Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lessons from Plants

I just love to get down and get personal when I weed my plants.  I seem to be communing with Nature and each of the plants.  I guess you'd say we have a 1 to 1 relationship.  I simply love them.  And they teach me a lot.  

And what did I learn this day?  One of my favorite things to do is to learn what baby seedlings look like.  Sometimes they don't look anything like mature plants.  They are tiny but, if they are herbs, they are already aromatic.  We have lots of Mother Plants.  Lifting their leaves gently, I noted tiny Babies scattered beneath Violets, Oregano, Lemon Balm. Lots of them.  All are perennials.  Of course last year's annuals are long gone.  I noted baby Lettuce Plants (which are annuals) were most likely to be found nestled around other plants.  They were south of where the original plants were.  That must be because the Seeds found shelter from winter's northerly winds. 

Violets are doing well.  All the Native plants are.  This is their home. This Violet is a variety native to this area.  We got it by accident from Richard's Mother when she sent Irises and Live Forever up for our new house and garden in the late 1970s.  She got it from Hollis.  And we brought it back with us when we moved here 4 years ago.

The Bleeding Heart is blooming in profusion.  I think this is its best year yet.  I don't see any Seedlings around the Mother Plant, yet.

As I was weeding, I noticed that roots of Weeds hold tenaciously to Soil.  That's their job.  They are the 1st line of defense in protecting Soil from leaving and in reclaiming its health and vitality.  What Plants will I find that will do that job?

The Verbena, which is a Native Plant, is doing very well in the west Garden.  It is a ground cover and it is spreading.  I think I will tuck some pieces of it around the West Gardens.  It should protect the Soil.  Plus, designwise, it will make a great plant for "continuity".  And it blooms from spring through fall.

I potted up Catnip, Chives, and Garlic. I added them to the Echinacea, which is in a sheltered area on the north side of the house. These plants will be for the Seed and Plant Exchange.  Other plants are waiting eagerly in cue to be potted up too.  I learned I love to give plants away too.  But I knew that already.  I guess I just learned it more.

Getting Ready for Baby Peeps

Today Melanie spent time getting supplies and "rooms" ready for Baby Peeps.  She got boxes tidied up and put stacks of plain newsprint (without ink) liners in them. Baby Peeps poop a lot, you know. When the papers are soiled, she just pulls the top layer out exposing a clean layer below. She arranged "circles" of cardboard in the middle.  That is essential because otherwise the Baby Peeps would pile up and smother in the corners.   The cardboard and newsprint are remnants of our move 4 years ago. 

You will note that the boxes are up on pallets.  The garage is unheated.  At this season, the floor is cold and will be damp next to objects placed upon it.  Putting boxes up on pallets will contribute to good air flow and will keep the boxes from getting damp.  That means it will be healthier for the Baby Peeps.

Melanie rounded up all the supplies, cleaned them out and got them in order.  She brought food in close too.  We use a Chick Starter from Brad Whitaker.  It is organically grown and has higher protein. Our Baby Chicks have done really well on it.  They have been much healthier than when we used more conventionally grown products.  They seem much more vibrant.  (Shhh...the Boys taste far better too.)

We have 1 task left to do.  Richard needs to hang the warming lamps over the boxes.

Baby Peeps are in transit now.  When they arrive at the Post Office, the morning crew will give us a call to pick them up.  Quite possibly that call could come tomorrow.  It is more likely that it will come on Monday.

Our order is from Murray McMurray Hatchery out of Webster City, Iowa. It will include 40 White Rock Cockerels and 10 Buff Orpington "Straight Run".  Straight Run come pretty much as the Hennies laid them, so they will include males and females.  We are not sure the ratio, but it would be nice to add about 5 more Hennies to the flock.

Melanie noted that the arrival of the Baby Peeps is when things get really busy around here.  "See you in the late fall," she said.  We nodded our heads knowingly and smiled.


April 27:

Carpets of Purple Violets smile up from the Paths through the Prairie. We Humans smile back on our walk about.

In the News

Article: Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Linked to Diminished IQ
Periodical: Enviroblog: Environmental Connections to Public Health
Author: Sonya Lunder, Environmental Working Group Senior Scientist
Posting: 4/21/11

Friday, April 29, 2011

Glimpses of a Busy Day

We Humans move faster
on beautiful sunny days.
This one was no exception.
Up before 5
and before the sun,
Melanie and I,
accompanied by 2 billion others,
watched Royals wed.
We had good seats.
The hats we wore on this day
were Garden hats.
We checked in
on William and Catherine's news
throughout the day. 
We did Yoga.
Breakfast was quick.
We cleaned house.
I did 2 loads of wash
and hung them out to dry.
Our Amish neighbor
came over to use the phone.
We all shared what's going on.
Richard and Melanie
mowed yard and paths.
Richard used
the smaller push mower
and Melanie drove Betsy,
the lawn tractor.
I fixed lunch
while I caught glimpses
of them weaving about the yard.
They were on a mission.
It was one of those jobs:
"I gotta,
I don't wanna,
I'm gonna do it 
as quick as I can."
Zip zip zip
and it was done.
We all agree mowing lawn is 
a waste of time, money and gas
Plus, our culture's tidy lawn obsession
contributes to global warming
and uses up a non-renewable resource.
How can we cut back more?
We had lunch on the West Porch,
a 1st for the year.
Food smiled up at us: 
Egg Salad,
Mixed Green Salad
with Radishes and their Leaves,
a small bowl of Lentil Soup.
We ate lunch on the west porch,
a 1st for the year.

