Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Pictures of Little Peeps

The Little Peeps are now 24 days old. They don't need the ramp to get out of or into their House any more. While tentative in leaving their House at first, they are now often running or flying. Looking closely at their Little Rooster profiles, one can see the beginning of a tiny Comb.

Favorite Days

Today was the pure essence of my favorite days in the Garden. We have had Rains in the last few days, but they had stopped. The Soil was wet, but not saturated. The Temperature was cool. The Sky was overcast. It was a perfect day to work from the edge of the Garden Beds.

One must take care not to put undue pressure on the Soil as it is easily compacted. That damage lasts far longer than just a few moments in the Garden. So I just sat on my bucket in the paths and carefully reached over into the Raised Garden Beds.

I tucked in lots of Flowers along the edges. It was a "Flower Day", according to my Biodynamic Calendar. I tucked in Marigolds through the Sweet Potato Bed and the Cabbage Bed. Those cheery little Plants are hard working Companions in the Garden, warding off Pests. Plus they add vibrant color. I tucked in Snapdragons, Petunias, and the tiny Alyssum; I had grown them all from Seed.

In the Cabbage Bed, the Calendula and Beets had germinated and I was thrilled. Sometimes, they were too close together. So I carefully lifted them up with my knife, so as not to damage the little Plants or their Roots. Then I carefully separated them and placed them so they would be further a part in the Cabbage Bed.

The cool, moist day and the moist Soil permitted me to work in the Garden with the least intrusion. While I was hard at work rearranging, it seemed a lot more like Play. It was good for the Plants and it was good for me.

A Challenge on Butterfly Hill Farm

Of course, we have faced (and will face) numerous challenges on this Little Farm. Permit me to share this one, tongue in cheek.

On Memorial Day, we made Homemade Angel Food Cake, Homemade Ice Cream (from Raw Milk and Cream). We added fresh Strawberries from our very own patch. Since we ate this late, I did not take any pictures. The lighting just was not right.

The challenge: What should we do with the Egg Yolks left over from the Angel Food Cake? The Old Timers never wasted anything. I don't intend to waste those Egg Yolks. We do our best not to waste anything here. I won't say we are perfect, but we try.

Today, I was thumbing through the Joy of Cooking Cookbook (copyright, 1997), which I love. Surely, this hefty text would help me with this dilemma. And it did.

I made Vanilla Pots de Creme (with Egg Yolks, Whole Raw Milk, Sugar and Vanilla) (page 1015). While the baked pudding was cooling, I headed to the patch and picked Fresh Strawberries to put on top. The recipe called for the puddings to be completely cooled and refrigerated. We decided that was not necessary. And indeed it was not.

I apologize for the lack of pictures. Again it was too late. The lighting was not right. Besides, we didn't want to be delayed from our treat. I shall try to make this again, earlier in the day, and take pictures to share.

Chamomile in Bloom

The presence of Chamomile blooming away invites a revisit of the story of Peter Rabbit. Between the 3 of us, we reconstruct this childhood story.

When Peter Rabbit returned from his narrow escape from Mr. MacGregor's Garden, Mrs. Rabbit was none to pleased. He had lost his jacket and had gotten chilled. It is true that things could have been far worse. His Mother sent him to bed with no dinner and Chamomile Tea. His siblings, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail stayed out of the Garden. They were entitled to a special treat.

Chamomile is at peak bloom in our Garden today. The blossoms are like little bursts of Sunshine. They thrive in cooler weather. At this season, their aroma is soft and gentle. When it gets hot later in the Summer, Chamomile is spent.

Melanie picked Chamomile Blossoms today. They are now drying in the Dehydrator, which is being fired up for another season.

Chamomile Tea is reported to be calming, helpful for the nervous and digestive systems. I like it before bed. We throw in a few blossoms into a cupful of boiling water. We allow it to steep for 10-15 minutes. We add a bit of Honey to taste, and then sip away.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rainy Day

The Littles get to stay in their House on this Rainy Day. They are getting taller. But they are not quite as tall as that Little One at the top of the board would appear.


I find Garden Produce as exquisite works of Art. They are just beautiful.

These 3 lovely Plants are Lettuces. All are head Lettuces. I am not sure of the varieties. I planted the 1st and 3rd varieties inside. When the Weather was no longer prone to Frost (after April 25), I planted them outside. They are just gorgeous. The 2nd variety came up in a place I did not expect.

I want to eat them, yet they are almost too pretty to eat. As an alternative, I suppose I could just watch them rot, age, wilt. Yes, we will eat them. And yes, I do need to track down their names.

Big Push

We have had an "inbetween" Rains, where the Soil has dried out enough to plant. Experiencing both relief and adrenaline, Gardeners switch into high gear during those times. Muscles and joints which have rested over the Winter and have not been adequately tested are now called into action. We try to work "steady", not hard. That would not be smart.

During this time, the biodynamic calendar tells us to plant Roots. So we picked from our many choices the Roots we wanted to plant. Carrots seemed to holler: "It's my turn."

The Sweet Potatoes smiled and commented: "I have been preparing all season for this." Since about February 19, I had sprouted Sweet Potatoes Tubers . I took the best Sweet Potato "Mothers" (those with beginning Sprouts) and placed them in Water. Rain Water, to be specific.

