Saturday, October 31, 2009
Special Times of the Year bring up Family Stories. My Family and I have to chuckle about this one.
I am not sure when this was, but I always changed the Clocks, until the years following this particular year. Somehow on this occasion, my Spring went "back" and my Fall jumped "forward".
So I innocently and dutifully reset all the Clocks just before we went to bed. At that time, our number of Clocks was substantial. But that is another Story.
Richard and I got up that Next Morning and went out for a leisurely Breakfast. We passed Churches which should have had busy Parking Lots and Streets which should have been bustling. Instead, all was Quiet in our Town. Even the Restaurant on the East Side had far less Traffic than we expected. Where was everybody? Where were we?
By this time, we discovered that I had set the Clocks in the wrong direction. So on this particular day, we had not 24 or 25 hours, we had 26. It was the most marvelous day, filled with all kinds of extra time to do the things we loved. But I don't set the Clocks any more.
I have often thought about this switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time and back again. I really do not get it. The Sun comes up just as it always has and should. And that is right on its own Schedule, independent of the Time Lofty Humans with their Superior Brains think it should be.
When we were moving back to this area, we shared this little Tale with my Parents. Apparently, they had once also done the same. On that particular year, they found themselves waiting in their Church Pew with only 1 other Parishioner in sight.
I still shake my Head at such things and wonder: "What is the Point?" That little Voice from my Childhood is getting stronger: "Whose half-baked Idea is that anyway?"
Obesity in this Culture is on the Rise. I certainly can see that Rise in my Lifetime. Plus, I have traveled some internationally. I have been shocked to see how different we are in size compared to our more compact and efficient Global Neighbors. It is striking.
Considerable attention has been given to Obesity in this Country, and particularly Obesity in Children. Fingers are pointed. The standard is that the Person should just change patterns, eat less, and exercise more. That may or may not be an easy thing to do.
Food is "comfort" in our Culture. We may be drawn to Food almost as an addiction. I believe those to be true. But is there more: Is that alteration in Body size symtomatic of something far deeper?
Digging beneath the layers, I wonder if the increase in Obesity is in part because our Bodies are not getting the Nutrients they need. That could be because of the Foods we choose to eat. It could be because those Foods are raised on increasingly impoverished Soils. Those Soils have fewer of the Nutrients that we need.
Because our Bodies are not getting those Nutrients, the Body may be signalling: "Eat more." Just a thought. We need to be putting our most creative and most far out there thoughts on the Table. A lot is at Stake.
While this Insight is pretty common (or at least I think it should be), I have often wondered if People consider the Fuel they put in their Own Tanks. More specifically, I would be concerned about the "Tanks" of Children. Over the years, I have watched the increasingly Highly Processed, Sugared and Greasy "Foods" Children put into their "Tanks".
I see their supposedly loving and watchful Parents dutifully standing by as their Children eat what their Parents provide them. Those Plastic Meals make me cringe. I am not even sure they should be called "Food".
Why do I cringe? Children are in very critical stages of Development from Prenatal through Teen Years. At those critical stages of Development, certain Nutrients (and I would add Clean Water and Pure Air) need to be present for them to grow in the Healthy Patterns the Creator intended. Those Children (our Children) are laying down a Blue Print that will serve them for Life. We hope and pray their Lives will be healthy, whole and complete, but many Parents do not provide the essentials. If those essentials are missing, gaps will be present in their Development. Some will show up immediately, others may not show up until later into Adulthood.
Yikes. Their Tanks may be full, but they may not be getting what they need. What are we doing? How do we stop? How do we change?
We Humans have been going to extraordinary preparations for the Winter Seasons. I wonder: What are preparations of our Friends, the Trees?
Friday, October 30, 2009
We have a Rainy Day today. It is dark and overcast. Clouds are hanging low. We seem to be sitting in the middle of occasional downpours and they don't seem to want to stop.
It is a slow day out here on the Farm. Although we don't seem to need the Rain (that's the Human Assessment), we are grateful that the Pace is slow after the Frenzy of the Harvest Season.
On this day, we 3 C's are meandering between quiet Comtemplative Time, putting away much of the remaining Stashes of Seeds, considering an Oven Dinner, musing over Cups of Tea.
A Roast is in the Oven. It will cook all day, with Root Veggies added that last hour or so before Dinner. We don't quite smell it yet. Perhaps we should go outside and step back in just to check. Melanie has plans for trying out a new Recipe for Carrot Cake. This Recipe has all Whole Wheat Flour and will feature Carrots grown right here on the Farm.
We 3 C's have also been mulling over some topics which have been patiently awaiting their turn. While we sat over Cups of Tea this morning, we each shared thoughts on Storage in the Basement and Organization for the Workshop.We even considered that Question we have long set aside: "What do you do with Chickens who are 2 years old and past their peak of Egg Productivity?" That's a tough one.
A Retirement Home for Hennies and their Rooster probably isn't practical, nor really an Authentic Farm thing to do. So what else is possible? We shall be very mindful in our consideration of this one. All our Chickens have names.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
One of the Crops raised in that Valley was Sugar Beets. Consequently, up and down the Valley were huge complexes of Factories which converted Beets to Sugar to feed the Current Ravenous Diet of Humans for such Things.