 Jenny Wren sang to us.
Melanie planted
Broccoli, Celeriac,
Kale, Parsley
in her Garden.
She moved
happy volunteer Lettuces
in the Garden to their new places.
Some plants took excursions outside:
Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplants,
Lovage, Rosemary.
Phyllis, the Amorphyphallus Conjac,
made her 1st appearance
above the Soil line.
Melanie and I smiled big smiles.
"Welcome back, Phyllis."
Max and Scamp,
the Cats,
Scampy joined Max
in Scampy's favorite
and Max's favorite
Max tolerated that.
Scampy did not meet
Max's miffed gaze,
as if to say:
"If I don't see you,
I won't know
how much
you want to nap
alone in this chair."
I napped too.
We continued cleaning the garage
and moving stuff
into more functional groupings
on new shelves. 
Most immediately,
we are getting ready
for the Baby Peeps,
who arrive next week.
Yikes, that could be in 2 or 3 days.
Wow, this organizational system
may take 2 or 3 moves,
but it is going to be great.
We began
to drink water
from our Berkey.
No time to talk about that now.
We had Dinner.
Something Orange
flashed across the far meadow.
"Was it a Fox?"
Melanie and Richard were off.
No Fox.
Chickens were fine.
As the evening
and the Humans wound down,
I made Wild Persimmon Bars.
We ate Wild Persimmon Bars.
And we ate more Wild Persimmon Bars.
After many recent cool, gray, often rainy days,
we have been waiting
for a beautiful sunny day like this.
We just fly on such days.
Time for bed.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Book Friend

Young, Kay.  (1993).  Wild Seasons: Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains.  Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

This excellent cookbook gives descriptions and pictures of plants, habitats and cautions for collecting as well as recipes.  I just made Wild Persimmon Bars (page 280-281).  As is typical of our custom, I cut the amount of sugar to 1/3 and I used Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix.  The Bars are rapidly disappearing.  I wonder how many will be there in the morning?

In the Press

Occasionally, I will post links to environmental news for those who want to dig deeper.  This link came through the Indigenous Environmental Network, a solid and courageous source of news from the 1st Peoples of the North American Continent. 

Article Title:  A Cost of Denying Climate Change: Accelerating Climate Disruptions, Death, and Destruction
Periodical: Huffington Post
Author: Peter H. Gleick, Water and climate scientist; President, Pacific Institute 
Posting: 04/28/11

A Remarkable Shift

We 3 C's come largely from Agrarian Stock which is not atypical for our kind. Our People were People of the Land. They grew and processed their own Food; otherwise they would not have made it and we would not be here. Our Ancestors managed a complexity of tasks based on carefully passed down information from unspeakable Generations of Knowing, plus living in tightly bound and mutually supportive Communities. They studied the Land because they were dependent upon it. Its rhythms and idiocyncrasies were familiar as Mother to Child.  Life was not easy, but what they knew to make it work was considerable.

These last 100 plus years, the Pied Pipers of the Industrial Revolution led Folks away from Farm to the City.  The magic wands of electricity, indoor plumbing, city water, "steady" fuel sources, and an endless array of gadgets made life "easier".  Folks could aspire toward becoming a Leisure Class, like Lords and Ladies of old.  Yet this often meant they were chained to jobs which were less than fulfilling.  Their "knowing" what was needed to survive on the Land was left at the City Gates. Their dependence moved from specific locales to nameless and faceless others on the whole Planet. In many cases, this relationship could only be described as Owner to Slave.

As Baby Boomers, Richard and I were children of the 1950s and 60s.  Our parents wanted something "better" for their children.  In those times, "better" meant more education, travel (which included moving from home), and material affluence.  Underneath, it meant moving away from the Land.  Deeper yet, the Land and those who remained upon it became Slaves of the Peoples of the City, who knew over time less about how it all worked and who managed to distance themselves from their Trail of Pain. 

For us, we knew about many things which were important, but we also came to know a lot about many things of little consequence.  Yet the residual of the importance of the relationship of the People to the Land was still deep inside. We might leave the Land but the Land would never leave us.

And now after all of these years, we have made a remarkable shift.  We have returned to the Land of our Birth.  We have returned to our Agrarian Heritage in small but substantial ways. We seek to reclaim that knowing of our heritage and bring it into modern time.  While our steps can only be described as "Baby Steps", we are deeply privileged to live in this space and time.

