Sunday, April 29, 2012


Yesterday, a young woman stopped at the door of our little farmhouse. She was lost. And before she could ask for directions, she said seemingly stunned: "This is an oasis."  I smiled.  Yes, you could call it that.  We have worked to create a sanctuary here.  Can you imagine if we each were able to create our "oases"?  Then we could jump from pad to pad like a frog on lily pads through the oases of life?  Now that sounds like something to work toward.  Maybe it is "bringing Eden back". Maybe it is restoring the gift of Creation that was given to us. It's time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Our Amish neighbor Clemens (cabinet maker/carpenter) came over. (Melanie and Dave  return tomorrow eve; baby chicks come Mon. early.) Existing kitchen cabinets will be removed on Mon. 4pm. We should remove the stuff in cupboards ahead of time, huh? Ah...camping... Repairing walls/painting will be in full production Tues./Wed. Clemens and Richard will put down flooring Thurs. Cabinets will be installed the following Mon. Cabinet top goes in on Thurs w/ plumbing complete hopefully too. Then we should be ready to host Rachel and her family for Rachel's graduation May 12. 
Whirlwind. We are having 2 guests (Emily and Noah) for the next 3 weeks.  They will be helping here on the Farm.  They should arrive the end of next week. It's getting into high season for planting.  As the season moves through spring and into summer, the action just picks up.  I dearly remember those quiet restful days of winter.  But this season is exciting in its own way.
I am reminded how grateful we are; some folks out there don't have food, and we are redoing our kitchen. Should never ever forget.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Baby Chicks

Baby Chicks are coming on Monday or thereabouts.  That means that they will be hatching very soon if not already. We should be getting a call from the Post Office early a.m.  Richard has been busy getting their little area ready.  We should be good to go. 

A Good Day

April 20:

As is typical, when the Sun begins to cast those long shadows and the light begins to wane, the Chickens begin gathering up around the gate to their House. Activity slows. They preen. They share chatter from the day. Soon, they will walk one by one into the Chicken House to find their preferred roosts. It's been a good day.


The Wind is wild today out here on this little Farm.  We are pretty bare out here.  I checked into one of my favorite sites which shows visually and artistically current Wind patterns across the lower 48.  Yep, that's us.

The wind is unsettling today.  And the intensity and persistence of Wind in our lives surely seem way more than Richard and I remember from our childhoods.  The Irises will not do well as they will be beaten about.  That was not typical of the Springs of our childhoods when they were glorious.

I wonder:  Is the Earth going through a "cleanse"?  Are Humans and all Life Forms going through a cleanse?  Are we emerging into a new reality, something for which we have all yearned?  Who knows?  Regardless, we seem along for the ride.


We don't need 
a law against McDonald's 
or a law against slaughterhouse abuse 
we ask for too much salvation by legislation. 
All we need to do is empower 
individuals with the right philosophy 
and the right information 
to opt out en masse.
Joel Salatin, farmer, author

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Evening Reflections

Today I was on my way into town in our little hybrid. I passed horse poop on the road. I passed the Amish sawmill where 2 ponies with western saddles were tied to the fence. 
I think about the Amish buggies going past our farm. I love hearing the clip clop of horse's feet, hearing those old iron wheels grind away up the hill. I imagine these are sounds my grandparents heard. 
When the Amish school "bus" goes past, I hear the laughter, chatter, and singing of children. And yes, we do have cars whizzing past as people are on their way to work. We have been known to whiz past when we have a tight agenda in town.  In fact, I find it so hard to leave, I am often late. 
We live on a little gravel road off the beaten path. It is mostly quiet out here. We hear birds, frogs and foxes singing their songs. We see stars. We grow our own food. Our chickens sing their own happy songs most of the time. We are getting to know our neighbors. 
We are watching the pond fill. Tonight, Richard and I sat on the pond bank.  From where we sat, we concluded that our heads would be about at the level of the pond when it is full.  From our perch on the hay bale, we watched billowy pink clouds glow with the setting sun and grow with the energy inside them.  We watch brief flashes of lightning inside them.
I love our little out of the way home up here in the paradise of NE Missouri (NEMO). It brings its own challenges and it sure isn't easy street. I suppose you could say that we found our own version of NEMO, something I am not so sure we really expected in our wildest fantasies of this place.


Mostly, I pray for peace and love in those places needed (everywhere). I pray we find our paths into coming into our fullness as a Human Species. (We have a ways to go; we can make it; we are making it.) I add: May that wound inside each of us which has been there for so long be healed so that we may be open to all that is, can, and will be.

Video Link

This time lapse photography from the International Space Station set the ethereal music of "Walking on Air" is an awe inspiring look at our Great Mother.  Folks, this is our home.  Our very own home. This is that which gives us life.

