth is there every day awaiting our Coming Home, the Abundance of the Earth and her Sustainability of her Human Children is never more clear than in the middle of the Harvest Season.
I felt some Sadness in the Early Morning Hours today. In reflecting on this, I have always felt Sadness as Fall moves into Winter. With the influence of my Human-Centered Culture which denigrates Feeling, I have always felt this strange and have fought this Energy inside Me. Today, I had some Understanding and a bit more Acceptance of it.
We have planted and tended this beautiful Garden, which has at times struggled this Season. Over all, the Garden has flourished, as have we. As I look beyond the perimeter of our cultivated areas, we are surrounded by exuberant Trees, Shrubs, Birds, Frogs, Flowers, Grasses, Butterflies, Creatures and Plants we do not yet even know.
With eagerness, we have watched the Cycles through the Growing Seasons: Tiny and Tender New Leaves of Expectant Green, Leaves Becoming Sturdy and Moving to Mature Green, Flowers Bursting, Fruit Bending Branches sometimes down to the Earth Herself, Seeds Ripening in Promise of Yet More Life. The Garden will soon be gone with Her Rich Organic Material Decaying, Renewing and Replenishing the Earth.
We have watched our Feathered Friends return, set up Territories, sing those Romantic Spring Songs they have waited a whole year to sing. Sometimes the Birds have shared a Secretive View of Nests and Young. Other times, they have brought their Fledglings into the Yard to feed and to introduce them to their Human Friends. Many are gone now. Others are waiting until that Magical Moment when it is their time to head toward their Winter Homes.
All those Companions in the World Around will soon be gone in the Radiant Form we have known and loved this Summer. Shifting past the Fall Equinox, Nature will be quieter. Her Colors which have covered the Spectrum will be narrowed to a select few.
This is a Time of Moving into Darkness. It is the Slumber Time. It is the Rest Time. It is the time of Inner Reflection on the Meaning of All of these Things and our Place among Them.
Indigenous Peoples have celebrated and celebrate the Fall Equinox as 1 part of the "Great Turning of the Wheel". They have recognized the intimate bond Humans have with the Vitality of the Earth and the Cycles of this Wondrous Creation. They recognize that for Humans to survive and thrive, we need to be in sync with the Life that Sustains.
In Contemporary Times in Modern Society, we supposedly sophisticated Humans think Grocery Stores and the Massive Transportation Pipelines that Support Them are the Primary Food Source. When we lived in Town, I remember we used to head on the spur of the moment to Hugo's about 5 minutes away. You decide you want something for a Meal and don't have all the ingredients. Then you just head to the Grocery Store or "out to eat".
As we have moved to the Farm and have made a conscious effort to produce as much as our own Food as possible, our Grocery Store has changed. It is either the Garden Patch, the Freezers, or the Pantry. It is what we produce in Partnership with these Plants, this Land, and other Local Growers. In some ways, I think it is the "Original Grocery Store".
For our Evening Meal, Melanie and I decided our Tummies and our Spirits wanted and needed something light. We thought about what we had in the Larder of that Original Grocery Store. "Easy" was essential. Scratching our heads, Veggie Soup seemed to fill the Bill.
So we headed downstairs to the Pantry to see what might like to be in the Soup. She grabbed a Box, just like you would at 1 of those Primo Self Service Stores. We filled the Box with 1 Cup Frozen Corn, 1 Pint Green Beans, 2 Frozen Containers of Tomato Juice, 1 Quart Tomatoes, 1 Cup Frozen Zucchini, Onions, and Garlic.
At which point, we grabbed the Colander, a sharp knife, and headed to the Garden. Fresh Celery, Carrots, Okra, Green Peppers, Paprika Peppers, and Lima Beans beckoned for Roles in the Soup too. I cleaned these Friends up in preparation for them to become Soup.
We put everything (except the Okra) in the Pot and simmered it for a couple of hours. We understand that when overcooked, Okra becomes slimey, which is not a texture we find appealing in Soup or anything else for that matter. To this point, everything in the Soup was something we had raised or in the case of the Onions and Garlic, something someone had raised locally.
I also added a bit of Olive Oil. Toward the end, Melanie added Barley to make it a little heartier. She fixed Grilled Cheese Sandwiches alongside. Yum.
That Original Grocery is one which has been going on since Time Immemorial. To survive, People in their Family and Community Systems throughout History have had to be very Self Sufficient. Self Sufficiency is somthing to muse on. We are excited about that.
We pulled off the 3rd Batch of Sweet Sorghum Molasses at the Family Farm in Millard. This time the Sorghum Cane was from what Hollis grew at the Farm in Millard.
The Batch took 7 hours to make Syrup, which is a little on the long side. Gerald and Hollis estimated the Batch was 110 Gallons, which is bigger than usual. We also had Wind across the Pan off and on during the Day. Wind cools things down and extends the Cooking Time.
As per usual, we gather around the Pan toward the End, watching it closely. The Evening Temperatures are cooler so the warmth of the Fire feels good. This time, we were finishing in the Dark, under watchful eyes and a Flashlight Beacon carefully held by Hollis.
