Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Molasses Making 2009 Complete

I think it is fair to say that we were tired today. Batch 3, which is our last batch of the season, is now complete. As Richard described, the moment was "happy, sad". We are happy that Molasses Making was successful and complete. We are jubilant about the latter. But we were sad that it was done.

Once again, this Batch was different and we had some teachings. The Cane was riper. The beginning and end product were a very different shade of brown. Boiling happened evenly, rapidly, and throughout the length of the Pan. The Juice cooked down relatively quickly. That last Boil, just before the Batch was done, was "creamy". The Batch was thicker. Taste was excellent. It was a beautiful Fall Day, warm during the Day and cool on either side. We found ourselves in the company of some Bees.

While Life seems to "stop" in the middle of Molasses Season. It really doesn't. It continues to flow. We had some distractions. David and Lurah had some health issues in those moments. We were very aware. We were grateful they could get the medical attention that they need. Somehow, it was important to be together. The web of Family gave them and us support as we held them in a healing light.

Some surprises happened. KTVO Channel 3 showed up to film our Molasses Making for the evening news. The decision was made for Richard to speak for the Process, which he reluctantly did. The 2 Brothers, Hollis Dale, and Melanie worked in the background around the Pan. While it was sweet to share, a bit of the innocence of the process seemed to be taken away.

I do believe that the reclaiming of enduring Family Traditions is a major yearning of our Times. I would hope that as this story is shared that it can enter the world in a good way.And so we ended Molasses Making 2009. A good time was had by all. The interweavings of Family and Friends were magical and inspiring. The Tree of Life just keeps growing. In all, 5 generations of our family have made Molasses in this location.

Making Molasses is a physically intense process. Some Folks were dealing with issues which affected their ability to be involved at a level to which they were accustomed and they desired. These are issues which we will have to seriously consider and accommodate for in the future. The assistance of volunteers was especially helpful in giving support.

In the meantime, with the completion of the Season, other things have been temporarily set aside. They will now get our attention. The Wheel of Life just keeps moving on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rules of the Farm

Even the best
of Human Plans
should be
"pencilled in".
Nature Rules.
Humans need
to shift and change
based on Nature's Direction.
180's do happen.
it makes
sense for us to Change.
It is easier.
We Humans
who are dependent
on Nature's Cycles
our likelihood
of Return.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pullet Egg

The 6 Black Australorp Hennies used to be called the "Littles" but now appear to be full size. Some of them are sporting some pretty mature looking wattles. Yesterday, Richard discovered what seems to be a Pullet Egg in one of the nest boxes. That means they have started to lay, which seems right on schedule.

I can't help but reflect on the fact that, just like those Pullets, we 3 Humans are also relative Newbies on this Little Farm. We have grown so much in these 1st 2 1/2 years, or 3 growing Seasons. We have learned an incredible amount and our thirst for growing is seemingly unquenchable. Compared to where we were 2 years ago, the Path seems more clear and our steps are more secure.

However, I wonder if our efforts could be somewhat like the Little Pullet who has produced that Beautiful Small Egg. We really are in wonder and awe at what is happening here. Plus, our gratitude knows no bounds. Surely our efforts and our knowing are only a start for where we are going to go.


O.K. I brought Sloppy Joes for Lunch at Molasses Making yesterday. The Recipe called for Ketchup. I did not use Richard's Homemade Ketchup from this year. I used Storebought, and yes, it was Organic. His Ketchup efforts came from great amounts of Tomatoes and long labor. He produced just enough for us to use from the year. We laugh about hoarding our Ketchup, but we are quite serious about it.

Molasses Making 2009 Batch 2

We had another beautiful day for Molasses Making at the Crawford Family Farm, Sunday, September 27. Coming and going throughout the day, 45 Family and Friends gathered for re-unioning, meeting, updates, conversation.

While the focus seems to be "Molasses Making", the whole event is much much more. While observing the whole shin-dig, I could not help but see that the Family Tree was laid out there right in front of us. Four generations were present, weaving a fabric of the present, the past and the future all around us. How many Families these days get together? or make a priority for reclaiming such events?

Throughout the day, Family Stories of the Old Ones kept coming out of Long Locked Away Treasure Chests. I asked some questions about what People remembered of their earliest Molasses experiences. The sharing was really neat.