Busy Bees

We made a major shift in Life Styles when we moved from our Life in the City where we bought a considerable amount of our own Food to a Life in the Country where we produce our Food, buy Local, and know our Farmers as much as is possible.  When we made that shift from City to Country Living, we could not know all the steps that we needed or the game plan we were on.  There were many unknowns, still are and will always be. I suppose it was a giant Leap of Faith.

However, as we settle into our Life here on this little Farm on the upcoming 4 year marker of our move, the Path seems increasingly clear.  We know more of what we need to make it work. 

Personally, I have always been fascinated by "energy flows".  I like to watch and put into action the detail of what makes things work efficiently and freely.  Living a more Agrarian Life Style than we 3 C's ever have before is an exercise of considerable complexity.  Our Ancestors knew that and they knew it well or they did not survive.  We 3 C's in contemporary times keep nibbling away at this creating workable energy flows. This surely is a long term initiative. We learn something new every day.

These days, we are working on Storage.  Jonathan got us started in the Basement.  Bless him!  Now, Richard and I are focusing on the Shed and the Garage.  In particular, we are working on more efficient and accessible Storage of our Garden Tools in the Shed (pots, flats, tools, and so on).  When we need just the right hand tool for a given Garden Task, we shouldn't have to hunt for it.

I hope that sometime soon that will evolve into a Potting Bench for me. Of course, we will all use it, but probably more so Melanie and me. My mind is a swirl of thoughts on this one. 

Plus, we are trying to make sense of Storage and Functions in the Garage.  Yesterday, Richard completed one more large set of Shelves.  Over the coming days, we will be organizing the "stuff" on those Shelves so that it works for us.

I love making order out of chaos and these are surely tests of the extent of that love. So far, it is not done, but our Progress looks and feels good. 

Yesterday was a very windy day.  Our Living Space on the property is largely "up" and "open".  Plus, the position of the Drive creates a "funnel", increasing the effect of the prevailing Wind.  When the Wind, blows we feel it.  We surely do need to look at what we can do to create sanctuary here, even when the Winds are blowing. This latter initiative will be a long term process. It is likely going to be for the fullest benefit for those future generations. 

Yes, we are Busy Bees around here. And that doesn't consider all the work that we are doing to get the Garden up and running for Gardening Season 2011. As we do our Walkabouts on the property, we note Ants busy on their hills, Birds busy crafting their nests.  We Humans aren't so different after all.

Seed and Plant Exchange: If You'd Like to Help

A lot goes into making the Seed and Plant Exchange run smoothly.  On the days leading up to the event and on the day of, we are a beehive of activity around here.  If you'd like to lend a hand, yep, we could use some help.  Just give us a call.


Do we own
our material things?
Or do they own us?
Many Humans
in "modern society"
seem on ball and chain.
Is that
why we came?
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Which Path Will You Take?

What we Humans
do to the Earth
we do to ourselves.
* * *
Healthy Planet
Healthy Food
Healthy People
* * *
Unhealthy Planet
Unhealthy Food
Unhealthy People
* * *
The question becomes:
How do
we Humans
become a Benign Presence?
We do it
in each choice
we make,
in each Step
we take along the Path.
* * *
Will you join me there?
* * *
Those yet to born
reach out their Hands to us
and smile.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

On Gray Days

April 19:

Today was a gray day. I don't know what it is about gray days, but I am not motivated to move very fast. On sunny days, I think about all the things I can do inside on a rainy dreary day. The gray days come and all those plans disappear. Just maybe that is Nature's way to build in rest. Just maybe, that is the natural cycle of things. I feel grateful that we can live our lives more in tune with a natural cycle on this little Farm. It feels right.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just Say NO: Green Washing

More and more Consumers are concerned about making decisions which are sustainable and do not harm the Earth or our extended Family of Beings. Corporations are hearing those Voices. Unfortunately, many just slap on a "Green Label" and expect dumbed-downed Consumers to take the product dutifully off the shelves. Those actions by Corporations are called "Green Washing".

Be ever vigilant, Dear Friend. Much is at stake. Responsible Companies and Responsible Consumers will help guide us along our Paths. Further, that little Voice of Intuition often arises to let us know that we are on shaky ground.  And our Physical Bodies let us know too with an alertness that cannot be overlooked: "Pay attention."

Our favorite resources which have helped guide us to make Green Decisions include:  Green America (, the people in our buying club, health food stores, organic farmers, folks who gather at Farmer's Markets, Organic Consumers Association (, Indigenous Environmental Network (, Seed Savers Exchange (  And the list goes on. 

Those who would dumb us down and make decisions based upon the endless and impossible satisfaction of their own greed cannot win.  Too much is at stake.  As a Human Species, we are waking up.

