Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Both sides of my Family have had long histories with Cabbages, as Mother is ½ German and Dad was 100% Croatian. I think about the dishes I remember as a Child and the exuberance with which they were shared by my Croatian Grandmother and my 2 Aunts.
As the Elders from my Mother's side had either passed on or were living in distant places, I had no experiences here that I can remember. My Mother did not seem as intent upon cooking up dishes from her German ancestry.
But I do remember the exuberance these foods were eaten and shared by both my parents. And I do remember that those dishes seem to serve up family stories right alongside. The dishes that I remember were: Sauerkraut (from both sides), Pigs in the Blanket (Sausages and Sauerkraut from Dad’s side), Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Dad’s side), Cabbage Salad and Cole Slaw (from Mother), and just plain Steamed Cabbage (who knows where that came from).
Melanie remembers her Grandmother (my Mother) talking about how her Grandma Matilda Waibel Brenz always kept a big Crock of Sauerkraut behind the kitchen door. Whenever she needed it, she would just grab some and put it in the pot.
Melanie and I went to Croatia in 2002 to the villages of my Grandparents. We were very warmly received in the home of a distant Cousin, Franjo and his wife Ankica Crnic and their family. Ankica had prepared a feast for us. When I walked into that house, I instantly felt at home. The aromas were reminiscent of my Grandmother's House in Des Moines. Many years had passed since I was last there in the mid 1950s. Yet, I had instant, almost visceral recognition. The feeling cannot be completely described in paltry words. All I can say is it touched a yearning I had not been able to articulate for a very long time.
And the 3 of us? We have continued many of the dishes above. Plus, Richard loves Raw Cabbage. It is a great snack. In recent years, Richard, Melanie and I have been interested in fermented foods as a means of replenishing good bacteria in our "guts". Such things assist in digestion, which makes more nutrients available to our bodies and subsequently our health. In our 2 treasured Cookbooks on this subject, we have found 1 fermented Sauerkraut recipe to our liking and will try more.
I find it amazing that a simple choice (Raising Cabbages) could have so many links to my Family, past and present. Yes, Raising Cabbages, lots of Cabbages, sounds like a great idea.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
We've been very busy as the temperature shifted dramatically from Wintry Cold to Warm Spring. While the Hawks wafted overhead in "kettles" (or high circles) as they migrated North, the Humans reported the following happenings on Butterfly Hill Farm. In the last 3 days, we've been:
- Planting Peas (Shell-6 rows, Snap-3 rows, Green Arrow-4 Rows) for a whopping (we hope) total of 315 Feet. We shall work very hard to make sure the Weeds do not take over, which is what happened last year.
- Jumping from a big Snake (a Prairie King Snake). The higher Richard jumped the bigger it got.
- Planting Onions. So far, the total is 900 Plants, at 255 Feet of Row. We have a little more to plant from the Onions that we grew from Seed.
- Planting 400 Trees (including Norway Spruce, White Pine, White Oak, Burr Oak, Swamp White Oak, River Birch, Persimmon, Pecan, Elderberries, Chokecherries, Carolina Buckthorn). We had a Family Meeting to discuss priorities. Richard gave special attention to developing a wind break along the south side of the Drive. We still have a few Pecan, Currants, and Hazelnuts to plant. And today, we found out that Kristina has Chokecherries that sound like they are similar to those we had Up North. We are excited. Richard made quite a reputation for himself with the Jam that he developed. We will be thrilled to be able to do that here. Stay tuned.
- Planting Parsnips and Radishes.
- Digging Catnip to share with Friends.
- Getting the Lawn Mower ready for the Summer. Surely Humans were intended to do something more than mow Lawn. Is there a way we can mow less Lawn?
- Tending Seedlings, Seedlings, and more Seedlings.
- Filling every possible space with Seedlings and Plants. We don't need a Green House. We live in a Green House.
- Taking some of the Little Seedlings outside during the Day. Checking them carefully to make sure they are not too windblown, too sunburned, too dried out.
- Designing a written piece on growing Cabbages which puts together significant pieces of information that I have gleaned.
- Separating 111 Cabbage Seedlings and getting them ready to distribute to 11 Families on Wednesday.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
So the 3 of us sat in the Family Room to Candlelight plus some Firelight from the Wood Stove. What did we do? We just talked. It was wonderful. All the tensions, known and unknown, just faded away.
I began to wonder about all the things that we add to our lives that create tension and distance in relationships. People just don't seem to know how to talk to each other these days. Are those things created by accident or on purpose? I think we each deeply yearn for more meaningful relationships. Sitting together by Candlelight seems a good start.
We Humans benefitted by shutting off the Lights, but so did the Earth. It seems strange that we Humans would give just 1 hour to the Earth. She is, after all, that which supports our Being. As some of the Old Timers would say: "Sounds a little chintsy to me."
Melanie headed off to town today to participate in a workshop on making Egg Baskets. The workshop was taught by Linda Colton at the Kirksville Arts Center. Melanie returned home at the end of the day with a big smile and this lovely Basket on her arm. Richard and I smiled too.
Melanie plans to finish the Basket by dyeing it with a natural Black Walnut Dye, which she made over a year ago. Of course, she needs to test the Dye to see if it is still good.
I don't know what it is about making something by hand that is so personally fulfilling. It just nourishes one inside and out. We should be doing more of these kinds of things.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Last year, Melanie read by Candlelight. I think Richard and I went to bed early and slept. Melanie reflected that somehow things just seem to get slower and quieter when the Lights are out.
We are not sure what we will do tomorrow, but it will be special. We may need to tell the Chickens that there will be no watching TV. We 3 C's may just sit here by the Fireplace and tell favorite stories. If it is clear, we will go out and look at the Stars.
I remember when we had no Electricity in those weeks after the Flood of 1997 in Grand Forks. With devastation all around us, we actually got out and talked with our Neighbors right there on the Street. Those were treasured times that I will never ever forget. I remember how quiet and peaceful it was without the hum of and distraction of machines. I remember how gorgeous the Stars were. The lack of Electricity and Lights for even a short period stripped away some artificiality and tension whose time really needs to pass.
