Monday, June 28, 2010

Recipe: Sauerkraut

Today, we made Sauerkraut. The 1st thing I did was to get out Great Aunt Della Emma Brenz's Cookbook. Mother gave me this some years ago. I was deeply honored and have found it a treasure.

The Cookbook dates from the early 1900s. The content is very much on the same style as Grandmother Lottie Hart Brenz's Scrapbook of Clippings. Unlike Grandma Lottie's Scrapbook, Aunt Della (who was Grandmother's sister-in-law) has hand-written many of the Recipes. Plus, the Cookbook has a handmade cover, very carefully stitched. How many would go to so much effort today?

Unfortunately, the Cookbook went through our 1997 Flood in Grand Forks. It was under water for probably 3 weeks. For years, it had that "Flood Smell" which I could hardly stand. It was Chemical, which was typical of basement flooding where Chemicals were released and was mixed with that smell of Biodegrading. Fortunately, the Cookbook no longer smells. However, it is very very frail.

But in that Cookbook, Aunt Della has noted her Sauerkraut recipe in bold pencil strokes. The Recipe is for 50 pounds. We made 20 pounds today. That page upon which the Recipe is posted, also holds printed instructions, which I tried to follow as well. While making it, I could easily imagine the rhythm and flow of 2 Women (Great Aunt Della and her Mother, my Great Grandmother, with whom she lived) who were accustomed to such things. We are not quite there, but on our way. I next headed into my current Cookbook Stash for the Sauerkraut description and recipe of Sandor Katz in Wild Fermentation (2003). His description of the process is excellent. He calls for 3 Tablespoons of Sea Salt per 5 Pounds of Cabbage. I followed his suggestions for Salt, which were less than Aunt Della's.

While I was cruising through Recipes, Richard was assembling Tools: Chairs to sit on, the Outdoor Sink (which you will see later), Kraut Cutter which Gerald and Connie got for me a few years back and which had been long awaiting this auspicious day, a serious Knife, and a Pounder (although we actually used a "stick" Richard had made earlier). I later brought out Salt, measuring Utensils and the Camera.

From there, I met Richard at the Cabbage Patch and we began harvesting Cabbages. Right away, 10 caught my Eye. We seem to be entering a stage where they may well begin to split, so it was time for harvest. One has already split.Cabbages were cut in half and cored. The Cores were set aside for other uses. Then the Halves were weighed and their weights were recorded. Each Half weighed from 1 to 1 1/2 pounds. We made the Kraut in 2 sets of 10 pounds each. (And that magical scale belonged to Great Grandma Matilda Waibel Brenz who lived with Great Aunt Della.)
Richard carefully ran the Cabbage Halves through the Kraut Cutter, being careful not to cut his hands. Aunt Della's printed recipe suggested the wearing of Cotton Gloves to protect Hands; Mittens will not do.I added Salt.Melanie and I mixed the Salt into the Cabbage, at which point the Juice begins to flow.We placed Cabbage Leaves at the Bottom. Then we put in the shredded Cabbage. Melanie tamps down the shredded Cabbage until the Juice (or Brine) covers the shredded Cabbage. What you see in the 5 Gallon Crock is 10 pounds of shredded Cabbage. We added 10 more beyond this.
Aunt Della's Recipe calls for placing a strong Cloth over the Kraut, tucking it under. Then placing Cabbage Leaves down. The printed instructions call for another strong Cloth, again tucked under. Next we found a plate which would fit over the whole affair. On top of that we placed a Quart Jar filled with water to hold the whole thing down. And on top of that was another Tea Towel to keep up away any Creatures (Bugs) who might want to inspect.

We put the Crock down in the Basement. 70 degrees was the suggested temperature. I shall check it periodically and skim off foam. We should have Sauerkraut about July 28.

I can make no Guaruntees on this recipe. We shall have to see how it works. While we have made Kraut before and this seems right, we won't know for a little while as to whether this Batch will ring true. We are excited about the prospect and are keeping our fingers crossed. Stay tuned.

I am reminded of a little Church up in North Dakota which annually produces a batch of Sauerkraut from a pickup load of Cabbages. Their Kraut accompanies Homemade Traditional Sausages and it is a very big deal. One of my students shared this story. Only the 1 or 2 Elderly Ladies actually knew the Recipe and would instruct others of their parts. Some of the younger Folks were getting nervous, because some day they would need to take over the Helm, yet they weren't quite ready, apparently, to receive the Recipe.

Gardening and making traditional Fare is somehow an act of Faith. We never know the results, yet we keep on, with liberal splashes of Hope and Gratitudes lifted up from our Hearts.


On June 22, we sort the freshly picked Apricots into boxes. They wait in cue for processing as they ripen. By June 27, the processing is complete.

