The Peepers of Spring

We have lived on this farm for 10 years now, and one of the biggest joys we experience in Spring is the return of the Peepers. Peepers are frogs and they sing in the evening when temps get warmer. To some this would be an expected experience but when we first moved here we did not hear them at all. I think it was about the third year that we really started to hear them sing again. See for science geeks like me the truth is frogs are an indicator to the environment around you. No frogs, not good! So when they came back it was a victory that our farm is safe enough for them to be here.

I really love it in the Spring when the storms start to brew to the west and the frogs come out to “sing in the rain”. Their songs combined with the smell of rain and lightning is an elixir after a long hard winter.  The first drops that fall bring the smell of dirt into the air. Growing up in the dessert southwest this was much more noticeable, probably because it was so dry. But when I catch a whiff of it here in Kansas I always close my eyes and am instantly taken back home. Smells, sounds and tastes can bring great comfort to the soul!

So as Spring approaches your area of the world, see if you can hear the frogs singing—they will tell you if it is a safe place to be!

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In Search of Eagles

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Every winter we take a drive about 40 minutes  North of us to a lake to try and see the Bald eagles. They have been there every year and it is always a joy to see them. This year we got too busy so on Sunday I decided to make it happen! We got a new spotting scope for Christmas and were excited to try it out spotting the eagles.

The first place we drove in we saw one up in the trees. My husband, Noel,  got out the scope and it was so cool to see them up close like that! Then it flew off the branch and swooped into the water, flying almost right over our heads as it found another tree to roost in. We really enjoyed watching it eat its late afternoon snack of a fish! Have you ever seen Bald Eagles in the wild before?

When I was a little girl, I thought that I would never see one except for in a zoo. They were all dying when I was a child—thanks to the lovely, and safe DDT. Last year as I was subbing for a High School science class, I told them that the first time I saw a bald eagle in the wild, I cried. They didn’t understand why. So I told them the story of how we almost lost our National bird to pesticides. They had no idea. They were mostly shocked. This was very disturbing to me because if we forget what has happened before, we are more likely to repeat it again in the future. We are sort of dumb like that as human beings.

I have watched a similar nightmare unfolding with the Honey bees and wild pollinators. But it is also affecting the birds and aquatic life as well. But this time, there is not the urgency to stop it like before. This time it is all about the money people make and how that is the priority.

Did you know that they want to mine Uranium in the Grand Canyon now? Are they insane? But people do not seem to care in their sleep of uninvolvement. I often wonder if the tech world is not part of a plan to make us dumb and oblivious to what is going on outside our own doors. How many kids even go outside to play anymore? What they do not know, they will not fight for. But on the other side of the coin multimedia can share things faster and bring issues to the forefront on a wider scale. A double edged sword for sure.  So where will it stop, this dive into madness? Will anyone care that our environment is unraveling at an alarming rate? There is no money in saving it—but it insures a future for our children, and our children’s children. Will the “Me” generation stop thinking of only itself and finally save something for the future? Will the wealthy that are destroying the environment for profit ever realize that when it is dead so will they be—their money will not save them?  And for those who think that a environmental crises will not hit in their back yard then just simply ask the people of Flint, MI who trusted that someone cared and had their best interests at heart. That it would be impossible for anyone to do something that would harm the people. Those children will never be cured of lead poisoning. Never. Irreversible. And where is the outrage and the anger that this happened? Most people don’t know or don’t care. But if it can happen there, it can happen where you live too.

Sometimes all of this smothers me until I see the Bald Eagle flying in the wild, catching fish and doing what Eagles do. It gives me hope. When I see farmers changing the way they farm or raise livestock to make a healthier environment, I feel hope. When I see people start to demand they have safe food, I have hope. Now if people would just wake up and walk outside. To see what is around them and what they are a part of that would be real hope for our future!

Post note: I wrote this article at home this morning by the fireplace and had no idea that they found 13 dead Bald Eagles in Maryland this past weekend. Cause of death unknown–the story is in the Washington post or on Yahoo news. So sad!!!

