Sunday, August 31, 2008
Richard tells me the Plant goes by several names: Bidens, Beggar Ticks, Tickseed Sunflower, Spanish Needle. We like the names Bidens and Spanish Needle. Somehow Beggar is none too kind. The scientific name is Bidens aristosa. The plant produces 2 needlelike awns that attach themselves to any mammal traveling by. Hence, its names have some more meaning.
We find Bidens growing seemingly in 2 ways. We either find it in areas where it is alone with a single plant here and another there. Or we find it blooming in large prolific communities of many Bidens. The former produces Plants which are shorter. The latter produces Plants which seem taller, each trying to outgrow the other.
These 2 growth habits are found in 2 contrasting areas: in the Prairie areas which were likely undisturbed and in the Meadow which was formerly hayed and tilled. The single Plants dispursed across a larger area are found in the Prairie areas. The large communities of Bidens are found in areas which were disturbed.
We built a new garage almost 2 years ago. Although the Contractor was careful in his work, that project meant extensive excavation of the surrounding Soil. Bidens seems among the 1st of Prairie plants to return. I wonder if it is somehow protecting the Soil. I wonder if in some way it is preparing the Land for the return of the Native Plants.
I look into Missouri Wildflowers by Edgar Denison (2001, 5th Edition). This book, which is becoming a new found friend, tells us that Bidens likes wet places of prairies, waste places, ditches, roadsides, railroads (page 159).
There seems a reason to all the things that grow here. I hope we can still our loud and often self-centered Human Voices and listen quietly for the Voices of the Land.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Dear Mr. Freddie is announcing the arrival of another day inside the Hen House. He doesn't just do it once. He does it again and again.
Mr. Freddie has a habit of finding places which resound and amplifiy his Magnificent Crow. Inside the Little Metal Shed and right against the Wheel Well of the Car are Favored Places. But I think his most Favorite Place must surely be inside the Hen House as the Day begins.
Richard and I have thought about the reaction of the 36 Hennies. On 1st thought, I can imagine they are rolling their eyeballs. "Not again, Freddie." They surely must be trying to do what we used to do to the annoying Alarm beside the bed: Roll over, hit the snooze, stop that irritating noise.
But rather on this Day, I think those Hennies, just as Mr. Freddie, are saying: "It is a Beautiful Beginning to yet another Beautiful Day."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Making Catsup is a long slow process. It surely must be a meditation on patience. The whole process took Richard 6 hours of slow cooking to turn 8 gallons of Tomatoes into 6 pints of beautiful tasty Catsup.
He used the following ingredients: Tomatoes (mostly Big Beef and Goliath, and whatever he had that was ripe), Onions, Garlic, Vinegar, Sugar, 1 Green Pepper, Spice Bag (Cumin, Mustard Seed, Celery Seed, Allspice, Cinnamon Stick), and a very small bit of Jalapeno Pepper to liven it up but not to render it hot. (Richard used the Ball Blue Book Recipe for a starting point, but used less Sugar and Vinegar.)
For a glimpse at the process, he 1st put the Tomatoes in hot boiling water and then immersed them in cold water. This is a quick and easy process for peeling them. He peeled and cored them, then separated out as much juice as he could. He cooked the Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Green Pepper and Jalapeno Pepper until tender (about an hour). He ran this mixture through the Food Processor and then hand rubbed it through a sieve. He then put the Tomato mixture back on the stove, adding the Vinegar, Sugar, and Spice bag. He boiled it down to about half. Throughout the process, he stirred the good stuff frequently. After adding the Vinegar and Sugar, the mixture has a tendency to burn. So he stirred more frequently and was ever vigilant. When the Catsup reached the desired consistency, he placed it in Pint jars, sealing them in a boiling water bath for about 20 minutes.
1st, we decided to have Grilled Hamburgers to go under the Catsup. Add to that an assortment of Chopped Fresh Herbs, Mayonnaise, Tomato Slices, Onion Rings, Bread and Butter Pickles (which we made last year), sandwiched in between Homemade Whole Wheat Bread from an Amish Lady at the Farmer's Market.