When the Sprouts with robust Green Leaves grew to about 5-6 inches in length, I took the Vines off the Mother Sweet Potatoes and placed them in Water. When the Sprouts had an adequate amount of Roots, I placed them in 3 inches of Sand with Water. Sarah Saltmarsh told me to purchase "Play Sand" at an area Garden Store. "Play Sand" should be least toxic. Sand (with Rain Water) would provide "storage" for the Sprouts until Planting Day. I watched them every day to make sure the Sand was neither too dry or too wet.

I used 2 plastic containers that have hospital origins. One was Mother's. Another was mine. I really smiled when I did this. In fact, if I had a sound feature on this Blog Entry, you could probably hear me chuckle. I made good use out of something that seemed to carry tension before.

On the day of planting, we placed 39 Plants in the ridge that Richard had made for them. They looked really happy there. While we were planting, the Temperature was increasing and the Soil was drying out. Since we were planting Plants, we needed Water to "set them in".

Our Water source to the Garden is accessible only by a long hose. We got smarter the more we worked at this. We carefully filled buckets at the Garden's edge. Melanie and Richard carried those buckets to the sites of planting. We would dig a hole, place the Plant in the hole, add Water, and cover with Soil fairly quickly. And then we would move on.We finally planted the Leeks. "Don't forget me!" During ideal growing conditions, they should have been in long before. It just had simply been too wet. As the Soil dried, Richard dug trenches in various places. We added Leeks, Compost, Water. Then we mounded the Soil up around those lovely Plants. The fresh Onion Like aroma wafted up out of my Hands as we worked.

Leek growing season is long. I had started those Leeks from Seeds in late January. They will be ready at the end of the Gardening Season.

We are relatively new to using Leeks. They seem like a New Friend. We look forward to trying some new recipes, including those from our Friends, the Humans. Melanie eagerly planted her Celeries and her Celeriac. They too are planted in trenches. They will need cover to blanch the stalks and keep them tender.Richard also planted Onion Seeds. In our intensity of planting, we discovered the next day that we had forgotten to cover them. He did that on short order. I didn't get to the Onion Sets I had recently purchased. Overall, we made a huge amount of progress in this time period I would call the Big Push. We estimate that the Garden is about 3/4 planted.

Then the Rains began. Those Rains "set the Plants". We should not need to water them any more. It also provides ideal conditions by which the Seeds will germinate. We could almost hear those Seeds doing their "Germination Dance" out there in the Soil. Plus, the Grateful Gardeners headed inside to rest and catch up until the next Big Push to finish the Garden.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Certain moments on the Farm just fill me with glee. I can hardly describe it. Those moments are unexpected. And there they are. I just smile that wide smile that comes from the spontaneous magic and joy of the child we all have inside.

I won't say that I did not have such moments when we lived in the city. I just seem to have more here. And I relish each and every one.

One of my favorite sights is watching Turkey Vultures overhead. Yes, I said "watching Turkey Vultures overhead". Often, they are flying in the company of a smaller, pesty little black bird. Richard says those smaller birds are often Eastern Kingbirds or Red Winged Blackbirds.

The size difference is astounding. The Turkey Vulture's wingspread is 67", which Melanie says is the size of her (only horizontal). The Red-Winged Blackbird's wingspread is 13". The Eastern Kingbird's wingspread is 15".

Those little Birds will often grasp themselves to the back of the Turkey Vulture and catch a ride. Yes, I said "Catch a ride." I cannot even imagine what that experience would be like. But if I were such a critter, I would surely like to do that myself.

Chicken Eggs-Stravaganza

We had an Open House today for our Egg Customers. Two motivating factors were: the Littles are still Little and Cute; we wanted the Egg Customers to get to know the lovely Hennies who lay their Brown Eggs. We know all too well also that many people want access to a Farm these days, but don't have one anymore.

We had never done this before, but can say that results were Eggs-Cellent. We had 17 people (including 4 family members who had traveled to the area).

The Hennies and Littles were on their best behavior. As for Freddie, he was also on his best behavior while he was in his own little pen.

We showed off our new cane field which Hollis had planted just minutes before. People got garden tours. Kids were exploring the Hen House looking for the Eggs. Some were considering raising their own Chickens, so noted house design. Others just liked to watch the Littles as they scampered about in the tall grass. We all enjoyed sitting and visiting in our little sanctuary of shade.

The Kids helped get the treats served. We had Apple Cake and 2 Freshly Brewed Teas (Peppermint, Lemon Balm/Chamomile).

One of the visitors said that she would like to come back next year and see the progress that we have made. We look forward to seeing that progress too.

People were Egg-Zuberant. The afternoon was Egg-Citing. We shall have to do this Egg-gain.

Nature Notes

Blackberries and Dewberries are blooming.

Thursday we had 2 Ripe Strawberries, one little one and one big one. Melanie ate the little one. Richard and I split the big one. Friday, we had 3 big ones, so each got one. Today we found 6 Ripe Strawberries. We gave 2 big ones to Hollis, just because he is Hollis but also because he came over to disk and plant the Sorghum Cane. Of those remaining, Richard got one small one and one medium sized one. Melanie and I each got one big one.