Overall, the details of Molasses Making seem to more fleshed out compared to that 1st year when we made Molasses "without supervision", as Hollis called it. We keep learning every single time we gather. These are some things that came up on this day:

We want the pulp dry when it comes from the Mill. That means we have more Juice, which means we have more Molasses.Molasses Making has become synonymous with celebration. Yesterday, we celebrated 4 Birthdays, including Hollis' 70th. While we each have contributed in our own way, Hollis has been the glue which has allowed us to reclaim the Molasses Making in our Family. How do you say thanks? I think we say thanks as we each drive down the drive on our way to Molasses Making and take our places to reclaim this tradition in our Family on these beautiful Fall Harvest Days.For the 1st time, Music has entered the Molasses Making tradition. Last week, Tim brought his Guitar. At certain special moments, our voices were lifted together in song. This week, Jana Russon brought her Mandolin. The sweet strings of the Mandolin floated on the breezes. Such music just makes me smile.Food seems to be a common theme. And we turn out in droves for those Homemade dishes that we all love. Melanie made Homemade Ice Cream for Hollis' Birthday. It took a lot longer than expected but surely was worth the wait. We all lined up with dishes, pieces of Angel Food, Wacky, Molasses Cake, or Pie, and spoons.Cooking off this batch took longer. While the day was warm, the brisk Breezes did their fair share of cooling the Pan. The Wood was wet from recent Rains which slowed the Fire. Hollis Dale (who is the Firekeeper) said some of the flooring from Grandma's Kitchen in the Old House actually saved the day. It was the best Wood on this day. I think that was Grandma's way of having a hand in this batch. She was born 100 years ago October 18.We had a few more Acorns and Leaves fall into the Batch. The Skimmers kept a close watch on things, in addition to 4 times of Straining.The Women are more sure about when it is done. Deleta thinks last week's Batch could have cooked a little more. This time, the Batch seemed to cook a little longer past the Frog Eye Boil. We all noted a different sound to Boil as it neared completion. We stopped and just listened. In that magical moment, Melanie said: "It's done." As an aside for the Whole Process, Deleta wonders if we should wait a little longer before Harvest so the Cane is more ripe.After the Pan is carried off, Hollis scoops the Batch with the Skimmer to cool it down and to reduce the bubbles. He doesn't remember the Boys' Dad ever doing this.I asked how much a gallon of Molasses weighed. When Richard, Hollis and Deleta were bottling up the Molasses today, Hollis and Richard weighed the Molasses. A Gallon weighs 11.5 pounds. In other words, this Batch produced 14 Gallons which means it weighed 161 Pounds coming off the Fire. That does not include the Pan. In the meantime, Hollis was figuring out a way to weigh the Pan.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recipe: Sloppy Joes

1 pound Ground Beef
Salt to taste
1 1/2 T. Molasses
2 T. prepared Mustard
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 C. Ketchup

Brown Ground Beef in skillet or pot. Break apart. Salt to taste. Mix remaining ingredients. Stir into Ground Beef. Heat until bubbling. Serve on Buns. I like to serve Sweet Pickles (in this case Bread and Butter Pickles) on the side.

This is a great Fall meal. It is goes beautifully on a day of Molasses Making. For tomorrow's Molasses Making, I multiplied the Recipe times 6. Whatever we don't eat (because there are other choices), we'll freeze up for the next Molasses Making day on Wednesday.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Yesterday's decision to harvest the Sorghum Cane for Batch 2 was surely "spot on". Richard felt that we had a "window to harvest" and we surely did.

Last night we got close to 4 inches of Rain. Our "official Butterfly Hill Farm Rain Gauge" (which is a Coffee Mug on the Deck) was full. A few other containers about the Farm confirmed that reading. That would include the Whiskey Barrels and empty Food Grade Buckets.

Soil Test

We have planned to do this for some time, but just had not gotten around to it. On Wednesday, Melanie carefully probed the Gardens for soil for our "soil test". While we have had the soil tested before, this test will be more comprehensive and in more depth. Brad Whitaker has agreed to help us "read it" and prioritize what we plan to do. This really feels right. Theresults should be back in 2-3 weeks.

In the Big Coop

Lacey's 5 Littles are really growing. A quick glance can make them look grown, until you see them next to the Adult Chickens in the Yard. Some of the 4 Roosters are actually sporting a bit of Red Color where soon they will have Combs.

During the day, the 6 of them range far and wide. Yesterday, we saw them out in the Cane Field. In the evening, Lacey and her Littles often come close to the Deck. We enjoy their presence while we eat our Evening Meal and wind down from the busy-ness of the day. With their vibrancy, we wonder how they will be different than the Chicks that the Humans have reared.