What would go with Catsup and Hamburgers? We added fresh Corn on the Cob, also of this season. Melanie also cut up an assortment of Fresh Veggies: Tomatoes, Dikon Radish, Armenian and Lemon Cucumbers.
And what would go with Catsup, Hamburgers, Corn on the Cob, Tomatoes, Cucumbers of the Season? Apple Pie. I made our 1st Homemade Apple Pie from the Golden Delicious Apples on our Tree. I apologize that it was too dark to take a good photo of the Pie and I was way too intent on eating my slice to take time for a photo op. I thought whoever would be reading this could use their imagination in considering warm Apple Pie. So how did you do?
As the meal closed, we broke out into our own special rendition of the song "Catsup" from the commercial on "News from Lake Woebegone", a regular feature on the Prairie Home Companion radio program of Garrison Keeler. We tried not to miss this wonderful program (especially during the winter months) when we lived up North. We smiled. Yum.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Life slows a bit. It takes on more of a luster, sparkle and shine. We focus our lives more on the place beneath our feet rather than some distant far off and supposedly more enchanting place.
We express our gratitude for these Simple, yet Mysterious Things. Eating in such a simple way weaves us back into Community, something for which we all deeply yearn.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As I finish this Blog entry and contemplate its Title, the Little Hennies have tucked themselves under the shade of the Golden Delicious Apple Tree. While Rest seems high on the agenda for them, they are alert for happenings surrounding them. That includes a tasty Bug or 2.
O.K. True Confession. We really haven't "Sun Dried" Tomatoes. Melanie has dried our Tomatoes in the Dehydrator. Sun Drying is definitely on the To Do list, but not this year. This time, she used varieties known as Principe Borghese (photo above), Isis Candy, Black Pearl, Beam's Yellow Pear, Sun Cherry, and Sweet Baby Girl.
The recipe for Antipasto Tomatoes is also a keeper. We had them with Joni's Bread last night at Melanie's Birthday Harvest Dinner. Melanie used the instructions for drying Tomatoes and the recipe for Antipasto Tomatoes on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle web site.
Yum. Double Yum.
- Maple Syrup (known as "Ishigahmizigaywin" by the Anishenaabe, hand harvested by Tribal Members on the White Earth Indian Reservation in what we know now as Northern Minnesota via Dorreen; this is not far from where we used to live),
- Molasses (from last year's Molasses Making by the Crawford Clan of Millard),
- Blackberry Syrup (from the Blackberry Patch on the Crawford Family Farm and made by Richard), Pecans (from West of Moberly),
- Fried Apples (from our very own heavily laden Golden Delicious Apple Tree, fried in the tradition of Great Aunt Lula Myers Hart),
- Homemade Butter (from Cream from a local Dairy made by Melanie in a Butter Churn acquired for us by her Uncle Gerald and Aunt Connie).
Yum. I can hardly believe we eat this way. Doesn't everyone eat this way?
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Late in the 1990s, Kathleen Brokke rode her bicycle over to our house and in her basket, she had tucked a gift of Swamp Milkweed. This amazing Tallgrass Prairie plant is a host plant for Monarchs.
Then the Butterfly emerges. The Butterfly hangs suspended from the now empty and clear Cocoon. In the beginning, the newly emerged Butterfly seems somewhat crumpled up and the wings are smaller. During this early stage, the wings are being "pumped up" to become full size.
From my reading, my notes (with source unknown) suggest that the Egg stage is usually about 4-6 days, the Caterpillar stage is about 2-3 weeks, the Chrysalis is 5-15 days. This is consistent with out experience. We do know that the hotter the weather, the more the process seems to speed up. Stokes Butterfly Book: The Complete Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification and Behavior is a great resource.
When I think about the Butterfly on her/his path to becoming, I am in awe. The transformation of this lovely creature is a metaphor for us to celebrate our own stages of growing, shedding, discovering. We too are on paths of becoming all that we are meant to be. How cool is that.
Note: If you look carefully, you will see the antenna of a Caterpillar tucked into the flowers of the Swamp Milkweed in the 1st photo. Munching away...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We have commented frequently on how the Soil looks worn and tired. That Soil is what Sustains us. Our vitality and that of all Living Things is dependent upon that Precious Substance which lies quietly beneath our feet.