Bird Walk (the Post Sequel)

Didn't make it. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bird Walk

Richard is leading a bird walk at another farm tomorrow at their request.  The walk is scheduled for 6am.  I am NOT an early morning person.  We shall see if I manage to get into the car with him.  He does such a great job seeing and sharing the stories of our feathered friends in the world around us.  Most people just whiz by.  He really pays attention.  It is so beautiful to see and experience.  What a gift...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Film

Earth Day 2012

It's Earth Day, Dear Family and Friends. Every day is Earth Day. We Humans of my "advanced" culture seem stingy in offering praise, honor and respect to Creation, She who gives and sustains Life. "Love your Mama", my organic T-Shirt says. Indigenous wisdom tells us we don't own the Earth, we borrow her from our children. And what would those who have yet to come say to us now? Considerable progress is being made, but we have a long ways to go. Step by step on the upward climb. It's pretty easy really. We are being asked to live as if the future matters. My vote is: It does.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Since her appearance on our little Farm in January, Mačka has really settled in.  She loves her Farm family and the shed which is her very own home.  She is still on the wild side which is fine with us.  She does seem quite curious and enchanted by her Humans.  She does come when she is called, especially if that is around meal time.  She will rub against us but moves quickly away if it seems we might want to hold her.  We do hold her sometimes.  

She loves to be with us when we go on walks in the Garden.  She is fast.  She may be beside us. We blink and she is gone.  I have wanted to take some action shots of her, but smile whimsically at orchestrating that possibility.  Sometimes she is simply a blur.

The trick to this photo was to focus and push the button on the camera about 12 feet ahead of her.  This is what I got.  That's Richard in the background.  These days, neither he nor I move quite that fast. We are enjoying the boundless energy of youth around us.


We planted Cabbages yesterday and blanketed the beds with straw.  On this day, the Cabbages were standing tall and proud in their new homes.  It's cool out these days and, being cool season plants, they were quite content.

We took extra Cabbage plants to an Amish neighbor.  We had some other plants to share too.  As we were leaving, they shared Lettuce, Cress, and Radishes.  Our garden is a little slower because we did not get things in so early.  We helped them and they helped us.  That was really neat. 


The last few months and weeks have brought some beautiful magic out here on the Farm.  In late December, friends Peter and Sue introduced Dave to Melanie and Melanie to Dave.

In mid-March, Dave and his son Calvin came down for Calvin's spring break.  (His daughter Isabelle was spending her break down south.) On this beautiful day, they helped us do the 1st cleaning of some of the garden beds.

Later in the afternoon, Sue and Peter brought their 2 grandchildren to the Farm.  Their grandchildren must have been on break too. It was Peter and Sue's 1st trip to our little farm (their grandchildren's too).  Joni came up from Columbia on her break.

Everyone contributed to the meal.  Richard stirred up his special spaghetti which is always a hit and was probably the best ever on this night. Our blessing was the singing of "Tis a gift to be simple".

Dave and Peter shared their wonderful music, the strains of which floated over the meadow.  At points inbetween, Dave and Calvin found the piano.

Yes, magic is happening out here on the Farm. Richard and I just kind of wait, watch and wonder.  We wander too.  We send our love and very best wishes to 2 very dear and precious spirits and all who are touched by and who touch their lives.


April 12:

While the Humans are busy nesting in their house and making sure things are just right, we have evidence that the Tadpoles are settling in out in the new Pond. Life is good.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


One of our neighbors always plants lettuce on February 24.

15th Anniversary

Today is the 15th anniversary of our evacuation during the Red River Valley Flood of 1997. 60,000 people were evacuated, which at the time was the largest evacuation due to a natural disaster in U.S. history.  It hardly seems possible that it has been 15 years. 
Richard said after the event that "he wouldn't have missed it for the world." I had no clue as to what he was talking about. It took me many years to come similar conclusion.
That event (and the subsequent months, years of recovery) came with many profound and life changing teachings: "We are so small compared to the Earth our Mother. We must go 'with the flow' of our Great Mother. To go against puts life as we know it at risk. In our recovery, we became community and that was beautiful. It wasn't perfect nor was it easy.  For that moment in time, the River swept away pretense." 
I don't know where you all (who shared this experience or were affected by it) are, but I extend my love and best wishes that we may each come into our fullness on our life's paths.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Crazy here today. Sort of feels like an Beehive or an Ant Hill.  Seedlings went outside.  It is a little cool yet.  We have a lot.  A lot.  So that is no small job.  Phone ringing off hook. Jackie came to pick up Rhubarb plants.  Amish neighbor stopped to see Clemens while he is here.  Clemens, our Amish neighbor and carpenter/cabinet maker, is working with Richard to put shelving in the utility room. Beautiful local wood. Kitchen counter-top is coming by semi. Will be delivered to Clemens' because he will do the finishing.  Richard and Clemens just headed up to an Amish house raising (15 minutes away) to borrow strong hands and backs to carry the 500 lbs (crate include). Couch potatoes need not apply.  I am need to make lunch.  Truck driver Ronnie just called.  He is going through LaPlata which is about 15 minutes away.  I should get a picture.  Have been doing back up and support for these many functions, plus cleaning up various things that have needed attention.  Am going to see Holly today for Acupuncture.  That will be great.  Richard and Clemens will return to finish the shelving.  Brad is coming from the Brookfield area to bring organic chicken feed.  He will likely arrive in Kirksville to connect with us there.  I wonder what is for dinner?  No, I gotta make lunch.
OK, Glinda, don't think about it all because it is too much.  Just keep your head down and do one thing at a time. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Season of the Dance

