Monday, August 31, 2009
We have watched them grow from balls of yellow fluff, to white pin feathers emerging on awkward bodies, to combs popping up, to all legs and feet like Teenagers. We have watched them play their games of "Chicken" with their peers to see who could call the other's bluff.
We watched those 1st days when they appeared on the roof of their House. They surely would climb as high as they could go. We heard their 1st Crows. Some got very good at it.
We saw an occasional Rooster land in the yard of the Brooder House, wondering how he got there and how he would ever get out. We heard them on their nightly escapades as they sounded like Teenage Boys at a Bunking Party. We watched them grow into their Big Legs and Feets as they became beautiful white Birds with lovely Combs.
This group of Roosters has been very vibrant. Watching their living energy and their gift of life has been a blessing.
Richard had processed 7 Roosters earlier. He processed 16 today. They ranged in weight from 3 to 3 3/4 pounds. He has 27 to go.
Thank you, Little Roosters. We do not take lightly your precious gift.
As I remember, that book included a story about the Blind Men and the Elephant. Those Blind Men were describing the Elephant, but their descriptions were limited to what they could feel. Each Blind Man only "saw" one part of the Elephant. Their descriptions together made for the whole elephant.
So what is Permaculture? In many ways, I feel that we are like the Blind Men and the Elephant. Permaculture is a very complex concept. We 3 C's are feeling our way around. Over time, the concept becomes more clear. I shall define it by what we have been able to see so far, but I know that we will be able to see more over time:
- Permaculture is about whole systems and how they work together.
- Permaculture designs focus on where a given family or an intentional community live; such designs focus on their Home and Surroundings.
- Originally, Permaculture was defined as "Permanent Agriculture". Growing things is a big part. But it seems to have evolved into something far bigger.
- Permaculture focuses on "flows". We all have lived in systems which have blocks. Things get all cobbled up. Tension results. More energy must be used. The outcome is less satisfactory. The intention is to create natural flows with the least amount of energy and the greatest satisfaction of need. (We shared this one with Arnie and Jonie. Arnie said he had been practicing this for a long time and some people just thought he was lazy. We laughed. We always laugh when we are with Arnie and Jonie.)
- Having a Kitchen Garden immediately outside the Kitchen would be an example of Permaculture. On Saturday, we made a quick meal for one of the participants who had run out of energy. Melanie scrambled 2 Eggs. I grabbed a jar of Salsa from the Fridge. I ran to the Garden to pick some Herbs (Parsley and Chives), and chopped them up over her Eggs. And Voila! Crawford Fast Food emerged on the plate right in front our Fellow Traveler. This was perfect illustration that those things one uses frequently should be right at the door.
- Plants are placed from those used most frequently to those used least frequently. The former (like Herbs, Lettuces, Onions which we use a lot) should be close to the back door and the latter (like Fruit Trees or Wood for Chopping) further away.
- Permaculture uses Natural Inputs. Rainwater is collected and used for watering plants. (Plants like that better anyway. Just ask them.) Gravity feeds allow Nature to deliver the water to the site, as possible. Chris suggested a gravity feed for Rain Collection and Delivery; the Rain is collected from our future barn; since the Barn's roof is at a higher elevation than the Garden, gravity feed delivers it to the Garden. That means we mimize carrying buckets. Wow!
- Permaculture mimics Natural Systems.
- Participants observe and interact with systems, seeking methods which flow and give the greatest return.
- Permaculture is a set of techniques and practices for designing sustainable human settlements. I think we got that definition from a text somewhere in the swirl of information in the past few days, but where was it?
- Permaculture minimizes and eliminates waste which does not break down or has no further use.
- Permaculture uses natural inputs. Permaculture uses waste to biodegrade and feed into other systems. Vegetable scraps and garden waste become compost. Chickens help with that natural process. And so we have: healthy, vibrant soil.
- Permaculture gives attention to the creation of healthy vibrant Soil. Soil is the basis for Life.
Melanie's participation is taking all 3 of us to new levels of possibility at the Farm. Our Friends at Wren Song also call themselves the "Possibility Alliance". That makes sense. Instruction there is giving us a plethora of New Possibilities. Melanie is there from 9 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. She comes home, does chores, eats dinner and then we are briefed on the Day's Gleanings.
The 2 teachers have a rich background of experience. Christian Shearer developed the Panya Project, which is a Permaculture Center in Thailand and has been in operation for several years. (http://www.panyaproject.org/) Melissa Breed has also taught Panya. She has also lived and taught in intentional communities where Permaculture is practiced. She is currently at Aprovecho in Oregon. (http://www.aprovecho.net/pg/wishlist.htm
Melanie is 1 of 19 enrolled in the class who are diving right into Permaculture in the context of their lives, whether that be urban or rural. With the snippets of stories Melanie has told and the interactions we have had with participants, I am amazed with the breadth of experience of those who are drawn to this training. While we 3 C's have read of many of the concepts, those concepts have been "remote" for us prior to this Training.
At this time, we have walking right through our lives people who have have been experimenting or exploring many of these things. The "outside the box" thinking and experience are simply refreshing. Our heads are spinning with new ideas that we had never even known were possible. Plus, many Dreams we have had for the Farm have now arrived onto the Slate of Plans.
On Saturday, the Class came to our Farm for a Field Trip. We were excited to share and to have their magical footprints right here on the Farm.
Probably most exciting is that 7 class members have chosen our Farm as the site for their final projects: Karen, Jerry, Chris, Hannah, Melanie (yes, our Melanie), Sarah. Ethan is assisting too. The 7 are divided into 2 groups so we will have 2 plans. Wow!