No, I am not proposing giving up Electricity nor am I ready to do that. But I am eager to let some things go for the Sustainability of All. And I delight in the fact this is a shared experience with so many Precious Humans who are known and unknown to me. Just imagine what we can do if we all get together on some of these Issues. That is the change we have been waiting for. It is beginning to happen in our time.
For more information, check out the following:
In this whole process, thoughts about varieties and planting are shared. And then it is: Your Move.
We now have little Pink Flags which give us a notion as to the Pond (site of Dam, Spillways, Water Levels) on the Eastern Side of the Property. He'll be back soon to site in the 2nd Pond. We are excited. We are not sure how all the details will come together, including Money. We will surely find a way. If this Little Farm is supposed to have Pond/s, the way will be clear; it may not happen as fast as we would like, but it will happen if it is supposed to. How can you have a Farm without having Pond/s?
We surely did appreciate his expertise, time, thoughts and attention to our myriad of Questions. The whole experience was reminiscent of the many experiences that Richard had in designing Wetlands in the North Country. While it is different here, somehow it was as if we had been there before.
Melanie and I wondered how the Old Timers built Ponds in days gone by, without the Technology and the Big Earth Moving Equipment. Now, I can imagine we would find some Stories there.
This Day was indeed a "Leaf Day" up until 10 a.m. this Morning. But even with Sun and Blue Sky overhead, it was Cold and Windy. Ice had frozen overnight in the Bucket of Water on the West Porch. That seemed hardly a day to put out Baby Cabbages, even though they have been "hardening off" outside these last few Days. My Head was surely denying their request.
I went to shift 1 Flat of Cabbages to the Bottom Shelf to get out of the Breeze. And wouldn't you know, I almost dropped the Flat and 3 Cabbages jumped Free. I looked at them and I said: "I guess you 3 will be planted in the Gardens today."
So I headed out and planted 3 Cabbages, 1 for each of us. They were all Henderson Charlestown Wakefield's. I planted them very carefully in the luscious Soil in the Herb Garden on the West Side of the House. This would permit me to watch them closely. I knew right away that they needed some protection. I remember that our neighbor Carlisle used to surround his new Tomato Plants with slats of wood. That's a good idea, I thought.
A few hours later, to my Great Dismay, I checked on the Cabbages and 2 looked awful and the 3rd looked just great. I headed to the Garage to grab 3 empty and formerly leaking Gallon Water Jugs. Melanie cut the bottoms off. I watered the Plants carefully and placed the Jugs over the Little Cabbage Plants. I kept checking them off and on. I put my fingers down into the Jug and they were toasty, but not too toasty. Within a couple of Hours, they were just as happy as could be inside their Little Warming Houses. So was I.
Our order for Trees and Shrubs came from the Missouri Department of Conservation yesterday. While mostly native, MDC's purpose is to assist landowners to increase the diversity on the Missouri Landscape. We are really grateful for this service.
Richard "heeled them in" in preparation for planting. "Heeling them in" means digging the Bundle's Roots into the Soil, otherwise they dry out very quickly. The Planter learns quickly that Healthy Roots are vital to Healthy Plants.
The varieties and amounts are Burr Oak (25), Swamp White Oak (25), River Birch (25), Persimmon (12), White Pine (25), Norway Spruce (200), Hazelnut (25), Elderberry (12), Chokecherries (6), Pecans (20), Golden Currants (3), Carolina Buckthorn (unknown).
Richard is a little cautious about the Carolina Buckthorn, largely because it is unknown to us. The word "Buckthorn" conjures up a sense of Invasives, which was our experience with the Name up North. That surely not our intent here. Too much of that has happened already on this Precious Earth.
I love the way he "heeled them in". That little Circle of Tree Seedlings makes me think that they surely are in quiet conversation with each other. I sure hope they fine our Little Farm to their liking.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Yesterday, we put the Cabbages outside for the whole day (on 2 shelves outside). The Leeks and Onions were already out (below shelves). Soon this little Trio will be planted in the Gardens here and elsewhere. I have a growing list of Folks who would like Cabbage Plants, so I think all 160 of them have homes. We will be dividing up the Leeks with Rolf and Ilse. The Onions are our own little experiment for right here on the Farm.
We brought down my Petunia Plants to the South Window in the Basement which is just inside the Walkout. That's a 1st for them and it means that they will soon be ready to go outside for brief excursions when the Weather warms a bit. I suppose you could call this the staging area. The Plants are waiting in cue for their own special time outside in the Sun.
We have a lot. Three Flats of 72 plugs each makes about 216 plants. Yes, we will be sharing these too. They are an Old Fashioned Heirloom Vining Petunia (in Pink, White and Lavender) which was described by Seed Savers as popular in Iowa 100 years ago.
We did bring the Cabbages, Leeks and Onions back inside last night due to rain. Getting soaked is not a good idea for Baby Plants. Stresses on them decrease their vital energy, which is not our intent.
This little Transfer meant we had to shuffle the Petunias back upstairs. I think the Cabbages, Leeks and Onions really wanted to stay outside. And I know the Petunias were enjoying their new position in line. All the Plants seem positively gleeful about the prospects of their Moves to the Big Gardens where they can stretch and grow.
We have found many Plants which seemed to have survived the Winter, so far: Oregano, Thyme, Peppermint and Spearmint (no surprise), Pansies, Lavender (Yea!), Chives, and more. The Plants lay close to the ground as it is way too early to extend too far out.
In the photo below, we take a peek at the Strawberries. Note that Richard has just come from the Chicken House and has an Egg in his hand. As we muse over the Strawberries, we decide that we need to remove their Straw Mulch Blanket soon.
Seeing all this Greenery tentatively poking up for the Spring is like reunions with Old Friends. We know the Plants may seem small at this stage, but they are over some pretty vigorous Roots which are awaiting the perfect time to unfurl Greenery above.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Today was a beautiful Spring Day, one of those Days that you know is awaiting you but is just beyond your Reach while in the thick of Winter. We all busied about doing those things that we have longed for. Each of those things that we did could have been called a perfect Celebration for this Day.