I would often travel up and down that Valley by Interstate. I had many opportunities to meditate on those Fields and the heavy hand of Humans on the Natural Landscape. Plus, I could reflect on the Industrial Process designed to make Sugar, as I passed those Huge Industrial Complexes. During production, I always hoped the Wind would keep the Fumes from the Smoke Stacks out of my Way. If not, I would speed up a Bit.
During one of those excursions, I began to reflect on our Humble and Noble Bees which are in serious decline in this Country. How is possible that Bees seem to alter the Natural Landscape less and still produce Sweet Things in their Hives when Heavy Handed Humans create something Gargantuan to take their place?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
At Melanie's suggestion, we sat down this Evening and brainstormed some ideas. We need to consider that we have a lot of Craft Materials at our finger tips. Some are stored in Bins in the Basement. Those Bins have hardly been touched in the busy times since we moved. Other Craft Materials are sitting on this Farm in Nature just waiting for a loving and creative use.
Ideas that we came up with included: Painting a picture, writing a Story (including Family Stories), writing a Poem, making a Quilt, creating a Wood Carving. We talked about these as a "Broad Brush Stroke", leaving out the details so that the Other would be left to guess. At least, that is what I did.
We discussed the possibility of making something small as a part of our exchange. The other part would be to jointly work on some Bookshelves for the Family Room. Yes, we will probably do this anyway. It would be nice to think of these Shelves as something we made jointly for Holiday 2009 as we settled into our Little Home. Plus, we would be able to get out our boxes of Books and put them on shelves. We have yearned for this. Our Books are treasured Friends and we have not seen many of them for a long time. Opening those Boxes would be a Gift of another sort.
Once we started brainstorming Ideas, more Ideas came along too. I also just suggested that we work as a Family at a local Soup Kitchen. Possibilities are endless. We just need to focus on the Spirit of what this Sacred Time is all about.
The Fresh Produce that we gathered from the Garden before that Big Frost has mostly been processed. Some Veggies are still waiting in the Wings for their own time on center stage. We are surely not forgetting those beautiful Jonathan Apples in the Garage.
In the meantime, the Sun shines down through all of these doin's. And as we look closely, that Glorious Sun is sinking farther South as it makes its way across our Late Autumn Sky.
In those years, sometimes I was on Fire and the words would come. More often, they would smolder like a wet Punk, never quite catching Fire. I have come to know that I was "sitting" with that Energy. I had a lot to learn before I was ready to write. The "Book" simply hadn't quite cooked yet. Or perhaps it was me.
Well, these days I am on Fire. I just cannot stop writing. I had the Blessed experience of sitting amidst the presence of greatness all those years, especially the last 15. When I was ready, the Words came. That moment of readiness seems to be these days on this lovely Little Farm. There is something about living in the Rhythms of Nature that just puts it altogether. Or perhaps gives a powerful Nudge.
And yes, the Words now are like a free flowing River which has just now made it through a Log Jam (or an Ice Jam). Living 1/2 mile from the Red River of the North for those 30 some years, I see and hear some powerful images and sounds.
As a result, I am putting the Words into Files and on Paper as quickly as I can. You should hear these Keys clatter away. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with them. If you have been following this Blog, you may be nodding away.
On this day, I am taking some time to get the Texts copied and put in some order that will reveal the Book that needs to be submitted. I shall be doing that more and more over time. And yes, I fully expect that the Words will continue to come too.
Thanks, Dear Reader, for following this Blog and the developments which sometimes mystify me. About a month ago, I put a statistical counter on the Blog. This permits me to gather more specific information about the Blog's use and content which will help me into those next stages. I have been surprised at counts. Melanie says: "Mom, are you really? You may be the only one who is." These words on this little Blog seem to be striking a chord.
We are all trying to find our purpose on this Planet at this amazing time. Among other things, this just happens to be mine.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Melanie picked up this Button when she attended Farm Aid in St. Louis earlier in the month. Of course, Farm Aid is an advocacy group for Small Farmers. When she 1st showed me this Button, I saw the words "Power Tools" and my brain jumped to images of Chainsaws, Power Drills, Table Saws, and the like. Curiously, those concepts come right out of a Culture which is patriarchal too.
It took 2 days before I actually saw the real images on this little Button. At which point, my sometimes overactive Brain came to a screeching halt. I am surprised I did not get a kind of whiplash. But I just smiled and sort of chuckled instead.
On closer examination, I noted the images were of a Pitch Fork and Dinner Fork. These simple Tools are the Power Tools of the Small Farmer who produces the Food and the Consumer of Food which includes just about Everybody.
Can you even imagine the Power that we have in those Choices? I can see a transformed World where we either grow our own Food or know the Farmer who produces it. I can imagine that the Food on the Plate which looks up at us comes from our Local Area which has been transformed into something Healthy, Whole, and Complete. It becomes something we will be proud to pass down to the Children who follow. Plus that Food looks up to Humans who have become Healthy, Whole and Complete. Now that is Power. Everything else pales by comparison.
You will note the Button is on a background of Cracked Wheat which Richard ground for the Pretzels that Melanie is making this week. You will also note that the very tiny print on the bottom of the button refers to Home Grown, which Farm Aid created as place where those Two-Leggeds can connect to Farms and to Each Other. http://www.homegrown.org/
Those Buttons and Insights may surely be designed to wake us up a bit. They help to smooth out those Ruts toward the development of more Life Affirming Practices. Thanks, Home Grown...
