Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's Happening

We don't have television here.  Yes, we do have internet.  But the television is long gone.  He received his termination papers in the mid 90s, so you can see we are pretty serious about it.  We had come to conclude that television added little to our lives.

So what comes natural to us is to be outside and to look outside.  We go for walks every day.  We note "what's up" with nature.  Every day marks a subtle shift in the turning of the wheel from the day before.  We just don't want to miss anything.  These are things that we noted today:
  • One variety of peas is in decline.  Richard pulled them out.
  • I noted poison ivy growing near a fence post in the chicken pen.  That will have to go.
  • The Bees are noticeably quiet today.  What are they doing in there?  Probably the same thing the humans have been doing inside today.
  • A baby Cardinal was wondering if he had flown the nest a little soon.  The parents were letting us know we were a little close. We moved on.
  • Pond seems to have gone down.
  • What is that hole in the ground in the middle of the path?  Richard and I looked down.  White "litter" was about.  We concluded the site must have been a Turtle Nest.  We don't know how to tell if the nest was successful.  But you should have seen us.  We were all upside down examining this amazing find.  The "white litter" were the shells.  How many times have we walked that path right over the turtle's nest.
  • Elderberries are blooming.  Their large clusters of small white flowers are simply gorgeous.  In the waning light of evening, those flowers stood out like beacons against the dark woods.
  • Wild cherries are ripening.  Melanie said that if you discover them to be ripe, you should harvest them soon.  Otherwise, the birds will beat you to it.  Gone...
  • Mr. Dickcissel was singing. He's new company in these parts.

1st Day of School

Julia and Mike stopped by for a visit today.  They are building just about 2 1/2 miles to the south of us.  I noted that we had moved here 5 years ago.  And Julia looked around saying:  "But you look so established." 

I chuckled.  "Maybe so, but every day is still like the first day of school."  We have learned so much, but it is infinitely small in relation to that which we would need to know. 

I am grateful and I believe that we are deeply blessed to have been able to accomplish what we have in these whirlwind 5 years.  However, it seems a situation that the more you know the less you know.  And, Dear Friend and Fellow Traveler on Life's Journeys, I am more and more comfortable with that.


After dinner tonight, we headed out into the damp moist gray evening air.  While we intended to make the loop around the Farm (which we did), our prime focus was dessert. 

Those glorious Black Raspberries are getting ripe.  I am sure that we must have been quite the picture heading into the tall vegetation and taking up our spots beside the Black Raspberry bushes.  Yum. 

Cool and Moist Day

These past 24 hours, we were projected to have 70 per cent chance of rain.  Yes, we have had rain.  It was been a dark, dreary day almost like walking through a cloud.  We did have a shower early this morning, but it did not last long.  Our official rain gauge (which is a pottery cup) showed about 1/4 inch.  Rain is still possible for this evening. 

Gee whiz, do we need rain.  The cool and moist day has been a respite and we are grateful for what we have received, but we do indeed need more.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


It was a lovely day on the Farm today.  The heat has mellowed.  It should be cooling these next 3 days.  And beginning tomorrow evening, the chances for rain should be increasing.

Richard did peas today:  sugar snap and shell.  I worked on laundry.  I just love it when the wash comes in off the line smelling like sunshine.  Should make for some good sleeping tonight.

Watering is taking time since it has been so dry.  I worked on stemming Gooseberries.  I also did a wonderful "loop around the farm" sampling black raspberries wherever I went.  They will be coming in soon.

We still have planting to do.  But the harvest is picking up.  Each and every veggie or fruit which needs harvesting and preserving is a marker of the turning of the Great Wheel.  Today we had new Peas and Potatoes for the first time.  That is indeed a marker. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

I am trying at this season to stay focused on the "present moment".  If I look ahead and think of all the things that must get done, I can get a little crazy.  There is no point in that.  As Richard says, we will get done what we get done.  Now that is a good idea.  In the meantime, I am just seeming to enjoy the task and moment at hand.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tonight's Dinner

Tonight's dinner consisted of Salmon Salad on a bed of greens with strawberries and black raspberries.  The whole meal just smiled up at us.  Most of it was from the farm.  Of course, the Salmon was not; however it was in a can which had been in the cupboard for a very long time.  Celery, sunflower seeds, and mayonnaise were not from the farm.  Green onions, scapes (tops on garlic), sugar snap peas, and the fruit were.

A Small Rain

Today was a busy day.  It was a "fruit day" so Richard and I were moving about preparing gardening beds and planting seeds.  I planted Sunflowers and Indian Corn.  I am pleased to report that I shall be done with my planting soon.  When the Sweet Potatoes go in later on this week, I should be close to done.  That is a great feeling.

