Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Chapter Closes and Another Opens

OK:  In some ways, I can't believe that I am doing this.  In other ways, I have known I needed to do this for some time.

I began writing this blog in December of 2007 and have continued it for almost 5 years.  I had no idea where it would take me and who I would meet along the path.  The blog became a chronicle of our daily adventures on this little farm.  

Along the way, 2227 posts were set down on this little address, and over 61,000 visitors came along side, including 2 distant relatives and their families (one in Germany and another in California) whom I had never known.  I was thrilled.  It is true that some of the numbers were repeats.  And some, who knows how many, simply were lost. They didn't stay long.

Many of you were regulars.  My blog counter gives locations but not addresses, which of course I did not want.  I think the record is over 500 visits from one location.  The blog has allowed for some very interesting conversations, including people in town who knew us by the blog but we did not know them.  They just stopped us by the water filter dispenser at the local grocery store and out of the blue at the antique fair at a local arts festival. 

The intention was to share our adventures but to also encourage the sharing of your own.  It was never to substitute our adventures for another's.  It was to stimulate create thought.

In the past few months, I have been receiving some "nudges" that it is time to move on.  I could hardly imagine it.  But it does seem right. And so I am moving on.  Who knows, maybe another blog will be developed over time.  But for now, I am pretty tired of looking at this little screen.  I am surely making no commitments.  With that, I am headed into having a celebratory cup of tea.  And I am looking forward to that next little excursion outside after dinner or before. 

I feel richly blessed to have had this opportunity.  I extend to you all the best in your own adventures.  Always,

glinda

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cutting Back

At this season, we are usually madly scurrying about like squirrels down in the woods.  Something is different.  This season with the drought and some changes in roles on the farm has taken a lot of energy.  Plus, Richard and I are also older.  (Who isn't?)  With that recognition, we are clearly noting that we do have limits.  So we have decided to get done what we can and let the rest go.  Oh, does that ever feel good.

Ever Watchful

These days, we sit on the shoulder season between fall and winter.  One can usually look at which way the wind is blowing and know precisely who is in charge.  In earlier posts, I have called this a dance and it is indeed.

Meanwhile, the People of the Land are ever watchful.  Frost is a distinct possibility.  And with it comes the end of several crops:  tomatoes, green beans, peppers, sweet potatoes.  Despite the drought, we have been blessed with abundance, for which we are very grateful.

Today, Richard dug Sweet Potatoes and Carrots.  The Sweet Potatoes are in the shed "hardening off" their skins.  Newly dug, their skins are very tender and easily damaged.  In a day or two, their skins will be stronger, at which point, they will head to the house to be stored.  Sweet Potatoes were indeed abundant.  Richard did not dig all of the Carrots; they are currently in the downstairs fridge.  Lurah and Hollis Dale picked some treasures for their larder.  It feels so good to share.

We brought in the Geraniums and the Coleus, both of which were in pots.  Richard brought in the Allspice plant.  This lovely treasure has just gotten too big for us so tomorrow she heads to a new home.  I think she is positively gleeful because she will be treasured and well taken care of.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Neighbors and Friends

While fixing dinner, we looked down the drive and noted our Amish neighbor was headed our way with his horse and buggy.  He alighted from the buggy with a pint jar in one hand.  Sure enough they are making 2 batches of sorghum molasses today.  He had brought a sample for us to try and just wanted to see what we thought regarding the progress so far.  Yum.  Richard shared what we knew of the process of making molasses. I shared pictures of specific questions from our poster of molasses making.

Toward the end of our conversation, Hollis Dale, MaLinda and Lurah arrived.  Hollis Dale is the "fire keeper" of the process of our family.  More information was shared.

This little exchange felt wonderful.  I just love to see developments on the order of "neighbors and friends".  Sure makes a person feel at home.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quiet

The last 2 days, Richard and I have commented that things are pretty quiet around here.  Many of the songbirds have begun their migration.  The ones who remain will either be residents or migrants.  The residents are probably getting ready for the winter months and the migrants surely must be thinking about packing their bags.  Even the grasshoppers seem fewer in number and not quite as energetic. 

The days have been calm with little wind, warm days and cool nights.  On our walk today, we noted the woods are coloring up.  The master painter's brush has touched the poison ivy, sumac, and virginia creeper with brushes loaded with brilliant reds.  Meanwhile yellows are appearing.  Leaves are slowly trickling down. 

While a multiplicity of tasks for harvest await us, the calm is nourishing and welcome.  We are richly blessed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adventures

Here on this little Farm, we have many adventures.  They are always lurking behind the corner, teasing us, tempting us, inviting us.

OK: A little background:  We have been having a bit of trouble with fruit flies in the house.  Up to now, it has been warm.  Plus, we have had boxes of pears and apples waiting for processing.  Add that us and you have "Fruit fly Heaven".  It just has been really really busy.  (Pears, AKA Food Source, are now processed.)

We have put up some containers to collect the fruit flies, but decided to resort to a "fly strip" too.  Well, fluffy gray cats can get stuck in fly strips.  Need I say more?

Fall Equinox

Today is the Fall Equinox for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.  Daylight and dark are approximately equal in length.  Sun rises due East and sets due West or so it appears.  I greeted Grandfather Sun as He arose this morning and I intend to send Him on his way this evening when He sets.  Sun continues on His southward journey as we move into the colder seasons here.  At exactly 9:49am, the sun crosses the celestial equator.

On this day, I think of balance.  I say goodbye to the warm summer season and the new growing that I have seen this past season.  I think of how all that is life must get ready for the upcoming winter.  Winter is a time of rest, replenishment, renewal, and an inward journey. I look with awe at the balance essential to support life itself.  Here we sit amid a vast Creation. 

Maybe this is a prayer or voices from the Ancients:  "Take note.  Give thanks.  Do nothing to minimize life itself and to alter Creation with which we were entrusted for all those who follow."

Once again, "the Wheel turns".  Blessed be.
http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons

Friday, September 21, 2012

Signs of Fall


September 20:

Signs of Fall are apparent:
Geese flying in strings,
Songbirds gathering on wires,
Hawks soaring in kettles,
Mums and Asters blooming,
Monarchs flying in migration,
Humans reaching for warmer clothes,
Soups and stews cooking on the stove,
Max taking daytime naps under the covers.

Quote

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The two most important days 
in your life 
are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.
~~~~
Mark Twain
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Angel

Former student and dear friend Donna leaves from North Dakota early Saturday to spend a few days on the farm.  She will drive 800 miles tomorrow and plans to catch the end of the Molasses Making.  That means she's gonna be up and on the road way early tomorrow. 

Donna is no stranger to farm doin's and has let us know that she wants to help out wherever she can.  That means so much to us:  1st:  she's coming.  Wow, I can hardly wrap my mind around it.  It's for real.  It's amazing how a simple move can mean that people with whom you have known, loved and worked with closely are just not in the day to day routine.  Thoughts of them are forever in our hearts, while their presence is surely missed.  2nd: we have so much to do here with the harvest and preparation for winter.  I think this particular Angel surely is continuing to grow her beautiful wings. 

She had one request and that was to have chicken when she arrives.  We won't have chicken tomorrow evening but likely will for Sunday dinner.  I chuckle about this one.  My Grandfather Fred Albert Brenz assisted with the early electrification in the region.  I have a postcard he wrote his sister and his mother from Quincy.  He said he would be home later in the weekend and fried chicken would sure be nice.  It is wonderful that some things just don't change.

Thanks so much, dear Donna.  Travel safely.  Enjoy that beautiful excursion through the Great Plains.  And see you very soon. 

Cider Press

Richard ordered a cider press earlier in the week.  It is to be delivered to the Crawford family farm in Millard today.  Meanwhile, the Apple Trees in their orchard are heavy with fruit.  Get the picture?  We are all in stages of expectancy.  I can almost taste that Apple Cider.

Quote

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
~~~~
Black Elk 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monarch

September 8:

A Monarch lands on the wild Sunflower strain which is blooming in profusion by the deck, in the garden, and in the chicken coop. We have seen few Monarchs this summer. When we see one, we are extra grateful. It goes way deep.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

1 Batch This Weekend

The decision has been made to make 1 more batch of sorghum molasses this weekend. The big day will be Saturday.  Earlier discussion actually considered 2 batches.  Of course, anything is possible, but as plans are now, we will be making 1 batch Saturday. 