Monday, October 26, 2009
Over the years, my Culture which was my World Around Me dashed those questions. I was taught to color dutifully between the lines. I didn't always do so well, but I gave it my best. Overall, I am happy to report that My Culture's Program which was designed to create a Monoculture of Mind did not work with me.
About 20 years ago, I became aware that those Questions had not gone away. In fact, they were present in every Breath and Step I took. They were persistent, and sometimes intense. I could not walk away. They followed me wherever I went. They were a yearning that was to be fulfilled.
I came to know that those Questions were about making Meaning of Life. They were about Living my Life to its Fullest, which is what All Beings are intended.
At that time, I began to take stock of the Human Groups of which I was a part. Some dashed my questions as in those earlier years. I began to distance and sometimes to disengage from those Relationships and those Groups. They were like a Pair of Shoes that no longer fit.
As time went on, I took on more and more of those Questions. It was as if I took a leap into the vast unknown. Sometimes the Questions went into Deep and Dark Places. Other times they went into places of Imagination, Wonder, Whimsy, and Play. My Spirit began to dance in the spaces that it was intended. I have no regrets.
When I walk in the Woods or observe those Lovely Groves of Trees from my cozy warmth on the other side of our New Windows, I often see a flurry of Leaves cascading down. With this stage of their Life Cycle complete, it is their time to let go and free fall.
Many of the Trees are now bare. Still others are holding a few Leaves which just don't seem to want to let go. The Fallen Leaves that were vibrant earlier are now biodegrading and providing nourishment back to the Earth. That makes sense. The Earth is the Mother from which they came.
The Browns of Late Fall and Early Winter are more evident now. Yet, in the middle of this shift, Seeds are being tossed about. Some of the Seeds have long since left the Mother Plants and sit in their designated places positioned to grow yet another Generation on the Rich Moist Earth.
While pondering these things over doing Dishes this Evening, I noted that the Setting Sun is fading on His Walk South on the Western Horizon. These past few Weeks, the Intensity of the Sun's Heat has been waning rapidly. The Brilliance of the Sunsets seems more a Bonfire that is fast completing its Cycle too.
I see a parallel of these panoramas in Nature that I can no longer deny. While many in my Culture seem to split Humans from the Earth and Natural Cycles, the Human Community seems not so different after all.
Last Friday, I was in the presence of several older Folks of the same vintage as Mother. Almost all had buried Mates. Others were the last of Siblings, and in many cases large Families of Siblings.
I was very aware of the Remaining Fragments of an Earlier Generation, once vibrant like those before, but now fading. Yes, they are now Elderly. And yes, they are Frail. In that moment, I could see their Frail Lights Fading. Even as I write this Blog, I am aware that some of those Lights have recently gone out or are now flickering.
I seem to be watching the passing of a Generation, with the next Generations now moving up to take their own place. In this Fading, I see the Celebration and the Vibrancy of the Glorious Cycle of Life, extending since Time Began and hopefully, far far into the Future Light.
We enjoyed Juncos in North Dakota and in our new home here in Northeast Missouri. They flit about the Bird Feeders, providing activity in our yard even on the coldest of days. Their presence suggests that Winter is poised for a long stay too and is not to be denied. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/dark-eyed_junco/id
Sunday, October 25, 2009
After 3 months of intensive Harvest and Remodeling, the 3 of us are at last taking a Day of Rest. We even started talking about Books we want to read over the Winter. Cups of Tea brewed from Dried Herbs are likely to be in reach for most of the Day. I made Oatmeal Cookies last night. Sometimes, you can hear the lid coming off the Jar. Melanie is testing a Homemade Dark Bread. Naps are waiting in Cue.
Life is good.
She made Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Juice, Dried Cranberries, and Cranberry Leather. Once again, she kept the amount of Sweetener low. In fact, only the Sauce and Leather had Sweetener. She used Local Honey. For the Sauce, she also added Apple. The Juice and Dried Cranberries are intended to be used medicinally from suggestions of Rosemary Gladstar in her book Family Herbal (2001).
These Creations were beautiful with the Sun streaming in. Even on a Cloudy Day, the color Red was Brilliant.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
Salt to taste
1/4 Cup Shortening
2/3 to 3/4 Cup Raw Milk
(1) Set oven at 425 degrees.
(2) Sift together dry ingredients (Flours, Baking Powder, Salt). I no longer have a Sifter, so I just run them through a Sieve. This evenly distributes all dry ingredients.
(3) Run Shortening through Grater. I keep my sticks of Shortening in the Freezer, so it is ready to go.
(4) Gently add grated Shortening to dry ingredients. Stir gently. Then, using a Pastry Blender (or 2 Knives in a crossing or Scissor Motion), cut Shortening into dry ingredients. The Shortening in the dry ingredients should look like coarse Cornmeal in texture.
(5) Add Milk, a bit at a time. Stir. Flour mixture will "clump" as it begins to hold together. Add just enough Milk to hold together the dry ingredients. Dough should not be sticky.
(6) Gently press the dough together. Knead about 5 times to hold together and form a round.
(7) Using a Rolling Pin, dough until about 1/2 inch thick.
(8) We cut our dough into Wedges (like Scones). It easily makes 8 Biscuits. Since there are 3 of us, I make 9.
