Friday, May 30, 2008


I have great faith in a seed.
Convince me that you have a seed there
and I am prepared to expect wonders.

Henry David Thoreau

The Rains Came

I am not sure how much rain we got today. Surely it was about 1 and 1/4 inches on our Garden which is about 3/4 planted. The Duck Decoy in the plastic container on the deck rode with glee in his own puddle. And our new rain barrel quickly collected 75 gallons off the roof. Rain and soil and seeds produces magic.

Planting Garden

We have been intensively planning, constructing, planting these last few days. We are trying to grow as much of our own food as possible, so this is serious stuff. Yes, it is like the Old Days when People had to do such things, except we have a back-up: the supermarket (which we would rather use to the least extent possible).

We have been ever vigilant. As parts of the Garden have dried out, we have moved forward, ever watchful of expected rains. In the middle of these simple but highly complex acts, one ponders that which Gardeners know:
  • One must move when the time is right and that is the time that Nature sets.
  • We are not in control here.
  • We have to pay attention to the lessons of Nature in every step.
  • We have to be open to learn.
  • We have to be open to change, sometimes in midstream and sometimes when we least want to.
  • The Garden's success is dependent on our knowing.
  • The Garden's success is dependent on a Force far greater than that we can ever know.
  • We can plant seeds and follow all the rules; but we cannot make the Garden grow.
  • Somehow these Gardening acts connect us with all Gardeners before us and after us.
  • Growing food is about sustaining life.
  • Nothing tastes better than food you have grown with your own hand and in your own soil.
  • You can't buy this stuff in the store.
  • Every year is different.
  • Nature is bountiful and generous.
  • Gardening is a deeply spiritual act.
  • Gratitude and awe are at center of all that we do.
Some little pictures of this stage of the process are tucked into this little post: (Picture 1): Melanie works on configuration of her garden. (Picture 2): Richard plants the heirloom Tomatoes that he grew from seed. (Picture 3): Richard plows a furrow with his Mother's garden plow. He thinks it may well have been an antique for her too. (Picture 4): Rachel Long joins me (I am behind the lens) in planting the trellises Richard built according to my overall design. The stakes are Sunflower stalks from last year. Rachel is carefully tucking in seeds for Gourds and mini-Pumpkins. Play has a place in the Garden too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gift of Soil

Yesterday our friend Rolf brought us a truckload of aged cow manure. Rolf is the same farmer from whom we purchased beef. He practices sustainable agriculture with respect to the Earth and all creatures to the greatest extent he is capable. That is essential to us. The gift of the cows and the Earth that nourished them is now rich black soil. We are so excited with this treasure amended to our Farm.

Soil is something for which we 3 C’s have considerable awe, respect, and humility. In northeast Missouri, this “skin” of the Earth has been farmed beginning around 1830. After almost 2 centuries, the soil is worn and tired.

Our society’s thinking about soil derives from Euro-centric (human-centered) thinking which is largely detached from Nature and the Earth. Many earlier farmers (and certainly a growing number today) got that connection. They could see their lives (and those of future generations) depended on it.

But over time, the style of agriculture practiced has been less and less concerned with the need to return the soil to its original vitality. The soil has simply become a machine which produces products and pays bills. In modern day language, the soil is “mined”. Little by little, that vitality has been washed away. As that vitality has washed away, new chemical and technological processes are introduced to continue production with something "better". With the introduction of factory style industrial agriculture and absentee landowners, a path to destruction has forged a deepening footprint across the land.

Most people in our society know little about the soil. I don’t know much. But I do know that soil gives us life. When I think about soil I think about patience. This relatively thin skin that covers the Earth has taken millions and billions of years to develop.

The Earth and all Creation is a Master painting of which we Humans are only a tiny little part. The only problem is that tiny little part has created a kind of destruction which seems to know no limits.

We 3 C’s desire a different path. An essential part of that path is letting the Soil be our Teacher. Our overall goal is to restore the health and vitality of the Soil to the extent we are capable. We want to leave this land at least as good if not better than how we found it. Is that not what we are supposed to do?