I am not sure what we 3 C's will do here. We already have some preliminary thoughts and actions in the works. Replenishing the Soil is a long term and lifelong process. When we Humans take from the Soil, we must also give back. That includes all that has been taken by Humans for far too long.
I just noted a photo gallery ("The Future Rests on the Soil Beneath our Feet") from the National Geographic. Replenishing the Soil is not just something we face here in northeast Missouri, but rather something we Humans face worldwide. Our practices are catching up with us. People at last are noticing. We are stepping up to the plate. Change is happening. It's a tall order. A lot is at stake. We won't know what we can truly do until we begin to reach.
The Sorghum Cane is heading out. Wisdom in these parts tells us that Harvest is then about a month away. Richard found pollen grains on the heads of some stalks and seeds forming on others. With any luck, the Crawford family will be making Molasses soon. It's too early to tell exactly. I shall leave it up to the Guru of such things (Hollis is lead here). Typically that will be in September.
We 3 C's are excited for a number of reason. Making Sorghum in the traditional way has been considered a dying craft. Beginning fall 2004, the Crawford family has reclaimed this using all the old ways. This is the 1st time we 3 C's have raised Sorghum and on our very own farm to boot. Hollis planted it. We tended and weeded it watching it grow from single sprouting blades in single file on a long row to these proud tall plants which smile down on their Human Friends.
With the challenges of the year, we are pleased to have what we do. Some who typically raise Sorghum Cane in the area either didn't or found the season a wash. This was particularly true of those with fields in the river bottoms or low lying areas. Richard checked out the sweetness of the Cane. It is beginning to sweeten up. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the Weather will be good to the Cane. Winds would not be good now as it would lay the Field down like Pick-Up Sticks. Harvest would be a mess.
The year has taught us that there are no givens. What we get is a Precious Gift for which we are deeply Grateful.
Sure enough, the 'Coons found the Corn. They made a mess of it. But they did leave some behind, which we quickly gathered.
We like to think we really want to share. But losing Sweet Corn to the 'Coons is a test of our practice. We are grateful we have had several meals of Sweet Corn before this day when the 2 Paths made their way to the Meadow.
When you look at this picture, check out the Soil. This year, the Soil has been hard and densely packed. We think it has come from the pounding of the abnormally huge amounts of Rain we have had. Plus, for the days following those heavy Rains, the Soil was waterlogged. As the Water drained, you could almost hear a sucking sound. That action seemed to compress the Soil.
I can imagine that Roots suffered from this. They were water-logged over long periods. Plus, to grow and be healthy, their Roots need to extend into the Soil. Dense Soils would make that difficult.
You will note that the ears of Corn are on the small side. Those Corn Plants have had quite the Summer. The 1st Heavy Rain came with high Winds which laid the Plants down. We Humans thought we had lost the Corn. But within a few days, the Corn was back on its feet again, looking up to the Sun. We were amazed.
I can just imagine those Corn Plants are pretty proud of what they produced this year. We 3 Humans are too. I can also imagine those 'Coons coming up out of those 2 Paths are pretty proud too. We can see them smiling.
After the exuberance of 50 Roosters, the Rooster Pen is now quiet. On August 8, Richard did 12 Roosters; August 10, he did 20; August 17, he did 10; August 20, he did 8. The Little Guys would have been a range of 14-16 weeks.
Today, Richard has tidied up, closing this part of the work of the Farm for the year. He cleaned their house. The doors of their House are open to air out.
Meanwhile, the Freezer in the Humans' House is full. The Humans are a bit somber and reflective today taking in the meaning of all these things that support our lives. This is our 2nd year of raising and processing Chickens for meat.
A thought flashes: "It was easier to buy such things at the store." I remember those years. We didn't pay the least attention to the raising of the Chickens, their treatment, nor the treatment of those who cared for them. We were busy. We needed to eat. We only thought of Chicken as Meat. We just bought Chicken Meat, cooked it, ate it. That was that.
Our thinking on these issues has grown and changed over time. If during that time when we had moved away from a rural community and anyone anywhere would have said that we would be growing, raising and processing our own Chickens, we would have shook our heads and laughed. "You're too funny."
