Friday, July 31, 2009

Quiet, Gentle Day

Today was a Busy Day, yet a Quiet, Gentle Day. It had its own Rhythm and Flow. In fact, the Day seemed to have its own "Ease".

We recognized Yesterday on a deep level that we 3 Humans need Rest and that the coming Weeks are likely to bring some extraordinary Demands. We did rest yesterday. And something else happened; I should be hard pressed to describe it. We seemed to have a kind of Peace today, going with the Flow, but not getting in a Flurry about it.

No, the Plumber did not come. That means we are going easy on our Kitchen Sink which is in the area where the problem is. That makes Preserving and Fixing Meals interesting. We are doing Dishes in 2 Stainless Steel Pans. Rather than sending the used Water to the Lagoon, we are carrying the Pans with "Gray Water" to various Trees and Shrubs which would like a Drink. I think they like this new routine.

Richard picked Peaches earlier in the Week. We stored them in the Peach Boxes that we brought from North Dakota. Those Peach Boxes are Treasures.

Each day, we sort through the Peaches to process those that are ready. Richard and Melanie went through the Peaches and selected out small batches to Can and Freeze today. We are doing a "Little at a Time" which seems like a more restful process.

In the meantime, we sampled some Fresh Peaches. We just couldn't resist. I had Sliced Peaches on my Cereal this Morning with Fresh Cream. Gee, were those Peaches good. No, we don't have near the number on our Little Tree that we had last year, but we are grateful for every one.
I am really proud of my Dry Edible Bean Crop. I have about a Dozen Varieties planted, not counting other Varieties in various sections of the Garden. Considering the Patch has so many varieties, I now want to keep track of how those varieties grow. Richard made Stakes for me to mark the Rows.
The Hennies produced more Eggs today. Lula, a pretty Buff Orpington Hennie, has been laying hers in the Shed which is outside the Fence which is supposed to hold all of the Chickens in the East Yard. Melanie thinks that she is getting picked on.

I found the neatest Basket on Wednesday at an area Thrift Store. I gave it to Melanie for an early Birthday Present. I just couldn't wait.

The Basket is an "old Egg Basket". Melanie took it on a test drive today. The Basket is not flat on the bottom. Because of its shape, the Eggs are carefully held so they will not break. By the way, those little Colorful Eggs on the bottom are actually Wooden. No, our Chickens are not laying Eggs that small, even the Pullets.

As I look at this little Basket, I wonder the Stories that it could tell. I wonder the Stories it will tell from this Little Farm.

Yes, it was a quiet, gentle Day. For me, I think the biggest thing was beginning to let go of some Expectations and recognizing that I may not get everything done. But I will get done what is meant to be.

Why do Humans push themselves to the limits that so many of us do? Why are we Humans so hard on ourselves? It seems to me that we push ourselves beyond the Limits of our Resources and into Exhaustion. We do not know our Limits. We do the same to the Earth. We have a choice about these things. This Quiet, Gentle Day has been about embracing these things.


I asked Richard about the "Imprinting" of the Little Chicks on their Mother, Lacey. Ever the Ornithologist, Richard said that Chicks typically imprint on their Mothers within the 1st 24 Hours after Hatching.

When Lacey stayed on the Nest for that approximately 24 hours after the beginning of the Hatch, the Little Ones were imprinting on Her. Richard said that is probably one of the most significant things that happens during that Critical Time Period. Lacey must be sure that they are focused exclusively on her.

I have noted that Lacey and the Little Ones typically head off when the Humans arrive in the Pen. That is different from the Little Chicks that are reared by Humans. They do scatter, but they cannot go far as they are initially in a Box. Those Chicks (and later Adults) have watchful Eyes on their Humans as Food Source.

We wonder how these Chicks will be different from those we Humans have raised. Time will tell.

Woods Speak

I usually post a few words of description, thought, story, meaning here. But this time, instead of Human Chatter, let the Woods opening onto the Meadow speak for themselves. I should do that more often.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tidbits on Growing: Night Shades and Nicotiana

Certain Plants are not the Best of Companions. Sometimes those Plants are among the Favorites of the Humans. Therein lies a Conflict.

I love Nicotiana. The Variety that we have was a gift from Fellow Gardeners when we settled here 2 years ago. Each Evening, the Plant opens these Lovely White Flowers which emit this Beautiful Soft Fragrance that is just about indescribable. We sometimes sit on the West Porch while watching the Stars and the Lightning Bugs (the Lightning Bugs are now just about gone). We enjoy Nicotiana's Soft White Flowers in the gathering Evening and its Beautiful Fragrance.

We love our Night Shades too: Egg Plant, Tomatoes, Potatoes. And we depend on them for Major Food Crops. Therein lies the Problem.

Nicotiana is a Host Plant for the Tobacco Horn Worm, which loves to chow down on Leaves, Stems, Fruit of the Night Shade Family. Most of our Night Shades are in the Big Garden which is on the other side of the House. I felt that distance would be plenty. I forgot that Melanie had tucked in Eggplants and a Tomato Plant right alongside the Nicotianas. How convenient.

It is very easy to tell if we have Tobacco Horn Worms. These Vigorous Caterpillars leave "Tracks" as to where they have been. Leaves and Stems are gobbled up. Fruit is eaten. As they get bigger, they leave gi-normous Poops, which look like Black Pellets on the Ground. Yesterday, Melanie looked closely at the Nicotiana and at one of her Eggplants (below). Sure enough, Tobacco Horn Worms were everywhere.
I do find the Caterpillars (and the Sphinx Moths which are the adult Form) beautiful. They are gorgeous living Creatures. But they do get big, as big as one of my Fingers. And they grow fast with their voracious Appetites. (The Mouth is on the right.)Melanie carefully looked over the area and found 70 Tobacco Horn Worms. Yes, 70. She put them in a bowl and discovered their combined weight was 1 and 1/2 pounds. That's a lot of Plant Material.

So what do we do withi such things? We 3 C's try to honor Life in all of its forms. Sometimes that is hard.Melanie took the collection to the Chickens. Our Feathered Companions were curious at first, but most kept their distance. There were a few takers, but not many. She finally cut the Caterpillars in 2 and left them in the Rooster Pen. She apologized to each and every Caterpillar, but she just couldn't allow the threat to her Tomatoes and Eggplants.I suppose the Moral to the Story is that we need to be careful what Plants that we bring into the Garden. Some will serve as Hosts, or rather Hotels. These Vigorous Creatures which do have their place in the Great Circle of Life may chow down on a Food Crop upon which we depend.

For me, I may choose to have 1 Nicotiana next year, but no more. For this year, I have removed the Plant debris and we will burn it, because those Plants are prolific producers of Seeds.

In Gardening as in Life, we always have something to learn.


Rest made it to the highest priority for this Day. We 3 C's are pretty tired these days.

As we move into Late Summer on our Little Farm, Harvest and Food Preservation are now in High Gear. We are watching our Garden Plants closely as we want to harvest at Produce Peak. Richard and Melanie checked out the Corn today. It still will be a few more days. We also are in the middle of planting the Second (or Fall) Garden. We shake our heads in disbelief: Second Garden?