I usually forget, but as the seasons pass and the drama picks up, I remember.  The shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall feature a dynamic dance between warm Summer weather arising out of the Gulf and cold Winter weather roaring in from the Arctic.  You never can tell who is going to win.  But they are surely engaged in a dance where each is trying to take the lead. 

As time passes, one yields.  At this end of the seasonal calendar, we expect that will be Summer in all of her radiance. As for the Humans and all Beings on this Great Earth, we have some pretty splendid front row seats.  It is also offers some excellent reflection on how very small that we are.  We Humans particularly of my culture tend to have a hard time with this. I can imagine that the Earth smiles.  We will get it sometime, particularly as we choose to be here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meditation on Wind

Mostly, these little postings are musings on happenings on this Little Farm.  Well, today's weather forecast suggests chance of severe wind.  And here is a beautiful visualization of wind in the lower 48 for this day.  The first link gives a bit of an overview and the second shows the wind on this day at at this moment in time.  Wow.

I have long had a fascination with spring and fall migration of Birds.  Being married to an ornithologist has allowed me some spectacular insights on our feathered Friends.  I try to take teachings in Nature and apply them to my Life.  My culture suggests that we are separate from Nature but of course we are not.  My culture once thought the Earth was flat too.  But, let's get back to the lessons of wind and migratory Birds.

When Birds migrate they will usually wait for a front to go through in the direction they intend.  When it does, they go with that front, permitting a long distance flight with less expenditure of energy.  My Dear Human Community typically would say:  "Hey, today is the day that I planned for this to happen.  Come Hell or High Water, I am taking off."  If Canada Geese had this philosophy, they would have long ago gone the way of the Dodo Bird (which is extinct).

Please note that I am not suggesting that Birds travel on severe fronts.  My resident ornithologist says, they would be riding the front on the north side of this map.  If the weather is too severe, they would likely settle down.

We Humans are so very small in the scheme of things.  We either go with that flow of Nature or we choose not to be a part.  I know which side I am on.  And I also know that I know so little.  But Hey, Dear Nature that is My Mother, I am eager and willing to learn.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Trailer: "Creating Freedom"


Our 1st priority is buying local and buying American.  But, Dear Friends, never ever consider that as a blank check for products that are substandard.  We will go elsewhere if we have to.  Ultimately, that's in the best interest of all too.

Progress: Kitchen and Utility Room Re-Do

On this glorious packed crazy day, our Amish neighbor Clemens came over to take final measurements for our new kitchen cabinetry.  Our kitchen re-do is really going to happen and relatively soon.  It's going to be pretty crazy between then and now, but so be it. 

Richard brought home our high efficiency Bosch Washer and Dryer on Monday.  After some wild steps and gyrations in between, they are up and running smoothly.  My brother Brian came down to help rescue us from our technological illiteracy.  We are deeply grateful for all the helping hands and hearts as we make our little house a home.

After All

I could write a book on this one.  And where do I start?

I come from strong, sturdy, self sustaining stock.  I come from folks who by and large wanted to live simply and for the most part, did.  They were folks who did not want much past their needs.  They were folks who bought quality products that would last.  And they bought products which they could fix.  They prided themselves on building, creating, fixing.

"Me fix it," my Dad said in those last years.  And fix it he did.  He still had the know-how to fix things but the hands and eyes didn't quite work the way he remembered they did.  But he would die trying. He left a path through their house of little things he had tried to fix.  The work was substandard for his usual fare, but it was embraced with a deep and abiding love by my Mother.  It just had to be done.  I still have images of him up on the roof and I can still shudder about that too.