We spent a lovely time of sharing about the Farm with them for 2 hours after the Class Tour. We thanked them profusely. The timing is so right for us. Their project is due on Thursday. In the meantime, this has stimulated great conversation, clarification, and visioning of the 3 C's right here at the Farm. I even finally got to make the map of the Farm which I have wanted to create since last Christmas. Who knows where we will go ahead? Stay tuned.
We had Fellow Travelers visiting today who are helping us go to another space of growing on the Farm. In this Photo, they walk with us into a place where hopefully someday in the next couple of years we will have a Pond.
We have had many Dreams for this Little Farm. Over time, they are becoming more tangible. Who knows the Paths that we will take ahead?
I think those lovely Yellow Spanish Needles (also known as Bidens) which are blooming in profusion at this Late Summer Season and all the Creatures who live and visit here also have their own Dreams for the Place (and their Dreams for the Humans). We walk into a space of Awe and Gratitude for the Journey of which we are all a part.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Production in 2008=6 Pints Ketchup
Use from Production in 2008=A little over 5 Pints
Notes: (1)We aren't likely to be making a high volume of Ketchup. Ever. In fact, this weekend's production will be the Year's Supply. (2) We are also not likely to be giving this away. (3) We appreciate more fully all the Ketchup we have been eating over the years. As moderate Ketchup users, we added a dollop without a thought as to what went into it. (4) I think we use "less" because we know more fully what goes into it. (5) If this is like last year's Ketchup, it will be just fantastic. You can't buy this stuff in the store. (6) I am drawn to seeing "relationships in Nature". What is going on during the season of Harvest of the produce of a particular plant? When you look outside this Window, you will observe that Bidens (or Spanish Needles) is blooming in profusion. Spanish Needles time is the time of Ketchup Making, or at least it was this year. (7) In 2009, we were remodeling. That Window Sill that you see will soon be painted 1 or 2 more coats; the Dining Room is becoming our own.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Richard invited us to go on a walk through the Cane. Just like the movie "Field of Dreams", we quickly disappeared into the Plants. It was fun. One almost had a sense of awe to be in the midst of the towering plants.
Richard cut 1 stalk and divided it into pieces for us to eat. We swallow the Juice and spit out the almost Woody Pulp. I like the spitting part. As a product of the City and as a "Lady", I have been deprived of spitting skills. After a few seasons of Sorghum Production, I am happy to report that my spitting skills are improving.
On this beautiful day, we smiled at its surprising Sweetness. However, the Cane is "Green" and is not ready yet for Molasses Making. Richard thinks it may be ready for Molasses Making about the 3rd Week of September.
Our Fellow Traveler Jerry requested a piece to share with his Family. He later tucked a cutting of the Cane into the container on his Bicycle. When he left to return on the 12 miles to Kirksville, I smiled to see that little piece of Cane sticking out the top.
While we were in the Cane, I took this picture and was tickled to see that 2 Bees had shown up for the Photo. We always celebrate the presence of Pollinators. They are very significant Partners on this Little Farm. With massive decline of Bees, we celebrate their presence in particular. We know that we need Bees for the Seeds to be viable for the coming year's Crop. I wonder if the presence of Bees adds to the Vitality of the Cane. We have so much to learn in this complex Web of Life.
We have noted that the Sorghum Cane, while tall, is not as robust as last year's crop. We scratch our heads and ponder what we see. Is it because the Summer Season has been cooler? We believe that Sorghum Cane is a heavy feeder. Hollis has seemed to have less production on his Cane over time. Does this mean that the Sorghum Cane continues to take from the Soil which means that future Crops have less? Plus, each year, we take off the Cane, meaning that almost no Plant Material is left on Site and therefore cannot compost back where it was grown. The Soil is further depleted.
We are seeking ideas for how we can maintain and enhance the Vitality of the Soil for our Sorghum Cane production. Our Travelers who visited here today have some ideas about what we might do. What would Nature have us do? Stay tuned.
I have been so very distracted these days with the remodeling project that I have not taken the time for my almost daily walks in Nature. I miss them!
So I did a walkabout today and it was wonderful. I find those times in Nature as grounding. Somehow, the intensity of the Human World and the Demands of the Moment just lose their Edge. My head is clearer and I breathe more deeply. Solutions emerge that I had not considered.
The urgency of the moment softens and sometimes just falls away.
Since I had not walked for a few days, I had missed the subtle shifts in Nature's Show. The Shifts on this Day took on a bit more Drama. We are definitely moving into the "Yellow Season".
I had no idea the Ashy Sunflowers were blooming. I love this humble understated Flower. The Plant is about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall with gray green foliage. The Plants seem to like to hang out in Communities. I usually find them in large clusters several yards wide. They grow in the low ground on the south side of our Little Farm.
Not all Plants produce Blooms in any given Season. It is almost like they give each other the spotlight to bloom.
When the Ashy Sunflower Blooms, we know that we are in mid to late August. Soon, the Meadow will take on the look of Fall. Where did the Summer go?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
As the years went on, I was carefully taught by my Culture to walk a Narrow Path, to Color rigidly between the Lines that Someone else had set. For many years, I dutifully stayed within those Lines because that was what I was taught. I walked as a dutiful Soldier in the perfunctory Suit. As typical of such Monochrome Approaches, we all looked and acted the same. Yet, something big was missing.
In my middle years, I became increasingly uncomfortable with that Fit. In fact, the Fit was missing. I had questions I wanted to answer. I had questions I brought on my Life's Journey that I had to answer. I had answers I so deeply desired to seek.