I chuckle. As Rolf turned his truck into the driveway to head back home, Freddie (the Buff Orpington Rooster) had found the lovely pile of soil and he was pleased. You need to know that Freddie has on many occasions found something new and pleasing in the yard. At which point, he calls the Hennies over. You can almost hear him say: “Just look at what I have for you.” That’s exactly what he did yesterday. He climbed the pile and began to crow.

We 3 Humans are pleased too.

Irises Bloom

Flags (an old name for Irises in these parts) bloom in "Grandmother's Flower Garden". Blooming at the time of Memorial Day, they are right on schedule too.

It is sweet to be surrounded by the blooms of Irises from Mother, Richard's Mom, Marcia Melberg (a former neighbor and one of our gardening mentors), plus our own small collection we have gathered over the years. These Irises made the move well. We also have Irises from Sarah, which are taking the blooming season off this year as they settle in.

Please note the chicken wire in the photo. Such remarkable inventions give a little bit of challenge to the lawnmower, but allow some protection for the Irises and other flowers in Grandmother's Flower Garden from you know who.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recipe: Molasses Momentoes

Richard requested I make Molasses Momentoes today. I did. This is a recipe from Great Aunt Lula Myers Hart. She had several recipes written into a small notepad. Mom remembers Aunt Lu carried these recipes to our house when she took care of my brother and me. She was always cooking something special.

I changed the recipe somewhat. I used 1/4 c. butter and 1/4 c. shortening (organic, non-hydrogrenated) instead of shortening, 1/4 cup Rapadura (rather than brown sugar). I also added raisins at popular request. Yum.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Going with the Flow

Weatherwise, the last few days have been quite variable. Actually, the whole Spring has been. We have had rain and more rain. Many folks have talked about drought in the last few years; we are grateful that water reserves seem to be replenishing. While we have had some heat and sun lately on 2 days in particular, we seem to have had more cool days with gray skies. Today has been cool, gray, and overcast, with high humidity. Weather Underground says we have a 50% chance of rain today. I asked Richard and Melanie if it is raining; Richard looked outside at the yard light and said: "Something is coming down. Either it's rain or it could be flying June Bugs."

As of the last few days, the soil had begun to dry out. We don't dare work in the Garden until the soil is dry to the crumble stage. Should we become too eager and get into the Garden too soon, wet clay soils make clods that stay around for the entire growing season. That means Nature says that working in the Garden before we are supposed to is a no-no.

Through these things, Gardeners learn patience. And Gardeners learn quickly that we are not in charge.

Of the 3 of us, Richard has been gardening far longer. Consequently, he has most of his garden planted. Melanie and I are slower, but we are also launching into some new directions. Melanie has been reading about permaculture (which is a "permanent" system of agriculture emphasizing biodiversity). The 2 of us have also been intrigued by companion planting. Richard has too.

Companion planting is when you plant plants that grow best together. Just like people, some plants do better (or worse) when they are in the company of other plants. Some plants replenish the soil (peas and beans) and others take a lot out. Some plants attract insects which are beneficial to other plants. This style of gardening "inter-plants" which means putting companion plants right next to each other. This style of gardening is long on mixing things together. Because of their specific beneficial functions, flowers are an integral part of the vegetable patch.

We are beginners here and are taking in anything we can find. We have found a wonderful book (and a great companion for our adventures): Sally Cunningham's Great Garden Companions: A Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden (Rodale Press, 1998).

So what have we done on these variable days?

  • We have gone about our gardening work "slower". That was hard to get into at first. But now, it feels so right.
  • We have been watching the patterns the Garden follows as it dries out. It's amazing how different it is.
  • I have been working to get my paths in place.
  • We began planting edges along the paths. We could stand in the straw mulch of the path and reach out along the edge. We thought we were so smart.
  • Now more and more spaces are open in the Garden, so we are planting them too.
  • We have been reading all we can find on Companion Planting for the varieties we intend to grow.
  • We have been planning and our plans are more complete. When we can get into the Garden, the planting goes very quickly.
  • We are getting more rest.