Our change happened slowly. I suppose the underpinnings of it all are that we started acting on the things that were important to us. Over the years, we began to note that store-bought Chicken didn't taste right. The fat was an odd color. The meat had a funny color too. Most of the meat was white, which wasn't the way Chickens came. The meat spoiled quickly. We began to be increasingly concerned about chemicals in food production and in the food itself. So we had to do something different.
About 8 years ago, our 1st choice was to go Organic, which meant no chemicals. We bought our Chickens and Turkeys at Amazing Grains, a natural foods store in Grand Forks. We noticed the difference right away. We were very happy about the screens their Amazing Staff provided us along the issues important to us. We simply wanted the Healthiest of Food for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet.
As time passed, our "screens" for purchase became a little finer. We wanted to cut down on transportation miles and to support local growers. We wanted to know who grew our food and we wanted to eat local. Amazing Grains began offering Organic Chickens from a Local Farm Family we knew and trusted. When Lars and Lesley no longer sold through Grains, another option presented itself. Organic Farmers Mary Pat and Mike Klawitter began selling Chickens and Turkeys direct to consumers on a by-order basis. We jumped at the chance.
Another factor was raising its head for us. We were increasingly concerned about the inhumane treatment to Animals and to People in mass production and on factory farms. These large scale operations also put Small Family Farmers at disadvantage. While an important part of our heritage (and our future), Small Family Farmers could not compete. As a result, they were leaving the landscape almost with little trace. In no way, did we 3 C's want to leave a wake of violence in our simple act of acquiring food.
Fast forward to 2008. Now we have our own little Farm. The question of raising Chickens for our own Meat was just a natural. Richard, fortunately, had experience when he grew up on the Family Farm not so far from here.
We did just what Melanie promised when the 1 day old Roosters arrived: "Their lives will be short. And they will be loved." We didn't get as close to them as we did last year. We did name a few, but perhaps they named themselves. Over those few short weeks, we enjoyed them. We played with them. We made sure they were well cared for. We knew they were giving us an amazing Gift. We tried to care for them with all the Respect and Love that Gift required. They were lively. They were playful. They were fun. We noted distinct personalities. I think they knew they were giving a Gift. And that was O.K.
So: "Is it easier to buy things at the store?" Such quick motions without care for the Big Picture just are not consistent with our values. When we purchased Chickens as Meat from the Big Box Store, that simple choice distanced us from a process which sustains our lives. We are not willing to do that anymore.
It may be harder this way. But it feels right.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Fall Migration? Wow! The Seasonal Cycles of the Earth are so amazing. I don't want to miss anything.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Most of their Big Sisters were and are quite accepting. At first, a few were a little cranky, as if they didn't want to share with their new Little Sisters who were now a constant presence in the yard. I think they wondered why they were not asked about this new addition to the Chicken family on Butterfly Hill Farm.
The most energized time for the Hennies has been Settling into Bed-Time. We are very pleased to report that the Little Hennies know their New Big Hen House as their home and their sleeping space. Just before Bed-Time, Melanie and I usually go into the Hen House to sit with the Little Hennies. We used to do this in their previous houses, so it just seemed right to do here.
I sit on my 5 Gallon Plastic Green Pickle Bucket and Melanie is close beside. Pretty soon, the Little Hennies perch on us. Their quiet sounds seemed to be a sharing of the news of the day and settling in for the evening. They preen, as is their ritual in tidying up before bed. I guess we do that too.
They seem to love to gather beside me. I must look a bit like a Mama Henny myself. They gather around my feet. Up to 4 or 5 will jump up on me nestling on my legs and sometimes perched on my shoulders. Usually, I have 2 in my lap who are poking their heads under my arms, as if my arms were wings without feathers.
The Little Hennies were and are often the 1st to settle in on various perches (mostly the 2 wooden ladders) about the House. However, that has presented a wee small problem because their settling places already had been claimed by the Big Hennies. "Mine!" Those 1st few nights in the Hen House featured a variety of vocal displays and new dance steps as the Big and Little Hennies were finding their places in a world now new to all.