As per usual, Lacey and her Littles settled into the Brooder House this Evening. But this night was different. The 3 Humans picked up Lacey (who was not happy in the least), and 2 of the Littles. We each carried 1 of them into a straw-filled corner of the Hen House of the Big Coop. After 1 more trip, we carried the remaining 3 to that same corner. Gee, were they all snuggled up to each other, in the presence of those 40 something older Hens and Rooster.

I can just imagine the dynamics of the Night. They will surely have stories to tell, come morning. We will have to listen closely and polish up on our "Chicken Speak".


Molasses Making is intense. One has to be prepared to turn on a dime: Is it ready? What is the weather like? Is the equipment all lined up? Is there sufficient work crew? Who had planned to come? Who is contacting whom? What Food Support needs to be in place?

Molasses Making is complicated and stretched by the fact that it happens at the peak of Harvest and putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter Sleep. Nevermind, we are complicated by the work schedules of vigorous younger Folks who really would like to be there but can't. Yikes. No wonder we get tired.

Out of the Blue, we got precious help this week. On short notice, Meghan, Iuval (pronounced "U-vahl"), Peter, and Robert rode their Bikes from Wren Song the 3 miles on the up and down gravely road. And there they were coming down our drive: intent on offering their Energies to make sure the Sorghum Cane was harvested and ready for Molasses Making Batch 2.

None had done this before. Each was willing to learn. Each wanted to support.

We have known Meghan since earlier in the Summer. She is an intern at Wren Song and is from the Kansas City area. The remaining 3 had just arrived. We had met only 1 and only briefly. Molasses Making and our Little Farm became a cross-roads for their gathering. Iuval spent his early childhood in Israel. Peter is from New Zealand. Robert is an Englishman living in Ireland.

Their stay in these parts is short. Their interests lie in the creation of Sustainable Communities and reclaiming Traditions of Living on the Land. And on this magical day, they were here and ready to help.

These days, it seems our lives in this society are tangled up with complications. Most people are exceedingly busy and self absorbed. Personal and family lives add layers of being, doing, running. Jobs often demand more than we have the capacity to give, further removing us from the creation of community. Media keeps us flying with adrenaline rushes. If it doesn't, caffeine and high energy drinks add their share to face the complexities of the realities of our over stimulated lives.

In the face of all these complications, I think that one of our inherent tendencies is to help and to live in community. Our tangled lives in modern society often pull us away from such practices. The yearning is still there. We are just too tangled to bring it forward. Sure, we may help a close friend or family member. But we have little time to go beyond.

On this precious day, we received a blessing of 4 relatively unknown ones who just stopped by to help. Is that not the Lives we are supposed to live? In these times of Making Molasses, I know our Lives are surely the richer for it. That Richness will far extend beyond these dates.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tales of 2 Beans

Yesterday, I presented on "Fall Garden Harvest" to a Support Group for Visually Impaired Individuals in Kirksville. Early that Morning, Richard and Melanie helped me prepare Baskets and Buckets of Roots, Herbs, Flowers, Indian Corn and Beans from the 3 Sisters Garden, Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses. Each item of Produce was selected to appeal to the Senses: Smell, Taste, Touch, Sound.

When I left the Farm, I was loaded. In fact, I looked like I was on the way to manage a small stall at a Farmers' Market. I really had fun on this special day.

I just brought Plants and Produce that wanted to come to these Eager Learners, gave some introductory comments, and then watched the Participants take off into their own Story Land. I think the Participants had even more Fun as I did. Gee, did they have Stories to share. Sometimes I had difficulties getting them to stop. I just smiled.

I started out by telling them that just like every Human, Plants and Seeds have their own Stories. I passed out Dried Pods of Edible Beans. I asked if they knew what those crackling things were. Some didn't. Others knew right away. Then Bonnie and I cracked open the Pods and gave each Participant 2 different Beans.

I asked them to describe the Beans. #1: Plump ("like me", one of them laughed), not as slick, almost square with rounded edges, lighter in color. I added that the color around the edge was a purply maroon. The remaining areas in the middle were creamy white. The areas where the colors connected with each other were lightly covered transitions of fine dots. #2: Shiny, slick to the feel, small, long, not very wide, dark ("Is it black or blue?" those with sight of Color asked.).