Spring Frenzy

Can you feel it in the air around you yet? I have talked to people all over the country and all are telling me that Spring is coming early—with trees even budding out in Michigan already! Here we are seeing warmer temps and so far we have had an extremely mild winter. I am, in fact still waiting for winter to start! Where is the snow?? But it might be that it is gone already. For me, living close with Nature I tend to watch the animals around me. My favorite winter friend is the Junco or Snow Bird. It is my winter weatherman supreme. This little feathered friend arrives before the first big winter storm and won’t leave until we are totally done. This bird has never been wrong for me. And this bird is still present in my garden. Not yet.
Many of my farmer/nature friends are predicting already a bad fruit year—the trees are wanting to bud out early, but then those lovely days of frigid temps will sneak back in for a couple of days and there it all goes! So when you walk with Nature, strange weather patterns and changes in the night sky are very obvious to you. But it doesn’t necessarily give you something to maneuver better when things are this strange. Surrender or frustration are the only answers.
Here we are reaching the critical mass point on the farm. My medicine is up and needing transplanted and moved to the greenhouse. The lovely increase in the electric bill comes with it! My beautiful Guernsey goats are about to give birth as well. So an increase in watching and preparing for them is added to the mix. It always hits at the same time. And you can prepare all you want but the fact is there is not that much you can do to lessen the frenzy. So we take deep breaths and try hard to not get overwhelmed. Another breath is needed. And if nothing else works I go out to my medicine garden and sit under the Mother tree, leaning my back up against her, and then breathe again. Not enough room, not enough time, not enough money for things you need now, not enough hands or hours in the day. Breathe. Breathe again. I feel this old girl behind me and it is almost as if she is laughing at me. It will all work out—it always does.
This year I have never seen the medicine plants so eager! They are germinating in record time and growing really fast! Strong medicine being grown for someone who will plant it in their garden and harvest later it’s gentle goodness! Good medicine! But even as I transplant the tiny babies into bigger spaces for their roots, their medicine works on me too. Any time I grow things or am part of that amazing, unbelievable cycle of growth it is healing for me as well. To take a seed and put it in fertile earth and then watch it grow, sprouting and unfurling it’s tiny leaves. Some new medicines are a mystery to me as what they will look like. What are their leaves going to be like? Will they like the soil I put them in? Too much water or not enough?
When things get really crazy like they have been this week, I have to stop and refocus. Take a breath and think of what I’m really doing. Reconnect and move forward. Shut out the world if it is even for an hour or a day or a week. Re group. Nature is the most powerful healer that we have access to. We are a part of it, and it is a part of us. We only get into trouble when we disconnect from it, get too caught up in politics or money issues, the price of gas or the weird weather. Because Nature marches on and adapts. A tree can not pick up it’s roots and run away from a drought—it must endure and dig deeper into the soil and hope. The bees can’t argue with us over their living conditions, they must find a way around it all or die. And so in this frenzy of time called Spring, I must breath deeply, not get overwhelmed, take one step at a time and not look at the mountain out there in front of me. It’s just a mountain. And it will be beautiful when I reach it’s top!

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The good things in life

Every day we are bombarded with things that are happening around the world that we just can’t understand. It seems to me it happens more now than ever before. Some say that social media just makes more of this sad news available, but I do not believe this is true. When people disconnect from who they really are, they stop caring about everything around them. We see kids who do not know what it is like to climb a tree or walk in a wild place by themselves. They are so caught up in the drama of life and cell phones that they miss what it is like to really be alive.

Everyday when I wake up, no matter how bad things are for me in my life, I say a prayer of thanks to Creator. I am grateful for everything around me and all that I experience. My old truck–I’m thankful that I have it and it still runs. So many people would not even get in this old truck–there is nothing cool about it. It’s old. But I love it. And the older it gets, and the more it gets me where I need to go, the more I love it. I’m blessed. Some would argue that I’m not because, for example, I do not own a big screen TV. I have an old TV set with a built in VHS that belonged to my late Grandmother. It MEANS something to me for that one reason. I don’t want a new one or things for that matter. I am blessed to be on a farm, surrounded by the gifts of Creator. Not everyone will ever get to have that. So if I am poor by most standards, that’s okay. I feel rich in what I get to experience everyday.