Each batch requires considerable work behind the scenes, both before and after.  I think some of the molasses makers are a bit pooped out.  This is coming at the peak of harvest and after a summer whic required considerable energy in the face of drought.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2 More Batches?

Yep, we pulled off 2 batches of Sorghum Molasses this weekend.  In total that was 35 gallons which is a record for us, I believe.  I don't know what the usual range is, but if my memory serves me correctly, that is anywhere from 10-14 gallons and 14 is on the high side. 

We are not sure what is going on with such a high amount.  I shall wait for the assessment of the "big boys who chew bubblegum".  They are the ones with the experience.  I did hear that vineyard growers in Missouri were pretty thrilled with the results of the drought.  It seems that the lack of moisture "concentrated" the grape juice.  I wonder if that is what happened with the Sorghum Cane.

At the end of the 2 days, many of us were pretty pooped out.  (We were pooped out  before, or as my Dad would say: we were "like a car running on vapors."  As tools were being put away and the syrup was being jarred up, you could hear some pretty strong murmurings and relief: "We are done for the year."

That was before Hollis went up to the field and came back with reports:  "This looks like the best cane we have ever had."  Hollis Dale headed up to the field and concurred.  So it looks like we will be making 1, maybe 2 batches, this weekend.

I have a former student and dear friend, Donna B., who planned to make a special trip from North Dakota to join us on the Farm and to experience Sorghum Molasses making.  She scheduled her vacation around what looked like an optimal time which is this next weekend.  That was before we knew about the drought and the speeded up effect it might have on the crop.  It looks like she will arrive late on Saturday.  If we make Molasses on Sunday, she will get to see the whole works. 

Hey Donna, are you reading this up there?  It is a surprise to all of us. And like you said, you have lived on a farm and you know how schedules are. We surely are only minimally in charge.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Moments

There are those moments when time and space stand still, when one feels connected to a far older past, when one sees the beauty of human community working calmly and systematically toward a common goal, when one feels connected to all that is. Making molasses does that for me. All the tensions of that outer world drop away. Peace is restored in the human heart. I just smile and yearn for more...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rain

August 31:

Hurricane Isaac is bringing us much needed rain. When we got up this morning, we looked at the southern skies and sure enough, a front was moving in. Words cannot tell the depth of feeling to know that at long last, we will be getting rain.

Praises be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wild Here Today

It's pretty wild out here today. We are stripping and harvesting cane for molasses making this weekend. Maybe 2 batches. This tradition goes back in Richard's family to at least the early part of the 1900s. Probably before. 
The craft has almost been lost in modern time. The Crawford family reclaimed it in 2004; this year will make our 9th season.  And every year we learn more.
Due to its extensiveness, the craft must be done in community. And so the community arrives to help with different phases. If you were here, we'd could use the help. Great time to reconnect. 
We had a work crew here this morning (Dan, Mike, Julia, Meaghann, Leah, Melanie) to strip and head the cane, which they did by noon.  Melanie headed them up.  Meanwhile, Richard headed to Hollis' where the family gathered to harvest and prepare the site.  We had a great lunch here which Richard fixed.  Yummy chili (2 pots, one with meat and one vegetarian).  Calls went back and forth between the 2 crews.  Dan, Melanie and Julia headed to the field here on the Farm to head the cane, cut it and lay in bunches.  While I clatter away at these keys, pick-ups have arrived to pick it up in the field (with Hollis Dale, MaLinda, Lurah, Richard, and I think that last pick-up must have been Gerald and Hollis). 
Gotta go. Among other things, I am the Mama-razzi. 

Shake Rattle and Roll

When I was growing up in the 1950s, I would often hear a phrase from my Dad:  "Shake Rattle and Roll".  It was usually reserved for those days when an unusually very full slate awaited us, like driving to California or something like that.  Most likely I was in dream land and he was all fired up for the day.  You could almost see the sparks moving under his feet.  "Time was wastin'."

If my Dad was around today, he probably would say that on this morning.  We are likely going to have 2 cane stripping crews working today:  one at Hollis' and one here on Butterfly Hill  Farm.  We'll know how many as the crews begin arriving about 9 just as the dew is off.

I wonder if the Cane knows such doin's are fixin' for the day ahead.  They may be shakin', rattlin', and rollin' too just thinking about it. 

Richard has made 6 cane stripping knives.  One is from oak (which seems heavy) and the remainder are from cedar.  Please note the handles are covered in tape. 

The plan goes that we will be making our first batch of molasses this weekend.  Considering it has been a drought year and even it it hasn't:

Praises be. 