Planting Calendar: Spring

April 25-May 30: Green Beans (Bush)
May 1-15: Cow Peas
May 1-July 20: Sweet Corn
May 10-20: Green Beans (Pole)
May 10-20: Muskmelon
May 10-20: Watermelons
May 10-20: Peanuts
May 10-25: Limas (Bush)
May 10-25: Soy Beans, Edible
May 10-25: Dry Beans
May 10-25: Okra
May 10-30: Cucumbers
May 15-25: Eggplant
May 15-25: Limas (Pole)
May 15-30: Squash
May 15-30: Peppers
May 15-30: Tomatoes
May 15-June 5: Sweet Potato (Plants)
May 20-30: Pumpkins
Source: Missouri U. Extension Vegetable Planting Calendar, G 6201 (The Extension calendar divides this by veggie.  I just put it together as above.  Since we plant a lot, it made more sense for me to see the "big picture" altogether. Time is marching on.  It's pretty exciting!)

Resources on Croatian Immigration/Ancestry

The following works are on my bookshelf regarding research on Croatian History, Immigration, Culture, and Ancestry. I do not profess to have read these works in their entirety, but I have found bits and pieces very meaningful in trying to understand my Ethnic heritage and the context of the times of my Ancestors.

Balch Greene, Emily. (1910). Our Slavic Fellow Citizens. New York: Charities Publication Committee. General Books. (Balch Greene details stories behind immigration of the Slavs, of which the Croats were one, at the turn of the last century. Many include 1st person accounts. Balch Greene later won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.)
Capps, Freedom Kline. (1974). The Immigrants and the Novinger Community. 1900-1920.  Thesis.  Kirksville, Missouri: Northeast Missouri State University.  (I have not read this yet, but it is rising to the top of my "must seek out and read list". )

Hawkesworth, Celia. Colloquial Croatian and Serbian: The Complete Course for Beginners. New York: Routledge. (Includes book/tapes for those interested in learning to communicate in Croatian and Serbian everyday language.)

(1987). Langenscheidt's Universal Dictionary: English-Croatian, Croatian-English. New York: Langenscheidt Publisher's Inc. (Dictionary for translation)

Miller, Sally M. (Editor). (1987) Chapter 4: The Croatian Press in the United States.  In, The Ethnic Press in the United States: A Historical Analysis and Handbook. New York: Greenwood Press. (My Grandmother would stop in her tracks whenever she received her Croatian newspaper.  Her family had careful instructions to let her be too.)

Novinger Planned Progress. (1989) Ethnic Cookbook, Novinger MO. Novinger, MO: Novinger Planned Progress. (Includes recipes from ethnic families who settled in Novinger Missouri.  Many Croatian recipes are given.  Names of contributors are familiar in my family history; they likely trace to those who immigrated at the same time as my grandparents in 1908.  I know that some were also from the same villages as my grandparents. My grandparents Kazimir and Dragica Blaskovic lived in Novinger for a short time at the time of the birth of their daughter Marija in 1910. My grandfather worked in the coal mines there throughout his life. His name is noted on Billy Creek Coal Mine roles. This cookbook is a treasure especially of women's crafts and lore.)

Oliver, Jeanne. (1999). Lonely Planet: Croatia. Melbourne: Lonely Planet Publications. (Travel guide)

Prpic, George J. (1971). The Croatian Immigrants in America.  New York:  Philosophical Library. (Excellent and seemingly thorough reference).

Shapiro, E.  (1989). The Peoples of North America: The Croatian Americans.  New York: Chelsea House Publishers. (Middle school, high school text)

Tanner, Marcus.  (1997). Croatia: A Nation Forged in War. 2nd Edition.  New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

(2001) Insight Pocket Guide: Croatia. Maspeth, NY: Langenscheidt Publishers, Inc. (Travel guide)

Slavic Women: I was especially drawn to the following as a means of seeking out and understanding stories of Croatian women.  This is no small task as what I know of Croatian history and family life is that it centers on the life of men.  As a result the stories of women and their lives become invisible. It is true that these works are more broadly focused on "Slavic Women", of which Croatian Women would be a part. There are certainly similarities between the cultures. 

Alzo, Lisa A. (2008). Baba's Kitchen: Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes & Traditions. Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press.

Alzo, Lisa A. (2008). Three Slovak Women. Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press.

Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS). (Professional association sponsoring research and teaching for scholars of women's studies and questions of gender analysis in Central/Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Choices in Food

These days, many People in the so called "Developed World" are increasingly concerned about the quality of mass produced "cheap" Food served up from Conventional Agriculture. We 3 C's are no exception.  Our Journeys into this arena come from:  careful research on Food, Agriculture and Health, plus knowing intimately what our Bodies need for Health.  Our approaches have evolved over the last 15 years and they are not taken lightly.  When we deviate, our Bodies know it. Admittedly, the 2 Women of this household have been the front runners and feel the strongest on these initiatives, but Richard is right there along side.