The Chickens (Hennies and 2 Roosters) found some Dry Soil at the base of the Apricot Tree. It was a perfect location for some luxurious and long awaited Dust Baths. Both Roosters showed up right in the middle of the mix. In fact, they could have reached out and touched each other, but they didn't. The Humans smiled as they went about their own Celebrations for this day.
The Eastern Boundary of our Little Farm is marked by a line of rambunctious Osage Orange (also known locally as Hedge Apples). At one time, the boundary also played host to a fence of Barbed Wire. The Osage Orange was probably placed there as Fenceposts. Farmers found out pretty quickly that Osage Orange will resprout if Green. The Barbed Wire now is in a tangle around and through the Trees. The whole thing looks like we have a "woven basket" along the Eastern edge.
Oaks mark the northeast and southeast corners; we speculate that they were stategically placed there as markers. Over time, other Oaks, Wild Cherries, and Honey Locusts have added themselves to the mix.
We have a few mature Honey Locusts. We 3 C's call them our "Serengeti Trees", as they are tall and with an almost umbrella like canopy. Honey Locusts are invasive. Plus, they have the peculiar habit of being very thorny and those thorns can do great damage.
Yet, surely there is more going on there. Plants "move in succession". From what we have heard, Honey Locusts actually are Legumes and fix Nitrogen in the Soil. For Soil that is pretty worn, that is important. We often wonder what is going on out there in the Plant Community of which we have no clue. Nature does try to work to "heal Herself".
We do wonder about all the "Scripts that have been in place here". When I walk that Boundary, I wonder whose Hands planted the Osage Orange and the Corner Oaks. Who were they? What dreams did they bring this place? When?
I stand in a Beautiful Land filled with Story.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Sliced Bread (Melanie's Homemade)
Eggs (from our Hennies)
Sauteed Veggies (Optional)
Cut a hole in the bread and butter both sides. Place in skillet and let "toast" a smidge. Break an egg in hole, cook, and turn with spatula when egg white becomes solid. Toast second side. Top with veggies and cheese. Yum!
Notes: The original recipe came from Heather. It is quick and easy, and has become a family favorite. We had Toad in the Hole today. It was our 1st Breakfast outside on the Deck. While we had on heavy Shirts, that East Sun was warm. What a wonderful way to greet the day.
Today is the 45th Anniversary of Richard and my 1st date. I can remember some things distinctly; others are a blur. He was a big Senior and 17. I was a Junior and 16. I wore my beautiful Dark Green Wool Sweater and Plaid Skirt which Mother had bought for me for special occasions. I always felt warm and filled with smiles inside when I wore it.
Richard took me to see a new Film (James Bond's Goldfinger) which at the time was all the rage. The Film even to this day puzzles me. He picked me up in his Folks' 1959 Aqua Blue and White Ford Fairlane Galaxy 500, the kind with the Fins. I thought the Car was his. He had surely cleaned and polished it royally. He walked at my side and opened and closed doors for me. He made me feel very special. He still does.
I smile. My, how the time has flown. What a privilege it has been and is to walk beside another on our growing Journeys for such an extended period.
It is also "Fruit Day" and Tomatoes were on the list "to plant from Seed". Melanie consulted with Richard and me regarding the specific varieties to plant. My request was the color: Red-Red-Red, the Really Red Ones I remember as a Child. Richard was more specific.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Biodynamically, today was a Root Day and in the middle of it was a Leaf Time. In fact, the Leaf Time was actually a time of accelerated growth. We surely don't want to miss any advantages around here. So when we got home, we went straight to the Seeds, Soil, Water, Plants, and Pots.
Melanie transplanted Kale which had gone Leggy. She planted Herbs [Summer Savory, Basil, Holy Basil, Parsley, Marjoram, Hyssop, Nettle (Yes, Nettle), Fennel, Pineapple Sage]. She got one of the Basils from Sue (Thanks, Sue!). She also planted Brussells Sprouts. In the middle of her tending to her Seedlings, she noted that the Peppers are up.
As for me, my attention was focused primarily on my beautiful Cabbages whom I adore. I chuckle as I write this. Every single one of my English Teachers would have cringed with the words "Cabbages whom". They would have circled those words in Red and put "Cabbages which" instead. Well, I make the choices now. And I truly believe that my Fellow Companions in Nature should be addressed as Beings and not Things. So there you have it. Change is happening, at least here.
I transplanted 96 Cabbage Plants from "Plugs" to "Pots". I also tallied up all my Cabbages Plants; I have 85 Danish Ballhead, 32 Premium Late Flat Dutch, 43, Henderson Charlestown Wakefield for a trand total of 160. And yes, 160 is a few more than we need. And yes, we will have some to share. In the middle of my tending, I noted that I have Lettuce Seedlings up. They were only planted 2 days ago. All these beautiful Beings are bursting with Life.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
March 25-April 5: Kale
March 25-April 10: Peas, Carrots
March 25-April 15: Onions
March 25-May 1: Radishes, Mustard
April 1-15: Potatoes, Beets, Kohlrabi
April 1-20: Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach
April 1-May 15: Lettuce
April 10-20: Parsnips, Parsley
April 15-May 20: Swiss Chard
April 10-25: Rhubarb
I think I shall print this off and post it in a strategic spot. Of course, the Garden is muddy now, with some areas more so than others. Over time we will be experimenting with strategies which will permit us getting into it sooner. Plus, we will also consider optimal times for planting Biodynamically. And we will be keeping our eyes on the Sky too.
www.muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/ (publication 6201)
All of the Shelves are now full. We have a lot more to plant or to transplant into Plugs or Pots. So we scratched our heads and began to consider how we could expand the space. 1st, many of the Plants are Cool Season Plants (Cabbages, Leeks, Onions). We are now beginning to "harden them off", so they are starting to spend more time outside. Soon they will spend full days outside and within the next couple of weeks, hopefully, they will be planted outside. That will free up some Shelves.
2nd, Richard brought an unused Door up from downstairs to extend our horizontal space. He put it on top of the 2 little "Horses" or "Trestles" that his Mother used to hold her Quilt Frame. I think she would like that. We covered the Door with an Oil Cloth from my Folks. They'd like that too. The Door Knob is the little lump in the middle along the far side. He laughed, noting that the new "Table" was now mostly empty. "That won't last long." This will not be the best place to start Seedlings. But it will be a great space to put Plants that go outside in the Day Time as it is close to the outside Door, and it will be excellent for my Geraniums which I will pot up this week.
