Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Push

Warm dry weather has at last arrived after what seems to have been an unusually cool wet spring.  That means the 3 C's are in the middle of a "big push", getting the last of the garden planted. 

Richard has completed a big project of "raised beds".  We are happy to report that our 1/3 acre garden is now composed of all raised beds.  That is a very big deal.  It marks a significant difference in the look of the garden since we moved in and the possibilities for it. Melanie started with raised beds that very 1st year (2007). In 2009, Richard converted 1 area to 3 raised beds, plus we had done some sheet mulching the fall before. Over the gardening seasons, we could see the better results on the raised beds.  So we became "converted". 

Richard has used "Tillie" the rototiller to soften up the soil. Then he dug and pushed the soil by hand into raised beds.  He has been careful to create contours that follow the natural drainage patterns of the area.  It is really exciting to see the results.  (Mike helped with this when he was here about 2 weeks ago.)

Today was a "Fruit Day".  I worked on planting Dry Edible Beans, Indian Corn and Squash (Butternut). I now have 18 varieties of Dry Edible Beans in the ground.  Today, I added 6 more:  Black Beans (unknown variety), Charlesvoix Red Kidney, Painted Pony, Henderson Bush Limas, Calypso, and Lina Cisco Bird's Egg.  Plus, I planted 4 varieties of Indian Corn:  Mandan Bride, Seneca Red Stalker, Wade's Giant, Bloody Butcher.  The latter is in a 3 Sister's Area of the Garden which will include Corn, Beans and Squash.  The Corn and Squash are planted.  I will add the vining Pole Beans (Native American Varieties) when the Corn is about 6 inches tall. 

Richard planted Melons and Squash on this day too. Melanie was quite busy in her area of the Garden.  She added compost.  She planted 2 Cucumbers.  She planted Jelly Melons, Okra (2 varieties), Red Rice Beans, Edamame, Mung Beans.  She and Richard also created another arch out of a cattle panel.  She also did a lot of weeding and preparation of garden beds for big plantings ahead.

Melanie also headed up preparation of a special meal to share.  We all pitched in.  Michelle, Jerry, and Oliver have just added a new baby to their family.  For the 1st month, friends are doing meals for the family.  In the middle of this, we learned that little Shivani (15 months) was in the hospital with pneumonia.  So we made enough food to share with her family too.  She's supposed to be out this evening. 

Tomorrow begins a Root Time.  We are really making progress.  The Seeds and Plants to be planted at this season are dwindling. That feels good.

We are also ever watchful of the fields for the Sorghum Cane.  So far, it has been far too wet to even consider planting.  In 2008, we planted May 29.  In 2009 and 2010, we planted May 30. We are indeed later this year.  When the fields are dry enough, Hollis and Hollis Dale will be headed over to get those Seeds into the ground.  We are eager.  Waiting too long means Cane wouldn't make crop.

It seems like being a Farmer, a person's ear is always to the ground. The other one is focused on the weather just over the horizon. I kind of forget the things that consumed our attention when we lived in the city.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Global Warming and Choice

Global Warming
in Climate.
Some Regions get
others Colder.
Some will be Wetter,
others Drier.
will be more
In 2001, I attended
a conference in England
where the 19 participants,
who were
from 5 continents,
were all talking
about changes
in local and regional weather patterns.
Our antenna were up.
A shift was in the air,
and we could feel it.
And to think
that the everyday ordinary choices
that we make in life styles
are driving changes
far reaching
to God's Creation
with which we Humans
have been richly blessed
and sacredly entrusted
for all Beings now
and in the future.
It seems to me
that the best gift
we could give
to the people of Joplin
or other sites of disaster
is to decrease our Human actions
that contribute to Global Warming.
Turn off lights not in use.
Limit use
of heat and cooling.
Choose smaller houses.
Park that car.
Walk or bike.
Buy local.
close to home.
Do not expect
all Humans of the Planet
should live as we do in the U.S.
Look at how they live
and tone down
our overconsumption
of the Planet's resources.
That's the direction
I am headed.
Will you join me there?
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Poorly and Richly

Right now, our computer is doing poorly.  It just isn't working.  That means I don't have access to picture files.  The regular routine of the writer and artist is a bit challenged.  Maybe it's just time to take a break, or do some reflection.

On Wednesday, we had a lightning strike very close to the house.  The lightning and thunder did not occur simultaneously.  But the space inbetween was the smallest I have ever experienced.  I would surely not want that space to be any less.