These are the underpinnings for our Food Choices:
  • We eat Locally as much as is possible and reasonable.  That means most of our Food is low on Food Miles lessening our use of Oil and impact on Global Warming.  Further, most of money stays in our local community.
  • We choose to eat from these Soils, which helps us to stay connected to the Land and the place we call Home.
  • We eat Seasonally, which is less expensive and keeps our Bodies in rhythm with Natural Cycles.
  • We eat Organic. While it may not be certified Organic, it is chemical free to the greatest of our capabilities.  We choose not to add to the chemical load of the Earth, the Grower, and our Bodies.
  • We do not eat GMOs.  We believe Genetically Modified Organisms overextend the role of the Human and tinker with Nature without fully knowing the consequences. 
  • We do our best to purchase Fair Trade, initiatives which assume a living wage and fair treatment of workers. This includes: Coffee and Chocolate.
  • We try to eat Food from Healthy Soils and we try to contribute toward the restoration of Healthy Soils. Soil, after all, is Life.
  • We do not support Big Agriculture where Small Farmers are put out of business and the Land is enslaved for corporate profits.
  • We do eat Meat. We recognize that for something to live that another Being must die.  We believe in the dignity of all Creation.  Animals which provide us with Food should be treated with dignity and respect.  When the Animal is close to being slaughtered, we put ourselves in a place of Gratitude for that ultimate Gift. We try to be mindful of that sacrifice in every bite.
  • We abhor the treatment of Animals in Big Business. We do not eat Meat where the Animal was a part of Big Business. They don't ride on one of those prison like trucks, nor are they enslaved in large feedlot operations amidst piles of their own waste. 
  • We abhor the conditions of Workers in Large Industrial Meat Packing Plants. We believe that the violence to which they bear witness is not good for them, their families or their communities.  We know that in many cases the people who work there are marginalized from the larger society. 
  • We eat only the amount of Meat that our Bodies need. And we do not waste Meat.
  • We raise Chickens for Meat and Eggs of our own consumption.  (We raise them for companionship too.) We purchase Turkey, Pork and Beef from Farmers that we know. We seek to make sure that the Animal is treated with dignity and grace by the Farmer and that the Farmer receives a fair wage. 
  • We are especially concerned about the point of slaughter.  One of the best circumstances that we have been privileged to be a part has been when the Farmer would thank the Animal just prior to slaughter. This simple act by Terry Jacobson set the standard for our subsequent choices.
  • We want the Animals to have had a healthy happy lifestyle.  We believe that they know they are to be used to support life. These things are the very least that we can do for them.
  • We know the Farmer who raises the Meat.
  • We ask about the living conditions for Animals. We visit the Farms. We pay attention to the spiritual energy of the Animal. We look into their eyes. Those eyes tell us the health and vitality of the Animal.  We choose not to put into our Bodies anything that is less than vibrant, nor to support a kind of human constructed world where Living Beings have only Disposable Value.
  • We prefer Old Heritage Breeds as opposed to those genetically engineered "quick to slaughter" types.
  • We do not want Animals to have had antibiotics or growth hormones.  This is for the sake of the Animal, the Consumer, the Earth.  These Drugs do not go away. They just recycle. Whatever we put out there ultimately comes back to ourselves.
  • We grow as much of our Food as possible.  We preserve a lot of our own Food by canning, drying, freezing.
  • We grow our Food in as much as we can know according to "Nature's Cycles".
  • We are particular about what Animals have been fed.
  • We like Animals to have had access to Pasture and to eat more of their Natural Diet.
  • Their Health and Vitality is essential for their own sake as living Beings of Creation; their Health and Vitality (or lack thereof) is transferred to us.
  • We try not to use Foods which have been the product of violence; that violence then becomes a part of the consumer.
  • We like Wild Meat.
  • We use to the greatest extent we possibly can "Whole Foods", those Foods without additives. If there are additives, we make sure we know what they are.  We avoid additives which we cannot pronounce or that Grandmothers would not recognize.
  • We avoid MSG, Partially Hydrogenated oils, Food Colorings, High Fructose Corn Syrup.
  • We use more Natural Sugars. This includes eating Fruits in Season, and using Honey and Molasses.
  • We note that we feel different when we are "off diet".
  • We have "gone on vacation" from the above, when we eat elsewhere. We increasingly are unable to do this. We surely do not want to offend. Quite simply, these beliefs are very important to us.
  • We do our best to abide by these beliefs.
  • We feel richly blessed we live in a time where such choices and actions are indeed possible.
Photo above:  Richard had a wonderful meal waiting for us for dinner last night.  It included what he called Smothered Venison (his own version of Swiss Steak), Boiled Potatoes, and Greens.  The Venison was local (a gift of the Deer).  The Veggies smothering it were mostly raised by us in the last growing season. The Potatoes were organic.  They were not local.  The Greens were proudly produced by a local Farmer who has Green Houses newly up and running. The vitality of the Food just seemed to leap right off the plate.

Spring Walk

April 17:

On this day, we headed about the Land for a Spring Walkabout. We don't want to miss anything in this grand show. These Days, Spring Green is making an appearance.

I love watching things "Green Up".  While I did not know this years ago, the Forest "greens up" from the ground level to the tippy tops of the Trees. 