I was a baby boomer (and still am).  My folks wanted my life to be better than theirs.  That meant more education.  And I got a lot of that.  In retrospect, my education (which I value) was another word for disconnecting me with from roots, "can do" spirit, "fix it" mentality, simple living, sustainable life ways.  My family and I had a little more cash and not much time.  So we bought service people to fix things that broke.  Over time, we knew less and less about those things ourselves.  And the products got more complex too.  Over time, we knew those products built by people with no pride were soon to head to the landfill.  It was not the future in which I had thought I might live.

These days, we find ourselves in a position where we are highly dependent on others who would create and fix things for us, especially as it relates to building, remodeling or repair.  We have tremendous skill, but not in these areas.  The times are complicated by the fact that many of those folks in those trades are not doing what makes their hearts sing.  Nor are they skillful in providing the service that we seek and to which they commit.  Nor do they have a clue that they are embarking on a sacred trust in building a nest for families, or that their actions could contribute toward situations which could put families in jeopardy.

Yes, we have met many with tremendous skill.  But we have also borne witness to "short-timers" in the ranks.  We have watched unskilled workers read the instruction books while they are putting in products upon which our safety and welfare are based.  We have watched workers with a numb glaze in their eyes because factors in their personal lives are taking up most of their attention.  It's okay and necessary to focus on one's personal life, just don't do it on our time.  One even came too high on the sauce to work and politely excused himself.  Is this for real?  As the old timers would say, "What is this world coming to?"  Just maybe we are the old timers now.

I admit I had almost thrown my hands up in despair.  Three marvelous beings have come through these doors in recent days and a patch of light is being shed on some tangled darkness in our midst.  I really do want to find our way through this and out of this.  Just maybe, we are doing it after all.