Kraut Time

Mother remembers
whenever it was time
to make Sauerkraut,
had to drop
Today is our day
to make Sauerkraut
here on the Farm.
The amount
we will make
will be puny compared
to those days of yore.
Gotta go anyway.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Solar Oven

When we arrived on this little Farm, I had 2 requests. 1st, I wanted a Hitching Post to welcome our Amish and non-Amish Neighbors who might be drawn to use such things. 2nd, I wanted a Solar Oven. Well, I still don't have a Hitching Post, although it is on the Horizon. I am happy to report that I did get a Solar Oven for Mother's Day. We just watched the training video and broke open the Box this past week. Now, we have been experimenting. Or rather, Melanie has been experimenting. But I plan to get with the program soon.

In the last few days, she made a Stew of Canned Venison, Green Beans, Tomatoes, fresh Scapes and Onions, and Quinoa for Grain. It was simply delicious. She also made a Cobbler of Fresh Apricots and Black Raspberries. Yum. We inhaled that.

It makes so much sense to use the Sun's Energy to cook Food. We seem to have an abundance of Heat and Sun's Energy around here. Plus, at this season, we do not like to heat up the House, so we try to keep the Use of the Stove at a minimum. We are in Canning Season, so we cut down on its use for Meals. Of course, the Solar Oven had an up front Cost associated with it, but the Sun's Energy was Free. We didn't use Propane which is a resource of fixed Quantity. Amazingly, the Thermometer got up to 325 Degrees in no time at all.

We had planned to cook Green Beans which I bought at the Market, new Potatoes, Onions, and Bacon in the Sun Oven. But alas, it rained. So we cooked inside. The Human Plan often needs some tweaking.

My Friend, the Giant

As a little Girl,
I remember hearing the Thunder come.
It was as if the Feet of a Giant
were making their way across the Land.
I could feel
those Footsteps
reverberate in the Land and in Me.
About a half hour ago,
I began to hear those same Footsteps.
The Giant is closer now.
I can feel Him
waving his Arms in the Sky.
I can feel the Rolling
even through these Keys.
Blueberry Pickers
have descended on the South Lawn.
They are picking faster now.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grandma Says

Always say
"Thank you."
Note: Mother said it too.

Thank You

As I pick a Fruit or Vegetable or eat Meat,
I thank the Being for its Gifts
to Me and my Family.
Somehow, I have entered
into recognition of a one-to-one Sacred Relationship
with the Being which gives me/us Life.
Such a relationship
is as the Creator intended.
is a simple
yet powerful
thing to do.
This seemingly
Old Practice
is new to me.
Yet, it happens
And it feels ever so right.
As I stood
in the Blueberry Patch
I thanked the Plant
with almost every handful
the Plant provided.
Just being present
with that feeling
made me smile.
Our Culture has somehow shifted
toward "entitlement".
The belief is "I am Human.
All in that other world lacks feeling.
I can take whatever I please."
To which I say:
We plan to have
Blueberry Pancakes
from our very own Blueberries
tomorrow for breakfast.
Already, the words
are forming on my lips:
"Thank you."
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beautiful Full Day

The Fence was raised to 6 feet,
which was a big and urgent project.
Richard and Hollis (with Hollis' truck)
headed to town,
where they purchased
more fencing and 8 foot "T" posts.
Richard and Melanie spent the afternoon
raising the Fence to 6 feet.
I was in town doing town things.
By evening, Richard was staking tomatoes,
Melanie worked on paths,
and the 3 of us weeded, weeded, weeded.
It's dark now.
I wonder what the Deer think
about these new developments.
The Garden is really growing
by leaps and bounds.
Yes, we have had a lot of rain,
yes, we have surely taken a lot of hits,
and yes, we are making progress
getting ahead of the weeds.
But the Garden overall looks just beautiful.
We are ever so grateful.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Wild Ride

Years ago, I rode
"Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" in Disney World.
Smiling and expectant Travelers
seated themselves
in rickety old time looking Cars
with steering wheels and brakes
which didn't work.
We headed straight ahead.
Walls appeared.
Car veered immediately
90 degrees right or left.
We never knew which way
until we got there.
Walls appeared and disappeared.
Passengers put on invisible brakes.
None needed.
We lurched through the ride
making sharp turns
when we least expected it,
accompanied by our own peels of laughter.
That little Ride
has been a metaphor for my Life.
Why should I be surprised
when our own version
of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
appears in the Garden?
Garden is soupy wet after daily rains.
Temperatures vary daily
between summertime cool and intense heat.
Humidity soars,
bringing more Storms and Rains.
Plants grow by leaps and bounds.
They are sturdy,
providing serious intentions
for providing us Food.
We see changes
in their growing
from 1 trip to the Garden into the next.
And did I mention Weeds?
We have weeded everywhere,
and recently.
In some parts of the Garden,
we have diligently weeded in the last day or 2.
In others, the Weeds are intent
in outperforming other attractions.
Most of the Tomatoes
are weeded and mulched.
They look absolutely beautiful.
Half are staked.
The top of Richard's agenda last night
was staking Tomatoes,
until he discovered
Deer Tracks in the Garden this morning.
He headed off to get more fencing.
Can you hear his Car racing into the distance?
About 2/3 of the fence is 6 feet tall.
The remainder is 3 feet.
Hopefully increasing the height will do the trick.
He's also looking for materials for staking the Tomatoes.
As he went out the door,
he said:
"Who knows how much
I'll get done today?"
I have town stuff to do today.
Melanie reports
Apricots in boxes
are ripening quickly.
She's "jamming" today.
It's just another day
of Wild Rides
here on the Farm...
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Can We Do Now?

