Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blessings for the New Year

This is New Year's Eve, according to the Gregorian Calendar. Tomorrow, that Calendar will turn a new page and a new decade: 2010. How can that be? I hadn't completely gotten used to writing that 200 followed by the new digit that popped up at the beginning of each of the last few years.

We 3 C's extend our Best Wishes for the New Year to all those with whom we share the Beautiful Planet Earth Swirling in the Great Cosmic Sea. That would include the Human and the Non-Human.

May the coming Year be a time when Inner Peace and Outer Peace become not only something for which we deeply yearn but something that we experience on every level imaginable. May we radiate and be enfolded by Love, Light, Peace, Hope, Joy, and Grace that we so deeply seek. May we look back on this place in time and see that it was a turning point for our coming into our Fullness as Individuals and as a Human Species.

Feeding the Quail

December 31:

With his empty bucket in hand, Richard heads back from putting out Food for the Quail. Our little offerings include Corn, Wheat and Sunflower Seeds. He usually puts out Food once a day, unless we are in a really Cold Spell. Weather forecasts bitter cold the next few days.

Evidence suggests that others of our Wildlife Community who also call this Little Farm Home are enjoying the Feed: Squirrels (whose Condos are high in the Trees close by), Rabbits, Deer, Turkey, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice, Crows, Starlings, House Sparrows, and who knows what else.

I only see 1 thing missing in this picture. Usually Ladd is eagerly dancing about, probably the able assistance that only a loyal Shepherd Dog can. I am not sure where he is.

Last summer, when we had the new Windows put in, we put in 2 Windows instead of 1 on the South Side of the Dining Room. While I took this from the Porch, this is our approximate view from that area of the House over Cups of Tea, Quiet Meditation and Gentle Conversation. This is also the area where I saw the Coyote yesterday. We need to get those screens off the Windows to give the Humans a better view.

Precipitation for 2009 and 2008

2009:

Actual: 49.93 Inches
Average: 37.13 Inches

2008:

Actual: 63.96 Inches
Average: 37.13

No data for 2006 and 2007 were given.

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KIRK/2009/12/31/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA
http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KIRK/2008/12/31/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA

Gentle Memories of Crafting

December 30:

Soft Snowy Days of Rest, Fire in the Woodstove, and Cups of Tea seem to give rise to the making of Gentle Memories of Crafting. Lest you think it is all rest on Butterfly Hill Farm, I can assure that you we do have our occasional diversions.

Ah, but alas, is that a Coyote I see running along the Path in front of the South Woods? Crafting, Sitting by the Fire, and Cups of Tea go on hold until all is safe and snug once again.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last of the Leeks

Richard harvested the last of the Leeks from the west Garden today. And were they huge. Amazingly, we would have planted those Leeks from Seeds the end of January of this year. They have been growing 11 months, making them our longest growing Crop in the Soil. They have also endured lowest temperatures around 3 Degrees Fahrenheit.

We had grown Leeks in North Dakota, but were not very successful. They were small. We kept them in the ground for 2-3 seasons and they were still small. We did not know much about their growth habit and we knew even less about how to use them.

I think Leeks have become 1 of our new Garden Friends. We just love them. We love Onions and we did harvest a lot. We have been eating Leeks these past 3 months. Not only are they good, but they are extending our Onion Season. It's hard to believe that in 1 more month we will be planting Leek Seeds, among others.

Melanie is fixing a Chicken and Leek Pot Pie for our Anniversary Dinner. It comes from Andrea Chesman's Serving Up the Harvest. Melanie says that the Pot Pie will also feature the last of the Rutabaga and the Celeriac.

I gotta go because I am up next. I am preparing an Open Faced Custard Pie which includes Blackberries, Strawberries, Peaches, and Blueberries. The Custard Pie is a modification from the Joy of Cooking. It reminds me of pastries I would have had in Germany when I toured there with Aunt Mary in 1981. As soon as the Pot Pie comes out, the Custard Pie goes in.

Should we eat at the Table or in front of the Fire in the Wood Stove? Oh, the wonderful decisions that we get to make.Notes on 1st Photo: (1) I glanced at that photo and I thought: "I should write that the Earth produced that Leek." I thought about it for a moment and concluded that: "The Earth produced that strong arm and everything in that picture. How could we ever forget?" (2) Patty Szczys: You may note that the corner of your envelope is in the background. We just got your lovely holiday greeting in the mail today. We smiled. Yes, you can stop by to visit and weed on your way to see your parents next summer. We would be absolutely thrilled.

Two Titles

This little entry could be called by 2 Titles: Prayer Flags and Anniversary. They are not really related, but something sort of whimsically tethered them together.

Prayer Flags: Melanie made Prayer Flags for me for Christmas 2008. Her Dad was her assistant. Each of the 20 or so Flags was in a bright Rainbow Color and they were strung together with Twine. In the Spring, I put images with marker on each and every one. Considering the tenderness of our world these days, it was easy to come up with a Prayer Image for each and everyone.

The Summer and Fall were very busy. In fact, they just swept the Humans away on growing and harvesting agendas. We hung the Prayer Flags in October in 1 of my favorite meditative spots in the Woods. Those Prayer Flags hung beautifully in the breezes for about a month. But then things began to change. Another agenda which was different than the Human 1 was set in place.

1st, we noted that the Twine had been cut. Then the Flags began to disappear, sometimes 1 by 1, other times at a far swifter pace. Two weeks ago, they were all gone.

At 1st I was frustrated. Something had taken my beautiful Gift. Then I began to smile. I had put my Prayer Flags at the height a Human could reach, and something was taking them much higher.

We speculated Squirrels. That was a good Guess considering the 8 Squirrel Condos high in the Trees. Melanie thought that the Red and Gray Squirrels were fashioning Capes so that they could fly like the Flying Squirrels. We wished we could have seen those Prayer Flags on the Move.

Anniversary: Today is Richard and my 43rd Anniversary. We were married 43 years ago on this day. After a beautiful Brunch and what amounts to a mostly slow day, we had a lovely Walk around the Farm this Afternoon.

When we reached the area where the Flags had been, Richard had me stop and look high up into the tops of the Trees. Sure enough, we could see bits of Red poking out of 1 Squirrel Nest, and Green poking out another. Melanie came to join us. We all 3 looked up and smiled.

For this Day, the Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation says that "Squirrels gather in nests to conserve energy". Such could be said about the Humans on this Day too. While the Squirrels have surely taken my Prayers to new heights, they may also be decorating their homes too. We Humans are settling into our Home. We are surely not so different after all.

Crafting

I do not know what it is about resting that inspires Craft Making, but somehow they just seem to go hand in hand for me. When I am tired and stretched, the Crafts somehow go right out the window. When I am resting, grounding and centering, they come right back into focus.

I made a Card for Great Niece Cassie's Birthday earlier in the week. The Card was inspired by the fact that she (like Richard, Melanie and all of Richard's blood family) is a Mayflower descendant. I put a photo of the Mayflower Beans that I harvested this Fall on specialty paper we got from a local Printer as leftovers from projects. I did some playful zigzagging with my sewing machine and coloring with my Prisma Pencials. I constructed a little Bag to hold some Bean Seeds and I made a little card which gives information about the Beans and their planting which I tucked inside.