As the days pass now into a week in their New Big Hen House and out into the Big World, the Little Hennies are more and more confident. At first, they stayed very close to their coop. Now they move out into the yard more and more.
A recent development has been that the Big Hennies, who seem to want a break from their Little Sisters, are now ranging down the drive toward the Road. We are not happy about this. So 5-6 times a day, you will see Melanie or Richard running down the Drive with a white tea towel in hand to usher them back. We call it "Chicken Wrangling". We even invited Rachel out to help and were grateful she came to share in our musings on this recent development.
Dear Rooster Freddie's entourage of Hennies has grown from 20 to 36. He looks a bit stressed. We have been trying to imagine what he must be thinking these days. He takes his role as Rooster very seriously. Keeping the Hennies protected, responding to their calls of distress on any part of the Farm, and feeding them are all part of his responsibilities. It's a big job.
Of the Meat Birds, 8 of the 50 Little White Plymouth Rock Roosters remain. Richard processed 10 this morning. Their little House and Flock looks quieter these days. Our freezer is filling up. We haven't yet had Chicken to eat, but will soon.
I should apologize to the Chickens for this writing. What you see before you is a very pitiful rendition of "Chicken News" written by a Human with the biases we Humans are known to have. I wonder what stories those lively Chickens would tell of themselves. They probably would have some intriguing stories to tell of us Humans too.
Technology has its limits. Big limits. While telling our story on this Blog, we can share pictures and words. But we cannot share the aromas of the Season. I guess we just have to rely on your memory or your inquisitiveness of such things.
So what aromas would I tuck into this little Blog? All of the following are the real thing, fresh out of the Garden and fresh off the Farm.
- The making of Salsa
- Chopped Cilantro
- Fresh picked Peaches, dripping down one's arm
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Fresh chopped Garlic
- Blackberries cooking into Syrup or Jam
- The making of Pickles
- Mint drying on the dehydrator
- Fresh Sweet Corn with Butter dripping
- Crushed Basil
- Apple Pie in the oven
- Fresh mown Hay
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Butterflies are also big (and tiny) and come in a range of colors. I sometimes think we are living in a parade of Butterflies. They seem to be dancing about every blooming thing, plus, when inside we see them dancing about just beyond the windows.
Both Mr. Mantis and this Butterfly are sitting on the Swamp Milkweed that Sarah Saltmarsh gave me last summer. Last year, it was but a stalk taking its place in the ground. This year, it is a shrub and it is huge. The plant must be 4 feet tall. And she is covered with hungry Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars.I also planted 2 gourds: Dinosaur Gourd and Birds Nest Gourd. I started them indoors at the end of the winter season. I don't think I will be doing that next year. After I planted the seeds, it was only a little while until they were making their presence known above all the other seedlings. I planted 5 out front. (Make a note: I do not need so many next year.) In looking at the seed pack, I note that each plant can grow 15-35 feet long. Hmmm...I must have skipped over that part. "Gordy", which is our fond name for these plants, has staked a claim on the west porch and is moving out toward the neighbors. He gets a haircut about once a week.
I had intended to plant a Giant's Garden this summer, but it did not work out. Apparently, many of the plants were already on their way to becoming "big". Melanie said this morning: "We didn't know that we would be the ones who would be small."
How could I have missed this before? Why would I have even considered giving this up for a myopic focus on only the Human?
Long time friend Ann Hiner tucked inside their 2007 Holiday Letter Cosmos Seeds from her Garden to ours. And now, they are blooming. I smile.
I don't know what it is about Gardeners, but we just have to share. You find that perfect little Plant Companion who is prolific and you just have to give it away.
Thank you, Ann!
Monday, August 11, 2008
In our Culture, people stay pretty detached from such things, while a good percentage are meat eaters and often quite proud of it. Thinking about the actions which give us meat does produce a mix of feelings. Such thinking is messy and we detach. In the process of our detachment, we forget that something died that we may live. The Gifts of the Roosters provide nourishment for our bodies. In the rush of our days, we forget a simple and humble chain of words: "Thank you, Little Roosters."
We are trying to be very mindful of the abundance that supports our very existence on this Little Farm. It is not easy. But, we also find it far easier than any artificial detachment we experienced before.
