Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hats Cycles

Melanie suggested
we put
our Summer Straw Gardening Hats away.
They have been faithfully
hanging out on the Coat Rack,
ready for any Gardening Excursion
however big or small.
I suggested
we might have a Ceremony
marking the occasion.
In the meantime,
Winter Scarves, Mittens, and Hats
are now appearing
in their customary Basket
near the West Door.
Those soft Treasures
surely have marked
a Ceremony of their own.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Help Is on the Way

These days, we are pretty worn out. The intensity has been "over the top". I feel like we are runners who have been on a long marathon. We 3 C's have little energy left. The finish line is close. Will we have enough energy to get there?

Five Urban Gardeners from the Kansas City area came to help on Friday afternoon: Les, Alicia and Evangeline, Bobby and Jennifer. We had known Les from before. These Urban Gardeners are touring Gardens in the area. Home Base for them is the Possibility Alliance down the Road. Ethan sent them right up to help us. Our Gardening Friends went right to work on our list of what we needed to do in the Garden: pulling the remaining Dry Edible Beans, taking out Tomato Cages and Tomato Supports, digging Glad Bulbs.
Probably one of the most significant things that they did was to go after the Weeds. They pulled what they could find and placed them in a burn pile. Those Weeds are loaded with Seeds, which is the way Nature intended. The problem is that those Seeds will become Plants and they will be vigorous in the Garden. Pulling them and disposing of them in a way that Seeds are destroyed is important.

It is amazing to see how Folks who are "fresh" with energy stores can plow through the garden. At the beginning we offered them a Tour and Orientation to the Farm. At the end, there was time for some exploration, play and conversation.

They were very interested in the Sorghum Molasses Operation. We headed straight to the Cane Field. Richard even found some Green Sorghum Canes for sampling. The Juice was down but the Sweetness was up. While I love the taste of the Juice, my Favorite Part surely is spitting out the pulp. My spitting techniques and distance seem some better.Evangeline spent some time with the Chickens. The Chickens were intrigued with her Company and especially enjoyed some of the Treats. Melanie followed up with Chicken Stories. That's Coobird below. She is named for her sound and my Childhood Nickname.

In the special time that Evangeline was here, she contributed some names to 3 of the Littles from the year: "Shy", "Curious", and "Orange Feet". We smiled. Some among us are surely the "Namers".As quickly as the Gardening Fairies had come, they were soon gone. But in their wake was a Garden which was very happy to be tended, and some very grateful Human Gardeners. Thanks so much, Friends! We are so very grateful. Good wishes ahead on your own Gardening Adventures.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Will and Beth came from the Possibility Alliance down the Lane to harvest Veggies from the Garden. Melanie and Richard took them around the Garden to point out produce that we have in abundance and would like to share. They picked Tomatoes (Green and Red), Tomatillos, Green Beans, Peppers (Hot and Sweet).

The Wind was blowing at a Gale. While the Weather seems over the top on the Plains, Change is in the air. The next 2 nights will likely see Temperatures dip. Word has it of Blizzards on the Northern Plains. Winter is coming. Gardeners scurry about, much like the Squirrels down in the Woods. Winter Sleep will soon be here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Found Friends

October 13:
Richard and Melanie headed to West Orchard to pick Apples today. They came back with 2 1/2 Bushels. Most were Arkansas Black which are supposed to be good keepers.
While there, Dan West introduced these 2 C's to a grove of Persimmons. Some of those Persimmons wanted to come home with them, which they did. Those Persimmons are simply yummy. I do not ever remember having Persimmons before.
Richard and Melanie extracted the Pulp. Then Melanie froze some and also made Persimmon Cookies, modifying Jennifer Schutter's recipe so that it was Gluten Free. Those Cookies went right into the Cookie Jar and then came right out.
On this day, we celebrate New Found Friends.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nature Notes

Two days ago, I noticed a Northern Harrier on my way home from Town. We love that Hawk with its long tapering wings and graceful almost Butterfly-like Flight very close to the ground.