Hearts Sing

Can you even imagine 
a world where each of us 
does what makes our hearts sing?  
Rather than a focus on making 
cash registers ring? 
How did we ever get off on any other trip? 
Better yet, 
how do we get back to 
focusing on making our hearts sing 
the songs we came here to sing? 
~~~~Glinda Crawford, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Edge of Pond

This lovely Leopard Frog on the edge of our new Pond allowed me to take this picture.  Then, poof, she was gone.  (P.S. I don't know if she was boy or girl.)

Take It Easy

I am pleased to report that today is a rainy day.  I don't know how this happens, but heavy gray skies with rain surely do slow down the Human.  When we have been going at high speed out here on the Farm, maybe it is Nature's way of saying:  "Take it easy, my Friend."  Great idea.  I will do my best.

Long and Lean

April 7:

Mačka is getting a little bigger. She is long, lean and quite the hunter. She has had her surgery so that she will not have kittens and she has recovered nicely. She is an outdoor cat and makes her home in the shed.
Mačka is delighted when we Humans come outside. She makes a beeline to be right by our side. She sometimes rubs up against us. Should we reach down to pick her up, she is gone in a blink of the eye. She is fast.

We are pleased to report that she seems accepted by Scamp the Cat. She even caught Scampy a mouse the other day. However, Max the Cat is not so sure.

She seems curious about coming inside. We are not quite ready to bring inside a cat who has not been completely accepted by one of the resident cats. Nor are we ready to bring inside a cat that we cannot catch.

Today is a gray, cold, rainy day. If my guess is "spot on", she is laying on top of the straw bales nestled in the curled up green hose and in the middle of a delicious nap. I shall be catching up on a few things today, and napping sounds like one of them.


It seems a common sickness in these mixed up times when we speak something other than the truth we know in our heart of hearts. It is a common healing to do otherwise. ~~~~Glinda Crawford

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Utility Room

Tomorrow morning, our Amish neighbor who is a carpenter and Richard will be working on putting up shelving in the Utility Room.  Clemens has made the shelving.  I am excited.  They have already completed flooring, paint.  The Bosch washer and dryer are in place.  I still have some decisions yet to make, and I will.  Best be off to bed now.  G'night.

Meditation on Frosts

These last few nights, we have had patchy frosts.  Some things in the garden and yard have taken a hit and others don't seem to.  We won't know for some time the extent of the hit on the fruit crop.  We are hopeful.  Tender Hosta leaves have "melted down".  New grape leaves and stems have melted down too.  Roses are still standing high.  Some of the peas have a few brown leaves.  The potatoes are not happy at all.  Melanie visited with a cousin in town today; they mulched in their potatoes.  Gee, we keep learning.

When weather warms up dramatically as it did earlier and ground temperatures do not cool due to a warmer winter, seasons seem out of sync.  The cold will surely return and it has.  More is coming.  It is comforting to have a bit of what should be April weather.  Yet, things are mixed up and confused.  We are trying to find our place.

Monarch butterflies have been reported on a line from Kansas City to St. Louis.  That is about 90 miles south of here.  I am not sure what Monarchs eat or need early in the season.  I do know that milkweed is a major host plant.  And I do know that these warm season plants are not to be found.  So, should the lovely Monarchs arrive, what would they do after they got here?  I shudder just thinking about it.

When I was growing up, we were supposed to be grateful for the food that was placed before us.  We were not supposed to complain.  And we were supposed to eat anything and everything that the adults had prepared.  We were supposed to adjust.  I don't think it works that way for Monarchs.


While this appears to have little to do with the Farm at first glance, it has everything to do with the Farm and our seeking of meaning of life.  When my very frail elderly Mother was in the Nursing Home those tender 19 months, we managed to connect with some lovely lovely Elders.  (And great staff too.)

But I have to tell you, those 1st visits there were scary.  We had first to acclimate toward Mother being there.  Her transition was a trauma zone for her and for us.  Staff did their best to help those transitions.

And then we looked around.  Some elderly were sitting with little engagement, as if shelved by family and community in some kind of warehouse.  Staff were doing their best and there are no complaints here.  Those folks combined skill and heart to do the best they could.  But what is a visitor/family member to do?

Melanie and I started taking in what I came to call "elementals" into the nursing home.  My intention was to keep my 86 year old Mother connected to the outside world, the world that had been her life a short time before and somehow always would be, whether we chose to affirm it or not. 

In early May, we took in baby chickens straight from the Post Office on our way to the Farm.  We had taken them to Mother's house the 2 years before.  That first year, she and Dad were there; and the next year she was alone.  Of course, we would take them to the Nursing Home!  We weren't sure it was legal and we couldn't exactly sneak in carrying those exuberantly singing peeps.  Upon our arrival, some very magical things happened.  Residents heard them and some wheeled out of their rooms.  Staff went out of their way too.  We heard all kinds of stories and tips.  Some reached out to the chicks where before they just seemed to stare into space.

Over the coming months, we did many things.  We brought Mother home cooked meals and snacks which included recipes from her Mother.  And she loved it.  We brought old fashioned flowers freshly picked.  We brought strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes in season.  I wore my garden hat which provoked all kinds of sharing including:  Roberta said: "My grandmother always wore a bonnet in the garden; it had cardboard slats in the brim."  I brought pictures of the day to day operation of our farm which I posted on Mother's closet door.  Her roommate Lillie said:  "That's my farm."  We brought homemade Molasses which they loved.  The Activities Director even included a field trip to our farm.  The tiny bus with 16 passengers arrived for a 30 minute visit which we packed with garden produce, views of the garden and the chickens, flowers, and Melanie's homemade Molasses cookies.  One lady at the Nursing Home always mentions how special that day was.  Quite by happenstance, I was able to connect a clown camp performance at the Possibility Alliance with Activities at the Nursing Home.  The residents loved it.  And my dear Mother told one of the clowns:  "Don't ever stop.  Keep on doing what you are doing.  There are a lot of sad people in the world."  Mom passed 2 months later.