Melanie eats hers little bite by little bite. Others have been known to inhale them. Different strokes for different folks.

Dust Baths

May 21:

The Chickens luxuriate in their Dustbaths. Our Resident Ornithologist tells us that Dustbathing for Chickens is instinctual. Even the Little Ones in the Rooster House who are only 3 weeks old enjoy Dustbathing in a Lid of Soil.

Why? Humans cannot know all that is going on in Chicken-dom. On the surface, Dustbathing's purpose seems to be to smother Mites. But there surely must be more to it than that. Just watching their pleasure tells the Viewer that Chickens love their Dustbaths. When the conditions are right, they engage with abandon.

On this day, the Temperature was perfect. The Sun was warm. The Breeze was light. The Soil was loose. Melanie counted 19 Chickens at one time snuggled in the loose Soil under the little Elberta Peach Tree.

I wonder if there are similar pursuits in the Human Realm. It seems to me that while our actions are surely different, we 3 C's luxuriate in the Beauty and Wonder of this little Farm.~~~~
Note: That last picture is Freddie the Rooster (on the left).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hello, World!

On this day, the Chickey Peepers headed into the Big World around their House which is surrounded by a Great Tall Fence. They are 18 days old. Melanie decided it was time.

Melanie noted that as they saw the barricade lifted which had separated them from the Outer World, they were standing on the Edge of the World they had known. They had just found out their World was bigger. They were not quite sure what to do.

Pretty soon, they were running up and down their ramp. Plus, they were peeping merrily as they were running through the Tall Grasses. Their Big New World resembled a Giant Dirt Cup, which they found to their delight. One found a worm and was briefly puzzled as to what that might be.

Thankfully, the Chickey Peepers were easy to get into their House as Daylight turned to Dusk. Melanie turned on their warming lamp and one by one, they had a snack before bed and found roost places for sleep. As per our tradition, I sit inside their House on an upside down bucket. I hum a Human Lullaby which seems a very appropriate thing for a Human Grandmother Hennie to do. Melanie and Richard carefully inspect the Tall Grasses outside for errant Chickey Peepers. They were all inside, closing out their day and getting ready for another.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

Many Humans carry hardened crusts protecting what lies beneath an exterior Self. Although rare, moments arise that immediately soften those crusts. Last week, Tornadoes blew through this County. When we lived in North Dakota, Floods washed through our Towns and Hearts. In those moments, Crusts just disappear, almost as if they had never been there before. When the Rubber Meets the Road, our true Nature as Creatures of the Heart is revealed. Why would we reduce that to rare?
Glinda Crawford, 2009


We each come to this Time and Place with a Purpose.
Many, if not Most of Us, are disconnected from that Purpose.
Dis-ease, Discontent, Tension, Angst result.
What if We each lived fully that Purpose we were intended?
What if We sang that Song we came to sing?
What if We spoke that Truth that we know from our Core?
The World would be different.
We would at last find Ourselves at Home.
Glinda Crawford, 2009


On this inbetween day when it is still too wet underneath to do much but still OK to be in the Garden, Melanie works toward the creation of sturdy and supporting Paths through her Garden Beds. She brings Cardboard and wheelbarrow loads of Straw into the Garden for this Day's initiatives.
She first places the Cardboard on the Paths inbetween her Raised Beds. The Cardboard has been stripped of tape and elements that will not biodegrade. This fibrous material which will break down slowly over time will keep down the Weeds on the Path. On the Cardboard, she piles the Straw. Presto! She has the paths she desires.
It seems like a good start to the Garden is to consider how one will walk through it. I can only imagine the Dance of Footsteps which will weave themselves about in this place over the Summer's Growing Adventures.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


These past 2 days, Richard has been intent on building Raised Garden Beds. This should help with drainage, permitting easier and earlier access into the Garden. Plus, it allows for Soil Enrichment. Our worn Clay Soils and the Veggies which find their homes there would surely like that.

In these 2 photos, Richard turns the Soil with a favorite shovel named "Bob". That Shovel was a gift of the UND Biology Department at his Retirement in 2007. Richard named the Shovel after Bob Shepherd who went to great lengths to make sure Richard had this particular shovel. Bob, the Human, knew the wonders with which this trusty shovel and its Human Companion could engage and complete.

On these days, we can get into the Garden, but it still is too wet to do a lot. The conditions are perfect for creating Raised Beds, which will give support for our Garden Work in the future. Always thinking and refining, Richard has his eyes set on this one.

With trusty Bob, Richard digs a trench around the bed, heaping the Soil on top which creates the Raised Bed. The trench will become a path inbetween the beds. Its gentle slope to the South will also assist with drainage.

Richard banks the edges with wet straw used around the Compost Heaps. On top, he places luscious Composted Cow Manure. He has one Garden Bed completed (in the foreground). Before he and Bob are done on this day, he will complete 2 more.