Sleep for the Occupants of our Little House has been disrupted for the the last few Nights as our Dear Dog Laddie has been barking very early in the Morning. Reared as a Town Dog, which means he slept inside, Laddie sleeps inside here on the Farm just like the Humans. That practice seems a bit outside the frame for Country Living. These nights, we are finding the situation a bit of a stretch. Laddie's excited Barks rebound off the Walls into all corners of the House.

Judging by his Nose, we surely must be having Company outside. We wonder who has ventured close. Our ever alert minds wonder about the Chickens. Richard has gone to great lengths to make sure their Nightly accomodations are safe and secure to the best we can provide. For now, we Humans aren't too comfortable with letting Laddie out at Night. We are not certain as to what he might find or what we would do about it.

During preparation for Rachel's Birthday Dinner last night, we developed a Plumbing Problem in the Kitchen Area. Maybe the Kitchen needed a rest too. The Plumber will be coming over later this evening. Hopefully, it will be a "Simple Plumbing Problem". At least, we are putting that Energy out there.

Oh, and did I say that we were having some remodeling? The Contractor and Crew should be here any day.

Rest and Reserves are important. We moved pretty slowly today. Even the Hennies only laid 5 Eggs. I think I can speak for the Humans: Some Rest felt good. We can't give out more than we replenish. Self Care is essential.


At Melanie's suggestion, I took a small piece of Bread Pudding for Lacey and her Little Ones. The Bread Pudding was a hit. Lacey quickly shared it with the Little Ones and grabbed a few bites for herself.

No matter how much the Humans enjoyed it, that Bread Pudding paled in comparison with the favorites of Lacey and her Brood: Bugs. Ms. Lacey didn't complete the piece and headed back into the Tall Grasses with her entourage for their own preferred Tasty Treats.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Rachel...

This Evening we celebrated Rachel's 26th Birthday. Rachel arrived about 5:30 p.m. with her Father, Brother, and Roommate. Joe, Ben, Krista, and the 3 C's were all smiles with Bundles of Loving Energy to embrace our Dear Rachel. Rachel was just glowing.

We have 2 traditions in our Family for Birthdays. 1st, the Honoree gets to choose the Meal and the kind of celebration. 2nd, Birth Dates are never long enough to celebrate one's Birth. So we celebrate for about a Month afterwards.

For the Main Course, Rachel chose (with some additions from the Culinary Crafters on Butterfly Hill Farm): Grilled Chicken marinated in Fresh Herbs with Barbecue Sauce (Sauce Recipe was from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), Grilled Potatoes Marinated in Olive Oil with Garlic (a long time Crawford Favorite), Kale Salad (Recipe from Asparagus to Zucchini), Green Salad, Gazpacho Salad (Glinda's Version), Blue Cheese Dressing, Vinaigrette (Melanie's Version), Freshly Chopped Herbs to Sprinkle on Top, Sour Dough Rye Bread, Homemade Butter, Earth Balance (Commercial Spread as Dairy Free Option), Iced Teas (Spearmint, Anise Hyssop).

After Dinner, the Guests took a Walk out to the Cane Field. Richard and Joe returned to the House. Rachel and Company took a Walk About around the Circle of the Farm, while Melanie and I worked on cleaning up and preparing for Dessert.

For Dessert, Melanie warmed up the Ginger Shortcake (Recipe from Local Flavors) which she had made earlier. She brought the Ginger Shortcake, Fresh Peaches, Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream to the Table where the Guests assembled their own Desserts. Those Bits of Ginger throughout the Ginger Shortcake were little Culinary Explosions. Periodically, the Guests commented on their Surprising Treat to the Palette. To top it off, the Ice Cream was made from Raw Milk from a Cow called "Blessing." What could be better for a Birthday?

As per usual, the Food was Organic and Local. Most of it was grown right here on the Farm. Yes, that includes the Chicken and the Peaches. Some came from other Local Farmers (the Raw Cream and Milk used in the Butter and the Ice Cream). We featured Slow Food, lovingly prepared in Rachel's Honor.

The Vibrance of the Living Energy of the Food extended to its Freshness, Taste and Colors. You would have thought that we were working with an Artist's Canvas. As if that was not enough, Melanie picked Flowers for the Table (which we sent home with Rachel) and I picked Flowers to adorn the edges of the Individual Plates. By the end of the Meal, some were wearing Flowers in their Hair. Spontaneity and Play are so much Fun; they are essential for Birthdays regardless of the Age.

I find it amazing to watch and listen to People eat such Food. The quiet is astounding. The eagerness with which People eat, clean their plates, and respectfully reach for seconds is simply amazing. The gratitude expressed to our Little Farm, the Farmers, and All Beings makes me smile.

I feel deeply blessed that we have taken on this practice. We surely have not always eaten this way. I remember our Humble and Tentative Beginnings. In the late 90s, I decided to fix an Organic Meal for Melanie's Birthday. It made sense. Somehow, it seemed to honor her Life in ways that Conventional Fare did not. It was a big deal for me to make that shift and it was not easy. I really had to think about it and plan ahead. Afterwards, I wondered why we would fix any other kind of Food. It just did not make sense. Honoring Life should happen at every meal, not just at 1 Birthday. While a slow process, the Journey shifted up a Gear.

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

T-Shirt Seen at Dinner

Green Bean Update

Richard canned 42 Quarts of Green Beans today. That means that we have 21+28+42=91 Quarts total. His Goal was 80-100 Quarts. He still would like to can about 2 more Canner Loads (14 Quarts).

I visited Mother in the Nursing Home today. Some of the Ladies will routinely ask what is going on at the Farm. Since many come from a Farm background, Farm Stuff is very meaningful and they have their own stories to tell.

I told 1 of the Ladies that Richard was canning Green Beans and that he should have at least 35 Quarts done when I got home (added to 49 Quarts already complete). She commented: "He's unusual." And I nodded and smiled.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bean Time Continues

These days, our 2 Green Bean Patches are quite Prolific. And the Beans are simply beautiful. In fact, they are the most beautiful Green Beans that I have ever seen. So far, that quality is very consistent.

I asked Richard what he thought the Reason/s might be. He has observed that Green Beans grown on Plants surrounded by Straw Mulch tend to have less Disease and less Damage than those on bare Soil. Plus, they are just "cleaner" without residues of Soil.

In addition, he daily scatters Chicken Poop from the Chicken Nest Boxes onto the Soil. He does this to keep the Nest Boxes clean. He has scattered Chicken Poop in the areas of the Bean Patches. Since Fresh Chicken Poop is "hot", he is careful not to scatter more than just a little in any one spot. He never places this rich Organic Material right next to the Plants. We believe we are reaping the rewards of the Chickens' Gifts in increasing Soil Vitality from this practice over time. The City Me used to think of Chicken Poop and I would wrinkle my Citified Nose. But these days, the Country Me is rejoicing in this Natural Fertilizer and I smile.

These days, Green Beans are coming into the House in the Bucket Fulls. Richard said this Evening that he has 40 Pounds of Snapped Green Beans in Plastic Bags in the Downstairs Refrigerator. Those 8 Gallons will yield at least 35 Quart Jars of Green Beans to add to our Store. Considering that we already have 48, that should give us 84 Quarts. His original goal was 80-100 Quarts.