We have to watch the little Seedlings very carefully to make sure that they are watered. They should not be too dry or too wet. I turn my Flats once a day to make sure that the Seedlings don't just grow in one direction and that all little Seedlings get the same amount of Sun.
Somehow, it seems like we have a Nursery around here. Melanie said that the Oxygen Level in the House should be very good too.
Since we did not put back Garden Soil last fall, we are dependent upon whether or not it is accessible. Right now, it is not. Garden Soil in the Mix gives Plants an early introduction to special living characteristics of their new Home.
Peat gives tilth. We would like to substitute another resource, since Peat is a non-renewable resource. We have visited Peat Bogs in Northern Minnesota and they are wonders to behold. In no way do we want to reduce them. We are on the look out for other options.
He runs the whole works through a sifter which he made from 1/4 inch hardware cloth inside a wooden frame.
We do not "bake" the Potting Soil to reduce Weed Seeds. We have a few, which we just remove. Intuitively, "baking" just doesn't seem right. All those micro-organisms in the Soil make it Alive. They surely have their place and we do not want to interfere.
Melanie and I are planting at a fairly brisk pace these days. Activities this week will place a high demand on the Potting Mix. We watch carefully for signs that the Compost is drying out, which it was yesterday when these photos were taken. Otherwise, it is not workable. Such would be the case today.
Yesterday was a "Fruit Day". Melanie transplanted the following Eggplants: Rosa Bianca (1), Florida High Bush (4), Applegreen (5), Casper (3), Ping Tung (5). She is also waiting for Pandora to germinate.
She planted the following (with numbers planted in parentheses): [Tomatillos] Green (12), Purple (8), [Tomatoes] Green Zebra (4), Red Zebra (3), Speckled Roman (5), Speckled Roman-Long (5), Kristina's (6), Old Brooks (4), Legend (4), Crnkovic (5), Hungarian Heart (4), Moskovic (4), Mortgage Lifter-Halladay's) (8), Rutgers (8), Red Brandywine (8), True Black Brandywine (4), Nyagous (4), Vorlon (6), Cherokee Purple (4), Old German (6), Gold Medal (5), Moonglow (5), Sweet Baby Girl (4), Velvet Red (4), Red Fig (6), Large Red Cherry (3), Principe Borghese (4), Blondkopfchen (4), Isis Candy (3), Beam's Yellow Pear (3), Sungold Select II (3), Sweetpea Currant (4), White Currant (4), Aunt Ruby's German Green Cherry (4).
Many of the Seeds were from our very own Seed Stash, which feels very good. Yes, that's a lot of Tomatoes. And yes, we will grow most of them in the Garden, assuming all goes well. Our intention is also to trade and share Plants among Gardening Kindred Spirits. We are excited. All that vibrant Plant Energy makes us smile.
Matt and Sheri gave us 3 of their Beauregard Sweet Potatoes which we were eager to start. Surprisingly, their Sweet Potatoes did not have any starts beginning when they gave them to us. And they still don't. In fact, all 3 now show signs of rotting; 2 are rotting from top and bottom; 1 is rotting from the bottom (although I have a hard time telling its top from its bottom).
I wonder what that means. What happened in the development of those Potatoes that they just don't seem to want to produce life? We try to "listen to the voices" of the Plants. They surely are guiding us in our Gardening Adventures.
And there we gathered right over those aromatic Onion Plants and Sets, those vibrant Seed Potatoes, and the display of Seed Packets. As we gathered, we brought wide Smiles and Stories as befits such a celebratory outing.
One Lively Older Lady said that her Parents always planted Potatoes on the 24th of March. They planted even if it was in the Mud and it reportedly always worked for them. Richard smiled. Many Gardeners seem to have their own Family Traditions as to when to plant Potatoes. Some swear by planting on Good Friday.
Last fall we 3 C's had the best success with a late Summer Planting. Few in these parts plant then.
I commented to our neighbor Dana that we all acted like we had just come out of our Burrows. And Saturday and Sunday, we may have to head back down with Winter Weather's Return. Dana smiled: "Yes, but it won't last for long."
Amid those Smiles and Stories, we packed away 14 packs of Onion Plants. Each will have 50-75 Plants. We had already purchased one in town.
And we have company. A Flock of Juncos were again dancing about the yard. And some chunky Cowbirds are hanging out in the Austrees and around the Feeders. Richard says there was a quite a "fall-out" of Juncos and Cowbirds last night. They were heading North and ran into the Storm System and landed. They will stay here for a day or 2 until the Weather clears. Having traveled a bit myself, this Human can relate.
Friday, March 19, 2010
It is "Leaf Day" through 11 a.m. our time, according to the Stella Natura Biodynamic Calendar. So I focused on planting a few Lettuces and transplanting my Coleus. I could have planted the Lettuce Seeds directly in the Garden, but I really like to have a few Lettuce Plants to tuck into various spots in the Garden.
In total, I planted from 6 Seed Packets. You can see in the closing photo the Popsicle Sticks marking the beginning of the following varieties: 1 (Lettuce Mascara), 2 (Red Velvet Lettuce), 3 (Crisp Mint Lettuce), 4 (Yugoslavian Red Lettuce), 5 (Lettuce Mixture), 6 (Bronze Arrowhead Lettuce). I use the Rulers to mark the space where I then "broadcast" the Seeds. That seems to keep like varieties all together. When the Seeds are in place, I cover them with about 1/4 inche of Soil. Then I mist the area, keeping it moist until germination occurs. When this is complete, I will mark the varieties with marker on masking tape.
I also moved the Baby Coleuses from the Seed Bed to "Plugs". The Coleus Plants were tiny and their Roots were smaller still. By the time I began to work with them, my Fingers were covered with globs of wet Soil. Working with such tiny Plants was difficult but I did come up with 18 Seedlings.
On this day, Richard built a plant shelf to accommodate the Cool Season plants which we are now beginning to take on excursions outside. Assuming all goes well, we should begin to plant some of them in the big Garden late next week: Onions, Leeks, Cabbages. We are eager. Yet, we are also in disbelief.