I asked them to place the 1st Bean in their hands and just hold it. Then I told them the Story that I knew of this Bean. That 1st Bean is "Mayflower Bean". The predecessor to this Bean was brought on the Mayflower to the Plimoth Plantation in 1620. In fact, those Pilgrims would have been on their way in that Ship on this date in 1620. Somewhere on board, the predecessor to that Seed was tucked on board.

Historically, when People came from long distances, especially to Lands of the Unknown, a fairly common practice was to bring Seeds. That simple practice could very well mean their Survival. Plus those Seeds represented the "trusted" and the "familiar". We have a sense of the importance of this Bean to the Mayflower Passengers almost 4 Centuries ago.

At my instruction, the Participants in my little Workshop then took the 2nd Bean and placed it in their hands. I told them that this Bean was the "Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean". It was reported to have been taken by the Cherokee People on their forced march in the 1838 from their homelands in the southeastern part of what we now know as the United States to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. That march took place under severe hardship. Many of the People died: the very young, the very old and those inbetween. The People carried those things important to them. And today we have that Bean in our hands.

For generations before and generations after, People took care to preserve these Beans. Otherwise, they would not be in our hands at this moment. We can easily see that Humans then, and up until now, chose to keep this Bean. The consequences of their actions meant that we would have this Bean today.

I wonder what actions we are or should be involved in that will insure that certain cherished things are gifted to Generations that follow. Being Present on the Land and Gardening Skills would be right up there.

One of the Participants asked where he could get Heirloom Seeds. Our favorite sources are: Seed Savers Exchange, Seeds of Change, and Baker Creek Seeds. We originally got these 2 Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange.

The telling of this story would not be complete without a reference to the Hands in these Pictures. They happen to be 2 People with whom I am blessed to share my Life and this Farm. And they happen to be descendants of the Mayflower and of the northern Cherokee People.

Be Loose

Rain is predicted off and on through Saturday. Stripping Cane in a muddy field is not practical, nor is it fun. Plus, we like best to cook the Juice at dry times because it takes less time to cook into Syrup (and other reasons too).

As the cooking is in the old way (which means out of doors), we do have canopies for cooking and for sitting. Wind however would shut the place down. Not much is predicted. We will keep our fingers crossed on that one.

Weather always has the upper hand. Or should I say "Creator"? We just keep trying to know our place.

Early this morning, calls were going back and forth to Hollis and to Wren Song. We just need to work inbetween the "unknowable". Isn't that a lesson in Humility? Do we Humans need that?

Looking at Weather Underground and checking out the Cane Field, we noted that rain is coming and the ground was still solid. Should we wait, it will quickly become Muddy. The decision was made to harvest the Cane today, transport it to the Crawford Farm east of here, and delay cooking the Juice into Syrup until Saturday (iffy), Sunday or Monday. While Sunday and Monday do present complications, some Folks who could not be there at other times due to work schedules would have space, assuming things would work out.

Calls were made to Hollis and to Wren Song. Hollis will bring his truck and Hollis Dale will likely be here for part of the time too. Meghan, Peter, Robert, and Iuval will bike the 3 miles from Wren Song and help with the Sorghum Cane harvest here. Wasting no time, Richard and Melanie head to the Cane Field to Strip Cane with a watchful eye on skies.

Plans have it that the Cane will be transported to Hollis' later today. In the meantime, I am contemplating a quick feed; Beef Stew which is one of our favorites is right up there as a candidate. So what about Bread? I decided you can't beat Homemade Hot Biscuits dripping with Butter either by themselves or as a shelf for Molasses. Biscuits, it is.

The lesson of the day seems: "Be loose" as Jana Russon just said on the Phone. Maybe that is a lesson for life too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recipe: Molasses Cake (Ethel Crawford)

Pan: 9"x13", greased
1 C. Molasses
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Hot Water
2 Eggs
1/2 C. Shortening
1 Tsp. Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 C. Flour

Cream Shortening, Sugar, Soda, Salt, Vanilla, & Eggs. Add Molasses & Flour last. Then add the boiling Water. Blend well & bake at 350 approximately 30 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, cover with wax paper until cool. When cool, cover with saran wrap.
Note: Melanie has her own update.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nature Notes

Richard, Laddie and the Cats are usually up just past 5. That is not to say they are "up" in that order. After Breakfast, the 4 Leggeds head outside, Ladd leading the Pack. Richard follows shortly thereafter, often with a Coffee Cup in his hand.