It is hard at this season to still be planting when some crops are ready for harvest and preservation.  Plus, others need weeding.  It's like having a whole lot of kids out there and each one needs attention for their own good reasons.

Richard's nephew Hollis Dale came over in the afternoon to mow.  We are always grateful for his help.  It is a great relief for Richard too.  This time, he mowed the new configuration of paths in the area of the pond.

He and Richard talked about the Stukey Cemetery, which is where some of the early settlers around Millard are buried (including Richard's family). Richard's great grandparents were Abel and Mandana Cowen Cunningham Stukey.  To the family's dismay, the Stukey Cemetery had been "rough mowed".  Trees and shrubs were growing up.  Some of the tombstones need attention.  When we were there, Richard dug out 3 tombstones from the mid 1800s, all of which mark graves of family members in his direct ancestral line (or a branch of the tree).  Hollis Dale went over to mow the Stukey Cemetery after he was here and it sounds like he will be mowing there (and cleaning up) the rest of the summer and fall.  That feels really good.

By late afternoon, the Bees needed another quart of sugar water.  I made the sugar water and when it had dissolved, Richard and I both changed into our Bee Ware.  That means long pants and long sleeved shirt.  I suited up in the Bee Suit and we walked to the Bee Yard.   Richard and I do this together and it goes considerably faster.  He held the full quart of sugar water while I approached the hive.  I took the empty quart and carefully walked back to Richard.  He unscrewed the perforated lid and placed it on the full quart.  I then walked carefully back to the hive and inserted the quart jar in its spot.  We then walked back to the garage and house.  Since it was a hot day, I was unpeeling parts of my Bee Suit.

Thundershowers were possible in the morning and afternoon.  Since it is so dry in these parts, we are praying for rain.  We had a few drops in the morning but that was it.  By late afternoon, I had wash on the line and Richard was out picking strawberries.  The rains came.  It didn't amount to much.  We got less than 1/8 inch.  Another 1/3 was added to each of the Rain Barrels.  We aren't complaining.  We will take whatever we can get.  More rain is in the forecast by the end of the week.

The rain sure gave my clothes a nice rainwater rinse.  My plans for fresh sheets on the bed were put on hold.  Richard was soaked.  Fortunately he was out in the garden and he could hear the scared and frantic peeps of the baby chickens who are now about 5 weeks old.  They were all piled up in a corner of their pen.  Richard said they were about 3 deep.  If he had not found them quickly and escorted them to their house, we would have lost a substantial number.  When this happens, the ones on the bottom can easily smother.  They must have gotten caught out in the rain and did not know what to do. 

The rains stopped almost as quickly as they started.  We had dinner on the west porch because the chairs were dry.  Afterwards, we hulled the strawberries and put them in the freezer. 

Temperatures rolled in cool with the rain.  So I turned off the air conditioning (which I do not like to use) and opened the windows to cool the place down.

Moving Slowly

May 20:

On this sleepy day after the wonderful Seed and Plant Exchange yesterday, some of us are moving a little more slowly than we have these past few weeks. I really didn't know I could move at such speed and so consistently for such a long spell.

Melanie fixed a great Egg Bake for our brunch. She noted as we often do that it is hard to take credit for such culinary delights from the wonder the Earth provides.

With little buckets in hand, Noah and Emily headed out to "Strawberry Hill", bringing back a bowl full of Wild Strawberries for our nibbling today. They said the field was just covered. Yum.

The first round of naps is just about to begin.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It Could Well Be a Bumper Berry Year

If things go the way they look, this could be an extraordinary Berry Year.  Stay tuned. 

Strawberries (wild and cultivated) are ending.  I should note that the cultivated crop has been okay, but not prolific. We believe that the cold temperatures and frost late in the season surely took their toll.  Wild strawberries have been very abundant.  Should you come for a walk with me, we could still graze, but don't wait too long.

However, the berry seasons coming up look to be extraordinary.  Black Raspberries are just about ready to pick.  The last 2 nights we have gotten 2 hand fulls.  They are so yummy.  The vines are loaded.  Blackberries and Dewberries are blooming. And they seem to be everywhere.

Yesterday, we went to the Memorial Day picnic at Fort Madison Cemetery.  One of the ladies, who grew up with Mother, was noting that wild Blackberries are far better than cultivated.  I thought that was very interesting.  "Take note."

New Bees

OK, Melanie brings Bees home Friday night, and Saturday (after Memorial Day celebrations) she is off to Iowa City to be with Dave and the kids. Yikes, I feel like we were left home with the "Ba-Bees". I learned many years ago that one's child has a knack of introducing all kinds of unexpected treasures into one's life.