Richard has the Canning Equipment all lined up in the Kitchen as we go to Bed this Evening. He usually gets up early. Tomorrow, the Little Kitchen will be humming with the Pressure Canning of Green Beans. He should have 5 Loads.

We are considering that we will be needing more Quart Jars. We are also considering the possibility of purchasing a 2nd Canner to expedite the use of time.

1st Day Out

The Baby Chicks hatched on Friday and Saturday (July 24 and 25). Lacey and the 3 Humans are proud to report that 5 Baby Chicks who are tiny balls of Fluff are doing well. On Sunday Morning, Lacey had decided to abandon the 5 unhatched Eggs. It was time for Lacey to take her Little Peeps out into the World.

We Humans were all excited about this and were quite sure that Lacey would wait for our Assistance to leave the Little Brooder House. Not so. On Sunday morning (July 26) Richard came into the Human House, announcing that Lacey and the Baby Chicks were out and about in the Grasses around their Little Brooder House. Lacey had already taken her Little Brood out into the World for their 1st Day out.

Richard thinks the Chicks must have been in Free Fall as they left the House and negotiated the Tall Step that separated them from the outside World. That Tall Step is about 3 times their height. I guess they were ready.

Of course, the Humans had to immediately go out to the Brooder House and see this Next Stage of the Adventure. They placed Ramps for the Little Ones to negotiate the Tall Step that separated them from their House and from the World Around. Chick Feed and Water were also placed outside the House.But Ms. Lacey skipped the Food Formulated by Humans and went right for the Bugs. Richard thinks the Bugs gave her Precious Chicks higher Protein. Those Bugs are also more easily digestible. Gee, we Humans have some things to learn about Chickens and their Food.

Ms. Lacey would scratch with the Chicks right beside her. She would tell them with some Clucking Sound that they knew that she had found some delicious Bug. Those Little Chicks were right there. Other times, when the temperature was a little cooler or it Nap time, the Little Chicks would snuggle right into those lovely Feathers of their Mother.In the meantime, a continual entourage of the Big Sisters and their Rooster would come by to check out the Doin's. Mostly Lacey was all right with this.

Throughout the Day, she was ever alert to possible threats to her Little Ones. She would quickly give alarm calls simultaneous to those given by her Sisters and their Rooster. But mostly, things were quite peaceful on this 1st Glorious Day to be Out in the World. When 1 of the Barred Rock Hennies came by to check things out, Lacey got all fluffed up and led her young Charges off. We Humans don't exactly know what all of that was about. We didn't see any threat, as if Humans can know these things. Lacey had seemed content with the Visits by the other Hens and their Rooster, but not with this One. Maybe She had had just 1 too many Visitors on this 1st Beautiful Day to be Out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


These last few Days, we have had Visitors of the non-Human kind. Two days ago, we had 2 2-month old Raccoons who joined us as Daylight Waned.

Yesterday, 2 Bob White Quail (1 Male and 1 Female) ambled up on the West Side of the House into the Flower Gardens. They poked around, moving in and out of the Plants. Some moments, they were fearful and retreating. As time went on, they became more and more comfortable. They found some loose Soil and settled into luxurious Dust Baths, just like the Chickens. Melanie and I watched them for at least 20 minutes. When the Dust Baths were complete, they ambled across the Lawn and under the Clothesline back into the Tall Grass.

This Evening, we were enjoying Dinner when Richard announced that 2 Fawns had moved up to the Edge of the Tall Grass. We stopped mid-chew and watched them. The Chickens picked up on the Visitors and began alert calls. The Spotted Fawns held their Ears tall and watched the Doin's intently. Melanie thinks they were pleased we were eating Beef. But as quick as they had arrived, with a Flash of their Tails, they were gone.

When I think about This Little Farm, I wonder who the real Visitors are. We Humans just arrived here a little over 2 years ago. I can imagine that the Raccoons, Quail and Deer can trace their Families way back.


How did that Little Chick
come out of that Egg?
we know
the Biological Story,
to a point.
But rather,
what was the Magic
that Created all this Wonder
right before us?
the Spark
from the Master's Hand
was Love.
Glinda Crawford, 2009

Basic Stats: Green Beans

Years ago, Richard and I had to have "Stats" associated with research in our programs of study. Over the years, we noted other places where "Stats" were used. Sports would certainly be an example.

On our Little Farm, we are gathering our own Stats. Richard has come up with the following "Stats" for Green Beans:

(1) Each Quart contains about 1 Pound of Raw Green Beans.
(2) Richard believes that each Quart takes about 30 Minutes to prepare, counting Picking, Snapping, Canning. That does not count getting the Soil ready, Planting and Weeding.
(3) The Picking and Snapping of Beans is a Meditative Process. The End Result is a kind of Calm that cannot be quantified. The Satisfaction that comes from eating Food that comes from your own Land and your own Hand also cannot be quantified.

Grandma Says

Don't throw anything away.
You'll never know when you'll need it.

Green Beans

July 23:

Green Beans are Staple for our Winter Stash. Before today and for this Season, Richard canned 21 Quarts of Green Beans.

Today he has 28 Quarts in process of Canning. Our Pressure Canner will hold 7 Quarts. He is on Batch 2 of 4.

Each Batch takes 25 Minutes at 11 Pounds of Pressure. Then he has to wait for the Canner Pressure to go down and the Lock releases.I would call all of that a Work of Art. Richard, that Little Bean Patch, Our Canner, and our Kitchen just keep Humming Along. Harvest has a Beautiful Rhythm all of its own.

Assuming all goes well today, we should have: 21 Quarts + 28 Quarts = 49 Quarts. He hopes to get between 80-100 Quarts for the Season Total.

Grandma Says

Keep it simple
Use what you have.
You don't really need much.

Cookbook Friend

Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC). (2004). From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce. Third Edition. Madison, Wisconsin, Jones Books.

We have found this an excellent reference to stimulate new ideas for preparing produce from the Garden. The Book begins with establishing a case for eating Locally, as well as making suggestions for Families and Individuals who wish to transition toward eating Locally. With the excellent choices available, with the increased possibilities of growing our own Food and supporting local Farmers, why would we want to eat anything else?

Recipe: Bean Dip

1 Pint Horticulture Beans (Canned from previous season)
1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
Dried Hot Pepper Variety, to taste, broken into small pieces
About 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
About 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Small Bunch of Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
Ground Black Pepper and Sea Salt, to taste

Choose from Ingredients on hand. Process in Food Processor until relatively smooth, but you can still see the Cilantro. We used this as a side on a Garden Salad today. It was so yummy, that I finished the meal with Corn Chips (from a Natural Food Store, non-GMO) and Dip. No dessert needed.
The original version of this recipe came from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Season Produce (2004), page 25. I simply chose from Ingredients that we had on hand. It inspired me to consider canning other Dried Bean Varieties and freezing plenty of Cilantro to have on hand. That would make this a very quick treat.

What's Going On?

The Doin's in the Brooder House have attracted attention among the Rest of Flock. Freddie, our Buff Orpington Rooster, has been checking things out.