Slow but sure, we are learning to "go with the flow". Everything has its own time and place.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rainy Day

We have a rainy day today. We speeded up on planting early this week. Then the last 3 days we have had rain off and on. The rain permits us to have a bit of rest, catch up on the inside, read about companion planting, and fine tune our remaining garden plans.

Those plants and seeds we put into the ground are just relishing in the nourishing rain. But Gardeners know it always a gamble: Will the conditions be right for finishing the garden? I guess we do the best we can and we cherish any window of opportunity.

The big Chickens would not allow themselves to be contained today despite some creative coaxing and herding attempts by Melanie. They sometimes stood making themselves small in the rain. Or, they clung tight to slivers of dry under trees and next to the shed.

In the meantime, the growing Chicks were just plain bored in their big house which seems to be getting smaller.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Planting Sorghum Cane

May 21:

Richard's brother Hollis (with Grandson Pearce) comes over to plant Sorghum Cane for the making of Molasses. This reportedly dying craft has a long history in the boys' family and has been reclaimed beginning 2004 . Molasses is made in September, assuming all goes well during the growing season.

We are thrilled to have our very own cane field right here in our own back yard. We never ever dreamed this might be possible.

Thanks Hollis (and Pearce)!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Simple Words: "I Care"

Sarah Saltmarsh said she loved the blog entry on the baby Chicks 1st big adventure into the outside world. She said she could understand how Melanie would name all the Chicks. "They all have such distinctive personalities."

O.K. I could talk for a long time on this one. Many folks in our so-called advanced society are long on indifference. For whatever reason, we are detached to the pain and suffering in the world. That seems a common theme. It extends to the neighbor across the street, people who are different, creatures who provide us food, and Nature Herself who supports our very Being.

When we are indifferent, we make decisions quite quickly. It is efficient. We save time. We save energy. We don't have to feel feelings that are messy and complex. We get someplace fast. But I am not so sure we are content to be there or content with the consequences such a stance provides. I am not.

When we avoid the pain and suffering of the world, we are capable of a destruction that knows no limits. We bear witness to a system where:
  • The precious soil is "mined" in huge industrial factory farms.
  • Other precious Humans in distant parts of the world are treated as mere slaves in the production of our consumer goods which are soon to be trash.
  • We have created confined animal feeding operations where animals therein see the light of day only in transport from one location to another.
  • Where genetic alteration of chickens for maximum white meat yields animals who can barely walk.
  • Where growth hormones in the dairy industry yields cows with udders so big they drag the ground.
  • Where dairy cows and egg laying chickens "burn out" which means they die from lives shortened because of our system's enchantment with maximum production with least inputs.

Need I suggest more? You surely can add more to the list.

Such things are part of the reason why we came to the Farm. We could not change the system. We can support those amazing parts of the system which offer another alternative. We wanted to lessen our "footprint" on the Earth. We wanted to raise our own veggies. In a time of dramatic reduction in soil quality, we wanted to restore the land to the extent we are capable. We wanted to raise chickens in a climate of respect. We wanted to get to know them. Yes, we wanted to name them. Above all, we wanted to thank them for their gifts which support our lives.

I have a simple solution for the dilemma we seemed to have created. It can be boiled down to 2 words:

I care.

How could we even consider doing anything less?

Chicken Raincoats

Richard got up early to finish planting Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes before the rain. Melanie and I joined him to finish the flower edge around the garden areas he has so carefully created. With that, 2 of his garden areas are almost complete.

Gardeners at this season experience an urgent flush of energy when seeds need to be planted just before the coming rain. I am not sure where that energy comes from.

Although light and sporadic to begin with, the rain did come. We quickly finished our work about the time the mud began to stick to our shoes.

When we got back to the house, we noted the adult Chickens were standing up as straight and tall as they could. That’s standard for them when the rain begins. I suppose such a posture creates less surface area to catch the rain. You just try to stand in between the drops.

Over time, some were making their way to the undersides of trees and bushes. The primo spot was underneath the platform birdfeeder. Not only were there plenty of seeds down below but the Chickens were optimistic that Mr. Blue Jay who is quite messy would lavish them with seeds raining on the ground.