(9) Place on ungreased Cookie Sheet.
(10) Bake until Golden Brown and springs back from a light touch. About 12-15 Minutes.
(11) Serve hot with an assortment of Farm Treasures. We like Fresh Churned Butter, Molasses, Preserves. Today, Melanie made Cranberry Preserves.
This Recipe, which has been greatly modified over the years, originally came from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (1965, page 78). Richard got me this within that 1st year that we were married (1967). Gotta go. Biscuits are done. I'll add pictures later.
I went for a walk on the loop around the Farm. These days, the Natural Landscape is shifting dramatically as Fall is in high gear and Winter is poised for a presence here soon. Once again, I don't want to miss a thing.
I checked the Bittersweet on the North Edge of the South Woods. It has popped open.
I have loved Bittersweet since I was a little Girl. Our Family with Dad in the lead would always go looking for Bittersweet on the Rural Landscapes at about this season. Mother would add it to lovely Fall Arrangements of Gourds, Pumpkins, Corn, and Leaves.
When we moved to North Dakota, sometimes Mother and Dad would send us some stems of Bittersweet in the mail. It was one of those blessings from Home that made me smile and get a little misty too. I know they also sent stems of it to Mother's Sister Ruthie on the West Coast.
These days, I don't quite seem to see so much Bittersweet as I remember. Is it possible we Humans have been liking it too much?
I shall pick a small stem for Mother and 1 for us. I would like to see Bittersweet flourish in all places it has known to be Home, including this Little Farm. Please call these humble words a Prayer.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Melanie laughed and said that when the Rain comes, it is rather time to rest a bit. That seems very appropriate considering the intensity of the Harvest Season with all the et cetera around here since August 1. Richard said he was looking forward to getting into a good book.
Sarah Saltmarsh sent an article which is an interview with Bill Mollison, the founder of Permaculture. Its extremely tiny print makes it a tough read. We 3 C's are picking it up, reading a few paragraphs, digesting it, and talking about it. Attention spans are kind of limited around here these days, so that seems a perfect approach.
Earlier this morning, Melanie and I worked with Seeds we have been saving. We were making sure they are drying nicely, and winnowing them as appropriate. I must say those Petunia Seeds are just absolutely Tiny. Winnowing them would result in planting them.
I may have gotten a few tiny Petunia Seeds under my Nails. And of course, there is Garden Soil under them too. That sounds like perfect conditions for germinating and creating a new trend among Gardeners for Nails. Can you even imagine what that would look like to have Petunias growing and flowering from underneath one's Nails? Some would think we were getting a little carried away with this "Back to the Earth", "Back to the Farm" movement. We would surely have to clean up a bit more for those trips to Town.
Yes, we will do some inside chores today. A slower pace will be just right. Whimsy tucked inbetween will be nice too.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When molting, Egg Production of the Hennies is down. That has meant that Egg Customers (and the Farmers who raise the Hennies) get fewer Eggs. Earlier this week, I made an Apple Pancake with 2 Eggs. Normally, I would have doubled the recipe, but I couldn't because we 3 C's only had 2 Eggs. Melanie had been setting Eggs aside for our Customers who factor into our equation too. "Making do" is an important Life Skill and ever so evident as an essential Farm Skill.
Today, we had 5 Pullet Eggs to add to the 8 Eggs of the "Big Sisters". Those 6 Black Australorps are taking up the Slack. They are 5 Months and 3 Weeks Old.
Pullet Eggs are smaller. I am assuming you can pick them out in the picture above. In the space of 2-3 more months, the Eggs should be adult size. Melanie includes the Pullet Eggs in the Carton of Eggs for our Egg Customers. The Egg Customers report that they like them. They like the variety of size. Somehow, it is kind of magical knowing that the Eggs are the 1st ones laid by the new Hennies. Those new Hennies surely are proud of those Eggs. It seems an appropriate response that we Humans should be proud of them too.
So what do they do in the Garden that is beneficial? They scratch. They clean things up. They eat Garden Waste, like Tomatoes. They eat Bugs. We have noted Grasshoppers which are favored Chicken Treats. Our Feathered Companions on this Little Farm eat Seeds, which may or may not be beneficial. If they eat Weed Seeds, that is great. If they eat our Spring Lettuce Seeds, that will diminish the Spring Crop.
They poop, and their magical Poop is excellent Organic Fertilizer. You could call it part of the Great Circle of Nature. One Being's Waste is another's Fertilizer. The Circle just goes on. I think that may be one of the Great Laws of Nature. Humans could learn something here.
On this day, we surely must be at the Peak of Color. I am so glad that I took time for a Walkabout.
While some Trees have dropped their Leaves, others are in Full Array of those Luscious Fall Colors. The Painter's Palette surely must have had generous dabs of Reds, Yellows, Oranges. Soft Browns are coming up. The cool season Grass is a happy Green which is excellent contrast. Some of the Trees are still hanging on to their Green too. Most of the Flowers are gone except for some Sprinkles of Color tucked all about: Mums in my Flower Garden, Purple and White Asters and even some Yellow Goldenrod on the Meadow.One of my favorite activities of the Fall is just to sit and watch the Leaves fall. They just seem to dance like Butterflies as they cascade from the Sky. Sometimes, only a few fall as if they are the main act in the show. Other times, it is almost like the Heavens themselves opened up and all the Leaves that could be found just descended.I saw a hole in some Grass which surely must be the Home of a Furry Creature. The outside of the Nest looked all neat and tidy. I wondered what this Little Neighbor did for his or her Winter Preparations. If he is like the Humans, he surely has been madly scurrying about.
