Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Are Getting Bees...

Melanie has ordered Bees from a local Beekeeper.  They should be here in May or June, weather dependent.  Apparently, late spring is a hard time for Bees.  So, at his suggestion, he will watch them carefully and then pass them on to Melanie when they are ready.

We are getting Bees!


A little over a week ago, we started seeing a furry creature just out of the corner of our eyes.  Gone.  At first, we could not detect what she was. And always, another animal on the place is something we pay attention to.  But the creature was gone as quickly as she was detected.  Was she a figment of our imagination?

Over time, the creature began to allow herself to be seen.  Cat.  She appears young.  She talks to us in a many little high pitched "Mew's".  She is sweet.  She seems to have good energy.  It is fun to watch her play about the place.  She is wild, yet somehow not.

Melanie, who is ever the cat and creature lover, has been working on socialization.  Cat to place.  Cat to humans.  Cat to Cats (Max and Scamp have a vote here). And the reverse.  We all 3 were committed to accepting whatever happened as whatever is supposed to be.  Whatever that means.

She has been getting closer.  We still can't yet pet her.  She seems to want to come inside.  None of us are ready for that.  She has made herself at home in the shed.  It's always good to have an outdoor cat patrolling the place.  Melanie feeds her in the morning.  The little Cat has water on the back porch and a nice big spot of open soil for a litter pan.

Melanie named her "Mačka", which is Croatian for "Cat".  Her name is pronounced:  "MAC (like NOTCH only with an M), kah".  So far so good.  It feels really good to have something young on the place.  We are not sure that she is a "she".  We know we will need to take her to the vet, but not yet.  We will see how it all works out.  Max and Scamp seem accepting so far.  For all of us, she seems to be fitting right in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aunt Ruthie

We got word Thursday evening that Aunt Ruthie had just passed on the West Coast, her home through most of her adult life.  She was 92.  With her passing, the generational cohort of my parents is gone.  She was the last link to that generation. It is indeed a puzzling experience to put into words.  I shall be chewing on this for some time.

I love this picture of Aunt Ruthie from a special insert in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 17, 1945).  She, Mom and a carload of women had gone to Moberly to attend the parade greeting General Omar Bradley on his victorious return to his hometown.  What an absolutely joyous time this must have been marking the end of World War II.  Those of us who were not part of that time cannot completely know what that was like.

I have only known "snapshots" of Aunt Ruthie throughout my life.  Over the years, the geography between our lives made visits and contact infrequent.  However a deep and abiding "tenderness" quickly transcended  space and time.

I was able to connect with Aunt Ruthie regularly these last few years, especially between 2007 and 2010, during times when Dad and Mom were on decline and passing.  I cherish those special times that we shared which were often weekly, at times daily.  It was the most interaction that I had had with her over the course of my life.

In those last years, she freely shared what I would call her own "snapshots of joy" from her magic box of stories over the years.  Frail and elderly, she was increasingly home bound but it did not limit her story or her expressions of love and joy.  In our numerous precious phone visits, she might be telling stories of Mother and Dad, Grandma Lottie and Grandpa Fred (their parents), growing up adventures of the 3 sisters, my cousin Susan and me when we were babes in their arms or in the big buggy out for a stroll.  She was very involved in prayer circles and Bible Study.  Her love of her Maker and her Lord and Savior were bedrock for her life. She would often tell me stories of her love of nature and her wonder of creation. Beauty abounded.

It seems OK she is gone but weird too.  I can imagine she had a rousing welcome from the 2 sisters and their husbands and their parents.  Maybe they even had a triumphant parade for her.  I have shed tears and will shed more.  But mostly I just feel wrapped in joy, by them all.

Richard noted that the next morning after her passing the Missouri sky was filled with a pinkish color all over.  She loved Missouri and never lost her feeling of it as home.  On that morning after her passing, it was as if the glorious Sunrise was everywhere.  It makes perfect sense to me that after Aunt Ruthie's passing the sky would be filled with Roses, of which she was one.

I send my love and prayers to her children Susan and Jeff and their families.  Life is short, precious and sweet.  Lessons abound for our own growing and coming into our fullness.  And we each grieve this loss and move on to take on yet another place in our lives that we never imagined we would.  May we do all these things in a good way.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

USDA Revamps Hardiness Zones

Check out this US Department of Agriculture map and the article which accompanies it from the Washington Post (1/15/12).  Weather patterns are changing, which many of us (especially gardeners) know and have known for a long time.

According to the maps showing comparisons between the current map and the last one in 1990, we have changed from 5a to 5b Hardiness Zone here in northeast Missouri.  On the surface, it does not look like much and some may naively applaud the shift to "warmer".  However, some unwanted and conceivably detrimental baggage comes on board.

Please note this little entry is not intended to be a treatise on climate change.  Whole books are written on that.  I note only a few issues that come up for me as I clatter away at these keys.

Many plants (including trees) and other living beings are going to be increasingly out of place.  That means they will be stressed, which means they will be subject to opportunistic bugs and diseases just waiting for the time to be right.  Those of us on the outside will note that another "bug" got them. We may even head to the chemical factory to buy their latest fix.  Friends:  This is not an economic development opportunity.  The underlying problem is that the climate changed and these precious beings lost their place.  This summer I was in an area where the forest was dying.  This was not a pretty sight. 

On a broader scale, as climate warms, weather patterns change.  That's means we have more storms and weather dramas.  Anybody notice that where they live?  We have had plenty of storms here these last few years and they are not fun. Plus, flooding, drought and water shortages take on epic proportions depending on where you are.  The supposedly simple act of growing food becomes even more complicated.  In case you hadn't noticed, we Humans need food to survive.  It just isn't very smart to mess with this system.  Up there in the Arctic, the ice melts bringing on more climate change and threatening the lives of many species (including Polar Bears).  All this is going on in our life times.