For processing this Batch, we were joined by Dar, Bill, and James who have newly arrived from Pennsylvania, and Rachel and Maria who come from Indiana and Wisconsin. MaLinda's Mother was there too.
Almost every time we make Sweet Sorghum Molasses, we have some Folks who are drawn to the Magic of this Story of Reclaiming an old Craft and working together in Family and Community. Often we are joined by Older Folks who have a tradition of this in their Families and offer their own stories. This whole process is sweet to share.
Jeremy and Sarah who will be wed October 4 were skimming the Batch toward the end. The lovely color of Sweet Sorghum Molasses which is almost done is evident in this Photo. You can see the Skimmer held by Jeremy and the Plate and Spoon for testing held by Melanie.
On September 18, Richard began noting Monarch Butterflies flying overhead in singles at about 100 feet. They were consistently moving almost in a "stream" toward the Southwest. On September 19, we noted the same, with even more Monarchs in the Air.
We had Dinner outside on the Deck. In the space of an hour, we counted over 30. Was this the Migration? Were they headed toward their winter home in Mexico?
I checked out several web sites. Monarch Watch gave us Peak Migration Dates, which are based on Latitude. We are pretty much on a straight line from Millard, Missouri. The Latitude for Millard is 40.107N. We calculated the Peak for Monarch Migration on Butterfly Hill Farm as September 19. Wow!
If we had been inside watching TV, hunkered down at the Computer, thinking only about Parking on our way to Work or the Mall, we would have missed it. Look up and out, Dear Friend. There is a Beautiful World out there just waiting for us to join.
In the midst of harvesting Fall Bounty, a Little Carving Project is underway. We 3 C's like to craft useful items from Nature's Gifts that we find on the Farm. For years, Richard has taken a lead here.
In this case, the Little Carving Project is made from Cedar. The Branch was carefully cut because it was overhanging a Path into the Woods. We explored other options, but the best one was to cut the Branch. We expressed gratitude to the Tree, of course, and set the branch aside for another use.
This Little Carving Project from the Cedar Branch will be finished soon. It will have 2 purposes. It will sit snugly among the Sorghum Seeds in their Bin through the coming months. Cedar is a natural deterrent for Pests, not that we have Pests.
I think those sorts of Critters we Humans call "Pests" surely must have other names for themselves. I wonder what names they would have for Humans. That would be the subject of some pondering and another Blog.
This lovely Little Carving Project will also be used by the Humans to stir the Seeds which will give them Air, making sure they are evenly dried. Other images in the Photo are Field Corn for the Chickens, White and Yellow Popcorn for the Humans, plus the tail end of a Rubbery Duck Decoy.
We made Molasses yesterday. We started grinding the Cane into Juice about 8am and finished cooking the Molasses about 7:15pm. Molasses Making Days are long intense days which include considerable preparation on the preceding days. Plus, we had been playing a holding game on setting the date because of all the recent Rains.
Today, we 3 C's are a little slow. This morning, Richard and Melanie headed to Hollis and Deleta's to put the most recent Batch into 11 Gallons of Jars. Mostly, we are tidying up here today, catching up on chores and managing some down time too.
As I write this Blog, Melanie is working up the White Peaches from Gerald and Connie. She is drying them after a marinade of Honey, Cayenne, and Lime Juice. Richard is mowing. With all the Rains and the Cool Temperatures, the Grass has gotten tall and robust. Those Cool Season Grasses so typical of Lawns must be gleeful on these days.
In the middle of our Day, I just couldn't resist the urge to make Biscuits. We did some serious testing of the 2008 Batches on Homemade Biscuits today.
How much will be lost in Nature before I see that Loss? How much will be lost in Nature before I see that Web of Life which supports Us All? How much will be lost in Nature before I see my part in this loss? How much will be lost in Nature before I see that loss is at the Heart of Me? How much will be lost in Nature before I say "Enough"? How much will be lost in Nature before I set my Feet upon a New Path? Today is That New Day.
We are inbetween the 2nd and 3rd Batches of Molasses. Every time we make a Batch and every year we are in production, we learn more.
The Harvest of Sorghum is complete on Butterfly Hill Farm. Except for the Cane that had fallen in the Wind, that Field is mostly stubble and drying leaves from the Harvest.
On Wednesday, Harvest for Batch 3 began at the Crawford Family Farm outside of Millard. The Crew (Hollis, Gerald, Richard, Hollis Dale, and Mike) worked on harvesting the Sorghum.
That Cane field had been heavily hit by the 60-65 mph Winds earlier. The Crew got what they could from the Standing Field today. They haven't gotten all that they can or will. They filled the Wagon and brought it in by Noon.
More was stripped in the Field and awaits harvest. Richard suspects they will try to get another Wagon Load for Saturday's Batch. We keep learning and growing in this whole process.
This day brings some reflection on Planting which occurred in this field about May 20. (Deleta, please verify this date.) Hollis uses a Modified Horse Drawn Corn Planter to plant the Sorghum Seeds. (See photo below.) This Planter dates back to the late 1800s. (Deleta, is the date on the Planter 1897? I have that around here somewhere.)
Hollis had observed that the vintage Cane Plates on the Planter plant more thickly than desired. As a result, Stalks will grow more thickly in their rows, which results in thinner Canes and Plants which are harder to strip.