The Little Roosters (who will be Meat in the Freezer in the Next Month) have been eyeing the Doin's in the Pen Next Door. Somehow, it seems fitting to see the contrast of Life and Death inbetween the 2 Pens. The Little Roosters were Wee Small Peeps a short 3 Months ago. Soon, they will die. But yet, they too will be supporting Life: the Lives of the 3 Humans. And the Cycle of Life and Death just goes on and on. We missed so much of this when we lived in Town.

In Praise of Buckets

In the City, People carry Stuff in Grocery Bags, Shopping Bags, Backpacks, and Briefcases. Farmers and Gardeners carry Stuff too. We find Carrying Containers suited to the City too Flimsy and to Constraining for our Work here.

In fact, we have concluded we really can't be serious Gardeners or have a Little Farm without an Ample Supply of Buckets. We had a Stash when we moved from North Dakota in 2007 and we have guarded them carefully. Faithful Companions in our work here, they are 2 and 5 Gallon Size.

Our Choice would be the Old Time Metal Buckets, but those are not readily available. In these times, we choose Plastic for our own reasons, but I will talk more about that later.

At Richard's retirement, I suggested that 5 Gallon Buckets (Green) would be an appropriate and whimsical Send Off honoring Richard's new Roles and Responsibilities. We had had these for years; our Supply was reduced as they were wearing out and sometimes walking off. So, the Biology Department gave him (us) Beautiful Buckets as part of his send-off at his Retirement Celebration. I suppose only the 3 C's would call useful Buckets "Beautiful". But, they are indeed.

I have described below some background in our decisionmaking on Buckets. It comes from some years of Experience, but we are always up for learning more.

When acquiring Plastic Buckets, Food Grade is essential. Since Buckets will hold Food for Humans and Non-Humans, Buckets which have held Toxic Materials are not viable choices.

We are always keeping our eyes open for sources. Food Service Establishments (Restaurants, Cafeterias, and Grocery Stores) that deal in quantity Food Production on site are prime candidates.

The Local Grocery Store's Cake Decorating Section has 2 Gallon Buckets. The Buckets held Icing, which in some ways is a contradiction to our practice here since we don't use products customarily found in conventional Cake Icing. Those Buckets are usually thrown out.

You know how we feel about Landfills. Anything we can do to convert "Trash" into Useful Resources is important. That means the Resources from the Earth are extended. Further, Plastic is generally made from Petroleum. We do our best to reduce dependence on Petroleum Products; we surely have more to go here. For us, using Buckets rather than throwing them away is an important statement in slowing down Oil Dependence and not invading another's Homeland. Yes, we try to put our Views and our Values into Practice, rather than waiting for someone else to fix it. And yes, with the exception of these Fine Buckets, we try to minimize use of Plastic.

We are very grateful for access to these Buckets at our Local Store. At our request, a Family Friend who works there is holding Buckets for us until our Stash is sufficiently replenished. We have at least 1 person waiting in line behind us. She was just as excited about our discovery as we were.

Our Favorite Buckets are the ones that have Wire Bales for Handles. That little Plastic Tube-like Structure makes the Bucket very easy to carry. All Plastic Handles break too quickly.

Plastic Buckets do take special care. Plastic does react to Sunlight. Buckets which hold Water that Freezes will crack and split. Once we get a Bucket, we need to take care of it.

So how do we use them? We use them to gather produce of the Season: Beans, Onions, Potatoes, you name it. Richard uses them to pick Berries. Last Fall, Richard used them to Gather and Store Hickory Nuts.

Richard has one in the Shed that has Ash from the Charcoal Grill. The Ash will be added to the Garden Soil when a sufficient amount accumulates.

We keep Buckets used for Animals separate from those used for Humans. The Chickens know that when Richard is carrying a White Bucket that Food is on its Way. Needless to say, they love White Buckets. Sometimes we carry empty White Buckets. We get the same Response.

We have at least 5 in use for Chickens for Water (more on Hot Days)and 1 for the Cats and Laddie. Several are needed daily for Feed.

I like to sit on them to weed in the Garden and to pick Beans. Depending on the Task and the lay of the Ground, I will either choose the 2 or 5 Gallon Size.

I use them for Rain Water for Potted Plants, both inside and out. We have lots of Plants, so we go through a Lot of Rain Water. They are handy to carry Gray Water out to Trees and Shrubs planted during this Growing Season.

Those Buckets make Great Indoor Storage for Food for the Humans. In the Winter, we use 2 Gallon Buckets with Lids to store our Various Flours. In the Summer, Bugs are a problem. We put the Flours in the Freezer instead. Those Handy Buckets fit perfectly on the Lazy Susan in the corner cupboard. You would have thought the Lazy Susan had been made just for them.

We also use them as storage for Laddie's Food. Just like the Chickens, he is a quick study. He knows the significance of White Buckets in the Utility Room too.

As I am typing away on this Blog entry, Richard came inside looking for a Bucket. No, I did not make that up, nor did we orchestrate it. He is headed out to the Garden to pick more Beans.

Earlier today, I picked a Bucket full of Zinnias to take to Mother in the Nursing Home. The Buckets are ideal for Flowers. I can put 2 inches of Water which does not spill over in transport and the long Stems of the Flowers are supported by the sides of the Bucket.

While with Mother, I made a Bouquet for her. I made some other smaller Bouquets too. I told her that she could give the rest to special ones she knows. She had no problem coming up with Names. She especially wanted 1 of them to go to a Lady who doesn't get much attention from the Outside.

I also told the Charge Nurse that I could bring Buckets of Flowers off and on through the remaining part of the Summer and early Fall to the Nursing Home. Would they be interested? Yes, of course. Flowers (in their Buckets and vases and jars) make People smile. Over the coming days, you are apt to see me walking down those Corridors with a Buckets of Flowers to share.


After Lunch today, we headed back out to Brooder House. We just couldn't wait any longer to check on the Mama and her Brood. Truthfully, I couldn't wait. It was me that couldn't wait. Everyone was really excited, but I surely tipped the scales and to the Brooder House we 3 Humans went.

Lacey does have 5 little Peeps. They are just Balls of Fluff. She still has 5 Eggs underneath. Richard tells us that soon, she will make a choice to abandon the unhatched Eggs. If she doesn't, we may do this either this evening or tomorrow morning.

Those Baby Chicks are awfully cute. After taking Pictures, I headed back inside to work on the Blog. Melanie says that Lacey ate from her Food Dish and clucked to her little Babes. They came over. Some ate. She drank from the Water Container. They watched her. Some even had a drink of Water. Melanie tells me that as of this moment, they have headed into Naps. I think that is a Very Good Idea.

Friday, July 24, 2009

3 Hatchlings So Far

As the Sun shifts lower in the Western Sky, Lacey has 3 Fluffy Little Chicks under her. Sometimes they appear out of her Feathers to catch a Glimpse of their New World. Then they drift off to sleep.

We hear the Mama Hennie softly clucking, which is a new sound we have not heard. Where there was silence before, we hear the "Peep," "Peep," "Peep" response of her Little Chicks.

Some Eggs are left to hatch so we are not sure what the total will be. We are hoping for some Hens, but will be grateful for a Healthy Brood.

The Brooder House is really warm. We are making sure she has chances to drink while she stays tight upon her Nest and Clutch of Eggs. The Evening Breeze is beginning to bring some Cool which we hope will make its way into her House.