Early last evening, to my dismay, Richard and I discovered the Bees had eaten themselves through their sugar water. That meant that I needed to remove the jar and fill it. It had to be me because I fit into the Bee Suit. Richard didn't.  He tried.

I did some calling (to Melanie and a master Beekeeper in the area).  I was advised to wait until about 7:30 ish this morning.  I guess Bees can be grumpy and defensive after they go to bed.  I know some humans like that.  

So at 8 a.m. this morning, I donned the Bee Suit and headed out with the sugar water in the quart jar to the "Bee Yard".  Richard was waiting patiently in the wings to assist with changing the jar lid.  I walked in from the side.  Apparently walking straight in sometimes means Bees go on the defensive.  I didn't make any sudden movements.  

I am proud to report that I did it! We did it! Those New Bees are so sweet. They are just amazing. In fact, I found the whole thing enchanting. The Bees looked "so new".  I guess all of us were New Bees or Newbies.

Friday, May 25, 2012


We need Rain.


As I clatter away at these keys, Melanie is picking up Bees from the "Honey People" to bring home to our very own hive right here at the Farm.  She will be our Farm's Bee Keeper.  
The learning curve just keeps going up.  I continue to be amazed at how much small Farmers knew and must know.  I see this every time we interact with friends who are small Farmers and our Amish neighbors.  I see this every time we open the door to start a new day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Decorating Graves

Today we had the best day. We gathered up flowers and tools, and headed to 5 cemeteries to reflect on family (friends and community), clean and "decorate" graves. (I even took a few strawberries.) This is a practice we could not do all those years we lived so far away.
Two of the cemeteries are ones we normally do not visit and are resting places of Richard's great great grandparents. One cemetery is old, out of the way, rough mowed. Richard dug out the face of 3 stones which had fallen over and were sinking down under grass and soil. Who are you? What are the stories you have to tell that are important for us to hear now?
On Saturday, we head to Ft. Madison Cemetery which is in the northeast part of our county.  My female line going back to my great great grandmother Catherine Powell South is there.  The community has re-instituted a "Memorial Day Picnic" where we share pictures, stories, and a meal of traditional foods.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Solar Eclipse

O.K., we just don't want to miss anything here on the Farm.  Sometimes, we don't have the most sophisticated technology at our finger tips but we usually can improvise something.

Yesterday marked the Solar Eclipse, where the Moon hides some of the face of the Sun.  It was not a full Eclipse in these parts but it was pretty substantial.  I checked times.  The Eclipse was to begin about 7:30pm as the Sun was dipping toward the western horizon.  Peak was 8:30pm.  Sunset, for us, was 8:24pm. 

While I was doing some research, Melanie and Noah made a fantastic East Indian Meal.  I punched 3 holes in index cards (a pin hole, a tack hole, and a hole punch). It became quickly obvious that our plans for Solar viewing needed a little tweaking.  We started out eating on the west porch, but the trees meant we were sitting in dappled shade.  My hole punches were not exactly statements of perfection.  Was that divet the Eclipse or was it simply a product of my creative hole punching skills?  Quickly, things began to change.  I suggested that we find other objects with small standard round holes.  Emily and I were on search and find mode.  She grabbed the strainer and I grabbed one of my best kitchen friends, the large collander.  I also suggested we eat our dinner on the west face of the white garage which was in full view of the Sun.  Off we went.

The experimenting began.  Sure enough, each of those round holes had exactly the same cut-out where the Moon was slipping over the face of the Sun.  We just couldn't believe it. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Snapshots of the 3rd Annual Seed and Plant Exchange

The 3rd Annual Seed and Plant Exchange was yesterday and it was very special indeed.  These are some snapshots of the event.

As we prepared for this event, I remembered the words and wisdom of the Keeper of the Mayan Calendar whom I heard speak last summer. He noted that in these times, we need to do 3 things:  have a blessing of the seeds as we begin to plant, keep seed banks, and hold seed and plant exchanges.  He also told us to be sure to involve the children.  Perhaps, not by coincidence, 6 of the 7 bean seeds that he gave me came up in the garden today.

During the days leading up to the event, we were busy planting, weeding, cleaning.  The Farm was a whirlwind of activity.  Gardening Angels Emily and Noah appeared these last 2 weeks.  Among the countless things they have done, perhaps their most courageous was to spearhead cleaning the garage.  Yikes. That was Friday.  Our Homestead Community spent Monday making 6 Aldo Leopold benches, removing trees, weeding, potting up plants.  I must not forget that Hollis, Hollis Dale, and Dave came to till and plant the Sorghum Cane on Tuesday.  While they were twirling about on their tractors, Whitley started decorating the cement pad with sidewalk chalk; pond, rose, water, rainbow, sun were right there to greet anyone who might arrive. Hollis Dale, Lurah, and MaLinda came to help with mowing, weeding, potting up plants.  Dave came from Iowa City each of the last 2 weekends.  This weekend Isabel came too.  He and Melanie planted upwards of 75 trees and shrubs in the corner of the land that will become her own.  Isabel used sidewalk chalk to brighten the cement pad in front of the house.  My head spins thinking about all of it.

