Saturday, February 27, 2010

Invitation to the New Day

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Silently in the Night,
the Sculptor visited the Farm,
coating every surface
with a delicate Feathered Frost.
As if that was not enough,
the Early Morning Sun
arose to share
sparkle and softness
as invitation to the New Day.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2/26/2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, February 26, 2010

Farm Art

When I am rested, my Art flourishes. If I am all pooped out, the last thing I think to do is Art. And it is probably 1 of the things I need the most at the time.

The Rest I got in January put me right back into my Art. Richard and Melanie helped me set up my Art Table and Storage Cabinet. Melanie and I had gone to a local Printer and gotten Paper Scraps from Printing Projects. I had begun to scan through my/our Photos of the Farm to print images to have in reserve. (We have also been using them as postcards; has that ever been fun!)

I started making Cards. I select a Photo that fits the Occasion and the Person. I "zigzag" the Photo in Gold Thread (or other Color) onto heavier weight paper. Then I start playing with my Colored Pencils. I have some wonderful Colored Pencils. They are among my very best of Friends. What fun! Last, I/we put in a special message to the Honoree.

Admittedly, I have done very few at this stage, but the Ones that I have done have made my Spirit soar. The 1st Card was for my Sister-in-Law Deleta's 70th Birthday. I think she enjoyed it just as much as I did in making it.

The 2nd Card was a Valentine for Mother. I don't have a picture of it. It is hanging on her door. She wanted it there where everyone could see it. One never tires of the pride a Parent shows in their work!

The 3rd Card was for Allison as part of a House Warming Gift to her in her New Home. Melanie embroidered her a Tea Towel with an inscription of special meaning and uniquely for her. We also tucked in some Garden Grown and Homemade Goodies from the Farm. For us, Handmade and Homemade are best. They take time, but time means Love.

Cardmaking is relatively new for me. I can't always make Cards for a variety of reasons, but I do want to do more.

144 Cabbage Seedlings

The Cabbage Seeds that I planted February 17 (9 days ago) have produced many Seedlings. The Seeds generally were very prolific, even the Older Ones (from 2008 and 2009).

I planted 3 Varieties: (1) and (2)Danish Ballhead (Seeds from 2008 and 2009; a good Kraut Cabbage), (3) Premium Late Flat Dutch (2008); (4) Henderson Charleston Wakefield (2008). Only the Premium Late Flat Dutch did not do so well. I wonder if it was because the Seeds were Old. They were also slower to germinate. The Seedlings from the other Cabbages had a jump start and may have shaded out the Wakefield Cabbage Plants.

I usually plant the Seeds in the Wooden Flats that Richard created for me. From what I have read, Seedlings like to grow in the company of each other. This goes "to a point". When their leaves touch, they begin to try to grow tall to outcompete. This can weaken plants. Surely my Seedlings did grow fast and tall.

Today was a "Leaf Day", so I transplanted them to 9 packs (3 by 3s). I was careful to bury them deep, so that 1st growth of Leaves would be as close to the Soil line as possible. I will transplant them again when their Leaves touch. At that point, I will put them in the larger 2 by 2 Pots which are deep. I know that will happen fast. I expect it will be sometime in the next week.

I absolutely love this stage. I love working in the Soil, especially when Winter seems so apparent outside. The Plants are new; they have literally unfurled themselves from their tiny Cocoons which we know as Seeds. They have done this whole process right before my Eyes. I love carefully handling those little Plants and imagining how strong and beautiful they will grow.

Admittedly, I have a lot of Cabbage Seedlings: 144 total. I have a hard time destroying Seedlings. For me, Seeds and Seedlings and Plants are Living Beings, just as I am a Living Being. I try to treat them with the utmost respect.

So, I just plant them all. That does present a dilemma, because soon, they will take a lot of Window Space and a lot of Soil to replant as they grow. Plus, we won't be planting 144 in our Garden here. We don't have the Space. Besides that, we 3 C's won't be using 144 Cabbages over the Summer. While we love Kraut, we surely will not be making that much. (She says all these things will a smile; her Family is smiling in the background.)

I have asked Kristina if she would like Cabbage Plants. She said, yes! I will be asking more. Hollis and Deleta? Gerald and Connie? Sarah? Others? Yes, I do have Cabbages to share. That assumes they do well. They should be ready to put into the ground by the end of March.

Next year, I need to pay more attention to the number of Seeds that I plant. Yes, I am always learning.