Here we go.
~~~~
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shake,_Rattle_and_Roll

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Parade

Today is a big day right here at the farm. Melanie is getting her 1st house: a tiny house of 90 sq ft. If you were around these parts, you could watch the little parade coming 3 miles up the gravel lane to our drive and onto the land for the very special place she has selected for her new digs.  Thanks everyone for your help...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Greening

Since we had that 5 inch rain a week ago, things are really greening up.  Grass is growing.  Many of the dead looking sticks in the ground are sporting tender new leaves.  I was pleased to see that the Rhubarb is poking up from the ground again.  It almost looks more like spring.  I wonder what this doing for the cycles of the plants.  They seem to be jumping for joy.  I can sure say that the Humans are too.

Plus, we are seeing more flowers.  Some plants either did not flower this summer or they flowered earlier and for shorter duration.  Now we are beginning to see more flowers too.

It's magic what a little rain will do.  Every one of those raindrops is a blessing.  Praises be.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Keeping It Simple

It looks like we will be doing 2 batches of Sorghum Molasses the weekend of September 15.  That means one batch on Saturday and one on Sunday, weather and etc. pending.  Etc. is always pending.

This has been a tough summer.  With the drought, it's a miracle that we have a crop.  The weather has taken a chunk of energy from the humans.  Plus we all lead full and very lives.  You can add some transitions there also.  This time, I hear some murmurings on the importance of "keeping it simple".  I am not sure what that means.  But I could not agree more.

Hmmmm... I wonder what it will taste like.  Once again, we will have a batch to remember, assuming all goes well.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sorghum Molasses Making: Soon...

It looks like we will be making the first batch of Sorghum Molasses, Saturday, September 15. Rain is expected this weekend, so we won't be making it then. (What are the odds that a crop that made it through the drought will then experience rain to delay harvest and processing?) More info on specifics later.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praises Be

We got rain.  Maybe I should say that again.  We got rain.  It feels so wonderful to type those simple but powerful words.

Richard checked some of our "official rain gauges" here at the Farm.  For those of you who are new to this blog, they are empty buckets today.  The mug which we had used now has a crack in it and water leaks out.  So it doesn't pass our official requirements for a rain gauge.

Richard concluded we got about 5 inches.  That's so far.  More is on the way.  The rains have been peaceful, gentle and persistent.  We have had a few gusts of wind last night, but mostly this has been just a gentle as could be.

I did a walk about on the farm this morning.  Things look so green.  It's almost like we are all coming alive. 

The cracks in the soil are closing.  Or should I say healing?  One can almost feel the sighs of relief. 

We have 2 sticks that mark where the edge of the pond was last spring and early in the summer.  I regret we did not date them.  When Richard and I checked them before the rain, those 2 sticks had migrated up the bank.  Of course not.  The water had migrated back on the dry side of the 2 sticks.  The lowest stick was about 18 inches from the water.  When I did my walk this morning, the lowest stick was in the water and about 2 feet from water's edge.  Yippee skippee.

I walked down into the woods.  I especially wanted to see the ephemeral creek which shows up during rains and during months and years when the water table is high.  There wasn't a drop of water in it.  That rain must have soaked right into the thirsty ground.

These are the "notings".  I do have to say that the humans are experiencing considerable relief.  It is as if we can at last relax.  I hadn't realized we were so tense. 

The gratitude and humility in our hearts are right up there. 

Praises be.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Balance

Throughout my life, I have been told:  "Be careful what you ask for."  You just might get it. 

A friend noted that he had asked for drought in the spring.  He felt really bad.  Really bad.  Scared even.  And his co-workers were giving him a bit of grief:  "Have you had enough drought yet?" 

Over the years, I had heard that indigenous peoples believe that the consciousness of the Earth and the consciousness of Humans are closely intertwined.  Humans can actually call on change and it just might happen.  While I don't completely get this yet also believe something I don't completely understand, it has given me pause to be careful for what I ask for.

I used to ask for rain when it was dry.  And I used to ask for dry when it was all soupy out there.  Sometimes I would even get quite exuberant about it.  "We really really need rain."  I don't do that any longer.  Instead, I pray that the climate will return to a balance that is needed in these parts. 

Unusual Sound

As we get ready for bed on this night, we hear rain drops pattering on the windows.  That is such an unusual sound. 

Sorghum Molasses Making Soon

Reports have it that Hollis' cane is ready for harvest.  It looks like the first batch may be Saturday, September 8.  Cane is shorter this year.  It is coming along.  I wonder how much juice will be in those stalks?  Once again, Nature reminds us we are not in charge.

Gathering

Last night, we had a lovely gathering of women here at the Farm marking the Full Moon.  Such markings are traditional among women across time.  And for this auspicious occasion, one of Mother's roses was offering up this lovely fragrant bloom, the only bloom in recent weeks and months with the drought.  Deep in those petals was stored a reserve of hope.

Wedding Down South

August 19:

The last 2 days (and before) have been really busy in these parts. You see the Folks at the Farm down South were hosting a wedding. Since we know both the Bride (Melanie G., not our Melanie C.) and the Groom (Anthony) who are now living elsewhere and are part of this community of homesteaders, we were part of the community who supported this beautiful sacred event.

Melanie and Sarah were responsible for the cake. And talk about a cake. I did not see the final production and am hopeful that pictures were taken. The carrot cake was adorned with cream cheese frosting and embellished with English walnuts and flowers from our garden.

Melanie G., her sister Nicole, and Ariel from down South wanted flowers, lots of flowers. Trouble was that with this heat and drought, flowers have been in short supply. I was at the Farmer's Market yesterday and Zinnias were 3 for $1. Yikes. Usually we have lots of flowers. That is my signature and at this season they are not usually in short supply. Until this year.

So I volunteered to gather flowers from the Garden and the Wild. Four bucketfuls were awaiting Nicole when she picked them up Friday about noon. We talked about the Bride's bouquet. It was obvious that everyone down South was really busy, with family and friends coming in and details that needed attending. So I decided to make a Bride's bouquet. You could call it my little gift. Of course it was up to the Bride to use it. And she did. I suppose it is one of those classic examples of people just falling into place, doing what needs to be done, out here in farming country.

Melanie and Dave took the bouquet down in the early afternoon before the wedding. To my delight, Melanie G. carried it.

The flowers include a mix of those from the Garden and the Wild. Seems a proper gift from the land on this most auspicious day of commitment and celebration.

Replenishing Rain

We are having much needed, replenishing rain from Hurricane Isaac.  So far it has been gentle and slow.  While it will take a very long time to replenish the losses from the drought, we can almost feel the plants, animals, Earth (and surely the humans too) relax at long last.  Maybe, just maybe, the weather is taking a turn away from the drought.  You could call this little entry a prayer. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nourishing Rain

We had some rain in the late afternoon and we just may have more.  I cannot put into words the relief those raindrops have brought.  It's like the inner soul can relax just a bit.  The smell of rain and the sound of those raindrops touches the depths of the human soul on this drought stricken land. 

On my evening walk, I was delighted with the aromas all around too.  I hadn't really thought about it, but it seems there have been fewer scents in these dry times.  Some rain got added to the mix and there they were.

We surely know that we need a lot of rain to replenish the losses these last months. But we rejoice with every drop.  Praises be.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In the Distance

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On my walk this morning,
I heard a chain saw 
buzzing in the distance.
The saw continued.
Then there was a short silence,
followed by a huge crash 
of a giant tree falling down. 
Someone somewhere thought 
they had the perfect right to cut that tree
since they have Human papers on the Land.
Someone somewhere will think 
they have the perfect right 
to buy wood products 
because they have the cash 
stuffed in their hands.
I have. 
We have noted 
a considerable amount 
of the forest south of us 
has been carved up for wood.
The place which was serene before 
has become a war zone.
When will the destruction stop?
Or when will it slow?
When will we Humans 
see the pain of the Earth?
When will we hear 