And, Dear Neighbors on this vast Globe, we have a very big problem that we each need to take very seriously.  I wonder if we affluent ones on a global scale who are at the epicenter of the problem are willing to change our life styles to protect living creatures, including ourselves.  We are here at the Farm.  Are we perfect?  No.  Can we do better?  Yes.  Every day is an exercise toward that end.  I can only hope that we make some small difference, and that someone some day will know that we tried.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Boxes of Music

My dear husband Richard has been known to come home with some treasures from auctions.  Sometimes I trust there is a treasure in there.  Other times, I just dive right in.

In the last few months, he went to 2 sales and came home with 2 boxes of music for piano.  One of those boxes cost $2.  I am not sure what the other one cost.  Those most have been a part of life long treasures of the former owners who surely loved music with a passion. 

One box (mostly Etude magazine from the 1920-40s) seems more on the classical order with appeal to a range of skills from novice to professional.  I have not dipped into this box much but my draw is that it connects me with the early childhood of my Mother and her Mother (who was trained as a classical musician in the early 1900s).  It gives me an idea of the "culture of music" present in that time.  The other box (mostly the magazine Sheet Music from the 1970-90s) includes popular music past and present.  The latter box cost $2.  Both include stories and lessons behind the music, tidbits of which will surely help me over time.

I have to say I am positively thrilled.  I have gone through the Sheet Music box and pulled out songs which are vibrantly, tenderly, and sometimes painfully etched into memories of my past.  Just thinking of those songs and hearing them takes me back to another place and time.  The memories just spill over. 

So it is to the piano I have gone.  I just can hardly stop playing.  And yes, my skill level is needing some work but I peck and I plunk and sometimes something reminiscent of something quite beautiful comes out.  Other times, not.  Oh, yes, even for the best of my playing, the timing is off, I pause awkwardly at new times, and I am missing some keys.  I make no apologies.  I played piano from the time when I was 6 until I retired at 12.  Mother just got tired of the tug of war that she and I would play to get me to practice.  I did not return to piano until about 18 months ago (which was 50 years later).  I have to say that with the addition of these 2 boxes of treasures, I am having a ball.

I think my family is getting a chuckle out of me.  And furthermore, the 3 of us are playing our own game of "Name That Tune" and that is just fun.  Sometimes the songs are recognizable and sometimes not.  But I am making progress.

As I look at these magazines, I can sense how important music was in the lives of many people. Farmhouses had pianos or other musical instruments.  Many played and sang.  Whole families would get involved.  Traditions of music were very important. 

Over time, we have had some modern inventions that were supposed to make things better and in their own ways, I am sure they have.  Music however has become something that you listen to someone else play and sing.  That "other"  is a pro and the common folk get left far far behind.  Kids are fed diets of television and electronics. Their own skill in such things is not developed.  I think that is really sad and perhaps a serious injustice of sorts.

These are just some of the songs that I played tonight:  "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Leigh Harline, Ned Washington, 1940), "Star Wars" (John Williams, 1977), "True Love" (Cole Porter, 1955), "Time in a Bottle" (Jim Croce, 1971), "You'll Never Walk Alone" (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, 1945), "Three Coins in the Fountain" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne, 1954), "Till There Was You" (Meredith Willson, 1950), "This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie, 1956), "Moon River" (Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini, 1961).

While I have not been doing this very long, this has added a very rich and untapped dimension to our lives here on the Farm.  I don't know how far I will go with this, but I do know it will help me with my skill level and my interest in the piano.  Those little songs are "teasers" for me practicing and that is cool.

I think about the individuals who collected this music for themselves and now for me.  It had to be sad for them to recognize that no one would want these things.  Well, someone did and does.  And I am grateful beyond words for their collections and their interest.

And what shall I play tomorrow?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I just absolutely love Geraniums, the old fashioned Red Ones like Mom used to have (and her Dad before her and her Grandmother before her).  When I was establishing my own household up North, I wanted the latest and newest of Plants, representative of trends someone else told me I should follow.  The humble Red Geranium did not even make the list.  As I have aged and as I have learned that such plants connect us to generations and stories of long ago, I am quite smitten by them. 

These Geraniums actually belonged to Mother when she had her last Garden in 2008.  I purchased some at the same time from the same place, so some are mine.  I don't know which is which and that is OK.

The Geraniums have gone through a kind of "dormancy time" and now they are beginning to put on new dresses of lovely Leaves.  Clearly, they are gearing up for the growing season ahead. 

When I began this little entry, I intended to share 2 things (other matters popped up too).  I love my Geraniums and I love indoor plants especially during the Winter.  Silk Plants just don't cut it, and if you don't agree that's OK and it's likely we won't have much to talk about on the plant order.

On any given day, you might find me meandering around the house, checking out the watering situation and just gently "stroking the leaves" of the Geraniums and all their Friends.  These plants are my friends and I think they know I love them and respond to the love I give.  I think they give love too. 

Our western "advanced" way of thinking views Nature as devoid of "spirit".  All of Nature is viewed as dead.  It's only purpose is to serve Human needs.  I simply do not agree.  Viewing Plants and any form of Nature as imbued with Life, as filled with Spirit, as a Gift from the Divine, as one in a great Circle of Life of which Humans are simply one part is much more characteristic of Indigenous Peoples.  For me, this way of thinking is a lot more fulfilling.  I didn't always think this way, but I surely do now.

Seeing the Geraniums and their many outward expressions these days reminds me that soon I will be planting Seeds for transplants into the Garden.  Leeks are up 1st and hopefully, I will have them planted within the next week.  Having a few more Seeds will help.  The Leek Seeds should arrive in the next 7-10 days.  Already I am making plans to do some shifts in the house to accommodate Plants at the south facing Windows.  Some day I do hope we will have a small Green House but that is a ways off.  For now I need to keep focused on what I have to do.  I also need to transplant some House Plants too.