To compensate for this, Hollis baked the Seeds to reduce the viability of 20% of the Seeds prior to planting. Then he mixed the baked Seeds back in with the rest. This year, the Cane in this Field is indeed more thinly planted which has made it better.
I am amazed at the Sophistication required for this whole process. Plus, we are recreating a Craft which had almost died out in this area. The Old Ones of our Past had tremendous knowledge based on years of observation and practice. They perhaps had information from previous Generations and certainly other Growers who were their contemporaries.
Those Old Ones are no longer around to supervise this process. I think they are gently guiding and supporting us as we reclaim this Tradition which binds us all. You can almost hear their Voices in the Murmuring of the Leaves.
The Town Creature in me has gone for so long to the Store and bought a given Product of the Land. "I want this and I want it now." For Molasses, I never would have considered all the little parts to this Immense Puzzle of growing Sorghum and producing that wonderful Molasses I simply reach for in my Cupboard.
In living on Butterfly Hill Farm and producing with other Family Members these wonderful things that nourish us, we have so much to learn. It is a blessing to be even a small part of this Revival on the Land.
The 3rd Batch of Molasses is planned for Saturday, September 20. Of course, that is the Human Plan. We 2-Leggeds are hopeful all will work out. But we will also let Nature and Weather take the lead. That is surely the way it is supposed to be.
As is our custom, the Cane will be ground into Juice in the Morning. The Strained Juice will be poured into the Pan over the Furnace. The Fire will be lit and the long Process of Cooking Down will begin. At Noon, we have a Pot Luck.
Throughout the Afternoon, we watch carefully as the the Juice cooks down into Syrup. The Fire will be carefully stoked and attended. We never know how long it will take. Dampness, Wind, and the Unique Quality of each Batch make a difference in the Time it takes. Throughout this slower time, we relax by the Fire. It is a great time for Community, Story Telling, and Just Enjoying Being Together. We may even make Apple Cider on the Old Press.
By late Afternoon or Evening, the Juice will become Syrup. At that perfect Moment when the Syrup is just right, the Pan will be quickly removed. Afterwards we have a Family Meal complete with Biscuits to provide the 1st test of the New Batch.
This Recipe for Biscuits originally came from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook which Richard had gotten me the 1st Fall (1967) after we were married. If you are of the same vintage as me, you might smile just thinking about its Cheery Red Plaid cover. I surely have smiled when I have looked at this Cookbook for a lot of years and I surely do now. That trusty Cookbook has been a Long Time Friend.
I have made this recipe a lot. You can tell that by the food samples on the page and the fact the looseleaf page has lost its 5 hole punches. Over the years, I have modified this Recipe a bit so it has taken on more of the tastes and preferences of my family and me.
This is a perfect Recipe to support a taste trial for Molasses. Fresh and hot out of the oven, these Biscuits also provide proper support and a "fine carrier" for an assortment of Homemade Jams and Jellies.
2 Cups White Flour 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder A shake or 2 of Salt 1/3 Cup Shortening or Butter 2/3-3/4 Cup Milk
Sift Flour, Baking Powder and Salt. Place in large bowl. Grate Shortening or Butter using large side of Grater. Place in Dry Ingredients a little at a time until complete. Gently turn with a spoon. Use Pastry Blender to cut the Fat into the Dry Ingredients. Continue until mixture is the consistency of coarse Cornmeal. Gently add liquid a bit at a time. Stir until the dough is evenly moist and easy to work without becoming sticky. Place flour on clean flat work surface and knead dough for 1-2 minutes. Roll into a circle. Cut in 12 wedges. Place wedges on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Biscuits are done when they are evenly light brown on top and they spring back to the touch. Eat immediately. Enjoy.
We prefer to use Organic Flour.
I sometimes substitute 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat for the same amount of White. The taste is heartier.
We always use Aluminum-free Baking Powder which we purchase at the Health Food Store. We are trying to reduce Aluminum exposure in our foods.
We use Sea Salt rather than White Salt. Sea Salt includes naturally occurring Minerals.
For Shortening, we use a product free of Trans-Fats (Brand: Earth Balance Natural Shortening) which I find in the Health Food Section of our grocery store. I sometimes use Butter, but since we try to restrict our use of Dairy due to allergies, I usually use Earth BalanceNatural Shortening instead.
I find that Earth BalanceNatural Shortening and Butter work best if stored in the Freezer. Otherwise they become soft. Those little pockets of fat make the end product tender and flaky.
For Milk, I usually use Almond or Hazelnut Milk, again, when I desire to reduce Dairy in our diet.
I no longer have my 3-way Sifter and have been looking for 1, but to no avail. I run the dry ingredients through a large Sieve.
Adding too much liquid and overkneading can cause a tough product.
Biscuits get better with practice. So get to practicing!
You could call these Biscuits or Scones. Biscuits are typically round cut-outs. Scones are more apt to be "pie wedges". I just call these Biscuits or Scones depending on my mood. If I am feeling Down Home and Country, they are Biscuits. If I am feeling a bit of my English ancestry, they become Scones.