I walked past a big Cedar and heard a whoosh of wings lifting off.  I didn't see the Bird. Richard looked more carefully and discovered Mama Robin had a Nest with 1 beautiful Egg in it.  With each step, we are filled with awe at the Great Mystery of which we are a part.

Round Robin

In the last few months, Holly organized monthly "help" times between 6 homesteading families in our area.  The criteria was that we needed to be within "biking distance".  Once a month, we will go to one of the families and help out with tasks on their Farm.  This could be something they just don't seem to get to, or something that requires lots of hands.  The host couple will serve a lunch at mid day.

Today we went to John and Holly's and it was just great.  Two tasks presented themselves:  spring cleaning on the main level of their house, and painting in the basement.  The 2 groups that broke out were along gender lines.  The females focused on spring cleaning.  The males headed to the basement.  After an initial orientation as to how we might organize our task, we went to work.  At first we were slow.  Then we picked up speed.  By lunch time, the main level just sparkled.  We sparkled too, from our accomplishment.

I regret I did not go to the basement to see the progress of the guys.  I did observe the color of the paint as it was gently spattered on clothes and Noah's cheek. And I smiled.

Probably one of the things I liked most was the conversation where we just talked about who we were and what is important to us. People shared what was going on and challenges ahead.  Other folks had ideas.  It was just great.  We were all smiling by the end. 

It seems like when we stay focused solely on our own work on the Farm, we do make progress.  But today, we wove community.  I like that.  I have also been drawn toward working in groups of women to clean.  This felt ever so good. I am already looking forward to the next time.

Off Nest

Lacey is officially "off nest".  She isn't broody either.  We 3 C's wonder what happened.  I guess it just is not meant to be. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lacey Update

Somehow, one of Lacey's Eggs was broken today.  Richard discovered this about 1:30pm.  He cleaned up the Eggs and gave her new Straw.  She seems scared and has left the nest, while she is still in the Brooder House. 

By the time Melanie and I got home about 3pm, Richard reported that the Eggs were cold.  Melanie headed right to the Brooder House.  Lacey seemed to calm.

Richard wonders if there may be something "hardwired" into Lacey.  If a Raccoon or other predator would have gotten into a nest and broken an Egg, all would be at risk.  It might be the Hen's disposition to abandon the nest.

There is a lot we Humans don't know.  So we wait and watch. It will all work out the way that it is supposed to.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Modern Life Styles
are getting Humans,
their Non-Human Companions
on this journey,
future Beings,
and the Earth herself
into a Big Fix.
We pollute
the Air, Water, and Soil.
We change the Climate.
That's what we are made of.
That's the Recipe for Life.
We're in trouble.
Glinda Crawford, 2011


When I was growing up
in the 1950s and 1960s,
I only knew
2 people who had cancer.
Both were
Both died.
have changed.
Glinda Crawford, 2011


If we
didn't think
a different Future
was possible,
we 3 C's
wouldn't be living
this Life Style.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's a Lot Easier to Eat Weeds

At dinner tonight, I looked at our luscious Green Salad, laughed and said:  "It's a lot easier to eat Weeds."  Melanie laughed and said: "That's a title to a Blog."  So between the 3 of us we came up with the following.

It's a lot easier to eat Weeds: We don't have to buy Seeds.  We don't have to plant Seeds.  We don't have to worry about the right spot or time to plant them.  We don't have to worry if they will come up.  We don't have to weed them.  (Tee hee hee.)  We don't have to store Seeds.  We save money.  We don't have to go to the Store because they are right here. We save time.  They are abundant.  They are hardy in this zone.  They aren't fussy, growing on whatever Soil that we have.

This evening, our Salad featured common "Weeds":  Pepper Grass, Shepherd's Purse, Violets, Lamb's Quarter, plus Dried Tomatoes, Walking Onions (Winter Onions), and Arugula.  We used a simple Oil and Vinegar for Dressing. We don't use heavy dressings.  We just let the Greens have their time as the center of the show. 

So what is a Weed?  A Weed is a plant growing out of place.  Since we are coming to peace with the Weeds around here and allowing them to be here, does that mean they are no longer Weeds?

I also wonder if Humans are the ultimate Weed. We seem to have a habit of growing out of place.

On Eggs

April 16:

About 2 weeks ago, Ms. Lacey McCacey Chicken "went broody".  No two ways about it, she wanted to raise Baby Chicks and she wanted them now.  I suppose Folks around her might conclude she was cranky.  But no, she knew what she wanted and she was going to do whatever she needed to get there.  That included getting some cooperation from the Humans.

Lacey is a Buff Orpington Hennie.  She came to us in that first batch of Chicks 4 years ago.  I named her because of the lace-like pattern I noticed in her feathers.  She was the 1st of our Hennies to indicate broodiness and she is the only Hen we have allowed to set.  Watching her through the years, I would conclude that she is quite the Mother.

Effective this day, Lacey is on Eggs.  For the past few days, Melanie has been gathering Eggs laid by the Delaware Hennies and keeping track of who laid them in their own special Egg Carton.  Some days, Melanie is headed out to the Chicken House about every 20 minutes, especially when she has Delawares in the Nest Boxes. 