We were all 3 in the living room.  Melanie was on the computer.  I had my back to the east window.  Richard had a view of the outside.  The energy in the living room shifted dramatically and instantaneously.  It almost seemed uplifting.  In that precise moment, a spark came off the wood stove (which had no fire inside) and hit the hearth underneath. 

Melanie shut down the computer.  Later, we checked things out both inside and out to make sure everything was O.K.  And it was. And we are. We are reminded that Life can change in an instant.

Yesterday, the mouse on the computer was not working.  And today, the whole computer shut down. We don't know if the lightning strike was related.

Bob is going to help us with the computer when he comes up next week.  We will be grateful to get it restored if that is at all possible.  There is a lot stored on the machine.  I guess it is what it is. And it will work out if it is supposed to.

I am reminded that is important not to sweat the small stuff.  We're all O.K.  And for that we are grateful.  While our computer (which has no name) is doing poorly, we 3 C's are quite well, thank you. In fact, we are doing quite richly.  Life is flourishing and it is indeed a gift.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Root Day

Today was a Root Day, so we focused our efforts on things related to "Roots".  It was one of those days that you yearn for because significant progress is made.  What did we do?
  • Got Garden Beds ready.  That Soil surely does look nice.
  • Planted 43 Sweet Potatoes (Georgia Jet).  15 were interplanted between the new Service Berries and the remainder had their own bed.  We decided we would plant 7 more, making our total 50.  Plus, we will be planting about 8 of the Red Oak Leaf variety.  The remaining plantings will occur at the next Root Day, which will occur in about a week.  I was really tickled that all of the actions regarding Sweet Potatoes occurred during "Root Days". That would include: starting the Tubers in water, pulling off the Slips and placing them in water to root, removing rooted Slips from water and placing them in sand and water, and today, planting them in the ground.  Yes, we try to do things "in the sign". 
  • Gave about 15 Sweet Potato Slips to Emma for her family's planting.
  • Promised about 20-30 Slips to the Possibility Alliance, which is the Farm to the South.
  • Planted 25 Peanuts (Tennessee Red).
  • Planted about 90 Leeks.  We still have a few to go.  Due to their late start, they are little on the small side, so we will wait until the next Root Day.
  • Got 20 Bales of Straw. Completed more paths.  Mulched in the Peanuts and the Sweet Potatoes.  They now look like Hostess Twinkies.  I guess not.
  • Admired my Dry Edible Beans at various points during the day.  The Warm Sun combined with just the right moisture meant those Seeds just popped and those 1st 2 leaves just began to unfurl. 
  • Ushered "Dew Drop" back into the Rooster Pen.  Dew Drop is a White Plymouth Rock.  He is by far the smallest of the new Baby Peeps, most of whom came 3 weeks ago.  Since he is so small, he seems to be finding his way through the fence.  Richard noted that at one point, he was just making himself at home among the larger Hennies and Roosters. They must have seemed like Giants to him. 


If you are a fan of or have been following "Phyllis", you may wish to note her height today. It exceeds the 36 inch ruler and meter stick.  On May 6, she was just over an inch tall.  That was a mere 17 days ago.

Phyllis is our Amorphophallus Conjac.  Soon, she will start to spread out those leaves on the top. We marvel at the Life Force to which she bears witness.  And she makes us smile.


The Earth's
Health and Vitality
the Human's
Health and Vitality.
I seek to honor
that Sacred Relation
and to not diminish
the Life Force in any way.
How could I not?
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Parasite and Host

The Human relation
to the Earth
is sometimes described
as Parasite to Host.
A wise Parasite
does not destroy
its Host.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day of Rest


Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Beautiful Day

We had the Seed and Plant Exchange today. It was absolutely beautiful. Need to take time for a rest. More later.

Big Day Arrives...

Seed and Plant Exchange:
Today, 1-3 pm
at the Farm.
Carpool if you can.
Better yet:
ride your bike,
or hitch up your horse.
How it works. Have a great day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weather Watch

Our area is supposed to have
70% chance of Rain tomorrow (Saturday)
and 20% chance on Sunday. 
Saturday is the date
for the Seed and Plant Exchange
at our Farm. 
We are still on for Saturday,
but watching the weather carefully. 
Stay tuned.
Any change in plans will be noted here.

The Weather and Mother Nature
are always giving us wonderful opportunities
to reflect on the fact
that we Humans are not in charge. 
But of course,
we should already know that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grandma Says

Many hands
the work.