Slowly but surely, the Great Wheel of Life with its Seasons is shifting into the growing time.  That seems simply amazing to me.  After my "hibernation phase", I just might be ready.

Canning Venison

We canned Venison today using the Recipe that I had posted earlier. We thawed 9 pounds of Venison and sure enough, it made about 10 pints.  These last couple of weeks, we have been canning Meat (Chicken and Venison) to clear out space in the Freezer as the 1/4 of Beef will arrive tomorrow. 

Having harvests and food crops stored in a variety of ways (frozen, canned, dried, and so on) makes good sense.  In Nature, there is diversity and diversity is an important model for the Human too.

We also can Meat just because like it.  A lot.  Canned Venison (Beef, too) provides a quick start for Stew.  So does Canned Chicken.  Canned Chicken is simply fantastic for a quick Chicken Salad in the Summer Time after some intense working times in the Garden.  We also use Meats in other ways, but these are among our favorites. 


Seed Orders Complete

These last 2 days, we have been ordering Seeds from Shumway, Seed Savers, Burpee's, Seeds of Change, and Sand Hill Preservation Farm.  We had intended to order from Baker Creek, but unfortunately we still haven't gotten their catalog.

If you would have visited us yesterday, you would have found Melanie and me going through the 2 bins of Seeds.  Richard had already decided on what he was going to order.  Melanie and I were noting and sorting. 

Overall, we are ordering far less this year.  Several reasons come to mind.  We have been increasingly saving our own Seeds.  We have a stock pile of Seeds from past years.  Some will remain viable for a while and for those we just plant more than the recommended amount per row.  One of the most important reasons is that approaching Gardening Season 2012 (which is our 6th growing Season here), we are much more clear on what works and what doesn't.  In the beginning, we planted a lot of "fun things" and we still do.  But we do far less, focusing on what we need to fill our bellies, the pantry and the freezers.  You can add to that the fact that we are "going simpler" this year.  That feels really good.

And I suppose if you have looked at this photo, you will note that we are on a "corded" phone.  That's on purpose.  We 3 C's are trying to keep things simple, cut expenses, and eliminate modern day practices which are increasingly connected to Human Health Issues.  Our little corded Phone ("Old Blue") is kind of cumbersome sometimes, but She works and She is a trusty contributor to our life here on the Farm.

New Camera

January 22:

Richard and I took a walk this morning and I brought along my new camera. The camera and I are just getting to know each other. I usually take fewer winter pictures. It is just too cold for the camera and me. This day was no exception.

Each of the shots was an experiment: How will it turn out? Maybe the camera is a metaphor for each day and each moment of life: "How will it turn out?" With the camera, I can delete pictures that are not up to speed. With life, it is better not to "delete" the rough spots in the road because they are often great teachers. Even yet, those pictures that do not turn out usually have something to teach me too.

On this day we walked the "loop" which gives us lovely views of the pond, the meadows and the woods. We had awakened to a misty morning and everything was coated with just a tiny coat of ice. Ice is beautiful from a distance. As I am older now, I am not as exuberant about it as I once was as a kid. The only area that was icy was the deck. Everything else was an easy walk.

The day is one with "low light". It is a perfect day dedicated to "rest".

Book Friend

Seabloom, Robert. (2011).  Mammals of North Dakota.  Fargo, ND:  Institute for Regional Studies. North Dakota State University.

Yes, it is true that this is a posting on a book about mammals in North Dakota.  And yes it is also true that this little blog focuses on our adventures right here on Butterfly Hill Farm, which is a long ways from North Dakota. Sometimes I make exceptions for my own very good reasons, she says with a smile.

Bob Seabloom sent us this book and we are just thrilled.  Bob is a former colleague of Richard's in the Department of Biology at the University of North Dakota.  He, Nikki, and their sons are long time cherished friends from our many shared adventures in the North Country.

This book, to me, represents a "life's work".  There is no way that it could not be written without considerable experience gathered over a life time and considerable love for those things wild.

Such a work is best done in community, which exemplifies Bob's work.  Scanning the pages bears witness to the many people who have contributed too.  Many of those names are quite familiar to us and we smile.

As I age, I am always amazed to see how those many experiences over the course of a lifetime culminate in "life work". All the while, we travel our paths sometimes exalting in stellar moments and other times finding only the dark of a long and vast tunnel which seems will never end.  But we just keep going for reasons we cannot always know.  And then, right in our hands, we find a book or other work which makes meaning of it all.

Richard thinks that at least half of the mammals in the book are also found in these parts.  I wonder if Bob would have some thoughts on that. We will be reading some in his book to get to know our critters here.  And we will be reading more to remember our companions up North too.  It's probably time to get out Schwartz's book on mammals of Missouri which was first printed in the 1950s.  There have been many times that I have wanted to talk to Bob or someone who knows the creatures.  It isn't as easy to call or pop into his office these days, but we now have these wonderful references to guide our journeys of knowing more about those 4-leggeds with whom we share the land.

I was delighted also to see that Bob lists names of the animals in the languages of the Indigenous Peoples of that region.

What a contribution, Bob (Nikki too).  Thank you for this extraordinary gift!


A room without books 
is like a body without a soul.

Book Friend

Llewellyn's 2012 Moon Sign Book:  Conscious Living by the Cycles of the Moon. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

This treasure trove features more helpful tidbits than I could ever possibly use or even understand.  The old timers used to do a considerable amount "in the sign".  Many of us who have set that tradition aside are seeing wisdom and practicality in it. This is a great and thoughtful reference.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recycling Photos

January 8:

While I wait until the day that I make a decision on the new camera, I shall be recycling some photos. This one is of Melanie and it was taken a year ago on this day. We were walking in the area that is now our pond. What a difference a year can make. That area doesn't look that way now.

I also note that there is no snow. We had a heavy snow year last year. This year, it has not seemed like winter one bit. The warm temps and the lack of snow have been outside the normal pattern. I hear mixed assessments from the Humans: "I love it", "I try to accept what is", "I feel confused", "I'm uneasy; it just doesn't seem right".