I wonder how much Soil this Team has methodically pushed on this beautiful Day. I think Mr. Shepherd and the Biology Department would smile.


too much stuff
is going on.
How do I pause to write?
Last week, I was sick.
Things slowed down to a crawl.
We had tornadoes in Adair County.
We are fine.
We did not even know
about it until the next day.
Others were not so lucky.
We had heavy rains,
cool temperatures.
One morning, we awoke to frost,
which is late for these parts.
Soil was saturated.
As Soil dried,
some places became hard.
How can Seedlings push their way
through hardened clay?
We Gardeners are intent upon growing our own food.
We could not reach into the Garden muck.
As the Garden dried these past 2 days,
Richard began building raised beds,
which should permit the Soil draining.
Plus, those raised beds have a delicious layer
of Composted Cow Manure.
We should be able to get into the Garden earlier next year.
Our Garden is beginning to take on a planned look.
It has a good feel.
We knew so little about growing food here
when we arrived just 2 years ago.
In the meantime, we plan plantings
based on optimal conditions for Leaf, Root, Fruit, Flower.
The cool season of Spring is beginning to shift into Summer.
We feel an urgency.
Sometimes our plans will work as we expect.
Other times not.
We will keep on learning.
Glinda Crawford, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Morel Mushrooms

May 2:

Morel Mushrooms are a local treasure in these parts. People anticipate the season looking for just the right conditions. For weeks ahead of time, they speculate whether it will be a good year or a not so good year.

Richard headed into our Woods today and found some Morel Mushrooms. I can hardly believe that the Land we bought has Morels on it.

I took in a Morel Mushroom to the Nursing Home today to share with Mother and other residents. The Ladies just sparkled on seeing that freshly picked Morel in the plastic container.

They spontaneously shared stories of gathering these treasures on the land and talked of their favorite methods in preparation. Some dipped theirs in an egg batter and then coated them with cracker crumbs (or flour); then they fried them in butter until crisp and golden brown. This is our favored way.

One said she just fried them in butter. Dipping them in egg batter made them taste too much like egg. I guess we must like them to taste a bit like egg.

We had our first meal of Morels this evening. I remember years ago, Hollis and Deleta froze some up in water for us and overnighted them to our home in North Dakota. What a precious gift this was. We were so excited. I had not realized how much those humble little treasures made me feel at home.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 18

The "Hen to Set" Saga now is officially closed for 2009. Yes, we did get a "Hen to Set". Our lovely Lacey was very serious in her deliberations. Instead of the usual 21-23 days until hatch, Lacey sat on those Eggs patiently for 27 days. No results.

Melanie and Richard pulled the Eggs from Lacey's nest yesterday. Today, they checked them. They were all infertile. Needless to say, we were disappointed. But just perhaps this was not meant to be in 2009.

In 2010, we shall call this little initiative "Chickens to Hatch".

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Memories of Porter School

[Introductory Notes: In the early to mid 1980s, Mother (Dorothy) and her 2 sisters (Louise and Ruth) wrote Round Robin Letters between them across the distances of their homes in Missouri, Oregon, Missouri/Texas. When the letters began in January 1983, they would have ranged in ages from 68 to 60. These letters shared fond memories of their childhoods. The greatly loved Porter School and teacher (Marie Turner Harvey) were standard fare in these stories. The sisters with their parents (Fred Albert Brenz and Lottie Hart Brenz) would have lived in the Porter Community from about 1920 until they moved to Kirksville in 1927. Louise and Ruth attended Porter School, but Dorothy was too young. Since Louise was the oldest, her memories are more extensive. Ruth also shared her memory of Porter School in response to questions posed by her Great Niece Melanie Crawford for a Women Studies class in October 2000. Their writings provide a precious glimpse of memories and meanings of an earlier time in our family’s history.]

Ruth: Daddy and Mother wanted their girls to go to Porter School as it was well known because of its excellent educational program. Marie Turner Harvey was the head of the school and was well known as an excellent educator. So daddy sold the Oak Grove area farm and bought a larger farm in Porter School District. [Ruth Irene (response to questions posed by Melanie for Women Studies class, October 2000)]

Louise: Daddy bought another farm---a larger one---which was 5 miles northwest of Kirksville. It was a good farm and the land was level and the good part was that we would be in the Porter community which was the best rural school anywhere. The school was modern, having a full basement, a furnace and a drinking fountain in the basement. It also had a 9 month school. All the other schools had only an 8 month school. (My son even went to a eight month school---and his school had a coal stove in the middle of school, and had a water bucket where they got their drinks. It seemed strange that my school was modern---and his country school wasn’t.) We also had several different teachers---for the college sent teachers there to do their practice teaching. Our heat came from radiators---from the furnace! Mrs. Marie Harvey was the main teacher, and the young teachers from the college took their practice teaching under her. That Porter School and Mrs. Harvey were in my Encyclopedia Americana. She was a wonderful teacher. She was very strict, but-she made sure that all students really learned something! All grades were taught in this one room, but we had several teachers, most of the time. (My son only had 1 teacher, who taught all grades and all subjects.) There was also a smaller building near this school house, and this was the ‘high school!’ Glen Beltzer, Mrs. Helen Troester, Mrs. Elizabeth Link, Johnnie Tomich and many others went to this high school. This was so wonderful, for there were no buses to take kids to school or high school. If you wanted to got to high school, you would have to get a room in town or ride a horse. If you lived in the Porter district, you were lucky. Daddy took me to school in a surrey which had two seats. He would drive by Mrs. Harvey’s house, which she rented from Erma Darr’s in-laws, and he’d pick her up. Then, he’d come and get us after school. When I got old enough, he bought a beautiful little bay horse from Alice Commins’ father. Her name was Belle, and I was really proud of her. I drove her in a little one seated buggy. Some of the older boys would unhitch her and put her in the pony shed at the school house. They would also get in the gunny sack under the seat of the buggy and get the corn & oats and feed her. They would hook her back up for me when it was time to go home. Daddy was on the school board for several years, and President of it for a time. He seen [sic] that the board made a cement porch with railings and the porch had wide steps, which was much better than what was there. We enjoyed box suppers and ice cream suppers. (Round Robin Letter #1, ca. 1984, pages 3-4)...