With Laddie's talented Nose, he gives us and all those who wish to hear a Full Report of all the Visitors in the Night. You could call it the Morning News. He "yips" when he is on the Trail of something Fresh. He sometimes breaks into a short high pitched Howl. Other times he barks and jumps with all the spring his legs can muster when he has a 'Possum or some other lively Creature up a Tree.

These Days, 'Possums have been frequent early Morning Visitors. They are hanging out at the Bird Feeders. Richard noted that as he talked with a 'Possum yesterday morning, the Critter's Ears moved forward, just like a Cat. When he quit talking, the Ears went back.

This morning, Laddie had 1 trapped at the Bird Feeder. The 'Possums front Legs were on the Bird Feeder. His back Legs were hanging down and his prehensile Tail was wrapped around a Limb. (Richard tells me that "prehensile" Tails actually serve like another Limb, a Hand if you will.) Laddie was jumping up and down underneath with long swooping snaps of his Jaws. And so we start another day.

Critical Moment

Other People may have their own Opinions on this subject, but since this is our Blog and I am the Principal Writer, here goes...

In my opinion, the most critical moment of Molasses Making is determining when the Batch is done. Certainly, a whole series of Critical Moments has occurred up until this time: planting, just the right amount of Heat and Water, standing tall through Storms, Folks to do the Work at just the right time. But the Success of the Batch boils down to determining that precise Moment when it is done.

I remember that 1st year we made Molasses, we were all standing about twiddling our thumbs in wonderment when that Moment would come. The Boys' Mother had always made that call. She was not there. How would we know "when it was done"? After 6 Seasons, the dynamic at that moment is still intense, the questions are still present but the factors are more known.

As it has evolved, most of the Folks are standing around the Pan as that Moment of Completion is near. It is a moment of great anticipation. Typically the Men are tending the Fire and the Pan. They routinely hold up the Skimmers to watch the Syrup drip and then sheet off the side.

As that Moment is nearing, Melanie quickly goes to the house to get a Saucer and Spoon. When she returns, the hot rich Syrup is drizzled onto the Plate. Melanie walks around the Pan and heads straight for Deleta. Between the 2 of them (sometimes with others, like Connie, gathered near), they note Consistency, Color, Taste.

The Pan Tenders are increasingly urgent. However, the Women are making the call. In previous years, the Men have sometimes removed the Pan too quickly. On one occasion, Deleta had to recook the Batch inside on the Stove because it was too thin. Recooking 12-14 Gallons of Syrup is no small task. While the Men are closest to the Pan and are most concerned about the Syrup sticking, it is the Women who cook with it on countless occasions over the coming Months. It is the Women who intimately know its Characteristics from Practical Use.

Melanie and Deleta tested the Syrup about 4-5 times on the occasion of 2009 Batch 1. At that last test, the Syrup simultaneously sheeted from Richard's Skimmer. The Batch was done. The 4 Men who would carry it off were already in their Places with their Right or Left Hands in Thick Leather Gloves to protect them from the Heat. As the Pan was carefully settled into its place off the Furnace, Hollis was "throwing the Syrup" with a Skimmer to cool it down. Sugary Solutions tend to continue to cook. The intention is to stop it at that moment of perfection in whatever Humanly way we can.

In discussing this with Melanie, she said, "It's the Cook's Call." Generally, the Women are the Cooks who will work with it countless times in the coming Months. Plus, the Women have long histories of making Candy, Preserves, Jelly. All those experiences factor into that critical decision at hand.

I find this time of decisionmaking as one of the most Magical of the whole process. In this case, 16 Gallons were boiling "at Frog Eye", the Syrup was thick, the color was that lovely deep Gold. The Men's Voices over the Pan were nervous, as they were fearful it might stick. The Women's Voices are quiet and analytical. They prevail.

Recipe: Molasses Cake (Melanie Crawford)

Pan: 9"x13", greased
Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
1/2 Cup Earth Balance or Butter
1/2 Cup Rapadura
1 tsp. Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 Cup Molasses
2 1/2 Cups Flour (1 1/2 Cups White, 1 Cup Whole Wheat)
1 Cup Boiling Water

Cream Earth Balance, Sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add Eggs and continue beating until well mixed. Add Soda, Salt, Vanilla. Mix. Add Molasses and mix. Then add Flour. Lastly, add Boiling Water. Blend well and bake for 30 Minutes.