Today, the Weather is just beautiful. While we have overcast to partly cloudy Skies and a few scattered Rain Drops, the Temperature is warm. We are reminded that the Days of the Garden are dwindling. Fast.
We are planting Garlic and gathering Seeds. We were excited when Richard began working on the Garlic Bed. He has added considerable Soil Amendments to this Bed in the last 2 years(our own Compost, Soil, Chicken Manure, Aged Cow Compost, Straw, Green Material). For the 1st time since we began gardening here, we could see that the Soil was rich, black, and filled with living Organic Matter. We were excited. This is exactly our Goal for the Farm. To see it met in a small way was significant.
Back to the Garlic: Garlic was planted in 2 beds and in the following varieties: Russian Giant (47), Spanish Rojas (30), Georgian Fire (39), German Extra Hardy (68), Elephant (12), our friend Mike's (87). That is 283 Cloves in total. Cloves make Heads of Garlic to be harvested next Summer. Just because we planted 283 Cloves doesn't mean we will have 283 Heads.
Yes, that is a lot of Garlic. And yes, we 3 C's use a lot of Garlic. I think my Croatian Grandma Dora would be pleased with the Human use of Garlic. Melanie reminds me that we do use the Garlic for the Chickens, by putting it in their Water whenever they seem to need it. Garlic is a natural Antibiotic.
After planting, the Garlic was covered with Soil and a nice blanket of Straw. Then Richard put fencing around the bed to keep the Straw in place.
Tonight, we are leading a discussion on "Reclaiming Gardening Traditions" with the Adair County Master Gardeners. That should be neat. I better shift gears.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Local Ingredients included: Eggs from our Hennies, Butter which Melanie freshly churned from Raw Cream, Jonathan Apples picked from Rolf and Ilse's Tree earlier last week. We topped it off with Pecans grown about 60 miles from here, more Butter, and Molasses of the Season.
Today was the 100th Anniversary of Richard's Mother's Birth. She passed at 81 in 1991. A Slower, more Meditative and Reflective Day was surely on order.
We decided to have a Supper she would have loved and fixed for the most Special of Days: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, and Apple Dumplings. Almost everything was from our Farm. Melanie even put her picture taken with the Big Squash on the Table. Overall, I think she would have been humbled and very pleased.
Ethel C. was always the Cook. I wonder if anyone every cooked a special meal just for her. We did.
We started the Meal with our usual Meditation, but offered Gratitude for Mom C./Grandma C's Presence in our Lives. We noted the special Gifts that she has brought to our lives. The day represented a Pause in our lives and a time to celebrate the Gifts of this very Special Person's Life. It was most fitting.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Conventional Food to which many are accustomed is largely "Dead Food". The Food lacks Living Energy to support Life. It comes from impoverished Soils, propped up by Chemicals of Corporate Science focused more on bottom line than on feeding precious Living Beings. It is produced by Farmers and Workers who must accept Pittance. Many are angry for their treatment and they are afraid. That energy goes into that "Food". Animals are kept in deplorable circumstances. They are angry and fearful too. We eat the Flesh that has held that energy. The "Food" is raised far from the point it is consumed. It is better suited for transport than consumption by Living Beings.
In the 1960s and 1970s, I remember that Richard's Mother used to talk about that "old Store Bought Food". She would get that wrinkle to her nose and that look: "How come no one knows or questions that this is Food?"
She was no stranger to Real Food and Food Production. She lived on a Farm and she was a master at producing Vegetables, Fruits, Meats for her Family which included 4 growing Boys. She wanted nothing less than the best for her Family. (Isn't that what we are supposed to do?) Consequently, as her Boys were grown and off the Farm, she would gather packages of Food that she had raised with her own Hands and have them waiting for us as we arrived "fresh from the City". At that stage, I did not get it. It took me many years until I did.
By the mid 90s, I was getting a taste for "Real Food": Food grown without Chemicals, Food grown guaranteeing a Fair Wage, Food where Animals were Humanely Treated, Food where the Soils were taken Care of, Food from Local Farmers whom I knew by name. Over time, we grew more and more of our Food. That Fresh Tomato from our Garden beat the Storebought one hands down.
Over time, we 3 C's gave up on most conventionally raised Food. That surely is the basis for growing our own Food on this Little Farm. We don't like the taste of conventional Food. I would call it "empty". I don't like the way I feel afterwards. Bizarre tastes, exotic flavors, sugar, bright colors are used to hide what is not there. When I get lost going down the aisles in the Conventional Grocery Store, I find myself face to face with boxes of stuff sold as Food. It is increasingly unrecognizable to me. I know it would be unrecognizable to Richard's Mother. She would ask: "What are they feeding my Children, my Grandchildren, my Great Grandchildren?" That's a good question.
And so what is the Miracle? We 3 C's have been in a position to serve "Real Food" to others. We have also been with others who have done the same thing. People act differently around the table when Real Food is present. The Chatter often ceases. People dive right in. And they eat as if they have not eaten before or for a very long time. It is as if they had been negotiating a long voyage across a desert with little to eat. When faced with "Real Food", the Food just disappears. While in other circumstances, they might be a bit reserved about taking the last bite, that just doesn't happen around that table.