The Rooster Yard is quieter now. Richard processed 12 Birds on Friday and 20 on Sunday. The remaining 18 are a little small yet so completion will probably be a few more days.
All has gone well for the 36 Hens and 1 Rooster, generally. But this morning, we had a bit of a change in plans. Richard went about his daily routine early this morning and forgot to close the gate. So the Big Hennies (and their Rooster) were delighted to be outside. The Little Hennies stayed in their yard, darting in and out of the tall plants so as not to disturb 2 or 3 of the crotchety Hens.
In the tranquility of the morning, Melanie just said: "The Little Hennies are all out in the yard, as a flock!" There they were, chasing bugs in the area of their previous home, the Wee Small House.
We decided today would be a slow day. Maybe we will just follow the Little Hennies about. We are pretty worn out from the events of the past few days. A rest day on the agenda is good.
This morning, Melanie counted 19 Monarch Caterpillars on the Swamp Milkweed that Sarah Saltmarsh gave us last Summer. While small last Summer, this year the plant is huge. The Caterpillars sited there are all sizes and are chomping away. The Missouri Department of Conservation calendar says that about September 7, Monarchs will begin migrating in large numbers sometimes traveling 2000 miles.
We are feeling the intensity of the season with the abundance the Garden yields us and our preparations for the Winter store. Can you even imagine what the Monarchs are feeling with their own voyage ahead?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
For our breakfast this morning, Richard and Melanie picked Tomatoes from the 80 or so plants we have in the 3 Gardens. Finding each and every Tomato in the Patch under the conditions of this year is something to be celebrated. Perhaps it is something to be celebrated every year. How could we have overlooked this simple miracle?
Just in case you wanted to know their names: At 12 noon on the plate (and going clockwise), we have Early Girl, Sweet Pea Currant (tiny gems), Green Zebra, Speckled Roman, Green Sausage, Yellow Pear, Moskovich, Tomatillo, Black Pearl Cherry Tomatoes. In the middle, we have Isis Candy. Yum!
All except Early Girl are heirlooms. All plants (except Sweet Pea Currant) were grown from seeds. Most of the seeds were originally from Seed Savers Exchange out of Decorah, Iowa. Several varieties were ones we had saved ourselves.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Apparently, the best time for the move is at night. You only move over a few at a time. That way, the Hennies (and their Rooster) who are already at home in the Big Hen House will be on their perches. We have 16 Hennies to move over and will move 4 of them each of the next 4 nights. Tonight, we will move over 4 of the Buff Orpingtons. It is almost dark now, so the time for the move is coming soon.
In fact, Melanie and Richard just came in. "It's done!"
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The Big Hennies didn't seem to be bothered by all the commotion. They moved in and out of the House doing their usual routine: eating, laying Eggs. I think they are pretty thrilled with their new Digs.
Monday, August 4, 2008
We have preserved the following through August 4, 2008. That does not count all we have eaten along the way nor the Gifts from other Dear Ones.
- Strawberries (Frozen)-23 Quarts
- Strawberry Jam-30 1/2 Pints
- Black Raspberries (Frozen)-16 Quarts, 3 Pints
- Black Raspberry Syrup (Canned)-4 Small Containers
- Black Raspberry Jelly-2~1 and 1/2 Cup Containers
- Beef Stew Meat (Canned)-10 Pints
- Lamb's Quarters (Frozen)-9 Small Containers (Our Spinach didn't germinate; this wonderful wild Green filled in.)
- Sugar Snap Peas (Frozen)-7 Pints
- Green Arrow Shell Peas (Frozen)-7 Pints
- Pesto (Frozen)-10 Small Containers
- Cilantro (Frozen)-5 Small Containers
- Dewberries (Frozen)-7~2 cup Portions
- Peach Jam-13~1/2 Pint Containners
- Peaches (Frozen)-11 Quarts
- Peaches (Dried)-5 Cups
- Peaches (Canned)-20 Pints
- Spiced Peaches-6 Pints
- Green Beans-14 Quarts
- Fermented Dill Pickles-Started and in the crock
- Blackberries (Frozen)-8 Quarts, 7 Pints
- Cherries (Frozen)-10 Quarts
- Tomatoes (Canned)-10 Quarts
Such noting becomes Gratitude, Thanksgiving and Prayer.