With Climate Change,
Weather changes,
Wet Cycles and Dry Cycles change.
Floods and Droughts are commonplace.
Gardening will be more difficult.
Gardening is more difficult.
Growing Food will be more difficult.
Growing Food is more difficult.
Gardeners may give up.
Gardeners give up.
The same dilemmas face
other Gardeners
and Farmers upon whom we would rely for Food.
But they are in trouble too.
Then what shall we do?
This round of Climate Change
is largely caused by Humans
oblivious to our impacts
upon the delicate balance of our Home.
We are the Problem.
We are also a Solution.
What can we do now?
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Cookbook Friend

Fallon, Sally. (2001). Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Revised 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: NewTrends Publishing, Inc.
Founded on the work of Weston Price, Sally Fallon analyzes food intakes in contemporary times in relationship to rising disease states. She looks particularly at the diets and health of traditional peoples prior to western contact. She finds missing links and brings forward recipes for health in contemporary times.

Fermented Food

June 22:

My Cabbages are ripening. Soon, we will be making Sauerkraut, if Nature is supportive of the Human Plan. On this day, we made Latin American Sauerkraut (Cortido). We found the recipe in Sally Fallon's cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. Our favorite cookbook shelf finds a special place for this amazing text.

Cortido is a "fermented food". We will leave it out for 3 days, then place it in the fridge. During those 1st 3 days, the good bacteria will emerge. We will eat a little of it with some of our meals over the coming weeks.

That little addition to our dietary fare will replenish the good bacteria in our "guts", enabling our bodies to digest more of the nutrients that "come down the tube". Modern diets (including pharmaceuticals) have done a number on our bodies' abilities to digest food. That simple act of Creation is a foundation for our health. It makes sense that we would seek to restore it.

Grandma Says

Don't get too stuck
on yourself.

Literacy Track

Melanie and I headed to West Orchard
north of Macon yesterday.
Apricots were ready to pick.
I have loved Apricots
all of my life:
While I have never had many,
I just cannot seem to get enough.
Surprisingly I have had very few fresh.
There I stood at the foot of the Apricot Trees
staring up at the Trees
laden with little Suns smiling down at me.
It was the 1st time
I had ever seen them growing.
I have waited 61 years for this.
It seems strange
that a highly educated woman
in Human Culture
(which focuses mostly on the study of Human Culture)
would not have seen such a simple
but profound gift of Creation.
What kind of literacy track have I been on?
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Hanging Out

June 20:

We enjoy spending time with the Chickens in their yards. On this day, Melanie was hanging out with the Littles who are growing big. Richard created "Jungle Gyms" for them in the yard, which are also used by the Humans.

Later this day, as the Littles were getting all snuggled in their house for the Evening, Melanie hand selected the females, passed them to Richard, who passed them to me. I then placed them in their new Home which is usually the Brooder House next door.

These little Hennies will hang out in their new digs for the next few days. Soon they will move over to the Big House with the Big Chickens. The time has surely passed quickly since they joined us on the Farm.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Black Raspberries

June 16:

Richard and Hollis headed out to pick Black Raspberries over at the Family Home Place this afternoon. We just love Black Raspberries. Mother even said we used to have a patch at our house in town when I was growing up. Richard says he picked about a gallon.

After cleaning them, he placed them in our Yellow Pyrex Bowl. If you are of the same vintage as he and I are and you are from around these parts, you would remember they are "nested" and come in 4 colors. Yellow is largest, then Green, then Red, then Blue. I loved them as a kid. They sparkled in the Cupboard. And they were like Mother's Bowls of Magic where she cooked up some pretty special stuff.

Richard found this set at an Auction, bought them, then proudly carried them home. His Mother had them too. A Farm Kitchen would not be complete without them.