The Miracle is that the Body knows Real Food when we are presented with it. Just imagine the health and vitality that we would experience if we had this all that time. Never mind the health and vitality of this Planet. In consideration of the Divine Gift of Life we were given, surely that is what was intended. That is a Future to work towards.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
1/4 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 c. White Flour
1 Tbsp. Rapadura (we omitted)
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 C. Raw Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 1/4 lb. Apples just off the Tree (this morning, we used Jonathans which carried a taste of tart/sweet). I used 5 medium to large Apples. Apples should be cored and sliced. We leave Skins on.
1/8 c. Rapadura (we omitted)
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1. Set oven at 425 degrees. Adjust rack so that Apple Pancake will sit in the middle with even air flow all around.
2. Mix dry ingredients: Flours, 1 Tbsp. Rapadura (optional), Salt until evenly distributed. Set aside.
3. For liquid ingredients, beat Eggs. Add Raw Milk and Vanilla. Set aside.
4. Heat Butter in 10 Inch Cast Iron Skillet until bubbling. Add Apples, Rapadura (optional), and Cinnamon. Stir occasionally. Cook until Apples become slightly golden and slightly cooked. Stir in Lemon Juice.
5. Mix together #2 and #3 (Dry and Liquid Ingredients for the Pancake). No lumps please. Pour over Apple Mixture.
6. Bake in the same Cast Iron Skillet until Pancake is golden brown, puffy and springs back at the touch. (About 18 minutes). It will "deflate" after it cools. No problem.
7. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings. We use Butter, Maple or Sorghum Molasses, Pecans.
Gerald and Connie found an antique Dazey Churn which Melanie used as replacement for the Family Heirloom. The Precious Family Heirloom usually sits on top of the China Closet quietly overseeing the process and all the developments in our Farm Kitchen Whirl.
This summer, Melanie had problems making Butter. We are not sure why. It took forever to begin to turn to Butter. And the Quantity was far reduced. At that time, she made a discovery that the Cuisinart actually captures considerably more Butter per Gallon. It was also quicker. So we have switched to a Modern Day Invention in making our own Butter.
With a look of whimsy, Melanie said today: "I am making Butter using Great Aunt Mary's Butter Churn." That would be Aunt Mary's Cuisinart which Mother and Dad sent to us after my Father's oldest Sister had passed. Although Aunt Mary was a fantastic Cook and a Restaurant Operator, we doubt she used the Cuisinart for making Butter.
We laughed about what Melanie had said. I think Aunt Mary (and a lot of our Kin of that vintage and before) would laugh too. We are not opposed to using modern day inventions. We just like to live as simply as we can. Those old ways are often the best.
But we are left with a question: What happened with the Butter this Summer? If Melanie was to switch back to the Dazey Churn, would the results be any different as we (and the Cows) move into Winter? The Learnin' never stops on the Farm.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
On this day, I am making notes about my observations of the growth habit and productivity of Varieties of Dry Edible Beans for this Season. I am checking back to the Seed Packs, Catalogs and my Observations for any pieces of information. Any information that I glean will be very useful in planning for next year's Garden.
For starters, I know that some areas of the Garden were too wet during the early Summer and the Beans planted there did not germinate. From my observation, I would conclude that Bean Plants need well drained Soil. After 3 growing Seasons, we are learning a lot about the special characteristics of specific parts of our Garden. They are all different.
Pole Beans need to be staked early on. Note to Self: Don't delay. Try planting them around the outside Fence. Keep that area well weeded so that they are not shaded out.
Wherever I plant the Beans, the area needs to be well weeded, which we kept on top of. The Straw Mulch worked well.
I need to pay more attention to the length from planting to Harvest. Some do require a goodly amount of time. That simple factor makes a huge difference in the Harvest. The Mayflower Beans were an example. I lost a lot of those beautiful Beans due to the fact that they were not as mature as they needed to be at harvest.
I am also saving Seeds. Since Beans are largely self pollinating, I am saving Seeds with some assurance that they will come back true. When in doubt (which is what I was with the Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans), I do not save.
Richard tells me that 75 Seeds equals about a 25 Foot Row in the Garden. While Seed Packs are variable, a fairly common amount is 75. So I am saving about 150 per each. I plan to plant more next year.
Pondering my Beans has led me to wonder about Crop Rotation for next year. Beans are "givers", fixing Nitrogen in the Soil. As much as I love my Beans, I am even more smitten with them thinking about how they are "givers". What will be the best Plants to utilize their space and their gifts next year? Richard has pulled out some of our texts which should be very good aids in figuring this out. I don't have time to think about it much right now.
I had not realized that counting and spending time with Beans could be so rewarding. Simple actions on the Farm are the best.
I note that Monarch Butterfly Migration for October 18 is about 29 Degrees Latitude. That would put them on parallel with the area of Galveston, Texas. I wonder if Victoria in Houston has seen an abundance of Monarchs these past few days. Did any of our Monarchs pass that way?
We are low on Bird Numbers at the Bird Feeders, which Richard says is normal for this time of year. Those numbers should pick up soon.