I am not so sure how it happened, but as the years went on, I developed the Courage to ask those questions. I found the spaces that would nurture and support a different way of being. That seeking gave me a kind of Freedom to become who I am meant to be. It has not been easy, but it has been far easier than placing another's Template on the Being that is Me. I am deeply grateful that I have been allowed an Openness to Question and Seek outside the Frame.
We were each given Gifts in our coming here. We will each find our way through these things on our individual Paths which will allow us to become all that we were meant to be. Permission is Granted to become who we were intended on our Sacred Walk here at this Exquisite Transitional Moment in Time.
Years ago, I was told a Story from the Middle East that has resonated for me on countless occasions. "The Human Soul can travel only as fast as a running Camel."
- When I travel, it takes me a day or 2 to settle into Place.
- The length of time depends on the extent of the Travel. "Going Home" usually takes less time for me to "settle", although I always find some kind of adjustment needed.
- Considering the extent of our Running in Western Culture, it seems to me that our Camels are on "dis-connect" and most often playing games of Catching Up. When will we truly "arrive"?
- The more I settle into life on this Little Farm, the more reluctant I am to leave.
Monday, August 24, 2009
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk (we prefer to use "raw")
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream (we prefer to use "raw")
1 inch Vanilla Bean
4 Large Egg Yolks, from our very own Chickens
3 Tablespoons Honey, from local Bees
1/4 Teaspoon Table Salt
2/3 to 3/4 Cup Chopped Dark Chocolate Morsels
(1) Put Mint Leaves and Sugar in Food Processor. Process till finely ground. (Melanie notes that it made a lovely Yellowy-Green Syrup.)
(2) Warm Milk, Cream, Vanilla Bean over medium heat. Stir occasionally as Milk/Cream "sticks" and burns easily.
(3) In a medium sized bowl, whisk Egg Yolks until smooth, then add Mint/Sugar Mixture. Whisk until combined.
(4) When Milk Mixture steams but is not simmering, whisk 1/4 Cup of Hot Milk Mixture into Egg Mixture. Then whisk in another 1/4 Cup of the Hot Milk. (Adding small amounts of Hot Milk Mixture while Whisking insures that the Egg Mixture is not cooked/scrambled.) Remove Saucepan from heat and add tempered Egg Mixture.
(5) Return Saucepan to Stove over medium Heat. Add Honey and Salt. Cook, stirring, until Mixture is thick enough to coat back of spoon. Do not allow Mixture to boil.
(6) Remove Vanilla Bean.
(7) Cool Mixture.
(8) Churn Custard in Ice Cream Freezer until set.
Note: Melanie got the original version of this Recipe from Rachel. She had her eyes on making this lovely Ice Cream for her Birthday Dinner on Saturday night, which is exactly what she did. As per usual, she added her own modifications. We are always doing that. I am pleased to report that the Mint Ice Cream was absolutely Yummy. Melanie and I have loved Mint Chocolate Ice Cream for years. Richard, not so much. The store bought stuff is good, but it pales in comparision with the treat we had for Melanie's Birthday. This Ice Cream was just about the best ever. I had no idea one could make anything like this. This Recipe is a Keeper.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In our supposedly "advanced" Culture, we as Adults attach to our Children, as if our Lives are incomplete and can only be fulfilled through them. We also have a belief system that we need to alter or change them, because somehow they are not perfect in the way the Creator blessed them into our Lives. As a result, Relationships can get pretty messy.
Somewhere along my Journey, I did a bit of a change. I am not so sure how this happened. In a Traditional System is a Belief that those Closest to the Creator are the Very Young and the Very Old. Indeed, I have watched a glimmer and glow that somehow fades or gets distracted by Modern Times in the years inbetween. In those Beginning and Ending Years which are Bookends of our Lives, the Wisdom and Freshness of Being which seem so clear to the Observer are Expressions of the Divine.
I also came to believe that we do not own our Children, which seems to be a Belief in my Culture too. They are not possessions. They are Gifts in our Lives. They are "passing through". They came with their own Purpose. When that point comes that they "move out", I need to let go and let them be that Special Being they were intended.
Granted, Melanie is our only Child. Granted, when I "let her go" some years back, she eventually made her way Home. Granted, we each committed to working through those Issues of our Relationship. As a result, New Possibilities and New Freedoms emerged for our Lives and our Relationships with each other.
On this Day and All Days, I celebrate the fact that the Creator blessed our lives with her presence. I celebrate the fact that she is the most important joint project of Richard and my relationship. I celebrate the fact that she is here on this Planet at this time and that she too is on her path to becoming all that she is meant to be.
Happy Birth Day, Every Day, Dearest Melanie!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Richard processed 8 in about 5 1/2 hours beginning about 10 a.m. Previously, he has done them at night (which is another story). Today, they ranged in size from 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds.
Melanie and I were both gone today. She assisted with the packaging when she got home. We are very very grateful that Richard takes the lead on this. She and I see ourselves more involved in this process over time. This has definitely been an adjustment for City Folks who have been separated from these things. Richard had grown up with this when he lived on the Farm. That doesn't make it easier. It just gives him a pattern to follow.
At these times, I am moved to think about our beliefs underlying this process. We believe in a Traditional System whereby certain Animals know that their Role is to provide "Life" or "Food" so that Others may live. They are at Peace with this. I believe that this is a Sacred Relationship which comes from the Divine. We as Humans need to honor that Gift. In a Traditional System, the Receivers need to exchange something. For us, we give the Little Roosters the best care and love that we can provide over the course of their Lives. We thank them throughout their Lives but especially on that last day when that Gift is given.