In the meantime, we offer a prayer that the Earth will return to her regular cycles and that we Humans will find our place in it.

Note:  I am delighted to say that this is the only photo I "recycled" from the treasure chest of photos from this little Farm.  The new camera came in to replace the old one which went on strike.  (January 24, 2012).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Friend

The Monks of New Skete.  (1978). How to Be Your Dog's Best friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners.  Boston:  Little, Brown and Company.

Whenever we read a book on dog training, it usually means that we are getting ready to get a new dog or we are training in a dog for our family.  That does not happen very often.  Years ago, a friend up North loaned me her favorite book when Wicket (our Sheltie) was joining us.  Melanie reminds me that it was 1986.  The book was entitled:  No Bad Dogs, which sounded like a good idea.  I did read some of it, but not all.  This little entry has nothing to do with the above book, it is just a story that comes up whenever we are getting ready to bring on a new dog.  You see, when I got the book ready to return to my friend, I discovered that Wicket had chewed on a corner of the cover.  My friend laughed.  So did we then and we do today too.  Wherever Wicket might be, I can imagine she is smiling and she might be blushing too, if dogs blush under all of that fur.

This and That

Stuff is happening here on the Farm, and it's a mix of "this and that".  It's that beautiful season when "life slows" because that is the natural cycle of things.  It is the "rest time".  These days, I am not writing as much, and will be taking some time off.  Here are some updates:
  • Our new camera arrived yesterday (and now we get to read the instructions).  I am eager to develop a special and familiar relationship with the camera, but for now, we are each one staying in our corners just looking at each other.  The battery is juicing up.  I really liked the old camera, but it "quit".  Considering the reviews on the new camera, I think it will be a good fit.
  • We have entered a cold spell.  Winter has finally arrived.  It looks like it could snow, which we would love. We're spending time by the fire in the wood stove.  We put the buffalo robe down and the sheepskins on one of the chairs.  It's time to snuggle up and read.
  • Melanie read to us last night from the book:  How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend:  A Training Manual for Dog Owners. It's by the Monks of New Skete whose monastery is in New York State.  The Monks are well known for their thoughtful and effective methods of training.  The book was loaned to us by Sarah who lives on a farm "down south" from us.  We are in no hurry to get another dog, but that will be coming up soon.  We are reading this to make sure the 3 of us are on the "same page" with training for that new little one who will become part of our family.  Laddie (who passed 3 weeks ago) would like that. Maybe he will even nudge us in the direction of the new companion who is best to join us.
  • We are getting a quarter of Beef from a farmer who lives about an hour from here.  We have been so well satisfied with the Beef and the treatment of the animals of our friends.  But that means we need to make space in the Freezer.  And an organizational program for the Freezer would be nice. Yikes.  Since this came up on the radar, we have been canning chicken and should have enough for into the fall.  We will be canning venison in the next few days.  We have really missed having "canned red meat".  Plus, we took 1 day to clean and do inventory of the big freezer.  Now that was fun.  But it looks and feels so much better now.  And we know exactly what we have, in the big freezer, at least.
  • Richard and Melanie have gotten some "old music" at auction.  I went through the 1st box and found some real treasures.  I could hardly help myself.  I headed straight to the piano to try them out, including "Over the Rainbow", "More", "Swing Low Sweet Chariot", "Sunrise, Sunset", "Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me)", "Oklahoma"...
  • I did some writing on a piece about the Croatian Ladies who were contemporaries of my Grandma Dora.  My intention is that it will be a short piece on the Croatian immigrants who settled in Kirksville.  This is going to take some time and will involve inputs from others.  Soon, I will be sharing some of that on the blog, but it is not ready yet.
  • Since it is colder and since we are in hibernation, we are spending time doing some things that we have not really taken time for before.  Some are so precious to us that we need to figure out how to keep them integrated throughout the year.  They keep us grounded, rested, more peaceful and more settled. We are picking up books to read.  Again, Richard has picked up some old books at auction.  We are reading them and savoring the pieces.  He recently picked up a poetry book by Ethel Jacobson.  It is wonderful.  When we find a treasure, we share it with the family.  I am reading "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm". I am enjoying time at the piano each day.  I still pause a bit finding the keys, but it is smoother.  In case you missed this, I retired from piano when I was 12 and did not pick it up again until about 18 months ago.  I am surprised at how much I remember but it is awkward and the fingers don't work quite like they used to.  But it is fun and it is indeed peaceful.  And I love those times when I can sing too.  This week we started taking time for meditation, which is so grounding and settling in "stirred up" times.  I am walking, even though it is cold.  Melanie is enjoying her growing relationship with "fibers".  We could write a lot about this one.  Often, the spinning wheel is whirling which makes a lovely background sound.
  • Leah the chicken doesn't have the best crop of feathers.  They are not coming in right after her molt.  Is it a genetic abnomality?  We don't know.  So Melanie made her a sweater.  No, it doesn't have sleeves, and it is not a cardigan.  No, it does not look like Mr. Rogers.  The "sweater" rides on her back much like the chicken capes that Melanie made earlier.  We are not sure if this is going to work out.
  • We are still waiting for the last of the seed catalogs, this one is from Baker Creek.  It should arrive next week and when it does, we will be placing the seed orders.
  • I got the calendar from Stella Natura, which helps us garden "biodynamically".  In the next couple of weeks, I may even be planting some Leek Seeds.  Is this for real?
  • We are continuing to "tidy up" and "settle in". I am really excited that we are getting more pictures hung.  Plus, I am going through boxes and finding spaces in our everyday world for some dear friends (including books). And, I am pleased to report, we are "culling stock".
  • I am finding this is an "inward time" and that feels really good.  So I may not be writing as much and that feels really good.  I hope you are finding some rest space too, dear Reader.  Rest is indeed in the natural cycle of things.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Light Snow Snarls Traffic

The newspaper headline said:  "St. Louis: Light Snow Snarls Traffic for Hours". Melanie and Richard both agreed that we had the same situation right here on the Farm.  Only the traffic that got snarled was our flock of 51 chickens who were all set to head outside in the morning.  Hearing Richard's footsteps, they were all piled up at the door.  He opened the door and to their surprise and dismay, the ground was white.  I should say that only the front ones saw the change in color.  You could almost hear them go "thunk, thunk, thunk".  A few got pushed out the door.  Some meandered out a bit.  But mostly it was an inside day.  They were in for hours and hours.