This morning I could hear the birds singing out side my window as I got ready to go to work. It was a cardinal and a chickadee. I know the sounds of my friends out side. Like the turkeys calling, waiting for the arrival of Spring so they can hold their matting dances. The strange sound of the pheasant as it flies across the road to hide in taller grass. And at night the call of the great horned owl, echoing across the vast fields from the hedge  row. I know the call of the coyote too, whenever a train goes by in the distance they seem to sing with it, or maybe protest it’s existence. I am so tuned into my surroundings that I can immediately hear if a new bird is singing in my yard, or if the dogs bark changes into something more serious. I can watch those birds at the feeders and tell you better than a weather man what the next storm will bring.

When, as Human beings, will we understand that the THINGS we buy or crave because someone else has them are not what life is about. Life is love. The love of a favorite tree in the yard that is pretty in summer and breathtaking in fall. The moon rising full over an endless sky creating a painting so rich that nothing can duplicate it ever again. Looking at the stars that go on forever with someone that you love, a moment of absolute awe at just how small we are. These are the things we need to bring into our lives. Not jewelry or cars or bigger TVs, something instead so precious that it can never be bought. Absolute love.

So this weekend with Valentines day looming on the event horizon, don’t get flowers or chocolates or jewels–take the one you love–family included and hold them in your arms as you watch the wonders of nature. From a Bald Eagle flying over a lake, to a shooting star. Or maybe just birds at the feeder or your dog chasing a squirrel and realize, in that moment, that there is far more to be grateful for than you ever thought possible! Wado and have a day filled with love–many days filled with love!

 

Starry Night

Have you ever just gone out side in the dead of night, way out from the lights of the cities, just to look at the stars? When we first bought our farm, we had a street light by the barn. I had lived my whole life in the city, at one point in a trailer park in Phoenix with a street light right outside my bedroom window. I hated living in Phoenix because I could never see the stars. But on weekends and during the summer we would escape up to the Mountains on the Rim to a one room cabin that at first didn’t even have running water or indoor plumbing. There the stars were amazing, so many more than you would ever see in a normal night sky! We were at over 5,000 feet elevation and no one around—National Forest behind us and most people only using the nearby cabins on the weekends. It was paradise. We would actually sleep on the front porch just to watch the stars. It was hard to see the big dipper because the sky was sooo crowded with stars! It was paradise and where I connected with nature. I never wanted to leave that cabin. It had been built before I was even born. And I was allowed to run free there.

But I digress, the street light on the farm. Yes, so I asked if it was mine when I called the local Cooperative that handled our electric service. They told me it was and I asked if they could please disconnect it when they turned on the power for me. The woman on the phone tried to talk me out of it—saying it was for security. I simply replied that I wasn’t scared and I had finally been able to move to the country and there was no way I wanted a street light to block my view of the stars. I’m sure she thought I was crazy, but the truth is that when all the lights are off in the house, no one can even tell I’m there with all the trees and darkness. I feel very safe—we have three huge dogs that are night workers and quit capable of telling us when someone is there who shouldn’t be.

My favorite thing to do is, late at night- especially when I can’t sleep- is to go outside with all the lights out and just look at the stars. It’s humbling. You realize you are nothing in the scope of the universe. You realize that what ever you are worrying about or fretting over means nothing really. When you’re gone so is the big problem you are worrying about. In the dead of winter, on the coldest nights, is when I wrap up in a heavy quilt, and go out to be amazed. The stars are by far the best on the coldest, clearest nights.

I once read an article about a woman who took inner city kids camping outside of LA. One girl, on such an outing, was concerned over all the lights in the sky—she had never left the city before and had never in her whole life seen a star before. She didn’t know what they were. What a shame. That is true for many of our kids today. They have no contact with nature at all. They stay inside and watch TV or get on the internet or play with there new appendages—a smart phone.

Every farm around me has lights that stay on all night long—most have two street lights. I wonder what they are scared of. Coyotes love lights—it shows them were their food is. So it can’t be to protect the livestock. I wonder if the neighbors ever go outside to look at the stars….if they do I can guarantee that I am seeing more stars than they are—because my lights are off! Go look at the stars!

The love of food

As a trained chef, I know how to cook well. I can get really gourmet, complete with a fancy presentation. Or keep it simple and homey. But in all my years cooking, there was one ingredient that is the most important to add when cooking for other people and for myself. You must put love in it! Lovingly making something for someone else takes food to another level. It goes beyond the presentation and beyond the ingredients. Love is the best spice to add.

