Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Way

I learned
in a Child Development Class
in the late 1960s
that a Baby or Child placed
in an institutional Setting
without interaction needed
would become retarded in growth.
My heart knew that was true.
While it is definitely better now,
we place Elders in Boxes
away from the River of their Lives
and those that they love.
An increasingly fast-paced
and foreign World
swirls and spins around them.
I wonder about the effects:
silence, confusion, disorientation,
dementia, and who knows what else?
So why do we do this?
They are part of us.
We are part of them.
Yes, we have issues,
those issues are in our faces
in critical transformation times,
and sometimes those issues are unresolved.
But surely there is a better way.
The more we cherish and honor them,
the more we cherish and honor our common humanity.
They have stories and wisdom
essential to helping us along the path.
We are looking for a new Way.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Teachers and Learners

Yesterday, I joined Jennifer Schutter and Bonnie Peterson in giving a presentation to the Support Group for Visually Impaired from the Adair County Master Gardeners. Jennifer and Bonnie talked about Flowers which they brought in armloads. I talked about Veggies and Herbs. You could almost call my end of it "Let's Go to the Farm".

I asked how many currently grow most of their own Food. No one raised their hand. I asked how many had done that at some point in their lives. I think everyone raised their hands. Gee, did they have stories to tell, questions to ask and ideas to share. They were such fun.

I told them our Baby Chickens had just arrived the past 2 days. Most had raised Chickens. I told them the kinds that we have and what they look like at this stage of being very small. Most nodded their heads as they were very familiar with the varieties and characteristics of young Chicks. Their love for them was apparent. One said she loved her Chickens and she loved putting the Straw from the Chicken House on the Garden over the Winter. "We plowed it under in the Spring. That was the best."

I "walked around the Garden" and told them what we had planted at the early Spring Season and its progress to date. I also told them varieties. They were surprised that we have 900 Onions planted. Assuming all goes well, I think that will be enough.

Melanie had cut samples of Culinary and Medicinal Herbs to pass around. I told them their Names and some of their Characteristics. They carefully examined them and asked lots of questions. Sometimes they tasted them too. The Herbs which I brought included: (clockwise from upper left) Catnip, Lemon Balm, Tansy, Flat Leafed Parsley, Chives, Apple Mint, Dandelion (tea is for liver cleanse, plus those vivacious roots break up clay soils---no wonder we have so many), Peppermint, Echinacea Purpurea, Chamomile, Oregano, Spearmint (while gregarious and great for Teas, Peppermint and Spearmint are supposed to be good repellants for Mice), Dill.

Richard gathered 4 Plastic Bags of Lettuce, Chives, and Culinary Flowers for a Salad Mix. Plus, he also gathered Green Onions. I had no problem giving any of that away.

These Folks are largely Senior Citizens and Elderly. They are a treasure trove of Gardening Information. I felt like I should have them just let them talk. As a Teacher, I learned a long time ago that the best learning happens when the Teacher has the courage to silent and let the learning unfold. We are all surely Teachers and Learners in these things.

Welcome Baby Chicks

April 26:

Melanie and I picked up the Baby White Plymouth Rock Chicks at the Post Office earlier this morning. After 2 stops, we headed home and put them right into their "play pens" in the Garage. Those are the boxes that Melanie and Richard set up for them, complete with Food and Water Containers, Papers for Changing (yes, they poop a lot), and Warming Lights.

When we put them into their Playpens, we poke their Beaks into the Water and then into their Food. That is apparently essential to making sure they know to eat. I wonder how the Mama Hennie handles that.

I took lots of pictures in hopes that we would have some to share. Fortunately for the Baby Peeps, their Warming Lights are keeping them warm. Unfortunately for the Humans, those Lights with their reddish glow don't yield the best pictures. My Apologies. But of course, a picture is not the same as seeing and holding a Baby Chick.

I guess you should head out to Farm and Home and look at those Baby Peeps. Or perhaps, you should think about raising your own. The latter is a very big step and very big responsibility. More Folks are stepping up to the Plate. Raising Chickens both on Small Farms and in the City is on the rise throughout the Country. The Grandmas would be pleased. Slowly but surely, we are "getting it", as these modern Humans are taking more responsibility for growing their own Food.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken Ministry

Our 4th Batch of Baby Chickens arrived this morning. We got a call just before 8 a.m. from the Post Office. This was the call we had been waiting for. We put the Frozen Pancakes into the Toaster. When they popped up, we headed out the door, jumped in the car, and munched them along the way.

Tradition has it that we take the Baby Chicks in their Box to see Mother. That 1st year, she and Dad were home. The 2nd year, she was there by herself. The last 2 years, she has been in an area Nursing Home.

It is quite the moving experience taking those Baby Chicks to the Nursing Home. People turn on a dime when they hear those "Peep, Peep, Peeps". The ambulatory ones (including staff) head right over. Those in Wheelchairs lean firmly into the sound. We usher the Baby Peeps in their Box all around.

Stories and advice spill out from the Older Women. We are amazed at how many have had experiences raising Chickens. Judging by their stories and their exuberance in telling them, they loved them.

Margaret said she usually would get about 400. We will only have about 74 this year. Margaret's 400 would all be for their Family's use on the Farm. She laughed and talked about the very big Garden that she had besides. As if that was not enough, she had 40 Calves which she was bottle feeding too. And there was her own Family too. We think we are busy these days. These Women were and are Wonder Women.

We usually ask about the varieties that the Ladies liked. One Lady, whose name we do not know, said Barred Rocks were her favorite. In fact, she raved about the Barred Rocks. She remembered they are the best eating birds, brought the highest prices, and they didn't have any pin feathers.

We noted a clear difference between the comments of the Older Ones and the Younger Generations. Those younger asked very basic, even elementary, questions. Those would be the questions that we were asking not so long ago. Reference was made by 1 as to Meat. To which we responded: "Shhhhh.... We are careful what we say around them."