The day started slow, but many tasks were ongoing this evening on Butterfly Hill Farm. We simmered 5 chickens in the 16 quart stainless steel pan.  That took about 2 hours, until the meat was falling off the bone and the bones were coming apart.  Richard then set the big pot with its big load in the outdoor refrigerator for it to cool.  The outdoor refrigerator is the great outdoors and on this day it was just about freezing temperatures.  When cool, Richard separated chicken meat from bone.  He is so fast about these things.  He then set things up so that we could make some rich "bone broth", because that is what I wanted to do.  That will be on tomorrow, all day. 

In the meantime, Melanie was flying through cookbooks and coming up with some creative ideas on her own.  Cornbread and a modified version of Borscht were on.  It was modified because we didn't have all that we needed.  The old version of this family would have headed to the grocery store which was about 5 minutes away.  Out here in the country, that is not possible.  Or rather, I should say that out here in the country, the grocery store is right here. Richard shifted gears and helped Melanie fix supper. 

I was lining up and cleaning jars, rims, lids, finding the canner cookbook, you name it, so that we could can up the Chicken.  While dinner was on to cook, Richard and I directed efforts toward getting the pressure canner on.  I have to say canning is going a lot more smoothly than when we first started this adventure.  We know what we have to do, we know what our needs are and we just quietly do it. That feels good. 

"Beep beep beep."  Cornbread is done. Veggies in the soup are not.  A slice of time permitted us to get the canner on.  Then we sat down to eat.  Meanwhile, Richard and I were watching the pressure indicator to make sure it stayed at 11 pounds per square inch.  That required a "look see" about every 2-3 minutes.  We don't seem to find a specific spot to set on our range where the temperature stays right where it is supposed to be.  Maybe that is a good thing because pressure canners need to be watched very very carefully. 

I was canning pints of Chicken without bone.  That called for 75 minutes of attention to the canner. It's hard to sit still for 75 minutes. The canner was sizzling and a rocking away with the gentle boiling on the inside. It's a comfortable sound.

We did dishes for dinner and got the kitchen all cleaned up.  Melanie washed her wool fibers and carded them.  She's cleaning things up now.  Meanwhile, Richard was looking at a seed catalog that came from Sand Hill today.  I got out some "designated to be rags" and cut them up into usable sizes.  We are noting that winter is a time to look at those "best supporting farm hands" who help out at every turn and wear out soon too.  Setting aside rags, cutting them up, getting new tea towels are pretty important at this season.  I got bored and agitated with being in the kitchen so I allowed myself 2 minute jobs on the computer. 

The timer went off.  Done! 

What Would Martin Luther King Do?



The more freedom we enjoy, 
the greater the responsibility we bear, 
toward others as well as ourselves.
Oscar Arias Sanchez

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Lovely Winter's Day

The Winter Storm came and is it ever beautiful. Please know that with all this warm weather, we have been Storm deprived. Anything that bears any semblance of "normal" is cause for celebration. We 3 C's try never to complain when Weather is in its normal cycle. I don't think that we are "normal" for our kind, but that is OK. In some mixed up times, it is a privilege to step outside the expected path.

And so what did we do on this lovely winter day?  Melanie and I went for a walk.  Richard let us know that we should cover our faces because the wind was stout.  And so we did.  We went through the Woods where it was quiet.  We stood by the pond and watched the ice which had about 3 feet of water around the outside. That must be because the ground is warm?

In walking on the east edge of the property, we found ourselves walking against the north-north westerly wind.  Our heads were down and we didn't say much.  The wind whistled and took on a bit of a roar.  Trees in the fence row creaked and groaned.  Tracks filled in.  Who had been there before? When we got closer to the House, Melanie took a fork in the road to head over to her Cottage Site while I headed inside.

Richard has a cold so for him it was a slow day.  That's good.  I made breakfast which was more like brunch.  I headed into Kristina's Spirit of the Harvest:  North American Indian Cooking.  I made Corn Griddle Cakes and were they good and simple too.  The recipe included cornmeal, flour (I used Pamela's bread baking mix), yeast, optional sugar (I omitted), salt, and milk (I used almond and coconut milks).

I had designated this as the day to get started canning Chicken.  We have a little Chicken remaining from 2010 in the freezer downstairs.  Soon we will be getting a quarter of Beef which will test our freezer capacity.  The usual process is to can meat from the year before (Chicken, Beef, Venison).  We just love Canned Meat.  The Chickens were simmering until the meat fell off the bones.  The next stage was to cool it down.  This evening, Melanie and I will take the meat from the bones and tomorrow we will do 2 canner loads.  They will be according to 3 varieties:  mostly Meat (for Chicken Salad), Meat and Broth (as starter for Soup), and Broth (for recipes which call for Broth and those "sick days" when Chicken Broth just hits the spot).  The Pressure Canner will do 7 Quarts or 10 Pints.  Considering all the time required (including cooling), it's a big commitment.

Melanie worked on her little "Pouch" which is made of her 1st yarns that she has spun.  She finished it and it looks sweet.  Soon, I will have my camera and we will be back on track with visual images.  Not now.  I will talk about it just to tease you.