In Love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Even before the Sun
birthed in the Morning Sky,
Early Light
cast Radiant Blessings
of Pink.
I knew
in a flash of recognition
that the Divine created
this Universe and this Life
in Love.
If the Universe
and this Life
were created
in infinite Love,
what should
we Humans
give in return?
I shall give it
my best shot
on this Glorious Day.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Frosty Morn



Magnet

February 25:

We have Friends who just recently had a beautiful Baby Girl. After the Family came home from the Hospital, we took them a Buffalo Roast. Preparing such Feasts for special moments of Family Transition was our Custom when we lived up North. I have not done much of that here. I just hadn't as yet found my "Place".

Preparing the Feast for little Alexis and her new Parents felt very good. And it came with some unexpected surprises and connections, which had little to do with her Family and everything to do with ours.

Richard and I took the Feast over to the New Family who live in a House on North Main in Kirksville. It takes some "thinking" to get there as it is not a straight shot off Main which goes through the downtown area. I had been there 2 times before. It is an area of town which is not familiar at 1st glance. But this time, I looked and thought a little harder. Somehow, some unseen magnet was pulling me Home.

When I was growing up and for many decades before, the Wabash Railroad would have been behind their House. With the reduction in Rail Lines and Trains over the years, those Tracks have been pulled. Something kept drawing my eyes and my attention to the West. Once there, my eyes just kept sweeping outward.

As I thought a little harder, the unfamiliar became the familiar. We have a lot of Family History in those blocks of the "North End". We have in our Family the 1919 Plat Map of Adair County. I pulled it out to get a sense of that area of Kirksville during some of those years.

The pencil marks the Home Place of my Great Grandparents Frederick and Matilda (Waibel) Brenz. Marking the 1st known connection of our Family to the area, they would have settled there at least by the 1870s. Our last connection to the area was when the property was sold at the passing of the last of their Children (Della and Clara) in 1968.

In that roughly 100 year period, other Family Members wove their lives into those Neighborhoods and walked those Streets.

In the meantime, the Dinner Bell has sounded and I shall stop this little entry, because more will unfold. For the record, we do have a Dinner Bell, but we use it to call in the Family to the House. No such thing was needed here. I am off to Dinner, with eager thoughts ahead on this little project.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

North End: Rough Notes

As we have returned to Adair County in 2007, I have been drawn toward deepening my understanding of Family History. Perhaps it is both a function of our move but also a function of my being in my early 60s. It seems the older one gets the more we are often drawn toward putting together the pieces of our past. For me, it has multiple functions of honoring those who have gone before, preserving those stories for future generations (if we don't, who will?), and a seeking to know who they were and who I am.

When I recognized that almost 100 years of our Family History sits in the North End of Kirksville, I felt that I had found some common threads that were asking to be re-woven together. As a writer, I am always looking for ways to bring Story to light in ways that are most meaningful and most whole. Recapturing those stories through the common geography seems 1 way.

I have noted below some of those connections which I would like to weave together. These are rough notes. I would invite other Family Members to share Stories that help to flesh this out, should they feel drawn to. Dates and locations are approximate. I need to head into the Family Treasures of Pictures, Artifacts, and Oral Histories. I need to head to the Courthouse to check out exact locations. This is a bigger project, but one I am eager to sink my teeth into.

Once again, I headed back to the 1919 Plat Map of Adair County. Melanie (my able assistant in such photographic matters) and I positioned the Colored Pencils to mark the following locations:

(Blue Pencil) Fred Albert and Lottie (Hart) Brenz moved with their growing girls (Thelma Louise, Ruthirene, and Dorothy Ione) to Mary Street in about 1927. They had lost their Farm and subsequently the Neighborhood in the Porter School District, both of which were beloved to them and their family. Lottie's health due to an accident had placed new demands on their family situation which made rural living very difficult. Mother has pointed that location out to me; the house is gone.

(Green) Marking the 1st known connection of our Family to the area, Frederick and Matilda (Waibel) Brenz would have settled there at least by the 1870s. Their house's address would have been 422 West Burton. Their little House sat in front of a 2-3 acre pasture. Our last connection to the area was when the property was sold at the passing of the last of their Children (Della and Clara) in 1968.

(Yellow) Isaac and Catherine (Powell) South moved "kitty corner" across the street from the Brenz's. (Please note that in the present moment exact location is unclear.) Isaac was a long time farmer, just prior to the move, in the Willmathsville area. They lived at that address in the North End at least around 1905 until their passing a few years later. Their Granddaughter was Lottie (Lillian or Dean) Hart. She was raised by her parents west of Willmathsville. Lottie took training at the Music Conservatory in Kirksville. She lived on the weekends with her parents and took the train to Kirksville to live with her grandparents during the week. Word has it that the Grandparents Isaac and Catherine, and Mother Matilda Waibel Brenz wanted Lottie and Fred (Brenz) to meet. They did. They were married in 1911.