Our farm was the first house west of Charlie Frobes. He had a daughter, Erma who married Virgil Darr. They lived with Erma's folks. I loved her Dad, Charlie Frobes, as I never had a grandpa. I called him Grandpa Frobes. Sometimes he would be be coming down the road, and I would run to meet him. He usually had some good home-made cookies which he shared with me. They were so good! (Round Robin Letter #1, ca. 1984, page 4) ...

It got real cold sometimes. Many times, Daddy took Ruth and I to school and we’d have lap-robe over our heads---and there would be jugs of hot water which we snuggled close to. Sometimes, you couldn’t tell where the road was---for [sic] couldn’t see the fence posts. (Round Robin Letter #1, ca. 1984, page 4)

Oh yes---I don't want to forget to say that we moved to town in Feb. and sold the farm. Since Porter school [sic] had a 9 month school, Daddy let us keep Belle, my lovely horse and the buggy and Ruthie and I drove back to the Porter school until the end of May---but Mr. Robert Jones drove with us--He did the driving--He was the high school teacher in the smaller building at Porter school. He was a handsome young man. I finished the 6th grade and I believe Ruthie was in the 2nd. Who ever heard of school kids driving to the country out of the town they lived in--to go to a country school. Well, we did! Remember, Ruthie? Dorothy [sic] you were pretty small--and can't remember much about the farm--I don't suppose. (Round Robin Letter #1, ca. 1984, page 5)

(Louise) Getting back to out [sic] school days--one morning I was in a hurry, as I was a little late getting started to Porter School. I grabbed a gallon bucket, which I thought had my lunch in it. I was so hungry, and could hardly wait for twelve o’clock to come. It had about 3 inches of lard in it. The folks had butchered and had put the last bit of lard in this bucket. If I had reached for another bucket--it wouldn’t have a been so light; and I would have known I’d had the wrong bucket. I finally took the lid off--I started to cry-and the teacher wanted to know what was the matter. I sobbed, “I don’t have anything to eat—just plain old lard"! [sic] and she explained to the other children, “Poor little Thelma has no dinner! She can’t eat the lard. Shouldn’t we help her out?” Each child gave me something, and I remember I had far more lunch than any of them! (Round Robin Letter #2, ca. 1985, page 2)

On Memorial Day---they would have picnics at Fort Madison Cemetary [sic]. We girls would have to speak a piece--and maybe play a number on the piano--that would be moved out to the platform. I would have mine down pat--for the folks would have me go to Mrs. Harvey's for speaking instructions. (Round Robin Letter #2, ca. 1985, page 3)

(Dorothy) I don’t remember much about life on the farm, but I do recall getting to go with daddy when he dragged the dirt roads to help keep the ruts down. Daddy would hitch the horses to the road drag and there was only enough room for him and one of us girls-so the three of us had to take turns going with him. If he happened to drag the roads while you girls were at school (Porter) I got to go each time, and I remember thinking it was just about the greatest thing in my young life! (Round Robin Letter #3, February 1986, page 2)

(Ruth) ... Another pie story evolving [sic] the two of them was in the Porter School community. Mother sent Daddy to the school with 2 or 3 pumpkin pies for a social of some sort. Daddy arrived but with one less pie than he left home with. They often laughed about it. To my knowledge Mother never knew what happened. Did Daddy eat the pie or drop it? I do not remember how old I was when the above two stories happened but I remember hearing about them. (Round Robin Letter #5, Summer 1986)
Source of Photos: I found the above photos on line. Both were taken about the time the Brenz family lived in the Porter Community. Top: "Completed Porter School in 1923"; Bottom: "Children at recess at the Porter School"(ca 1920) ---from Adair County Porter School House Collection, Missouri Digital Heritage, Adair County Public Library, (May 10, 2009)

Friday, May 8, 2009


During times of intensity,
feelings are raw,
cells are exposed.
I yield to growing.
I am polished yet again
by the Master Sculptor.
I grow
as intended.
I emerge
in a form yet unknown.
Infinitely better,
more peaceful,
more grounded,
never the same.
Glinda Crawford, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009


We seem to be experiencing an intensity of 2 critical Life Passage Points in those around us: Birth and Death. It is up close and personal. I feel like we have walked from a dark room into the great glare of Sunlight. It hurts. It is hard to focus. We can only see that immediate sphere around us, and just barely at that.