Yesterday afternoon the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and it  was nasty outside. My loving husband, Noel, a hardworking Irishman, was out in the weather working, as he always does. I don’t know how he does it, the high temps and the bitter cold. Everyday plastering walls for someone else. It’s really labor intensive so he needs lots of calories to keep going! It’s times like this when I make him some LOVE!

Last night I made an apple pie with apples I got last fall and that kept pretty well. I do not make small, thin pies. I believe if you want to make a pie you should make it hardy and substantial. It should be filling and yummy at the same time. But simple! With good apples you don’t need to add a lot of sugar–just a sprinkling-most pies I taste are way too sweet! Some cinnamon and my favorite Irish mixed spice and some dabs of butter! Simple! Yes I use butter and I put fresh lard in the crust too! Better for you than anything else! And of course I put in the love. Loving thoughts of him, thankfulness that he is in my life, and for all he does for us. Like a prayer to Creator as I roll out the pastry and peel and cut up the apples. My loving thoughts of him are putting that all important ingredient in–love.

Try this with your family or friends–put some love in there, think good thoughts of who you are cooking for and then throw out all of your fancy cook books and expensive ingredients! You won’t ever need them again!

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Late Night Thunders

It seems odd to me that on the first of February we are having a thunderstorm! I have lived here for 10 years and not seen one so early. It rattled the whole house and woke both of us up!!

I love the Thunder Beings and always feel blessed when they come along. I had a hard day and was down–which never happens much with me–just wondering where all my work is leading me. And then-this clap of thunder! For me it was like a shake from above–snap out of it! You are on the right path–the Medicine will lead you where you have to go.

It is always the case. Those of us who live close with the Earth are always guided. We listen, and act upon those silent words. I have walked my whole life that way and it has led me along-never falling off the cliff. What we know is important. What we learn is even more important. In a world gone absolutely nuts, our knowledge grounds us. It is our savings account.

When I look at the plants outside, when I look at the weeds, I know which ones are food and medicine. Maybe a crop I plant won’t do so well, but a wild plant that is wonderful food will take over! It is speaking to us. “Here grow this plant! It likes it here!” So we must listen.

The sky is washed clean now–and so is my soul. Thank you Thunder beings for reminding me of who I am and why I am here! Wake up! Listen! And walk with the Earth! Wado!

Medicine is up!

January 29, 2016
There is one thing I love about growing medicine, the hope in the future it brings. When I pick what to plant each year, I listen; I listen to that inner voice that guides me on my path. I often wonder who will buy this medicine or who will need it. What will the season be like? One can not seem to tell weather wise what to expect anymore.

But today and yesterday a winter reprieve has come with warmer temps. So it was to the garden I went to clean trails, move fallen limbs and tidy up. The bird song at the feeders is a different song than when a winter storm approaches. This is a joyful song-a true singing of the soul. During times of deep winter weather, their song is a more demanding-an urgent plea to hurry because the cold North winds are coming. But today the songs are sweet and happy.

The sky was so bright blue! Wiped clean of all dust and clouds, the sun shinning fully all day for the first time in weeks. I always appreciate that blue sky—I often stop while hanging out clothes or getting the mail to just look up at it in awe. Why so blue today? It reminds me of a clean slate. As one of my Elders Agnes Baker Pilgrim used to say-“yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is all you have. So each day take the 18 inch Journey from your head to you heart, and live today as if it were your last!” I often think of that when I see the clean slate of blue sky after a storm. Washed clean!

So today there were some surprises! Some medicine is up! In the garden I could see the Mother wort and nettles poking through in their green goodness! So early! I even saw some most dreaded baby grasshoppers already. That seems impossible this time of year!

Upstairs under the grow lights, the joy of medicine growing from seed! They are up and now plants, manifesting the energy of Mother Earth in her finest! I love to see the first seeds break through! It’s better than Christmas and they decided to come to the party! The teasel is now starting to come up as well as chamomile, yarrow, Valerian, and numerous others. What a day of gifts! Thank you Creator/Mother for all you give me on a daily basis! Wado!