I don't know how I came to know this.  But I looked around at the sensory stimulation for the residents and noted that the Nursing Home was almost like visiting a foreign country.  I have traveled a good bit before.  My destinations were places that I had chosen and that I was excited about.

Mother fell and wound up in the Nursing Home.  She fell and wound up in a foreign country which was not of her choosing.  Her body was no way near what it had been before.  Furnishings were different.  She couldn't wear any of her old clothes.  Smells were different.  Food was different. Who knows how their chemistry was different from the drugs that they were on? Lights were on all the time.  Noise was constant.  We could also talk about observations of being poked and prodded.  Privacy, which many clung to before, was defined differently.  Television programs seemed programmed to meet younger staff interests rather than those of the residents.

I began to wonder about the effect of such changes on the mental health of residents.  I am a tactile and visual person.  Bringing in elementals was a "natural".  It was fun for me, and for Melanie and me together.  I had to think about what would be important for Mother (and the other residents).  When we came for visits, we didn't dwell on how she felt (although we didn't ignore it either).  We shared, listened, laughed and played.

I remember Waverly who would always go out of her way to connect with us.  Her standard question was "Now what do you have for us today?"  Oh, yes, you could say that we gave a lot.  But it became easy.  And we got back far more in return.

Just recently, I saw the following video, which is a variation of the same theme.  We have so much to learn from our Elders.  And there is so much inside of them, even the silent ones.  We have only to be patient, stop, watch, listen and learn.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


One of my favorite times here on the Farm is when we go on walks, then we head right home and dig into our reference books to find the names of some new found friends.  Knowing their names and their stories seems to strengthen our relationship in Nature and our awe and wonder of the Divine.  We don't always remember the names of our new found friends from year to year.  But we do try.

Little Coats

The tiny little fruits are forming at the base of the spent blossoms.  In this case, those would be Apples. Through Wednesday night, lows are expected in the 30s with patchy frost predicted when it dips the lowest.  Lows put the fruit crop at risk.  I would put little coats on the Apples but I don't have any.  I guess it is a good exercise in faith and letting go.

Benign Neglect

For many years, I have had this habit of overwatering succulents.  They seem to benefit from benign neglect.  It surely takes some getting used to.  I am surely not there yet.  But I am liking the idea more.


 I can only hope and pray that those generations who follow us can say that we walked lightly here. 

Swatches for Kitchen Renovation

I am pleased to report that progress is being made on the kitchen and utility room renovation.  The flooring arrived this week.  The washer and dryer are being shipped.  Our Amish neighbor, Clemens, is working on the shelving for the utility room and soon will begin the cabinetry for the kitchen.  The counter top material should arrive at his shop in about a week.  Yikes.  How can that be?

I have yet to order:  stainless steel sink for the utility room, knobs (which will be antique reproductions), vent over the stove, and lights.  Those decisions should be complete this next week.

The colors of the "swatches" are a little off above.  I'll see if I can get a better photo.  The rooms will be warm, earthy, inviting, backdrop for food and people who will be center stage.  I plan to use touches of rainbow colors for accent, or at least that is the plan for now. 

The above shows samples of the flooring in the lower left hand corner (Marmoleum Click,, light warm oak which will be local wood), Richlite countertop (made of recycled corrugated cardboard, woodpulp and resin,, Safecoat paint (in 3 colors: light spring green, cream, and off white,  Richlite will be transported in full sheet; regular carpentry tools can be used to cut it and round the edges. 

Green Building Supply in Fairfield has been a great help.  Thank all you folks up there.  GBS has been in business for over 2 decades.  They are a "screen" for consumers who want to use more ecologically friendly materials. It's hard to make choices out there.

This has been a long time in coming.  We are eager to see it complete.  The plan is that it will be complete by the time we host Rachel and her family for her graduation from A.T. Still University.  That's May 12.  Isn't life fun?


And on this day, I was cruising in the garden just ahead of the rains.  Gray skies were overhead.  An occasional sprinkle was to be felt.  Although I first thought the sound to be trains 3 miles away, the Thunderbeings were making note.

I looked up with my camera into the corner of the arbor.  The fall clematis that Sarah Saltmarsh gave me is as happy as could be.  While I stood there, I thought: "This would be a perfect spot for a bird to nest."  My eyes kept traveling up.  Look what I found.

Looking Up

One of my latest fascinations is to imagine the view of a small living being on the forest floor.  I am a Human and I stand about 5'4" tall, or at least I did.  I have not checked for some time.  I do know that people tend to get smaller as they age and I am not as young as I once was. But that is not the subject of this writing. 

The subject of this writing is the view that we have of our natural surroundings.  My view is based on my height and the strategic position of my eyes in my head.  Those eyes generally look straight forward at that level and then all around me.  Sometimes I look up and I look down, but that seems less frequent than looking straight ahead and from side to side and all around me.