A Beautiful Work Party Day

20 Friends came to help us on the Farm this day.
Most were connected to 6 Homesteads in our area.
Two were Interns at Truman State University.
Most, we knew.
Three, we didn't.
But they all came to help,
some with tools in hand.
They brought eagerness to help,
openness to learn and share,
joy in being together,
72 hours of labor in the space of 6.
We headed to different projects
headed by Richard, Melanie, Mike and me.
Some went straight to weeding in the Garden.
Others helped make Tomato Cages.
Weed, weed, weed.
The day brought simple discoveries.
An Ant's nest appeared between 2 Clay Pot Liners.
We potted Plants for the Seed and Plant Exchange.
Weed, weed, weed.
Roses bloomed.
Fragrance was enjoyed.
Weed, weed, weed.
Chamomile Blooms shared their aroma too.
Weed, weed, weed.
Piano called.
We shared a meal.
A Saw arrives.
Some headed out.
Others stayed.
More arrived.
Mike fills the box with Sand
that he and Brent built.
Boxes are broken down,
tape removed.
Paths are made
from Cardboard and Straw.
Sign stakes are found
and put in place.
Weed, weed, weed.
We're done now.
It's time to go.
Baby Chicks are admired.
Tools are cleaned.
Until the next time...
Glinda Crawford, 2011

A Beautiful Work Party Day

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Ready

Tomorrow, 15-18 fellow Homesteaders are coming for a work day at our Farm. We are excited. Mostly they will help us get ready for the Seed and Plant Exchange.

Tasks will be varied and weather dependent: garage clean-up, putting down garden paths, weeding, potting up plants and divvying up Seeds for the Seed Plant Exchange, indoor cleaning. Who knows what territory we will cover?  Each of us will lead up different initiatives.  Mike, who is with us for this week, will be heading up the creation of a container to hold the Sand that has been sitting just outside the west door.  We are beginning to imagine what it would be like to not see that deteriorating blue tarp at the end of the west patio.

Tonight, we're getting food ready for the Crew.  I made my favorite kind of Corn Bread which includes corn and stays very moist.  Melanie made peanut butter balls, a high energy afternoon Snack.  Richard started Bean Soup and will finish it tomorrow.  The Kitchen was bustling.  Tomorrow, Mike is making a big Green Salad.

We'd better get a good night's sleep tonight. Night all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do It

When Richard and I
in the Garden today,
we noted 
the Soil
is far better
than it was
when we 1st arrived
on this little Farm
4 years ago.
That is cause
for celebration.
Can you imagine
the World we could create
if we put
our heads and hearts
to make it better
than that
which we found?
Imagine it.
Do it.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Potting Bench

On this day, Jonathan created a Potting Bench for me to use in the Garden.  Stay tuned.  This beautiful bench will be used soon. She will become my loyal Partner on many Potting Excursions.


It is a joy
to work alongside
who has similar
and skill 
with Plants.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

A Gardener's Note

Never let
weed a Garden
without supervision.
A lot is at stake. 
The other wants
to do good work
or they wouldn't
have offered
in the 1st place.
They just likely
do not have the skill
or the experience
of the Gardener
whose home
is in this place. 
A person
does not need
to be "smothery" here,
just careful.
That's all.
Glinda Crawford, 2011


On this day which was a "Flower Day", Richard, Melanie, Mike and I worked on the Flower Beds on the West Side of the House. This is very special for me because we were adding in some of Mother's Plants.  Plus, I added in other Plants which were known and loved by the Old Ones, the Grandmas of Yore. It is a perfect fit with the Grandmother's Flower Garden which is what I am creating here.

I was thinking about the design of the one Bed and I knew that it should have some Rocks.  All the Flower Beds should have Rocks.  Fortunately, we have quite a few Rocks from our collection over the years.  I selected and Mike placed Rocks around the Bed.  One is quite large and it makes me smile.  This Rock is from my Gardening Mentor and our Dear Neighbor Marcia Melberg.  She had it in her Garden on the west side of her house.

I asked Mike if he knew what a "Cairn" was.  And he did.  In fact, he has built several before.  Cairns have been used since the times of ancient peoples.  They are markers, often along pathways.  It seems to me that this is an beautiful symbol and honoring of the precious pathway upon which we have been placed. I have no idea how he did this, but I sure am glad that he did.