The day of the Seed and Plant Exchange arrived.  Ahead of the event, it seemed like an every day ordinary day here on the Farm, but we had this air of "expectancy".  At 12:30, the 1st two arrived.  And as the clock struck "1" somewhere in town, we had this burst of arrivals coming down the drive. All told, we had about 70 people.  While the number and variety of plants may have been slightly less, the sense of community and enjoyed time together was just amazing.  It was simply beautiful.

Some of the participants from the past could not make it and we all regretted that.  That's the way it goes.  We saw many familiar and new faces.  Cindy and Steve came down from Lancaster.  It was great to have them on the Farm.  Children helped carry plants in with wheel barrows, cart, and wagon.  Their exuberance was just beautiful.  They just kept coming down the drive with more loads.  The loads were as wide as their smiles. 

We got to bear witness to the growing of the children, the settling in of the homesteaders, and the arrival of more.  Oakley has just turned 1 and, out of the corner of my eye, I noted that he was walking on his dad's hand.  Abby is driving.  I just love it when I see blankets on the lawn and children playing. Memories abound. Bikes were parked along the garage.  That old Schwin is mine.  It didn't arrive down the drive on this day, but rather migrated from the garage to clear a little space.  I really do need to be riding this more.

When almost all the people and the plants had arrived, Matt and Sarah and who knows who else organized plants into categories.  Melanie and I shared some announcements and then folks headed back into the garage to pick out the plants that they would be taking home.  Adults and children were picking out plants.  Six year old Elzi asked me about the Lantern Plant, of which I know nothing.  She looked at me and said, "I shall plant one in the shade and one in the sun."  I just smiled.

In the meantime, music wafted out from the gathering place under the willows.  People didn't seem to be in any particularly hurry to leave.  We had great conversations.  I took some on tours of our new kitchen.  Other just walked about among the gardens and lawn.  It was a time to share time and space with old friends and with new. 

Time to close down just naturally arrived.  People waited for the signal and pitched in as we took it down and restored a bit of the previous order.  Amanda announced that if anyone was going back by wagon, the horses were just about to leave.  Some jumped on to ride just part of the way. Melanie and Dave rode back to pick up the signs. 

Soon, the Farm was quiet again.  Sheri and Matt stayed to the end.  As per usual, they were the 1st to arrive and the last to leave.  As their car headed back down the lane, we smiled.  Mission accomplished.  These last few weeks have been intense with various things.  I think it will settle a bit now.  We shall wait and see.

Great Explorations

While I clatter away at these keys prepping photos for an entry on the Seed and Plant Exchange, Noah and Melanie are working on an East Indian meal for our dinner.  Chop chop chop. Sizzle. Sizzle. I think a Strawberry Cake may be in the works too. I have often thought that a scratch and sniff function on this blog might be appropriate, but it would have to be the "real deal".  I would share with you no less.

The last few days I have had fluid in my left ear so the hearing is a little off on that side.  But there is no mistaking.  In the middle of meal preparation, I hear some philosophizing going on out there in the kitchen.  Kitchens are great places to explore the meaning of life and our place in it.  Yes, I have done and cherished the same.  If those kitchen walls could talk, I am sure they would have to share some great explorations on the subject of life.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seed and Plant Exchange Tomorrow

We are pretty excited in these parts.  The Seed and Plant Exchange is tomorrow.  It was flurry of activity around here today.  Richard got the Medicine Wheel Garden all ready for planting before I even thought about getting up.

Lurah and MaLinda came, joining Emily and me in weeding the front flower beds.  They sure are beautiful, and I think they are happier too.

Noah was moving stuff about, putting things into their places.  Places, everyone!

Hollis Dale came. He and Richard did the mowing.  Richard did the edges around the house, setting aside clippings to cover soil in the flower beds. Hollis Dale asked if it was time to mow the daffodils.  Yes.  He did the big stuff, of which there is plenty.  Hollis Dale was buzzing about on his lawn mower.  He came to a dead stop just behind Emily and me.  I wasn't sure what he was up to.  He got off the lawn mower and walked to the front of it.  He reached down and picked up a toad.  Then he placed it in one of the flower beds and out of the way.  I just smiled. I think the toad smiled too.