Today, Melanie has been working on a necklace for her friend Emily. It is made of Job's Tears, which is a lovely plant seed she produced in her garden. The "seed beads" inbetween were purchased at Pow Wows up North.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Floppy Top

For those who have been following this Blog, our Buff Orpington Hennie Lacey set 11 or 12 Eggs late this Summer. Our slowing Winter Brains are not retrieving nor hung up on the details of the Summer Count. Of those 11 or 12 Eggs, 5 became Chicks. Of those Chicks, 4 were thought to be Roosters, which meant that 1 was a Pullet (Hennie). That low Number on the Hen side was not our plan.

However, thankfully at 5 months later, 1 of those Roosters is now laying Eggs. That means instead of 4 Roosters and 1 Hennie, we have 3 Roosters and 2 Hens. Those 2 Hennies will be added to the Laying Flock. For us, adding to the Laying Flock is good.

Lacey took responsibility for raising her Babes with full support from the Humans. She is a great Mother. As a result, however, their socialization has been different. All of the Chicks are People Shy, but they seem very beautiful and healthy.

If you are counting, you know that those 3 Roosters added to our 1 existing Rooster (Freddie) means that we have 4 Roosters. That seems to be too many. As a result, Melanie and Richard have been keeping the watchful eye to cull that number. So what do they see?

Out of the 3 Roosters, 1 is quite aggressive with all the Hennies except the Australorps and Sophia, who have made a clear mark in the Sand over which that Rooster does not cross. We have thought about naming that aggressive Rooster "Stewart", as he seems on his way to becoming Stew. You will note a shift in our thinking (and the quickness of it) since we arrived on the Farm almost 3 years ago.

One of the Roosters is 3rd on the pecking order. That's Melanie's opinion. She has been calling him Floppy Top because his comb is bigger and it flops around a bit. Floppy Top may have a different opinion about his position on the pecking order, and perhaps his name too.

Tonight, Floppy Top is going to another Home. He will be headed to Hollis and Deleta's where he will have a harem all his own. After stopping in so that I might say "Good-bye", Melanie and Richard have just left to take him to his new home. Nighttime is best for transfer to a new flock, so we are told. I suppose you could call this another small marker that we are becoming a Farm.

Thanks for being a part of our Flock, Floppy Top. We send you good wishes in your new Home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wheel Keeps Turning

Our favorite Seed Catalogs are patiently waiting in cue. This afternoon, Melanie brought up the Seed Stash from the Basement. She and Richard have been pouring over Catalogs. After fits and starts, conversation is flowing. We should be ready to order in the next couple of Days.

It will be easier this time. We have quite a supply of Seeds, including many we have saved and many from earlier orders. We know more what to expect. We also know areas that we need to learn and grow.

Looking back over these 1st 3 Growing Seasons, we seemed to be pretty scattered with all the newness of the experiences. Now we are able to focus more. It certainly helps that Richard, Melanie and I each have Veggies that we specialize in. For the most part, we are not going to take on anything much new, which is a change from when "everything" seemed new. I can think of 1 exception.

This evening, I asked which Herbs would be more likely to go in Sausages. Melane said she didn't know, but she would certainly be willing to grow them. I shall have to get me a Sausage Book. I don't know why I am drawn to Sausage Making. I think my Croatian Grandparents and my German Great Grandparents would approve. I don't know if this is the year, but I am surely leaning in that direction.

It seems that we just finished the Growing and Harvesting Seasons. That Wheel just keeps right on turning. It is a wonder to experience and see.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Magic

Early in our marriage until about 1990, Richard was always working with Wood. Judging by the projects he had completed before, he had been doing this for some time.

While on his Path of Life, he would simply pick up a stick or branch, take out his knife and start to whittle away. Magical things would appear as the chips and shavings would be cast this way and that. I remember the Ducks and Whistles well. Most of the time, we would be out in Nature, often at Pike Bay in Ojibway National Forest in Northern Minnesota.

I would watch intrigued. He seemed to subscribe to a similar school of thought as Michelangelo. Somewhere in that piece of wood, a form was waiting to be freed. He just had to find it. As the Chips fell, the form was evident.

He would also work on larger pieces which called for saws, rasps, sandpaper, paint or seal. In those years, he worked on wooden Decoys, a wooden Box, among others. Some of the smaller tools sat right by his chair.

Somewhere around 1990, he quit and hadn't done much since, until this Christmas. He did pick up other creative ventures, including gardening and the construction of natural wood structures for the garden. But I really had not realized how much I had missed his smaller wood projects.

With instructions of "no cost" and handmade for Christmas Giving, he scratched his head and came up with 2 ideas. They fit Melanie and me like gloves.

He made me a Walking Stick. He headed over to his Brother John's Woods which is only about 2-3 miles from here. He was looking for a relatively straight Shagbark Hickory Sapling amidst 2 or 3 about the same size. His intention was to "cut 1". As those Saplings grow, only 1 will survive anyway. He found just the strong shoot that he was looking for.

He brought the Sapling home and tucked it out of sight in the Garage. Over these last couple of weeks, he made visits to the workshop of the Elves and Fairies. While there, he cut off the Bark, fashioned a handle, and smoothed it down, but not to the point the character of the Wood or the actions of the Woodworker would be concealed. And there was my Walking Stick all set for adventures ahead.

And what did he do for Melanie? Richard made her a Cane Knife for harvesting Sorghum Cane which she had been wanting. But what should it be make out of? The wood needed to be strong and lightweight. He checked the woodpile we got from our Amish Neighbor who has a Sawmill. The Oak, while strong, seemed too heavy.

Then 1 day, while sitting in his Chair looking at the Fire in the Wood Stove against that Beautiful Rock Wall, his eyes drifted to the "lath" which he had used twice for support of the Rocks and Mortar while they "sat up". And now a bit of story about that "lath":

Bobby and Jodi (Hollis and Deleta's Son and Daughter in Law) had done some remodeling work on their House earlier this year. That House was where John Barton and Ethel Crawford raised their 4 boys; it is the House where Richard grew up. John built that House in about 1942. (Isn't that right, Hollis?) That little House has grown and changed over time. It has the distinct privilege of holding 4 generations of Crawfords.

Those laths were used as a basis for the plaster walls which John Barton Crawford used throughout 67 years ago. How can that be? In the remodeling, Hollis, the Treasure, is always looking for items which can be salvaged and especially those which might have Family Story. So he saved those laths and gave some to Richard.

After scratching his head, Richard concluded that lath would be perfect for Melanie's Cane Knife. It was strong and lightweight, although the wood is unknown. It came from the Crawford Home Place where we 3 (with others) had spent much treasured time. It had been used to support our Rock Wall as it "set"; that Rock Wall had been inspired by my Dad.

Once again, Richard headed back and forth to the the Garage where considerable work by the Elves and Fairies of Christmas must have been completed. He fashioned a handle, giving consideration to the size of Melanie's hands. He smoothed down the wood, but purposefully did not remove all of the markings from that former time when the house was constructed. Nail holes may be found as well as saw marks when the Lath was milled. The "graying" comes from natural weathering too.

Then he tied Green and Red Ribbons to both of his Creations and placed them along side the Christmas Tree. They surely did not fit "underneath" the Christmas Branch. Now, the Walking Stick and the Cane Knife with their delighted and surprised new owners will be embarking on some new Historical Experiences.

Somehow, these little Gifts seemed like "Magic" to me. Richard used Old and Found Treasures in the creation of something inspired and something new. He used his talents to "create". Not only are these ventures personally fulfilling and honoring, you surely can't buy these things in Stores. Why would you even try? ~~~~Note: Last photo is of John Barton Crawford's Brother Fred, his Wife Lora, and his Mother Renetta. They are standing in front of John Barton and Ethel Crawford's house which is under construction. The photo is believed to have been taken about 1942. (How about that date, Hollis and Deleta? Is there a picture of John and Ethel at this time?)