Liberating Carrots

On this beautiful day, Richard, Mike and I headed to the Carrot Patch to "liberate Carrots".  That's code here on the Farm for "weeding Carrots".  And it's no small job. 

When the Weather is wet and the Garden is muddy, it is hard to get into the Beds to weed.  Meanwhile, Weeds are taking advantage of the situation and vying for their secure place in the Carrot Bed.  Or is it a "Weed Bed"? Weeds typically grow far faster than Carrot Seedlings.  And they are huge compared to the Carrot Seedlings too.  Their robust size means they can quickly overshadow the Tiny Carrots. As you might imagine, those 2 Carrot Beds had been calling and this was indeed their Lucky Day.

Weeding Carrots is tedious work.  A person cannot go fast.  You surely have to think about what you are doing.  It is contemplative work.  And Weeding goes a little faster and smoother when in good company of Fellow Weeders.  For these special days, Mike has joined us an Apprentice.  His intent is to help us with any work in support of the Seed and Plant Exchange and this Season. We are deeply grateful.

We 3 C's love our Carrots.  They are one of our staples here on the Farm.  We can hardly believe it but last year we raised enough Carrots for 8 months of eating.  During the growing season, we would pick them straight from the Garden.  Over the Winter, we stored the Carrots in the Refrigerator.  Some day, hopefully, we will have a Root Cellar and the Carrots will have a favored spot.

Meanwhile, we weeded while enjoying the Sun on our backs, listening to the Voices of the Weeds (they have a lot to say about the Soil), and enjoying good company.  After we were finished, we stood back and admired our work.  The Rows were clearly distinguishable. Listening closely, I think I could almost hear those Carrots whisper "Thanks".

Our Turn

On Thursday, we will be having a "work party" at our little Farm.  On that day, 6 homestead families (including the 3 C's) will gather to help on any projects that we have here on the Farm.  We have a master list of possibilities. Today, we will be narrowing that down.  Plus, we need to make calls today to let Folks know what's ahead.  That would include: list of possible tasks, what to wear, what tools to bring. We are thinking about food for the crew too.  Farm workers get hungry, you know.

This is our big week of preparation for the Seed and Plant Exchange.  Plus, spring gardening is in full swing.  Nevermind, spring cleaning is waiting patiently in the wings.  There is always something going on here on the Farm.  It's wonderful to think of Folks giving of themselves to help us at this very special time. We get to hang out with Folks we just love to spend time with anyway too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Congratulations Dr. Bravo, Dr. Bramon and Families

The Artist and Writer in me almost always has a plan.  Sometimes the Universe has another plan for me.  In this case, it was Blogger.  The ordering of these pictures is not exactly as I had hoped.  I tried and tried to get them to go according to my order.  But it was not to be.  So I shall leave it up to the Reader to sort this out. While you are doing it, please note that I gave up, completed the copy, then headed to bed. But I digress.

On Saturday, we had a very special day.  Four years ago, we were newbies on this little Farm.  I suppose that we still are.  We were entering a kind of school.  And as Richard has said many times, "The learning curve is steep."  Simultaneously, some magical creatures were popping into our lives.  They were entering their own kind of school.  They were intent upon becoming Doctors: Doctors of Osteopathy.

Enter Rachel.  And along with her came: Joni, Sarah, and Maria.  Rachel, Joni and Maria were classmates right here at A.T. Still University.  Sarah was Rachel's special friend who was also in Med School, but on the west coast. I shall forever remember that special day in December when Rachel, Sarah and Joni came in a fog out to our house.  They left in a fog too.  Maria was Rachel's roommate.  We had far more interactions with Rachel, Maria, and Joni.  This little entry is mostly about them.

Four years later, their cohort was ready for graduation ceremonies.  Rachel will take one more year because she took a special fellowship. Joni and Maria walked across that stage, meeting all their requirements and taking their Osteopathic Physician's Oath.  They are now Dr. Bramon and Dr. Bravo.

We 3 C's were thrilled to join their families at the graduation celebration, before and after too. This was such a special day to celebrate human accomplishment, family and team support, interweaving of family and community, growing, taking on challenges, completing goals, making a commitment toward entering a profession directed toward healing.

This is the 1st graduation for D.O.'s that I have attended.  But I have to say something about it was familiar.  Perhaps it related to the graduations of 3 of my Uncles:  Drs. Harley Samuel Wiles (class of 1903), Louis Brenz (class of 1903), and Albert Alexander Griffin (class of 1949). Our family is steeped in the lore and legend of these 3 Doctors and their education here. 