The Older Ladies seemed to very much enjoy their Chickens. They were excited to share their stories and their experiences in raising them. With the rapid increase in the number of Folks raising Chickens these days, it seems a smart idea to head right to the Nursing Homes to ask some questions. We could learn a lot from the wisdom and experience of age. It would be a great way to keep Folks engaged too, and to show that they and what they know matters.

In these many months of walking in and out of the Nursing Home, we have noted a wall of Silence surrounding Folks there. It could be from the stunned "Deer in the headlights" "How did I get here?" Bringing in those Baby Peeps opens even some of the toughest of shells. Stories and animation spill out.

One Lady held a Baby Chicken. When Melanie took the Baby Peep as we were about to go, she held her hands together as if the Memory of the Baby Peep was there right over her heart.

Melanie and I call this whimsically our "Chicken Ministry". Those Baby Peeps brighten the day for many. We are deeply blessed that we can share.

Seasoned Tools

April 24:

The 3 Brothers (Hollis, Gerald, and Richard) headed to another auction yesterday. This time they went "up to Downing". I always like to say "up to Downing". It seems like such a contradiction in terms. Saying it just makes me kind of giggle whimsically.

I told Mother about the "Boys'" Adventure and she just smiled. I can imagine that the Boys' Mother, who passed in 1991, would be smiling too. In fact, I am sure their Mother would be grinning "from Ear to Ear". Perhaps, she is in the background getting all these adventures organized. To which I would respond: "Keep 'em comin'."

Amid other Treasures, Richard brought home something his Brother gave to Melanie. Uncle Gerald gave Melanie a Hand Beater which she had been looking for. We are increasingly fascinated with Seasoned Tools. We find the newer tools to be mostly "plasticky, soon to be trash, and strange".

Who knows the Story that old Beater could tell? That old Beater fits in nicely around here. We never can tell what we are going to be stirring up next.

Melanie says: "Thank you, Uncle."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

She Says

In those seemingly
endless miles of road,
she says
"I haven't spent much time in Nature."
I puzzle and muse.
How could this be
in a society
and world
which pride themselves
in having everything
for Humans
at our fingertips?
I am deeply blessed that
I have had many opportunities
in Nature:
those camping trips
near and far
when I was a Child,
my ongoing adventures
with my Naturalist Husband,
his continual eye and heart
for the outdoors
and his yearning
to pull me along,
my art of Birds,
a career and life style
based on bringing people
home to the land,
my attraction to Gardening.
While I spent a lot of time inside,
I couldn't be separated
from Nature.
None of us can.
She will not release
Her Embrace.
Returning to Her
is a Coming Home
for which we all yearn
and have awaited for so long.
Glinda Crawford, 2010


A Culture
based on
the exclusive elevation
of Me
and fails
by inches and bounds
in a World built
of delicate
but robust
Life Giving
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Apple Blossoms

April 23:

The Golden Delicious Apple Tree is radiant with Blooms. As I stand among the Limbs, the whole Tree hums with Busy Bees.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Notes from Chicken-ville

We lost 3 Chickens this week. That means we now have 35 Chickens (1 Rooster, 34 Hennies). And that number is soon to change.

We lost Luna, the Barred Rock. She was 2 years old and a beautiful Hennie. We have no idea what took her. I guess it was just her time to go.

As a Family, we made the decision for the Rooster from Lacey's 2009 clutch to go into the Freezer. He was very aggressive around the Hennies. He did not display the usual behaviors: feeding Hennies, courting. He also was a little short on protection, which is a critical Rooster behavior. It seems that preferences for breeding have created Roosters which tend toward over-aggressiveness. That is not balance in our World, nor is it the kind of Farm that we seek.

And this morning, we lost Tawney. She had a "sour crop". Melanie had read as much as she could regarding treatment. But the treatment led to her death. Or rather, perhaps it was just her time to go too.

At the other end of the Life Cycle, the 50 White Rock Chicks should arrive either Sunday or Monday morning. That's tomorrow or the day after. Melanie and Richard have been working on their Digs.

Plus, we heard from the Farmer in the Mexico (Missouri) area who is the source of the 24 Chicks we have ordered. Those Chicks will be "straight run" which means they will not be separated into males and females. Those 24 will be evenly divided between Delawares and Barred Rocks. A Barred Rock was the 1st to hatch today. We will pick them up either Monday or Tuesday.

Life on the Farm seems very close to the Life Cycle. Birth, Growing, Death are ever present. I can understand why some Folks would choose not to bear witness to such things. Yet, that is Life. And Life is indeed Beautiful in all of its forms.

Rainy Day

Today has been mostly a Gray Day with Heavy Clouds seeking to touch the Ground. After 1 1/2 inches of Rain in the last few days, more Rain settled in late this Afternoon.

Laddie continues to take his outside work seriously. He was ever alert to the 2 Hen Turkeys who strolled in single file across the west side of the Farm. But he was alert for Dinnertime too. Upon arrival inside, he was met with a big Towel and some vigorous hands to dry him off. He wasn't too pleased, but accepted that the Human agenda surely had a purpose.

A hot meal of Homemade Spaghetti was in order. After dishes, Richard headed outside to check drainage patterns in the Garden. The northeast 1/3 of the Garden still needs work, but all other areas are working fine.

We can see those Peas from inside. They are really growing. We need to get up Fencing for Support when the Soil dries out some.

Melanie headed out to check on the Chickens. We have often thought that on these days, they should all have little Yellow Slickers, Hats, and Boots. If we went this far, we would need to have them all hung up by the Hen House Door. I remember the "to do" of Mrs. Humphrey, my Kindergarten Teacher, as she got us all ready to go outside or come inside. Patience was a virtue then. Patience is a virtue now.

Richard and Melanie come back inside. Melanie announces: "Mom. It's wet."

Notes on: Cabbages

Cabbages seem to like it best on rich amended Soil, surrounded by Lettuce Seedlings, with some mulch and a few Winter Onions within reach.