I think you could call these practices Chicken Raincoats.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Whatch Ya Doin'?"

Today, the little Chicks are 3 weeks old. They are curious. Very curious. And they have been curious from the get-go.

These Little Critters are especially intrigued by my small silver digital camera. I find the most interesting shots come when I put the camera down to their eye level. Instead of looking down on them as a Giant Human looking at the top of the heads of Wee Little Ones, I get a peek at their world, their view. And the instant I move the camera down, they come running lickety split. They examine the camera, every spot, every edge, every crevice. While they are on the run, I keep snapping pictures and moving the camera around. Things happen so fast, I don't even look at the LCD screen. I just keep taking pictures. I do have a lot of pictures blanked out with a full screen of fuzzy fluff. But I also have some very good ones. I don't feel like I should take credit for the pictures. These Living Beings are nothing short of amazing.

You can just hear them asking me, the Giant: "Whatch ya doin'?"

So what am I doing? I am intrigued by these little guys and gals. I just can't quite get enough of them. When we came to Butterfly Hill Farm, we determined to honor the sacred gift of life. I feel that life is a gift. And I should live out that gift in being present for its Mystery, plus being intentionally present in every single step.

Unfortunately, in our society, we have forgotten that gift. I find that sad, even tragic. I know I cannot change the world of the other. But I can change the world I choose to live. So my intention is to be deeply aware of that gift and to live life as a sacred gift.

One way I do that is to pay attention to those life's moments when I see the pure essence of life which is a gift. Seeing Little Chicks is one of those times. These Little Ones teach me a lot about life.

So, "Whatch Ya Doin'?" I am a student back in school studying the essence of life. And it is present in these precious Little Beings. I am richly blessed.

Dear Reader: What are those moments when you see, touch, feel the essence of Life?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Let's Plant

I feel like I should post a sign that says "Gone Planting". I guess I just did.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our 1st Adventure Out Into the Big World

Yesterday, Melanie let the Chicks out into the Big World. She wasn't sure they were ready because they were still so small. This is a little bit of their story and a lovely glimpse at the wonderful untapped potential for Chicken Theater.

"It was a plot. We strategized the night before. We were tired of singing 'The Jailhouse Blues'. We knew the best time to make a break was when the Pink Footed One comes in and changes our water.

The Pink Footed One came in the afternoon. It was sunny. It was hot. We played on her kind heart. We panted. We looked pitiful. We tried to pout. It is hard to pout with a beak. We knew our best chance would be when she changed the water in our waterers.

The Pink Footed One gathered the waterers toward the door. Daisy Mae was our fearless leader. She had us gather in the back. She told us to act like good little well behaved Chicks, model citizens of the Chicken World. The time came for our break. We were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. The Pink Footed One moved toward the screen. She stepped out. As she reached back in for the waterers, Daisy Mae gave the call. Charge!

We flooded the door. The Pink Footed One tried in vain to put us one by one back into the House, the Jail. We kept flooding the door. Finally the Pink Footed One relented.

We dashed out into the world. Once out into the Big World, the Green-Green Grasses and Clover waved high overhead. We found places to explore, hide and eat. The Sky was radiant blue and taller than We could even think to reach.

Bugs of all varieties were working magic in the Big World. Some sang curious little songs. Some walked. Some jumped. Some flew. We all want to fly some day more than the short distances We now know.

The Earth beneath our eager little feet offered Dirt Cups beyond our Wildest Dreams. We scratched. We Dust Bathed to our hearts content. There was Dirt enough for Everyone.

Some Chicks went on an Exploring Party and told Tall Tales of meeting Small But Long Fast 4 Legged Furry Creature with Whiskers and a Very Long Hairless Tail. The fearless members of the Exploring Party were not sure who was more surprised: the Small Furry 4 Legged Creature or the Chicks. They also wondered why We Chicks don't have such a lovely long hairless tail.

As the Light got lower and the Day got cooler, the 3 Featherless 2 Leggeds (including the Pink Footed One) were not so sure We Chicks would want to come in. They got a little panicky. We are not sure why.