Lacey should be out and about with her Chicks tomorrow. Those precocial Little Ones will be venturing out into the Big World of their Coop. They will be tasting their 1st Bugs.

Lacey's Got Babies

Melanie came running in earlier and announced that our Lovely Hennie Lacey was hatching her Baby Chicks. In short order, we all headed out to the Brooder House.

When we 3 were assembled, Melanie carefully lifted Lacey off the Clutch of Eggs. Sure enough, 3 had hatched. One was all dried off and fluffy. Lacey kept poking that Little One underneath her. Another was just out and still wet. A 3rd had hatched but did not make it. Two Eggs were pipped (which means that the Little Ones inside were making their introduction into the World).

We watched for a little while. Lacey let us know that she would like her privacy during this time. As excited as we were, we Newbie Farmers fresh still from the City gave her the respect that she is due.

Later, we wondered what we should do while we waited. Should we prepare announcements? (I guess this is a start.) Should we knit scarves, hats, booties? (I think Lacey and the Baby Peeps will have that covered.) In the end, we decided that we should just make Supper for the Humans. And so we are.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who Would Blot Out the Stars?

I once read that the Average Person could see 2500 Stars or more in a Sky without Light Pollution. In the City where the Lights blot out the Stars, the Average Person can see 250 or less. I began to ponder this "loss".

When I was growing up, I loved the Stars. I would watch them overhead. I was fascinated by their twinkling. It was as if they were winking down at me. I remember the Childhood Rhyme which added its own magic to what I saw and how I felt about the vast Heavens above me and around the Beautiful Earth which was my Home. "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky!"

On rare occasions, I would see Falling Stars. More often than not, an Adult who stood near me would describe seeing one. I just kept missing them, although I tried very hard to see them. Sometimes I even thought that if I was just a little taller I could see them. I remember too the classic of Perry Como. To this day, whenever I see a Falling Star, I think of that melody and those words:"Catch a falling star And put it in your pocket. Never let it fade away. Save it for a rainy day.

I absolutely loved the Milky Way. Someone surely must have poured Milk from a bucket across the lovely Black Velvet Sky. To think that what I was seeing was a myriad of Stars that were a part of our own Galaxy, our own Home, was almost more than I could comprehend.

I saw the Stars and the Heavens as Companions. In some ways, I think I thought they were a part of me. While I felt small, I felt a Safety and Protection. I felt like I was held. I felt Awe. In my own way, I felt a door open to the Great Mystery.

When we came to this little Farm, I was just enchanted with the Night Sky. That first Night (March 9, 2007) that we arrived after many hours on the Road, we were met by Nephews Jake and Bobby bringing our Bed and Mattress. You would have thought we would have immediately just flopped into bed. But instead, we all just stood outside on the cement pad staring up at those Wondrous Stars. I think I could have stood there forever.

Over time, I noted regrettably that our "security" light cast pollution into our own Sky. Gratefully, the light has quit its functioning. Sometime soon, we will need to get that fixed, as it bears an important function in the upcoming season. I shall write more of this later. But for now, we have the sky all to ourselves.

In the years since my Childhood, we as an "Advanced" Society and a World have turned on an increasing number of Lights. Those Stars and those Stories are now less visible to us. Something very important has been taken away. I am left to ponder: Who would blot out the Stars? Why would we do that?

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:, July 23, 2009
Dark Skies Initiative:, July 24, 2009

Lacey Update

Lacey, our Broody Buff Orpington Hennie, is staying on her Nest. She started out with 12 Eggs. She now has 11 Eggs, one of which is cracked but seems sealed so far.

Apparently Hens on the Nest sometimes eat their own Eggs. While that sounds gross and disgusting, the Hens surely must have their own reasons. The ones we know of include: the Hen needs Protein; the Hen "disposes" of a Cracked Egg.

We are leaving Lacey mostly to herself. We followed her a little too closely earlier in the Summer. These days, we are very busy with Harvest and other matters on the Farm. She is probably grateful about this new approach of her Humans. I can imagine her saying: "Oh, Dear. Here they come again. Can't they just leave a Mother Hennie alone?"

Assuming all goes well, the Chicks should begin to hatch on Sunday, July 26. We are excited.


One of our Favorite Sounds during Canning Season is the "Ping" of Jars as they Seal. That means that the Canning is Successful and it is Complete. Sometimes we go to Bed at Night and count the "Pings". When the Number of "Pings" matches the Number of Jars Canned, we drift into Sleep.

Let's Have Lunch

Twenty years ago or so, we would go to a Pizza Place that had a featured Pizza called "Once Around the Kitchen". At the time, that Pizza and that Place ranked among our Favorites, but Industrial Food pales in comparison to what we put on the Table here.

We had an absolutely fabulous Lunch today. That Salad featured Fresh Produce from the Garden. We could call that Salad: "Once Around the Garden". Every time we fix it, the Garden is different, so the Salad is different. Eating becomes an ever changing Culinary Experience.

As you may remember if you have been following this Blog, we use mostly Heirloom Varieties (the ones the Grandmas knew). The Produce comes right from the Garden so it is the Freshest it can be. We put as much Loving Kindness into growing, harvesting and preparing our Food as we can muster. Over time, that has just come Naturally.

The Salad featured a variety of Lettuces and Peppers. We added Swiss Chard, Herbs (Parsley, Basil), Arugula, Peas. I goofed on the Peas. Melanie and I picked Peas which have edible Pods and those that do not. I mixed all of them together. It meant I needed to test each Pod to see if it was Edible. Fixing Food around here is a Challenging Job.

I chopped up a Chioggia Beet, while Melanie was slicing Carrots. We sprinkled in Edible Flowers: Borage (Bluish Lavender) and Calendula (Sunny Yellows and Oranges). No meal from the Garden is complete without Edible Flowers.

I made a little Side Dish of chopped Tomatoes, Onions, Cucumbers, Cilantro, Chives, Garlic to which I added a bit of Vinegar and Olive Oil; we let it marinade while we made the rest of the Salad. In assembling the Salad, we spooned the Tomato Medley (I made up that name) over the Top, but the Top of the Salad just kept getting taller.

We sprinkled on Cheese which we had made from Kefir, which we had made from Raw Milk, that the Whitaker Cows had gracioiusly provided. The Cheese is white and kind of pebbly. It looks like Feta, but has a softer taste.

Melanie made Croutons from 2 Slices of Homemade Bread which we had carefully tucked away in the Freezer. She cut the Bread into Cubes. She put Oil in the Iron Skillet, added an Assortment of Fresh Herbs, fried up the Bread until it was crispy and brown. We kept eating the Croutons before we sat down to Lunch. We had to test them, you know. I think we could eat them like Popcorn. She had made a Dip from Tahini the day before and altered it a bit to turn it into Salad Dressing.

The Salad was complimented by Iced Tea which I made from Anise Hyssop. Anise Hyssop is very happily growing in the Herb Garden. It makes a lovely Gentle Tea.

We sat down to our Lunch in the shade on the West Porch. I asked who might like to say the "Blessing". We almost always have a Blessing before our Meals. Melanie had just been visiting with Karen, Doug and their Family in Minnesota. She was inspired by the Grace of 2 1/2 year old Jonathan, so she shared her own version.