And please bear in mind: our Black Raspberries fit into the biggest bowl. Later, Melanie made Black Raspberry Jam using the same basic recipe that we do for Strawberries. Why is it that Canning Season really doesn't commence until it gets really hot around here?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Popcorn Days

Some days are hard to describe,
with no one theme.
They are almost like a popcorn popper
with innumberable kernels.
You never know how many will pop
and which direction they will fly.
Storms in the night
brought a grand drama in the sky,
plus a little hail
and almost another inch of rain.
We 2 leggeds and 4 leggeds
had disrupted sleep.
My mind is ever on our friend
who was seriously injured
with the recent Tornadoes
in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Life is precous.
Prayers are good.
After a slow beginning to the Day,
we visited Mother.
We always laugh.
Mother laughed and
told her tablemates
Melanie and I were silly.
Melanie said it was genetic.
We took fresh Blueberries
in for her table.
They were a hit.
Melanie and I headed
to the Mihalevich family reunion,
to which my parents always went,
and now Melanie and I go.
We are all descendants
of those early 20th century immigrants
from Croatia who came
from those same villages
a long, long way across the water.
A delicate web holds us all.
Melissa said
popcorn made today
is soggy tomorrow.
We have a rule around here
that we eat popcorn
as soon as it is popped.
Richard and Hollis gathered
Black Raspberries
at the Family Farm.
Richard brought home a gallon,
awaiting our arrival in the downstair's Fridge.
We made plans for Father's Day.
Until mid-day, the day is hot and humid.
Storms bring in cool air,
for which we are very grateful.
Melanie makes Blueberry Preserves.
Ping, ping, ping.
One by one, the jars seal.
At last check, 9 0f 10 were sealed.
Some Black Raspberries are frozen.
Others are set aside
for that Father's Day Pie.
Melanie made ice
for Homemade Ice Cream,
just in case
it is on the Father's Day agenda too.
Peas and Lamb's Quarters
wait their turn for freezing.
I cleaned windows
over the Kitchen Sink.
We talk back and forth.
Home preserving adventures
go more smoothly
with clean windows.
Melanie hangs out with the Chickens.
Richard and I tend
to some weeding in the Garden.
Garden is soggy.
Weeds proliferate,
but they also pull easily.
Will it rain again tonight?
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Count Me In

Jason Schaefer
posted on FaceBook
a video clip
integrating images, music
and the Gulf disaster.
Once again, my tears flow.
In this time
of horror
in the Gulf,
we bear witness
to enormous creative energy
of "waking up"
among the Humans.
Is it soon enough?
We don't know.
But today is
the 1st day
of a new beginning.
Count me in.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Interview Published

I was recently interviewed by Irene Shalom from Fast Recipes regarding my thoughts of living off the land. The questions were written and I wrote my responses. They were great questions to do some reflection on. Here is the link to the interview. I thank Irene and Fast Recipes for asking my thoughts on such things.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Invitation

This is 1 of my all time favorite pictures of the "Ancestors". So who are they?

The woman seated in front is my Great Grandmother Louisa South Hart (who had married Robert Nelson Hart). Seated at her left is her Father, Isaac South. The woman standing on the left in the background is Mary South Hart, who was sister to Louisa and daughter of Isaac. Isaac and his wife Catherine had 3 daughters. [One had passed earlier. They had 2 sons, both of whom had gone to Colorado with the opening of the Railroad.]

The woman standing on the right is Hattie Louella (our beloved Aunt Lula) Myers Hart who was Louisa's daughter in law and had married her son Jesse. Lula and Jesse's 2 daughters are the children in the photo. Cecil is at the extreme right of the picture. Cecil was a "century baby", being born in 1900. The little one in the center front is Freeda who was born in [1909].

The only 2 in the picture that I ever knew were Aunt Lula, whom I knew well, and her daughter Cecil, whom I knew only remotely. All the others had passed before I was born.

The date of the photo is presumed to be sometime about 1912. Isaac's wife Catherine Powell died in 1910 and he died in 1912. Judging from the sizes of the children, Cecil would surely be about 12 and Freeda would be about 2-3.

And why, Dear Reader, do I love this picture? 1st, I love it because of the wonderful relaxed looks of Isaac and Louisa. They are not stuffy nor are they exhibiting those "deer in the headlights looks" so common in earlier photos. They just simply look happy to be there, happy to be alive. That is my interpretation of course.

And 2nd, to me, this picture which is a copy represents the very tangible connections between those Ancestors and me, and those Ancestors and a whole host of descendants that I know and don't know.

In their passing, the photos were divided and passed on with their other tangible holdings as is customary. It is likely that my Family has photos that others, who are our relatives, have never seen. It is likely that my Family has stories that others have never heard. After all these years, our Family Story is not complete until we begin to gather and share.

I shared this with Aunt Lu's Grandson and his Wife, Robert (Aunt Lu always called him "Bobby") and Carolyn Lindquist. They had never seen this photo, and Freeda was Bobby's Mother. Now doesn't that just make you want to get out there and share the very limited collection that we have? It does for me. Bobby and Carolyn also shared a photo of Aunt Lu as a child with her family in front of her home. I had never seen that picture either.

I suppose you could call this an invitation. How beautiful is that?
Note: The brackets [] indicate information that I need to dig more on to clarify and get more specific.


June 16:

Richard picked the Peas. His picking (plus a mess here and there and a few samples for grazers in the Garden) will be all that we will have this year. While we seem to have more this year, we surely have some things to learn about the growing of Peas. High amounts of moisture presents a challenge, along with the accompanying weeds.