Melanie and I bought 100 Pounds of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds at MFA today. The high oil, high calorie content will be just what the Seed Eaters are after and need through the high energy demands of the Winter Months. Richard says that this quantity of Sunflower Seeds will last us 2-3 weeks.
The Chickens also enjoy the "Sunnie Seeds" as Snacks. You should see them follow Richard to the Feeders. Of course, he shakes some out for them too.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
We extended our harvest of Tomatoes until Christmas Eve last year. Our Family Tradition for this Meal on this Night is Homemade Ravioli. Richard's is the best. A Salad with Fresh Tomato from our Garden was a perfect side.
While at an Organic Food Store last spring, I asked if I could grow Ginger. The 2 Clerks said yes. At their instructions, I bought a root which already had evidences of growth. I placed the Root in a pot of Soil just at or below the Soil Line. I kept it watered. While it did grow, it was not happy until I put it outside. At that point, I just forgot about it.
In the last couple of days, Melanie removed the Soil and this is what she found. The Brown Parts are the part we bought. The Yellow and Red Parts are this Summer's Growth.
This is surely not much for us, but it is an idea I would like to try again. I need to read and understand more. Put that on Next Year's "to do" list.
To date, we have been thinking about what the Season was like for the varied forms of produce we tried to grow. Over the coming weeks and months, we will ponder why. All that we learn will form a basis for our practice ahead. These are our results so far:
Excellent: Onions, Tatsoy, Mustard Greens, Chard, Green Beans, Garlic, Lettuce, Carrots, Leeks, Strawberries, Chamomile, Calendula, Zinnias, Marigolds, Geraniums, Coleus, Chickens (those Roosters are excellent eating Birds).
Very Good: Edamame, Sweet Potatoes, Dry Edible Beans, Corn (Sweet and Indian), Sorghum Cane, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Peppers, Herbs (Culinary and Medicinal), Celery, Celeriac.
Good: Cabbages, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Cosmos, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Turnips.
Poor: Peanuts, Potatoes, Okra, Popcorn, Cauliflower, Sesame.
Bust: Cucurbits (Melons, Cukes, Squash, Cantaloups, Pumpkins), Peas, Beets, Spinach, Radicchio.
The Jury is still out on: Field Corn, Rutabaga, Parsnips, Salsify. Apples took the year off, which is a regular pattern after a heavy yield year. Regardless, Plants grown in Raised Beds, on well drained Soil (as opposed to water-logged), on Soil amended with Compost, getting the Care by Humans at just the Right Time, out-performed all other.
When I travel the Produce Aisle of the Conventional Grocery Store, I am confused about what is in Season and what might be Local. It is true that I could get price reductions on greater volumes of certain produce when in season. That should give me a clue.
However, generally, those Produce Aisles look much the same 24/7 and 365 or 366 days of the year. I could get Tomatoes, Peppers, Sweet Corn, Melons, Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Strawberries just about any time I should want them. Never mind, they have been grown long distances from my Plate which means that transportation qualities overide taste; plus, they are typically grown on impoverished Soils. The Taste and Vitality of those Conventional Offerings pale in comparison with similar produce in season from our Garden. No, we have no Bananas.
We have been gardening for many years and most seriously the last 10. I admit that I page through those Garden Catalogs around the Holiday Season and I salivate. I love those Photos and Illustrations. Coming in the dark of Winter, I am lulled into believing that "I could grow this" and "I could grow that." While I know that things are best in Season, I am fooled momentarily to believe that the Veggies that I produce will be mirror images of the Produce I see in those much loved Catalogs.
Gardening has taught us that "I want it and I want it now" just does not compute. We have a larger force at work here and her name is Nature. That means that we Humans can plant the Seeds and planting Seeds is surely a form of Hope and Possibility. But there are no Guaruntees. Reduction in Production can be attributed to: Weather issues matched or not matched to Plant Needs, condition of Soil, Drainage, Weeds, Bugs, Varmints, and Humans who are known to run out of Steam.
Growing a Garden and attempting to produce most of one's own Food is an Exercise in Humility. We Humans in our Society surely could use a dose of that. This simple act puts us in a place of recognizing who is in charge. We aren't.
While I cruised those Grocery Store Aisles for many years and I frankly didn't think about Seasons or Nature, I like it better now. I seem to Ebb and Flow based on the larger Ebb and Flow of this great Creation. At last, I think I am beginning to know my place in the Great Scheme of things. I am deeply grateful for that too.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Many Plants and Vegetative Materials are seemingly dying. Their Vitality came from the Earth, and their Death, which is 1 more stage of the Life Cycle, replenishes the Earth. In some cases, Fall is viewed as a sad time. On one level, it is. We shall miss our Companions from the Growing Seasons. But on other levels, I see pure undeniable Celebration.
The Plants have survived and thrived through the growing Season. They have produced Tender Shoots, Foliage, Stems, Flowers and Fruit. A Natural Consequence of such productivity is Seeds. Our Amazing Kin in the Plant World are so intent on continuing that they are bursting with the stuff of New Life ahead. It is their purpose and they are intent upon fulfilling it.
I went for a walk about today on the Loop around our Farm. I saw lots of Faded Flowers which were past Peak. Yet, looking closer, I saw those amazing Plants were now making Seeds.