Don't Miss It

I was clattering away
at these Keys
A Kingbird hit the window.
I had been anxiously
awaiting their return.
He seemed to say:
"What are you doing inside?
Notice me.
The Whole World
is turning outside
in this Glorious Spring.
Don't miss it."
And so, Dear Reader,
why are you staring
at this screen?
Glinda Crawford, 2010
Note: I put the stunned Kingbird in a closed brown paper bag. In 3 minutes, I heard his agitated sound inside the bag. He was ready. I released him to the wing.


Every day, Nature's Wheel
keeps turning.
We keep our Eyes and Hearts
open to the least little change.
What an amazing privilege
to have been given
by the Divine
a small part
of such a Grand Play.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Nature Notes

Richard noted Broad Winged Hawks migrating through yesterday. He checked his calendar and they were flying through on exactly the same day he observed last year.

Melanie noted the 1st Firefly of the Season. Now that brings a big broad smile.

Recipe: Basic Salad Dressing (and Wood Furniture Polish too)

1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar (or other of one's choice)
2/3 Cup Olive Olive

Place in a jar with lid. Shake and serve.
Note 1: This is my favorite Salad Dressing. It just sits back and lets the Fresh Greens/Garden Produce take center stage.

Note 2: I also use this Recipe for polishing Wood Furniture (using White Vinegar instead). It seems to replenish the Woods and keeps them in good condition. I put a little on a cloth and rub it into the Wood. Then I use a dry cloth to rub off the excess. If you are trying this, you may 1st want to experiment with a small part of the Wood Furniture. I found this "recipe" in the late 1990s in a book on using less toxic products for home care by Annie Berthold Bond. Why would we want to use that stinky toxic stuff anyway? We have enough toxics in these precious bodies and homes in toxic times anyway. What goes into the Furniture goes into us too.

First Salads

April 21:

When Richard and I were gone to the North Country, Melanie had her 1st Salad of the year. In this cool Spring, the Greens are really growing and are finally of a size that we can have Salads. Yea!

These past few days, the 3 of us have been having our 1st Salads fresh from the Garden and Yard. Would you believe that we have not planted most of it? Nature did it for us. Is that cool or what?

So what is in this Salad? A variety of Lettuces (which grew volunteer), Richard's Mother's Violets and their Leaves(which actually were gathered years ago by Hollis), Wood Sorrel (something those Humans call a "Weed"), Lamb's Quarter (another Weed), Wild Lettuce (another Weed), 2 varieties of Arugula (which also went to Seed), and the Humble Dandelion. I also included the perennial Chives and their Flower Buds, plus biennial Pansies.

I'm hearing a call from the Kitchen. Grub's up. Gotta go.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Birthday

We spent a lovely afternoon and evening at the Possibility Alliance, a Petrol Free and Electricity Free Farm to the South of us. Today was Earth Day. It was also Beth's Birthday. Beth is an Earth Mother, so it was particularly fitting for us to celebrate her Birthday and Earth Day too.

I brought the Earth Egg which I painted for Melanie about 17 years ago. That Egg has been held by hundreds of People. Metaphorically, it is fragile yet vibrant and filled with Life. So too is our Earth. While carefully passing the Earth Egg around our Circle of Friends, we shared a wish for the Earth and Beth. That 1 wish was intended to fit them both. It was beautiful.

We had a lovely meal of Local Foods which centered around homemade Burritos. Sarah had made a beautiful Carrot Cake, covered with Creamy Frosting and Flowers (Violets and Johnny Jump-Ups) and touched by a large cinnamon Flower and a beeswax Candle. We had homemade Ice Cream too. The sweetness was toned down with natural sugars and the flavors of the ingredient. Yum.

The celebration also included Music on Guitar, Violin, Shakers and Singing. Nothing was mechanical, glitzy, or forced. The whole event was local, handmade, and tailor made to our own celebration. I feel warmed by it all.


Who looks outside,
who looks inside,
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Request for Leeks

I laugh. Rolf called this evening requesting the Leeks that I have grown for him. How many do you want? "About 30-40," he said.

I have planted Leeks in 3 varieties: Giant Musselbourgh, Prize Taker, and Blue Solaize. I started the Leeks February 4. They are among the earliest that we start from Seed.

In total, I must have 400 to 500. Once again, I scattered lots of Seeds upon the Soil. Most sprouted. I could not bear to weed any of them out. I smile. My Family and I chuckle whimsically about this one.

We are now beginning to think about how many we will actually grow here on the Farm. I suppose we will plant at least 100. We shall have some to give away to Friends and Family too. Sharing the Abundance feels good.

Spring Has Arrived

April 10:

Today was 1 of those very special days. For a long time, we just knew Spring was coming. The Garden would at last be dry enough to work. The Air would be warm and inviting the Humans to ratchet it up a gear. The list would be long, but many things would be possible.

Melanie spent some time weeding in her Garden. Where did those Weeds come from? Combie, the Chicken, was ever at her side. The Daffodils were blooming. Yes, Spring has arrived.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Richard, Emily, Keren and I returned last night after an excursion back through the North Country. Emily and Keren are Apprentices at a Farm south of us and are new to the Mid-Continent Region. Leaving last Thursday, we were gone 5 full and beautiful days. We had an absolutely exquisite trip which was Pilgrimage to us all.

We immersed ourselves in the Great Plains landscape of this amazing North American Continent which we call home. Most of our journey was through what would have been the Tallgrass Prairie. Less than .1% remains. The Land is the rich black soil which we "advanced" Humans seem more intent on growing Corn and Soybeans with no relief, replenishment, or gratitude for Creation which was given to us and which sustains us.

We attended the 40th Annual University of North Dakota Indian Association Wacipi on Friday evening and Saturday. I attended my 1st Pow Wow in the early to mid 80s. This became a beautiful Spring Ritual for us. I cannot imagine Spring without it.