the Trees and all the living Beings 
cry out?
When will we realize
those Trees trap carbon dioxide,
a major contributor 
to climate change and global warming.
I pray it's soon.
The Humans are running out of time 
to turn this puppy around.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fawn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She brought her spotted Fawn 
to the edge of the lawn
and carefully instructed him to enter.
Maybe the Humans 
with their professed tender hearts
would allow the little One there.
Those long skinny legs 
brought the Fawn 
to the edge of the Herb Garden.
It's daylight.
That's way closer 
than we have noted before.
The Animals are hungry.
They too suffer from drought, 
in ways we cannot even know.
They are accidental victims 
of the Human's speeding train 
of Climate Change.
Where are the brakes 
on this mad thing?
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Vision

Over the course of my life, I have had many "visions".  I know not what else to call them.  They are probably widespread among our humanity, but because our patriarchal culture (which thinks itself so right) elevates matters of the "head" over all else, they surely are not widely reported or understood.  This vision was of the sorghum cane field standing with dead black leaves rattling in the wind. 

I surely hope that is not to come true.  The cane for now is standing tall.  However, there are considerable leaves that are yellowing.

Assuming the crop "makes", we could be making sorghum molasses in about 3 weeks.  Rain would be ever so nice.  I suppose you could call this yet another entry praying for rain.

Harvesting the Little Roos

Scampy, Melanie's 17 year old cat, is napping next to the keyboard, which does indeed affect my access to the keys and the flow of my thoughts too.  Nevermind, it may interfere with his dream state.  I shall try to make this short.  Is that possible?

Just needed to note that Richard harvested 12 of the little Roosters early this morning.  As per usual, he began the process just before the coming light.  This quieter time greatly reduces their fear and agitation, at least so it seems.  That's essential to us.  It's important to keep the birds as calm as possible for their own sake.  That surely seems the most humane thing to do, if one is going to eat meat. 

We try not to eat food, especially meat which is loaded with fear and violence.  I personally believe that energy becomes part of us and contributes to our own dis-ease.  Plus, the dear workers who are stuck the tasks no one else wants to do are often marginalized from the larger society.  These are often folks who don't have a lot of options; consequently they are poorly paid.  They come from pools of migrant workers, sometimes illegal immigrants, and folks who just don't have a lot of options in economically impoverished areas.  They tragically become victims of that violence too. 

We as consumers need to be very careful about the energy that we put out into the world. That energy just comes right back at us.  This is our way to step out of that system, and put some kindness and caring and gratitude in its place.

Meanwhile, Richard is quietly doing the final cleaning as I awkwardly clatter at the keys.  Consider this little epistle as gratitude for the Great Mother Earth who sustains us all, the little Roos who have been company and will help sustain our lives, and my dear Husband who brings such mindfulness, love, and gratitude to this whole process.

A different future is possible, and we are doing our best to live it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Observation: Garden

Richard came in from the garden just now and noted that some plants which were doing well previously (with watering), just seem to be going into heat stress, also with watering.  This is a dramatic difference in what we have noted before.  What is going on?

Observation: Sky

The last couple of days, we have noted clouds in the sky "disappearing".  It's almost like the moisture is being sucked right out of them.  Weird.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just the 3 of Us

Last night just before bedtime, Richard went outside in the dark.  His flashlight spotted a little communing under the Golden Delicious Apple Tree.  Fastidious Mr. Raccoon was washing an Apple in the Chicken Waterer.  A little ways over, Mrs. Opposum was staring at Mr. Scamp (our 17 year old cat).  They each seemed quite enchanted with the other.  At which point, Richard scooped up Scamp and they came inside.

pH in Foods

http://sun-gazing.com/archives/4219/418233_146689812135707_1384189477_n

Pinchie's Gone

Pinchie died today.  She was a White Plymouth Rock from that first batch of littles in 2007.  She was a very friendly chicken who liked to be around Humans.  She had her moments of pecking Humans once in a while.  In so doing, she let us know she needed space. 

Richard says she was a fun chicken to have around.  Every time you would stick a spade in the ground, she was right there waiting for that perfect opportunity to grab grubs and worms, and leave poop too.  It's easy to look around at all the trees that we have planted and know she was right there doing her part.

On this day, Ms. Pinchie Chicken waited until Melanie got home.  After their good-bye's, she left.  Rest well, Little Chicken.  We are blessed to have had you on our Little Farm, which was your Little Farm too.

Pulse

I am struck by how far outside the Laws of Nature that the people of my culture choose to live. Nature gives birth to us, Nature nourishes us throughout our days and Nature welcomes us back to the Earth at the end of our days.  To choose to live outside Her boundaries is to choose to diminish Life.  Now why would we ever choose to do that?  Or rather, as the Folks of my childhood used to say:  "Whose half-baked idea is that anyway?"

I look at my own life.  I have had considerable education and I have even had a class in Nutrition.  (It was not my favorite.)  At almost 64 years of age, I really do not know the boundaries within which I need to live.  I do not know the pattern that Nature has set for me so that I may thrive in the way that She intended.  I suppose you could call this little entry a pulse of someone who is seeking a different path.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sun Rise

July 31:

These days, I have been getting up to watch the Sun Rise. I can't believe that I have not been doing this all along. It took me 63 years to figure out this was important.

While sinking into the beauty of the sights, I felt the dew. And I sat and listened to the sounds: Roosters Freddie and Del welcoming the day, rambunctious baby Roosters playing early morning Rooster games, songbirds singing, trucks on the highway, neighbors' dogs barking. There seemed to be a rising and falling of the sounds of Nature and the sounds of the Human enterprise.

Our glorious Sun is creeping southward on the eastern horizon. When August 2 which is a marker in the Earth's calendar arrives, that speed will pick up. With it comes decreasing sunlight and harvest both at full speed.

Even though we are in a drought situation, harvest is picking up speed. Seeing the connection of all these things, we are expressing gratitude for the bounty the Earth provides to sustain all Beings, including her Human.

Busy Busy Busy

Richard noted that we forgot to gather eggs yesterday.  It has been busy busy busy around these parts the last couple of days.  More later, that is if I can find time.  These days, I am not on the computer as much as before.  I like that.

Started

Richard began harvesting the little Roosters today.  He started with 2, which means we will have Chicken on this day.  Some people go right to the "yum yum yum" stage, but these days give us reflections to ponder.  We try never to forget what goes into all of this.

Those little Guys grew really fast.  They came to us in earliest of May.  And now, almost 4 months later, they are ready to harvest.  This has been a great group.  They have mostly been quiet and gentle.  That is up until the last week or 2.  Their brilliant red wattles have grown and some are quite striking against all those white feathers.  They are practicing their crows more.  They are playing those Rooster sparring games.  We sometimes hear loud squawks where one rooster has gotten another and won't let go.  One even got Richard on the arm a few days ago; he squawked for a couple of days.  I am remind that the old ones would say that you should not bite the hand that feeds you.  I guess he hadn't heard that.  One of the little-now big-Roos was even settling into the Rooster House in the evening and kicking everyone out as they came in looking for that perfect berthing place for the night.  Richard commented that soon, that one will go.  And then a line up will wait in cue to take his place.

We are ever mindful of the sacrifice of these living Creatures, their Gift of Life so that we may live.  It is with sadness that we see the little Guys go.  It is also with love and gratitude for their precious gift.  I suppose I should also say that it is in gratitude that the chores are reduced too.  When they are gone, things will surely be quieter around here.

For something to live, something has to die.  May we never forget that Circle of Life which sustains us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Goldenrod

A wee bit of the Goldenrod is beginning to bloom on the north side of the Farm.  Local lore has it that frost will follow in 6 weeks.  Yikes.  It could happen.

Quote

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And it never failed that 
during the dry years 
the people forgot about the rich years 
and during the wet years 
they lost all memory of the dry years.  
It was always that way.
~~~~
John Steinback
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Magazine Friend