Basket

December 25:
For Christmas, Melanie made me a beautiful Basket of what looks like Red Osier Dogwood which we had up North. We are out of range for it here. Melanie and Richard looked this up and discovered it was Gray Dogwood. She cut the Branches from right here on the Farm.
Both Richard and I saw the Branches laying in their wrap in the Garage. We thought they looked like tree or shrub Seedlings we received from the Conservation Commission in the Spring 2009 but somehow forgot to plant. We weren't quite sure how this could be.
Melanie just smiled. The Branches needed to set for a week before they would be ready to craft into a Basket. I had no clue. Christmas Elves and Fairies were at work.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

We have had a Beautiful Christmas Day right here on the Farm. We had intended to have Dinner with Mother at the Nursing Home, then have our Christmas Celebration tomorrow. But a Winter Storm brought Ice, Snow, and Winds. So we called to let Mother know that we would be staying here, and we snuggled right in.

Our Morning Tradition includes fixing some favorite cups of Tea, getting comfortable near the Tree, and then 1 by 1 slowly unwrapping our Gifts. If you have followed the Blog earlier, you know that we decided we would spend no money on Gifts. We would make them from what we had right here on the Farm.

I even sat this 1 out. After the overload of the year, I just didn't have the energy to give Gifts, except for the Gift we gave to Mother. That was perfectly OK too.

So this morning, we had lovely Wrap which was from what we had created or salvaged before. I had painted the Paper Sacks several years ago. We even used Gift Cards from previous years. Using these things was like memories of Old Friends. Melanie made me this Basket of Gray Dogwood from right here on the Farm. I was positively gleeful. I had no idea.She made her Dad a wall hanging of objects from the Farm, including Branch, Feathers (Turkey and Quail), Rose Hips, Sumac Seeds, Thistle Top, Milkweed Pod. He found a Nail, a hole in the Wall and hung it right up by the Fire Place.Melanie made Trail Mixes for each of the Humans. Or rather, I should say that we found them in our Socks. Mine had Peanuts, Dried Pears, Dried Strawberries. We raised the Peanuts and Strawberries. The Dried Pears came from a brief scavenging excursion this fall of her Dad, her Uncle Gerald, and Cousin Hollis Dale. Those Mixes were great for the Morning. It meant we could skip Breakfast and stay with the Presents.After the Gifts were unwrapped, Max the Cat began his regular ritual. He went right for the Bows and the Boxes.We cleaned things up. We separated into piles the packing material, gift cards, boxes and wrap to be reused, Santa's pack (which we got from Blanche when she worked at the North Dakota Mill years ago), ribbons, the Gift Sacks. These treasures will go right back into tubs for use other years.

That little bit of stuff in the palm of Melanie's hand was our only waste. It is the only thing that will go to the Land Fill near Bevier. It was tape. Considering how expensive tape is, we can do better next year.I was inspired to put together a Soup for Lunch and Melanie and Richard helped with back up. It included: Chunks of Potatoes, Celeriac, Carrots (which were boiled until just done; 1 cup of the liquid was reserved for the Soup); Chopped Leeks, Garlic (which were sauteed in Butter until tender); Raw Milk (which was added to the above and heated until just below boiling); chopped Parsley and Chives which were added at the end.

In past times, I put out spiffy Cloth Napkins which have a Holiday Theme. I have spent far too much of my Life seeking that which was construed to be perfect. This Holiday I quit. The fact that I don't know where those Napkins are gave this approach a boost. I did not even clean the ones that we had been using. Nor did I substitute newer ones for the older more worn ones. That's not what Christmas is about. Why has it taken me so many years to figure this out? When afternoon came, we spent time being, enjoying each other, the Chickens, the warmth of the Stove, the Winter Day, and our Gifts. Here Max has just played with the little Pillows that Melanie made of Catnip. His excitement over his Gift was followed by a Bath and then a Nap. If you look carefully, you will note that Scampy is already napping in Richard's Chair. He is the Lump under the Throw.We surely enjoyed the Wood Stove this Day as Winter had closed in all around us.Santa was observed to be settled into another Nap. The Humans took rest time too.We had Baked Butternut Squash and Greens with embellishments for Supper.Throughout the last few weeks, we've heard from Family and Friends via cards, letters, pics, email, voice. To our surprise (but perhaps not), Angela Swiec called about 11:30 a.m. our time. She is now in India. She was 11 1/2 hours ahead of our time. We couldn't figure out the 1/2 hour. Maybe we are too tied up in the specifics of time. The specifics of time hardly matter.

Hearing those Voices, we are reminded that Christmas is Love. Love should be extended to wrap the Whole World around. That's our plan.

Seekers

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just
like
Plants
turning
their
Faces
to
the
Sun,
we
are
all
Seekers
of
the
Light.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Santa Rests Too

In the fall of 1970, I painted and gave away these lovely Santas. I have in mind who I gave them too, but details over the almost 4 decades since are fuzzy. I actually gave away the 1 I made for us. I just had to give 1 to Aunt Mary. How could I not? But 1 of them did come back to me.

Anyway, Dear Santa in his cushy Green Chair seems to be getting some much needed rest before and after the Flurry of the Holidays. From the looks of things, he may actually be sleeping through the Holidays too.

Rest is good. That lovely Self Nourishment is essential for us all. Perhaps it is the Gift that Santa has stored way down in his pack. We just overlooked it for a very long time before.

Light

We 3 C's did not send our regular Holiday Letter this year. The Year was just too full. We are tired. We just needed a break. While not available to or subscribed to by all on our List, the Story of the Year was mostly found on this Little Blog.

Our plan is to send out Postcards, but we may not get to that. It is a considerable relief to just let go. Regardless, to all who may read this Humble Little Blog, to all those we usually send Holiday Greetings, and to our World:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We 3 C's send
Love,
Light,
Hope,
Joy,
and Peace
to All Beings.
May
these
coming Days
be filled
with all those things
that have meaning.
We honor and cherish
that glorious Light
arising in our World
in this tender time
of transformation and change.
May we
at last
become
all that
we are
meant to be.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Disappeared Fast

The 2 of us who are of Croatian Descent in this Little Home made Povitica December 22. It is tradition to make it at this Season. The Povitica Making took 8 hours and had 3 Fillings: Cheese, Walnut and Apricot. All 3 Fillings would have been traditional to my Grandmother Dora. Melanie cut down on the Sugar some for the Fillings. That has become our custom for Sweets these days. Richard kept an eye on the proceedings from behind the lens of the Camera.

We were not exactly sure when we would make it. But we received some extra "umpht" for our Povitica Making for a window of time. The Family Gathering on my side just found a time to connect. That's a big deal considering the complexity of schedules at this season. Knowing that my Brother and his Family, Mother, and the 3 C's would be getting together to celebrate Christmas December 23 gave us that extra push.

Making Povitica just invites sharing. Beyond my Family, we wanted to be sure to give some to Louise, a lovely Elder, Treasure, and quite the Historian of my Father's Vintage. And we won't forget Marie. She is also of that Vintage. While Italian in heritage, she married a man who was 1st generation born to Croatian Immigrants. Marie also became a Povitica maker. Circumstances don't permit that for her these days.