As soon as it comes out of the Oven, cover with wax paper until cool. This keeps moisture in. This Cake is just yummy and has become one of our signatures here on the Farm.
Notes: (1) Negotiating the terrain of which ingredients are best for the Planet and Humans is not easy. "We are in process." (2) We use Organic Ingredients and non-GMO's. (3) We try not to use Partially Hydrogenated Fats. Our preference is Butter. However, sometimes we are "stuck" because Dairy is an issue. (4) Rapadura is a Cane Sugar product which has not been stripped of Nutrients.


If anyone out there had planned
to share a Rock for our Rock Wall,
we can still receive them
through next Monday, September 28.
They could be up to 8 inches deep.
They could also be a pebble or a shell.
This project is going fast.
Thanks to all!

Rock Wall Has Begun

After 3 years of Dreaming and Planning, the construction of the Rock Wall and Hearth began today. But 1st a little background:

I am the Daughter of a Stone Mason of the old school. Over his Lifetime Career and his 60 years as a Proud Union Member, my Father, Jack Felix Bloskovich, completed some pretty amazing projects in these parts. Those projects were large and small, from custom built Fireplaces, to Homes and large Institutional Complexes. Ever since I was a little Girl, I have been surrounded by the sights, sounds, smells and rhythms of Masonry in construction and complete.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always knew that I would live in a house in which my Father had built the Fireplace. To my Family's delight, Dad built a beautiful Field Stone Fireplace in our home in North Dakota in the early 1980s. The Rocks were gathered from the area where we lived, plus a call went out to Friends and Family who added to the Stash. Dad, Mom, Bransen, Richard, Melanie and I were all involved in its construction, which made it just that much more special. We enjoyed that Fireplace for a Quarter of a Century and it was with some reluctance that I left that House.

In Summer of 2006 when our purchase of this place was nearing completion, Dad was talking about building a Fireplace here. He was 88 and not nearly as sturdy as had been his signature so many years before. Could that be possible? By January 2007, he knew he couldn't. Could he train Richard and Hollis, he pondered? A few weeks before he passed, he put us in touch with a Retired Mason with whom he had trained and worked. After Dad passed, I was on the phone to ask Dick what we might work out.

After fits and starts these last 2 years, we were in touch with 3 Masons. All had known Dad. None really worked out due to a number of reasons. So Richard went back to Dad's original thoughts. He picked up some books. He spent some time recalling assisting Dad with the project in North Dakota. And with Richard's leadership, we 3 C's decided to do this ourselves.

Where did we get the Rocks? (Photo 1) The 3 of us have always loved and collected Rocks where-ever we go. Some were from our collection from North Dakota. Geologically, they would have been called Glacial Eratics, coming down from Northern Canada on the Glacier some 11,000 years ago. Adding to our Stash, Toby and Kendall Baker gave us a considerable number from their Collection when they left the State.

As this Project came on the Horizon, we queried Friends and Relatives as to Rocks they might want to share. When we arrived here, we had 17,000 pounds on the Semi. While a considerable portion was household stuff, we were loaded with Rocks and Books.

The previous owners of this Home, Brett and Wendy had Flower Beds lined with Rocks. They were from the Collection of Wendy's Grandmother, who was a long time Friend and Neighbor of Richard's Family when he and his Brothers were growing up. Wendy's Grandmother Vernell had attended Richard's Mother when Richard was born. How cool is that? Although she has passed, I think she would be thrilled to be a part of our project. I can almost hear her glee.

Rock by Rock, we just kept adding to the collection. People kept bringing us Rocks and they had amazing stories to share. The Rocks brought their own stories too.

(Photo 2) Mother gave me the 2 Rocks on the left side of the Top Photo last Summer when we were out in her lovely yard. Both would have been a part of the construction of their house. In that same Photo on the right is a Missouri River rock from Arnie and Joni. (Photo 3) My Brother Brian loaded into his pickup the collection of Rocks that Mom, Dad, Brian and I would have gathered on Family Vacations in the 1950's and 1960's. Our Vacations took us often to Colorado and the West Coast, but also to Florida and south Missouri. After years of enjoying these rocks, the Folks were ready to give them up and Brian took them. Now they wait in cue for projects here.

Earlier this Summer, Richard and I traveled around Adair County seeking out Rocks from special places that have been important in the History of our Families and ourselves. That was an amazing trip back into places which had held great meaning.