So, the last few days we have been taking the Baby Plants outside. Our 1st choices are those that will tolerate the cooler season. They will be transplanted in the Garden soon and include: Cabbages, Leeks, Onions, Cauliflower, Broccoli. Melanie has added Celeriac to the mix. But since the Celeriac just started on its daily excursions yesterday, it will be out for no more than a couple of hours today. All this talk makes me salivate just thinking about them.
In the beginning, their excursions were just for a couple of hours. Each day, the Baby Plants seem stronger and are able to stay out a little longer. We watch them very carefully to make sure they are doing OK. Plus, we pay attention to the drama of Winds and fast descending Temperatures which are pretty common on this shoulder season between Winter and Spring. Adequate but not too much Water is essential too.
Richard built another set of Shelves for taking the Baby Plants outside. The Shelves integrate my design and his creativity and experience in working with Natural Materials. The finished Shelves stand in a protected area outside the walk-out basement.
While the Temperatures have been accommodating these last few days, we are supposed to have Rain and Snow tomorrow. I have been talking to the Plants to let them know that their adventure outside tomorrow just may not happen in the way we would both like. Soon they will be outside all day long and in their proper homes in the Garden.
As I close this entry, I am reminded of the Mother whom I saw pushing her Baby in a modified Stroller/Buggy sort of an affair when I was in Quincy earlier in the week. She knew that it was important to take out the Wee Small One. But the Little One was protected from Winds by a tent of Blankets. At least, I am pretty sure there was a Baby inside. Wee Small Ones need their Protection. Everybody knows that.
"Hardening off" sounds pretty tough. But actually, we are just giving the Wee Small Ones their best start in their New Homes.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Pussy Willows' Catkins are breaking through their tight little "Husks". As a Child, I loved Pussy Willows. As an Adult, I still do.
While the Humans are anxious for Spring Green, Nature still wears that Soft Brown Coat which carefully held all that was alive in Winter. We are at the Shoulder Season when Winter and Spring are doing their Dance. Spring is more evident now in taking the lead, but Winter is not out of the picture yet. In fact, Snow is possible for this weekend.
I am reminded that the Old Timers said that the Puddles and Ponds will freeze a coating of Ice 3 times after the Frogs begin to sing. They began singing last week.
Those fuzzy little Pussy Willows are signposts pointing to Spring which is to come. The Brooder and Rooster Houses have been shut up and quiet for some time. The orders to the Hatcheries are in. By the end of April, we will have Baby Chicks coming to spend some time with us on the Farm.
A Soft Green is beginning to replace some of the Soft Brown. We Humans seem to have front row seats right here on the Farm for this next act of Nature's Grand Play.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This book lies at the intersection between 2 stories. Dave and Cec Lambeth gave us a copy of this lovely book sometime before we left Grand Forks. Thinking of them makes us feel warm inside and we smile.
Since we returned from Kansas City last weekend, Melanie has had a cold. I told her a story of when I had the Old Fashioned Measels as a Child in the mid 1950s, I had to stay in a darkened room for 2 weeks. That seemed like an eternity.
Aunt Lula and Mrs. Wagner would come and sit with me. Both Ladies were in their 70s and to someone so young, they seemed old. Yet, to me, their age did not matter, as I was quite charmed by them. They knew how difficult it might be for a Child to be sick and to be confined to the space of one's room. They were very attentive and would tell me Stories. Sometimes, Mrs. Wagner would read. I am not sure how she was able to do this since it was a darkened room, but the Child inside me remembers that she would read and that was very special to me.
At which point, Melanie asked her Dad to read. He read from this lovely book this evening. I stopped my blogging. We all loved the book and the fact that Richard was reading to us. He read the section on Spring.
We had our Gathering of Gardeners to talk about Garden Topics on Sunday. Melanie laughs and calls it the Gathering of "Seedy People". Yes, as Gardeners, we work with Seeds.
It was wonderful. Altogether, there were 12 of us. They entered and were welcomed by Hugs and Introductions. The Dialogue started at the Door (or before) even while Folks were taking off their Boots and that Talking just kept right on going.
We sat in a cozy circle in front of the Wood Stove and on the Buffalo Rug in the Living Room. Each shared a Gardening Question or a Gardening Teaching. After each Person shared, we took a few minutes for dialogue, experience and insights. We are each Learners and Teachers. Then we just kept moving around the Circle. At the close of our sharing, we headed into the Dining Room for some Snacks and more conversation.
Four hours later, Folks were heading back down the slushy Drive and Lane for Home and Chores. I think many of us kept "buzzing" about the topics and ideas emerging. Talk has it that we may be gathering about once a month as the Gardening Season picks up speed. It's a great time to learn and grow.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Song Sparrows have arrived. Chipping Sparrows have arrived. Meadow Larks are back. Mourning Doves are cooing. Great Blue Herons got back. We are seeing more Turkey Vultures. Richard saw a Rough Legged Hawk coming through.
The Migration of Geese has mostly moved through. We did not see as many this year. We now see Canadas in Pairs which indicates courtship and nesting behavior. They are settling in. This land is their home too.
The Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers are in full symphony on just about every little puddle in low lying areas. And they are loud. We Humans smile.
Chickens are migrating past their fences. They are also producing more Eggs; Melanie notes the lights are still on for a short amount of time. No Hennies have gone Broody. Yet.
We 3 C's are watching the Ground carefully to see what is emerging. The Mints, Garlic, Chamomile, Anise Hyssop, Yarrow, Sweet Grass are all up. Mother's Peony made it through the Winter. The Pussy Willows are breaking through their little "husks". Earthworms are everywhere. Daffodils are poking through.
With all the Snow and Rain we've had, we now have Spring Mud everywhere. The Drive is soft. We are grateful we had a load of rock put on it late last fall; we will probably do that again this Spring. Our Neighbors to the South planted Greens today. We 3 C's need to focus on creating more raised Beds so that we can get into the Garden earlier.