We had the distinct pleasaure of visiting true radiant Prairie. We saw Prairie Chickens and Sharp Tailed Grouse Dancing. We saw Tundra Swans on their way to the Arctic Circle. We truly miss them here in our new home. We saw Short Eared Owls with their signature butterfly like flight. A pair of Canvasback Ducks flew a great circle around us, as if to greet the Humans below in their own special way. An Eagle sat as sentinel in a scrub like tree.

We connected with Friends who are keepers of the Stories of the Land. Those Folks are advocates for the Prairie Region. They have long histories of immersion in the Prairie Landscape. Some are Professional Scientists who have dedicated their lives toward its study. All have stood on the forefront of advocating for its protection and introducing its beauty to fellow Humans. All have borne witness to its and our own renewal and return.

We brought Prayers for the North American Continent. Emily and Keren with Dan and his Grandson Aris took them out on the Prairie, walking through soft purple and furry Pasque Flowers (Prairie Crocuses). Sandhill Cranes dipped down onto the land with their Characteristic Flight and Bugling.

To the Humans' awe and amazement, a Painted Turtle was making its own journey through the Tallgrass. Dan, a long time Prairie Creature and lover of the Land, had never seen that before. Nature speaks. We try to still the Human Chatter. This Continent has been known to many Native People as Turtle Island. How fitting for a Turtle to join in the offering of our humble Prayers.

On the way back, we drove through the Minnesota North Woods. We stopped at the Headwaters of the Mississippi which is a small sparkling clear stream.

We were wrapped warmly by the loving arms of Folks who have become our Family there. That felt ever so good.

Five days are a long time to be off the Farm. It's Spring and stuff is happening. Aromas of Lilacs and Apple Blossoms greeted us in the night-time of our return.

Fuzz brain is evident in this transition space between there and here. Naps are good. Integration time is important for this beautiful Pilgrimage up north and back here again. We are deeply blessed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Growing our Food on this little Farm
requires a kind of teamwork.
City Life seems all too often frought
with solo and competitive exercises.
Humans butt heads and trample hearts.
We don't live in the City any more.
I marvel at what we are doing side by side.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Planting Time

The Day comes when it is time to plant.
Conditions are perfect.
Soil is ready to work.
Seeds and Plants are waiting eagerly in cue.
We stand in a narrow window
before the next Rain.
We are like Race Horses held at the Gate.
Yet, we must not start too fast,
as we need energy for the Long Haul.
We work methodically, intentionally.
We take 1 task at a time
and move on.
Looking at the Big Picture is overwhelming.
We keep our Sights on the Ground.
We take time to hear the Birds
and watch the Flowers unfold.
It all gets done.
What is supposed to get done gets done.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

A Lot about Life

All the Cabbage Seedlings that I was privileged to watch grow in my care have now found their place in Human Homes. Although somewhat numerically challenged and dizzied by the abundance of a myriad of growing things, I count 160 Cabbages in 3 varieties (Danish Ballhead, Premium Late Flat Dutch, Henderson's Charleston Wakefield). These Vibrant Little Plants have found their place in the Gardens of 14 Families.

I ponder the Sacred Gift of being privileged to provide Plants which will become Food for Another. That's a lot to chew on. It comes with a contract to the Divine to tend the Soils respectfully, to launch the Plants with the Greatest Loving Energy that I can muster, and to offer that which has the Greatest Potential Life Force for another. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be? The Earth Mother has mouths to feed now but more mouths to feed in the Future.

On Sunday, I planted the last of our 31 Cabbages in the 2 beautiful and brand new Raised Beds that Richard and Melanie created. That makes a total of 42 Cabbages planted here at the Farm.

As I tend the Soil and tend the Plants, the Divine seems to be gardening in me. Much is sprouting. I am learning a lot about Life.

Nature Notes

Things are popping way faster than I can even see, feel, or think to write. The Fruit Trees are in flower. The Bees are buzzing about doing what Bees do best. The Wild Plums are blooming. Their cascading and radiant white Flowers are that of Nature as Bride.

Richard said he was going to take a short walk last night. I headed out with him. He cast a careful eye on some of the Trees that he planted in the Meadow and the Wood. Is that the Flowering Dogwood Sprout?

He headed down along the Ephemeral Creek, casting his Eyes back and forth along the Leaf Litter. Slow Me had to ask: "What are you looking for?" To which he replied: "Mushrooms." He seems to know so much of the Seasons of the Land. My Eyes caressed the Ground too. No mushrooms, this time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All In a Day's Work

All the things on the "to do list" were clamoring for attention today. "It's my turn." "I have been waiting so long." On this perfect Spring Day, we completed many tasks that had been waiting. It is so important at these times to take it 1 thing at a time. Stay focused. Everything will get done that needs to be done.

The 1st task was burning 2 small spots of Prairie on the northeast side of our Farm. Fire is nothing to fool around with. Richard and Melanie had completed training offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Richard had had significant experience both in teaching and practice before.

The purpose of the burn is to reintroduce fire as a natural part of the Prairie's cycle. As such, Fire becomes a significant part of restoration, which we hope to do here.

Usually after a burn, the Plants just take off from the Blackened Soil. Sometimes, Plants will appear that did not seem to be there before. We 3 C's will be watching carefully. We haven't had many sunny days in the last few weeks. Some of Seedlings spend time outside during the day. Since it was Sunny today, Shade Protection was really important.

So Richard and Melanie improvised a structure for protecting the Plants with Shade Cloth. In the meantime, Melanie and I checked the Plants to see how they were doing throughout the Day. Watering is very important. They did fine.

So far we have about 14 flats of Plants outside. The last of our Cabbages go into the Ground tomorrow. I can imagine they are excited. Those Pots are getting a little tight too.Melanie spent time weeding her Garden. Those opportunistic little Weeds are sprouting under the Straw, although not as fast as if the Ground was exposed.