Melanie was inside on this day cleaning the house and making lunch.  Richard and Melanie made dinner.  Noah, Emily and I headed to the garage to tidy up for tomorrow.  That, my dear friends, was a very big job.  You see, our garage is full.  I sense that we are going to be "releasing" some things when the Seed and Plant Exchange is over.  I am happy to report that the garage now has a little more serenity, peace, and order.  It is happy to report that it is ready for set up of the Seed and Plant Exchange tomorrow.

Dave and Isabelle arrived.  Dave pulled out his dulcimer and played some wonderful music which wafted over the farm. We had dinner.

I headed back to the garage to clean off the tables and get a feel of the place.  Noah closed things up.  Emily is "prepping" food for tomorrow.  We are going to meet briefly to get our thoughts together for tomorrow.  Thoughts are when to shower are coming up.

We have several folks who will be coming early to set up.  And, dear friends, the Seed and Plant Exchange begins at 1pm tomorrow.  Sweet.  That's probably a lovely way to celebrate our 5 year anniversary of being on this little farm.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

We are very busy these days getting ready for the Seed and Plant Exchange.  Work party from the community was here on Monday.  Throughout, Noah and Emily are working along side and Lurah has been joining us too.  We are zeroing in on this very special day.

Camera Re-Charger Found

OK:  My trusty camera is pretty essential around here as I document the happenings.  Battery was "no-go".  Re-charging was essential but the re-charger was absolutely nowhere to be found. We have looked high and low.  The Seed and Plant Exchange is coming up, so this was becoming a "serious" matter necessitating energies of all of us.

I suggested we invoke the spirit of "St. Anthony", the patron saint of lost objects.  We were buzzing about calling on St. Anthony to guide us in our quest, at which point, Melanie said that the re-charger was really not lost.  She checked the drawer where it is normally stored.  She and I had checked this drawer at least a half dozen times before.  And there it was!  It was at the very back of the new drawer which is at least 4 inches longer than the previous drawer.  So I had not even thought to look that far.

I think the camera just needed a little rest during these very busy times.  And so, rest it got.  It is now recharged, restored and ready for action. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My camera, which is my trusty companion, is taking a little break.  You see, the battery went low.  And I haven't been able to find the battery recharger.  I suspect that with the kitchen re-do, it was placed in a temporary spot.  It's probably within arm's reach.  And it is probably calling out to me.  But I just haven't quite heard it yet.  So for now, I am taking a break from taking pictures.

Getting Ready

These days, we are getting ready for the Seed and Plant Exchange.  That also includes the regular garden planting at this Season.  It's kind of a flurry of activity around here.

Hollis, Hollis Dale, David, and Whitley came to till the soil and plant the cane yesterday.  I was amazed at the precision of Hollis Dale and David's work on those 2 tractors.  It was beautiful to see. I can hardly believe that this is our 9th season in making Sorghum Molasses.  In the meantime, Whitley used chalk to draw pictures on the front cement pad.  That was sweet.  After they were gone, Melanie and Dave planted trees and shrubs on Tuesday before he took off. 

Today, things were a buzz around here.  Or was it a blur?  It was an "accelerated fruit day" so Emily, Richard, Noah and I planted my dry Edible Beans.  I got them all ready to plant and we headed right out to the space.  Emily and I planted while Richard and Noah smoothed beds, hoed rows for seeds, staked rows, covered rows with soil.  One of my favorite customs that Richard and I have developed over time is that I plant the seeds, he prepares the soil and covers the rows.  Sometimes I sing to the seeds that lovely song by Peter, Paul and Mary "Inch by Inch, Row by Row".  Emily was singing too.

Melanie took care of groceries for Saturday.  We should be all set.  We also let neighbors know about the Seed and Plant Exchange, especially those we had yet to contact.  We hope to have the new mailbox up and our neighbor, who is a lifelong sign maker, is going to do the lettering by hand.  We are tickled about that.

Noah, Emily and Richard planted Peppers.  Noah cleaned up the wheelbarrows and wagons.  He also brought the big plants out into the garden.  And he brought out the bird baths too.  At long last, I think we are going to be ready for the warm summer season. Lurah came over and helped Melanie and me prepare plants for giving away at the Seed and Plant Exchange.  That was wonderful to share time and space with Lurah too.  In the meantime, Emily put the "rainbow ribbons" up around the garden.  They look really pretty.

Richard made a lovely dinner and we settled in for a quiet evening.  Quiet evenings are good.