Both she and Richard have noted that the Delaware Rooster is the Delaware Hen's Rooster of choice.  They don't seem to let the 3 Buffie Roosters even get close.  Assuming the Eggs are fertile, our hunch is there is a strong probability that the Delaware Eggs will yield Delaware Chicks and not crosses.  That's definitely what we want here.

Delawares are new for us this past year.  We really like them.  They seem to like their Humans too. They are strong and vigorous, with quite the personalities. They are good and consistent layers during the Winter Months. As for the Rooster, "Del" gives the Humans a wide berth, which is fine by us. We're not yet sure about his name, but "Del" seems to fit for now.

Assuming all goes well, Chicks should hatch in 19-22 days.  That means they will make their presence known to the outer world shortly after the new Baby Chicks arrive in the mail.  

We laughed about how we are handling Lacey "setting" this time as compared to the 1st time.  That 1st time (which was our 1st here on the Farm), we watched her every spare second.  We would even test the Eggs to see if they were closer to hatching.  Somehow, we Humans forgot that Hennies have been doing this for a long time.  They don't need us other than in a minor supporting role. 

These days, Lacey seems pleased that she has trained us well.  If we get too close, we get a some talking to.  But mostly, we sit back and let her do what she knows very well to do.

Other Lacey adventures

Bleeding Hearts

April 14:
While the Humans are picking up speed in their Spring activities, the Bleeding Heart quietly unfurl in their cool shady space on the north side of the House.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Places Everyone! Spring 2011

In this Act of the Grand Play of Life, Everyone is intent upon taking their places.  We are forever grateful for the beautiful and normal cycles of Nature in our midst. How could we not?

The Peas are up in their lovely rows. Yesterday, Richard and Melanie put up Cattle Panels (so that they can dream and be tall). Cattle Panels are made from heavy duty welded wire and they are 16 feet long and 4 high. Richard just purchased these.  In the winter, they will be circled up to provide protection for our Fruit Trees from the Deer.

Richard planted Carrots in the raised beds.  Problem is that the Weed Seeds usually germinate before the Carrots (and in greater profusion).  Richard has begun marking the Rows with Peat Moss in order to know what to weed. This works great.

Plum Blossoms outline branches on the Plum Tree. Would you believe we planted that Tree last year on the Chicken Compost pile? With all that fertile stuff at her feet, that little Tree just took off. Plum Trees in the Wild are bowing their lovely flowering Branches in return.

We expected Rain in the night and through today.  So we placed 5 Gallon Buckets for collection at each of 3 downspouts.  We should have about 30 gallons of precious Rain Water collected today.  In the next week, the Rain Barrels will magically appear.

Seedlings are up in all of the south facing windows.  And they are growing growing growing.  The Tomatoes look like they aspire to be tall trees.  Already, we are putting some outside during the day and others are ready for 24 hour stints.  This week, we put out the 1st transplants:  my lovely Cabbages.

Ms. Lacey Jane Chicken is decidedly broody.  If anyone or anything gets too close or decides she needs to be off her nest, she will quickly let them know that is not her idea.  She found her own collection of Eggs to sit on in a nest box.  We don't like to remove fertile eggs with developing embryos.  Melanie wants to make sure she is incubating pure strains rather than mixed and we just don't have the right number yet. We tried to substitute Dad's Golf Balls instead.  Ms. Lacey Jane (or Ms. Lacey McKacey, as she is also known) thought that was a half baked Human idea.  So Melanie put her back on real Eggs.  In the meantime, Melanie is collecting Eggs for her that seem in high likelihood to be Delawares.  The Delaware Hens, who are new to us this past year, don't really allow the Buffy Roosters to mate with them.  Best day to "set" a Hen is coming up.  Those Delawares are great layers for us during the winter.  We should have the collection soon. In the meantime, Ms. Lacey is on her nest in the brooder house and she's ready to go.

While I was writing this entry, Richard went out to let the Chickens out of their House.  On his way there, he found Chester, the Tree Frog, taking his place on the side of the shed.  In the meantime, the Humans are getting ready for Friday morning Yoga.  Maybe Chester was practicing a Yoga pose. After our Yoga session, the Humans will have Breakfast and begin cleaning the House.
In the meantime, we checked WeatherUnderground and noted Rain is coming up in a system from the South/Southeast.  I could see the south Edge which was distinct.  We know these fronts bring in the migratory Birds at this Season.  I wonder which of our Feathered Friends are waiting in cue.  And where are the Monarchs? the Hummingbirds? Just where they are supposed to be, I surely hope.


April 12:
Richard and I gathered Wild Greens and Herbs for a Salad for Supper tonight. I neglected to take a container to hold them and Richard found himself on another excursion on his way into the house. So we stuffed the Greens into the pocket of the Apron that I was wearing. Deleta made the Apron for me a while back. That whimsical Apron is my trusty companion in the Kitchen and sometimes out into the Garden on gathering excursions. The Chickens in the print seem to enjoy being in the middle of an unexpected treat. The Humans enjoyed the treat later too.