Our Amish neighbor to the east came over to use the phone.  He does this on average of once a week.  It is always great to visit with him and "catch up" if only for a few minutes.  We are all really busy.  On his way in, he swept off the Snow from the back porch.  He used the phone and talked quite loud.  All 3 of us were in the living room (with him on the phone).  All of a sudden he was quite self conscious. "I don't need to talk so loud.  It's not like I am outside by myself."  We all laughed. On his way out, he said that they would be happy to help us "dig out" if we ever need them.  I am not sure how we would get the message to him as he doesn't have a phone.

We had a Christmas Card returned which was addressed to Joan F. up in the North Country.  Someone had written "deceased".  We were really saddened by that but were not surprised since she was the same age as Mom.  We adored Joan.  She was an amazing woman.  She and her husband were involved in prairie restoration in the 1960s long before it was socially acceptable.  Throughout her life, she collected native plants and put them in special places in her yard and the yards of others she loved.  She always had a story to tell.  I cherish the day that she took me up to the Native Prairie Land that she and her husband had restored (with some help from folks with professional knowledge of such things).

When she got word that we were moving back to Missouri onto a little Farm, she marched herself right over. I responded to the doorbell, she came right inside with her Rainbow Cane, parked the Cane by the door and headed over to the Dining Room Table.  Clunk clunk clunk.  "If you are going to move to a Farm, these are some lessons you need to learn."  I wish I had taped it.  I remember 2:  (1) "Get Goats."  (2) "Sometimes your husband will do something that you don't necessarily like to do and you will need to help him.  Don't think about it. Just do it."  When the lessons for the day were complete, she headed back to the door, picked up her cane, and was gone.

I do remember she was the 1st person I ever knew who said that she had seen 7 generations of her own family, back to her ancestors and through herself and her great grandchildren.  She knew she was the matriarch of her family and she was proud of it.  In a culture which denigrates age and women specifically, I shall always cherish the role model that she provided.

It seems like an appropriate time to propose a toast to Joan.  We are deeply blessed that we got to know her.  She is one of those ladies that regardless of when you think of her, you just have to smile.  That's a legacy to which to aspire.

As we moved into late afternoon, I headed back into Kristina's cookbook.  This cookbook of Native American recipes is just superb.  It is fast becoming one of my new best friends.  The cookbook includes the story of the recipe, tribes, natural history.  The recipes are pretty basic but excellent.  We usually have most everything on hand.  Tonight, we are having "Grouse Stewed with Greens" (page 130).  Ingredients include Grouse (we are using a Free Range Chicken of about 2 1/2 pounds), bacon drippings, wild lamb's quarter (which we love and we are surely to run out), green onions (we used leeks and garlic), dried mint.  We added some dried corn.  The recipe recommends that the Soup is served over the Corn Griddle Cakes.  We have 3 left from Brunch, or at least we did at last count.  They have had a habit of disappearing.

In the meantime, Melanie is back at her Spinning Wheel.  Its rhythmic sound is a comfort and a lesson that life just goes on and on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter Storm

Today was a beautiful day, warm temps, nice and sunny, atypical for mid January.  And things are changin'.  By late afternoon, the winds changed and came in from the northwest, accompanied by dark grey clouds.  WeatherUnderground informs us that we are in a Winter Weather Advisory.  The 3 C's are pretty excited about that, especially Melanie and me. 

I looked out toward the northwest and saw those dark grey clouds chasing in.  I held up my hands like a traffic cop to direct the winter weather right here.  I realize this might not be a common practice.  But we are deeply grateful for patterns which are typical for the cycles of this season. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Seeking Center

my Human Centered Language,
permits me to conclude 
that "Sun rises",
meaning Earth
must be 
of Universe.
More specifically,
wherever I, 
as Human, 
I am
of Universe.
That is an Anthropocentric view,
for which my Culture is known.
But rather Earth 
spins on Her Axis,
giving Daylight and Dark.
She rotates around Sun.
And Sun with family of Planets
rotates around some Center 
in the Milky Way Galaxy,
which I see stretched 
in a large band across Night Sky.
I am just riding along.
There's more to know,
Dear Child of the Universe.
I know so little of these things.
The little I know
and the more I am aware 
of how little I know
fills me with 
Glinda Crawford, 2012


Every day
at this season,
Sun creeps a little more 
to the East on the Horizon
as He rises in the Southeastern Sky.
We get 1 more minute of Daylight today.
Sun rises at 7:32am and sets 5:03pm.
Yesterday, He rose at 7:32am and set at 5:02pm.
Progress is slow in the thick of what 
should be the Winter Season.
By February 2,
the speed will pick up.
We are hanging on for the Ride.
Good morning, Sun!
Glinda Crawford, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our Rap on Wrap

December 25:

We 3 C's had a beautiful, quiet, simple Christmas Day celebration here at the Farm. This capped a series of "honorings" which began just after Thanksgiving.

We took the morning to unwrap gifts over cups of tea (which Melanie had fresh brewed) and with sides of Povitica (which was freshly made yesterday). The latter has definite possibilities for becoming an addition to our traditions.

We were careful throughout to save every scrap that would have use in the future. That means as little as possible for the landfill. It means cutting costs too. I don't need to tell you that wrap is expensive, for the Human's pocket book and for the Earth.

What you see above (from left to right) includes: Santa's bag (this bag has magically appeared under our tree every Christmas morning since the late 70's; word has it that it was formerly a grain bag from our friend and former neighbor Blanche), brown bags which I painted 10-15 years ago (they are reminiscent of the plain brown bags that Richard's Mother used to use to wrap gifts), commercial gift bags and wrapping (some were Mom's), tissue (bright colors and light), ribbons and gift tags (above).

Sometimes I am struck by how much we have changed as we have embarked on this excursion of using as little of the planet's resources as we can. We will be confronted with situations where the change is very evident. Three years ago, we had a lovely celebration with family. Gifts were given and wraps were being whisked away toward the trash can. Melanie and I just stopped in our tracks. We were stunned. We haven't done that for a good many years. We tried not to be intrusive, but we did manage to bring home some lovely ribbons. It's not that we are "cheap", we are just resourceful.