Of the Little "Roos" on this Day, 42 remain. While Richard processed most of the Roosters within a close range of time in previous years, we are thinking about letting these Roosters go a little while longer. That would give us variable sizes for our Meals ahead.
Once this process has started, we think ahead. That Rooster House, which resembles a Bunking Party of Teenage Boys at Bedtime, will soon be quiet. The Doors will be left open and the Rooster House will be cleaned out. How quickly the Time passes on that Gift which is called Life.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
On the eastern boundary of our Little Farm, I saw this lovely Butterfly. Richard said it was a Red Spotted Purple. I noted that the Butterfly was on Oak Leaves and reluctant to move. Richard said that is where he finds them too. I need to look up more on this Butterfly. It is gorgeous. By the way, how did it get its name?
The Ladies Tresses are blooming. Indian Grass is showing its vigor. A Warm Season Grass, this Plant is in full stride in the heat of the late Summer Months. I even noted that the Indian Grass was sending up Seed Heads.
I saw a few Goldenrods. Local Lore has it that when the Goldenrods bloom, Frost is about 6 weeks away. I only saw a few, so I am not sure if I should begin counting. I should rather not.
We had quite a stir among the Chickens. Melanie looked out and noted a Hawk flying over Lacey's yard which she shares with her 5 Chicks. She was really squawking. When we arrived at the Pen, she and the Chicks were tucked into the overgrown Vegetation along the Fence. She had a most amazing sound which Richard said was a signal for them to lay low. And that was just exactly what they did. We could hardly see them. We carefully counted and they were all there.
In the Pen next door, the White Rock Cockerels were hiding out in the Tall Vegetation. They were not making a Peep. We could see them from our angle. They looked like E.T. in that movie long ago, where E.T. is hiding amongst the Stuffed Animals in the little girl's closet. In this case, they were all hiding together with the dense Vegetation overhead. I should not like to trivialize the importance of that move toward their survival. It was amazing to watch. They surely know what they are doing.
Later on, we went back inside; Richard and Melanie were downstairs. I noted 2 Fawns who still had their Spots. They were ambling about our little Prairie Garden just off the West Porch. Mother Doe stayed just behind. Richard and Melanie came upstairs at my call. We watched, trying to figure out what they were eating. It was one of those moments when you think "How adorable." Followed quickly by, "Rather not." Melanie whispered to Ladd, who was asleep on the Porch. "Ladd...go!" And off he went. And off they went too. We just saw their 3 White Tails headed spritely away into the Woods. Ladd came prancing back. He did indeed have the situation under control.
This is what I saw. I wonder what I missed.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Richard began making Salsa today. After chopping the Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Tomatillos, Garlic, and Herbs, he put them on the Stove to simmer and cook down. Ever attentive, he kept stirring so that the mixture would not stick. His morning's creativity made 2 batches yielding 21 Pints.
All Ingredients came from our Farm, with the exception of the Salt, Pepper, and Cumin. The Chopping took a long time. He used a beautify array of Peppers and Tomatoes. Together, they were works of Art.
When I was growing up, we only had Mexican food once. It didn't work out well because we didn't know what we were doing and what it should be like. Over the years, Mexican food has become very popular. We love it. We cannot imagine going through the year without reserves of our own version of Salsa.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Raccoons have liked the plan so much that they have taken virtually all of the Kandy, Golden Bantam, Stowells Evergreen Sweet Corn Crops. They took most of the Northstine Dent Field Corn. Richard did plant a goodly crop there, hoping the 3 C's would get some. Sharing was the intent, but we should have talked with the Raccoons.
So far, they have not taken any of the Sweet Corn from the Garden. The 3 C's, some family and friends have been chowing down. Richard and Melanie have been freezing Corn. So far, we have in the Freezer: 22 1/2 Quarts.
The Raccoons have not bothered the Popcorn or the Indian Corn. We have Popcorn and Indian Corn in the Big Field. We have Indian Corn in the Garden. Richard says that he has never been a Raccoon that he remembers. So he isn't sure about their thinking.
It would be our request, Dear Reader, that you not tell the Raccoons about our Garden's Stash of Corn. About 1/2 has been harvested so far. Shhhh...
Saturday, August 15, 2009
2 Gallons Peppers (mixed varieties and colors, mostly sweet, some spicy, 1 Jalapeno)
20 Small to Medium Onions
1 Quart Tomatillos
4 Heads Garlic
Pint of Fresh Cilantro
20 Seeds of Coriander
Cumin to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Blanch Tomatoes in boiling hot water for 1 minute. Immerse in cold water. This causes skins to "slip" making peeling easy. Remove skins and imperfections. Core. Remove as much juice and as many seeds as reasonably possible. (We freeze juice for Soup Stock.) Chop or break apart Tomatoes. Chop Peppers, Tomatillos, Onions, Garlic, Cilantro.
Put it all in a pot or 2. We like to limit the amount in a container. Since the volume is high, the mixture can easily stick and burn. That isn't the taste we desire. So we usually go with 2 pots for this volume. Simmer and stir frequently. Cook until consistency desired. Richard thinks he cooked it for about 2 hours.
Put Salsa in sterilized Pint Jars. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Notes: (1) This recipe made 21 Pints today. (2) Richard is the Salsa Maker in our family. All amounts are approximate because he puts into the Recipe whatever he thinks at that moment needs to be there. He isn't hung up on measuring. Once upon a time, he reviewed Recipes but he never exactly followed any of them. Consequently, this Salsa is all his own. Each batch is uniquely out of that time and space, sharing the bounty that the Garden has to offer. As the mixture cooks, we 3 C's taste and nod "yes" or or comment "hmmm...it needs a little..." And we imagine all the wonderful ways that the Salsa can be used. (3) All ingredients in the batch today (except the Cumin, Salt and Pepper) came from our Garden.