When the Meal was complete, Melanie looked down and, to our surprise, Penny Chicken had joined us. Being on the Porch is a No-No for Chickens. Penny is one for Drama. She has lost a considerable amount of Feathers and wears a lovely protective Cape which Melanie fashioned. Penny Chicken looks Primordial, so we call her our Primordial Chicken. Penny is also our Escape Artist, always seeming to find a way out of the Fenced Area that confines ordinary Chickens.

Upon her arrival on the Porch, Penny checked out what was in the Bowl, but it was all gone. Max, who had been sleeping blissfully under Melanie's chair, respectfully gave her and her Beak a little more room. I just captured it on Film.

Things are always changing around here. Life is good.

Woman Rains

July 20:

The Gentle Rains came off and on during the Day. We had no Thunder, no Lightning, and no Wind. Richard says the Lakota call these Rains the "Woman Rains".

We envisioned the Nourishment of the Rains on the Plants in the Garden and all Living Things. Even the 3 Humans on this Little Farm took the Day to rest and unwind.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


As Daylight waned, 2 Bandits about 2 Months Old, both wearing masks, were sited in the Backyard near one of the Birdfeeders. Richard and Melanie quickly came outside to investigate. I was finishing typing an earlier Blog.

Melanie grabbed Chloe Jean Chicken, who was the only Chicken where the Bandits were. With Chloe Jean under her arm, Melanie went directly to make sure the Chickens were safely tucked away into their Coop. Sure enough, once they saw Melanie, those Loving Hennies came pouring out of the Coop towards the proximity of the Bandits. Melanie went into the Coop to encourage a reverse migration, which, with Richard's help, was successful. The gate was then closed. In the meantime, the Raccoons had climbed 1 of the tall Trees.

So what should we do? Richard and Melanie didn't want them to know they might find food sources here at the Farm: Bird Food, Corn, CHICKENS. Yikes. Those Bandits really weren't any bigger than the Chickens themselves. Richard and Melanie stood under the tree pondering what they should do: poke them? cut down the tree? shoot them? We are non-violent in our practice on this Little Farm.

Melanie had the great idea of getting Laddie to come and bark at them. She thought that his barking would be the makings of a bad experience, to which they would not want to return. But, Laddie had not been apprised of that plan. He wasn't really very excited. So he wasn't much help.

So then, the Humans with their Superior Brains decided to Trap the Bandits. This would be their One Warning. So then what would we do with them? Richard suggested taking them to Hollis'. Just kidding.

Richard goes out to the Garage and gets his Antique Trap which still has the number from the Moving Van (#189). He tries to remember how to make it work. Melanie described this as similar to a Tavern Puzzle. He finally figured it out. Melanie found some old Turkey in the Refrigerator to use as bait. They put the Trap and the Bait a few feet South of the Tree.

At this point, Richard and Melanie made sure that all the Chickens were inside their houses, tucked into bed, and sang to. The last point is Melanie's job and not Richard's. She does not remember the Songs that she sang to them nor the number of Stanzas. It surely was brief on this particular evening.

Richard and Melanie came inside to wait and to resume some semblance of normal evening activity. Richard was began making Popcorn for himself and me. Melanie was sitting on the couch looking out the window having some Molasses Cake and a cup of Anise Hyssop Tea. I continued to clatter away at these Keys.

Within few moments, Melanie then noted: "1 is coming down the Tree!" So Melanie and I went to the window to get a closer look. That little Scallywag headed straight for the Peach Tree and began eating Peaches that were on the Ground. Then Melanie noted that part of the Peach Tree was moving. That little Scallywag's Sibling was pilfering our almost ripe Peaches.

So the 3 Humans reconnoitered by the Window pondering out anti-theft approach. While Richard was getting his shoes on, he told Melanie: "Go get Laddie. As soon as you bring Laddie to the corner of the House, I will meet you there." Laddie and Melanie appeared at the Corner of the House and were met by Richard with his Walking Stick (AKA Poking Stick) at the Gate. "All right, Laddie, let's go." Super Sniffer Laddie goes right past the Raccoons to the Turkey Meat in the Trap.

When Richard and Ladd finally got to the Peach Tree, they saw that 1 little Varmint had a surprised look on his face and half a Peach sticking out of his mouth. Richard starts poking at the Raccoon in the Peach Tree. That little pipsqueak Raccoon began making big snarling noises. And our dear Courageous Laddie sticks his tail between his legs and runs away.

With a few Pokes from Richard, the Raccoon falls to the Ground and that does attract Laddie's Attention. Ours too. Let's say that Richard and the Walking Stick encouraged the Bandit to leave the Premises in an expeditious manner.

While Richard was conversing with the 1st Bandit, the 2nd one comes down out of the Peach Tree and lands at the feet of Melanie and me. Melanie grabs the Hoe from me and this little Critter heads straight to the House and dives underneath the Chicken Wire and underneath the Deck. By this time, the 1st Raccoon has exited the property.

The 3 of us gather at the Deck. I get the flashlight because I follow directions very well. Melanie is looking under the deck for Bandit Number 2. Upon location of the Bandit, Richard and I start holding a dance party doing rhythmic steps above him until he finds a hole in the chicken wire to get out. At which point, Richard and Laddie take off after him chasing him down to the Woods.

We probably will put out the Antique Trap tonight under the Peach Tree. Who knows what lives on this property at night? We think we own the Title. But someone else has longstanding squatter's rights.

We don't like to be mean. Melanie talked to them and told them they needed to go. And I just looked at Melanie and said: "Welcome back to the Farm."

To top it off, by the time I finished writing this story, Richard had finished eating all of the Popcorn, which he had intended to share and I had intended to eat.

Simplest of Things

Yes, I wear an Apron. I think I always have. I remember when I was growing up in the 1950s the Ladies of the Kitchen always wore Aprons. Some were very simple. Others were quite fancy. During those years, those that didn't wear an Apron (especially the Functional Kind) didn't plan to accomplish much in the Kitchen. Not wearing an Apron was unheard of in the Little World that I knew.

While in Junior High, I remember making an Apron as one of my earliest Sewing Projects. It was a soft blue print with folded blue bias tape on the edges. Richard's Mother made me an Apron when we 1st got married. It had a Red Hand Towel sewn right into the waist. My Great Aunt Lu who was an Octogenarian made Aprons for Melanie when our Daughter was Wee Small. Aunt Lu would have been in a Nursing Home in South Missouri at the time. I even made Aprons for Little Girls. It seemed never too early to introduce a Child or a new Bride to a time honored Role.

I believe that the Apron is a Power Statement. Of course, many men can wear and do wear Aprons. Many Men cook and are quite fine at it. Many Women accomplish a good bit in the Kitchen without one. But I believe that Aprons are a statement that triumphs traditional achievements of what it means to be Female. It says in an instant I have work to do to feed my Family. Nothing is more important than that.

I only have one Apron and I have worn it for years. My trusty Apron is covered in Sunflowers which I love. If you have come to our House for a Meal, or if I have come to yours to help with the fixing of a Culinary Feed, I would have my Apron. I do not know how long I have had this. Some of the edges are getting tattered. I even had to sew on one of the straps earlier this Summer because it fell off. I do know that some day I shall have to make a new one. I do not look forward to that.