You may notice the Watermelon above. That was the last of the Watermelons from our Garden. Usually they are best only in season. We saved this one for the Chicken's Christmas Dinner. They were delighted.

Upcoming Workshop: "Spring Forward into Gardening"

Jennifer Schutter, Extension Horticulturist for the University of Missouri, has organized an upcoming workshop entitled "Spring Forward into Gardening", which is set for Saturday, March 31.  Topics include: incorporating flowers into your garden, what's killing my trees, growing root crops, growing home garden tomatoes, anyone can raise vegetables, raising backyard grapes, raising backyard chickens, vegetable garden panel discussion, now that I've grown it what do I do with it, and it starts with the soil.  Cost is $15.  For more info, call the Extension office at 660-665-9866 or check out:  http://extension.missouri.edu/adair/documents/Hort/SpringForward.pdf

Both Melanie and I are on the program.  Melanie will be talking about one of her favorite subjects:  raising chickens.  I am on the Vegetable Gardening panel with John Rowe and Gregg Fast addressing:  what we have learned in our combined over 100 years of gardening.  Every day of gardening I feel like I am once again back in that first day of school.  I suppose that would be the 1st thing that I have learned. The learning never ends.  It just begins again. And again.

It is always a wonderful time when Gardeners get together and talk.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Great Resource

Care2 is a great resource for negotiating the maize in creating a greener path. Annie Berthold Bond, the creator of this web site, has been doing this work for a very long time. http://www.care2.com/

Eliminate Styrofoam

Care2 posted the following petition which is intended to give guidance to legislation emerging in California. 

This is what I wrote with a few little edits:  "California is a state of exquisite beauty (all states are but just in different ways). Please protect this precious and exhaustible resource.  In 1997, our city (Grand Forks, ND) was beseiged by a remarkable flood. When we returned for a long and exhaustive clean-up, we found undamaged styrofoam everywhere.  We chased those peanuts everywhere.  It was so obvious to us that styrofoam (which is typically used in a few minutes) will be around forever.  Ever since, we have cut styrofoam out of our lives to the greatest degree that we can.  I would like to think that people would do this on their own.  Some day they will.  But, while we wait, please do so here"

After the Flood (which came with many teachings), I began to see that the styrofoam that we used would last 500 years.  It became apparent to me that whether I intended it or not, that styrofoam cup, plate or peanut was a gift to some future generation 500 years (or 20-25 generations) later.  Surely I could do better than that.  So we (Melanie and I especially) mounted a campaign to eliminate styrofoam.  We have eliminated coffee shops which serve on styrofoam.  We bring our own plates to community picnic or meal functions.  We aren't perfect but we do the best we can to address a situation which we feel needs to be changed.

This decision to eliminate styrofoam was ramped up a bit with the recognition that styrofoam is typically an oil derived product.  In my opinion, styrofoam surely is not worth going to war for, nor is it worth invading some of the last pristine places on this Earth.

Book Friend

Stratton-Porter, Gene.  (1904). Freckles.  New York:  Grosset & Dunlap Publishers.

Once again, I am on the trail of an author (Gene Stratton-Porter) who I had heard of as a child (and who was popular during the time of my Grandmother Lottie Lillian Hart Brenz).  This past year, I read Girl of the Limberlost and loved it.  Richard came across another of her books (Freckles) at a sale.  Bingo, I have another book to read. (I think we may even have more of her books awaiting which we have purchased at auction.)

Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, author, photographer, film maker in the early part of the last century.   She was born in northern Indiana, which is the setting for the "Limberlost" and for Freckles.

Freckles is an orphan who is known only by one name "Freckles".  He comes from a brutal and impoverished background.  In this book, he is now a young man who has made his first adventures outside the orphanage and the city into the wilds of the Limberlost complete with its wild beauty, snakes, poisonous plants, stinging insects, outlaws, and Swamp Angel.  Freckles becomes guardian for the Limberlost for the supervisor of a logging operation which will soon selectively harvest timbers there.  People around him fall in love with him because of his honesty,  integrity, innocence, and love of the wild.  He loves the exquisite beauty of what he sees and is ashamed by the fact that he knows not the names of the infinite expressions of nature. At this point, his boss helps him acquire books to learn about the swamp and its creatures.

The Swamp Angel who at first does not seem real to Freckles but is the product of considerable wealth and privilege enters the picture. Her wealth and privilege extend far beyond the material as she has only known those who would love her.  Along with the Swamp Angel comes the "Bird Woman" who studies and writes books on wild creatures of the Limberlost.  The Swamp Angel is quite taken by Freckles and he is of her.  He is very aware of their differences which in the face of the purity of his spirit, she sets aside.  He cannot.

The story includes outlaws who target the trees for cutting, drama which could well end Freckles' young life, as well as 2 women who are courageous and life saving.  With the assistance of McLean, who is the supervisor and who becomes recognized as a Father to Freckles, and the Swamp Angel, Freckles begins to think about education.  His exquisite talent in vocal music begins to shine.

There is far more in this text. I am finding this a slow read, only because I am savoring every word.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Companion for Rest

For those of you who are readers of this Blog, you may have noted that we 3 C's are in "rest mode".  That is in synchrony with the winter season and it is much needed after the last few years which demanded some pretty high and sustained energy inputs.  I am pleased to report that we are making considerable progress on our goal of "rest".

I had this idea for the "rest time" and I think it is pretty "spot on".  One of the things that I want to do during the rest time is to mindfully prepare Food for myself and my family.  These last few months we had gotten in a rut of fixing the same things over and over again.  We love them by themselves but over time they get to be a little wearing and sadly lose their appeal.  So here we go: I am fixing food with all the love that I can muster.  So far, so good.