What if I was smaller?  And I was looking up?  What if I was a mouse, an ant, a violet on the forest floor? This fascination is inspiring some very interesting photos which will be appearing on this little Blog.  At least, they are interesting to me.  These photos will be looking up or looking into interior spaces which are out of the common Human view.  The only prerequisite is that I can fit my hand and my camera into the space.

And what is the above photo?  What do you think, my friend?

I found 2 large trees which had grown very close to each other.  I could not stand between them, but I could hold the camera with the lens pointed up. And this is what the lens saw.

Morel Time

This week, we have found a goodly number of Morel Mushrooms on our Little Farm.  We have found far more than we have in any other year.  Little things make me feel at home and this is surely one of them. 

I loved Morels when I was growing up.  I was intrigued by their funny little shapes.  I was fascinated by how excited the adults were when they found them.  My Dad would have gone out tromping in the woods.  A lot of other Folks had too. 

On closer look, I became fascinated by how those Mushrooms just seem to pop right up from the forest floor.  I was fascinated about that as a kid and I am fascinated about it now too.

2012 Seed and Plant Exchange

The 3rd Annual Seed and Plant Exchange is scheduled for Sat., May 19, 1-3pm, here at the Farm. 

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

Schedule:  1pm:  bring seeds/plants,  volunteers organize seeds/plants; 1:45pm: announcements; 2pm: participants pick up seeds and plants to take home.

Notes on parking/carpooling:  Parking will be on the Lane.  Assistance will be provided to bring plants down our drive.  If you need assistance walking, you can park closer to the event; just come on down the drive.  Be sure to carpool if you can.  Better yet:  bike, ride your horse, hitch up your wagon. The Earth would like that.  

For more information:  check this blog.  In case of rain, the event will be held, Sun., May 20th.  Check this web site for change in date due to rain and further announcements too.

See you soon...

Seed and Plant Exchange 2011
Seed and Plant Exchange 2010

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Warm Summer Day in April

I took these photos on a walkabout around the farm yesterday (April 3).  It was warm and more like summer than an early spring day commonly experienced in these parts.  This is what I saw.

The Autumn Olives are blooming and they look just beautiful.  While cleverly hidden before because most were not mature enough to bloom, they do indeed stand out with their radiant cream colored blossoms against the gray green foliage.  Perhaps they stand out like red flags. 

Autumn Olives, whose home is Asia, were originally introduced in this country in 1830.  Their purposes were as ornamentals (which usually means in gardening circles), as wildlife habitat and as erosion control.  Trouble is that introductions of flora and fauna whose homes are elsewhere often spells disaster for native habitats.  Such species are not at home in their regular habitats where a system of checks and balances evolved over time.  Without that system of controls, they can and often do become invasive weeds, knowing no bounds.

Autumn Olive does produce a wonderful berry in the late fall.  Its soft brilliant red is beautiful on the fall landscape.  Birds love them.  We humans are known to graze them on the landscape too.  Birds move the seeds freely about inadvertently planting even more trees.  There is a spot east of Kirksville where Autumn Olives have nearly choked out all native vegetation. With that comes the loss of flora and fauna who call this place their home.  What were we thinking?  Are we thinking?

I am hopeful that many of these shrubby trees will be removed before the berry season.  I do note that the Missouri Department of Conservation states that "cutting alone should be avoided because it can lead to a thicker, denser stand."

 The circle path on the farm is really greening up.
My elderly Aunt Ruthie sent a basket of tulips to my elderly Mother when she was in the nursing home.  When the flowers were spent, I brought them home and planted them in the garden.  The tulips are blooming while the 2 sisters are now passed.  It makes me smile to see them in our garden as they herald the spring and the beauty that life can bring.
We let lettuce go to seed.  Some folks would say that we are not tidy gardeners.  Well, our beloved teacher and mentor, Mother Nature, is not very tidy either.  It seems in the natural order of things.  She planted those seeds so that we might enjoy lettuce this spring.  Again, I smile.
Just before we sold Mother's house, we gathered violet plantings from the yard.  They were all over.  Mother was not sure where they came from but she did connect them with her Grandmother Matilda Waibel Brenz.  Again, I smile.  I think gardens are seeds for smiles.

Finally, we are getting rhubarb to grow.  We brought this healthy plant down with us from up north when we moved.
 The Garlic in their fluffy beds is quite happy.
We have selectively groomed garden beds.  Not all of them are done.  This little area is just waiting for quiet contemplation and shared companionship over tea.  That's Dad's gooseberry bush on the left.  We moved from their house when Mom was still at home.
The lilacs are blooming in profusion.  It surely is at peak.  The fragrance wraps the house in love.  I took some pictures of the lilacs and wouldn't you know there was a Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly who wanted to be featured too?  I had no idea the butterfly was there.

It is supposed to be colder tonight and tomorrow night.  I wonder how this will affect the plants and all the living organisms. This evening, we walked about the gardens and yard to wrap our hearts of love around these beautiful things.

Soil Temperatures

Soil temperatures in Knox County (which is just to the east of us) were reported at 61-63 degrees on April 3.

Cool and Warm Season Plants: Gardener's Dilemma

Plants, like many Humans, have affinities toward "cool" and "warm".  "Some like it hot, and some like it cold..."  They not only like it best but they do best in either warm or cool (hot or cold).  In fact, it may well make a difference in surviving or not.