Taxes are done. Does that count? Mother Nature would probably shake her head and laugh. For the Humans in a tightly constructed Human World, it surely is another marker of early Spring.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
We stayed at the Country Club Plaza area which is where our meeting was. I remember my Aunt Mary used to take me to the Plaza in the 1950s and 60s. That would have been 30 to 40 years ago. The area was then and is now high on some lists of Folks. All Melanie and I could see was some contrasts.
For years, Melanie and I enjoyed shopping and would go out of our way to shop, shop, shop. This weekend, we passed by some of the same stores we would shop at before. The Names and Logos were familiar. But we just kept right on walking. Mostly, we did not even look in the windows. We don't know what is in style and we don't care. It doesn't seem central to our purpose on this beautiful Planet now.
Several years ago, I had 3 highly creative Students who were known to color outside the lines. Just thinking of them makes me smile. For their group project, they were looking at social justice issues, logos, and consumerism. In case you are not aware, many of the big name logos which are bent on style at a price utilize off shore sweatshops and deplorable working conditions for those who produce products that consumers purchase. Talk about spreading messages of "I don't care" and "ill will" into the World. These 3 Students chose 2 or 3 of the logos which were popular and available in our town. In their report, they shared the realities behind the products. But they went a little further. They composed fictitious letters from a child who had supposedly been involved in the production of the fashions sold. These letters were constructed from real profiles they had read. Then they headed to the stores and put copies of the letters in the pockets of garments. As their teacher, I had not been aware that they would be so creative. I must say that it occurred to me on this fine excursion to the Big City that it would be a fine use of our time to stuff similar letters in the pockets of the clothes. I should think most consumers (especially women) would want to know. But we didn't.
Melanie and I did go into Barnes and Noble. We love books and learning. For years, Richard and I would have walked right in, grabbed a book and some coffee or tea, and sat right down. We would have repeated that several times. We would have carried home a full sack. This time, we did look around a bit. Melanie found the magazine (Piecework) that she had been looking for. But that is all that we bought. The racks simply did not draw us in. Where were the magazines and books on the current state of the environment, anyway?
I am deeply grateful for the access to books and an abundance of ideas over those years. Those ideas stretched us in some directions we needed to be stretched. Now we are pretty focused on some specific magazines, catalogs, and associations that do the same. We get information in other ways, and we seek them out at the library too since we have less need to own them.
Our meeting was superb. The focus was on Energy Medicine and was conducted by author Donna Eden. Energy Medicine is not new. In fact, it has been integral to a variety of cultures, but largely set aside by our own. As important and accessible as the information at the meeting was, it was equally impressive to see the large number of people drawn to healing, their own and others. Change is happening.
I should also note that we met some amazing People. While popular culture would lead us to believe that everything is the "Same-O, Same-O", I would conclude that it is not. Many folks in our time are drawn to living their lives on the path they were intended to walk; they are stepping outside the ruts, treating Life as the Sacred Gift that it was intended. We also went to Sunday Services at Unity Temple which sprouted and thrives in the middle of that shopping and urban extravaganza. I am warmed to the Core.
Yes, it was a rainy, cold, gray 3 days. I could not help but look at the area where our Hotel was and note sadly that the Earth was covered with Concrete and Buildings. Even the small Trees were set in small circles of Soil inside of Cement and Grates and covered with tight coils of holiday lights. It was as if the Earth herself was in a Life Constraining Corset of the making of some of the Two-Leggeds.
The pavement was wet. At this season, typically, we would see Earthworms on the sidewalk and streets. We saw none. None. And we saw none of the hub-bub of Nature that we see right here on the Farm. Where were the Geese flying overhead?
I am reminded that my Mother always told me not to take everything when I was at someone else's for a meal or a snack. Just take a small amount if offered. Apparently, the Folks who designed this place did not have a Mother like mine. Or perhaps they did not listen. The Earth is our Mother. She is our Life Support. It does us and her little good to take so much. That time has past.
We returned to the Farm and it felt very good. After dinner, we headed outside and listened to the sounds. Where we had heard only cars, motors, and the frenzy of shoppers, we heard the sounds of Spring: Chorus Frogs, Foxes, Owls, Geese, Woodcocks with a train hurrying down the track a few miles over.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I have to laugh. I think that Melanie and I have done a "180". For years, I loved the fast pace of Cities and the Adventures they might hold for me. I taught that to my Daughter. I loved going into the thick of things, experiencing that intensity, and then finding my way out. It did not matter if it was Minneapolis, New York City, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Rome, or Cairo. I would appear with map in hand and just dive in.
While it is true that Cities have picked up considerable Speed over the years, a more important Shift has been happening in us. We have largely disconnected with those out of control energies of the City which so often bring feelings of "buy more", "get bigger", "go faster", "trash the past", "leave your Neighbor behind you in the dust", "forget Nature", "focus on the Human", "pay somebody to do it for you", "build a Fortress to keep yourself safe".
Our move to the Farm has been founded in our intention to "live simply", "live in the present", "return to being a part of Nature and that Great Circle of Life", "return to doing things for ourselves", "go slow". I am happy to report that, while it has not always been easy, we have embraced considerable success in that quest. Peace and centeredness are returning. We most enjoy just being on the Farm. Just being.
But on occasion, we choose to go into the City. I find our process of re-entering the City almost amusing. We have to consciously think about what we are going to wear. Our Wardrobe Stashes have more Farm Clothes in them. After almost 3 years of living on the Farm, our Clothes are still functional but worn. I suppose Clothes for Chicken House Chores are not the stuff of being in the City, although I do understand that more Cities do allow Residents to have Chickens, Kansas City included. We have to research Maps and get ourselves prepared for entering the fast paced swim of that space. And then, of course, there is the matter of cash. Entering the City, one is immediately hooked into a network of tubes which extract cash as quickly as possible and at every turn.
I was talking with our Friend Matt earlier this afternoon. At his lead, we began to explore some questions that we could pose our Friends in the City, but of course we won't. "Why do you need to go so fast?" "What are you in a hurry to?" "When will you know that you have gotten there?" "Where are your Front Porches?" "Why do you need so much stuff?" "Why do you need to get past the person next to you?"
But, I have also heard many evidences that Folks in Cities are carving out their own Niches of Slowing Down and Simplicity. Blanket statements never work, this one included. I shall keep my antenna alert for all the teachings along the Path.