Cookbook Friend

Cox, Beverly, and Jacobs, Martin.  (1991). Spirit of the Harvest:  North American Indian Cooking.  New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Kristina loaned me this cookbook and after a brief review, I think it is fantastic.  This is definitely one to add to our collection.  Recipes and background information on Tribes are given for Native Peoples of the Southeastern Coast and Woodlands, Northeastern Coast and Woodlands, Great Plains, Southwest, and West. 

Tonight we had Pawnee Roast Prairie Chicken (it was a free range domestic chicken that we had raised) and Service Berry Upside-Down Cake (we used Blueberries instead).  Yum.


I will soon order our 2012 Stella Natura Calendar. We find this to be an excellent guide for planting what and when according to biodynamic rhythms.  If anyone in our local community would like to add their order into the mix, please let me know by Sunday, January 8. I will see what I can do.

May Gardening 2012 be a season when we plant, bloom, grow, experience abundance, and continue to learn and be in awe of the rhythms of this beautiful Earth with which we were entrusted.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Occasionally, I post inspiring stories which are "off Farm".  This is surely one.  Ben Breedlove danced with Death over the course of his young life.  And he left behind some inspiring lessons for those of us who still have a lot to learn.

As I think about our life on this Little Farm, our intention is to live and express Life fully.  It's a Gift, right? Why would we want to do any less?  With that intention comes embracing Death as part of the Natural Cycle.  On this Little Farm, we have numerous opportunities to see Death.  This little video clip fits right in as a lesson along the Path.



People get kind of cranky sometimes about "expected" holiday parties and other perfunctory social events. This is a great story of converting that wonderful Human energy of Love which is sometimes buried so very deep inside into something beautiful and good. That's what it is about anyway...right?

Peaceful Heart

It is customary at this time to send wishes for a "Happy New Year". I choose a little different variation of the theme: "May 2012 come with the fullest blessings of a Peaceful Heart." When every Living Being comes from a Peaceful Heart, can you even imagine what our World will look like?

Seed Catalogs Piling Up

With almost every Mail Delivery, Seed Catalogs are piling up.  We 3 C's have just entered a quieter, more restful time and are reluctant to move quickly on the Seed Orders.  But you will find us occasionally leafing through Catalogs and occasionally sharing insights and needs.  We haven't even touched the "Seed Inventory" of the Seed Bins which is an essential step.  That will come soon.

I imagine our orders will be in by January 15th, which is the usual time. Those orders will likely be simpler and less than previous seasons. We are more focused now going into our 6th Gardening Season in these parts.  We are more able to predict what works and what doesn't, although all the climate shenanigans seem to provide a Wild Card.  We are doing the best we can and we are more comfortable with it.  That feels good.

Ready When We Are

If Laddie was 
to speak, 
he would say 
"You can't have a Farm 
without having a Dog." 
"Get right on it." 
"Don't delay."
Five days after his passing,
we aren't ready 
to move on this one.  
But we will be ready 
when we are. 
Glinda Crawford, 2012

Cleaning the Chicken House

Richard headed out to clean the Chicken House this morning.  Melanie followed with the wheelbarrow, rake and hoe.  Richard cleaned and Melanie brought the glorious Chicken Leavings (Poop, Straw and such) to replenish Garden Beds.  I think they smiled at the expanding possibilities.

Richard cleaned the Chicken House under the watchful eyes and clucks of Hennies Clara and Leah. Both are Delawares. Clara is quite a precocious Chicken.  She is always there to greet you.  She doesn't mind being picked up by the Humans.  Quite the busy Lady, she always has a job to do, whether that is finding Grubs or getting into the Food. Leah was also quite a friendly Chicken, but lately she has been going through molt.  Since then, she has not been showing a lot of extra energy.  It was great that she was engaged in the "doin's" in the Chicken House.

On this day, Clara and Leah had different ideas than Richard on decorating the Hen House.  It is their House after all.  Richard would put fresh Straw on top of the Nest Boxes and those Hennies would scratch and scratch, which meant the Straw made its way back onto the Hen House floor. He would pick it up and once again it was back down on the floor.

In the meantime, I was in the Human House making Apple Pancake from the Arkansas Blacks which are keeping great in the refrigerator crisper downstairs.  The soundtrack from "Pride and Prejudice", which Nile got us when we left North Dakota, was playing in the background.

After about an hour, the cleaning of the Chicken House was complete.  Showers were in order.  Water was put on for Coffee. And there we were sitting down to Brunch. Yes, this is "slow time" and yes, we have some tidying up to do.  January feels good.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Camera Quits

One of my loyal side kicks is my digital Camera.  If you have been following this blog and if you know that I am a visual artist, you will conclude that this is no small partnership.  Yesterday, the Camera died, or rather the lens froze, which in modern society means the Camera died. 

We do have a back-up but it is primitive.  Maybe this is just one more voice in the Universe saying:  "It's time for you to take a nice, good, long rest."  "Don't short change yourselves." 

Until I figure out what to do, that Christmas wrap may be up there on the banner way past due. It's message is applicable to other occasions, she says with a whimsical grin as she clatters away on these keys.

Slow Season

We are reaching the slow season after the holidays and in the depth of Winter, while it still doesn't feel much like Winter.  "Slow season" feels so very good.  We 3 C's are definitely going slower.  We can be found puttering around, reading a good book or article, stoking the fire and sitting beside it, cleaning little areas that have been long overlooked, resting.  Melanie is now making cookies.  Can you smell the aroma wafting out this way? 

Seed Catalogs are arriving.  In the next 2 weeks, we will have our orders in, which includes:  reviewing what we have and ordering what we need.  These days, we are known to poke our noses into the Seed Catalogs, but not too seriously.  Yet. 

Winter is the time of sleep in the natural cycle of things.  That sounds and feels very good. The Humans on this Little Farm like this program.