(Orange) Lottie's parents [Robert Nelson and Louisa (South) Hart] had decided to move to Kirksville. Their property was close by the Brenz and South properties. (Please note that in the present moment exact location is unclear.) In the midst of their move (ca. 1914), Robert Nelson Hart took what he thought was his medicine; it was not and he died shortly thereafter.

(Red) Kazimir and Dragica Blaskovic raised 4 of 6 Children at 1019 N. Osteopathy. The 1st was born and died in Iowa; the 6th (and last) was born and died at this address. The Family moved to this address sometime after Joe was born in about 1915. Kazimir's work in the Coal Mines had meant at least 2 moves (Novinger, Missouri, and Fraker, Iowa) before my Father was born there in 1918. This "North End" Neighborhood was a place where the new Croatian immigrants settled. Many, if not all of the Immigrants, came from some of the same Villages in Gorski Kotar, which was then part of the Austro Hungarian Empire. I wonder whose houses were up and down that street. I know the Crnic Grocery Store was a magnet for the Neighborhood. Kazimir and Dragica left in 1945 when Kazimir's health deteriorated after a fall. They moved to be closer to their 2 daughters and Dragica's sister in Des Moines. My Father was newly home from the War and helped them move that October. Kazimir died in Des Moines in 1946.
~~~~
Map: 1919 Plat Map of Adair County.

8 to 10 Inches of Snow

February 22:

We got somewhere between 8 and 10 inches of Snow yesterday. It just kept snowing and snowing. This time, we didn't have too much in the way of Wind so it has mostly stayed in place.

On this beautiful Day of Sun and Blue Sky on Snow, we are slowly making our way around. Richard shoveled some space for the Hennies and the Roos to get out in their Coop. We put out Food for the Wild Birds and the Deer. In particular, the Birds seem to be feeding in frenzy. They hardly wait for us to leave.

Back inside, Richard just put a Roast in the Oven and another Log on the Fire. This is a great day for the Humans to go slow, sip cups of Tea, make some progress on Garden 2010, and contemplate how very small we Humans are on this Great Earth which is our shared Home with so many Beings.

(Photo, at Center from Left to Right: Daisy Mae, Cassie, Chloe Jean. Doesn't everyone name their Chickens?)

Murmurings

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gazing at that thick blanket of Snow
and feeling the Early Morning Cold,
one might conclude we are in Winter's Grip.
Listening deeper,
we hear murmurings
of the next act of the Grand Play:
Water is draining down spouts.
Great Horned Owls are on territory.
They are either on nest or will be soon.
Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice are courting.
Rusty, the Red-headed Woodpecker
who frequents our backyard feeder,
shows signs of changing
from a juvenile Brown Head to Red.
Goldfinches and Purple Finches are coloring up.
Spring wardrobes are being donned.
A small Kettle of Red tailed Hawks
were seen grouping
to begin their northward flight.
The Sun marches north in the Sky.
The full Moon moves southward.
Taurus is overhead at Human Bedtime
here on the Farm.
The Sun came up
at 6:54 a.m. yesterday
and 6:53 today.
The Sun fills the House with warmth.
We need less Wood in the Wood Stove.
Kansas fields of Winter Wheat
showed Travelers a haze of expectant Green.
Melanie used the rest of the Fall Apples.
Empty Jars are piling up.
Seedlings sprout in South Windows
with more to come.
I am getting up earlier
and I have more energy.
Melanie and I want
less "meat" and more "veggies".
Murmurings are more persistent now.
Soon they will rise to crescendo.
I wonder
if Sleeping Frogs
are beginning to stir.
Perhaps they are practicing a call
we will soon hear and cheer.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book Friend: Farming

Lee, Andy W., and Foreman, Patricia. (2000). Chicken Tractor: The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil. Good Earth Publications.

http://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Tractor-Permaculture-Guide-Healthy/dp/0962464864

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Starting Sweet Potatoes

On Tuesday (February 23), I put 8 Sweet Potatoes to "root". Biodynamically, it was supposed to be a day which favored starting Plants from which we want "roots". We love Sweet Potatoes, so we take extra care to support the Plants in their growing endeavors and in their feeding us.

These days we are staying close to our Stella Natura Calendar. When the Calendar says the time is optimal for "Leaf", "Root", "Flower", or "Fruit", Melanie and I shift into gear to plant the Seeds (or in this case, root the Sweet Potatoes) we intend to grow as transplants. It just makes sense to work off the optimal energies for growing from this Planet and beyond.

I sure am glad those Folks have put this Calendar together. It is great to think that Folks "before" and "around us now" are helping to smooth our Path. We are eager to embrace every little morsel which will help us garden successfully and nourish the Soil.

So, what factors did I consider in starting the Sweet Potatoes? This is only my 4th season growing Sweet Potatoes. I am not an expert, but these are some of my gleanings. A Sweet Potato Guru and long time Family Friend in the Millard area starts hers anytime after February 19. While we are eager to start just after Christmas, those earlier starts tend to get "leggy" and they also seem to "go sour" or "get mushy" in the water. It is best not to start too soon.

I choose the Sweet Potatoes that are the most vibrant, medium to large in size, without blemishes or bruises (which will rot), with shoots forming. These are the ones that really want to grow. Over the years, I have collected some wide mouth jars for just this occasion. They are an important element in my collection.

On the day I start them, I put them in the jars and fill up the jars with Rainwater. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the Sweet Potato will be covered with water. As the Water disappears, I just add more to keep it at that level.

I place the Sweet Potatoes in a Sunny Window. I will watch them carefully to make sure they are not getting too much Sun and Heat. If they are, I will move them to another Window or put a mesh covering over the Window.

Over time, those Shoots will grow. When they are about 8 inches long, I carefully peel them off the Mother Sweet Potato and place them in their own jars of Water. I make sure to cover about 1-2 inches of the Shoot with Water. The Shoots will root.

When the Roots of the Shoots are well developed, I place them in a Rubber Dishpan-like container that is filled with non-chemical Sand. Children's Sandbox Sand will do. I fill the Dishpan with water until it is about 2/3 of the way through the Sand. The Sand seems to act as a Filter so the Shoots stay nice until planting. During this stage of the process, the Shoots will do best in a Sunny Window.

I usually plant the Sweet Potatoes in mid-May. I think I yielded 60 Shoots last year which is more than we need. I usually give some of them away too. I will talk about planting Sweet Potatoes a little more when we get closer to the date.

Starting Sweet Potatoes is an exciting time. It takes me right back to Childhood. I remember the Ladies would always have some Sweet Potatoes starting on Window Sills and on top of Refrigerators. As a Child, I always thought it quite magical that those big and humble Roots could produce such beautiful Foliage. And that Foliage when placed in the Garden would produce Sweet Potatoes. Even as an Adult, I never tire of the wonder of such things.
~~~~
http://www.stellanatura.com/
Note: As Shoots come out of the Sweet Potato Roots into Vines, I will separate the collection of 8 to various Windows in the House. The Roots seem to like each other's company at this stage, but soon, they will need space.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Friend: Children's Book