After the big push of Povitica Making on Monday, we 3 C's let the Povitica cool overnight. What you see above did not last long in that version of completeness. We had to dive right to make sure it was up to standard. And it was. Considering all the special sharing, that Povitica disappeared fast.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

In the days since our "unofficial official Christmas Bird Count" on the Farm, some new Species are appearing. Richard says they are around. He just didn't see them on Christmas Bird Count Day, which was Sunday. They include: Bob White Quail, Red Tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Eastern Bluebird, Mourning Doves, Kestrels.

Melanie asked if her Dad included 43 Chickens. No, he didn't. He notes that Melanie has names for all of them. If you want more specifics, those data can be provided.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grandma Says

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't let
your eyes
get
bigger
than
your
stomach.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Down Shifting

The last 3 years have been high on energy demands, and especially the last 11 months. High on the list of energy demands would include our move, the passing of my Father and giving support to Mother, our shifting to a new life style, adjusting to a new community and new rhythm, the intensity of the learning curve, fracturing and healing of my hip, our making a home, the length of this last Fall's harvest, to name only a few.

More often than not, it seems we have been in high gear. Of course, we wanted it all to happen immediately, but that makes little sense. Yes, we have made considerable progress. But, we are tired.

After Christmas, we are working to clear our schedules so that we can be home here on the Farm for a week. No unnecessary trips to Town. We'll just be hanging out here in the quiet of our home.

I think we will also be declaring a "slow down" for the month of January. All of this seems in sync with the "sleep time" of Winter. We need to nourish those batteries before the growing season begins anew. Nature is doing it. We should too.

It seems we Humans get swept up in plans and moments. We forget that we are still somewhat in charge. We forget that we need to nurture ourselves. This is not a sprint. We are in this for the long haul. Downshifting is good.

Beauty of Age

Mother got a card from another Elder "Ellen" today. And is it ever sweet. The card was produced by Abbey Press. I am reminded of the "Beauty of Age", which is so often overlooked in my culture. Thank you, Ellen. And, while this Blog is never about advertising or "things", thank you, Abbey Press too!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Older I Get...
the simpler my holiday preparations become...
the closer I feel to old friends as I write my Christmas cards...
the more I cherish the oldest ornaments...
the more fondly I remember Christmases past...
the longer I hold on to a holiday hug...
the more I realilze Christmas is a matter of the heart...
the tighter my throat gets when I sing "Silent Night"...
the more I enjoy giving than receiving...
the more I try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child...
the longer I sit at night in the glow of the Christmas tree...
the more wondrously beautiful the Christmas story is...
the deeper my awe at God's infinite love...
the More I Love Christmas!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snow Globe

December 20:

It didn't last long but it sure was pretty. On these Moments of Swirling Big Flakes, I feel like we live inside a Snow Globe. And I have loved Snow Globes all my Life.

We forgot to keep track of when that 1st Snow came this Winter. Local Lore has it that the Date of the 1st Snow marks the number of Snows for the Winter. Our Neighbor says it came on the 6th. And to count, each of those Snows needs to be "trackable".

Quote

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
God and I are like 2 fat men in a small boat,
constantly bumping up against each other,
and laughing.
~~~~
Hafiz, Persian Poet, 1320-1389
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Note: Betsy shared this over breakfast on Solstice.
Thanks, Betsy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

December 20:

Richard does his own Christmas Bird Count for our Little Farm on the same day that Friends up North where we used to live also count Birds. It was 23 Degrees Fahrenheit with a Wind Chill of 14. The weather was overcast with winds of 8 Miles Per Hour from the Southwest.

This is what he saw:

American Gold Finch (40+)
Black Capped Chickadee (6)
Downy Woodpecker (3)
Hairy Woodpecker (1)
Red Bellied Woodpecker (3)
Blue Jay (10+)
Cardinal (10)
House Finch (1)
House Sparrow (10)
Purple Finch (2)
White Breasted Nuthatch (1)
American Crow (6)
Great Horned Owl (1)
Barred Owl (1)
Dark-eyed Junco (6)
Tufted Titmouse (1)
Turkey (1)
Red-Winged Blackbird (1)
Red-headed Woodpecker (1)
Starling (3)
American Tree Sparrow (2)
Cooper's Hawk (1)

The Christmas Bird Count is an organized count of Birds in prescribed areas by the American Audubon Society. Records have been collected for well over a 100 years. Ours isn't an officially tallied count because it's just 1 small Farm.
http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/

Winter Solstice

On this Day of the Winter Solstice, WeatherUnderground tells me that the Length of Visible Light is 10 Hours and 19 Minutes. Length of Day is 9 Hours and 18 Minutes. That makes this Day the shortest and this Night the longest of the Year.

The exact time of Solstice will be 12:47 p.m. Eastern Time, according to the December issue of the Magazine Sky & Telescope. Tomorrow will have Daylight which is 2 Seconds Longer.

I am not so sure how they figure out all of these things. These humble measures of Human Quantification do not dim the Awe I feel as I see and honor the Great Mystery in the Wheel of the Year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just Be

December 17:

The Big Day has arrived. We lit that 1st Fire in the Wood Stove which is held by the Rock Wall and Hearth which we built. We have looked forward to this Day for so long, 4 and 1/2 years in fact.

It seems like whenever one has a long anticipated Goal, and especially one fraught with accentuated ups and downs, the achievement of that Goal comes with some moments of feeling like one is still pushing forward against a Wind that is no long there. All the Energy it took to achieve that Goal seems to be still in motion. The Momentum leaves one still heading forward. Yet it is done.

Some Big Question Marks are apparent. Is it Real? Did we really get it done? Now what?

Perhaps on those Days of Accomplishment of those Significant Goals, one should be "still", enjoy, and just be. And a Feast of Honoring and Celebration seems to fit in too. Now those are plans which seem to appropriately finish this off.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Resources for a Greener World

These days, more and more people are drawn to Greener Practices. Don't wait for someone in a position perceived to be "higher up" (such as in Business or Government) to make choices for us before we act. Join the growing number of people who are saying: "I just have to do something." Consumers have considerable power to transform our world if focused on areas of much needed change.

Taking on Greener Practices is sometimes a bit daunting in these times when things seem quite mixed up. Many businesses are getting on the bandwagon, not because they have a Greener Ethic or Skill, but rather because that is what Consumers want. Other businesses have been in this practice for decades, forging a path when it was not fashionable to do so.

How do we find a Path? These are practices that we 3 C's have found helpful:
  • Start small.
  • Start with practices which seem to be calling to you. These are the ones highest on the priority list. With them comes energy for action.
  • Get a Guide. That could be a Friend, a Neighbor, Someone who is a bit ahead of where you want to be.
  • Check out Community Businesses with Sincere Green Objectives and Practices.
  • Check out Local or Regional Resource Centers.
  • Head to a store which specializes in Organic Food.
  • Seek out Family and Friends who are drawn to the same practice. This can become an excellent support group and place where problem solving and play go into high gear.
  • Check out the non-profit GreenAmerica. We find GreenAmerica an excellent resource to center and filter information for our practice. If interested, check it out. These Folks care. They put their Resources into building a better world for us all. Your membership will go a long way. http://greenamericatoday.org/ http://greenamericatoday.org/about/

Wisdom Tucked in Christmas Letters

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Christmas blessings and peace---
both of which the world needs badly.
But not "Happy Holidays."
In my view,
that wish
has always seemed
to be mostly
an economic stimulus plan.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
from Angeline

Wisdom Tucked in Christmas Letters

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
He who has
not Christmas
in his heart
will never find
it under a tree.
~~~~
Roy L. Smith
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
from Stacey and family

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tips: Boiled Eggs

1: Use Eggs which are not the freshest. These have a tendency to stick to the shell.
2: (I learned this a long time ago from the more experienced cooks in my Family. This is fast and saves on energy and money.) Bring to boil. Boil 3 minutes. Let stand in boiling water 10-15 minutes. Exchange hot water for cool tap water to bring down temperature.
3: (I love this part. I learned it from Rachel Hextel, one of my former students. She learned it from her mother. I added the dance part.) To crack shells, drain out water and leave Eggs in pot. Shake the pot from side to side. Those Egg Shells just crack and crumble. Following this little dance between the Pot, the Eggs, and the Cook, removing Shells is easy.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

4 Large Eggs, Boiled, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Chopped Chives
2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons Chopped Bread and Butter Pickles
1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
Lettuce
Homemade Bread (We used Melanie's Carrot Herb Bread; I wonder what you will come up with.)