If they are cool season plants, they thrive when soils and air temperatures are cool.  This could be either the spring or fall depending on their unique cycle.  Cool season plants get baked in the hot season.  They bolt and go into seed production.  "We gotta get out of here.  Time is short," you can almost hear them say. The gardener watches them shrivel and fade as we go into the hot season.  You can almost see them go into heat prostration.  I know some humans like that too.  Examples of cool season plants would include:  pansies, peas, lettuces, green onions, radishes, potatoes, chamomile, cilantro, asparagus, crocuses, tulips, daffodils.

Warm season plants just love the heat:  "Bring it on."  Warm soil and air temperatures just make them happy.  You can almost feel them wiggle with joy as their roots go deep, their leaves are healthy and vibrant, their flowers bloom in profusion (if it is in their cycle), and look at that fruit (or roots).  Examples of warm season plants include:  tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, cucumbers, okra, sorghum cane, roses, zinnias, marigolds.  And don't forget the sweet potatoes.  They just sit there if the temperatures are not to their liking.

Planting warm and cool season plants out of their special time is a ticket guarunteed to bring in the opposite of what the gardener intends.  The plants just sit there.  They are stressed.  They are more vulnerable to pests and diseases.  And sometimes they just wither and die.

As a gardener, we get pretty eager in the spring.  "Now slow down, Honey," the Earth seems to say.  We used to be tempted to put plants out sooner than it was their time.  Experience taught us that is extra work for the gardener, which is not our cup of tea.

April 25 is the last frost date in these parts based on "past data".  We can still get frost and it still can be cool, but the chances are increasingly remote.  On or about May 10 is usually a marker for safely planting warm season crops.  We head to the garden with our rafts of tomatoes, peppers and the like.  I have been waiting to plant those sweet potatoes until about June 1.  It seems more apt to suit their facy.

Again, all of this is based on "past data", which was a pretty accurate predicter.  Note the word "was".  Times are changing.  Of course, we could always expect subtle variations of weather that were outside the frame, but they were usually quite limited.  With climate change, we are seeing more and more extraordinary weather events including temperatures. 

The recent warm record breaking warm temperatures can tempt the gardener to plant warm season plants too early.  We forget that the cold can come back, which it is supposed to the next few days.  Tomorrow's low is predicted at 34 degrees.  I found 35 degrees on NOAA and I like that a little better.

Unusual temperatures do put the gardener in some kind of dilemma.  "When on Earth should I plant anyway?"   Are the warm temperatures here to stay?  Should I plant half of my warm season crops (including plants and seeds), knowing full well that I could lose them?

Our letter carrier said he planted tomatoes this weekend.  He said he would be covering them over the coming days.  I suggested he might want to put coats on them.  For us, we are resisting the urge, knowing that the ground is still cold.  It is a risk no matter how you look at it.

The rules are changing.  And the gardener needs to be ever sensitive to those rules and the fact that s/he isn't quite sure what the new rules are.  In the meantime, we have all of our plants for transplanting inside (except the leeks and the cabbages).  They may come inside too.  They had all been outside these past few days and they were luxuriating in the moderate to warm temperatures.  I must say however, that the 3 gardeners who reside here (and probably the plants too) were more than a little confused at the weather outside the "frame". 

On this night, I must not forget the Rosemary.  This little potted "shrub" will not be happy if the temperatures dip outside her range.  If something happens to her, I won't be happy either.

And so it goes, out here on the Farm.  I suppose that similar stories are being written these days by anyone who grows food.

Record High Temperatures

Over 7500 high temperatures across the U.S. were broken in March 2012.  Climate change, anyone?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Edgy and Trusting

The weather has been unusually warm and unusually early.  Richard's calendar gives us a sampling of how things are shaping up compared to last year:

1st Crawfish Frogs heard: last year: April 3; this year March 21
Superior Plum full bloom: last year: April 10; this year: March 18
1st Lawn mowing: last year: April 11; this year: March 19
1st Morels: last year: April 24; this year: April 1
1st Carpenter Bee: last year: May 9; this year: March 30
1st Yellow Billed Cuckoo: last year: May 11; this year: March 17

The naysayers on climate change seem a little low key these days.  Or rather, they are not getting their usual press.  Maybe those few who are forcing that agenda have actually looked outside their office high rises or their gleaming insulated mansions or brought their heads out of the sand to see what is happening beyond their own self interest. Forgive me, but such contrivings will surely fall the way of those who steadfastly held to the "Earth is flat".  Letting go of such fantasies can happen none too soon. We are running out of time to turn this puppy around.

Climate is changing in a big way.  No part of life will be unaffected.  As Bill McKibben has termed we are finding ourselves on a "tough new planet".  People who grow food will have their ears to the ground on this one. People who buy food at the grocery store may not see it at first.  But our ability to produce food in the usual way is changing and likely will change even more.

Many ordinary folk down here trying to grow their own food are a little edgy. While the weather has been largely beautiful by any standard, its early nature has meant that the spring is moving faster.  Was today's high of 86 spring or was it summer?  We know that it could just as easily get cold.  We aren't talking about those things.  Fruit trees are in full flower or past.  A frost now would destroy the year's fruit crop and let's not forget the damage that can be done too.  Shhhh....

Thursday's low is forecast at 34 degrees and next Monday's forecast is 36.  Edgy seems appropriate.  But trust comes in too.  We trust the Divine has a plan and that we each have important roles in it.


March 18:

Hummin'... The recent warm weather meant that the Austrees (a form of Willow) "popped" with their sunny yellow Catkins. And with them, the Bees came. All the trees are hummin...