Greenstein, Elaine. (2004). One Little Seed. New York: Viking, Division of Penguin Young Readers Group.
~~~~
http://www.amazon.com/LIttle-Booklist-Editors-Choice-Awards/dp/0670036331

On Adulthood

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Culture
is engaged
in a mad cap race
to push Children
to become Adults
before their Time.
Such actions
diminish
wonder,
whimsy,
innocence,
delight in the simple.
All of these
are essential Gifts
of Living fully
given by the Creator
for the Lifetime.
If we are so blessed,
we Humans
will be Adults
for a long time.
Adulthood
as designed
by our Culture
is over-rated.
It needs
a make-over.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Question

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The more
I embrace
an Earth Centered Walk,
a Walk intent
upon Simplicity and Grace,
the more I am filled
with Simple,
almost
Childlike Questions
the Adult in Me
had long
since forgotten
to ask.
~~
And so what do
I ask this Day?
~~
Do Plants sleep?
My Shamrocks
in their Pots
upon the Window Sill
fold up
at night.
So does
the Clover
which grows
in abundance
outside.
Plants seem
to sleep in Winter
beneath fluffy blankets
of Snow.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Song and Prayer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I plant
Seeds in Soil,
I am reminded
many Indigenous Peoples
of this Earth
sing to them.
Singing seems right.
Singing is prayer.
In the early stages,
I didn't know
what
to sing or say.
I felt clumsy
at such simple things.
The Song
that got me started
was 1
from Peter, Paul and Mary.
Even today,
I sometimes
sing the words
of their Folksong
which begins
"Inch by inch,
row by row,
gonna make
this garden grow."
Other times,
I just praise
those vibrant Seeds
filled with Life.
Always,
I pray over them.
I just pray
whatever words
seem to spill
from the Heart
of me.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cultivation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When
we small Humans
cultivate the Soil,
something far Grander
in turn
cultivates us.
Those actions
connect us
to Gardeners
and our Great Mother
across All Space and Time.
After some Seasons
of putting
our Hands,
Prayers,
and Spirits
into the Soil,
we move
in synchrony.
We are not
the same
as before.
We are
coming home
to who
we were
meant to be.
I sometimes
wonder
why I waited
so long.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Day after the Big Snow

Richard "busts out". Since we have no Tractor or Blade, he heads up and down the Drive into the Lane in his trusty "Runner". While it is a bit dicey in a couple of spots, he does not "bottom out". In those moments, Runner and Richard just seem like 2 Kids playing in the Snow.

Later, Melanie, Laddie, and I head up the Drive to the Mailbox using the Runner's Robust Tracks. This is a great day to meditate on the virtues of a Tractor, which we do not have and can't quite figure out how we would get.

In the meantime, the Garden slumbers underneath the Snow. I can almost get a sense of the Garlic, Strawberries, Herbs beginning to do their Early Spring "Wiggle". They are getting eager. For us, some Gardening tasks are beginning to be more clearly in focus. We Humans still are in time of slumber too, but the urgency is beginning to pick up.

In the meantime, the Seeds we planted are bursting forth in their "primo" spots by the South Windows in the House. Last year, I had over 40 Cabbage Seedlings. This year, there surely must be over a hundred. I must have had terrific Germination, as they all seem to want to be present and be accounted for in the upcoming Garden. What was I thinking? When I cast those tiny Petunia Seeds on the Soil, they were so small, I just threw on some more. Judging by the tiny Leaves which are pushing up from the Soil, I am going to have a bunch of those too.The Hennies venture out of their House. I think those 1st 3 look like a Chicken House Rendition of the June Taylor Dancers or Radio City Music Hall. With their cramped space because Deep Snow is all around, the Chickens are getting bored. Their boredom can result in picking on each other.Ever attentive toward their Needs and their Comfort, Melanie spreads Alfalfa Hay which they love.I accompany Richard when he replenishes Feeding Stations for the Wild Birds and Deer. It is an absolutely beautiful Day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Encounters

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just
before I plant,
I hold
that Seed
in the Palm
of my Hand.
Some Seeds
are large,
like those Dry Edible Beans,
others
not much bigger
than a particle of Soil.
I dare not sneeze
in the presence
of those tiny Petunia Seeds.
As I hold
that Living Being
bursting with Life,
I am
face to face
with the Great Mystery.
I cannot make Life.
Only the Divine
can do that.
I bear witness to
and hopefully nurture
this Miracle
called Life.
I am
infinitely small
in the Scheme
of Things.
I am
growing comfortable
with my place.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Be