This year we grew Peas in part of the Garden which does tend to heat up quickly. With the early season heat we have had this year, they have matured fast. The mucky nature of the Soils with heat meant they were maturing rapidly just beyond our reach. We could watch them, but we could not touch them.

When we eat these Peas over the coming months, we will have much to ponder. What are Nature's lessons for the Gardener here? We are slow learners, but we try to be open and we do learn.

Magical Day

June 12:

Some days are just magical. They aren't what you expect. But magic just seems to be stuffed all about. Rain was a recurring theme. Maybe the Rain brought Rainbows, although I didn't see any in the sky. It was a day full of Smiles too.

Richard, Hollis and Gerald went to an Auction down in the Bethel area. They stood through the Auction during a down pour, or rather deluge. Raincoats didn't help. I didn't see Gerald. But I know Richard and Hollis came back soaked.

We have this ritual when Richard and Hollis return from Auctions. If they back the truck up to the Garage, we know they have found some treasures. After they show their Treasures, tell their stories, and we "ooh and aah", we usually gather at the Truck Bed for some visiting. Visiting is also a Treasure.

Melanie headed to Wren Song today for a Workshop on Sour Dough Bread Making. The Workshop was great, but she and most of the rest of the attendees missed the last of it. of the resident Goats was having a Kid, right there on the spot, actually in the Barn. The episode reminded me of those times when I was trying to teach something very important and something out there trumped my plan. This was the best one yet.

Melanie asked her Dad if he ever saw animals being born on the Farm. He started a list: Pigs, Cows, Dogs, Cats... City life surely is constrained.

I stayed home on this day. Those days on the Farm by oneself are simply Treasures too. It poured at home too. The Wind kept coming from different directions so I was running around opening and closing Windows to keep the House nice, airy and dry. I just smiled through it all.

Ladd has this habit of barking when there is Thunder. He seems to be carrying on his own personal conversation with "Thor". So this little Side Bar was going on too.

Richard and Melanie had the Chickens all set up in case there was Rain, which was expected. As I am not a Main Chicken Watcher, the Routine is not as familiar to me. Some days, I still feel like the City Kid who is all Thumbs and doesn't know "diddly squat" on the Farm. I decided on this day to ask my Great Great Aunt Mary South Lorton (whom I never knew but whom I have come to admire) for some Farm assistance in decisionmaking.

During the downpour, I thought I should go out and check on the Chickens. The Bigs were doing fine. They were all sheltered in the usual places. The Littles were mostly in their House. However, 6 or 8 of them were outside. Two were dry. But the remaining ones were soaked and some were frantically looking for shelter. So I rounded them all up and tucked them away in their house. In the end, I was soaked too. I can imagine that the Littles were wondering why I was wandering around outside my House too. It is a wonder they did not try to herd me in.

When Richard got home, settled and dry, he measured the water in our "Rain Gauge". It was 2 inches. He promptly tossed it out. We have Rain expected over the next 3 days.

I am happy to report that today we harvested our 1st Cabbage. I couldn't wait any longer. I picked a nice firm one at Richard's suggestion. No, I did not name her this year, which is what I did last. But I can assure you, she is female. I am new at harvesting Cabbages. Our 1st Cabbage of the season was Danish Ballhead and weighed in at 2 pounds. (I used Great Grandma Matilda Waibel Brenz's scale.)

Melanie made Slaw and it was delicious. To round out the Meal, we had Barbecued Chicken (our own), plus Sugar Snap Peas (Garden Fresh too). In the meantime, I made a Gooseberry Pie from the wonderful Gooseberries that Connie had picked for us. We are trying to cut back on Sugar. So this time, I made a Custard Type Pie with a Meringue Topping (Recipe from Kay Young's Book). It was good in its own way. But it will take some getting used to. I think I will need to work on this one. Richard and Melanie say they will be there to support me.

And, yes, it was another beautiful day filled with magic right here on the Farm. When I think about it, every day is.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Our friend Matt stopped by on Friday. Matt is a welder, blacksmith and artist. He and his wife Sheri are special friends in the "back to the land" community of which we are a part.

We asked Matt if he would design and create a metal structure to hold the "mantle" in place for our fireplace. The mantle is a log from the Log Cabin which was the homestead of Abel Stukey and his wife Mandana Cowen Cunningham. The homestead was just north of Millard. Abel and Mandana would be Richard's Great Grandparents. The date of the homestead was 1843.

Richard's brother Hollis was able to save pieces of that Cabin when it was demolished for "improvements". We are not sure of the date that it was demolished but would be curious about that. Any ideas, Deleta and Hollis?

In the meantime, we discussed our ideas for the Mantel. As per usual, we contributed according to our gifts. Richard was especially interested in the strength of the structure to hold this very heavy log. I would like for the Mantel to be a visible tribute to our ancestors on both sides, recognizing the interweaving and roots of our lives in theirs and that we are ever growing, always seeking the light. Matt listened closely.