The Harrier nests in the Northern U.S. and Canada. We fondly remember watching it on the Prairies in summers when we lived in North Dakota. It is listed here as "year round". However, we do not see it much here on the Farm in Summer. For us, the Harrier's return is a sign of the return of a Winter Companion.

We hope you have had a good nesting season, Dear Friend. We are grateful for your return.

Echinacea in the Fall

While some colors are fading as we have moved into Fall, others are intensifying. Yes, the Raiments of the Trees have shifted into their Fall Wardrobes, but they don't seem as Colorful as other years. Some just seemed to have dropped their leaves. I wonder if that has come from stress of the weather events over the Summer. Those events were surely out of normal range.

On this Day, I noticed that my Friend Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower) is blooming. I dearly love this plant. We seem to have a love affair that has been ongoing these past 15 years. She usually blooms in the middle of the Summer. But I find her flowers are the most intense in color in the Fall. They seem to take on a brighter pink.

We use Echinacea as Tea and Tincture for bolstering our immune Systems. Our research of the Plant and its effects on us makes it a very special companion. Melanie has already dried leaves for Tea. Richard will soon be digging Roots for Tincture.

Notes on Sugar

This surely could be a much longer entry, but this evening, it simply won't.

We 3 C's have cut down markedly on our use of Sugar and Sweeteners these past 10-15 years. It didn't happen all at once and rather happened gradually over time.

I suppose we should 1st set the scene. For 3 decades plus, we lived in a valley which produced huge amounts of Sugar made from Sugar Beets. We watched the ecological destruction of what was once a Natural Landscape. When I began teaching Environmental Studies classes in 1996, I noted with interest the health affects of people living in those areas. I was appalled. Plus, we watched the Plumes of the Sugar Beet Factories and smelled the Piles of Waste wafting over our town. For me, Bees became an inspiration. How could they do it so simply? And why were Humans intent upon such gargantuan enterprises and such ecological change? I began to watch our Sugar Consumption.

All 3 of us have faced blood sugar issues the last 12 years. Fortunately, that didn't happen at the same time. We each had time to face the realities of what we ate and the affect it has upon our Health. "We are what we eat." In the face of those realities, choosing to reduce the amount Sugar was and is very important. The Creator gave us this Body and this Lifetime; it seems like it is our responsibility to take care of it.

Simulataneously, we were switching to Organic Foods in the last 10-15 years. When we switched to eating Organic Foods, we discovered a remarkable difference in taste. At last, a Strawberry tasted like a Strawberry. An Apple was a sensory pleasure. We had forgotten what those Foods really tasted like. Since Organic Foods tasted just like they were supposed to, we didn't need to add Sugar or Spices to jazz them up. I do believe that Sugar and Flavorings used in Foods are masks to cover something that doesn't really taste like it is supposed to. Witness those labels.

Melanie also notes that we were increasingly eating "fresh" Foods grown by our very own Hands. Once again, Flavor was (and is) at premium. As we have moved to this Little Farm, we have experienced a marked increase in "fresh" Foods grown chemically free. An amazing amount is grown locally, most often by us. We do not know the actual percentage of the latter.

We steer clear of Artificial Sweeteners. Yuk. In fact, Melanie and I find them scary. If Nature didn't produce it or the Grandmothers wouldn't recognize it as Food, we avoid it. In the last 3 years, we have switched to almost exclusive use of Natural Sweeteners (only when needed). That includes mostly Honey and Sorghum Molasses, with some Rapadura (less refined Cane Sugar), Maple Syrup, Date Fines, and Agave. When we get the Good Stuff, we don't need as much. We use less of the Sweeteners and when we do, they become a Treat.

All along the path, we were doing careful research, reading all that we could find. Our antenna were up. The research was the underpinning for the change. And that change felt so right.