February 21:

Today we are under a Winter Storm Warning. Those Caesar Celeriac Seedlings have a front row seat as the Snow just keeps coming down outside the Windows.

Our little trip to Nebraska was inbetween Snows. Melanie and I had a wonderful trip. It is good to be home and to have a gentle Snowy Day to just be.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcoming Someone New

February 16:

Those Musselburgh Leek Seedlings are now above the rim of the container in which they are planted. The Black Seeds are still attached to the tippy tops of the Seedlings. They seem to be waving their little arms for all to see: "Hello, World. Here we come." Planted February 4, they have been in the Soil almost 12 days.

From the time they 1st began to sprout, they would smell softly as Onions when I misted the Soil with Water. Even when they were Wee Small, they knew who they were and what they wanted to grow up to be.

I look in on them several times during the day. I touch my hand over their Soft New Leaves. I talk to them. I welcome them to our Farm and to our Lives. I tell them how beautiful they are and how important they are. I let them know we are so glad they are here.

My Mother always taught me to be welcoming toward someone new. Isn't that what we are supposed to do?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the Road

Melanie and I have headed to Beatrice, Nebraska, to visit Allison. Allison is Family we chose from our Grand Forks days. She and Melanie have a little sister/big sister relationship.

Allison is in a community players' production which we will see tomorrow evening ("Beauty and the Beast"), hence our decision to travel at this time. She is on staff with the National Park Service at Homestead National Monument. We will "cruise"there on Friday to see her in her work role, with the added benefit of focusing on family and regional history. Allison is at home in her 1st house (which we had not seen). We are excited. We return to the Farm on Saturday.

Yes, we do get off the Farm once in a while. And yes, Richard is home misting Seeds and Seedlings and keeping up with more than a full slate of chores. Plus, he gets his own retreat. More later...

http://www.nps.gov/home/index.htm

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Garden

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Garden
is
to commit
to Grow.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Surprises

We 3 C's began our move here on March 9, 2007, which is now almost 3 years ago. That phase was "start up". It did include some early season gardening, like planting potatoes which we did with my Father.

We returned to Grand Forks to finish packing and say "Goodbye" (or rather "Hello" to a new relationship) to many treasured ones. The big move day was May 12. We arrived on the Farm late in the evening after a very long drive with our 3 loaded vehicles in caravan.

That next day on May 13, Richard's brother Hollis arrived with his Tractor to get the Garden ready. We had seeds in tow and we began to plant. "We couldn't waste time," Richard says in looking back on that very busy time. Our 17,000 pounds of stuff arrived via semi on May 15. It truly has been a whirlwind ever since.

This Garden Season 2010 marks our 4th here. Over Dinner this evening, Richard, Melanie and I reflected on "surprises" in Gardening over these past 3 years. These are our surprises:
  • Our Food we have grown right here tastes so good in comparison with Store Bought. It even looks better. It looks vibrant and alive.
  • We have been amazed by all the Bugs and Weeds in the Garden, especially those that can do great damage, almost before you notice anything. For many, we had no idea they even existed (like Flea Beetles).
  • As a Gardener, one must be ever alert. That means watching closely all stages of growing.
  • Gardening is a lot of work. We knew that before. We know it now more than we did before.
  • Gardening is deeply fulfilling on a level that cannot be explained. We get to watch Plants grow that will nourish us. We get to watch Birds and Butterflies dance in our Garden. We get to feel Sun on our backs.
  • It sounds silly, but for a lot of Foods, I didn't even know that you could grow them. I thought I had to buy them in the Store. I had no clue as to what they would look like in all stages of their growing.
  • To Garden is to enter into a place of great Complexity.
  • When we came here, I thought we knew a lot. But after that 1st gardening season, what we knew was reduced to about 3 basic questions.
  • We continue to be amazed by how little that we know. We keep learning. As we learn more, we are confronted with more questions.
  • We are drawn to eat Whole Foods. We shy away from Foods which have additives, particularly those we cannot pronounce. We use "what would Grandma do?" as our mantra. If she would not recognize it as Food, we don't either.