The Sun.   http://www.thesunmagazine.org/

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gentle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I just returned 
from my customary morning walk,
a lovely circle 
through meadows and woods 
of this little Farm. 
It is a Physical Walk,
but more a Spiritual Journey.
My feet touched the ground.
The upright two-legged that is me 
made short stretches 
into the endless Sky.
I am grounded 
on this lovely Earth,
our Great Mother,
who sustains my Being. 
May I never forget 
her unselfish and joyous Gift.
How gentle the air felt. 
Temperatures on my skin
were caresses,
much like a Mother tenderly 
holding her Child.
Sometimes a gentle breeze 
would blow. 
The extended heat and drought 
have left me confused. 
These days, 
temperatures have moderated.
I had forgotten how lovely 
these seasons usually are.
May I never forget.
May I never cease 
to express wonder and gratitude 
to the Great Mother of us all.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cooling

These last few days, the temperature has cooled and we have even had a few rain drops.  After all that intense heat, I am confused.  Where did I put those clothes for such days?  Makes me think that some day soon, it will be Fall.  Wow.  How can that be?  Time just keeps marching right on.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recent Adventure

A week ago, I had the privilege of staying at a wonderful little spot in Fairfield, Iowa.  Sweetwater Bunkhouse incorporates green building design and Maharishi Sthapatya Veda.  I had a simply lovely stay surrounded by the Abundance Ecovillage.  Staying there gives me hope for the possibilities of human creativity in a time which necessitates living in harmony with the Earth.  I just loved it from the get go:  orientation of the house (including the kitchen window) toward the east, wide and open porch on the east (fitting for yoga, meditation, and communing with a visiting cat), use of rainwater, power provided by solar and wind, quiet retreat, dark skies at night, graciousness of hosts (Bill and Stacey Hurlin), inspiring artwork (especially by Stacey), willingness to share by hosts and neighbors.

http://www.sweetwaterfairfield.com/
http://www.abundanceecovillage.com/press/
http://anastasiafineart.com/bio.php

Deeper and Richer

These days, I seem to be getting out of the habit of blogging.  Thoughts continue to flow.  And they are deeper and richer. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Farm Tour

Way back when the growing season was fresh and new, we scheduled a farm tour of Butterfly Hill Farm for Sunday, August, 12, 2-4pm.  Yep, that's day after tomorrow. 

So what's on the agenda?  We'll share what's been going on here, and what we have learned from the ups and downs of growing our own food.  While sitting at the table saving seeds, Richard says in his usual quiet voice with a touch of wry wit:  "Come look at our dry plants." 

This is not intended to be a time when you hear the 3 Crawfords talk as if we were the center of some Garden Universe.  It is rather a time when we all share.  We go a lot farther that way.

Off the Beaten Path

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you probably have noted that I have recently been a little removed from creating posts.  As of late, I have been on some marvelous adventures off the beaten path.  My arms were simply not long enough to reach the computer and I have had no desire to place a detour on my path to sit in that chair in front of this boxed in rectangular screen.  My heart has been (and is) fully embracing some treasures that are important on my own growing journey.  I'll be back.  Soon.

In the meantime, the cup of tea on the window ledge and the Goldfinch who is no doubt perched on the Sunflower are calling me to return.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hard Hard Work

Farming is hard hard work.  It is ever changing.  The demands can be enormous, just when you feel you have no more to give.  The returns are sometimes spotty and often not what you expected.  I wonder if these may be some of the reasons why folks moved to town.

Farming is beautiful too.  I think that its primary teaching is that Ma Earth really is the Boss and the only way that we will survive is to live in harmony with her Rules of Life.  And in the middle of that, our Humility and Grace return.

Recording

Why is it that the more that is going on, the less we seem to record it?  In these last few weeks of drought, we have almost no notes in Richard's calendar.  Some day we will look back on that calendar with its empty spaces, and think:  "There was nothing going on."  But we will scratch our heads and remember.  There was a lot going on.

Play

Mačka, our wild cat, has numerous toys and we did not buy them at the store.  You see she seems to prefer half grown bunnies, grasshoppers, bits of straw, chicken feathers, sticks, mice, voles.  The latest toy was a 2 foot long Prairie King Snake with a bit of an attitude.  In most cases, there is no doubt that she has the upper hand.  But, she backed off on this one. 

The whole world seems to be her playground.  While the end for most of the above is Mačka's lunch, she reminds the Human to play.  I am not sure why Humans have forgotten the importance of play.  We need reminders.  And she is that.  And we will have our lunch cooked inside.

Yoga

These days, I am back doing Yoga, and that feels really really good.  And while I am on this little adventure, I note that Mačka, our little wild cat, is just about the most flexible and limber creature that I know.  She's inspiring, although I don't think I shall be following her example.

Water Bill

OK:  We just got our water bill in the last few days.  Our usual bill is in the range of 3,000-3,500 gallons.  We do our best to cut back on what we use.  So what happened this year? 

If you have been following this blog, you can fill in the blanks.  First, we power washed the house in preparation for staining.  And then the drought came and we have been watering the garden. 

This past month, we used 30,176 gallons.  It makes us wish that we would have built a pond a little closer to the garden.  That is rising to the top of a "to do" list. 

I know a lot of people are using more water these days for urban and rural lifestyles.  This is a privilege that we do not take lightly.  Without it, we would have very little garden. 

Entering Harvest, We Hope...

This is the time when the speed usually picks up as we move into Harvest at full Swing.  With the drought, we have been edgy.  What will we get?  Since we try to grow most of our own food, this is a very big deal for us. 

Richard dug a few Carrots and look what he found.  Yesterday, he gathered the little Tomatoes to dehydrate.  I have to say our Tomato plants look just about the best ever.  Tomatoes surely must like it dry, hot, and with water at just the appropriate times.  And yes, we have been watering.

Rain

Yes, we have gotten Rain.  The first came in the night late last week.  I think I must have listened to every drop.  I could almost feel the distance in the drops, which is what I would call a dry rain.  Overall, we got a little less than 1/3 inch. 

First, the winds created a bit of a ruckus.  We could hear Nature rearranging things.  Most Humans these days who are paying attention to the weather are wary of the severity of storms.  We had no damage.  However, Nature had picked up the Willow Chair and place it on its head. I am not sure how She did that because the chair is mostly holes.  She does a lot of things I don't understand.  I think She would chuckle about that one.

The second rain came early Sunday morning.  We had a bit of wind.  But for the most part, it was a glorious steady even Rain.  I think I heard and gave thanks for every drop. 

With the Rains, the weather cooled a bit.  The Rain and the cooler temperatures were a great relief.  And of course, now it is heating back up.

Hot


July 14:

It's hot in these here parts. When the Sun rises, the place is already heating up. We 3 C's have to work smarter. We have to recognize what must be done and is reasonable to be done.

I have to say that the weather has forced me to get up early and I am loving it. A different pattern of Life is emerging. In the middle of it all, I see more acutely the power of the Great Mother Earth who gave birth to each of us and who sustains us.

Richard has often talked about how we Humans have a parasitic relationship with the Earth. Without her, we would be nothing. A wise parasite will do nothing to diminish one's host.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vision

I had this "vision" that flashed before my eyes. It was of a coming time when we set aside the tensions and the distractions, and we all discussed what we are doing to turn down the heat from global warming.  I walked around among people I knew and did not know.  It was all the same.  The people were serious and they were deeply peaceful about it.  Way cool.

Greenland Ice

These days I am edgy.  I seem to be on alert for those evidences that the beautiful Planet with whom we were entrusted for all those future generations is shifting.  Her ability to support life in the way that we were born into is surely changing.  Her life giving capacity is slipping between our fingers.  We Humans seem numb to the simple changes that we need to make.

"The heat goes on."  Where, dear Humans, is the switch we need to flip?  Will we make it in time?

All of these evidences of change are nudges from the Divine.