We are in and out of the Nursing Home supporting Mother's journey and intersecting with the Lives of other Residents. While distant in the past, "End of Life" is now a familiar Collection of Words. Those 3 Little Words do not smoothly flow upon the tongue.

We held those 3 little Bunnies in our hands earlier in the week and we rejoiced at New Life. As they nose dived, we put them back into their Natural Home. Did they survive?

We just received 56 Baby Chicks from the Hatchery. On their Excursion visiting Residents at an area Nursing Home, they were a part of a great contrast. In their wake, they left Magic every place they touched. Their survival now rests in our hands. Six will be a part of the laying Flock. The other 50 will be spoiled and loved; in August, they will go into the Freezer.

Lacey sits on her 9 Eggs well past the expected hatching period. We watch and wait. Is there Life inside? Will they hatch?

We stumble on Nests as we walk about in Meadow and Woods. We watch the Swallows swoop, teasing out their places to raise their broods.

We are planting, planting, planting. We are celebrating the Wonder of Seeds, as we tuck them into the Soil and as we marvel as they emerge.

Scampy, Melanie's Dear Cat of 14 years, has been spending a lot of time cuddling in recent months. Has he been saying "Goodbye"? These past few days, he has taken a turn. He may be headed beyond the Physical Realm. His loss will not be easy.

These days, we use a lot of cloth Hankies (Hankettes). They have been put to good use. We may need more than we have. Doing the wash helps, although they make a tiny load.

Birth and Death are parts of Life. In these moments, we get to hold them all. I am struck by how very little we know of either of them. I would surely reach for the "Cliff Notes" if I could find them. For some reason, we seem to be sitting in the Intensity, Glare and Wonder of these 2 Adventures. We are intent on Learning the Lessons. But it is not easy.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 17

OK: We try to watch the doin's in the Brooder House without being too intrusive. We are on Day 24. The Book says from the time a Hen begins to set on Eggs, the hatch time is usually 21-23 Days. We Humans have been a little antsy, wondering what is going on. We've been pretty helpless about the whole thing too. That feeling is not one that Humans are particularly comfortable with. We have given it our best shot.

About 30 minutes ago, Lacey headed off the Nest for a bit of a spin around the House. Richard headed outside to look at those Eggs. In the meantime, she clucked about, acting like nothing was out of the ordinary. She took a little dustbath, which must have been quite luxurious judging by her sounds and actions.

Before she returned to the Nest, we began some basic tests. Melanie and Richard floated the Eggs in Water. I took pictures and am now writing away on this Blog.

Our observations suggest there is Life inside and that it is progressing. The Eggs are floating and riding higher on the water. That means that the air cell inside is larger. The angle should be tilted some right before it hatches. And the angle was present on many of the Eggs. Plus, we noted that many of the Eggs wiggled ever so slightly in the water. Were we imagining things? Was it the Wind? We don't think so.

After their individual tests, the Eggs were dried off one by one by Richard. Melanie placed them carefully back under Lacey.

As we completed our testing, Melanie commented: "Don't give up, Lacey." I think she was telling that to the Humans too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


We are in the midst of turning Soil and Planting our Garden, as this is the 1st big spurt after a long cool, wet spell. After the waiting at such a Season, the Gardener's urge to plant often becomes intense. When the window of opportunity finally arrives, the Whole World seems to drop away from the Gardener's goal of putting Seeds in the Soil. It feels so good.

On my way to the Garden these past 2 days, I have grabbed my wonderful Straw Hat with its wide brim. It is a standard part of my Gardener's attire. As long as the day is not windy, the Hat does quite the trick of keeping the Sun off my face and sharing a bit of coolness besides. I feel like I am a walking umbrella.

Today, I made a quick trip to see Mother at the Nursing Home. While my clean dark blue overalls and sky blue shirt were my "in town fare", my hat and shoes (bright yellow Crocs) were pure Garden. I just knew I had to wear that Hat to the Nursing Home.

It seems to me that Folks in Nursing Homes are often diminished in their sensory experiences which give Life identity and meaning. Much of the familiar has dropped away. Nevermind, that our Society in its intentions of uniformity (AKA, city-fying everything) has surgically removed some very beautiful and unique aspects of old style rural living.

I have decided that I will carry some of these tangible things that give meaning into the Nursing Home. I love to break the rules, especially rules that seem to diminish living.

So, I journeyed there today with my Hat. The Ladies immediately smiled and they reached out. One even caught my attention and said "That is a good thing." She was pointing at my Hat. I don't ever remember seeing her before.

Another said, "My Grandmother always wore a Bonnet." She went into detail describing it. "It had 2 cardboard pieces on the sides which held the front piece out." She demonstrated with her hands. Throughout, she just smiled and became quite animated. In fact, I have never seen her so animated. I asked the Ladies if they were Gardeners and did they wear a Hat? Many nodded and smiled.