The Pink Footed One and the Yellow Footed One stayed inside the House. They tried to make it look cushy like We would want to go back in. They offered luscious Corn Meal in our Big House. It's our favorite. The Yellow Footed One even sat where She usually does offering Herself as our much loved Perch.

White Cloud (the tallest 2 legged) developed a special program to bring Us Chicks in. He thought it would work. White Cloud walked around the house herding us like Small Cattle (which We are not). He did the Chicken Shuffle, lest he step on Small Chicks. White Cloud would herd Us around the House until We got to the door. He hoped We would walk up the Ramp. Some of Us did. But then as He walked away, We would head back down the Ramp into our beloved Paradise.

For all Their efforts, We Small Chicks just were not ready. We knew what We wanted. We tried to reassure them. To our relief, the 3 2 Leggeds with Oh So Little Confidence in the Natural Order of Things gave up and let Us do it Our Way.

We did come back in well before the Night started. Sometimes We came in One by One and other times in Small Groups. Sometimes We walked. Sometimes We flew. Sometimes We fell asleep right there on the new ramp.

Once inside We found our customary sleeping spots and went right to sleep. We were So Tired. It was a such a Long and Beautiful Day marking Our 1st Adventure Out into the Big World."

Saturday, May 17, 2008


[I wrote this last evening (Saturday, May 17) and it would not post. It is already out of date.]

The baby Chicks are now 16 days old. They are growing. It sounds crazy but we could see their growth from one visit to the next. The time inbetween was only 2 hours or a bit more. Watching their growth, their exuberance for life, and hearing their varying peeps is nothing short of watching the miracle of Life unfold.

These Little Ones have now moved from their 3 big boxes (with heat lamps) in the garage to the big house (Rooster House) with 2 heating lamps. Their pin feathers are growing. The little hens now have tail feathers, which we were told by Deleta is a sure way to tell the Girls from the Boys. Detecting the difference in such little ones is quite a skill.

The Buff Orpingtons are the biggest by far. Of the 67 little ones, they are heaviest and their feathers seem to be exploding from inside their tiny bodies. They seem to be having a "bad hair day" as their feathers go a lot of different directions at once. Ah, but that is a judgment which is not appropriate here. The 5 Barred Rock Girls have been quiet, gentle and friendly from the get-go.

All the little Peeps have already been showing behaviors of the big birds. They love their dirt baths. Their rhythmic sounds of "bathing" in their "dirt cups" are just like the sounds of the big birds having dirt baths in the big garden. They scratch. They love clover. They grab it and run with a parade of eager Chicks following on their tails. They love it when we show up at the front door and come scrambling to greet us. The Boys are already starting to fight with each other. They love to roost on their Human Friends. Tonight Melanie had 7 on her back and I had 11 on my left leg.

The Big Hens have been quite interested in all the sounds coming from the Rooster House. You can tell that some (Lacey, Kayte, and Penny especially) are very interested in "setting". By next year, we should have a brooder house, but as of now, we just don't have facilities.

Tomorrow we begin the process of introducing the Chicks to their yard. It's kind of like the 1st day of Kindergarten.

Pictures: (Above) #1: "Here's lookin' at you." (I wonder what stories they would write about these special days and their 2-Legged Feather-less Human Friends.) #2: They are all poise and grace sometimes. (Below) #3: They are a lap-full. "How's my right side?" #4: They run to the screen to see what is in that outer world. "Can we go out today? Please..."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Land of Green, Tender and New

I do not know what it is about Spring in Northeast Missouri. After the Spring rains and temperatures change at last from cool to warm, everything is radiant Green. That Green is Tender and New. You could fill a jumbo crayon box with all the varieties. I walk around drinking in all these luscious things. The feeling is most intense in the Woods, where I am surrounded by more and more Green everyday. The promise of New Life is all around and in me too.

I look down and see the colors of this New World reflected in a pool of water. Maple Seeds float on the surface. These Seeds make me smile. As a Child I remember them twirling like little whirly-birds as they fell from the Mother Trees. When they were Green, I used them as whistles. I did this a little earlier year; it scared the chickens and startled me too. They weren't sure what was going on. I was a little puzzled by the sound myself. I had not heard it in a very long time. This Spring, we even ate a few of the "seeds" cooked like peas.