1: Mix Eggs, Chives, Parsley, Pickles, Mayonnaise.
2: Thinly slice and toast Bread.
3: Coat 1 side of each Bread Slice with Butter. This will keep Bread from getting soaked, although this usually is not a probability as we gobble the Sandwiches up right away.
4: Cover with Egg Salad in the usual way.
5: Serve and eat. (Makes 3 Sandwiches)

Recipe: Wild Rice Vegetable Medley Soup

Note: Back in the 1980s, we became fans of Byerly's Grocery Store in the Minneapolis area. Byerly's was upscale and largely outside our pocketbook range for regular trips. Even our car looked out of place. Living far away had its benefits. We could justify special trips there 1 to 2 times a year.

As I recall, 2 things stand out as to why I was drawn to Byerly's. 1st, the Folks there appeared to use the best of ingredients although we were not into "organic" then. But this little practice produced savory delights outside that which I was accustomed to. 2nd, Byerly's offered great selections plus talented Home Economists' regularly launching tantalizing new Recipes and Products.

One of my favorites was their Wild Rice Soup, which we would purchase packaged in the freezer section. Over time, I would pour over the ingredients listed on the package. This was the start of making my own version.

This recipe, which I made today, is reminiscent of that soup. While I am giving amounts here, I would suggest that you vary portions based upon your own tastes. All ingredients are chemical free. We grew those marked with an "*".

The Wild Rice was a gift from Dorreen; it came from Native Harvest, which is an outlet for local artisans preserving traditions, offering economic development, and recovering land of the Anishenaabe people on White Earth Reservation. The Wild Rice was harvested in the traditional manner. http://nativeharvest.com/

4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Cloves Garlic*
1 1/2 cups chopped Carrots (I used mostly orange but also included a yellow one)*
1 1/2 cups chopped Leeks*
2/3 cup chopped Almonds*
1 cup Frozen Corn, thawed*
1 1/2 cups Wild Rice, cooked until tender
1/3 cup flour
5 cups Raw Milk from local Farmer

1: Over medium low heat, melt Butter in bottom of stainless steel pot.
2: Add Garlic, Carrots, Leeks. Cook until tender and stir frequently.
3: Stir in flour until Veggies are evenly coated.
4: Add Milk, Almonds, Corn, Wild Rice. Cook until Soup simmers. Again, stir frequently as milk based products tend to scorch. Do not boil.
5: Serve. Makes about 5-6 servings. Yummy.

Standing Still

The word "Solstice" comes from Latin, with "sol" meaning Sun and "sistere" meaning to stand still. The Sun from our views on the Planet Earth appears to stand still at either the northernmost or southernmost extremes. For the Northern Hemisphere this occurs at the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, respectively. When at either of these points, the Sun appears to stand still before it once again reverses directions. That shift will increasingly pick up speed about February 2.

If the Sun is standing still, at least in appearances, perhaps we Humans should too. "Standing still" for me evokes a kind of pondering, which surely is appropriate for these Seasons, any time, and in these changing times.

The Solstices are wonderful times to ponder our relationship to the Sun. We were blessed to be birthed on this wonderful Planet which supports Life. Those extremes surely must represent the "window" that allows for this Life to happen. Without the Heat Source of the Sun, not much would be growing down here.

As we hear news of changes in Climate and its relationship to Human Doings, we should surely ponder if this focus on ourselves without consideration for consequences is a smart idea. I don't think so. We 3 C's are willing to address changes that we must, one step at a time. It is the basis for our practice on this Little Farm.
~~~~
Source on Solstice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solstice

Hearth Fire

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chicken News

These days, I could write several Blog Entries on the Chickens of Butterfly Hill Farm. We have been so busy with Harvest and putting the Garden to Bed that Quality Chicken Time and Chicken Commentary have been less.

Let it suffice to say: Things have changed. For starters, we now have 43 Chickens; 39 are Hennies and 4 are Roosters. Three of those Roosters are new of the Season. They were Lacey's Littles. Their stay here is not a given; they are being watched carefully for "fitting into the flock". One (Freddie) is in his 3rd Year. At the very least, you could say that Social Relationships have changed. The usual "Peck Order" has been up for grabs.

Egg production hit a nose dive at the end of the Summer and through the Fall. That is normal for seasonal cycles. Many of the Chickens were putting most of their Energy into molting, which means replacement of Feathers.

But now, the Hennies seem to be in high gear with Egg Production. Today we got 19 Eggs and they are gorgeous. It seems to me that an almost 50% return on 39 Hennies is a pretty impressive number.

We have been pondering the increase in Egg Production. Yes, most of the Molts are complete. For Winter Season, usually numbers are down. We speculate that Egg Production is up because they have supplemental Light on Cold Nights. Hennies need 14 hours of Light to produce Eggs.

Our Fine Feathered Companions have had supplemental Protein too. Richard put the Deer Carcasses in their Coop and just outside the gate. They have been thrilled and have almost picked those Deer Carcasses Clean. You should hear them thump-thump-thump on the Bones.

Melanie thinks those are the big reasons. Melanie has heard from several Folks that the Presence of Roosters actually will help with Egg Production. That could be a factor too.

In modern practice where most Eggs come from Factory Farms, Hennies are "burnt out". Cramped into small cages, they are forced into situations where they are Egg Production Factories. As a result, their lives are stressed and they are short.

We are careful not to "over stimulate" the Hennies. Melanie would like to keep them on Natural Cycles which allows for the normal lows in Winters. We think we have a good balance on this one, but we are ever watchful too.

Coming Home

Daylight has decreased markedly and the strength of the Sun has lessened. WeatherUnderground tells me that Visible Light is now 10 Hours 20 Minutes; Length of Day is 9 Hours 19 minutes. Tomorrow will be 18 Seconds shorter, as we head toward Winter Solstice, the Longest Night of the Year and the marker of the Sun's Longest Distance from the Northern Hemisphere.

Peoples of Yore saw this as a time when the Sun was in Winter Sleep. The Sun's Rising and Setting are farther to the South on the Eastern and Western Horizons. The Sun's Warmth has faded significantly as we now live in a Land of Cold. Much of Nature sleeps. For Peoples of Yore, they were not so sure of the Sun's return.

Indigenous Peoples see the relationship between the People and Creation. In many of their belief systems, People were felt to actually be able to interfere or assist in the Natural Earth Rhythms. At these markers, it was important for the People to honor the Natural Cycles, to tell their Stories and to pray for the Sun's Return.

Many of us in Modern Society have forgotten our elemental connection to the Rhythms of the Creation which support our Being. Simultaneously, in so-called "Modern Times", the Cycles seem "off". In my travels to various and places these past 10 years, People commonly talk about how "normal" patterns of Weather and Climate for their Place has changed. More and more are concerned.

We 3 C's try to honor to Cycles of Creation. We are not separate from Nature or Nature's Cycles. We are a part. You could call this honoring our own "Coming Home".

Christmas Branch

December 12:

In the last Decade, Christmas was a Holiday we knew we had to simplify. The "Tree" was a good place to start.

For years, we had had a beautiful stately live Tree covered with our large and growing collection of Lights and Ornaments. We had collected those Ornaments in our travels and to commemorate other special events and relationships in our lives. Our collection was getting out of hand.

We slowly but surely discovered that we didn't need to keep an Ornament to keep a Memory of Something or Someone Special. That was a huge insight and not typical of Commercial Fodder.

So, we took our collection of Ornaments back to the bare Bones, to those that had the greatest significance to each of us. Instead of fitting in Tubs, they now fit in a box the size of a Shoebox, including the 1 string of Lights.

The Ornaments that we kept were the old ones. Some were worn and tattered, but they had meaning and story that could not be denied. We took the rest in boxes to the Thrift Store. We knew someone else would be delighted. Perhaps we purchased them for someone else all along.We decided that we did not want to "kill" a living Tree. We felt the "Tree" needed to be smaller and that ideally it would be from our Property. We scratched our heads and decided to have instead a "Christmas Branch".

No living Tree would die. And we could thank the Mother Tree which gave us one of her Limbs for our celebration.

Today, we put up the "Christmas Branch", or rather "2 Branches". Richard selected the branches and then we 3 C's went out to cut them. Then he tied them together, put them in a bucket weighted with Rocks, and filled the Bucket with water.

We brought the Christmas Branch in and began to decorate it. The decorating process took maybe 20 minutes. It varies by how long we tell stories about the Ornaments and what we are doing alongside.

We love our Little Tree. It is simple, humble, and concentrated with love.
~~~~
[Note: The ornaments shown include Red Socks from Richard's Mother's Tree, a Card that 5 year old Melanie stamped with images carved into the flat side of a Raw Potato, Knitted Bells I made for the Tree we had for Melanie's 1st Christmas.]