Those Daffodils were given to us last fall by Rachel, Joe and Kathy Long. They are gorgeous. We smile. Richard and Melanie headed out to prune the Fruit Trees and Grapes. When done right, Pruning removes Dead Wood and Weak Branches. It optimizes growth and productivity. We have had so much to learn here on the Farm. Fortunately, they write books and give trainings on such things. In the meantime, Melanie was listening for the Voice of the Trees. They surely have something to say about it too.Richard rototilled part of the Garden which was at last dry enough to work. It was so nice to see the Soil "softer" and ready to plant, or so it appears after rototilling. Rototilling has a down side though.

We will be moving toward decreasing rototilling as it interferes with the Community of Living Organisms which give the Soil Life. While it looks good in the moment, it also compacts the Soil. Over time, Gardens become more difficult to work. Plant Health and Productivity are reduced too. Now that is not what we are up to here.

As an alternative, we want more raised beds. We explored their use last Summer. Raised beds maximize soil fertility. They are much easier to work. Gardeners can get into them sooner in the Spring. Their productivity is nothing short of amazing. They do need care over time. Compost and Straw are important additions. It is really important for Gardeners to realize that Food Crops do "take out" from the Soil. We need to increasingly be in a position of giving back.

Richard built 2 raised Beds today in preparation for my planting of Cabbages tomorrow. The building process resembles a "cake". He 1st laid down Straw. On top of that, he put Aged Cow Compost. He then dug Soil surrounding the Bed and placed it on top. In the meantime, Melanie disassembled Feed Sacks. She laid them down on the walkways around the Beds. We then put down Straw as the top layer on the Paths. And there you have it: our 2 new Raised Garden Beds. I can imagine the Cabbages cannot wait to get their Roots in the Soil. In the meantime, the Humans are contemplating those next Raised Beds (and uses for those Cabbages).

Observations on an Early Spring Evening

April 3:

Late on this day, the Chickens were observed hanging out next to the Fence which separates them from the Garden. They were in the midst of their preparations for heading into their House for the Evening. That includes moving closer to their House. They were also alternately loafing, preening, quietly chatting, sleeping. Some Humans are known to do such things just before Bed too.

The Chickens were also observed noting the developments inside the Garden. We 2 Leggeds are watching those developments closely too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Friend

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001). Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Books.
We have had this book for some time. We have found it an excellent reference for recipes, teas, and other herbal treatments for various ailments. Yesterday, I felt like I was coming down with a Cold. Sniffles were abounding. I headed right into the text. Among other things, I had Sauteed Onions and Garlic with Curry for breakfast. It was delicious. My Cold is not done, but it surely is better.

I wonder about all those little Tricks that the Mothers and the Grandmas knew to keep their Family's Healthy. Some were dismissed as Old Wives' Tales. But those Old Wives knew a lot.

Notes on: Sweet Potatoes

The 1st round of Sweet Potato Vines to be set in Rain Water is now rooting vigorously. I just peeled them off the Mother Plant a week ago. These Vines really want to grow. Soon, I shall be putting them in Sand.

I also noted another Sweet Potato downstairs in our darkened storage stash seemed to be waving little arms at me. "Attention, Fellow Human Companion!" This particular Sweet Potato did not make my cut for sprouting. The bottom part of the Sweet Potato was missing and I was afraid that it would rot in the Water. Nevermind the Human Plan, this little Gem has decided that it too wants to grow Sprouts. So I brought it upstairs and put it in its own Jar.

I am amazed at the Living Vitality all around me. Thriving seems to be the Earth Mother's Script here. We have only to get with the program.

Notes on: Cabbages

On April 3rd, I planted the 2nd early spring batch of Cabbages and covered them with gallon jugs. The very next day, I checked them closely to see how they were doing. One of the Cabbages already had holes in the leaves. I got out the BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis, an organic alternative), mixed it up, and sprayed it on.

On reading the instructions, I noted that BT should not be stored over 90 degrees. We had kept it in the shed. I shall watch it carefully to make sure that BT is doing what it is supposed.

Today, I noted a White Cabbage Butterfly gently flying through the yard. It is the 1st I have seen this season. Their larva can do considerable damage to my precious Cabbages.

I am watching carefully.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nature Notes

Yesterday was quite warm. When Melanie and I came home from visiting Wren Song last evening, we were met by June Bugs dancing about the Porch Light. One attached himself to my sweatshirt.

I used to be afraid of June Bugs when I was a kid. They are big and noisy, and seem to claim any light at night as their own. After watching the Great Horned Owl, whom we named June, chowing down on June Bugs in 2007, I see those June Bugs and I just have to laugh. I wonder their reactions to the Humans. We can be pretty laughable too.

With the Warming, I am wondering if the Morel Mushrooms will be up soon. Other Folks are wondering too. Richard and Melanie were cleaning litter from the Woods along the road. They went after the obvious stuff, but once there, they found more. They found some stuff that surely someone had dumped 50 plus years ago. The stash included funky bottles and thin tin cans which were just about rusted out.

While picking up litter, they heard a Truck drive by. Looking up, they saw 2 men in a Red Truck who waved. They waved back and continued about their work. Pretty soon, they heard the Truck stop and slowly begin to back up.

A Friendly Fellow spoke through the Window. "You aren't pickin' Morel Mushrooms, are you?" Richard and Melanie smiled, shook their heads, and noted that those plastic bags held trash. "If you were findin' Morel Mushrooms, I was going to start looking for them myself."


As a Gardener,
I seek to have
a mutual relationship
with my Plants,
as 1 Living Being
to Another.
My practice
is intended
to respect all of Life.
I come
with a growing awe
and humility
toward the Great Circle of Life
entrusted to us
by the Divine,
of which I am
1 small part.
As I walk in the Garden,
you may observe me
greeting, talking, singing
among my Plants.
These simple Practices
have been known to Humans
since the Beginning of Time,
forgotten by many,
but reclaimed
in these Awakening Times.
I come lately to these practices.
It is a Homecoming
for Them and for Me.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Spring Planting Calendar

I woke up this morning thinking that I should get my Seeds in order by the best dates to plant. I like to "interfile them" using cardboard dividers which have the range of dates written across the top. When planting season is in high gear, we seem to be going in a lot of directions all at once. All the little preparations ahead of time surely do make a difference.