Summer Storms

These days, we cast a wary eye on summer storms.  Yes, we pray for rain and we rejoice in every drop.  But the storms just seem to be ratcheting up their power.
Note in the following link the cascading effects of climate change from those power packed, out of the ordinary summer storms. It's never too late to make changes in practice which turn down or slow the heat of climate change. Or maybe it is. I guess I would rather be on the side that says: "I am trying to cut down on my carbon emissions." How would I dare otherwise in looking into the eyes of the little ones today and the little ones who follow?
http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0726/How-summer-thunderstorms-could-be-punching-new-holes-in-the-ozone-layer-video#.UBI32ybCqF4.facebook

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peaceful Energy

Once upon a time, I was told by a Native Elder (who was years younger than me) that among his people it is known that whatever energy one sends into the world is the energy that is returned.  I also personally believe that whatever energy one sends into the world just keeps multiplying that energy in the world around.

So, Richard and I were talking about: "What can we do to do our best to offer peaceful energy to the world at a time when it is so deeply needed?"  We surely have taken many steps toward this, but we can do more. 
  • We buy local as much as possible.  
  • We don't use toxic chemicals.  
  • We don't have television and we don't subscribe to that kind of junk in our lives.
  • We don't subscribe to magazines which promote sensationalism and violence.
  • We are careful to include news sources which offer positive actions in the world.
  • I am planning a return to a regular meditation practice.  Gotta go.

Critters Are Suffering

We are thinking that the Wild Critters are suffering. 
  • This afternoon, a Doe (who looked skinny to me) brought her Fawn up on the edge of the lawn.  It was the hottest part of the day, which is not a common time for us to see them in full sun. 
  • We have seen 2 dead Possums.  The latest one was found this morning out by the bird feeder.  Richard suspects it was taken by Raccoons.
We are wondering what this is going to mean for the winter.

I Don't Understand

Sometimes I see things that I just don't understand.  Here were a couple that popped up in the last few days. 
  • Del, the Delaware Rooster, mounted the Little Henny Who Was on Her Way Out.  What?
  • While we were having dinner on the deck, Macka, our wild Cat, caught a half grown Rabbit.  She is quite the Hunter.  Look out.  When we get a Puppy, it better be bigger than a half grown Rabbit.  Back to story:  She didn't catch the Bunny to kill it and eat it right away.  She caught it to play with it.  Poor thing.  She'd play with it and it would run away.  She was right back after it.  I did try to separate them but it was no use.  The whole scenario was weird.  WEIRD.  I guess our cat does not have sensitivities to the suffering in the world.  At least not this time.  The Humans do.

Taking Toll

The drought and heat are taking their toll.  The little Henny I talked about in the previous post made it through the next night and day.  She was really slow and the color of her waddles began to lighten.  That is not a good sign.  We had done all that we could.  It was up to the little Henny and her Maker.  She passed the following night. 

As I cruised through the eggs from the previous days, I wondered if any were hers.  Safe voyage, Precious Feathered One.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Not Leaving the Farm

OK, in this heat, one has to really be watchful of the animals on the Farm.  One water bucket (or 2) tipped over in any of the chicken yards could spell disaster to any of our feathered friends under our care.  We have 3 chicken yards and all 3 have occupants. 

Today, all 3 of us were gone to take Melanie to the train station.  While we were out and about, Richard and I did some errands in Kirksville.  And of course, we always see folks that we know and we just want to visit.  They do too.  Well, time was getting long and I nudged Richard:  "Shouldn't we check on the chickens?"  And we said our "see you soon's", completed our purchases, and headed back home.

Unfortunately, Richard found when he let the chickens out that one of the Delawares (we are not sure which one) was in heat stress.  We did all the usual things:  hosed her down, kept her feet cool, forced her to drink, kept cool water around her, stayed with her.  Several of the other chickens were doing that too.  She did show some considerable improvement, but pretty much stayed put the rest of the evening.  We have done all that we can.  I wonder what the night will bring.

We love our chickens.  When one is responsible for living beings, it's a very serious role.  This severe heat warning goes through Saturday evening.  It is safe to say that both of us will not be leaving the Farm at any one time in the coming days, especially the afternoons.  OK:  If you know us well, you know that is maybe normal, regardless of the weather.  We just love it here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Friend

Lonsdorf, Nancy.  (2004).  The Ageless Woman:  Natural Health and Beauty after Forty with Mahrishi Ayurveda.  Ann Arbor, MI: MCD Century Publications LLC.

OK, I Did It

I didn't know how long it would take for me to do this.  I try very hard to just let others go about their path and to recognize that too serves its purpose.  But today, I couldn't take it any longer and I just did it.

I have to say that one of the things that really bothers me is "recreational travel".  No, I am not opposed to folks going on special journeys in their lives as they seek meaning and fulllness.  But I am all for us really thinking about the damage that recreational travel creates on this beautiful Earth.  The scars (on the Earth, her water, air and climate) that we are creating will not be healed any time soon.  Tragically, we just seem to be escalating our damage to the Great Mother, who has given us Life and who sustains us. 

I remember that my Mother had a charm bracelet which included a sweet little charm for the places that we have traveled.  Sadly, many of us have a "charm bracelet" mentality, traveling to the extent that our pocket books can support, tragically on occasion never really being there but rather to say that we did it.  This is what I wrote on a seemingly innocent little Facebook post.  Who knows, I may be "unfriended", but I can't sit idly by on these things any more.

"The damage to the Earth in the creation and expression of Human 'wealth' is profound. The poverty forced on the natural world is not a legacy I choose to support. I realize this position is beyond current mainstream. But we are in serious times, when the ability of the Earth is being stretched beyond Life Support capacity. Serious times demand a look at how we each are a part of the problem and the solution. Future generations would ask no less of us."  Nor should we give them any less.

Oracle

July 14:

If you follow this blog, you noted a few days back that I have been measuring the depth of some of the cracks in the Earth.  This one was 25 inches.  I could hardly believe it.

I surely have wondered what kind of function these cracks are supposed to serve.  I remember as a kid being fascinated by the oracle in Ancient Greece.  Maybe these cracks are opening up spaces into the Earth where She can speak directly to us.  Just maybe she is choosing to speak to us now.  What would she say?

Humans are running out of time.  Our self absorbed practices are diminishing the capacity of our Great Mother to give us Life and to sustain us.  We need to get with the program soon.  Otherwise, we will be history.  It is our decision.  And we need to make some pretty substantial changes now.  

I don't know where you sit with these matters, but these issues mean a great deal to us.  They are the basis for the work that we do here at the Farm.  We 3 C's are willing on a day to day level to make choices that support Life, which is a gift of the Divine.  How could we not?

Flash

I had one of those brief visual images that just flash through one's consciousness.  I don't know where they come from, but they sure do make me pause to think. 

This one focused on grocery story shelves which were empty due to the lack of food production.  What would that be like?  How would the people act?

In the meantime, many people obliviously go through their lives without recognizing deeply what is going on out here in food production country and how they could be affected.  Those of us who garden and farm hold in our hands a very clear picture of the dramas on the land in these times.

Direct Relationship

There appears to be a direct relationship between:
  • the extent of heat and drought with the number of weeds the Garden.
  • the extent of heat and drought with the need for watering of the Garden.
  • the extent of heat and drought with the extent of energy demands on the Gardeners.
  • the extent of heat and drought with the extent the Humans need rest in the afternoons.
  • the extent of heat and drought with the extent that other projects just get put on hold.
  • the extent of heat and drought with the desire to be on the Farm.