I am warmed to the Core when I think of these Rocks and our Little Rock Wall Project. This afternoon, Richard started the process and then all 3 of us had our hands "in the mud". It seems to me that the Rocks and Wall are a "housewarming". On this day, I think our Little House became our Home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Things Don't Slow Down for Long

After the last few days of Preparations for Making Molasses-Batch 1, I am pretty slow. When I think about it, I am actually luxuriating in taking it a little easier. Some rest is definitely in order today.

Upon awaking, I heard the sounds of Stones being moved. Richard was getting things ready to begin the construction of the Rock Wall and Hearth in the Family Room. We have looked forward to this since we moved in and our Window to do it is in the Days Ahead. He was laying out the Stones for the Hearth. They look just beautiful. I shall be talking more about this.

Balance is important. Sure we have a lot to do. But Self Care along the Path is also essential.


This morning Melanie made French Toast from her Homemade Multigrain Whole Wheat Bread. Of course, she needed some Eggs from our Hennies and Raw Milk from Brad and Jane. She carefully toasted the French Toast in the 2 Iron Skillets until they were browned to perfection.

We sat down to Breakfast and each went about our own preparations. We added some Earth Balance (which is a buttery spread); she'll be making Fresh Butter today. Then we sprinkled Pecans on top; they were grown just west of the Moberly area.

The Warm French Toast seemed the perfect "shelf" for that 1st batch of Molasses of the Season. After our Blessing, we savored every bite.

Doesn't everyone eat this way?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Molasses Making 2009-Batch 1

The day went smoothly. Just like clockwork. It's always good to see everyone and especially those 3 Brothers. Maybe John can come next time. Gee, those Kids have grown. And some of us are getting a little Older too.

On this day, several others joined us, each with their own special interest in Molasses Making. We were pleased to have the Folks whom each of the Families knew. Several came from Hollis and Deleta's Church. Others came from 2 Farms which are intentional communities: Wren Song and Sandhill. Sandhill is involved in their own commercial production of Sweet Sorghum Syrup. We are learning so much from each other. Plus, some extra help over time would be great.

As the Molasses gets closer to the done stage, Folks gather closely around the Pan. Towards the end, Melanie carries samples for Deleta, Melanie and others to test. "Not yet." So it cooks some more. More testing. "Not yet." Nervousness at the Pan is present. Will it burn? Molasses "sheets" off the Skimmer. "It's done."

In unison, the Guys carefully carry it off. Each has a Leather Glove to hold the handle. Hollis uses the Skimmer to cool, as the Molasses will continue to cook and scorch. No way. The area is cleaned up and next weekend we go at it again. Gerald thinks we got about 15 Gallons. We will know tomorrow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jewel along the Path

In the late 90s, a Native American co-worker told me that among his People, it was known that whatever Energy you give to the World is ultimately the Energy that comes back. I know what Energy I seek.

Tests of the Practice

We try to walk our walks
with Peace and Loving Kindness.
We try to be the Change
we seek to find in the World.
We do not live in isolation
from the tensions of our World.
We find challenges to our Practice
usually when we least expect them.
As always we try to walk our walks
with Peace and Loving Kindness.
It is not always easy.
After we center yet again,
we sometimes laugh
and call those unexpected challenges
a "Test of the Practice".
It is the best
we have to offer our World.
Glinda Crawford, 2009

Nature Notes

We have noted many shifts in the past few days and few weeks. Fall is definitely ready to come onto center stage.

The Sun rises and sets further South on the Horizon, although still not due East or West. That will come very soon with the Fall Equinox. Days are noticeably shorter. The Temperature underneath is cooler.

While very vocal earlier, Birds are largely silent these days. We see brandnew Monarchs who are readying themselves for their own journeys South.

However, Insects have turned up their volume. It must be their time to shine. The Crickets and Katydids (with occasional Cicadas) produce a rhythmic, almost tiny bell like sound. Multiply that times 100s and 1000s. They seem to sing 24/7 and they are loud. Their combined symphony reminds me of the beautiful Jingle Dress Dancing we would see and hear at Pow-Wows on the Northern Plains.

I awoke this morning about 4:30 a.m. and checked the Stars, which is my custom. Sure enough, Orion was making his presence known on the Horizon. Orion is our constellation companion during the Winter Months. We know what that means. While it is a comfort to see him, I could feel a chill. Where are my Fall and Winter Clothes?