While I knew that their Calling was communication to each other, I could almost hear them expressing Greetings of the Season to their Companions on the Ground. They seemed especially to be calling out to their Human Companions who were intent upon other things and took little time to "look up".
I could also hear in their Voices a Sadness that their Human Companions were often oblivious to them. I could feel their angst as they watched a Landscape which was "Home" increasingly gobbled up from Human Pursuits and alien to their Needs. They would have to fly farther and would find less.
These days, I think they are looking down at us and beginning to see some shifts in the Human Presence. While not mainstream by any means yet, many Humans are at last returning to being present in Nature. We are returning to that Great Circle of Life of which we are a part. Perhaps the languages of the Geese are their way of saying "Welcome Home".
As Weather Systems move in and out, we can always expect to see new Birds migrating through during the Spring and Fall. I wonder who is waiting this Night for their Flight through these parts. We shall wait and see.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The little Celeriacs, which Melanie transplanted on Wednesday, March 3, are very content in their new homes. All 72 of them. (Oops. Melanie edited this later.) All 108 of them. And she has plans for more.
Most People don't even know what Celeriac is. They surely don't know what they are missing. We didn't know about it until last year and, are we ever smitten.
Today is a "Leaf Day" so the Plan is that Melanie will be transplanting Celery, Phyllis (yes, Phyllis), and Cauliflower. I plan to transplant some of my beautiful Cabbages. We are faced with a bit of dilemma. It is called "Abundance".
We planted a lot of Seeds for transplanting so far. That means the Seeds and Plants will start inside and we will transplant them into the Gardens or share them with Friends.
We probably are only about 1/2 to 2/3 complete in our planting of Transplants. We have had excellent germination. Room is soon to become an issue. I don't know what it is with Melanie and me but we seem to have little Faith that those little Seeds will actually produce Plants. So we plant a whole Bunch. Then they all sprout. Plus, we cannot bear to kill a living thing, so we just keep finding Homes for them. We have also let the word out that we may have some extras.
Is a "Greenhouse" in our future? We would like 1, but like most Folks, we are long on hopes and dreams but short on cash. We shall have to ponder this 1. But in the meantime, we need to find homes for the increasing number of Seedlings who are making themselves at home right here on our Little Farm.
Seeds do what they are supposed to. Farm Life stimulates creativity. Abundance is a good thing.
Richard and I went for a walk this evening. It was the 1st time I have walked the loop around the Farm in probably a month. The Snow had been too deep and hard for me to travel easily and safely. So I just waited until now.
We heard Geese in motion just about everywhere we walked. Some were in view. They were moving. That unknown switch that says "It's Spring" has flipped. They are eager. They are intent. There is no stopping them.
We saw many flocks of Blackbirds, of 100 or more each. Richard said they were likely Red Winged Blackbirds and Brewer's Blackbirds. He is not sure, but they often travel together. They seemed to be flying just above the Tree Tops. They were flying in their flocks which were continually in motion. We could hear the Wind in their Feathers and their "Flock Calls". Richard says "Flock Calls" help determine their position in a Flock so they are not flying into each other. Now that would be important. I had never thought of that. I am surely a better Creature walking on the Ground than Flying through the Air.
We saw Ducks. A Killdeer was calling overhead. Richard noted that Robins were perched in Trees. Their Spring Calls were evident. We will hear that lovely sound into July.
A pair of Bluebirds were looking seriously at one of the Bluebird Houses that our Neighbor gave us last year. All of Nature seems intent on the Miracle of Life.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Although they lived most of their Lives far away from Adair County, Uncle Harl and Aunt Clara never lost the feeling that it was Home. I look at this large text of more than 1000 detailed pages of the History of this Place, and I can see their love of the Area. The text has been covered with either an oil cloth or wallpaper. The cover is handsewn to fit in small and careful stitches.
Mother had given the copy of this book to my Brother who has shared it with me. Her hope is that we will share it together, which we are doing in this moment in time. I have poured over the beautiful pages of the text, finding tidbits which illuminate the past which is foundation of this place. My many bookmarks sprout wings to the text.
I am careful. I dare not explore too often or too much. What I hold is what was held by ancestors from before. The pages are delicate. The binding is frail.
I was excited that the Adair County Historical Society is offering reprints. The fact that they are offering reprints is testament to the fact that interest in the History of this County continues through the present day. I find that very special indeed. Melanie and I headed down to their center to claim a copy for ourselves. It now is home on this Little Farm.
Much of the "Settlement of the New World" by the Pilgrims and others from Europe seemed to be based upon the European Conqueror's assumption that Nothing was here, the Land was for the taking, and the Landscape wasn't right the way it was and therefore needed to be changed. Yet, this Land, the People and Beings who inhabited it had long Histories here far pre-dating our stepping upon these beautiful Shores.
Now, after many Centuries of our being here, our Footprints, whether by accident or design, have significantly changed the Continent within which we have made our Home. One could conclude that our "Nature Removal" project is almost complete. Yet that "Nature", which seems a concept almost Foreign to us, is the source of our Sustainability. Any destruction of it is ultimately a destruction of ourselves.
I think back to my Mother's very specific instructions of protocol in coming into the House of another only upon their invitation. "Always remember that this is Their House. Listen. Be quiet. Be respectful. Do not touch or break a thing. Take Food if it is offered to you, but do not take more than what you need." As a People, we surely did not abide by any such Rules. My Mother would have talked to us very directly in our return to our Home.
I wonder how things might have been different. I ponder 2 specific questions: What were the Customs of Native People in introducing themselves to a New Place and a Sacred Place that was Home to another? After these many Centuries of being a Destructive Force, how may those of us of European Descent who feel drawn to do so Live in this Place in a New Way which is respectful of the Traditions of the Native People? In other words, how may we live in this place as more of a Benign Presence?
At least 3 are now making our little Farm their Home. Is it our Home or their Home? I supposed it is our shared Home.
I asked Richard if they would be the same Birds from last year. He said that they likely are. I wonder how long their Families go back on this little Acreage.