Later we took a tour of the Garden and visited a bit. Visiting is very important in these parts. Then Matt put the log on his flat bed truck, securing it tightly. And back home to his shop he headed. We are eager to hear his plans for the structure and see his creation. Bit by bit, we (with the help of many) are making this little Place our home.

Cookbook Friend

Young, Kay. (1993). Wild Seasons: Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
Notes: This is one of our all time favorite Cookbooks. When Richard 1st bought a copy in the early 90s, I was less familiar with the plants and admittedly skeptical about eating them. The "Townie" that was me was quite unfamiliar and somewhat afraid about eating wild things. I continue to marvel at the distance enculturation into "Town" has taken us from living on the Land and living within her rhythms. Now, several years later, I look through the list in the Cookbook and find mostly Old Friends in the Plant Community. As the years have unfolded, these Plants have taken us to Dinner on countless occasions. As a result, we just going back to Cookbook Friend for more inspiration. Kay Young has expanded our possibilities for using them and for that we are very grateful.

Hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, 1864

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hello from An Old Friend

To my delight, Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower) is beginning to bloom in profusion in the Gardens on the west side of our Home. In this case, the variety depicted is Echinacea Purpurea, which is a Tallgrass Prairie Plant. We have at least 1 more variety in our Flower Beds: Echinacea Pallida. Some day, I hope she will be growing here in the Wild.

Her bloom is like a "Hello from an Old Friend". I just absolutely love this plant. We go way back. I probably was 1st aware of her in the mid 90s, which is not really all that far back.

When I 1st came to know her, I just loved her bloom. About 1996, we 3 C's had begun to use Echinacea medicinally, in teas and tinctures to build our immune systems during cold season. And it worked.

Echinacea was and is known to Plains Indians as a plant with strong medicine, strong spirit. By the 90s, she had been discovered widely by the West as a plant which strengthens the immune system. Considerable research (particularly in Germany) had been conducted which showed what many already knew from their own experiments. By the late 90s, she was the leading selling herbal medicine in the U.S. and in Canada.

Any entry about Echinacea by me would probably be lengthy, but I promise not to do this tonight. She was a plant that presented a huge wake up call to me. I became aware of the damage of "wild crafting" of Echinacea, began to research the issue, and began to speak out (and facilitate other voices between Native and non-Native peoples too). I have to say that my actions made a difference. I spoke out on behalf of a Plant and those actions made a difference in her protection and in community awareness.

I feel like I heard "her voice". I am grateful that I was in a place that I could speak out for my Old Friend.

She was a gift in my life. And I gave back something in return.

A Delicious Snack

June 8:

This evening, Richard pulled a snack of Hairy Vetch from the Compost in the Main Garden. He then threw the delicious snack into the Coop for the Littles. Those Littles especially love the Purple Flowers.

This snapshot was the very beginning of their commotion immediately after he dropped the Hairy Vetch into their little Home Place. What you can't see, nor could the Photographer, would be the masses of the remaining 76 Littles who were on a "bee-line" toward this very spot. We get to use our imaginations instead.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Bit Squishy

We have continued to have Rains. The amounts and frequencies are "above normal".

For the 1st 3 Gardening Seasons here at the Farm, our Garden matched the contour of the Land in which it was placed. When the Rains were in abundance these past 2 years, we could not get into the Garden at times. Gardening in mud isn't pleasant. Plus, it is not productive as it compacts the Soil and turns it into Bricks.

So with the Rains, Weeds proliferated. We once enthusiastic but then frustrated Gardeners watched many Plants struggle. Some made it, but others didn't. Watching from the sidelines was not the style of Gardening to which we were drawn.

Bit by bit, we have been building Raised Beds. Melanie's portion of the Garden was the wettest, or so it seemed. And the Water did not move off of it with any degree of haste. She integrated Raised Beds in designs inspired by Permaculture Design. Richard assisted with some drainage designs. We all 3 liked what we saw throughout the Gardening Seasons. Melanie could work in her Garden when Richard and I just watched. We are slow learners but we do learn.

Last year, Richard built 3 Raised Beds and, once again, we liked what we saw. This year, Richard built more Raised Beds throughout most of the Garden. He incorporated Hen House Straw and Compost, Aged Cow Compost, and Soil he dug from the Paths. Both he and Melanie put down Cardboard and Straw for the Paths, which serve as drainage areas. We 3 C's have also mulched all the Beds with Straw.

We are pleased to report that wet cycles, at least so far, are not keeping us out of the Garden. Some of the Paths are a bit Squishy. But we can weed whatever we can reach. Plus, we can perform other tasks too.

Yesterday, Richard built Tomato Cages for support for the Tomatoes. He built them from Fencing which he purchased at an Auction and Metal Posts which were given to us by Joni. I can't believe how well those Tomatoes have grown. It has only been a week since Melanie planted them. Before Richard installed the Cages, he weeded and added extra Straw as Mulch. The Tomatoes seemed pretty happy about the whole arrangement.