Glory Be

July 3:

We have had many beautiful Frittilaries dancing about the yard. How little I know about them. I shall surely need to look up details on this one as I too fly about. This particular Butterfly looks new. Is it possible that we Humans are in transformative times? Is it possible that we too are soon to get our wings. I think so.

May we come into that new whole for which we as a species have always yearned. May we come into that fullness of our being which has yet to be expressed. May we come into that fullness of our being which our Circle of Kin have always known we could and would. May we come into the beauty that matches the face of Creation in which we were and are placed. Glory be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dilemma: Organic Chicken Feed

Our local source for organic chicken feed is having difficulties making crop this year.  If you are a traveler or a resident of these parts, that would come as no surprise.  He and his family will choose to use what they grow on their own livestock. 

This may seem like a small matter to those who are not familiar with such doin's.  When we began our little Farm which included raising chickens, we bought feed from local farm feed stores.  Organic was not an option.  GMOs were assured.  In fact, we had a hard time even discussing in conventional circles the standards we were trying to uphold.  I suppose that is no surprise. 

Then, this wonderful farmer (and his family) who operated along those standards appeared in our lives.  We switched over to local feed, organically grown, for the littles and the Big Hennies.  It was a dream come true.

The difference was astounding.  Diseases were less prevalent in the flock.  I am sure that you cannot measure this because it is rather something that one feels.  The vibrant energy, the living energy, of the birds fed on the organic feed was simply astounding.  We were hooked. 

Our worst fear through it all was that some day we would lose that source.  It looks like that will be soon.  We wish the grower and his family all the best.  They are providing a remarkable service.  A door closes and another opens.  I wonder what it will be. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Notes

I wonder what will be written of our times.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_North_American_heat_wave