The Sorghum Cane has leaped overhead as if to touch the Sky. The Cane surely must love this August Heat. That 1 inch Rain we got earlier must have suited its Fancy too.
Assuming all goes well, we will be making Sorghum Molasses in a month. My, how the summer has flown.
At this time, Cane Seed Heads are bursting alive. Hollis calls that moment: "Shooting Cane". Apparently, the Seed Head is tightly held in the Leaves. At the moment the Seed Head is unfurled, a "shooting" sound is heard. This is especially evident during a Rain. We shall surely have to check that out. Once again, we 3 C's do not want to miss a thing,
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Air Conditioning seems artificial. If Creator wanted us to be in a cooler, He probably would have birthed us in an Ice Cube. Now, that is another story.
Air Conditioned Air smells odd. I don't know why. It does not smell like Fresh Summer Air which is replete with a plethora of aromas. Air Conditioned Air smells artificial to me. It smells as if it has been recycled through some kind of used and slightly soiled Human constructed filter. Yuk. That surely can't be good for us.
My Body and my Spirit get disoriented in Air Conditioned Spaces. This is complicated by the fact that many of these spaces are short on Windows to the Natural World. I know what the Season is, yet maybe it is Spring, or late Fall. Artificial at that. At some kind of elemental level, my Body and Spirit feel out of sync with what is, what should be.
I miss the Sounds of Summer. Instead, I am fed a pablum of gray noise, the whirring of some kind of machine. My Ears want to hear something different. I yearn for the Symphony of Summer. I yearn for the specific moments of the Symphony which define the time in the Earth's Cycles in which I live. Right now, as I type this, I am hearing Crickets, Locusts, Katydids. If I listen closely, I bet I can hear Tree Frogs. These are all signatures of Late Summer. Why would I want to substitute any part of that for a "gray noise" that hums and whirs? I think not.
Air Conditioning comes at a price. Yes, Air Conditioning costs money in fuel and machines, and who knows what else. But when these Resources are used, they are not available to future generations. Many of those Resources are taken from the Earth and deposited in the Sky to become a part of Global Warming. And then we will need more Air Conditioning. We Humans are so smart.
I think that Air Conditioning develops a secondary disease: Sedentary Life Style. We spend most of our time in boxes: cramped work places, homes parked in front of television, malls, cars. When we lived in South Texas years ago, I had a distinct feeling that Humans were running from Air Conditioner to Air Conditioner. The outdoors was an inconvenience that was to be ignored.
I am not sure about this one, but I do wonder about the Health Effects of being in Air Conditioned settings. Some of us know no other. I suppose it is up to each of us to figure this one out. For one, I do know that I "ache more".
I do not sleep well in Air Conditioning. That is a fact that I have tested and retested over many years. The results are always the same. Let me say that again: I do not sleep well in Air Conditioning.
In the last few days, a 6 year old asked me a question: "Do you not have Air Conditioning because you don't have money to pay for it?" I was stunned that one so young would already draw that conclusion. The answer is "No."
We choose not to use Air Conditioning except in those situations when we feel that we absolutely have to have it. We do use fans. I have a fan overhead at this moment. We are conscious of the fact that on rare occasions, our Company may actually have health issues that require it. I do use the Air Conditioner in my car. Otherwise, it seems to be a hot box.
But mostly, we just like the experience of Nature's Gift of Air. And we are getting to be experts on this Little Farm on alternative ways to stay cool.
I do not believe that it can be Summer without Sweet Corn. It surely is one of my most favored Summer Delights. I would go to just about any reasonable length to have it. The Reality that Sweet Corn was raised here on the Place that I call Home and by our own Hands is just about the Frosting on the Cake.
At this Season when the Corn is newly ripe and it rests between my 2 Hands, I often reflect on what it means to me. These Days are no exception to that Rule.
When I was growing up, I loved Sweet Corn too. I remember practicing different ways to eat it. I seemed intent on discovering the best way. I would sit among my Friends or Family and we would do our best to achieve that end.
I would carefully take 2 or 3 or 4 rows at a time and go methodically from one end to the other. When I arrived at the end, I would make a bell like sound: "Ding!" That was to simulate a Typewriter reaching the end. Then I would swing back to the other side. These days, most would not know that Typewriter Simulation, which seems to me a great loss in the Corn Experiment of Eating.
My 2nd most favored experiment was to go completely around the Cob. Round and round I would go. Sometimes, I was so eager, I would almost forget to stop.
Which did I like best? Over the years, I have stayed with the "going from one end to the other". Subconsciously, I think I still sing out the "Ding!" I guess that approach won favor in my Life.
I love Corn with Butter Dripping. I put the Butter on with a Table Knife. I do like to roll the Ear of Corn in the melted Butter on my plate. I add to that moderate Sprinklings of Salt and Pepper. I am all set.
Mother used to have those little Plastic Corns which poked their sharp ends into the Cob. That approach allowed delicate Folks to eat their Corn without touching the Cob. That seemed to me an approach that City People might use. While I liked those little Gadgets, I found no need to have them. I liked the experience of just holding the Cob.
These days, I usually have 2-3 Ears at a sitting. I surely must have eaten more than that before. At the end of the Meal, I sit back with some satisfaction thinking about what I have just experienced. Usually, I feel a warm coating of Butter around my mouth and on my chin. Sometimes I look across the Table at Dear One, and I see that he has a dot or 2 of a Corn Kernel on his face. I know that I surely have the same. You could call it the Blessing of the Corn, I suppose, as if we have entered some kind of Special Society.