As we 3 C's try to live lifestyles more harmonious with the Earth, we note 8 distinct times during the year when Earth's cycles make a marked shift. August 2, which is celebrated or noted by many Traditional Peoples in the Northern Hemisphere, marks Harvest. The Earth pushes considerable bounty which will be evident over the coming weeks.
As I reflect on my experience of a lifetime, I would agree. The season beginning August 2 differs with other times during the year. Several notes can be made within the broad frame of the Masterpiece of which we Humans are a small part.
The Sun no longer rises and sets as far to the North on the Horizon. Daylight is shorter. The weather is hotter, which produces conditions under which many Warm Season Plants seem to thrive. Check out the Tomatoes, Watermelons, Squash, Corn.
I like to think of this Season on the Meadow as the "Yellow Season". Sunny Yellow seems to be a dominant color of the Late Summer Flowers. Many Plants there take on a soft brown look. Some of this color comes from the ripening seeds. Many Birds, who have completed their nesting cycles, now have Little Ones on the wing. Some are gathering on the telephone and power lines, perhaps beginning to plan those Big Adventures ahead. Purple Martins will soon begin their annual migration back to their Winter Homes.
In the middle of these things, I am amazed and inspired watching the Earth's Big Push. Fireworks come to mind. The Beginning and Middle of the Show are usually quite moving. But the Grand Finale keeps one expectantly watching the Sky. When that Finale begins, I think of that sound "Ker-THUNK" with its resonant boom. One can almost see a Giant drop kicking those last big splashes of Colors into the Sky.
Human Shows of Fireworks pale beside the Earth's Magnificent Show at Harvest. While we 3 C's have certainly harvested considerable abundance since the Gardening Season began in April, we will witness the Earth's Big Push through the months of August, September, and October. Not only is that inspiring but it is also a glimpse of the Abundance which underpins our survival as we continue our Humble Walks on this Great Planet Earth.
Traditional Peoples mark this time with awe, celebration, wonder, and gratitude. In our own small ways, we try to do the same.
We froze 7-two cup portions, and 4-four cup portions of Blackberries. The latter are perfect for Pies. We worked up most of the last of the Peaches. We canned 20 pints (without sugar). After supper, we will make Spiced Peaches, a favorite recipe we've reclaimed which has at least 80 known years of history in my family.
As I write this, Richard is tidying up Mrs. Peach Tree. She pushed an abundance of Peaches, holding fast to her charge through all of those Storms. Her branches were heavily laden with fruit, so heavy that some became broken. She needed some pruning for "air" so that She and her future fruit crops will be as healthy as can be. Taking care of Her as She has taken care of us seems like a fitting thing to do.
How did the Earth create these things? Why did She create these things which would mean our sustenance (along with many other creatures)? In all of our marked achievements in the Human World, all pale in comparison with these wondrous things.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
We do not have specific data for the Farm, which would be nice. WeatherUnderground shows a total of 43.47 inches of Rain for Kirksville this year. The average is 22.36 inches. This so far has not been an average year.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
After the often intense activity of the day, the teachings of the Plants and the Land are more clear during this time. It is almost as if when we still our own frenetic energy and our own agendas for the Land, the quiet voices of the Plants and the Land can at last be heard. These are our musings on these things on this beautiful Late Summer Day.
These days, we are watching carefully the triumphs and challenges of our Plant Friends. Melanie said "It's like a race. Which will be 1st: the Tomatoes or the Wilt?" After all the intense challenges of the season so far, do the Plants have enough vital energy to complete their cycle?
We held them as little Seeds, with all the promise and wonder that Seeds can hold. We made a commitment to raise them with all the growing skills we have. They made a tender promise to feed us. Some have. Some will. Some won't. Some have made it. Many have not.
In tending these Plants, the Gardens and this Land, they tend us. We see deeply the connection between Survival of the People and the Planet's cycles. We are filled with a mix of honor, gratitude, awe, sadness, humility and joy.