Today, I checked the Missouri University Extension Calendar for Northern Missouri (G 6201, I got this at the Master Gardener training 2 years ago and it is 1 of my favorite handouts. Last frost date for us is April 25. Safest dates for warmer season plantings begin May 15. As I was sharing this with Richard, he said: "Ideal dates are good, as long as it is not too wet."
April 25-May 30: Green Beans (Bush)
May 1-15: Cow Peas
May 1-July 20: Sweet Corn
May 10-20: Green Beans (Pole)
May 10-20: Muskmelon
May 10-20: Watermelons
May 10-20: Peanuts
May 10-25: Limas (Bush)
May 10-25: Soy Beans, Edible
May 10-25: Dry Beans
May 10-25: Okra
May 10-30: Cucumbers
May 15-25: Eggplant
May 15-25: Limas (Pole)
May 15-30: Squash
May 15-30: Peppers
May 15-30: Tomatoes
May 15-June 5: Sweet Potato (Plants)
May 20-30: Pumpkins

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gifts of Fish

Two Neighbors dropped off some Fish Leavings yesterday. They had gone fishing and had cleaned their Fish. We thought the Fish Leavings would make a nice treat for the Chickens and they were willing to bring the Scraps over after they cleaned the Fish.

We should have asked the Chickens 1st. Actually some liked the Scraps but others didn't. So what should we do with the Fish Scraps?

This morning, Richard hit upon an idea, to which Melanie and I nodded our heads. We will plant them in the Hills of the Indian Corn, just like the Indian People taught the Europeans when they 1st arrived. And so Richard did it. We really need to do some research to see what is going on. But in the meantime, it felt right.

Checklist for Food Crops

That 1st year (2007), we pretty much just put our Seeds and Plants into the Garden. We had no clue as to whether they were going to produce. We naively thought: If we put it into the Ground, it will surely grow. Not. Entering our 4th growing Season, we now have some more clues.

I am concluding that several factors enter into the success of Growing our Food Crops. Some are known to us and others are not. One could easily go down through each item on the Checklist like a Pilot before take-off. We would ask (and then answer): Are optimal conditions present? (Yes or no). Sometimes we won't know until later of course.

In our Culture, we are largely disconnected from Nature, which has put us on a path of great destruction. We believe we are "over Nature". We force our agendas, our chemicals, or whatever onto Nature. Instead, we need to listen to Nature's Voice and work within those energies.

I have simply asked Nature to be my Teacher after a very long time of being away. She is patient and She has taught me a lot. I think She smiles as I write this. I am in the "Infancy Stage". "Get ready for more," She seems to say.

I believe the success of a crop is largely based upon the degree to which we attend to the following. When we do not attend to the following, we put Plants in Stress. A stressed Plant is likely to be more vulnerable to disease and pests. (There may be some lessons for Humans in that previous statement too.) So far, these are the items I would put on our checklist "at take off".

  • Soil is within the pH range optimal for the Plant.
  • The Garden Soil matches type needed (example: clay soil, loamy, sandy).
  • Availability of Moisture is within ideal range.
  • Seeds or transplants are planted at optimal time.
  • The Plant has an adequate length of growing season.
  • Seeds and transplants are healthy and vibrant.
  • Garden Soil has a a balance of Nutrients in the array the Plant will need.
  • The Plant is grown with Companions which nurture and provide the protection that it needs.
  • The Plant is growing in a area which follows a beneficial rotational pattern.
  • Needs for Sun, Part Shade, Shade are met.
  • Competition with other Plants is reduced and eliminated (examples: spacing, weeding).
  • The Plant has adequate support (examples: tomatoes, peas, beans).
  • Potential damage by pests is reduced and eliminated (examples: insects, deer, rabbits, raccoons).
  • Natural forces are moderated (example: wind, water).
  • Proper Seed Preparation is given as needed.
  • Seeds are stored appropriately to maintain viability.
  • Selection of Seeds and Plants is matched to Plant Zone.
I am sure more can be added. Some items which Nature would put on a checklist probably cannot be known to us. She's a pretty complex Lady after all. Through it all, we do the best we can. And we open ourselves to the wonderful lessons along the way.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easy Early Lettuce

Last year, we discovered a technique which makes growing Lettuce easy, especially early in the Spring. We claim no credit for this. We just watched what was going on "in Nature" and we followed Her lead.

We watched Lettuce "go to seed", reproduce, and come up with another round of gorgeous Lettuce. Some People would scoff at such gardening. In their view, such practices are "not clean gardening". In their practice, every bit of Plant Material which is beyond maturity of Food Crop and outside the rigid straight line rows is removed. Obsession with such practices is common in our Culture. They may please some of the Human Family but is outside the Rhythm and Flow of Nature. When we watched Nature doing her Thing, we had results that surprised us and results we wanted to repeat.

So last Fall, we just let the Heirloom Varieties of Lettuce go to seed. And we let those Seeds fall upon the ground where they may. Some folks might have thought this unsightly, but we were going "Tee hee hee." Our thinking was that the Seeds would germinate well before we Humans could get into the Garden (or even off our Winter Couch, for that matter). And, fortunately, our thinking was "spot on". Now we have some amazing Lettuce Plants coming up in the Garden even before we have planted any Seeds. Nature did it for us. "Thank you, Mother."

I checked into Suzanne Ashworth's discussion of Lettuce Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002, pages 89-91). She calls Lettuce an "inbreeding plant". Some gardeners believe varieties do not cross pollinate; others report up to 5% crossing if grown side by side.

Apparently, differences in flower characteristics greatly influence the chance of crossing. Did you know that some Lettuce Flowers open for only 30 minutes? Wow, I surely have missed a lot of their blooms. I promise to note them more closely this year. Distancing varieties will be important. Caging may be important to the purist.