Lesson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She is Lily.
She is 91.
She is
in a Wheel Chair
and moves slowly.
She is
profoundly Deaf,
saying little
unless spoken to.
She has the Face
and Spirit
of a Lovely Pink Flower,
Always Opening.
On Sunday,
she and
her Wheel Chair
were backwards
in the Elevator,
cramped
with Mother
in her Wheel Chair,
my Daughter and me.
I asked
loudly
if she would like
help getting out.
She surveyed
the situation
and said:
"That would be O.K."
Once out,
I asked if
she would like me
to take her
to the Dining Room.
She said,
"No.
I want to do
as many things
as I can
for Myself."
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When that Day Comes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When that Day comes
that Humans set aside
Exclusive Self Interest
and live
with Open Hearts,
Our World
will change quickly.
The level of our Ingenuity
and Fulfillment
will reach bounds
of which we have long Dreamed,
yet kept in Silence.
We are on the Path
of Becoming
All we are Meant to be.
What a ride.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Work in Progress

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What You see
upon these Paltry Pages
is My Own Sorting Out,
My Own Path
toward Becoming.
I have taken
Gleanings along the Path
to live as One
with All Creation
as Teachings of the Divine.
Some Gleanings
and Choices
I have made
may raise
tension in Others
of my Kind.
I make no apologies
for my Intention
to live in a way
that Others may follow.
Where I am now
will shift and flow
over whatever remains
of my coming days,
for I am
a Humble Work
in Progress
seeking a Path
ever toward the Light.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cheering Us On

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I sought a Life Style
friendly to the Earth
which is our shared Home,
I found myself caught in a Web.
Paths were not always clear.
Choices were not necessarily easy.
The Learning Curve was steep.
To look at the enormity of the Problem
was to get overwhelmed.
I chose 1 issue
to work on at a time.
I focused.
I asked questions.
I showed my concerns.
I figured we Humans
had gotten ourselves
into this mess,
and by golly,
with those Big Brains
and awakening Hearts,
we could get ourselves out.
I found other Kindred Spirits.
We cried, we stomped our feet,
we laughed,
we shared hopes and dreams.
We found pathways
and we shared.
I found Vendors and Products
advertised to be "Green".
Some were deceptive.
But I found others
true to their intent and
in line with my Values.
It is easier now
and it is a lot more fun.
Those Little Ones that follow and
those Grandmas who knew we could
are cheering us on.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gifts of the Earth

I used to buy things when I wanted them. I thought access to cash either now or in the future justified the fulfillment of my ever shifting desires. I had the "Isn't It Cute? Syndrome" which would take me directly to the Cash Register, I would sometimes get an emotional rush when I heard the "Ka Ching" on big sales days, the Clerk would package it up and I would take the new Treasure Home.

That Little Home up North was Empty when we moved in 1976; it was increasingly filled with Stuff. Within 10 to 15 years, I had so much Stuff that I "rotated my Stock". Those items which were in the "off season" were stored in bins in the basement or any place else which offered up space. I thought I was so smart.

All these things happened when I was a young to middle adult. I somehow had this notion that my Purpose on the Planet was to acquire Stuff. At the time, I had boundless energy for carrying things and moving things around. We had good jobs which seemed to require a certain Material Front. It didn't say that in the contract. Somehow I was under the influence of "keeping up with the Joneses", whoever they were. I was fixated on the acquisition of things.

I never thought about where the products came from. I just thought they came from the Store. And I carried them from the Store to my House, where most of them quickly faded in their glory and their ability to hold my attention.

Over time, something began to shift. I started to see that my material treasures came not from some Retail Outlet but rather from the Bounty of the Earth. I began to think that I should be saying "Thank you to the Earth" and all beings who had a hand in my acquisitions. These things cost more than Cash.

One of the 1st areas to ask for my Humble Attention was "paper". Perhaps it was the Trees or even the Creator who began to speak to me. I would look at the Paper which I used profusely as a Teacher and Writer. I began to see it as a "Gift from Trees". When I used it, I began to say: "Thank you, Trees."

Yes, I was recycling. But even before recycling, one should reduce use.

Once I saw this relationship, I began to use less. I went out of my way to print back to back, to explore Formats and Fonts which cut down on waste. Of course, I did this within reason. My Students and I needed to be able to see and use the print.

I even collected handouts at the end of the semester for which my Students had no further use. It cut down on costs. I liked this new Approach. My Students liked it too. While they did not say and I did not ask, most of them were probably going to trash or recycle those precious papers anyway.

I started to see more and more "gifts from Trees". I extended this little practice to Catalog and unneeded mailings. I periodically request about every 1-2 years that the Direct Marketing Association remove my name and that of my Family in all their variations from lists. Yes, it was like taking my life back.

When signing my name and address for anything, I query the organization: "Will you 'sell' my name? Please don't put my name on any mailing lists." At 1st, they were puzzled because such things were not mainstream. More and more, these little requests and their responses are routine. In the meantime, the Mailbox reduced its clutter and the Trees started to sigh with relief.

We cut down on magazine subscriptions. For those that we subscribed to, we passed them on to others who would enjoy them when our use was complete.

Wrapping of Gifts presented us with some challenges. In the early stages, we switched to "Gift Bags". They were spendy, adding to the cost of the Gift. Their inks and coatings suggested some chemicals that probably weren't all that healthy for the Planet too. So what should we do?