Should you eat at our House, you would find some differences in Taste. Hopefully, they would be Tastes that you would like. However, if you are hooked on the other stuff, the differences may be dramatic. Again, we looked at health issues and impacts on the Planet. The shift represents values important to us. They did not happen all at once. We are so glad we made the change.

A Fall Breakfast

October 12:

Melanie fixed a German Apple-Pear Pancake for breakfast this morning. This morning's rendition varies some from the original.

She originally got the German Apple Pancake recipe when she was in Gustavus, Alaska, on Summer Solstice 2003. Memories of it are reminders of that Beautiful Stay with Beautiful Friends in years past. Gustavus is out on the water in Southeastern Alaska near Glacier Bay National Park. It's amazing how Memories are stored in Food.

Seven years later, she makes it Gluten Free right here on our little Farm in Northeast Missouri. She included Pears and Apples from our Fall Harvest. The Apples were from the Golden Delicious Tree in our backyard and the Pears were from the Old Trees out in front of neighbors Shirley and Terry's house.

We put on Butter and drizzled Molasses made at the Crawford Family Farm on top. Those Pecans were bought in the store and they are not local nor are they organic. They are however a reminder that we need to check out the Fall Crop in places to the South of here.

When we sat down to the table this morning, more memories were being created. In the meantime, that German Apple-Pear Pancake just disappeared. Yum.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

German Apple-Pear Pancake (Gluten Free, No Sugar)

(This recipe serves 3 "lightly" with other additions. I sometimes double it. Earlier version was not Gluten and Sugar Free
1/4 c. Gluten Free Baking Mix (we used "Pamela's")
1/4 c. Sorghum Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
2/3 C. Raw Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 1/4 lb. Apples/Pears, sliced (she used half and half, she peeled them because the peels were not "appealing")
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Lemon Juice

1. Set oven at 425 degrees. Adjust rack so that Apple Pancake will sit in the middle with even air flow all around.
2. Mix dry ingredients: Flours, 1 Tbsp. Rapadura (optional), Salt until evenly distributed. Set aside.
3. For liquid ingredients, beat Eggs. Add Raw Milk and Vanilla. Set aside.
4. Heat Butter in 10 Inch Cast Iron Skillet until bubbling. Add Apples, Rapadura (optional), and Cinnamon. Stir occasionally. Cook until Apples become slightly golden and slightly cooked. Stir in Lemon Juice.
5. Mix together #2 and #3 (Dry and Liquid Ingredients for the Pancake). No lumps please. Pour over Apple Mixture.
6. Bake in the same Cast Iron Skillet until Pancake is golden brown, puffy and springs back at the touch. (About 18 minutes). It will "deflate" after it cools. No problem.
7. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings. We use Butter, Maple or Sorghum Molasses, Pecans.