As I look into this pool, I wonder what Nature sees when She looks back at me. I hope She smiles as I do in Her Land of Green, Tender and New.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags drive me to distraction. Let me re-word that. For a lot of years, I have used them just like everyone else seemed to. Then, I began to see them everywhere, at which point came the distraction. Now they drive me to action.

Jason Schaefer and Chelsea Hummon visited us at the Farm a couple of weeks ago. Jason commented on the island of plastic in the Pacific. I had never heard of it, so I did some internet searching.

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle popped up: "Continent-size toxic stew of plastic trash fouling swath of Pacific Ocean." The so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is a virtual island of debris floating in the Pacific and is 2 times the size of Texas. (Yes, 2 times the size of Texas.) This floating dump site is mostly plastic, weighing some 3.5 million tons. It has been growing 10-fold every decade since the 1950s. With the prevailing winds and circular current, the island grows. Its location is somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii where few folks travel. It is "out of sight, out of mind".

I think of all of those plastic bags I see floating on the breeze like tumbleweeds. I am reminded of all those bags I have used without a thought as to where they might wind up. I am filled with disgust.

But my attention to plastic bags goes back further than this most recent research. When we lived in our house on Campbell Drive in Grand Forks, we did our best to pick up litter. Our neighborhood was generally conscious about such things. But there was always litter: a plastic bottle tossed from a passing car, unsecured waste from trash cans tossed about by mischievous wind. We just started picking things up and couldn't stop. In our vigilance, of course, we just couldn't reach it all.

One plastic grocery bag went airborne and landed in the top of a beautiful Crabapple Tree. So what were we going to do about this? I decided this little trash bag was actually offering us a lesson. What was the lesson? I've got it! ...I shall watch it biodegrade.

The Seasons passed. Rain came and filled the bag, which looked like a water balloon. Winds tossed it about, the bag no longer held water, but the persistent little dickens held tight to the Crabapple limbs. We must have watched that bag for 3 years. In that time, it didn't biodegrade much. Then one day it was gone. (I wonder where it went? Did it wind up in that island of trash in the Pacific? Nevermind, it went somewhere.)

In that time, that little plastic grocery bag made me see all the bags that were around me. It seems odd I had not noticed them before. Similar bags were everywhere. I began to be filled with disgust. So what should I do about this?

In my trips to stores, I began to refuse bags if I only had an item or 2. Then my family and I began to carry our own bags. I had gotten canvas bags from the Cloth Bag Company in Atlanta, Georgia. My Living Lightly on the Earth students and I would paint our bags for the journey ahead. It was a meaningful culmination and celebration of our work together. Plus, painting the bags was also playful project. (We need a little more play in our world.)

Melanie added 1 more piece to this puzzle. We seemed to have a plethora of food storage bags in the kitchen. She took up this cause with zest. Once a week, she cleans them and we reuse them. At first, it seemed a bit untidy to me. But their placement on the refrigerator was a long overdue and visible sign we were indeed on a different path.

And along that path, we consciously choose not to purchase foods in excess packaging. We buy in bulk when we can and store food in glass jars. These simple little steps have cut down substantially in our use of plastic.

The Spring 2008 issue of Ecological Home Ideas includes some facts about plastic bags which have added fuel to our quest (the commentary in parentheses is my own):

  • 100 billion plastic bags are consumed annually in the U.S. alone. (We are about 5% of the world's population. People in other countries often want to be like us. Yuk!)

  • Plastic bags decompose in 1000 years, give or take a few hundred years.

  • Plastic bags were introduced in the 1970s.

  • 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are now being used annually worldwide.

  • Plastic bags have been found floating around in the Arctic Circle. (I hope that wasn't my bag!)

  • As much as 10% of the debris washing up on U.S. coastlines consists of plastic bags.

  • Each year, 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting these things.

  • Worldwide concern is arising; Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, China and India have either banned or issued a levy on them.