I looked at the pictures of Uncle Harl (with presumably his sister, who also graduated) and Uncle Louis.  They are filled with the excitement of completion of a goal that was very special too them.  That same look was all over the graduates on this beautiful Saturday. 

I am sure that considerable progress has been made in Osteopathic Medicine in that time, as well as considerable change in our world too.  One can ponder what changes the world will see in another 100 years.

But in the meantime, we 3 C's congratulate the 2 new Doctors.  We wish them well in their journeys ahead.  We celebrate the exquisite interconnections of our paths. We thank them and their families for including us in their special celebratons. And we look forward to Rachel's special day in the Sun May 12, 2012.

Friday, May 13, 2011

To the Rooster House

On this day, Melanie decided that the Littles should go to the Rooster House.  We waited until Joni arrived.  Joni is in the area these few days. We feel richly blessed that she decided to spend some time with us. Melanie thought it would be just the thing to have Joni participate in moving the Baby Peeps from their boxes to their new digs: the Rooster House. The moment she arrived, Joni was ready for any and all Farm adventures.

So what was the "Moving Van"?  That big box was filled with 107 Baby Chicks:  White Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, New Hampshires and Barred Rocks. They looked like a moving carpet of luff.
Before they let them out, Melanie and her Dad had fixed up the Rooster House to accommodate the Littles.  Joni and Melanie set up their feeders with Chick Feed and Oatmeal. Their waterers were in place.  Straw was on the ground. Part of a bale of straw and the little "balance beam" were put in place to accommodate their natural love and seeking of higher places.
At precisely the right moment, Melanie tipped over the box.  And out they came into their whole new Big World. Once out, they seemed scared.  But then they quickly settled down in their new paradise, where they found lots of Treasures. 

By the way, did you see that Clover? Wings with emerging Feathers were tested for short Flights. Sometimes the Little Chicks looked like Popcorn, popping here, there and everywhere. Over time, they settled down. 

We never tire of watching them. It's like getting a beautiful glimpse of Life Itself.

Not a Walking Stick

Yesterday, Richard and Melanie were all set to go on a Garden Walk.  These are usually gentle, meditative, awe-filled, calming walks. We are always wondering about what's growing and what's not.  Plus at this season, we are always in tune to "What's next?" 

Before the Garden Walk, Melanie went to the Chicken House to open the 2nd Door so that the Birds could get more air. She opened that 2nd door and discovered, not 1, but 2 Blue Racers.  That would Snakes.  She emitted a Scream:  "Dad, there's a snake, there's a snake!!!  DAD: THERE'S 2 SNAKES!" This was heard by her Father, who was in the Garden.  "Don't worry, I will be right there."  He was rather calm. 

So Richard went to get the Hoe.  He already had on gloves.  Melanie watched where the Snakes went.  The Chickens paid no attention; they were intent upon their usual activities in the Nest Boxes. 

Richard came in with his mighty Hoe.  Melanie's 1st question was "Are you going to KILL them?"  To which he calmly responded: "No, I am going to put the Hoe on their Heads so I can catch them." Richard is known for his calm. Under these circumstances, Melanie is not. I wouldn't be either. 

Melanie and Richard move around the Feed Pails.  Richard finds the Snake.  He puts down the Hoe on the Snake and grabs the Snake by the Head. Then, he looks at Melanie.  "Do you care if I just throw it over the fence?"  To which Melanie responds:  "Far, far away."  It's hard to get the full picture without the gestures.  Richard says: "I will just take it to the Lagoon, but 1st I will go show your Mother." 

While Richard is gone, Melanie watches the other Snake closely.  It seemed like Richard was gone for a very long time.  But he came back, caught the 2nd Snake and escorted it to the Lagoon.  Richard thought the Snakes were a pair and they were in the Chicken House to escape the Rain.

There's always something going on here on this little Farm.

Hard to Blog

It's hard to Blog
at this
So much is going on. 
Richard just finished
mowing the yard
around the House.
He gathered
Grass Clippings
at my request.
I want to mulch
around my Flowers.
Gotta go.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sweet Potatoes

May 6:

Today was a Root Day and the Sweet Potatoes were waiting patiently in cue. They are currently in 3 stages: (1) vines emerging from tubers which were in water, (2) vines removed from tubers and placed in water to root, (3) rooted vines held in wet sand. Stage 3 is shown in the Pink Tubs.