Just a quick note: We plan to make Molasses on Monday, September 15, at the Family Farm near Millard. We had originally planned to make it on Saturday, but with the Rains, we needed to postpone. These lovely Human plans are subject to the Bigger Plan in Nature.
O.K. We have had a lot of Rain. As of today (September 14), WeatherUnderground shows Kirksville at 55.71 inches for 2008 compared with an Annual Average of 24.47 inches. That is more than Double the Annual Rainfall. Looking a little more closely at the Data reported, the average September Rainfall is 1.87 inches. In September, we have had 10.94 inches. And it is just September 14. On hearing that, Melanie asked: "What is going on?"
In our approach to living, we believe there is a Reason for all things. Sometimes we Humans will know that Reason. Other times not. Often there are Lessons to learn. We 3 C's try to be open to those Lessons.
We Humans, particularly those of our Culture, are bent on control. When we are confronted with situations which cannot be controlled, we tend to get a little nutty. Yet, most things are beyond our Control. We need to learn to live with that Flow rather than against it.
We wonder the Reason for all of this Rain, for all of these Storms, for all of these "Natural Disasters". I wonder if the Rain is wearing away something that needs to be left behind. Water does in fact wear away Stone.
In the middle of Tension, a tiny Seed of Peace and Humility seeks to take Root.
Richard picked our 1st ear of Popcorn today. He says the variety is Yellow Purdue 410, a Hybrid from Shumway's. It is not quite ready. Richard tells me from his reading, he has learned that Popcorn has to be within the right range of moisture content to Pop. If it is not just so, those Kernels on that Beautiful Ear will not Pop. We have so much to learn.
You could call this picture "Scampy's Breakfast". But it isn't. Scampy is Melanie's Fluffy Gray Cat. And this Breakfast is Mine. All Mine.
Melanie made a Raw Foods Breakfast from the Cookbook I Am Grateful which comes from the Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco. We haven't been there but Rachel has. She got this inspiring reference for me and the 3 of us on the occasion of my Birthday.
This Breakfast was absolutely Yummy. It was called "I Am Bright Eyed" and included Pecans, Apples, Strawberries, Coconut Milk, Vanilla, Cinnamon, and Salt. Melanie added Agave Nectar and whizzed it all up in the Food Processor.
You may not know this but our Scampy loves Coconut Milk. How any of the 3 animals know when we have out their Favorite Foods is beyond me. Their Sniffers must be amazing. They are there in a Flash.
While I was taking this picture of my Breakfast to share on the Blog, the ever so quick Scampy saw a Window of Opportunity. As I was taking this, I noted the Little Guy had made a move. I snapped the picture and proceeded in a flash to retrieve my Breakfast in my own Window of Opportunity.
Scampy reminds me that Life presents us with Windows of Opportunity. When I get that Window, I need to move. Yes, I get it. This time, I did move. And I retrieved my Breakfast in just the nick of time.
Friday Morning arrived. The Day was wet and damp, with Heavy Gray Skies and more Rain predicted. I looked outside from my window and I smiled. These 3 little scenes greeted me as I glanced from left to right.
A Goldfinch, who was as bright as a Sunbeam, was a perfect Splash of Color for the Gray Day. This Spritely Spirit was pulling away 1-by-1 at the Seeds of the knodding Sunflower Head.
4 Hummingbirds were buzzing about grabbing quick sips of Red Nectar which Richard had placed in the Hummingbird Feeder. With news of Ike approaching Galveston and Houston, I was glad these Tiny Ones were not in South Texas getting ready for their migration across the Gulf.
"Gourdey" is our vigorous Gourd plant, 1 of 5 in Grandmother's Flower Garden. (They are all called "Gourdey" since they are intertwined and we cannot tell one from the other.) Gourdey's exuberance for growing is remarkable. He comes in 2 varieties: Dinosaur and Birdhouse. He has extended onto the Cement Pad which some day might be a "Veranda". I noted quick movement on the Wet Cement Pad amid raindrops. Sure enough, a Frog was jumping across the Wet Cement Pad. This little Guy was dark and knobby. He was no longer than 2 inches from the tip of his Nose to the place where a Tail once began. His hops were quite entertaining as he had more strength in his hind legs than in his front. He arrived at an object in the middle of the Wet Cement Pad. (Veranda does sound better.) To my amazement, he had found a 6 inch long Juicy Pink Worm. He chowed down on that Worm and in no more than 12 Seconds, his Breakfast was complete. He sat there for a few more Seconds. I can imagine that he was adjusting his Breakfast, or it was adjusting itself inside of him. And he headed back to the cover of his friend Gourdey.
I headed down the stairs with a Smile on my face and a focus on my own Breakfast. As I begin this Day, I surely am not so different than They
I shall begin this Little Entry with a discussion of Knitting. Then I shall move on to the Making of Molasses, intertwined with Reclaiming Family Traditions. Yes, it all fits together. Right here. Hang on to your seat.
Across the course of my Life, I have been a Knitter. I knit by fits and starts. I may knit for a year or a few years. I almost always finish my projects. Then, for whatever reason, I go on break. Some years later I come back to this Craft which I find a Meditation that slows me down to the Beauty and Love of Each Little Stitch.