Molasses Making 2009-Batch 1

Hollis Dale, Hollis and Richard topped the Cane, cut it, and loaded it into the Pick-Up. They took 2 Loads from Butterfly Hill Farm to the site of the Molasses Making.
We had kept the Chickens in their Coops while all the activity was happening at our Farm. There seemed no sense in delaying the Human activity to work around the Chickens. Lacey let everyone know in no uncertain terms that she was not happy with this plan. When the Truck left with that 2nd load, Richard let the Chickens out. They were positively gleeful.

He then headed over to the Site of the Molasses Making. The 3 Guys worked intensively to get the site prepared for Batch 1 tomorrow.

In the meantime, Deleta, Melanie and I were working behind the Scenes to ready Food and Place for Molasses Making. Melanie put together a list and we achieved all we said we would.

You never know just how things are going to work out, which includes who will join us. But you can always count a special Magic to unfold.

Sawtooth Sunflowers

September 15:

Sawtooth Sunflowers are in bloom in profusion on the Meadow. As I recall when we made Molasses in 2004, I was enchanted by these Flowers which were also in bloom at that time.

I am curious about the synchronicity of growing cycles of Plants. Are Sawtooth Sunflowers always in bloom when we make Molasses? I shall have to check.

I took this Photo from the underside of the Plant looking up to the Sky. I was pondering the view that the Flowers might have. They were probably wondering about my view too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Compost Projects

Melanie learned about the Berkeley Style of Compost in her Permaculture Class at Wren Song. The Students in the Class both learned about the Method and tried it out. Consequently, she was eager to try this on the Farm. Yesterday, she and Richard constructed 2 Compost Heaps.

Melanie used similar materials for each of the Piles. Each was a little different. She had piles of Grass Clippings, Leafy Greens, Straw, Straw and Chicken Manure, Extra Chicken Manure without Straw, Leaves (mostly Oak). With each of Pile, she used existing Compost from the Site that was not finished.

Melanie layered the Piles like a Lasagna. She needed 25 percent High Nitrogen, 40 percent Leafy Green, 30 percent Woody, which follows what Dr. Elaine Ingham recommended. She followed that as closely as she could but it was not exact. As she layered the elements, she made sure the Nitrogen and Green Layers were not too thick. Otherwise the Piles would go Anaerobic and stink. In the construction phase, she kept adding Water throughout. The intention was to have the whole thing the consistency of a Wet Sponge.

She built the Piles into a Cubic Yard, and then covered them with Plastic to keep the Rain out and Evaporation in. After 4 days, she will turn the Pile. Every other day after that, she needs to turn the pile again. After 18 days, the Compost Heap should be ready for the next Garden Project.

Melanie's disclaimer is that this is the 1st time she has tried this approach. We are all eager to see how it will work. This afternoon, we noted that the Compost Heap was very warm to touch. It's working.

Molasses Making 2009-Batch 1

Wednesday, September 16, 9:45 a.m.:

Hollis, Hollis Dale, Gerald, Richard and Melanie headed to the Cane Field to begin the harvesting of the Cane. Today they will "strip Cane". "Stripping Cane" refers to removing Leaves from the Stalks using a slicing motion with a hand made Wooden Cane Knife.

Before heading to the Field, those Precious Ones systematically held Knives while interjecting some whimsy and story. Then they selected the ones which were just so. When I followed Major League Baseball in the 1950s and 1960s, those National and American League Players entered no less consideration in their Choice of Wooden Bats.

In the meantime, I am hanging back at the House to type up these words, plus I have a pot of Bean Soup on for the Workers at Noon. Melanie made Cornbread and we have a Watermelon waiting in cue. Molasses Workers get hungry, you know. I shall be soon heading to the Field to take some pictures.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In the past few days, we have had a Cooper's Hawk visiting the Chickens. We are none to excited about this development. While the Hawk is unlikely to take one of the Big Chickens, those little Ones seem just the right size. Lacey is ever on guard and ready to take them to safety in a split second. In the meantime, we Humans are ready to run out if we hear their characteristic call indicating danger.

This evening, Richard and Melanie were commenting that Bantam Chickens would not be a good idea, nor would BB Reds. These varieties are small, even as Adults. Melanie said, should we decide to add either variety to our Flock, we might as well post a Menu. We talked about possible names. Shish, Ka, and Bob came up. No, we are not planning on adding these varieties any time soon.

Riot of Color

September 12:

This place is a Riot of Color.