"April Showers bring May flowers."
April comes from Latin and means "to open".
April's Flower: Sweet Peas

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Listening to the Voices of the Plants

Plants need specific conditions under which to grow.  All Living Beings do. Our Plant Friends tell us relatively quickly if they have or do not have what they need.  They thrive and are robust. Or they deteriorate and die.  Unfortunately, we Humans sometimes forget to ask Plants what conditions that they need. Worst yet, we don't pay attention or even think to pay attention. Sometimes we make casual remarks, like: "I don't have a green thumb."  But the reality is that we have set aside that ability to listen to Plants.

Cases in point on our little Farm:  Three plants have not been doing well.  We planted Rhubarb time and again.  And it just disappears.  Sadly, those Rhubarb plants have had special meaning too.  Some were starts from robust plants we had and loved in North Dakota.  (It would make sense that a variety which did well in another growing zone might not make it here, but it is the only one that has survived.) Another variety came from Dad.

My Gooseberry Bush (which was also Dad's) just wasn't doing well at all.  Its growth is stunted and it has lichens all over it. 

I brought down Coral Bells which were originally a gift from Mother when we moved into our new little house 3 decades ago.  I just loved them and they thrived in North Dakota.  Over time, she lost her Coral Bells. In the 4 years since we moved, my Coral Bells have become just about the teeniest plant I could ever imagine that could still be called a plant. 

In the cases of the Rhubarb and the Gooseberry, I couldn't imagine even having a Farm without those 2 plants.  I don't think we could even past muster without such companions. And I really want to have a Grandmother's Flower Garden with Plants that have long histories and stories. So what is going on?

In the last few days, I headed to the internet and did some searching on growing conditions for these 3 plants friends.  You'd have thought I intended to do them in.  Well, I didn't.

Rhubarb's characteristics include: Cool season, winter hardy, drought resistant, difficult to grow successfully in southern regions, tolerant of most soils (but likes ph range 6-6.8 best), grows best on fertile well drained soils. Reflecting on these characteristics, we provided our Guest with just the opposite of what she quietly requested: hotter climate (and baked location), unusually high amounts of rain, ph at 6, heavy clay soils.

Gooseberry plants prefer: Sunny location with good air movement, soil prepared before planting (use compost or well rotted manure in hole), cool moist soil (mulched with 2-4 inches of straw), well drained soils, plant in part shade or on north facing slope (or in heavier soils) in warmer areas, adequate but not overabundant nitrogen. Once again, I reflect on what we provided our precious visitor: I let the grass grow up through the plant.  As if that was not enough, we put chicken wire around it which seemed to close in vegetation even more.  I can imagine Mr. Gooseberry was pretty hot wearing his blanket. Our location features hot humid summers. Mr. Gooseberry was in full sun and he was the object of attention of the Chickens with their nitrogen rich manure.

Coral Bells likes: part to half shade, (colder climates) full sun with rich humus, evenly moist and well drained soil. Ms. Cora Coral Bells was in full sun on the edge of the flower bed.  She was so close to the edge that the grass began to grow around her.  As a result, she seemed to attract some encounters with the lawn mower.   Flower bed (and west lawn) was "construction fill", and not rich at all.  Ground tended to dry out.  We've had some huge rains around here (2 episodes of 13 inchers) in one summer alone.

So what is my response?  Glinda, you can do better.  We replanted the Rhubarb and the Gooseberry to locations which seem more to their pleasure.  I plan to dig out the Coral Bells, place her in a pot and see if I can coax her along. I have a better spot in mind.  And it is about time.

I cannot imagine inviting a guest to the Farm and then doing everything in my power to make sure that guest is uncomfortable.  But that is just what I did with these plants.  I keep learning and growing right here on the Farm.

Seed and Plant Exchange Info

Saturday, May 21st, 1-3 pm, at the Farm

How it works:  It's free.  Bring extra seeds and or seedlings (gardening wisdom and questions too) to swap or share with other gardeners.  Heirloom varieties are encouraged (for seed saving potential) crops, herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, native plants, etc. Label plants/seeds with variety name, special instructions, and our name, and bring baggies/envelopes to divvy up seeds.  Bring a lawn chair, too.  If you do not have seeds or plants to swap, come and mingle with gardeners and farmers with insights on gardening. 

For more information:  Check this blog.

Rain date: Sunday, May 22nd, 1-3pm.  Changes in schedule will be posted on this blog.

Be sure to carpool if you can.  To keep impact on our Farm at a minimum, parking will be along the Lane.  Assistance for carrying will be provided.  (Gardeners can help each other out too.) If walking is an issue, drive to the house.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Little We Know

I am stunned
by how little we know
about how Nature works
and how dependent we are
on Her for Life itself.
Are we Humans
just simply stuck
in a deep funk,
or asleep?
I hope we
wake up soon.
Glinda Crawford, 2011