Nature's ways of distributing Seeds are amazing too. The Thistle was sending Seeds Airborn with abandon. Changing Winds of Fall and Winter were partners in their initiatives. I wonder how far their Seeds will travel. While some 2 Leggeds would perhap scoff at my fascination with Thistle Seeds, Goldfinches would dazzle us in celebration of such things with their flight. These lovely sparkles of Sunshine will not nest until the Thistles produce their Down. The Down serves as Liner for the Finch's Nest on the Meadow.
And then we have those "Stick Tights". We do not know what the Plant is in the Photo which closes this Blog Entry. Earlier in the Summer, this Plant produced long spikes of tiny yellow Flowers from fern like Foliage. Those long Spikes with their Stick Tights are perfect adaptations to send their Seeds traveling with unsuspecting Mammals who may be passing by. My Wool Gloves and Warm Coat gathered several along my walk. I would stop and pick them off. Then find some more.
When I taught "Knowing Nature" at the University of North Dakota, I had 2 Native Elders (Merry Ketterling who is Cheyenne River Sioux, and Dorreen Yellow Bird who is Sahnish) speak to my class on their relationship with Nature. As 1st Peoples of this Continent, they had much to teach us in examining and awakening our own relationship with Nature. I placed a basket full of Native Prairie Seeds that Richard and I had collected in the middle of our Circle. Dorreen began her sharing with noting that she felt she was in the presence of many tiny little Ears. It took me some minutes to realize she was talking about the Seeds as Living Beings.
The more I gather and observe Seeds, the more I see them as Living Beings. How could I have been so self-absorbed to have overlooked this magic in the vastness of Creation?
2nd: The Mortar had "wicked" onto the surface of the Stones leaving a white surface and interfering with the original Beauty of the Stones. Richard carefully cleaned each and every Stone with Water, Brushes and a fair amount of Elbow Grease. We laughed when we thought that Our Dentist would look closely and wonder deeply at what happened to those 3 Sacrificial Toothbrushes. After the Stones dried and the white had re-appeared, Richard tended them again, until the white was removed. The Stones now carry their original color and pattern, which was a factor in their selection.
The Rock Wall and Hearth are now complete. We have a phone call into the Folks who will install the Wood Stove. Hopefully that will happen in the next few days. The Weather is perfect for firing it up.
As we look at the Beauty of this Wall, we conclude that whole project is a labor of love and work of art. I am happy to report that this project has firmly made this little House our Home.
~~~~Note: Do you see "Big Bird"? This little Child's Toy was a favorite in our Garden in the North Country. Somehow, it is quite fitting for Big Bird to appear along the Stone Wall. Many of these Stones would have been his companions in our Garden up North. Plus, his presence completes our design with a reminder that Whimsy is an integral part of our practice too.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
While shelling Beans, I was struck by the abundance that the Earth is launching toward all of Creation at this Season. For many years, I missed this. But now, I see it and I am in awe. How does one say "Thanks"?
When we moved to North Dakota in the mid 1970s, the local Weatherman on TV would often feature unusual Vegetables that People shared with him. The Cameras would do their best to get close up shots and Dewey Berkquist would add stories too. Just thinking about such antics is a reminder of the changes in our times. Such sharing would clearly be beyond the frame these days.
But back to Dewey: As Dewey would close his part of the Evening Report, he would often have a few extra seconds. If he did, he would announce a "Dewey Stare Down" with his audience, followed by "You're dismissed." The Camera and Audience would then move on to other things.
If I may borrow from Mr. Berkquist, "You're dismissed."
As the Food is processed and stored, Spaces are beginning to open up. As we look into the Refrigerators and the Freezers, we are inspired by the Gifts of the Earth and the Promise of Culinary Delights in the Months ahead.
Harvest began in its fullness right on schedule about the 1st of August. It has been going strong since then and will be mostly complete by the end of October. Some periods during that time have been pretty rushed and full. However, a rhythm and flow has mostly ensued which is gentle, persistent, and always moving forward.
For the 1st time in the last 3 months, I began to see that some rest is on the Horizon. Winter is a Natural Time of Rest and Slumber for the Earth. Oh, yes, we 3 C's have painting to do and storage shelves to construct, but I think we will find times to take it a little easier soon.
The Rains came. Digging Sweet Potatoes in Mud is not the best idea for Gardeners or Garden or Sweet Potatoes for that matter.
We 3 C's wonder if Fall Rains are common in these parts. There seems to be a window of opportunity for Harvest and preparation for Next Year's Garden just before those Rains. As another example, I left my Mayflower Beans in the Garden too long. As a result, I have some but I lost a lot due to mold. I don't want to do that again.
So on Next Year's list, listen to those Clues all around. As relative Newbies to Gardening in these parts, we surely do know that is important. As examples, get the Sweet Potatoes out before the Rains and all those Dry Edible Beans too.
Post Harvest, we are now processing some of the Produce into our favorite foods: Chili, Roasted Peppers (for Soups, Pizzas), with more to come. These wonderful dishes and embellishments will make their way into the Freezer, which is full. Now that should be quite a puzzle.
Melanie is exploring uses for the Green Tomatoes. We will wrap some in Newspapers which Mother has always done. Somehow, they ripen there. I am not sure how, but extending Ripe Tomatoes from the Garden is a good idea as long as they still have that wonderful Garden-fresh Flavor. Last year, we even had a ripe Tomato at Thanksgiving.