I am actually quite proud of this Apron. Its wear is a statement about the many Foods I have prepared for my Loved Ones and the Loving Kindness I have tried to integrate into their preparation. Granted, I think I am better at that now.

I noticed recently that the Tummy Part of the Apron is beginning to take on a Darker Color. That Stain kind of looks like Soiling or Grease. Washing will not take it out and it does not bother me a bit. That must have come from leaning up against the Sink or the Counter while I have done Dishes or made Pie. I remember that Richard's Mother had a similar spot on her Apron.

I know that different Walks of Life have Badges or Insignias to wear designating elevated States or Achievements. That Apron and that Soiled Front are Mine.

I do know that Aprons have fallen out of favor for some. To me, they are among the Simples of Things. I think it is high time we brought them back.

Blessings of the New Day

July 19:

I went for a Walk on the Farm at 6:45 this morning. Richard had freshly mown the Paths just yesterday. Dew was everywhere. The Soft Morning Light embraced all it touched with Blessings for the New Day.


Melanie returned from Grand Forks Last Night. She had done a whirlwind Magical Tour in the North Country which included attending her 20th Class Reunion, among other very special Visits. Some Visits were planned and others not.

Until 2 years ago, our Family had spent 32 years in Grand Forks, so our Roots there go deep. While Grand Forks is no longer our Geographical Home, it will always be "Home" for us in our Hearts. We fell in Love with the Land and we have so many people in the North Country whom we cherish.

After she arrived home, Melanie briefed us on who she had seen and how they were. We got much needed sleep last night. And Bingo, the Briefing continued today. Plus, we had more Questions besides. While Richard and I did not go, we were eager for every little Tidbit of News. In hearing her Stories, we felt like we too had gone without leaving the Farm.

When I think about the meaning of this precious visit, I think about words like Glowing and Sparkling. That 1st Spring rain washes away the dust and grime; things turn a tender sweet green; everything glows with remarkable energy. This little excursion brought Melanie Home to the Farm just Glowing. Hearing of so many of the Ones that we have known and loved meant that Richard and I are glowing too. We all feel radiant. We stepped into a place of Great Love, both Giving and Receiving.

Isn't that the way that Life is supposed to be, every Day, every Minute of each Day? We shall work on that.

Monday, July 20, 2009


We picked Green Beans today. Gee, they are absolutely beautiful. Assuming the Weather is favorable and we get some Rain which is predicted tonight, our little Bean Patch should continue to offer us Green Beans. Richard and I are pondering a question though.

You see those little Tails on the Green Beans, where the Flowers were? Why do we pick those Tails off before we eat them? Is it a Family or a Regional Practice?

Years ago, we remember eating at a Fancy Schmancy Restaurant in the Twin Cities that featured "Farm Fresh Green Beans". That Fancy Schmancy Restaurant did not pick the Tails off. In fact, they left the Green Beans whole, steamed them, and arranged them beautifully along with the Entre' on the Plate. Somehow, the practice seemed fitting for an upscale Restaurant.

We muse on possible explanations, most of which are whimsical. Is there a different taste associated with the Tails? Do we do it just because that is what Mama and Papa always did and they knew what was best to do? Do those Tails tickle on the way down? Once upon a time, some practices probably had a good reason. But maybe they don't now.

Why do we snap those Tails off?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spider's Web

On my early Morning Walk, I saw a Myriad of Spider Webs which I would have missed before. The Dew and the New Day's Sun lit them up like the Meadow's own gentle version of Human Neon Signs.

As I was waking this Morning, I mused on how I love to see the interconnections of things. I delight in seeing how pieces fit together and influence each other. I am in awe of how the subtlest things touch another. I am enchanted by how little I can know of these things.

Maybe that is one of the reasons I love the Garden. I try to be as open and aware as I can be. I am such a Newbie at these things and always will be. Creation is at Work here and most of that is far beyond my Human Knowing.

I am reminded of a Quote which touched me deeply when I first heard it in the mid 1990's. Even today, it sits in a treasured space at the Core of my Being: "The Earth is not only more complex than we think; She is more complex than we can think." Such statements seem to be Basic Truths.

Years ago, I shared that Quote with a group of Senior Faculty who were headed on retreat to focus on the "Senior Faculty Experience". Fully loaded with handouts, pads of paper, pens, and laptops, we stuffed ourselves into the Van and headed East toward the closest Lake. I shared the Quote as we speeded toward our destination. A Senior Faculty Member who was esteemed in our University Community commented that she found the Quote depressing. Our little Community had just experienced a devastating Flood and we Humans were still reeling from it. To which I responded: "As an Academic, I have been trained to continually seek out answers. But this little Quote gives me something that approach never has. It gives me Peace. There are some things I cannot know. It is O.K."

Even today, I still find that Quote thought-provoking, inspiring, and grounding. It helps me to know my place. If Creation could be described as a Spider's Web as it often has, I am just one infinitely tiny piece of a strand on that delicately interconnected and masterful Web. I am not the Web nor the Weaver. I cannot know everything. I trust there is a Bigger Picture. That Bigger Picture is a manifestation of the Great Mystery. I walk this Walk as a Prayer to preserve the Integrity of and to express my Gratitude toward the Creator's Gift of Life.
Note: The Source of the Quote is unknown. The word "She" and the Italics are my own.

Gift of the Whole Universe

We had a Yummy Breakfast today, most of which was from this little Farm. I wanted Omelets with Veggies from the Garden. So we grabbed a Collander and a Paring Knife, and headed out for a Gardening Walk and Meditation. The Ever Curious Chickens met us at the Gate: "Whatcha Got?" To which we responded: "Good Morning, Ladies."

We gathered: Lacinata Kale, Tomato, Sweet Pepper, Walla Walla Onion, Zuchini (a very small one since we had picked yesterday), 4 Green Beans, Small Bunch of Broccoli, 2 Carrots, Basil. The Carrots were our 1st of the Season. They were beautiful. I added 1 Clove of Garlic, which we already had inside.

I cut up and sauteed the Veggies. I like to do this whole process slowly, mindfully. Richard made the Omelets from Eggs of our Lovely Hennies. We embellished the Omelets with the vibrant Veggies and Kefir Cheese (which we made from Raw Milk from the Beautiful Cows of our Farmer Friends Brad and Jane). I toasted Sour Dough Whole Grain Bread that Melanie had made and I added heaping spoonfuls of Strawberry and Black Raspberry Spreads. The Strawberries were from here. The Black Raspberries were from Hollis'. I made the Strawberry Spread. Melanie made the Black Raspberry.

While Richard was cooking up the Omelets, I headed back to the Garden for some Spearmint Leaves. I added leaves to 2 Mugs (one for Richard and one for me). Then I poured Boiling Water into the Mugs. For mine, I added about 1/3 teaspoon of Honey from a Local Bee Keeper. Or rather, I should say "from Local Bees". Our Word Use in this Society quickly leaves out the very sources of our Food.