Days Are Full

If you are a regular following this Blog,
you may be wondering
why I haven't been writing much
these past few days.
A snapshot of today might shed some light.
I did wash to start the Day.
I should not forget that
in the face of the busy-ness,
those Sheets
need to be put on our bed.
Harvest is in full swing.
Every container is maxed
with some kind of Garden Produce
waiting in cue to be eaten and preserved.
We watch carefully
so we do not lose anything.
Those Peppers and Tomatoes
went into Stuffed Peppers
which we made yesterday.
They were done last night.
We put them in the outside Refrigerator
to cool for the Night.
Today, I put them into Plastic Tubs
that Deleta gave us.
And they are now in the Freezer.
Melanie and Richard peeled
Apples for Apple Sauce.
And she canned it up
as soon as it was done.
The aroma wafted lovingly
into the corners of the House.
I tidied up to make sure no bills
were going unpaid.
It seems when we get as busy
and distracted as we are now,
those essentials can slip past.
Richard picked up needed Supplies in town.
He headed to Rolf's to pick up Liver, etc.
Rolf is a friend who Farms
about an hour to the west of us.
We really like his Beef.
They are pastured and very well cared for.
If you have been following this,
you know that is essential to us.
Rolf provides Beef for Consumers.
He called late last week to offer us the Liver
as a Cow was being butchered today.
When Richard arrived back here at the Farm,
Hollis Dale came over to help.
We split the Liver between us.
I watched Richard and Hollis Dale at work.
I am new to these things,
but figured out
where I could be the most help.
I went to Town
to visit my Elderly Mother.
She is not doing so well.
I am wondering if she is ready to head on.
Of course, we cannot know.
Once again, I am new at these things
and I keep trying to find my place.
She is less and less connected.
However, she loves to have me play the Piano.
She just lights up.
So I played a Recital just for her.
The pieces came right
out of my childhood and family history:
"Adagio" (the 1st movement of "Moonlight Sonata")
was played by my Grandmother Lottie
at her Graduation
from the Wagner Conservatory of Music
101 years ago, in 1909,
in Kirksville.
For as long as I have lived,
my Mother has loved this song
with abandon.
My version was neither as long
nor did it have as many notes
as my Grandmother's.
My sheet Music calls this version "simplified"
which suits me just fine.
I played "For Eloise" by Beethoven,
which I just love.
I played the "Blue Danube" by Strauss.
These days, my mind and prayers drift
to the tragedy on the beautiful Danube in Hungary.
While playing the "Blue Danube",
1 of the Custodians came along
with his Floor Polisher;
he was humming the tune
and I could swear
he was dancing with that Floor Polisher.
But I am not sure,
for mostly my thoughts were focused
on the Sheet Music and the Keys.
He gave me the Gift of a wide Smile.
I also played
the "Spinning Song" by Ellmenreich.
For this recital, we were joined
by a Childhood Friend Gaylene
(who was visiting from the East Coast)
and her youngest sister Kathy.
Our Dads were 1st generation
born to immigrant Croatian parents
and they grew up together.
Gaylene and Kathy had come to see Mother.
Their Mother is doing a Hospital stint
and I was not happy to hear about that.
She will be in our thoughts and prayers.
I'm playing the Piano at lot here at home.
And I am doing it "for Mom".
We pulled 7 Chickens out of the Freezer.
The Freezers are overflowing,
so we will be canning up Meat.
We have "Tides" here on the Farm.
They are actually Dishes
which rise and fall in mounds
to be cleaned or dried and put away.
With all the doin's,
I have not been sleeping well.
Something had to give
and it is not supposed to be me.
I slowed down on the writing,
but this indeed is a treasure trove time.
My writing is a record,
it is also a seeking of meaning too.
Plus, our Server seems
to have less access in the Evening
so Blogger is often out of reach.
For all these reasons of abundance,
I didn't post on the Blog for a bit.
That will likely happen again.
I asked my family
if I could take a bit of time
to Blog while they cooked supper.
Liver is on.
It smells really good.
Dinner will be up soon.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Plans for Sorghum Planting 2011

October 7:

We just finished making the last Batch of Sorghum Molasses for the year, and Bingo, we are getting ready for next year's. Hollis and Hollis Dale headed over to mow some of the Meadow for the next year's planting. Richard picked 2 spots, one farther to the east of the house and the other to the northwest. We looked at them closely. I think the Cane will be happy in either spot.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nature Notes

Richard saw the 1st Junco today. They have been up into Canada in their Breeding Territories. What those little Wings have seen.

Juncos are our Winter Companions. Cycles and Seasons continue. We are ever so grateful.

Nature Notes

Harvesting of Soybeans on Farmland out here in the Countryside has begun. Asian Lady Beetles are beginning to show up, outside and inside. They are not our favorite.


October 3:
The moment finally came.

The Marathon Summer had been intense with all the Rain, Storms, Chiggers, Weeds. We could hardly take a break. We did not know what "break" was. Our antenna were up. We were ever vigilant for the next challenge.

Harvest season came. Yes, there were losses. Despite adversity, our Garden and the Earth produced Abundance at every Turn. We were deeply grateful.