As a Knitter, I know to be on the lookout for Dropped Stitches. Should I drop a Stitch, it will "Run", unravelling back to the beginning. Not only does this leave a hole which looks terrible, but it will substantially weaken the project I intend to create.
To reduce the possibility of Dropped Stitches, I try to be present for every Stitch. Upon completing each Row, I look carefully to make sure the Stitches on my Needle are attached to the Row before. Sometimes I count my Stitches. I always do if the Design is complicated. I learned the hard way on that one.
OK. I have been known to drop a Stitch. So what do I do? If I see that I have dropped a Stitch, if the pattern is simple, and if I am within a few rows, I will get out a Crochet Hook and carefully bring the Loops back up to the current row. Then I breathe a sigh of relief. I have saved my Project. Somehow, I saved my Day.
We live at an extraordinary time in our Culture and World. Right before our eyes we are dropping Stitches. We do these things sometimes by accident and other times intentially.
People are moving to Town or to places of Glitter beyond their Humble Roots. Traditions that carried across Generations are being left behind as if that is the Natural Order of Things. We are losing Foods, Crafts, Stories that have created the Fabric of our Being. They help us to know where we are from. We really cannot know who we are and where we are until we know our Roots. That means who and what came before.
The Crawford Family almost dropped a Big Stitch. The last time the Crawford Family of Millard had made Molasses was in 1977. At that time, the 4 Boys had Families of their own, so they were scattered and busy with their own full lives. Their Parents, John and Ethel Crawford, had always led the process. Over the years, the Boys became the Work Force, doing simply what they were told or what they knew to do. That last year of Molasses Making with the Boys' Parents, John Barton Crawford was not well and passed the following February.
For a lot of following years, Molasses was not made. The Original Equipment fell into disrepair, with Weeds and Trees on the Family Farm claiming the Tools of what had been an Active and Vital Craft.
As a Generation passes, the People at the Rudder change. It takes a while to work out some of the kinks in a new day for the Family.
At our Gatherings over the years, Molasses Making would occasionally come up in conversation. Not much was said about it. And reclaiming it was not much considered beyond the "I wish I had a taste of that now..."
By early in the new Millennium, 2 Families were living on the old Home Place and had been for a few years. Each of the Boys' Families were sharing Molasses Making Images from their stashes of photos. Every photo was a surprise and just sheer magic. I even dug out writings from the Fox Fire Series on making Molasses in Appalachia. "Yes, we did it like that." "No, we didn't..." The Pot was beginning to simmer. And the Stirring was picking up speed.
Conversation began to focus on "It would be nice to make it again..." "Can we make it again some day?" "How would we do that?"
By 2003, the decision was made to make Molasses. Hollis led the way, with a lot of physical help and skill from Sons, Nephews, Brothers, Grandson, and who knows who else. He wanted to do the process in the Vintage Way using all the Old Equipment. The Women helped in their own way. We each stirred the Pot toward the reclaiming of a Tradition which binds us all.
We made our 1st batch in 2004. Hollis says that was the 1st year we made it without supervision. We have made Molasses every year since. It is not easy. It requires Someone on Point (Hollis). It is a year long process. It requires a community. No one person can do it alone. People need to step up to the Plate at Critical Times. And they have, with more besides.
Some amusing things happened along the way. We started talking more about Family History. More Pictures came out. Stories popped up everywhere.
Jesse Sherman Crawford, the Boys' Grandfather, was a Blacksmith in Yarrow. The Boys' Father (Jesse's Son) John Crawford was a boy at that time. Those years had left quite a mark on him. In the early part of the 1900s, we are told that 35 Molasses Mills were in operation in the Yarrow area. Some were even mobile Mills that could be taken to a Farmer or Neighbor's Field when the Cane was ready.
In 2006, we celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of the Birth Date of the Boys' Dad. A cousin, Terry Pea and his wife Yvonne, joined us from their home in California. Even the extended family was being woven back together in special ways. At that gathering, we put together posters of John Crawford's life (1906-1978) with the able help of innovative scrapbooker Yvonne. We all poured over this. Even the younger ones who had not known him did. We were telling more stories and learning. Always learning. I think the Old Ones would smile.
I am closing this entry with 2 Pictures from Harvesting for "Molasses Batch 2-2008", September 10. The 1st Photo is actually the Inspiration of This Little Entry. It is not a composite Photo. All that motion was captured in a single Photo which I snapped quick, not knowing exactly what I would take. I have pondered this Photo and am just amazed by it.
You will see 6 people (Left to Right): Richard, Hollis Dale, Gerald, Mike, David, and Hollis. Melanie was behind me and is in the closing Photo. The Cane Field was a Beehive of Activity that Wednesday.
This is a simple record of the fact that we have picked up a Dropped Stitch in our Family. These are very Busy People who are Showing Up for Something Important to each of us and all of us. And you'll have to see the Photos from the Day of Molasses Making. There are more.
Some Important Things are being dropped in our time. That will not happen on our watch. How cool is that!
As I share my intentions on this Blog, Melanie tells me a story from her childhood which I never knew. She says she always loved Grandma Ethel Kirkpatrick Crawford's Mailbox and would quickly volunteer to get the Mail.