  • Soil is the basis for Life. Our Culture has taken from the Soil for a very long time without giving back. Soil which has less vitality produces Food which has less vitality. That Food is the basis for our Lives. Gardeners must 1st and foremost attend to the Soil.
  • Gardening weaves Family back together. We are growing some of the same Plants that our Ancestors grew. We are using them as a basis for Recipes which came from those previous Generations. We are more in the presence of Family Story.
  • Gardening starts early. Even now, with all the Snow on the Ground and the fact that it is February, we have planted Seeds for Transplants into the Garden.
  • Melanie began this little musing by saying she didn't want to sound condescending. We are surprised by how much the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who tended the Soil and grew their own Food knew. We should have listened more closely. Why did we choose to let that knowledge drop? It is a puzzle our Culture should examine closely. What they knew is the basis for Life.
  • While much of Modern Life encourages Competition and Distance, Gardening encourages Community. I am amazed at the Community that has emerged of like Minds and Hearts. We throw out our Questions and often Answers or Suggestions will return. It is deeply fulfilling to care enough about another that you can assist in providing information which will feeds them and sustains their Lives.
  • There are infinite ways to Garden.
  • Gardening is connection with the Divine.
  • We are puzzled at the varieties that were grown earlier that are no longer available. Yet we celebrate those Old Varieties which are available. And we dance for joy at the movement to preserve Heirlooms which is unfolding in our times.
  • The fact that the Varieties grown have "shrunk" is frightening. Many are grown simply because they are easily transportable, can be grown on large acreages, and they look good. Nature teaches us that diversity is important.
  • Why aren't People concerned? Why don't they see an urgency to resolve the mess we have gotten ourselves into?
  • I thought that I would pick out Seeds and Plants in the Gardening Catalogues and that is exactly what I would get. That model sounds just like a Supermarket where you see a fairly constant array of produce. Gardening isn't like that. Each year brings losses and gains.
  • We eat seasonally from what is available. And we feel better.
  • We don't like to purchase Foods at the Grocery Store that we would normally grow and have run out. It just doesn't feel right. Ick.
  • Gardening requires a sophisticated knowledge that has been almost dropped over the last 50 years. Why would we ever want to do that?
  • We buy or trade from Local Farmers. That feels good on many levels, including building a web of Community all around.
  • And I cannot forget our Animal Companions in the Garden. Chickens scratch, eat and poop. They are Nature's Tillers, Insect Controllers, and Fertilizers. Rolf's Cows contribute Aged Cow Compost. Those Birds in the Garden eat Bugs. We are all in this together.
  • It is true that we knew some of this before. Entering our 4th Gardening Season on this Little Farm, I can say that what we know has gone deeper and become more intimate with the Earth.

Deer

February 14:

Deer continue to feed on "Cedar Valley" which is South of the House. Today, the Deer seemed quite energized. They were pushing each other about. One of the Twins seemed to be outside the feeding circle. Whenever s/he would try to return, 1 of the bigger Deer would push him/her away.

The Deer surely must be quite hungry. Late Winter must put some extraordinary Energy demands upon them. Plus Snow and Ice have covered a lot.

We Humans are "outsiders" looking in on our brief Glimpse of the World of the Deer. We watch with attentive Eyes from our overlook at the Dining Room Windows. We wonder what is going on. We Humans know so little.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Planting for Transplants

Our Planting Seeds for Transplants has now moved into full swing for Garden Season 2010. Richard has mixed up Soil from Aged Cow Compost, Peat, a bit of Garden Soil (we would like to had more but it is covered and frozen), Leaves and Crushed Egg Shells. We have a tub of it in the Living Room all set for the next project. Those next projects are coming faster and faster, it seems.

We are using the Stella Natura 2010 Kimberton Hills Biodynamic Agricultural Planting Guide & Calendar. This Calendar considers working with Cosmic Rhythms as a basic for planting. Intuitively, this just seems right. Bit by bit, we are learning more and more about this. And we are intrigued. So far we have planted the following:

February 4 (Root): Onions, Leeks, Celeriac
February 8 (Leaf): Celery, Lovage
February 11 (Fruit): Eggplant
February 12 (Flower): Broccoli
February 15 (Flower): Lavender, Columbine, Dianthus, Petunias, Pansies, Dame's Rocket

http://www.stellanatura.com/

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cookbook Friend