This is where we started to have fun. I remember in the 1970s Richard's Mother would wrap her Gifts at Holiday time in Brown Paper Bags. Generally her Gifts were utilitarian which was a lesson in itself. These days I look specifically to her examples and I smile. She was ahead of her time.

Several years ago, I took some Big Brown Paper Bags and painted them. I really had fun with this. They are in our "permanent collection". We just pass them back and forth each year. Other times, we wrap in fabric with ribbons. I like that. We have been known to keep wrapping paper when given to us or when we observe others are throwing it away.

We cut back on Paper Towels and Paper Napkins. We bought pretty fabrics and made Cloth Napkins. We put our Napkins on the back of our Chairs at the end of the meal. We do not wash these after every use but rather do so when the Napkins are soiled. If you are company, we will give you a fresh one, unless you stay for a while.

We did not do any of this all at once. We just followed the issues that seemed to be reaching out for our attention. Things became "Gifts of the Earth". We reduced our acquisition of things. We said "Thanks" to the Bounty of the Earth. We needed less and reaped far greater satisfaction and humility besides.

Finishing Projects

We are surely Novices and in some cases "Disbelievers" in planning actions around the Moon Sign. But we are open to learn. According to our reading, the Waning phase of the Moon is a good time to finish projects and to rest. For the 1st time ever, we have given this some consideration.

So what have we done? We have attended to sealing the narrow slanted closet which is under the roof line and off the little Upstairs Bedroom. I am relieved to report that this effort has greatly reduced the number of Asian Lady Beetles in the little Bedroom. It is hard to create a livable and functional space when someone else has moved in with their large family.

The Lady Beetles surely are giving us a heads up for further needs in tightening up our Little Home. Arrows point to some continued sealing efforts on the outside next summer. I suppose we should say "Thank you." I am not quite ready to go that far.

Melanie finished painting the small Pantry off the Kitchen. When the Paint was dry and cured, we loaded up the Pantry with many savory delights. Today, she is finishing painting her Bedroom.

I am not sure if the Crew from the heating firm are following this approach to calendar, but they showed up to finish the installation of the Wood Stove. Today, they will be working on the Chimney and Flue from the ceiling up. We are excited as this means we will have access to the Wood Stove soon.

Finishing Projects is good. Finding a rhythm and flow to Life is good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Memories of Molasses Taffy

December 9:

Melanie made Homemade Molasses Taffy today. Yum. She made it with Molasses which our Family made this last Fall. The Recipe had no White Sugar or Corn Syrup either. The Sweetener was straight Sorghum Molasses.

Simple Recipes like Molasses Taffy bring up magical memories of times long ago. I remember helping make Molasses Taffy when I was probably about 7. Our Neighbors to the South were known to put a lot of time and energy into cooking. Of German Heritage, the Mr. and Mrs. cooked lots of things we didn't, but their seriousness about Food and Good Food (to them) was very evident to their Neighbors who were not drawn to similar things.

As a Special Treat, Mrs. S. was planning to make Molasses Taffy and, since I was a good Friend of their Daughter who was older, I was invited over. It was January and the ground was White with New Snow.

I don't remember much about the cooking part, but I do remember that Mrs. S. had a heavy oval dish which was coated with Butter. When the Taffy was cooked to the right degree, she poured it on the Platter. As I recall, she put the Platter outside in the Snow to cool the Taffy. She checked it often and then brought it back inside when it was just right.

We Small Ones covered our hands with Butter and then pulled that Golden Stuff to our Heart's Content. I remember eating some of it. It was just delicious.

Those little snippets of Memory of treasured times which are tucked away are simply amazing. I wouldn't have thought of this until Melanie began making Taffy today. And, that Precious Memory from my Childhood Past was right there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tombstone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A great number of Species
have become extinct
because of the actions
of the Human.
This is becoming increasingly clear.
Will this also be the case
for the Human?
Will the Human
become extinct too?
Should that happen,
what will
the Human's Tombstone
look like?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Human
Birth Date: Depends on the Story
Death Date: All the same
~~~~
They didn't come
to know their place
in the scheme of things.
They had everything.
They ate themselves
out of house and home.
They had no where else to go.
I had hoped for much, much more.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009

Prayer

Winter has set in, no doubt about it. You will get no complaints from me. In fact, I am deeply grateful. Winter is the normal Seasonal Companion in these months. It is the time of darkness, of rest, of going inward. Sure, I like Warm Weather as any other, but it is not the time. I offer this humble little Prayer:

"In our mixed up times, I am grateful that the recent Winter's Snows and Cold Temperatures carry some sense of normalcy. I am grateful for the Cycles of the Planet in this Place which support Life, a Gift of the Creator. And I pray that the Cycles continue in the ways they were designed. May my actions as a Human be consistent with these Wondrous Things."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Consumerism: Another Look

Annie Leonard has created a video which is a holistic view of Consumerism (from resource extraction, production, sales, use, through disposal of waste). I suppose one could call this the untold story. The height of the Holiday Season is an appropriate time for many to thoughtfully consider our full effects in extending "Good Will" to All Beings and leaving the Planet to those who follow in at least as good a shape as we found it.

Just what are we Humans doing in our unfettered desire to consume? Some may need a seatbelt to think about this. Courage would be an important companion for the ride too. And perhaps, we should take along someone who will follow us, those unborn whose wellbeing depend on our actions now.

While the concepts presented Leonard's video are not new to the 3 of us, the video may be insightful for others. It surely will stimulate thought and discomfort too. We Consumers should be uncomfortable with what is going on. Denial of that discomfort keeps us locked in old patterns and on a path of destruction. Embracing that discomfort opens a Door toward making a different set of choices and living as if the future mattered. We should take heart that many People are walking through that Door with Courage, Peace and Promise for our times.

The depth of the problem of overconsumption in our world today led us to move to this little Farm. For a long time, we had waited until someone else ("up there" in "powerful" positions in government, business, and agriculture) would take care of the problem. Yes, we took on some important steps. But over time we couldn't wait for someone else to fix the problem, we needed to take action in daily practice ourselves. The Real Power was in the choices that we made.

So what are we doing? If you have been following this Blog, you know what we have been up to: Disconnecting from mainstream media and influences which force a consumerist agenda, producing as much of our own Food as we can, eating locally, living simply, acquiring only what we need, reducing possessions, protecting natural resources, restoring land, reducing toxic load on our bodies and the planet, gardening without chemicals, restoring soil, reducing energy use, reducing waste, reducing consumption, buying used, trading and bartering, using our own creativity and ingenuity to solve problems, fixing things, embracing community, enjoying nature, supporting each other, enjoying relationships, playing, growing, always growing.

We 3 C's surely are not perfect. But we can do more that we ever imagined we could. I think the Grandmas of yore who got along quite nicely with less would be proud. They knew we could do it. It just would take a little time.
~~~~
http://www.storyofstuff.org/--- Just click on "watch video".

Book Friend

Ragan, Kathleen. (1998). Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from around the World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Melanie just finished reading this and it is on my reading list for the Winter. It has taken me many years to recognize the drivel that Girls and Women in Western Culture are fed through Stories in our Patriarchal Society. Those continual messages in our formative years influence our growing and becoming, and the expectations of others in our Culture around us. I am hungry for that which is served on a different plate.

Old Age Begins...