I know we have substantially reduced our use of plastic. But I know that we can do more. We will step by step. And we shall have some fun along the way.


Photo above: Cloth bag recently returned from the store with Max the cat along side.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apple Blossoms

May 5:

Apple blossoms abound. The aroma in the yard is splendid. Should you sniff a blossom, be careful you do not relocate a Bee.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Never Been to a Farm

Allison said this was her 1st experience visiting a farm. We are finding a lot of people have never been to a farm. We are trying to wrap our minds around that one. Still others say they have no farm to which to return. As families have left the farm, urban sprawl, industrial development, or roads have erased the family farm from the landscape, but not from memory.

I find it amazing that so many people in today's society, which prides itself in knowing so much, have not had an experience of going to a farm. Being on a farm should be a part of our fundamental rights and a vital part of our education. Farms (especially those of the small family variety) are a very important part of our heritage. They are an essential part of our future as well.

A more recent model for farms has been the large industrial or "factory" model where soil is "mined". Regardless of their size, farms are a major source of food in contemporary society. That food along with what we grow sustains us. Should we not know where our food comes from? Do we care?

Those small farms are the ones which intrigue me. Small family farms are marvelous places where people see the dynamic interworkings of food, family, history, tradition, culture and nature. Such places have nurtured the spirit of wonder and imagination of children young and old. The breadth and depth of knowledge and the wisdom of the small farmer who manages a diversity of life forms is just amazing. I cannot even imagine a world where we as a society have overlooked the essential nature of this experience.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gift for Chickens

Allison La Duke visited the 3 C's on her way cross-country. She is headed toward a job as "Interpretive Park Ranger" with the National Park Service, her 4th such experience in her 4th National Park. Previous parks have included Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, Kenai, and now Shenandoah. We have known Allison a long time, from before she was born, in fact. She is a very special part of our very special family in the North Country.

Allison brought a bag of apples for the trip. Today was one of our 1st warm days and it was quite unexpected. After a few hours in the closed up car, the apples baked. No problem. The apples became a gift for the chickens. The chickens were thrilled and I think the 2 2-leggeds were as well.

Thanks for the visit, Allison. Have a great experience learning, growing and sharing on the Eastern edge of this beautiful North American Continent which is our beloved home.

Morel Mushrooms

Good news, bad news.

Richard found Morel Mushrooms on the property this afternoon. We are absolutely thrilled. I think we have found paradise.

We moved away from Adair County 38 years before we moved back. Sadly, Morel Mushrooms were left behind, except for 2 occasions: Hollis and Deleta sent a small freezer full "overnight delivery"; Sarah and family gave us Morels from their farm in northwestern Minnesota.

The good news is that we have them right here on Butterfly Hill Farm. More good news: We had them for supper. Richard and I fried them up in the customary way (dip in egg and milk; coat with cracker crumbs; fry in butter/olive oil until crispy brown). The bad news: We ate them all up.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Pure Magic

Baby chicks arrived Thursday, May 1. The Post Office called at 6:45am and announced their arrival. We picked them up by 8am. The paperwork from Cackle Hatchery showed they hatched on April 30 at 5am. That means they were 27 hours old when we picked them up.

The chicks included: 52 White Rocks (they are all cockerels, that we know of, and will be our meat birds; we plan on them being well loved while they are here), 10 Buff Orpington pullets (Buffs are known for their gentle disposition; they will be additional hens for our laying flock), and 5 Barred Rock pullets (they are advertised as kid friendly). (For those of you new to chicken language, pullets are baby girls and cockerels are baby boys.)

Medical students Rachel and Joni, who were on their way to class, met us at the Post Office. It was a riot. The 4 of us (Rachel and Joni in particular) couldn't be contained. I don't know what it is about baby chicks but they bring out a kind of excitement that knows no limits. I think those little bundles introduce us to the pure essence of life. You just cannot turn away. Instead you melt. I think people in our society should have more experiences with baby chicks.

We also took the babies to see Mother and to see Sarah Saltmarsh. Sarah remembered baby chickens at her Grandmother's, but was not sure she had ever seen them so small.

That little box was filled with pure magic.