Hobson, Phyllis. (1994). Making & Using Dried Foods. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Using-Dried-Phyllis-Hobson/dp/0882666150

Jerky

Melanie and Richard made Jerky this weekend, using a recipe (page 127) in the cookbook Making & Using Dried Foods (Phyllis Hobson, 1994).

Melanie began the marinade for Venison (on right) and Beef Jerky (on left) yesterday. The recipe suggests the meat should marinate overnight, which she did. She put the meat in the Dehydrator today. 7 1/2 hours later, most of the Jerky is done. It is yummy. In writing this entry, I suggested that snacks would be nice. And they are. In the meantime, the Cats appeared out of nowhere.

While I thank Melanie and Richard for the Jerky, it would be far more appropriate to thank the Deer and the Steer. When I 1st posted this, I noted the Deer were coincidentally depicted in the Banner. I learned a long time ago that there are no such things as coincidences.

We 3 C's try to be mindful that for Beings to live and thrive on this Earth, something has to die. We try to honor that gift of Life which gives rise to our health and wellbeing. Why would we choose to forget?

Laddie and Winter

I should probably let Laddie, our 10 year old Shetland Sheep Dog, write this Entry. Maybe he has his own Blog out there somewhere, but its URL is not known to me.

Once again, we had Snow today. These days, the Snow and the Winter just do not seem to want to stop. Our Dear Laddie loves Snow and Cold. He isn't particularly crazy about the Heat of Missouri Summers. His Fur and his Spirit were made for Cold and he just cannot seem to get enough of it. I only wish that I knew what all of this means to him. These are our observations:

While we Humans are settling in for the evening, just now Laddie was barking outside the Door. I opened it to let him in. He didn't want to come in. It is almost as if he wanted us to come outside. Max, the Cat, seemed to want to go out. I held the door open for him. No way. It was too cold. He headed away from the door and in the direction of the Wood Stove.

Laddie loves to roll in the Snow. He rolls and rolls. He seems to be telling us that Snow Baths are wonderful. We Humans just smile. It does seem to be good for his Coat.

I love to watch him catching the scent of some Creature unknown to us Humans. I wonder if the Scents are magnified in the Snow and Cold. We surely Humans surely do not have anything even close to his capacity for Sense of Smell. It's a whole different World for our Canine Companion. He catches a scent and off he goes.

His footprints in the Snow indicate that he is often on a mad gallop after a new adventure. Sets of 4 Footprints bound away into the distance, showing leaps I did not know he could make. He could have been surprised too.

He romps and he plays. He is very lively. He seems to bound everywhere. He gets so excited to go outside. He will go anywhere the Humans (especially Richard) want to venture. His favorite companion is Richard. He can often be found nipping at Richard's heels. That doesn't seem to happen much at other seasons.

He is constantly taking a bite of Snow. Maybe for him, it is a refreshing Drink.

I checked out the Shetland Islands on Wikipedia, which would be Laddie's Ancestral Home. While influenced by Scandinavian Culture historically, the Islands are now a part of Great Britain. Their location is the furthest point to the northeast of the UK. The Islands actually have a "maritime Subarctic climate". The surrounding Seas moderate the temperature, but cold, wet and cloudy are common. Their northerly location means sunlight on Winter Solstice lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes, while daylight stretches to 23 hours at the Summer Solstice.

I suppose some of this explains why Laddie loved North Dakota and why he seems to love this year's Cold Winter in Northeast Missouri. I wonder if there is an ancestral background in each of us which resonates (and is healthier) in certain climates more so than others. My, there is so much that we do not know.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland

Another Beautiful Winter Day

February 9:

Today has been a beautiful Winter Day. We have had Cold Temps, Drifting Snow, and Wind. We woke up to -11 with the high was supposed to be around 22. The Wind made it seem far colder.

Winter is definitely showing his Power. The Humans have stayed on the Farm and just relished in it. We've done chores, which includes feeding the Birds. The Birds can hardly wait until we leave before they are feeding. This Cold must demand considerable energy from them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nature Notes

Richard, our Resident Naturalist, says that our Farm could conceivably have the following Nesters this Season: 1 Great Horned Owl Pair, 1 Barred Owl Pair, 2-3 Screech Owl Pairs. He says our Little 40 Acres is well developed for such doin's.

Melanie asked what he meant. He says our Farm with its mix of Woods and Meadow is a mosaic of good habitat for them. They have everything they need for food and habitat.