Monday, May 14, 2012


The Farm was a crossroads this weekend.  Rachel came from Argentina via Indiana on her way to Rochester, NY. Her parents Joe and Kathy came from northern Indiana.  Cote came from Chile via northern Indiana where she is an exchange student with Rachel's family. When they left the Farm this morning, they headed down to see Joni in Columbia. Dave came down from Iowa City.  Noah was coming from Georgia while Emily was from Michigan, via many in betweens, with more ahead.

This was the weekend of Rachel's graduation as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.  Her graduation date also marked our arrival on this little Farm 5 years ago.  She was one of the first that we met after our arrival which now seems like many life times ago.  Her interests in the Earth, Peace, Justice, Living Simply dovetailed with our own.  We started talking and will never stop.  We became her "Farm Family".  Her Dad had suggested that if she was to succeed in Medical School, she needed to have a farm nearby.  We were that Farm.  Her retreats to it meant just as much to us. Their arrival on the Farm was a perfect celebration for the new Kitchen.  And today was Mother's Day.  How fitting.  

No celebration is complete without a special meal.  Melanie spearheaded the meal featuring many of Rachel's favorite foods from here on the Farm: Barbecued Chicken (with Richard's homemade sauce), Kale Salad, Sweet Potato and Regular Potato Fries with Aoli, Lettuce Salad picked fresh from the garden with Avocados Dave had brought down, Fresh Baked Bread that Dave brought from the Co-op in Iowa City.  Cote and I set the table and picked flowers too.
During lulls, we headed out for excursions on to the Farm.  Of course, they wanted to see the baby chickens.

At last, the dinner was done.  Melanie and Dave patiently waited for us to arrive and find our places at the table.  What a treasured time.
 Afterwards, Melanie and Joe made homemade Ice Cream.
 In the meantime, Dave played his Dulcimer.  The lovely sounds wafted out across the landscape.
 Dessert included Vanilla Ice Cream, Fruit Sauce, and Lemon Curd.  I think these things must be served in Heaven too.
This morning we took time for a few pictures to mark this very special time we shared and to celebrate a beautiful friendship that has unfolded.
Moms and Daughters gathered for a photo on this Mother's Day.  Rachel reminded us that the last time we took a photo, the photo included Rachel, Melanie, Mom and me.  How the time flies and how things change.

Richard let the Baby Chicks out today.  These are some of their first days outside into the big world.  I suppose this marks some new steps into the world that had not been envisioned before.  They too are at their own crossroads.
Emily and Noah returned and were soon on the phone calling Moms, Grandma, sister (who is a new Mom) on this Mother's Day.  Life is so good down here on the Farm. We know where we have come from, but we too are at a crossroads.  I suppose that's what life is all about.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Work Party Tomorrow

Tomorrow, folks from 6 Farms in our Homestead Community will be joining us for our monthly "work party".  This time it is at our Farm.  We will be getting ready for the Seed and Plant Exchange and of course the spring gardening season.  Tasks lined up include:  making Aldo Leopold Benches, weeding gardens, making paths, removing tree seedlings, and potting plants for the Seed and Plant Exchange.    Emily and Noah are taking care of lunch and I am sure the crew will be hungry.

It will be busy like a bee hive around here.We could have as many as 17 people.  It is always fun when neighbors and friends get together.  It is just amazing that folks will "drop everything" during a very busy time to help another out.  All that help is a big blessing too.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cardboard Egg Cartons Needed

Egg production of our Hennies is up. If you are in the area, we could sure use cardboard egg cartons in good condition. 
We don't use styrofoam, which takes 500 (+ or -) years to biodegrade. Just imagine if those early immigrants to what they called the "New World" (and everyone since) had used styrofoam. We'd be sitting in piles of their peculiar waste.  And yet, my Friend, that's the trail we "advanced" (and I might add self absorbed) ones are leaving at this time. 
It's a path my family and I try hard to leave.  We aren't perfect but we try. Cardboard egg cartons are a marker of that effort.


When I was growing up in the Judao-Christian heritage, we small ones were taught by the big people in our lives to "love".  We were continually reminded that "God is love". And we learned to sing with our childlike exuberance the song: "Jesus Loves the Little Children".  I always felt a "rosy glow" in singing or hearing that beloved song. I still do.

When I grew up, I discovered many adults practiced something different.  The child in me and the adult that I had become were perplexed.  Somehow it had become okay to classify people into different groups: those you love, those that are different, those you fear, those you hate. Those who were different progressed along a path which turned to fear and then to hate.

Just yesterday, someone I know only remotely told me a joke about a cultural group which was different.  When people are objectified and ridiculed, the beauty that they bring to this world cannot be seen or felt by the other.  As I age, I find it much easier simply to "accept".  I also find it intriguing to get to know someone who is different from myself.  That difference is at the heart of an expression of a myriad of colors which make up our Human Rainbow. And underneath, I find so many things in common too.