By the way, if you are a Seed Saver, this book is an excellent resource. You may want a copy or at the very least suggest it to your public library. I wonder if the Adair County Library has it on the shelves?

In the meantime, we should be having some Lettuce in the next 10 days to 2 weeks. Yum. And we haven't planted a Seed in the Garden yet.

In case you are interested, the Straw was used as covering for the Garden over the Winter Season. It was excellent protection for the Soil. Plus, it will biodegrade as organic material and tilth. This is another practice that we will be continuing.

Seed and Plant Exchange

We 3 C's are hosting a "Seed and Plant Exchange", Sunday, May 23rd, 1-3 p.m. Melanie has been dreaming about doing this for some time. So she and I put our heads together (with support from Richard) and developed this flyer. These are our thoughts so far:

"How it works: It's free! Bring extra seeds and/or seedlings (gardening wisdom too!) to swap or share with other gardeners. Heirloom varieties are encouraged (for seeding saving potential) crops, herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, native plants, etc. Hybrid seeds and plants can also be shared. Label plants/seeds with variety name and special instructions and bring baggies/envelopes to divvy up seeds. Bring a lawn chair, too.

"If you do not have seeds or plants to swap, come & mingle with gardeners & farmers with insights on gardening.

"For more information, check our website: Updates will be posted here." (Original date was scheduled for May 16. We changed it to May 23rd due to expected rain tomorrow 5/16.)
"Gardeners Sharing Abundance"

Cabbages: 2nd Round of Planting

I planted my 2nd round of Cabbages this Spring. Eight of the lovely Cabbages went into 1 of the Raised Beds that Richard created last Spring. Those Beds are lush with Soil and Compost, plus they are ready and easy to work. I can imagine the Cabbages are making themselves right at home.

And the varieties? Now that is an interesting question. Four were Danish Ballheads ("ball shape"). The remaining 4 are 2 Premium Late Flat Dutch ("Flat") and 2 Henderson Charleston Wakefields ("pointed" or "peak").

I chuckle because as intent as I was with identifying the varieties of Cabbages I was giving away, I did not mark clearly those 2 varieties I intended to keep. We Humans are wonderful exercises in imperfection. I shall know relatively soon, because their shapes and their sizes will be different. The 2 in question range from 10-15 pounds for the Premium Late Flat Dutch to 4-6 pounds for the Henderson Charleston Wakefields.

Yesterday was a Leaf Day and Richard and Melanie were doing back-up so that I could get the Cabbages into the Ground. Teamwork is great. It seems like Farm Life makes Teamwork essential. In the photo above, Melanie has gone to the Garage to pick up the plastic Gallon Jugs. The Chickens decided that she was the lead float in a Parade. They are inherently curious about whatever the Humans are doing.

I put plastic Gallon Jugs (with bottoms removed) over them for protection. Hollis and Deleta and the Crawford Clan over in Millard go through a lot of these. We have a few of our own, but Hollis gave me some too. I chuckle because the Old Timers knew that everything had a use. They were reluctant to let things go to waste.

Those Jugs will protect the little Seedlings from the Sun, Cold Temps, Wind, and Heavy Rain until they get acclimated to their new Digs. I will take them off in a couple of days. I will start by taking them off during the Day Time and later removing them at night. As always, I will keep my Antenna up. Should I need to, I will alter the plan so that it is in their best benefit. To do otherwise is to put the New Little Plants under undue Stress and to potentially lose the Crop. Now that would not be a good idea. Plus, it would not be a consistent practice for someone who chooses to treat all of Life as a Sacred Gift.
Admittedly, I don't really like to use Plastic. We minimize its use here on the Farm. We'll talk more about it later.

In the meantime, those Little Cabbages are snuggling into the Garden. I feel like a Mother who has just sent her Kids off on a Little Adventure for the 1st time. They'll be O.K. I'll be O.K.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Nature Notes

Melanie, Ladd and I headed out onto the Land to see if the Pussy Toes were blooming. Sure enough, they are just emerging and have poked up their little Flower Heads which are almost in bloom. Richard says they are 5 days behind last year.

I love Pussy Toes, also called "Little Cat's Foot". Marcia Melberg, who was our Neighbor, Gardener Extraordinaire and Gardening Mentor in Grand Forks for years, loved this understated little Plant. I remember she carried some over from her Garden to ours in the early 90s.

This Plant with its gray-green foliage never gets very tall. It is found in the Meadow in upland areas which tend to be a little dryer. Marcia taught me that Pussy Toes are excellent ground cover. Just like in Grand Forks, I have placed some around stepping stones in the Flower Garden. I do need to get a few more.

Marcia passed in 1999. She was our neighbor for 22 years. I didn't really connect with her Gardening Lessons until 1991. In that beautiful time that we shared, she gave me many Lessons for a Life Time and I will be forever grateful. The Pussy Toes are among them. I was so thrilled that we have them in abundance on this Little Farm. They were a very large "Welcome Home" from the Farm, the Prairie, and Marcia.

In the meantime, Melanie and Laddie are pointing some out on the Meadow. Melanie points with her finger and her eyes. Laddie points with his nose.

May Apples are poking their heads up and some are even beginning to unfurl their umbrella like leaves. Richard tells us they are 2 weeks ahead of last year.

Melanie found the 1st Grasshopper. Combie Chicken ate it. She was helping Melanie weed.

I noted that we have fewer Birds at the Feeders. They surely must be out on Territories with more abundant Food Sources. They must also be heavy into their own Spring Time Agendas.

Melanie hung Laundry out to dry. Our Clothes now have that wonderful scent of Sun and Outdoors. We were missing that. I understand that in some upscale Developments of the Humans that Laundry Lines are forbidden as "unsightly". Those 2-Leggeds are surely missing out. And the Electricity they use means the Earth is missing out too.