Listen Up

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Apparently drought and heat 
are widespread in farm country,
a major source of our food.
Farmers often operate close to margin.
What is happening to them?
What are the tender dynamics of the ways 
they live their lives and operate 
within their families?
Will they be OK?
If food doesn't come 
in a reasonable way 
from this breadbasket,
where will it come from?
What price will we pay?
I am not speaking 
of dollars and cents.
Seems like the Earth 
is offering lessons here.
Listen up.
~~~~
Ginda Crawford, 2012
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When the Rain Comes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lawn is brittle
and crackles beneath my feet.
Plaintain leaves 
could very well be chips;
just add oil and salt.
Yellow leaves fall.
Almost daily, 
another plant shows stress.
Others show 
this season's growth 
above ground 
is done.
When I drove to past 
fields of corn yesterday,
leaves pointed straight up,
in harsh vertical lines.
Was that prayer?
Hay fields are not producing 
a second round.
When the rain comes at last,
I think I shall cry.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, July 9, 2012

Idyllic View

My idyllic view of Farm Life, prior to Farm Life, didn't include heat (106 degrees) and drought early in the early Summer season.  Such were the expectations of someone who has lived in the City until age 58 and that was 5 years ago.  Such were the expectations of someone who has shopped at the grocery store and learned to expect that produce comes on demand.  If I want it and have money to pay for it, somebody somewhere will grow it for me.  The realities of the Farmers' daily lives (including heat and drought) are carefully screened from my view.

Maybe that's in part why people moved to the City from the Farm.  Farm Life is hard.  The Boss (the Earth) is known to be quite changeable.  The Farmer has no choice but to go with the flow.

I must say that I continue to be presented with some experiences that could only be called the "first day of school".  Once  again, I am confronted with a learning curve which is steep.  Surely the Earth must smile through it all. 

Violet

If you are a follower of this blog, you noted that we almost lost the Delaware Hennie Violet on Saturday.  And you might be curious how she is doing today.  She's fine.  You wouldn't know that she had been so close to ending her stay here.

We have noted that she is a "big chicken".  Big chickens seem to have the greatest difficulty in the heat.  That is no surprise.

Nature Notes

A fairly common companion in the skies in these parts is the Turkey Vulture.  Forgive me, but they aren't the prettiest in the Bird Kingdom.  My opinion, of course.  But gee, can they soar.  During the heat spell, we didn't see any of them.  That could be because they were hunkered down in cool spots.  Or it could be that the Humans missed them because they were inside.  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/id

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Intricate Dance

Richard came in this afternoon and said that we were just about to lose a Chicken.  At the time, our thermometer on the furnace showed the outdoor temperature at 105 degrees in the shade.  Later in the evening, WeatherUnderground showed we had 106 degrees.  Gee whiz.

We all went outside.  Melanie was already there.  I have to say that much of this is second nature with Richard, who grew up on a Farm in these parts.  Melanie is kind of the "chicken mother", so she was on alert.  Me?  I am a city girl who has recently moved to the Farm.  I just didn't think about it "front and center".  At least, not right away. That is shifting.  Of course, these conditions are unusually harsh and unforgiving. 

Richard has been running water underneath the Apple Tree.  This has 2 purposes:  it waters the tree and it keeps the space a little cooler for the Chickens.  They love it.  The Apples seem to like it too.

We gathered around Violet, the Delaware Henny who was struggling.  Richard liberally put cool water on her.  Melanie was putting her feet in the bucket of cooler water.  I noted that she was partially in the Sun.  We moved so that she could be a little more shaded.  Over time, she began to perk up a little.  Melanie began giving her water to drink.  This evening, believe it or not, she seemed fine, for which we were very grateful.  The little Henny was just about a "goner".

It sure is not easy street out here on the Farm.  Ask the Chickens.  And the Farmers too.   It's interesting how this weather just really has shifted everything and fast.  When you buy food at the store, you miss the drama and the intricate dance of all things with the Mother Earth.  And Dear Grocery Shopper, you might miss the dance, but you are part of it too.


Nature Notes

In the last 2 weeks, we have seen several flocks of songbirds clearly in patterns that are usually more evident in August and September.  Weird. 

Cracks

Cracks in the "skin of the soil" are appearing as the drought and heat continue.  I peer down wondering how far they might go.  Two days this last week, I was walking about, peering down into those holes.  Where do you go?  What is down there?  I grabbed a long straight stiff piece of plant debris from last year and I began to measure.  The deepest distance that I found was 21 inches.  At that time, this was clearly unusual.  I could hardly believe it.

I also wonder about our friends that live beneath the soil, especially the Earthworms.  How are they faring?  I can't imagine this is the best weather for them.  Those that have survived surely have gone deep. 

Arrows

The extreme heat and drought is causing me to look very carefully at the resources that I use.  Of course, we have been on this track for a long time.  However, their use just grabs my attention. 

Yesterday, we could have easily sent 2 cars to town because there was a lot to do.  However, we chose to just sent one.  The sole occupant graciously consented to covering a little more than she had expected.  She was efficient with her time, too.

The recent weather events are pointing arrows toward "use less", "put less carbon dioxide in the air", "now", "it needs to be a priority".  Some folks might crank up the air and consider covering themselves in ice cubes.  We try to fashion new ways to moderate the heat, get our work done, and feel good about what we are going to leave future generations.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 Frosts, Heat and Drought

Richard and I dug and gathered 6 gallons of potatoes this evening.  We were concerned that the heat would take its toll and we might lose them. 

These potatoes have been hardy souls.  They are not large by conventional standards but they sure are good.  They experienced a minimum of 3 frosts which knocked back their foliage each time.  Potatoes need healthy foliage on the top side to grow under the soil.  Most of the plant material on top had long ago dried up.  Some had not even gotten to the blossom stage.  As if that wasn't enough, later on, we have had all of this heat and drought. But they did grow and they do look healthy.

Usually we would place them in the garage for a while but it is way too hot.  These potatoes are going to be stored for now down in the basement.  We will use them and celebrate their gifts of life for us.

Increasingly Vulnerable

Stress in the lives of plants causes them to become more vulnerable to pests and diseases.  Current stressors obviously are the prolonged drought and heat wave we are experiencing. Yikes.  We need to watch them carefully.  Periods of stress also create increased stress for the gardener.  We will do the best we can.

Blister Beetles at the Neighbor's

Richard returned from taking a message to our Amish neighbor earlier this evening.  And he brought a troubling message back in return, one we weren't particularly pleased about.  Our Amish neighbor had been in touch with another neighbor, who is a long term gardener.  In a couple of days, a Blister Beetle infestation had defoliated Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes in his garden.  We are not sure if other plants were affected.

According to the article in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blister_beetle), Blister Beetles attack plants from the following families: Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae.  That would include: pigweed (which we would not care about, asters/lettuce/Echinacea (this would be big deal here), Beans (this would be a huge deal), and Tomatoes/Peppers/Potatoes (huge deal). 

One particular variety is highly toxic to horses.  We will have to share this with our Amish neighbor.  http://extension.missouri.edu/p/g4569 

We also did some reading in one of our favorite texts (The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, 1996, http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Gardeners-Handbook-Natural-Disease/dp/0875967531). For the home gardener, severe infestations can be controlled with pyrethrin.  Richard says we don't have any on hand. 

Contact with Blister Beetles will cause burns in humans.  Richard reminded us that if we find them in the garden, we should be careful not to walk barefoot. That's no fun.

Hopefully we will not have problems here.  We are on alert.  Stay tuned.

Cartoon

Original Source:  Unknown

Prayer

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I come from a culture of a species 
which at some fundamental level 
believes that we are 
outside the Circle of Life.
That belief system 
places us outside the Life Force,
representing an unspoken desire to die.
I would pray 
that great wound of my kind 
can be healed,
that all who may be blessed 
with the Gift of this Paradisal Dream 
be healed.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why?

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Who would stop flowers from blooming?
Who would contribute to the dying of trees?
Who would diminish the growing of food?
Who would stand by while bees die?
Who would use up gifts of the Divine 
so that no one who follows will experience the same?
I seek to know my name.
And I would ask:  "Why?" 
"Can you not see 
your wake of damage in this place 
that was once paradise,
this place that is paradise 
and will well be again?"
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Love My Sweet Potatoes

As it cooled down just a little bit this evening, Richard and I headed out to weed the Sweet Potatoes.  We had kind of let them go.  But there they were amid the blanket of straw, surrounded by weeds.  We danced around the beds, Richard bending on his knees and me sitting on my bucket.  We pulled and pulled.  Fortunately, the weeds came out easily.

But I sat there and I had a wonderful dialogue with my Sweet Potatoes.  The ground was dry but it was soft, so the pulling was easy.  I just sat beside them and told them I love them so much.  There they were, doing the best they can to feed my family.  And my culture continues to practice in ways that making growing food difficult.  They just don't know, or refuse to.  I apologized, but mostly the love just overflowed.  And the love came right back to me too.

Rising Food Costs

A recent headline noted that food costs are expected to rise because of the current severe growing conditions.  Hey, stop...  On the surface, one could get hung up on "food costs are expected to rise".  I suppose that is a city person's headline.  But the reality is that growers are having increasingly difficulties in growing food.  That's a very big deal.  We should be very concerned about that.

City People Come to the Farm

I have often felt I should write a book about the "City People Come to the Farm".  Somehow, the city experience numbs one to the real life experiences out here in the country.  Occasionally, we have been so completely naive, I just have to laugh.  Other times, I just nod:  "There it is again."

One of the big ones lately is that the city experience surely removes one almost completely from the cycles of the Earth.  If you want something to eat, you just buy it at the grocery store or order up at your favorite restaurant.  It doesn't matter if it is in season or not.  If you have the cash, you just buy it.  Those grocery store produce aisles create the false impression food is available all the time.  If you want strawberries, just buy strawberries.  Somewhere, someone is producing it.

Out here on the Farm, we are confronted constantly with the forces of Nature which give preference to one crop over another.  Some seasons, one type of produce is in abundance.  And other times it just isn't.  Hopefully it all balances out. 

I can imagine that Nature just shakes her head and laughs:  "The city people come to the Farm."

Choose to Save

Some plants in the garden are beginning to suffer and we surely can expect there will be more.  We do not like to use our rural water to water plants.  For one thing, plants know it's not rain.  Plus, it surely is more expensive and, as responsible stewards, we don't like to "drain the system".  However, we are increasingly at a point where we are needing to make some choices about what we will "choose to save".  That's very hard.

I have to say that it could be considerably worse.  We will take it one day at a time.

Energy Saving Tip

  1. We have east and west facing doors with little shade, unfortunately.  Maybe someday we will have some big trees.  But we surely do not today.  When it is hot, the entrances can just bake.  We try to come in the shady side when we are doing chores.  Last night, we had a gathering and I asked folks to come in the east side.  This little alteration in practice seems to make a big difference in the heat that comes into the house.  The walk is easier on the Human too.

Energy Saving Tip

  1. Choose the right sized pan for the task. 
  2. Place the pan on a burner that is smaller than the diameter of the pan. The heat goes right into the pan, rather than up along the sides.  Safety is a factor here too. 
  3. Put a lid on it.  Water will boil faster, more will remain in the pan, and the whole process will heat the house less.
  4. Be prepared to learn and grow.  Sometimes the current practice can be improved.  Duh...  Dear Reader, some of you may be commenting on the "obvious":  "Why doesn't she just use the microwave?"  We haven't used a microwave for years.  In fact, we don't even own one any more.  I am not prepared to discuss this fully here, but I can give some headlines behind our thinking.  While quicker and generating less heat, food cooked in the microwave has less food value.  Furthermore, Melanie and I did not like how it felt and tasted "energetically".  The main idea behind eating is to bring into the body the very best nutrients to sustain our lives.  It makes no sense to diminish any part of this process.  Food serves as one of the building blocks toward our health.  Second, research is showing that food cooked in plastic can actually contribute toward cancer.  Not interested.  
  5. I chuckled after I originally posted the above picture of our Revere Ware pan on the stove.  Once again, "duh..." comes to mind.  I simply forgot that I could use the solar oven.  So I heated water in it this afternoon.  Gotta check.

Fork in the Road

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Those little choices 
we make on a daily basis
drive the use and overuse 
we make of the Planet Earth.
Those choices underscore 
our choice as a species 
of being here or not.
What we wear,
what we eat,
where and how we live.
Do we buy based upon needs or wants?
Do we consciously consider
what makes sustainable choices?
Do we make choices
that will not compromise 
the life ways of those who follow?
What would
those who are yet to come
(Human and Non-Human)
say to us now?
These choices are in our hands.
Every choice is yet
another fork in the road.
Do we want to be here or not?
I choose to stay.
~~~~
Glinda Crawford, 2012
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