I love our Mailbox. I think all 3 C's do. Even Laddie likes the walk there unless it is too hot. He uses his Sniffer to check out Messages of Another Sort. Sometimes the 2 Cats follow us up the Drive and back.
Mailboxes surely must be embedded in the lore and magic of Farms and Country Landscapes. Our little Mailbox on Butterfly Hill Farm is simple, straightforward, black and plastic. (No, I am not enamoured with the plastic part.) Someday we will replace it with a big old Country Mailbox. In fact, we have 1 waiting for just the assignment, thanks to Gerald and Connie. For now, the Basic Black Mailbox will do.
When we moved to the Farm, one of our 1st actions was to remove the name of the previous owners and carefully put letters of our name in their proper place. Now, after 16 months, some of those sticky letters are falling off. You have to use your imagination for our last name. Regardless, that little understated Box is one of our cherished connections to the rest of the world.
Six days a week, that Mailbox is the center of a ritual. We walk down the Drive, place our mail in the Box, and put the little Red Flag up. Sometime later, the Rural Letter Carrier pulls up in his Vehicle on his low flight through the Countryside. He and his Vehicle have seen a lot of miles and variation in Seasons. His car is also basic black, but carries on dry days a dusting the color of northeast Missouri Country Roads. Almost every day, he drops off Mail. Should we miss seeing him come down the Lane, Laddie announces his arrival with a bark.
On cue, we head back down the Drive to pick up the Mail, unless we are in the midst of chores, which of course we often are. On the way back down the Drive, we eagerly go through the Mail to see especially if we have: some personal news from Those We Love in the Great World Beyond, magazines that stir our pot on our Journeys to Make a Difference, or perhaps something we have ordered for the workings of the Farm.
Today, I got what I suspect is a Birthday Greeting from Becca Lieberg who is way out in Utah. When she writes, it is a newsy note and in exuberant hand. The outside envelope bears images of Wonder Woman. I smile and hold the little envelope close. We also got the Summer 2008 Small Farmer's Journal, which is one of our favorites. I wonder who will claim it 1st. On the cover is the simple statement: "Visualize Small Farms Everywhere." We smile and continue walking down the Drive. Life is very good.
I am reminded of the wonderful painting by Grant Wood "Dinner for Threshers". While we surely did not have Threshers here today, we did have Sorghum Cane Harvesters on a small scale.
The Crew descended on our Little Farm seemingly from all directions and the work went quickly because we had lots of eager hands. Such a process almost needs to be sealed by a Meal. The Crew expends energy in Harvesting such things. As energy goes out, energy must come in.
I can surely imagine those Farmwomen of Yesterday and Today with octopus hands moving in all directions. These hardy Women had to respond to needs in the Field. The Wonder Women put a hearty Meal on the table, tended Little Ones underfoot, kept the Home running like clockwork, tended the Garden and kept produce moving from Garden to Pantry and Root Cellar in a myriad of Harvest Forms. I think they could surely turn on a dime.
I was Head Cook today with some back-up support from Richard and Melanie toward the end. I suppose I had it pretty easy. I served up Homemade Bean Soup and Cornbread.
I noted that the Meal was eaten in 2 variations. The Crew which had spent most of their lives in this area put Bean Soup on top of the Cornbread, typically crumbled. The part of the Crew that had spent a lot of years in the North Country served theirs up with a bowl of Soup and Cornbread alongside. Either way, we were nourished and afterwards, we scattered and went about our day.
The Crew arrives for Molasses Making Batch 2/Day 1: Harvest. Before they head to the Field, they each pick out their wooden Cane Knives, which Hollis has carefully stowed in the back of his truck. The Cane Knives are used to strip the Cane. Hollis also has the sharper Corn Knives which will be used to head the Cane and to cut the stalks off at the ground. This little entry is more about the Wooden Cane Knives, which come with a bit of Family History.
7 of the 8 wooden Cane Knives were handmade by Hollis along the pattern of the Boys' Dad. The 8th Knife is 1 the Boys' Dad made for Hollis at his request years ago. Woods used are Hickory and Maple, from sources including an old Ax Handle and a Maple Table Hollis's family used to have.
Each Harvester picks out the Knife just right for them. As experienced Sorghum Cane Harvesters, they check the Knives over carefully, making sure the chosen one has just the right feel. Some Knives even have initials, names or images carved in their handles.
The 7 Harvesters (representing 3 Generations: Hollis, Gerald, Richard, Hollis Dale, David, Melanie, Mike) work quickly and in about 90 minutes, the Harvesting is complete. The crew takes a short break for Peanut Butter Cookies which Melanie made. Food for Harvesters is essential. In the middle of the break, we ponder when we will actually make the Syrup. The Weather Folks are predicting Rains over the next few days. We will be ever mindful and work up Batch 2 when the conditions are just right. Looking for that "window", we have our eyes on Saturday or Monday.
As the Harvest is complete, David drives the Tractor with its wagon full of Cane back to the Family Farm near Millard. The remaining crew heads back to the field to retrieve 1 missing Wooden Cane Knife, the Old One.
The 3 C's will follow soon with food to feed the crew: Homemade Bean Soup and Cornbread Fixin's.