In all those years in the City, we would occasionally buy Sweet Corn from the Grocery Store. If it was in Season, it was sometimes local. Other times, it had been shipped in from some remote site. Always, the delay from picking from the patch to the appearance on our table was delayed. I have tried Sweet Corn out of Season. I have had it Frozen. These are not at all the same. I choose none of these things these days.
I can understand the Great Lengths that my Companions the Raccoons go to in finding Corn. So far, our Little Experiment of Providing them with Corn in the Big Field is working. We have provided them with Corn, which fills their need too. They haven't yet found the Corn in the Main Garden or maybe they know what it means to us, and they are just leaving it alone. I cannot be for sure. I would ask your confidence in the sharing of these things. Shhhhh....
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I love to take pictures of Flowers against the Sun. One never knows what the Camera sees. It is hard to take credit for such joyous combinations of Light, Color and Life.
Ann Hiner sent the Orange Cosmos Seeds at Holiday Time in 2007 from her Garden to Mine. The Black-Eyed Susans came in a Wildflower Mix. Or did they come from the Wild because we have them here in abundance?
In the middle of this Photo Op, Jenny Wren was reminding me that I was too close to her House. Her House was right above me. Excuse me, Mrs. Wren.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Those Tomates are teentsy. They are the smallest Tomatoes I have ever seen. They are very good and sweet. Melanie says they are little bursts of Tomato Flavor. Every one is a surprise.
Mother loved them. As per usual, she wanted to share. So we did. The looks that we got were amazing. The Residents looked inside the little container and saw these smaller than small Tomatoes. I don't think they had seen anything like it. They were used to the giant Beefsteak Tomatoes. Most wanted a taste. Most enjoyed them. Most laughed at their size. We heard: "I used to grow Tomatoes in my Garden." "I like the big ones better." "Do they grow like a regular Tomato?" "Nothing tastes like a Tomato fresh out of the Garden."
No, we did not have our Air Conditioning on. Richard even canned 21 Quarts of Tomatoes. I really don't like Air Conditioning. It just doesn't seem quite right. We try to use it as little as possible.
I hope some day this little House has a better plan for keeping it cool. The Mature Shade Trees will take a while. They are likely to be enjoyed more by the next Generations. We are replacing the Windows. Window Treatments will be on the to do list soon.
The low for Tonight is expected to be mid 70s. Out in the Garden, the Tomatoes, Corn, Melons must be jumping for Joy. We jump for Joy at those possibilities too.
When I write, I need to record on the page my name and the date of writing. We have some writings from the Ancestors which have no names. That name is really very important. All those who follow us will want to know the name of the writer. They will need to know that in order for the story to be complete. If I come across writings of relatives that are unsigned, but I know the writer, I should be sure to note that (and the approximate date, if known).
That surely should be extended to pictures. Just like Mother has always told us, we should put names and dates on the back. One should not delay. I have not been as good at this as I should have been. But it is not too late to change that little practice around.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Simultaneously, someone from Green Building Supply in Fairfield, Iowa, delivered our outside Door for the Dining Room. That meant all the major supplies (Windows, Doors) were complete and ready to go.
While the Construction Crew is here, we dance around doing our own part to make things go smoothly. This 1st day was no exception; in fact, the speed seemed to be up a notch. Things got easier as the time went on. Maybe we just got used to it. While the Construction Crew is here, we follow them around occasionally, trying not to be intrusive, but eager to see the progress in our Little Home.
By late morning, 5 people on 5 Bicycles with 2 Trailers arrived from Wren Song, a Farm which is 3 miles south on our shared Gravel Road. These Glowing Young Adults picked 5 Gallons of Green Beans, which they planned to can later in the day. We managed delicious moments of conversation on the Porch, while the Construction Crew was energetically installing Windows on Scaffolds above.
Most of the Travelers through our Little Farm on that 1st day of Construction enjoyed Molasses Cake. I let Folks cut their own Pieces. The Pieces ranged from Postage Stamp Sizes to unabashed Blocks as big as the Palm on your hand. Regardless of size, all were quickly devoured. I just smiled. The simplest of pleasures are the best. Plus, 1 of the Rules of Farm Life which we have learned and try to follow is that you feed whoever comes. The Cake was finished by mid afternoon.
Our Security Light. which is provided by our Rural Electric Cooperative (for a fee, of course), had gone out some months ago. We were actually quite delighted by that because those lights tend to disconnect people from the Lovely Nights. We love the Night and without the light, we could now see the Stars. A Crew from the Cooperative in a substantial Pick-up with a Cherry Picker arrived to fix it. In the meantime, I talked with them about the logistics of removing the light and installing our own light, with switches at the House and the Garage. We will be doing that sometime soon, hopefully.
Sarah and Ronnie Saltmarsh came out in the Early Evening. We had a wonderful visit as we strolled about the Garden and each shared Garden Successes and Challenges. The Cake was long gone, but our special Guests were encouraged to browse in the Garden, which they did. We did too. We always do.
All of this was happening with a little Side Drama. At Rachel's Birthday Dinner last week, we had a Plumbing Issue. Birthdays are supposed to include surprises, right? The Plumber arrived earlier this week and we are very pleased to report that the issue is no longer. However, we are having him attend to some Plumbing Concerns in the House. While they could be put off, they are of the "Fix It" variety. We are also asking him to help us think about taking good care of the Plumbing System and Lagoon. City Folks aren't quite in tune to these things. He should be coming any day.