Then, Frost was predicted with the arrival of October. That was well ahead of the 1st Frost Date of October 10th for these parts. We headed into overdrive to gather whatever we could.

And my Dear Elderly Mother came down with Pneumonia and had a stay in the Hospital. We (and especially me) focused on her with an ever watchful Eye.

Just when we thought we had not 1 particle of energy, we made that last Batch of Sorghum Molasses on Sunday. Pretense went out the Window. We moved in and out of the complexity of Tasks for the day; magically and seamlessly, Folks stepped up to the plate. What needed to be done was done. Cane was milled, Juice was strained, and boiling down began. We had a most welcome Lunch of Food which appeared out of nowhere on that wide Table under the Oak.

And then we found moments of delicious rest awaiting. We took it in quiet conversations in easy Chairs on the Lawn. Some of us laid down on the Earth and felt that Glorious Sun pouring down. Those are the Photographers Knees at right.

The circle of Adults in this spot were at 1 with the Ground. And Baby Alexis quietly and gently sat and played in the middle. Finally, that moment of Rest had arrived. And a sense that the deeper Rest of Winter would be at hand.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Molasses Making 2010: Batch 2 (October 2)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


September 27:

Rhiannon made 2 beautiful Wreaths while she was here. Sorghum Cane Seedheads were the inspiration for this beautiful Artistic Adventure we were privileged to watch right here from our Home on this little Farm.

For the 1st Wreath, Rhiannon built the Wreath out of the Sorghum Cane Seedheads alone. For the 2nd, she used the Seedheads and added an assortment of Flowers and Grasses from the Garden and on the Meadow which she had dried. A wire coathanger was bent to become structure for the circle. She used Twine for tying.

Before she left, we hung this wreath beside the Grandfather Clock. The Wreath provides a proper welcome for the 3 C's and anyone who ventures here. Plus, we'll be able to watch how the Wreath retains color and holds together over time.

Since the Wreaths are biodegradable (except for the hanger), we will give them back to the Earth at some point in the future. The Seeds may even become Plants, which is what I imagine Seeds long to be.

Thank you, Rhiannon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Orion Returns

We have a returning Friend in the Night Sky. The constellation Orion, the Hunter, has returned. Orion is our companion during the Winter Months. His return marks a shift in Season.

Other markers have appeared as well. Days are shorter. Nights are cooler. The Sun's Light is not as strong. The Sun's Path is further South on the great expanse of the Sky. Sometimes the Cloud Color appears to have more of a Winter look. That's not a color I can easily describe; it is more a color that I feel.

Leaves are just beginning to fall. Others are just beginning to color up. Some Trees are almost bare. With the Leaf drop of Trees and Shrubs, we are just beginning to see into the Woods after the lush Green of Summer.

Many of our Summer Companions have gone. Monarch Butterflies are largely absent. We see an occasional 1 or 2. We saw a lone Ruby Throated Hummingbird at the Feeder 2 days ago, but did not see one yesterday. The 2 Hummingbird Feeders will soon come down. Canada Geese have been observed practicing their flights in small strings. Hawks have returned. On the Meadow, the Goldenrod is fading while Asters are in full splendor. Asters mark the last of the Flowers of the Annual Show.

For the Humans who are not separate from any of this, we are focusing on Fall Harvest with a watchful eye toward predicted low temperatures in the 30s over the weekend. All of Nature seems to know of the coming doin's. While I think we Humans "feel it", we rely on reports from WeatherUnderground. The last of the Sorghum Cane is being harvested for our last batch this weekend. Warmer Clothes are migrating from their Summer Storage. My flannel shirt sure feels good. Blankets are just beginning their migration to accustomed places on Beds and in the Family Room. A few sticks of Wood have appeared beside the Wood Stove.

We Humans are deeply grateful for the Seasonal Shifts that mark the continuation of Life of this Great Creation of which we are 1 very small part. We are grateful to share these Shifts with a vast Host of Kin in Nature, some of whom we know and a great number we have yet to meet.