Melanie and I were weeding in the Gardens today. When we weed, it is almost as if we sit in a posture of Prayer. Life is ever so sweet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sweet Potatoes

When the Sweet Potato Vines are 6-8 Inches long, they are ready to be removed from the Sweet Potato Mother. I gently peel them away. I then remove a few of the Leaves at the Bottom of the Vine. This permits the Vine to ride a little lower in the Water without falling out. If you look carefully at the part of the Vine which was attached to the Mother, the start of the Roots can be clearly observed. I then put the Vines into a Jar of Rainwater. Over time, the Shoots will resprout. I will take care to make sure that the level of Rainwater stays about the same. When the Vines have sufficient Roots, I will put them into a Pan of Wet Sand.

I took off the 1st 2 Vines today and placed them in the Water. These Sweet Potatoes and their Vines are vigorous and want to produce more Sweet Potatoes. The Humans could be heard cheering: "Yea!"

Blessings of Rain Water

At this Season, we are going through a lot of Rain Water. We have a whole Crowd of Seedlings inside needing a steady source of Nourishing Water from the Earth Mother herself. Plus, we have a host of House Plants too.

Our Green Companions know the difference between the Water that Comes through Pipes and Tubes and Rain Water which falls from the Sky. They show that difference through their Health and Vitality. You can almost hear them spitting out the Water that comes through Pipes and Tubes at just the Thought. Desiring to treat our Green Companions with the Respect they are due as Living Beings and knowing they are the basis for our own Health and Vitality too, we 3 Humans make no substitutions here.

We are continually scanning the amounts of Rain Water that we have in back-up. With 7 Food Grade 5 Gallon Buckets, our capacity is at about 35 Gallons. When we are close to being "out", we watch the Skies very carefully. The Empty Buckets sit in cue on the West Porch. When the Rains come, Richard heads out to tuck the Buckets one by one under the Down Spout until they are full.

The Rain Barrels will not make their appearance known until we are out of danger of Frosts or Freeze. We should be able to set them out April 25. That will be a Great Day, because then we can sit with 75 to 135 Gallons in Reserve. These days, we are grateful for the 35 Gallons which we collect.

The Rains came today and the Humans could be seen scurrying about. The Little Seedlings and House Plants could observed exhibiting their own expressions of Gratitude and Joy.

Greening Rain

At this Season,
the moment
of Magic
Greening Rain
falls from Heavy Gray Skies.
The Visual Feast goes
from Winter's soft Tans
and touches
of Early Spring's soft Greens
to the intense Greens
of New.
Not all of Nature
colors so quickly,
but enough for Humans
to stop
in their tracks,
to feel Awe.
We feel
the Great Mystery
of which we are a part.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Nature Notes

Scampy, the Cat, brought in the 1st Tick. Max, the Cat, brought in the 1st Tick on April 19.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yet Again

Once upon a time,
I had a hard time
saying "Good-bye,"
letting Others
go out of my Life
as we each moved on.
I would
I would
That has changed.
Now I know
such Folks
have been placed
along my Path
as significant Teachers
on our Growing Journeys.
I need to let them go.
We will grow and change
along Life's Path,
sometimes far removed
from where we were before.
To cling to the Old
them or me,
is to cling to something
we were before.
It is to cling
to a pair of shoes
which no longer fit.
am ever
in transformation,
as are they.
When I let them go,
I praise the Divine
for their Gifts
in my Life.
I let them go
to become
who they were intended.
And I let me go
to do the same.
With a glowing smile
I wonder
who will come
into my Life next.
I watch,
I wait,
I am filled
with joy,
The Creator
is at work
yet again.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Precious Evening

Joni, Rachel, and Maria came to the Farm this evening. All 3 are Medical Students who have done their 1st 2 years of training here at A. T. Still University. Joni and Maria are 3rd year students who now live away. Rachel is here completing a Fellowship and will soon leave. Joni and Maria are back for tests.

We spent a precious evening together, which may not ever be repeated. One has only to reflect on the wonderful gifts of Fellow Two-Leggeds whose lives and growing journeys interweave with our own. We are richly blessed. We are filled with the deepest gratitude and love, pure love, for this great gift of the Divine on our growing journeys.

Nature Notes

"Drink your tea" sings the Eastern Towhee which was 1st observed March 22. That may be a special message for Richard.

Melanie saw a Field Sparrow yesterday and 1st heard them today. We love Field Sparrows. Their Songs are music of the Prairie.

Austrees are leafing out. Autumn Olives are leafing out. Gooseberries are leafing out. The Gala Apple Tree is leafing out. The Lilac is leafing out. And the list goes on.

Richard saw a large Prairie King Snake when he was out planting Trees March 30. The King Snake was sunning himself, with his head under a couple of Leaves and his body was out. The Human was observed jumping quite high, in fact. He says he wasn't startled and was just climbing Trees.

A pair of Bluebirds have claimed 1 of the Bluebird Houses. Tree Swallows are claiming the Bluebird House inside the Garden. This is just in time for the Humans to begin working in the Garden too.

Richard has taken a Cold. In the beginning stages, he was having fits of Sneezes. Yesterday morning just before Dawn, he was outside Sneezing. To his surprise, a Deer was snorting back. Richard would sneeze; the Deer would snort. And on and on they would go. He shined the flashlight in the direction of the sound, noting the Doe and her 2 Twins from last Season.

We still have a few Juncos. Last year, they were still observed in mid April. They will take off soon.

Melanie and Richard saw their 1st Butterflies yesterday. Richard said his was a Mourning Cloak; Melanie wasn't sure.

Glinda gave away the bulk of her extra Cabbage Plants yesterday. That felt good. She still needs to get some to Deleta and Hollis, and Jerry and Michelle. On Friday late afternoon, she (and the 2 other Humans) will be observed planting hers in the Garden. Yea.

Richard reporting hearing the Northern Crayfish Frog this morning. This amazing Frog's vocalization sounds like a Human Male Snoring.

The Humans have been observed eating outside. They are not using the Wood Stove and they turned off the Heat. One of these days, it will be cool again (perhaps soon). They will have to remember to turn the Heat back on.