And those Cabbages in the background are pretty Gleeful. We should start harvesting them in the next 2 weeks. Kathy's remedies have been working quite nicely.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This Little Pullet's Name is Della.
Her variety is "Delaware,"
an Old Heirloom Breed.
Melanie named her
after her Great Great Aunt Della,
who was, in fact,
an Heirloom too.
Della, the Pullet, is 6 weeks old.
She has a distinctive dark spot on her bill.
She's very friendly and curious.
She's quite settled with the Humans.
Melanie says, she will go right up
on your wrist and preen.
She is a sweet little Hennie.
Her white feathers are taking on
the Delaware's characteristic spots
in all the right places.
I have a feeling
that Della, the Pullet,
has some curiosity about those 2 Leggeds
who might be peering at her
through this Little Screen.
Della, those are Humans.
They don't have feathers or wings
or colorful feet with 3 toes.
Contrary to companions
in the Bird World,
they weren't blessed with the gift of flying.
When they "fly", they have to be
in some kind
of big and usually loud contraption
shaped like a long egg with wings.
They may look all the same
but they are all different.
Some come in different colors.
Others have spots.
They have different personalities
when you take time to get to know them.
All (Chickens and others)
are beautiful gifts of the Divine.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Before Bed

One of the best times to be in the Coop with the Littles is just before they go to bed. They are jumping up on roosting places to settle before bed. They especially like the Jungle Gyms that Richard created and any Human who might care to join them.

They are curious. They are settling in for a slower and a quieter time. They preen, going through those night time rituals of a bath before bed, which is not exclusive to the Humans.

They surely are growing. Their down has been replaced by their juvenile Feathers. Yet, they are still quite small. The Roosters and the Hens are easier to tell apart although the jury is still out on some. At 6 weeks, they have a lot of growing to do. We are blessed that they have joined us at this little Farm.

And in case you wondered, those Littles are (from left to right) a Delaware, Barred Rock, and 2 White Plymouth Rocks. That's what kind they are. As yet, their names are unknown to the Writer of this Little Blog.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grandmother's Flower Garden

Flowers are blooming on the west side of the House. I have designated this area as the "Grandmother's Flower Garden". My plan over time is to plant Flowers which the Grandmothers of yore would have had. I am especially interested in Plants which have a history in our Family and a history in this County. I have also included Prairie Plants.

The yellow Columbine is from Mother. I just love Columbine. It's the State Flower of Colorado and way up on my list too. I think the look like a whole troupe of Ballerinas dancing in the breeze.
This annual Pink Poppy is from Marcia Melberg, my longtime Gardening Mentor and Friend from North Dakota Days. Marcia was an extraordinary Gardener. We were blessed to have her as a Neighbor. But I was also blessed to have her so close by when my interest in Gardening was taking off.

I know she was thrilled that I was at last interested in Gardening. She would come through our back Garden Gate laden with Plant Treasures. She did not bring 2 plants intentionally across the Street. They came themselves. The Poppy was one. We had had several in our yard that Summer of 1999. The Pink Poppy began to bloom on the very day that she died. Somehow, I think she had a hand in that.
The Coreopsis is another of my favorites. It is a plant Native to the Tallgrass Prairie. Its bright sunshine Flowers ride high on slender stems, unless we've had Rain and Wind, which happened recently.
And no garden is complete without Lilies. These Lilies came from Rachel Long. She gave them to me on Mother's Day in 2008. Rachel was convinced she should plant Lilies wherever she goes. I think that is a very good idea.
This Spider Wort is also a Plant Native to the Tallgrass Prairie. It is large and robust in my Grandmother's Garden. Simultaneously, it is blooming in spots through the Prairie. I just love its Bluish Flowers. They bloom in morning and by afternoon, they quit. They surely must think that Naps are good.
I love Gallardia too. It is a Native Plant to the Tallgrass Prairie, but I believe this is a Cultivar. Our neighbor in North Dakota, Avis Skarperud, had them blooming along her white Stucco House.
I bought this Blue Flag at a Native Plant Sale at the Grow Native Workshop a year ago. Yes, it is a Native. And it is ever so beautiful. These would have been plants that greeted those early Settlers. Sadly, with all the development, very few remain. Did you know that less than .1% of the Tallgrass Prairie remains? Who would have thought?
Lamb's Ear is named for its appearance and feel. I just love it. Little Kids love it too. It can be quite vigorous. Ours needs to be cut back.

And every Grandmother's Garden needs Coleus. I planted these from Seeds. They seemed to take forever, but now they are beginning to put on a show.
Mother gave me a start on this "Snowball Bush" (Hydrangea). When we moved here in the spring of 2007, she was asking what plants that I wanted. I said "Yes" and "Yes" and "Yes". I remember Dad would just instantly dig them up. I could not understand the urgency. But he passed in July of that year. It makes more sense now.

The Grandmother's Garden is a trip down memory lane. It is also a Garden which honors the strong Women who made homes in this Country sometimes in the face of considerable Challenge.