When I got home, we talked about Richard's Mother's bonnet. Richard remembered the cardboard pieces. They were cut from cereal boxes. I wonder if Deleta might have a pattern. It seems like a Bonnet of her signature style should surely have a place on this little Farm. (Hey, Deleta, do I remember your saying you had one of her Bonnets? Could we cut a pattern?)

Tomorrow, I plan to wear Garden attire and carry a Hoe on my visit to the Nursing Home. That Hoe is one that Mother has hanging in the usual spot just waiting for the next use. It is an old one. I hope to reclaim a bit of its story. I wonder what other stories will be percolating with this visit.

Today they were still talking about those Baby Chickens which Melanie and I brought yesterday. And they were still smiling. We were too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 16

Today was Day 22 marking Lacey's setting on her clutch of 9 Eggs. Usually, Chicken Eggs hatch in 21-23 days.

We checked her periodically throughout the day. None of the Eggs were cracked or had begun to be "pipped". Although unbroken, one Egg smelled "rotten". None of the rest did. I held one, listening very closely to it. It seemed different than a freshly laid Egg. I could almost sense a Heartbeat. Was this all in my imagination?

We tried to float the Eggs. Richard said the floatation seemed right for their stage. While we Humans were in the middle of this little Human-contrived project, Lacey, who was not to be denied her Eggs, headed back to the Nest and knocked over the water. Our little project of floatation ended.

The Humans were a little antsy, but fortunately we had other distractions today. It was the 1st beautiful day to be in the Garden after a long cool, wet spell which had seemed to last forever.

Lacey seemed to look up at the Humans and say: "Chickens have been doing this for a very long time. It will be O.K."

Chicken Ministry

The Baby Chicks from Cackle Hatchery arrived at the Post Office early this morning. We ordered 50 White Rock Cockerels (we got 50) and 5 Black Australorp Pullets (we got 6). (Have you ever tried to count Baby Chicks?) Neighbors Sarah and Ethan had also added some Baby Ducks and Chicks to the order.

After receiving the call from the Post Office, we swung into action. Richard went out to the garage to finish preparations for the new digs of the Baby Chicks. Melanie called Sarah to let her know their Baby Birds had arrived as well as Rachel and the folks at the Nursing Home where Mother is. We stuffed in the last few bites of breakfast and hopped into the car to pick up the precious load.

Time was of the essence. We had every desire to reduce the stress on the little Critters and to get them into their new Homes. We just had a few stops to make along the way.

I don't know what it is about Baby Peeps. Those little Birds had just cracked open their shells 24 hours earlier. And they were intent upon cracking a few other shells besides. Those Baby Birds seem to represent the essence of life. Seeing them and holding them is to be in the presence of the Great Mystery. Any fortifications that have been developed over one's life just melt away.

We had promised to take the Baby Birds for Mother to see at the Nursing Home. Each of the last 2 years, we had taken them by her house. So we just had to take them to her again. I asked her if she would like for us to bring them to her, to which she had replied: "That's a promise."

Taking them into the Nursing Home was the most magical experience. For one thing, that humble brown flat cardboard box with holes in the sides came with some decidely energized "Peeps". Those "Peeps" reverberated off the walls.

The Nursing Home is a series of long interconnected, mostly institutionalized halls. We had barely gotten in the door but what people (staff and residents) immediately recognized they were in the presence of Baby Chicks. You could hear the Humans halfway down the building: "I hear Baby Chickens." "Where are the Baby Chickens?" You could see their necks crane.

Mother was waiting in the Recreation Room. And she was inviting others to see them. While Melanie opened the box, I rolled 2 people in their wheelchairs into the Recreation Room. We sought out 3 residents in their rooms and another in physical therapy. We shared with others along the way.

Those Tiny Baby Peepers produced wide smiles and conversations. "I haven't seen Baby Chickens for a long time." "I used to have Chickens." The more mobile staff members were weaving in and out of our lovely walk through the Nursing Home, adding their own stories besides.

One resident almost always has her nose riveted in a Puzzle Book. I don't know if I have ever seen her look up. She did this time. She just stared and stared. There was softness about her that I had not noted before. Another who has a radiant smile, almost never speaks, and stays at a distance, rolled over very close. She began to talk about how she had raised Chickens. Another said she would like to keep one. They held them. They oohed and aahed. We did the same.

While some of the Birds were Baby Ducks, I call these simple actions Chicken Ministry. And I am proud to be a part. Those tiny little Birds weave their magic. They open us up to the Essence of Life, to the Magic that Life is supposed to be, to the Sacred Gift that we have been given but for some reason have chosen to forget. For one brief and lovely moment, we remember. I choose not to forget.
Note: All photos on this site are from Butterfly Hill Farm, with rare exceptions. This photo is the 2nd exception that I have made in 18 months of Blogging. I shall leave this to the reader to imagine where the general location of this photo might be.

Bunny Update

O.K. Those 3 Baby Bunnies were ever so cute. And they were doing well under our care. So we thought.

Yesterday morning, Melanie checked in on them and they were not doing very well. They had done seemingly very well up until the night before. So she packed them up and took them back to the site of their nest, which had now dried out.