I have to chuckle at those tubs. They came from hospital stays over the past 4 years which were no laughing matter. I am not sure what hospital stays. It could have been Dad (2x), Mother (4x), or me (1x). Previously, those tubs brought me considerable angst. I could have thrown them away, but I decided to turn them into something beautiful. They have become our integral partners here on the Farm as they root one of our favorite crops, the loyal Sweet Potato.

I don't know how I got to be this way, but I love to turn situations and objects which hold angst into something beautiful. Life is a lot more joyous that way.

The Sweet Potato Vines have 1 more stage before they go into the Garden. They will soon go outside for little excursions to "harden off". Then, they will be ready for planting which will happen sometime the end of May.

We have 2 varieties of Sweet Potatoes (Georgia Jet, with possibilities of about 80 Vines; and Orange Oak Leaf, with possibilities of 8 Vines). That's way more than we will grow in the Garden, which means that we will be sharing these perhaps at the Seed and Plant Exchange.

Rule Number 1

Rule # 1
on this Little Farm:
Nature always trumps
the Human Plan.
Case in point:
We are
at high season of planting.
We had Rain yesterday
with more expected
the next few days.
It's cool too.
Ground is too wet to plant.
Soil is too wet to work.
We are going
for a walk.
May get
some planting and lawn mowing
done later as Soil dries.
It's a great day to get
some inside chores done.
Garage is begging its turn
getting ready
for the Seed and Plant Exchange.
Maybe blogging too.
Something is always
waiting in the Wings.
We Humans are learning
to go with Nature's Flow.
It's a hard learn sometimes.
But we are learning.
Glinda Crawford, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Mother's Day

For Mother's Day which biodynamically was a "Flower Day", we did some planting in the Flower Beds.  I am so excited.  We brought home 5 of Mother's Hybrid Teas.  She has always been known for her Roses.  We planted the Roses, Purple Violets, Columbine, Mums, an Iris (Caesar's Brother), Miracle Lilies, Black Eyed Susans, Himrod Grape, Lily of the Valley, Lily (from Rachel), Maltese Cross and 2 Clematises.  Most of these were planted in the big Garden to the East of the House. 

We still have to plant: Spirea (Bridal Veil), Peonies, and some of the above.  Most of this will be done to the West of the House. The Soil in this area has minimal top Soil and is mostly heavy Clay, so we will be working on the Garden Beds to increase their organic matter.   Many Plants which we have previously planted there aren't happy. And the Gardener who weeds is not happy to chisel out the Soil.  We have worked very diligently to replenish organic matter in other Garden Beds and we can surely tell the difference.  It just makes our Souls and the Plants Dance.

When I think of it, we knew when we arrived here that the Soil had had about 150 years of use.  We knew that it was tired.  We knew that our role would be to work to restore it.  We think we are making progress, but we have a long way to go. 

I kind of forget until Mother's Day arrives that I have had and have many Mothers in the world.  I need to get with it and sending some notes to some of my Mothers who have dearly nurtured me.  If any of them are reading this (and other Females besides), Happy Mother's Day. We surely need to celebrate this every day.

Amazingly, we arrived on this little Farm 4 years ago yesterday (the day before Mother's Day).  I wanted to come in time to see Mother, who had just gotten out of the hospital.  Plus, living so far away, we were almost never around for Mother's Day.  I surely did not want to miss it.  And I smile when I think about the Mother's Days we were blessed to share.

It seems fitting that we chose this Day to plant Flowers.  My Mother was always planting Flowers and giving them away.  That's one tradition I have chosen to keep.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Picking Up A Dropped Stitch

As a Knitter, I know I am not supposed to drop stitches.  If I do, it is a mess.  The whole thing can unravel. Sometimes I do drop stitches.  When I do, I better go back and pick them up.  Life isn't so different.  Sometimes we drop stitches that we are supposed to pick up later. For me singing is one of them.

When I was a child, I sang with the exuberance of a child. It didn't take me long to figure out that I was supposed to still my voice within the narrow frame of expectation. It also didn't take me long to learn that some people are designated as singers and some people just aren't.  And so, I quit.  Sure, I would hum or sing along to music on the radio or CD. That period marked about 3 decades of relative silence.