Recently, my Car developed a smell that could be nothing other than a Mouse. While I like to share, I have no interest in sharing my Beloved Car with a Mouse. This morning, Richard and I used our Sniffers to isolate the source: the Car Seat behind the Driver's Seat. We proceeded to try to remove the Seat, including calling the Dealership in Quincy. They advised us that we would need someone to remove some bolts.
So I headed into Town today and asked the Mechanics to remove the Seat. The Technician who was removing the bolts had quite a fear of Mice. He had no idea if something was going to jump out at him. Nothing did. In the meantime, his Fellow Technicians were gathered around him so as not to miss any Drama. It must have been a slow day, at least while I was there.
Mice are not uncommon to Country Life, so we are learning. This is a part of our Learning Curve too. I shall look forward to reporting some solutions.
Today actually went very smoothly. While the activity was definitely a Flurry, we just went with the Flow. After the Construction Crew left today, we have 4 Windows in and Trimmed, and 2 Windows in but yet to be Trimmed.
The House seems happy. We went into the Garden to Gather a Simple Meal for Dinner. We spent time in the Garden later just meandering about, attending to some details, but not being in a big hurry about anything.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
We try not to announce the Ripening of the Corn to the Larger World around us, because some of our Neighbors might have ideas of their own. That would be the Family of Raccoons.
Those who raise Corn in these parts have an ongoing Dance with Raccoons. It seems that Raccoons love Corn just about as much as the Humans do. They are ever so grateful that the Humans planted these Patches of Corn. For them.
Richard has a plan to satisfy the Raccoons and the Humans too. We are not sure that it will work, but his plan makes sense and we have to give it a try. He calls it "Passive Predator Control". As a Wildlife Biologist, he believes that it is better than "Active Control". Active Control is usually lethal for Predators. Folks talk about "dispatching" Raccoons, which typically means to kill them. Our intention is a non-violent practice on this Little Farm. We try to live with Nature, rather than against. We also try to share. To a point.
Passive Predator Control, which is an alternative, uses "diversion". It would include such things as building a Fence, which we have done. Raccoons are Climbing Creatures so we do not expect that our Fence (which is not electric) will completely deter them.
In this case, Richard has planted some Sweet Corn in the Big Garden which is out beyond our Main Garden. Yes, he planted it on purpose. The intention is to share with the Raccoons.
Why? Richard tells us that Raccoons live in Families and they are territorial. To shoot them merely means that one has opened up the Property to a New Family of Raccoons, who will shortly follow. It seems like that would keep the Wildlife Communities in continual change and turbulence. Now, why would Humans want to do that? We are enough of a disruption as it is.
Richard hopes that the Sweet Corn in the Big Garden will meet the satisfaction of the Raccoons. If that is the case, they will continue to protect the Property for their own interests (it's their Home too), and they will leave the Humans' Corn Patch in the Garden alone. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, I have been embarking on my own little program. I suppose you could call it protection. But it is actually more about adding "Art" and Whimsy to the Garden, plus getting to play besides.
For the last 3 Growing Seasons, I have wanted to make a Scare Crow (which I am calling a "Hug Crow"). But 1st, she will need some Clothes. As I thought about it and polled my Family Members, it didn't seem like the 3 C's had any Clothes for her to choose from around here. We were wearing what we have. I checked out Thrift Stores, but didn't want to convert to rags something that would be wearable for another.
So I scratched my head and decided that I did have some Clothes that I could offer up to the project. You know those Clothes that find their way into the Corners of the Drawers and Closet. It is almost like they are migrating out of here. So I checked the Corners and this is what I found.
That Shirt which is such a beautiful shade of Blue doesn't fit. Plus it was damaged by the previous Washing Machine. I have cherished and worn those Overall Shorts in a variety of Gardening Projects for 2 decades. How the time passes. While I don't like to admit it, they are tattered and ready to retire to other Projects. And, let's just say those Old Tights aren't tight any more.
Richard suggested one of my Bird's Nest Gourds for the Head; I found a Head from the abundance of Gourds which I grew last year. With all these parts assembled, I grabbed my Paints and my Brushes, set up my work area, and had myself a project. And I prepared to have some Fun.With the Painting complete, the Hug Crow needed some structural support. As with many of my Art Projects, Richard does the underlying structure. He created a Form for the Hug Crow out of Branches we had in our stockpile for the Garden and other Projects. I am not sure how he always seems to know how to do these things, but he just does.I worked on getting the Clothes to fit just so. The Head is a little high above the Shoulders, but that is OK. This Hug Crow, while prepared to hug others, doesn't want Anyone nibbling on that Corn in the Patch which is for the Humans. She is definitely on the look out. And she is definitely making a statement.Melanie asked me if the Hug Crow had a name. I said "Cornelia", which seems fitting. We thought about the Name for a little while, and then we chuckled about that.
Upon completion, Richard and I carried her out to the Corn Patch in a Processional. He hummed "Pomp and Circumstance". This reminded us of the time when he carried the University Flag at a Commencement Processional in front of 1000s of people. That well known melody seems perfectly noble for the importance of her task. This is just a Commencement of a Different Sort. You could call it a Commencement of the Ripening of the Corn.
You will also note she has 2 tin pans dangling from each of her arms. They are intended to make a noise as the Breezes blow. That should scare any Critters off, or at least make them pause for a little bit.We installed her just in front of the Corn Patch. She looks pretty happy there. She seems prepared for whatever the Days and Nights might bring.
Monday, August 3, 2009
We haven't seen many Baltimore Orioles this Summer. We did see an abundance of Tobacco Horn Worms in the last few days.