When the Plates were brimming full with our Breakfast, we headed to the West Porch for a Quiet Breakfast and a great beginning to the Day. While I ate, I was reminded of a meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh that I had read some time ago. I googled his name and came up with the following which is on the Plum Village web site (, July 19, 2009).

"1. This food is a gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky and much mindful work.
2. May we eat in mindfulness so as to be worthy of it.
3. May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation.
4. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
5. May we accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love."

Flowers for You, Flowers for Me

This is the 1st time I have given away Flowers, and been able to keep them too.

Each Bean

July 16:

Richard plans to can Beans tomorrow. He has picked Beans the last few days and we have them snapped and all ready to Can. They are in plastic in the Refrigerator in the Basement, just waiting that 1st Pressure Canning Day.

Last year, our Neighbor came over offering Green Beans as they had extra. We thanked her but said that ours were just beginning to bear. Little did we know that we would be inundated with Rain and that our little Bean Patch would not produce the volume we expected.

Richard canned only 14 Quarts last Summer, which was the least we had canned in years. If we had not had a backlog of Beans from previous years, we surely would have run out over the last few months.

These days, we are celebrating each Bean we pick and snap. In Gardening, there are no Guaruntees, only Gratitude for the Gifts the Earth gives and the Abundance with which we are so richly blessed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Organizing Seeds

We grow a lot of different varieties of Veggies and Herbs. When we are in the peak of Planting, things are really flying around here. The House looks like a Blizzard of Seed Packs. Well, maybe that is an overstatement.

Now that the Planting has slowed, it is time to take a look at organizing our Seed Collection. Since all 3 of us use the Seed Stash, a simple system that allows us ease of getting into and out of the Seed Collection is essential. We simply need to know what we have. Plus, each of the Seed Packs has some important information.

I used the "Major Vegetable Families" identified by Suzanne Ashworth in Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) as a start. This excellent reference is from Seed Savers Exchange (, which specializes in Heirloom Plants. You just can't get a better reference than that for what we intend to do. I have read at this reference and have only touched the surface. It will be an invaluable Friend for our learning ahead.

Why did I choose "Major Vegetable Families" as an organizer for our Seeds? 1st, we did not know the Family Groupings so this became an important way to help us see them. 2nd, we know that each "Family" has some similar characteristics. As we grow produce, those characteristics need to be increasingly clear to us. 3rd, patterning our collection after this excellent reference seemed to be a clever way to learn more. The book is organized in similar manner. 4th, we plan to rotate our crops. One way to do that is to consider Families.

I only made 2 edits from Ashworth's system: I divided Beans into "Green Beans" and "Dry Edible Beans". I separated Corn into "Sweet Corn" and "Indian Corn". This seemed to fit our needs.

I took a Rubbermaid Tub for the Seed Collection. We cut dividers and tabs from used Cardboard. We are getting really good at using Cardboard around here. We hardly need to take any into the Recycling Center. I added a Color Coding System with my Colored Pencils. As per usual, I will take any and every opportunity to play with my Colored Pencils.

This is the organizational system I came up with:

Amaryllidaceae: Leeks, Common Onions;
Brassicaceae: Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Kale and Collards, Brussels Sprouts, Chinese Cabbage, Radishes;
Chenopodiaceae: Beets and Swiss Chard; Spinach;
Compositae: Sunflower, Lettuce;
Cucurbitaceae: Watermelon, Muskmelon and Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Squash, Luffa; Leguminosae: Lima Beans, Green Beans, Dry Edible Beans, Garden Peas and Edible Podded Peas;
Solanaceae: Peppers, Tomato, Tomatillo, Eggplant;
Umbelliferae: Dill, Celery and Celeriac, Carrot, Fennel, Parsnip, Parsley;
Amaranthaceae: Amaranth;
Gramineae: Sweet Corn, Indian Corn;
Labiatae: Basil;
Liliaceae: Asparagus;
Malvaceae: Okra;
Polygonaceae: Rhubarb;
Valerianaceae: Common Corn Salad

Please, don't ask us to pronounce those Family Names. My 9th and 10th Grade Latin instruction still serves me fairly well, but pronunciation is a little dusty. That's a lot of Vowels.

I have yet to organize Flowers, Herbs, and our Tallgrass Prairie Collection. That will come later. This is a great start for now. It just feels good.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Walk in the Garden

Come join us for a Walk in the Garden. I took these pictures on July 14, just 3 days ago. After all the Rains and the Weeding, the Gardens are now settled down for Magical Growing of the Season.

The Plants are bursting with Life. We see changes Daily. And we don't want to miss Anything.
The biggest success of the Season has been to watch the Garden Beds which were "Sheet Mulched" ( By far and away, they are the most productive. The plants are bigger, more vibrant. We find less disease. We find to our excitement more flowering and more fruit set too.I planted Scarlet Runner Beans at the base of the Teepee. They drowned out with all the Rains earlier. I still have hopes to plant some more. I plan to add Hyacinth Runner Bean to the Mix. But, in the meantime, a little Jenny Wren has set up housekeeping in the Gourd I painted which is at the Top of the Teepee. We see Mrs. Wren flying in and out with Bugs for the Kids. Why are all Jenny Wrens referred to as "she"?
This picture was taken in the middle of the Herb Garden. We have Herbs planted for Culinary and Medicinal Purposes. Harvest of Herbs is underway.
We have a few Sunflowers in the Garden this year. Almost all came up from Seeds left from the Last Growing Season. We just let them come up where they may. They add a vibrant touch.
This little pathway goes through a 3 Sister's Garden. This style of Gardening was widely used by Native Americans. Corn, Beans, and Squash when grown together had mutually beneficial properties. The Corn grew tall and provided support for the Vining Beans. The Squash shaded out Weeds. Corn is a "heavy feeder" while Beans return Nitrogen to the Soil. Arikara Sunflowers are at both Gateways to the Pathway.
These Tomatoes are Robust. They are much larger than some of the other Tomatoes. Melanie had no idea they would grow in such a mass when she planted them. She grew them in Aged Cow Manure Compost. They were not Sheet Mulched. They are not as tall as the Sheet Mulched Tomatoes.
We celebrate the presence of Bees.
Melanie is growing Peanuts. While borderline for this area, they have an amazing growth habit.
These Tomatoes were grown in little pockets of Aged Cow Manure Compost.
This is one of Richard's Bean Patches. These Vigorous Plants yielded 21 Quarts of Beans which Richard canned today.
The Benary's Giant Zinnias are just beginning to bloom. They (with my Mother's Marigolds) line many of the paths in the south part of the Garden.
I love Dry Edible Beans. We have about 10 varieties planted. Some had to be replanted because the Rains drown them out. The shorter plants are the "re-plants". The short empty row on the right is Garbanzos. I don't know what happened here. I have some more learning to do. We may fertilize some of the Beans as the Plants are a bit yellow.
We are excited about the Carrots. We have them in a variety of spots. I am always amazed that they grow from such small Seeds which could fly away on a Puff of Wind at Planting and are barely covered with Soil.
St. Francis sits in the Herb Garden. Birds routinely sit on his head. I haven't really seen this as he is cleverly tucked away. How can I tell?
The Benches invite the Gardeners and their Visitors to sit for a few moments and ponder the Beauty and Grace of it all.