Fall cannot be denied these days. One can almost feel the Great Wheel turn into another Season.
The nights are cooler.
An underlying coolness persists during the Day.
The Sun is not as intense.
The Sun rises and sets close to due East and West.
The Days are shorter.
As I took the picture of the Coxcombs this morning, a half dozen Canada Geese were flying overhead. They were probably a family group and it was probably the normal milling about that occurs on their practice runs. But they were going South.
Birds are hanging out in strings on power lines.
The Hummingbirds are feverishly feeding in preparation for their long flight.
Orioles are gone.
Hawks are showing up in larger numbers and seem to be passing through. Richard and Melanie saw a Cooper's Hawk chasing a Chicken. They quickly responded with: "Not here." The Hennie headed to the safety of the Tall Grass. The 3 C's saw a Peregrine Falcon on the East Side along the Osage Orange hedge. Today, Richard saw a Red-Tailed Hawk.
The Big Bluestem and Indian Grass are head high and above.
Some Sumac is showing Red.
The Zinnias are still beautiful with watercolors flowing together.
Plants are setting Seeds.
I want warm foods (Soups, Roots, Roasts).
I imagine myself sitting by a lovely Fire. We don't have our Woodstove yet.
Today was my Birthday. I turned 60. A decidely jubilant day!
For most of my Life in this Culture, I thought being 60 and being Female would be a distinctly miserable fate. It was subconscious, but those little underlying thoughts could not be denied. The consequences of living in both a Youth-Centered and Male-Centered Culture whittles away at the precious Life Energies of Someone Who Just Happens To Be Neither Of These Things.
Somewhere along the Road, I changed my mind. It was never more evident than today.
So where do I sit with those things today? What is my knowing today? At 60 and with whatever gift of moments, days and years I might be blessed to experience ahead, I feel like someone who has had the distinct privilege of living a lot of life. I feel like I have been sitting in a Grandstand of Life. Each year that passes, my seat moves up from the floor. I see more of the Game. I see whole arenas that I never knew existed before. I see how pieces which seemed random fit perfectly together. I see the Preciousness of Life in All of Its Forms. More and more of what I would call Truth is evident. And that Truth cannot be denied. I am more and more sure of Myself. What I Know, See, and Am cannot be denied.
In Traditional Societies, the Elders held and hold Essential Knowledge that was and is ever so important for the Survival and Thriving of the People. They were and are held in highest esteem. They are held as Precious Guiding Lights.
Somewhere along the way, certain dominant voices in my Culture forgot this Knowing. As a result, my Culture has lost essential elements and has split off from itself. Tragically, the Elders are shelved. I would call this a Great Wound to my Culture and worse yet, in the lost lives of those who should be Elders.
These days, I see that changing. I walk with exuberance through yet another gateway. Life is good and I am deeply grateful.
I shared my special day with Mother who is 85 and 2 90 year olds today. When I sat down at the table of the 2 90 year olds, I said: "Today is my Birthday. I am 60 years old." They thought about what I said, and cocked their heads to the side. Then they looked at me in a beautiful Knowing Way as they said: "You are so young."
I am. I have even more to learn. For all of these things, Life is just as good as it gets.
In the early morning, Richard returns to stripping Sorghum Cane for the making of Molasses tomorrow. His brothers Hollis and Gerald, and nephew Hollis Dale will join him soon for stripping, heading, cutting Cane, and transporting loads to the Family Farm outside of Millard for processing on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the women Deleta, probably Connie, Mother, Melanie and I (and others I don't know about in this writing) are getting ready behind the scenes to feed the crew and to get ready for the making and storing of Molasses. The names I write here will be in short order for those who will join us and for those who would join us at other occasions for these deeply meaningful events.
While once common among Families and Communities a Century ago, the making of Molasses has been described by some Folks as a dying craft. The Crawford Family last made Molasses in the late 1970s when the Boys' parents were still around and able, and the labor force of their Boys' was still available.
The Crawford Family brought Molasses Making back in 2004. Hollis calls 2004 the 1st time we made it without supervision. Reclaiming a tradition without the Elders who led it, with a new batch of Elders, is a process worthy of musing as well. That will perhaps be another writing.
We have been making Molasses every year since 2004. As a Family, we just could not let this tradition go. We use the old equipment and processes, as close to those the Boys' family had used when they were growing up and before.
Rather than a dying craft, I see our Molasses Making these days as a Revival, one of many traditions about Self Sufficiency, Simplicity, Family, Community, and What's Important returning in America. It's about time.
The Beautiful Sorghum Cane standing so very tall and proud in our Big Garden has announced: "I'm ready for you Humans to make Molasses." Our Taste Tests show those lovely Canes which we have watched grow from Seeds to 10-12 Feet tall are indeed sweetening up. Just thinking about it as I clatter away at these Keys, I want to go through the motions of chewing the Cane and spitting out the fibrous stuff just before I take yet another bite.
Our original plan, subject to change, was that we would begin Molasses Making this weekend. We weren't sure if the Weather was going to cooperate. These last 2 days, we have had 3.25 inches of Rain, using our Official Unofficial Rain Guage.