Canning Season Begins

June 3:

Canning Season has begun. The 3 of us stemmed 3 1/2 Gallons of Strawberries today. Then Melanie canned 33 (1 Cup) Jars of Strawberry Preserves. Yum. And those Strawberries are from our very own Patch.

For starters, we had a bit of an alert. We were short on the smaller Jars. It must be because those are ones we tend to give away. Or maybe they are just stored somewhere around here and are yet to be found. Melanie headed to Town to buy some Jars, but we are thinking of some creative options here. I know Deleta uses purchased jars. Do they seal well? We shall soon find out.

Clipping from Grandmother Lottie's Scrapbook

"On Monday, Feb. 3, at 4:30 p.m, at the residence of Chas. Boon, Memory Slawson and Bertha McCloskey were united in marriage, Rev. Heiserman, officiating minister. These two young people are well and favorably known in the Pleasant View Neighborhood, and their many friends wish them Godspeed in their association. They have commenced housekeeping on the Slawson farm, where Memory will till the soil and his wife will relieve him from further drudgery in the kitchen."
Source unknown. Date unknown (Grandmother has pasted it on a page with article dates of 1901, 1908, and 1912).

Grandmother Lottie's Scrapbook

I am currently going through my Grandmother Lottie Dean (or Lillian) Hart Brenz's voluminous and meticulously saved scrapbook of clippings. Dates of the clippings are from about 1901 (when she would have been 15) through 1947. She died in 1950 at the age of 66.

The clippings range from weddings, obituaries, anniversaries, poems, news articles, recipes, how tos on household cleaning, pictures, how tos on raising chickens. The clippings were pasted or placed loose in an old Geography textbook which would have belonged to her Father, Robert Nelson Hart. (I believe his handwritten date in the original textbook is 1876.)

This collection is a treasure. It is a "time capsule" which profiles her life, what was important to her, and what was spinning in the world around her. I will occasionally share a clipping and sometimes my attempt to make meaning of it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Tomorrow, assuming all goes well, we shall embark on yet another adventure which is a marker of our Little 40 becoming a Farm. On the one hand, it may seem infinitely small. On the other hand, it's not.

We will be taking 2 Gallons of Strawberries to the Nursing Home where Mother is. And those beautiful Strawberries will be served up in a special way to the 80 some Residents.

No, we are not asking for payment. It is a gift and it feels ever so right. I see those Ladies and Gentlemen there and I know that they have known Fresh Strawberries since they were wee small. Many would have raised them and likely know far more about raising them than we newbies. Most would have taken great pride in sharing the best with whomever came to Dinner, and whomever had the good fortune to be passing by. It seems the least we can do to return that gesture.

So tomorrow we are taking Strawberries in to them. I consider it a Sacred Covenant to grow and raise Food for another, especially Elders. They deserve only the Best the Earth and we 3 C's can provide. Isn't that the way Food as Gifts of the Earth and Gifts of Life is supposed to be given?


June 2:

Each evening after Chores and Dinner, we usually do a walkabout through the Gardens to check on the happenings. This evening, the light was golden, the air cool and calm as the sky and clouds danced around us.

Last night's rain provided moisture for our intense Plantings of the last few days, relief for the Humans and, no doubt, the Seeds/Plants too. Everywhere, we could see Plants growing and Seedlings emerging from the Soil.

Almost all of the Garden is now in place. Even the Big Field is mostly done. Hollis came over on Sunday and planted 16 rows of Sorghum Cane. Richard planted Melons, Squashes, Pumpkins and Sunflowers on the 2 sides of the Cane Field.

And I have a Funny Story to tell you about that: While he was planting Sunflower Seeds in a long row yesterday, Richard discovered Freddie the Rooster was following behind feeding his Hennies the Seeds. You could almost hear Freddie telling his Hennies: "Look what I have found for you." My dear Husband just smiled. He knew they'd get bored and quit. They did. He just went back and filled in some of the Seeds.

We still have some finishing touches to complete planting. Much of that will include tucking in Flowers here and there. I suppose you could call that the Art Part.

Plus we have the paths to finish with Cardboard and Straw. You'll note the Beds in the foreground of this photo; they look like Chocolate Brownies covered with Coconut. Soon that "Chocolate" Soil will be covered with Straw as mulch. Richard reports that the drainage systems and the raised Beds are doing what they are supposed to.

Gardeners/Farmers learn quickly that their Crafts are acts of Faith. We plant. We hope and pray for just the right Rain and Heat. We are in awe at the Great Mystery which arises at our Feet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


We planted like crazy the last few days. Planting Season has been delayed because of Rains so we've been in hurry up mode. It's been unseasonably warm. We knew Rain would be coming. And it did. We are so very grateful.

Last night we got 2 inches of Rain, shown here in our official Rain Guage. The Rain came with Thunderstorms and high Winds throughout the Night. That meant we got little sleep. I wondered how the new Baby Plants would be doing out in that Wind. And they did fine.

Fortunately, today, we could take it a little easier. That felt good.