Will they get along? Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls can get on each other's nerves. They eat a similar diet of Rabbits, Skunks, and Opposums. We know for sure that Rabbit Populations up in their cycle. Screech Owls are much smaller and offer less competition. Their principal diet is Mice. And do we have deal for them.

The Barred Owl is an "8 Hooter": "Who Cooks for Me? Who Cooks for You?" The Great Horned Owl, on the other hand makes those characteristic "Who's" repeated several times. And the Screech Owl? Well, it screeches. We laughed because our 2 1/2 year old neighbor knows that the Barred Owl sings "Who Cooks for You?" And she sings it with exuberance.

We've heard Great Horned Owl sounds these past few nights. Richard noted that their pitches are different. He thought the higher pitch was the female. That means we likely have a Pair setting up housekeeping. They are homesteading too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nature Notes

The Missouri Department of Conservation 2010 Calendar says that February 10 marks a time when Deer are herding up. That surely has been our observation here. We have seen groups of Deer up to 9.

Richard says they are really hungry. I wonder what purpose this grouping serves. We need to watch our Fruit Trees carefully, because the Deer can surely do some damage.

Richard noted a Meadow Lark today, not on the Farm but on the way back from town. The Cornell map shows that we are in a "year round" location, but we have not seen 1 all Winter.

It won't be long and the Spring Migratory Birds will be making their presence known. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Meadowlark/id

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tea Towel

Melanie completed embroidering this Tea Towel yesterday. Considering how much we use Tea Towels, we probably need to replenish a minimum of 1 set each year. Each set would include 7.

It will be a while before we really get into the swing of what we need. Perhaps this year, we will just buy a blank set of Tea Towels. Over time, it would be great to embroider 1 set per year. I can see a whole array of Butterflies.

I just love these old style Tea Towels. They remind me of the Ladies and their Kitchens when I was growing up. The Embroidery is a very special touch.

Stairwell

We have been "decorating" the Stairwell to the Basement. Actually, we have been making it more functional, but it does have a decorative touch. It makes our Little House seem more like a Home.

1st, we put up some Coat Hooks for the outside Farm Clothes. (They are on the left and out of view in this photo.) This House does not have a Back Porch which would be ideal for this function, but this little addition seems to be doing the trick.

We have added some Posters that have meaning to us. One of them is a Poster which gives information on Clouds. This will likely change over time, based upon what we want to learn at the time.

In this Photo, Melanie is putting up the Designs that the Permaculture Groups did for our Farm last September. These drawings keep us focused on Plans and Dreams ahead. We surely cannot do them all at once but it will be neat to see how the Farm unfolds.

Seed Bank

We are getting more serious about Garden 2010. Tonight, we went through our "Seed Bank", which includes Seeds we have collected over the last couple of years, plus all those new ones that have arrived from our order.

We had Seed Packets all over the Living Floor. We separated the Seeds into Stashes according to who was going to be planting what: Richard's Stash, Melanie's Stash, Glinda's Stash. Although there is some overlap, we each mostly specialize in the groups of Plants we intend to grow. It just is easier that way.

Melanie and I are planting several inside as Transplants. We separated the Seed Packets according to how long the Plants need to be planted before they go into the big Garden. That was the 1st step.

Since we are planting them biodynamically (using the 2010 Stella Natura Working with Cosmic Rhythms Calendar), we separated them into piles according to Leaf, Flower, Root, and Fruit. For example, Melanie will plant "Eggplants" tomorrow on a Fruit Day. This should be optimal for its growing since it is the Fruit that we want.

This whole exercise took a bit of doing. But Garden 2010 is beginning to take on a bit of order. And that feels good.

In the meantime, more Leeks have sprouted. And those Tiny Little Sprouts are beginning to take on that beautiful color Green.

A Bone to Pick

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have a "bone to pick".
It used to be
when you bought something,
you bought it because
it worked
and it lasted.
Not so in this Fancy Modern Age.
We seem to have
an abundance
of Imitation Products.
They look like
they should work
and they look like
they should last,
but they do neither.
Certain aspects
of the "Old Days"
should not
be left behind.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~