The Chickens report things are indeed a bit wet around here. Lacey is standing in water picking up Sunflower Seeds from the platform Bird Feeder just before Melanie dumps it out.The Rain has stopped and is expected to lift tonight. The weekend looks clear. But the Human Weather Gurus with all those advanced Technologies expect that Rain will begin again late Sunday Night.
Windows: Farmers are always paying attention to Windows. When Nature presents a Window, you move.
Richard and Hollis have been listening to such things, with Eyes on the Cane, Weather and Condition of the Field. They have made the decision that: We're making Molasses. Hollis, Hollis Dale, and Gerald will join Richard tomorrow to begin the tedious Hand Harvest.
In the meantime, Melanie and I are getting food ready for the Harvest on Friday and the Molasses Making (with others) on Saturday. Always eager about such things, Richard has headed back to the Field to begin a bit of Harvest as I click away at these keys. He is stripping the Leaves from the Cane with a Cane Knife he carved from Cedar from the Farm. Things are going to be getting pretty exciting around here in the next few days.
Last year, Chester the Tree Frog made himself at home on the West Porch. We aren't exactly sure where he is these days. But we hope he is having a good summer.
Richard found the Little Guy in the above photo in the Garage. We are not sure if he is Chester, but assume he is not. Richard says the Little Guy was nestling in the scoop we use for Chicken Feed. Having just found the Little Guy in the wrong place, Richard was called to action for the immediate creation of a Tree Frog Relocation Program. You never know what job will be your next assignment on the Farm.
Richard's 1st choice for Relocation was in the Little Trees above a favorite area of the Chickens. Upon his placement of the Little Guy there, he concluded that was not the best idea. His 2nd choice was in the Grandmother's Flower Garden. It must have worked. Here the Little Guy is in the Swamp Milkweed. If you look carefully, you will find 3 Monarch Caterpillars who are also at home there.
I apologize for my inability to distinguish 1 Tree Frog from another. I wonder if our Friends, the Tree Frogs, can distinguish 1 Human from another?
The Rising Sun and Early Morning Mist called me on a walkabout. With Camera in hand,I headed out. Perhaps that Little Camera has become an extension of the Eye and Heart of Me. It has an added benefit. I get to take you along too.
As I arrived at the patch of Mammoth Russian Sunflowers in full bloom in the Big Garden, I was delighted to see Bees. We haven't seen many this Summer. I didn't see them on every Sunflower. But there they were, busily working through the Sunflowers with all the energy they bring to this Beautiful Late Summer Day.
Pollinators (such as bees, birds, bats) affect 35% of the world's Food Crop Production.
We should thank Pollinators for every 1 in 3 bites of Food we eat. Just stare down at the next plate of food in front of you and think about it: 1 in 3 bites of Food we eat.
Honey Bees pollinate Apples, Nuts, Avocados, Soybeans, Asparagus, Broccoli, Celery, Squash, Cucumbers, Citrus Fruits, Peaches, Kiwi, Cherries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, Cantaloupe and other Melons. (msnbc) I find it amusing that I am having Cantaloupe for Breakfast.
Honey Bees in North America have been decimated due to infestations of parasitic mites among others.
Claire Kremen, a Conservation Biologist at the University of California-Berkeley, expressed concern regarding Wild Bees: "We've replaced pollination services formerly provided by diverse groups of wild bees with domesticated honey bees. ... The problem is, if we don't protect the wild pollinators, we don't have a backup plan."
So what do we Humans need to do? Kremen suggests moving toward more sustainable agriculture, with less use of synthetic fertilizers and more reliance on natural ecosystems.
She suggests switching from flood irrigation. Her reasoning is that such practices drown ground nesting bee species. I wonder: What did the heavy rains this summer do to our Friends the Bees?
Kremen suggests allowing weeds and native plants to prosper along crop borders. And that makes sense as these plants can sustain a variety of wild bee species when crops are not in bloom.
Now who would have ever thought of that? But of course, Bees need practices that sustain them too.
Some Folks may scoff at allowing weeds and native plants growing alongside our formerly tidy crops. But we Humans have been scoffing at Nature for far too long. That scoffing has produced practices outside what Nature has intended.
Humans are part of Natural Systems rather than separate from them. Things aren't working. We Humans need to pack in some courage to look at our everyday practices and take on some much needed change.
I wonder if our beautiful Sunflowers (which will also feed the Wild Birds and Chickens this Winter) are drawing Bees into our Big Field. I wonder what other food crops that we grow are dependent on these practices. I wonder if my romance with Flowers in the Vegetable Garden is not just Feminine Fancy but rather an invitation to partnership with our Friends the Bees and therefore a vital part of our Family Farm's Food Production.
We 3 C's have been trying over the years to use Food which depends on Sustainable Practices and Natural Systems. In the early years, that meant Organic Foods. We knew Synthetic Chemicals were outside what Nature intended. They were just plain nasty. As our journey continued, we began growing more and more of our own Food. Today that means growing as much of our own Food as possible. It also means protecting and restoring the Natural Ecosystems on this Little Farm.
Sustainability also extends to the purchase of simple things like Honey. When we purchase Honey from local Beekeepers with similar values, we support the Little Critters who depend on a Healthy Environment. We Humans depend on a Healthy Environment too.