About 20 years ago, I began a journey that was about reclaiming my voice.  Singing was surely a part of that.  As my journey continued, the range and depth of my voice just kept increasing.  Sometimes I was stunned at what would come out.  It was a far cry from those days of singing when the range was small.  Once again, I had reconnected with a love that I had always had, the love of singing.

This spring, I joined Community Chorus.  And this Monday, May 9, 7:30 pm, we have our concert.  It's the 1st time I have been in a Chorus and had a performance since I was the 4th tallest Angel on the right in the Christmas program. 

Dear Melanie has stayed in touch with Choir throughout her life.  And of course, I was right there on the front row for all but one of those performances.  When we moved here, Mother joined us in the audience.  We would sit a few rows back.  This time, I am on the 1st set of risers, which was what I was on in the 6th grade.  Some things change.  Others don't.  I am  excited and blessed about what is giving birth in me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Salad Bar

We had a Salad Bar tonight.  Each of us built our own Salads. And the Garden and Chickens smiled.


"Phyllis", the Amorphophallus Konjac, was given to us by Bob S. when we left North Dakota 4 years ago.  Bob was 1 of Richard's colleagues up North.  Phyllis is just a delight.  She is dormant during the Winter, when we keep her in the dark of the basement.  As Spring begins to whisper of her arrival, Melanie puts Phyllis into a pot.  As the Soil warms and the Light becomes stronger and longer, Phyllis begins to grow.  She will get big.  When she is at the peak of her maturity, she will produce a flower, which has a horrible scent.  When that happens, we will move her away from the house. 

For now, she is just over an inch tall.  It is hard to imagine the power of that Bulb.

Favorite Mulch

My favorite mulch in the Garden is Grass Clippings.  On this day, Richard mowed the yard.  When he was using the push mower, he gathered 3 wheel barrow loads of Grass Clippings.  He placed 1 load around the Potatoes in the Garden.  Our Potatoes are recovering from the 2 nights of Frost earlier in the week.  I put 2 loads around some of the plants in the Flower Beds on the west side of the house.  And I need more.

So why do I like Grass Clippings as Mulch?  They dry to a brown color which is much like the Soil.  They actually dry down very quickly, forming a shield to keep the Soil from washing or blowing away.  Plus, they keep the Weeds from germinating and taking over the place.

This also reminds me that I used to not see the benefits of Grass Clippings.  Neighbors would bag them and send them to the landfill.  We would let ours dry on top.  Over time, we had a mulching lawn mower which efficiently returned the nutrients to the Soil.  The lowly Grass Clippings remind me that there are probably many things that we consider as "waste" which actually have practical uses.  In fact, Mother Nature makes use of all of her waste in the Circle of Life.  Now that's a lesson we Humans need to learn.

Hopefully, over time, I will have more Plants which serve as ground covers. I have discovered that I cannot do it all at once.  So for now, this is as good as it gets.


May 3:

While we were busy tidying up and planting in the Garden on this day, 2 Bluebirds were also quite busy moving back and forth to their House. When we 3 Humans got close, they would watch us. On this occasion, the adult in the foreground is carrying a bug in its beak. That surely must mean they have young on the nest. It's the season when something is happening all the time here on the Farm. The Bluebirds would surely tell us the same.


I guess
we could grow
a smaller garden,
Kathy S.,
a fellow Gardener,
in correspondence
that arrived in the mailbox

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making Peace with Eating Meat

For the last 2 decades, we have struggled with this "kill Animals" for Human Food thing but we are more at Peace with it now. This has been a long journey.  The following takes you through some steps along our Path.

It makes sense that we would feel for the Animals. Why wouldn't we? Their Gift is substantial.  They are Living Beings with Feelings. They too are Gifts of the Divine.

For a while, Melanie and I tried being Vegetarian as a way to side step the issue, in part. We were acutely aware of the suffering of the Animals and also the fact that eating Meat has a huge ecological footprint on the Planet. But, we quickly discovered our bodies needs Meat.

So we started taking Baby Steps. Our 1st awareness was noting the Meat that we ate and thinking about the Animals.  Some of it was not fit to eat in comparing it with an old standard of Meat that we would have grown up with. 

I do admit that we were not charmed by either huge feedlot operations or hard cold loud prisons on the back of semis which transported fearful Animals to market.  I do admit that for the last 16 years, I say an apology to the Animals every time I go past 1 of those trucks.  Every time.  And I tell them that I am trying to do better.