We Humans have some work to do to become all that we were meant to be. Life is a lot easier and more beautiful when we live each moment from a foundation of Love.  Is not that the way we were intended?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whirlwind Week

It's been a whirlwind week and it is only Thursday.  Richard wondered if he could clone himself.  There is much to do.  We seem to be flying.  Help has arrived too. Life seems to be filled with comings and goings.  Was it Kermit the Frog that said that?  The following pictures are glimpses of this part of the week.  They are in chronological order.

Last week, we brought home on trial a 9 month old puppy who, as a stray, had been starving 3 weeks before. I would have liked to have reported that it all worked out fine.  But it didn't.  Sami is a sweet dog who I think under the right circumstances would thrive.  He had some needs that we just weren't prepared to address.  Plus our lives are intense right now with construction and the beginning of gardening season at peak. I do think that he is and was a great teacher and that he will help us be better prepared for that special dog who makes his/her home here.  Earlier in the week, we headed to the Humane Society with Sami, his treasures, prayers that he would find just what he needs.

Baby Chicks are growing.  After a little over a week here, they were ready to go to their big house.  That is always a charming time.  We have our own little parade out here on the Farm.

Flowers are blooming.  Columbines look like ballerinas dancing in the breeze. Spider Wort is blooming in my flower beds.  I even saw some Spider Wort blooming out on the Meadow near "Cedar Island".

Two Gardening Angels joined us.  I just smile when I think about it.  They are kindred spirits on their paths of growing and discovery during these amazing times. Their quiet and gentle presence has made a wonderful background of support and companionship.  Here, Noah and Emily are helping to transplant Herb seedlings.

And of course, we are in high gear with the kitchen renovation.  Clemens brought over cabinetry on Monday.  He, his son Joseph, and Richard carefully installed the cabinetry.  As per usual, Clemens used his skills and watchful eye to bring the work together.

Afterwards, Melanie walked through in awe.  She commented that is so uncommon these days to see work that is handmade, from someone who is skilled and who cares about their work.  She hadn't even known that was possible. That surely is a statement on our times.
The Lazy Susan is almost set to handle very important future challenges here on the Farm.  Bearings allow 1000 pounds of weight, which we don't think would happen here.  But if it did, we would be prepared.

I would be remiss not to note that we have had considerable traffic here this week particularly with the kitchen re-do but others also: electrician, plumbers, propane inspector (and delivery), furnace/air conditioning regular maintenance.  Richard has borrowed Hollis' truck which has helped with the move of the cabinetry and counter top. We have been "camping" inside to get the regular work of feeding done.  Changing a kitchen is probably one of the most disruptive remodeling challenges that I can imagine.  Some days, I either forgot to eat or the food just was not available.  Never mind the sink is in a different place and all things are stored in new locations. Fortunately, the disruption is short term.
Peonies are blooming in profusion.  This is the first year we have had quite this show.  All of the plants are transplants.  Some are from Mother, one is from Deborah, and I purchased 2 from an old style nursery as a result of answers to my question:  "What would the Grandmothers have grown?"  I think I have succeeded somewhat in my goal to create a Grandmother's flower garden.  One of the plumbers who came today said the yard reminded him of such relatives.
Copper Irises are blooming in the dwindling light of early evening. I love these Irises.  They were a gift from Sarah Saltmarsh, and they seem very happy here.  The plan is that plugs of Native Plants will be put in other places on the property.  It's on the list of "to do's" anyway. Some day. Not today.
Emily and Noah's time here has been quiet and supportive, both of them to us and of us to them.  They are both fasting. Building in ample time for rest and support, they have been spending time gently weeding in the big garden. Gentle presences in the Garden and on this Farm are a comfort to all.  In the meantime, the flurry of activity in the house is in high gear. Balance is good.
On this day, plumbers hooked up the sink. Yippee skippee.  Is this for real?  It sure doesn't feel like it. Richard put the top coat on the Richlite counter top.  It is just simply gorgeous. We are getting stuff put away.  That will take a while.  My plan is to cull and clean as we put away.
Today was "fruit day".  I would like to say I planted all of my Dry Edible Beans, but I didn't, so I can't. I did the next best thing, or perhaps the best thing.  Last summer, I attended the Indigenous Environmental Network meeting on Ft. Berthold Reservation (in what is now known as North Dakota).  I had the great privilege of hearing the Keeper of the Mayan calendar speak.  Among other things, he talked about 3 essential things for us to do in these times:  (1) have seed exchanges, (2) create seed banks, (3) bless the seeds.  At the close of one of his presentations, he passed out Bean Seeds to each of us.  I got 7, representing 2 varieties.  On this day, we planted them in our Garden. Sacred time.