We were sad, but Nature has a plan. Our Human Plans are often woefully incomplete. We just need to yield to whatever is meant to be.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 15

Today was Lacey's 21st day on her clutch of 9 Eggs. The book tells us that the range of days to hatch is 21 to 23. So far, the Eggs show no signs of pipping. Sounds from inside the Egg are also imperceptible to date. I wonder what is going on inside those shells. I wonder what thoughts are floating through Lacey's head.

Our order of 50 Male White Rock and 5 Black Australorp Female Chicks was scheduled to be shipped from the Hatchery today. For newbies to these things, Male Chicks are called Cockerels and Female Chicks are called Pullets. We aren't exactly the newbies we were 2 years ago, but the language is still awkward.

If this year is anything like last, the little Peeps hatched early this morning. They were put into the mail soon after. I wonder where they are now.

Our resident Ornithologist tells us that unhatched Chicks use the yolk as their food source throughout incubation. Some of the yolk is stored internally so that the hatched Chick can continue to use the yolk as food a day or two after they hatch. That's why Baby Chicks can travel during that period before they need food or water.

We should get a call from the Post Office either Tuesday or Wednesday morning saying the Chicks have arrived. I wonder what kind of call we will get from our own Brooder House and Lacey. Things will be speeding up around here very soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


We are entering a very busy season here at Butterfly Hill Farm. The Rains have slowed our progress in the Garden. As soon as the Soil dries a bit, we will be planting with as much energy as we can muster.

We have over 800 plants that we have grown from Seeds or other starts. They are just waiting for that perfect moment to make their presence known in the Soil. We planted about 30 Leeks this evening, but the ground was still far too wet to plant them all.

Assuming all goes well, Lacey should have little Chicks in 2 to 4 more days. Plus, we have an order of 50 White Rock Males and 5 Black Australorp Females scheduled for arrival on Tuesday or Wednesday. Melanie has said that she is wiping the schedule clean this week just to be open for all the responsibilities unfolding.

I had talked before about the baby Bunnies in the Strawberry Bed. Mother Rabbit had 7 Bunnies. Unfortunately, the Rains produced more water than her carefully constructed nest could withstand. Four Bunnies were lost. Last night, Melanie brought 3 Bunnies in. I held them to warm them up and she fed them.

Richard just smiles through it all and shakes his head a bit. He never knows what adventures the 2 of us might be involved in.
Melanie is feeding the 3 Little Bunnies with an eyedropper. For supper tonight, they each had about 5 dropperfuls of Cow's Milk which is a substantial increase in just 24 hours. The Little One just learned how to swallow tonight.

Two barely have their eyes open. All 3 are at slightly different stages of development. The more developed Bunnie has its eyes open more fully. Because it can see more, its little ears are coming up too. We think that means curiosity. I noted last night that while they had limited coordination, they already seemed to know how to hop.

We smile at the contradiction of trying to keep Rabbits out of the Garden to protect our food crop and the reality that we are raising 3 more. Richard says it is likely that these 3 will be actively involved in producing young by fall. This is not the average course of action for Gardeners, I suppose.

Tonight, we watched the Mother Rabbit head back into the Garden seemingly to seek out her young. That made us sad. We are no substitute for the Mother Rabbit, but we will do the best that we can.

The addition of the Bunnies to our little Family is just a little sidebar to the expected activities of a season which grows in busy-ness. The Little Bunnies should be ready to head out on their own very soon. It is indeed an amazing time on the Farm, where New Life seems to be bursting all around.


Flowers are everywhere. All of Nature seems to be breaking out in bloom. Wisps and bold brush strokes of color appear where one least expects it. Views change overnight. The beauty is breathtaking.

We have a lovely Redbud in our yard. Redbuds are small trees common to the understory and the edges of forests in these parts. Ours is surrounded by lawn. I think Redbuds much prefer the company and protection of larger trees. We shall have to work on that.

In the meantime, one of our Lilac bushes is blooming in profusion. That heavenly scent makes me smile. It is a smile that stretches from years ago as I remember the Lilacs of my childhood to this very moment in my life. All the Ladies of my childhood seemed to love Lilacs. It wasn't a farm without Lilacs. Today I love them as an adult and it is so right to have them blooming on this little Farm.

We have 2 Lilac bushes at the front of the house. One is doing well and the other has surely suggested that it would like to move because it is not doing very well. I think that the downspout gives it too much water for its taste. Lilacs are prone to mildew and fungus.

I do see some vigorous sprouts coming up from the Soil. I think this Lilac could surely be divided into a Lilac hedge. My preference would be to put it next to cement pad at the opening to the garage.

Yesterday, I took a bouquet of Lilacs into Mother. She loved it. Today, when I arrived at the Nursing Home, a little boy of about 5 had a Lilac branch. He said he loved them. He was going from Resident to Resident, letting them smell the lovely Flowers. More than just the Lilac bloomed from this simple little act of sharing.

We have passed the peak bloom of the Wild Plums. The rains of the last few days surely shortened their season. They looked like clouds of white in their vigorous little groves. This one looked like a bouquet for a bride. Today, Sarah and Jason are being married up at her home church in Halma, Minnesota. If she were here, I would pick her a bouquet from all the Flowers I could find. What a beautiful season to begin a commitment and a new journey together.