Even when we are inside, we are constantly looking out. "Look!" I said to Melanie. And I pointed toward the Austree's in front. About a dozen Robins were dancing about, looking for Food. They must have just arrived as we had not noticed them before. By the time we could note it to Richard, they were gone.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
For 1 thing, our little House was not built as a "Farm House". It is a small House and its "smallness" suits our fancy fine. That also presents the challenge of creating multiple functions in a small space. We have no Mud Porch just off that back and into the yards. While we have a lot of good light for growing things, we need shelves to grow them on. Use of "vertical" increases our usable space. These days, that means we can grow more plants. And these days, that is important.
So, this year, Richard is building more shelves. He is also headed out to Auctions in the area with his eyes open for good usable Utility Shelves or Materials to build them for the Garage and Basement. That's where he is today. Creating functional storage will surely be an ongoing process. It will be fun to see what things look like in a few more years.
If you would have dropped by on Friday, you would have found him constructing a set of shelves for the Family Room. First, he bought Cedar 1x6"s for the shelves. Then he was out cutting Willow. At some kind of unique intersection between my design, the Cedar, the Willow and his Creativity, he was beginning to visualize how things would come together. Fairly quickly, he had identified the Willow for Posts.
While Melanie and I were doing our own Chores in the House, Melanie and I kept hearing wonderful sounds of the Saw making its way through Boards and Torque Screws tying things together. It reminds me of the sounds of Woodpeckers creating Homes down in the Woods. We are all busy these days.
Richard is really quick at these things. In no time at all, he had a beautiful set of Shelves, which passed his inspection. At which point, he and Melanie carried the Shelves into the House.
It took a little doin' but we pulled the piles from away from the Window and did some cleaning. Then we put the Shelves in place. The top 3 Shelves will hold plants. (Max thought they should hold him.) I am planning to give away most of the Shamrocks which are in the picture. They are so beautiful and they are eager to be home with Friends and Family. They were originally from Mary Morken, our Former Neighbor up North.
Soon they will be replaced by Geraniums which I will be starting from the Plants hanging upside and bare root down in the basement. The bottom 3 Shelves hold some of our Shoes. Now, it is surely nice to store those vertically and not horizontally.
We forgot 1 thing. Fresh Cut Cedar smells. We took the shelves back outside to "offgass" before they find their way back into that house. We are eager for the Shelves to return.
Last night, he came in with the same exuberance. He had us come outside. While it was dark because it was early evening, we could hear that distinctive "Peent". The Woodcocks are back. The Males have likely arrived 1st. They are practicing their Spring Call and Flight. They are getting ready for the Females to arrive.
All of this is so exciting. We get a glimpse of the world of our Critter Kin. Plus, we know that the Great Wheel of Nature continues to turn. Praises be!
Spring is arising. Choices are growing.
Melanie made "Tweet Tweet Cookies" today. We had a Birder visiting ("Chris") and the name of the Cookies just seemed right for this auspicious occasion. The Recipe came from the Cookbook Gaia's Kitchen: Vegetarian Recipes for Family & Community from Schumacher College (by Julia Ponsonby, Green Books, 2000). As usual, Melanie used the recipe as a start and added her own flare.
When we lived in North Dakota, we found ourselves almost always in the midst of Birders. I don't know an official definition, but I could make 1 up. Birders (of the Human Sort) enjoy being around Birds, learning about Birds, identifying Birds, and (although not required) being in the company of other Birders.
Richard taught Ornithology at the University of North Dakota for 30 years; plus, he always had Students and later former Students/now Professionals out studying Birds. The Grand Forks area also had a wonderful community of Birders, with whom we interacted a lot and just plain loved. They were (and are) part of our extended Family. It is a wonder we 3 C's did not sprout Feathers and fly. I suppose we did in our own way.
So far, we have not found "Birders" in the area. Yes, we have found many People (of the Human Sort) who have an interest in Wildlife and Nature. It could be in part that we haven't had much time.
All of the above made Chris' visit extra special. Ethan wanted us to meet Chris, who is traveling through this area looking for a place to land. I suppose that kind of makes him like a migratory Bird. We are all migrating in a way. It was just plain exciting to have a Birder right here on the Farm. Our best wishes to Chris as he finds that special place to land.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Her questions inspired Melanie to suggest that we 3 C's have a gathering of Gardeners at the Farm in this early season. 1st and foremost, we will look at Lori Ann's questions since she was the inspiration. From there, we will head out into others' sharing of questions, news and happenings, successes and challenges.
The gathering is Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for a couple of hours right here at the Farm. Most of the Folks are gardening Organically, interested in Heirlooms, concerned about Sustainability, desiring to live Simply. I don't know if any of us would call ourselves "Experts" but we are all "Seekers".
Thinking about who is coming makes me smile. I can imagine that the Earth smiles too.
The original town of forty acres as the surveyors laid it out, was bounded on the north by what is now Missouri Street, on the west by High Street, on the south by McPherson Street, and on the west by Main Street (page 346).
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Melanie says that she has been using the "light" in the Hen house inconsistently. She thinks the Hennies may be confused. A lot of times, the light was left on because it kept the water from freezing. But who would want to sleep all night long with the light on? We sure don't. When the light is left on, the Hennies are sometimes harassed by the Young Rooster. Freddie, the older Roo, doesn't do too much harassing anymore.
Next year she may actually not turn on the light.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Early this Morning, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to water in the new Little Cabbages after I transplanted them yesterday. I had made sure that the Soil was moistened before transplanting. The lack of adequate Water would surely diminish their vitality.
The 1st thing I did this morning was to get up and visit the Little Cabbages. I still have 144 and they look just as happy as can be.
You will see 3 Flats in the above Photo. The 1st and 3rd Flats are Wooden Boxes which is where I start the Seedlings. Please notice those Jubilant Petunias in the 1st Wooden Box. They may be tiny but they are pretty excited about their upcoming times in the Sun. I am too. I can just imagine the conversations those Petunias surely are having.
The 2nd Flat is temporary home to 72 of the 144 Cabbages. They will outgrow this space soon. The 3rd Flat was the starter Bed for the Cabbages and for Coleus, which as of now is Wee Small. Soon, more Seeds will be in this Flat.