Rachel should have arrived in the area today.  Dear Rachel is graduating from A.T. Still University with her D.O. degree.  That makes me smile.  We are hosting Rachel and her family this weekend.  The whirlwind week continues.

In the meantime, we are making strides toward the "work party" date at our house on Monday and the Seed and Plant Exchange May 19.  Life is beautiful, rich and full.  Rest is essential.  I am headed to bed.


May 5:

Irises are in full bloom and they are radiant. They seem to be blooming about 2-3 weeks ahead of a more normal time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Counter Top

Counter Top has arrived.  The big piece is being installed as I clatter away at these keys.  Can you hear the tap tap tap?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Counter Top will be installed tomorrow.  That means electrician and plumber will hopefully be soon to follow.

We Tried...

We tried. But it did not work out. Many of you noted (and were overjoyed as were we) with the recent addition of a puppy (Sam) to our little Farm.  We knew that Sam was a rescue animal (a stray with an unknown past who 3-4 weeks ago was starving). We seriously planned to have him in our family for a very long time.

Sam is a really sweet dog who under the right circumstances I believe would thrive. However, it became quickly apparent Sam had needs we could not address.  That was especially apparent in this season of re-do of the kitchen (contractors coming and going), intensive nature of putting in garden at this time, our traffic of visitors and gardening angels. I could detail the challenges but it is not important here.  We did not have the energy to commit to his care.

So Richard and I headed off to the Humane Society this morning with Sam and his bundle of treasures. The Humane Society here does not have a "no kill" policy although some of the dogs at the kennel have been there upwards of 3 years or more. I was impressed by the ambience of what I saw (garden plantings, shade for kennels, fresh smell, lots of space for running and playing). It is a shelter, of course.

If you would like, I would ask you offer a little prayer for Sam (Sami) that he may find the special individual/family that he is looking for and gratitude for all the lessons that he offers along our lifes' paths.  I suppose you could say that request is for Sam and all the other precious animals who find themselves in such spaces.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The Cabinets will be installed tomorrow, assuming it is not a rainy day.  Is this for real?


While the Human doin's of the week were pretty intense, the Irises were blooming in profusion.  We took time to watch Nature's miracle of Flowers unfolding.  Irises do so well here.  I wonder why?  Are these Soils especially to the liking of the Irises?  Is the climate just what they need?

I remember all the Gardeners had Irises when I was growing up.  The old timers called them "Flags" and their bloomtime coincided with Memorial Day.  That meant that Gardeners would take glass jars filled with Irises (and Peonies) to decorate graves.

Our Irises come from various sources. We brought some down with us in our move 5 years ago.  Richard used to have quite the collection of Irises, but we really did not have the best place for them.  Or just maybe, we did not know the best place for them.  Some came from both our Mom's.  One is my Aunt Louise's.  Caesar's Brother is a Siberian Iris.  I just love its growth habit.  We originally purchased it for our gardens up North.  I gave a start to Mom.  Ours had long since died out, and she had her blooming in profusion in her little Garden on the south side of the house.

Our Irises are about 2-3 weeks early in their bloom time this year.  The Rains and Winds this week meant some did not last long.  They too are precious forms of Life right here in our midst.

This one is a puzzle to Richard and me.  We don't remember it in North Dakota but we surely did bring it down.  We wonder if soils have changed its original color.
We have 2 Irises that are almost alike.  Richard's Mother and my Mother each gave me Irises for the gardens around our new house.  That would have been back in the late 1970s.  As I recall, Richard's Mother's had the lighter "falls" (lower petals).  My Mom's were the darker falls.  But never mind, both of these flowers came home looking the same.  I cannot tell the difference between them.  Again, I wonder if it is soils.
This Iris was growing in the yard of the house my parents owned across the street from where they lived.  When we arrived here, Mom and Dad were ever on the look out for plants to transplant to our new little Farm. They would ask if I wanted something.  When I said "yes", Mother would grab the plastic bags and Dad would dig.  I really didn't understand the urgency.  Being Octogenarians, they did.  Dad passed about 7 weeks after we moved here.  Mother said the Iris was originally from her sister Louise.  Aunt Louise had quite a collection of Irises.
And I just love this Iris and its story.  When we were developing our Iris Garden up North, we bought this Siberian Iris which was called "Caesar's Brother".  As it grew, I shared it with Mother.  Time passed and we lost ours.  In fact, I forgot all about it.  When we  moved back here in 2007, to my surprise, Mother had it growing on the south side of her house.  Of course, I wanted a start.