I know those THW and their Adult Moths have a purpose. The Moths are Pollinators and we surely know that many Pollinators are in trouble. Most of my reading talks about how the THW are a nuisance for Gardeners and what to do to get rid of them. I should surely be doing some research on this. There has to be More to the Story. The Baltimore Oriole seemed happy that number 73 was here.
That surely must be Nature's way. I wonder: What is going on biochemically within the Plants that brings about this change? What communication is going on inside the Plant? The Plant and perhaps Nature/The Earth are saying: "It is time to put Serious Energy into Seeds."
The more we observe our Plants by being in the Garden with them, the more that we learn.
These Days, the Garden is pure Art. The Veggies and Flowers above became the Salad below. Richard said our Salad was too pretty to eat. We got over that and ate it anyway.
As long as those Plants are producing and the quality is good, we will be sharing. Tonight, Melanie took Green Beans to Kitty, Sarah and Ronnie. Tomorrow, Richard will drop Green Beans by Hollis and Deleta's. It feels so good to share the Bounty of the Earth from our Hands, Hearts, and this Little Farm.
What's next? Richard picked a 5 Gallon Bucket of Tomatoes this morning. Those 5 Gallons of Tomatoes made 14 Quarts. We are not so sure about our Tomato yield overall. We do have a lot of Tomato Plants. The Main Crop Tomatoes did not do so well. That's a long story. Who knows how many Tomatoes that we will have? I guess we will know by the end of the Growing Season.
Somehow, I think we are in the middle of a Relay. The Green Beans just passed us off to the Tomatoes. I suppose that makes us Humans the Baton.
I sat in the Rooster Pen for a little while this Evening. I placed a Scale in the Pen to see if I could get a Cockerel to roost on it. That seemed like a smart way to find out their weight.
Those Cockerels started out far away from the Scale and me. As time went on, they got closer and closer. Their Curiosity was obvious. But they didn't stand on the scale.
The 50 Little Cockerels in the Rooster Pen aren't little any more. Melanie estimates they weigh about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds.
Richard will start the Processing for the Table when the Roosters are about 4 Pounds Live Weight. "Processing for the Table" is a kinder way of saying "Butchering". Or rather, perhaps it is the way that Humans detach from pain and suffering of the Animals that offer up their lives so that we may live. Regardless, these Little Guys will be meat in the Freezer by the end of August. We try to be grateful for and honor their Gifts.
I had taped Newspaper on top of the Scale. The Headline was "Great Leap" referring to the Anniversary of the Walk on the Moon 40 years ago. These Little Guys will be taking their own Great Leap, all for the benefit of their Human Companions on this Little Farm.
He noted that some of the Green Bean Plants in the 2 Little Patches are slowing down. Other Plants are still making Green Beans. We will continue to eat Green Beans as long as they last and we are also giving them away.
(2) 27 1/2 Pounds Snapped Beans=28 Quarts
(3) Approximately 1 Pound Green Beans per Quart
(4) Whatever amount Picked becomes 7/8 of that amount Canned
(5) This is assuming that Green Beans are of good quality, with very few blemishes.
(6) We were surprised and grateful that the amount Canned in relation to that Picked was this high.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
With a flash of Recognition, it became obvious that we were hearing an Amish Buggy heading down the Lane. The rhythmic sounds were the rolling of the Wheels and the Clip Clop of Horse's Feet.
Over the years, I have mused often about how such a sound was reminiscent of the days of my Grandmother Lottie Lillian Hart Brenz. I thought of other Relatives who would have gone before and how familiar those sounds would have been. I can imagine that sound has been known to Humans for a very long time. That sound was a wonderful welcome to our new Home.
Today was August 1st. For some, that date has also been known as a Turning of a Wheel of a different sort. When one looks at an Earth Calendar, or a Calendar which marks events in Creation, 8 dates represent significant markers in the Annual Cycle. Whether or not one chooses to note or honor such dates, they are imbedded deeply in Human Consciousness and probably in the Consciousness of All Living Things.
So what is so special about August 1st? The Sun now rises later and farther to the South along the Eastern Horizon. The Sun, while still strong, is less intense. We may even feel an underlying "cool", especially in the Night Air. We know that Fall is on the way.
At this time, Harvest has moved into full swing. After all the planting and tending of Gardeners plus hopefully favorable conditions, the Earth knows no bounds in launching Food to sustain our Lives. In these parts, we will be in the Peak of Harvest in August, September, and October. As Folks who are intent on raising most of our own Food, we will be very busy trying to keep up over the coming weeks.
Most Birds have completed their Nesting. Some have already moved on. Others are ganging up getting ready for Fall Migration.
For Humans, we feel a touch of sadness as if we are going to lose something very precious. Indeed, the Plants and the Animals have become our Companions during this vibrant Growing Season. Winter will represent their loss.
I have noticed some signs of Fall in our Friends, the Plants. Two Maple Trees in town were beginning to turn red. Some Sumac Leaves here on the Farm are turning red, as are the leaves of Poison Ivy. I can now see the Flower Heads of the Fall Bloomers pushing up on the Meadow. How can that be? I take comfort in the fact that they are not blooming yet.
The Annual Seasonal Calendar of the Earth is sometimes represented by Traditional Peoples as a Wheel. That Wheel is turning. Those Traditional Peoples saw (and see) Humans as intimately tied into the Cycles of the Earth. They believed that Humans need to honor those Cycles. Should we not honor those Cycles, the Earth could get off track. We are bonded that close.
We 3 C's on Butterfly Hill Farm try to note these days as the Wheel Turns. We are grateful that this beautiful Planet supports and sustains Life. We pray that those Cycles continue in the way that they should. We see Creation as a Great Gift from the Divine. We wish to honor that Gift on this Day and in Every Step.