We made more steps:  We would not allow meat to waste in the Refrigerator, which we had often done before.  We began to buy Meat that was Organic and Free Range from our local natural foods market, Amazing Grains.  As products became more available, we would buy Local whenever we could.  The difference in the taste and the vitality of the Meat was substantial.

I wanted to see and meet the Farmer who provided us Meat.  I wanted to thank him/her. And I did.  To me, our relationship was Sacred.  They were providing us with Food to live.  They were nurturing our lives on a very elemental level.  On a more practical level, I wanted to make sure that the Farm Family was provided a living wage.

All of these steps brought us closer to the "death" issue.  It didn't make any sense to us that we would give someone else the responsibility for killing/processing the animal. In many cases, those who worked in slaughter houses were disadvantaged from power and needy for income.  They were people without a full range of choices.

Overall, we 3 C's seemed to be screening ourselves from that final act, yet it happened.  Richard said if he ever had to have someone else process our Chickens, he wouldn't eat Chicken.

When we live up north, Terry Jacobson, an Organic Farmer, provided us Meat (Beef) through Amazing Grains. Terry was also a poet and a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement on the Northern Plains. He wanted to make sure that the Animal was well cared for throughout Life.  And the night before the slaughter, he would thank the Animal for its gift of Life. That felt really good, right, and comforting for us. That little act, which was huge, was an epiphany in our thinking and an important lesson for our Lives and our Living.

In the meantime, we were being more open to the thoughts and lifeways of other cultures, especially Native Americans and south and eastern Asian Peoples.  We were placed on this Earth together and surely that meant we had important teachings for the other. Within the systems of those with whom we connected, I learned that Life is viewed as a Circle.  For something to live, something must die.  I learned that many 1st Peoples of this Continent believed (and believe) that as a result, something must be exchanged between the 2: the Giver and the Taker.  At the very most elementary level is the simple statement: "Thank you".  But we Humans can do more.

Beyond that, my Family and I became more active in thinking about our roles.  One aspect of that was to make sure that the Animal was well cared for and that we would never ever lose sight of the significance of that Gift. In the presence of the Animal and even when we are separate, we became ever mindful of the Gift. Gratitude and the words Thank you were ever present.

This Gratitude was not extended to the Animal alone.  It also was freely given to the Farmer and his/her Family. We wanted to make sure that the Farmer knew our gratitude and was paid a living wage. 

So what is happening on this Little Farm?  We do raise Chickens for Meat.  In fact, 40 of them arrived on Monday of this week.  They are the Baby Peeps.  In about 16 weeks, they will become our Meat Birds, taking up residence in the Freezer.  And yes, that is far longer than some of the later varieties.  But these are Birds which are Heirloom and not genetically engineered. 

I do believe that our Birds know their role and they are at peace with it.  That too is a traditional belief system common among Indigenous Peoples in traditional practice.  In the meantime, we make sure they are well cared for in every respect.  They are treated as our partners on this Little Farm.

When they are big enough, they will be free range. Their Food is organically grown which has greatly affected their vitality and their health.  We feed ourselves organic food; why wouldn't we share that with them?

Just before they are ready to be processed, we know and I think that they know.  When Richard is ready for that step (and he has taken the leadership here), he tells us.  We each spend some time in the Coop thanking the little Roos for their Gift.  Within a few days after that, the place is quieter and more somber.  That is part of it too.

Previously, Richard took all the responsibility for processing. He had grown up processing Animals for Food.  Melanie and I both grew up in town and were largely screened from such things.  However, Melanie and I have begun to help.  That feels good and right. More of that will come.

We do eat Pork, Beef, and Deer which we do not raise here for Food and someone else processes.  Rolf Christen has provided us with grass fed Beef.  At our request, he lets us know when the Animal will be processed.  Once again, we spend time with thoughts of gratitude directed toward the Steer which will feed us (and the Farmer too).  We are very pleased that the Animal is slaughtered on site.  Slaughtering on site means less stress to the Animal. We really like that.

We have not spoken yet about these things to the Folks who provide us Pork and Deer.  But those conversations will happen over time. We can't do it all at once.

We try not to judge others' practices.  That's hard.  But I do believe we each are doing the best we know how to do. 

These are simple ways that we 3 C's have made peace with eating Meat and processing the Animals who ultimately will feed us.  They surely are not universally held beliefs, but they are important to us.  We try to connect our deepest core values with our practices.  That just gives us a lot more peace for the World.  And yes, the World could use more Peace from the Humans right now.