The 1st part of this writing was inspired by the most recent issue of Yes Magazine from "The Page that Counts". The 2nd part was inspired by my Aunt Ruthie who turned 90 on Monday of this week.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Yes Magazine (page 16):

The average age Americans under 30 say old age begins: 60
The average age Americans 65 and older say old age begins: 74
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Aunt Ruthie, who said "Yes! You can quote me on that." (December 11, 2009):

"1 year younger than Methusaleh" (He lived 969 years.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I wonder what Methusaleh would say.

Magazine Friend

We just received our Winter 2010 Yes Magazine. With features of "powerful ideas and practical actions", Yes's mission "is to support you and other people worldwide in building a just, sustainable, and compassionate world."

We gave up on mainstream media years ago as we wanted balanced News and examples of the Positive Power of People doing Good Work in the World. Sadly, we could find neither in Media filtered through the Corporate Lens which needed for its own survival People to be on endless treadmills of Materialism and Fear.

We have been taking Yes Magazine ever since. When it arrives in the Mailbox, we begin reading it on the way down the Drive. The latest issue focuses on "Be a Climate Hero: Act up, Act Now, How to Beat Denial and Rescue the Planet." Now those are essential ideas for our times.
~~~~
Note: I find it amusing that I wrote about Yes Magazine in the Blog Entry "Magazine to Inspire" September 14, 2009. http://butterflyhillfarm.blogspot.com/search?q=Magazine+to+Inspire https://www.blogger.com/comment.g While my intention is not to repeat what I have written before, I think that I could write about this magazine with just about every issue. In reviewing my earlier writing, I discovered a note which I had not seen before from Fran Korten who is Publisher. blogID=8688921742015771165&postID=4501638948011681770 She reminds us to check out Yes as it "takes on the news everyday".

http://www.yesmagazine.org/

Pantry Is Complete

Step by step, we continue to make progress in our Journey of creating a Home on our Little Farm. During our remodeling late this Summer, shelving was added to a little Closet which really wanted to be a Pantry. After the busy-ness of the Harvest Season, the painting is now complete. The Bounty of our Harvest now graces the Shelves. I think you could call this Little Pantry a Prayer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the Radio

In early October, highly energetic 28 year old Severine Fleming biked over for a visit at the Farm while she was traveling through the area. According to the Greenhorns Radio Program web site (http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/programs/7-Greenhorn-Radio), Severine is "an agriculturalist, activist and organizer based in the Hudson Valley, NY. She is the director and chief logistician of the Greenhorns project. The Greenhorns is a small, land-based non profit for young farmers", hence the name "Greenhorns" (http://thegreenhorns.net/). She is also involved with growfood.org. (http://growfood.org/)

We had a delightful conversation with Severine and author Bee Laughton on that crisp Fall day right here at the Farm. We shared our experience on Butterfly Hill Farm and these 2 very active Folks shared some of their breadth of experience in a time when many are returning to the land. We were filled with awe and wonder at the energy of these Women and at the shifts in our time.

Hot Homemade Biscuits, Butter from Raw Cream, Sorghum Molasses and assorted Jams gave their support for our conversation too. That exchange was followed by more interaction between Melanie and Severine when Melanie assisted at the Greenhorns' Booth at Farm Aid in St. Louis.

Later, Severine asked Melanie to be on "Greenhorn Radio", "radio for young farmers by young farmers. Helmed by acclaimed activist, farmer, and documentarian Severine Fleming, Greenhorn Radio is a weekly phone interview session, surveying America's cutting edge, under-forty farmers."

Today (December 10, 2009) was the day. If you are interested in this approximately 30 minute interaction between Severine and Melanie, click on the following and scroll down to the date: http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/programs/7-Greenhorn-Radio

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Recipe: Sorghum Molasses Taffy

1/4 Cup Butter
2 Cup Sorghum Molasses
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Soda

(The original Recipe came from Deleta whose email says she found it in an Amish Cookbook: Wholesome Sugarfree Cooking. This Recipe makes a small amount which makes it a little touchy to cook. Melanie cooked the Syrup slowly and stirred very frequently. She altered the temperature so as not to "burn" the small amount which remained in the Pan. Sorghum Molasses is not Blackstrap Molasses which is commonly found in Grocery Stores. Look instead for Sorghum or Sorghum Molasses made in the traditonal manner.)

Stir Butter and Sorghum Molasses over low heat until Butter is melted. Stir the Syrup as it thickens. Boil slowly to Hard Ball Stage (265 Degrees). Syrup will be brittle when dropped by spoon into cold water. Melanie cooked the Syrup to 255 Degrees. It was "mostly brittle" when dropped into cold water. Add Vanilla and Vinegar. Stir. Add Soda last. Stir. Pour Taffy onto buttered platter. Lightly butter hands and pull as soon as Candy can be handled. Pull until it becomes light in color. Twist. Cut into pieices.

Seasons

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am deeply drawn
to reflect
on a system of Life
which suggests and honors
Roles and Responsibilities
of the 4 Seasons:
Youth,
Young Adult,
Middle Adult,
Older Adult/Elder.
My Culture
elevates
Young Adulthood
and avoids
Old Age/Death,
no matter the cost.
Such a System
sets up
Imbalance in Relationships and
Distortion of the Gifts of Each.
Each of the Seasons
cannot come
into the fullness
of their expression.
How may
we hold
in Equal and
Mutually Respectful
Relationship
Sacred Gifts of these 4 Seasons
that the Creator
intended?
Lessons and Life Ways
of Indigenous Peoples
of this Continent
draw me in.
We have
some things
to learn
to become
all that we are
meant to be.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lily, the Leek

Richard harvested Lily, the Leek, for Dinner this Evening. Lily weighed in at 1 Pound and she was 22 Inches long. Lily was a "Giant Musselburgh", which was 1 of 2 varieties of Leeks that I planted from Seed late last January.

She started out in a Flat and was transplanted to the Herb Garden out front May 26 (http://butterflyhillfarm.blogspot.com/2009/05/big-push.html). That means she was in Soil 10 1/2 Months.

Her arrival in our Kitchen was met with great excitement and ceremony. Melanie and I broke out into a spontaneous "76 Trombones" while Lily was brought in parade proudly overhead.

While new for us this year, Leeks have become great additions to our Garden and Culinary Crafts. They can be used as a mild substitute for Onions (which we love) in the late Fall and early Winter. They extend our use of Onions, because Onions are held for later use. Richard noted that the taller Leeks are also easier to clean. That Greenery which tends to collect Soil is well above the Soil line.

Winter in Charge

December 7:
We got our 1st Snow last Night. At just over an Inch, it was that Gentle Teaser telling us quietly but clearly that Winter is now in charge.

The Snow had begun to shift some by the time I went to the Mail Box this morning. I altered my Path toward the White Pines whose Needles and Cones were gently covered with the Fluffy Snow. At this Season, many Humans call this "Flocking" on their artificial and fresh Christmas Trees. That chemical stuff is surely not the same.

Today was Aunt Ruthie's 90th Birthday. Hearing her cheery voice on the Phone was pure delight.

Over the next 2 days, we are projected to get 10 to 12 inches of Snow. It's time to luxuriate in those warm Clothes and Comforters. Some good Books are in order. Cups of Tea or Hot Chocolate will be a wonderful accompaniment to writing Christmas Notes and attending to Christmas gifts. In the meantime, I am not planning any trips off the Farm in the next few days.

We now have the Wood Stove in place on the Hearth in the Living Room. The Room feels warmer already, but the piping is not in place above. We look forward to the completion of this project. That will not happen until the Roof is clear and safe for Workers. But already, that Wood Stove and Rock Wall feel ever so right.