Relations

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Relations

There are so many people today that want to live on a farm and raise their food and own livestock. We meet many of these eager people who want to know what we have learned. There are many things we can teach them, but there are many things we cannot.

Probably the hardest thing to teach is commitment to your livestock. Once you have them you can’t just leave for weeks on end—someone has to take care of them. And we can never really teach about loosing your beloved animals. It will happen, there is no other reality, and it will hurt. I have heard stories of crusty old farmers who have to go behind the barn and cry after they have to put an animal down. It should be difficult to do. If it becomes too easy for you then you are missing the connection to your livestock. We cry when we loose an animal—we do name them! But even the chicken which I do not name is grieved when lost to the grips of death.

So this week I have lost a beloved Elder and three goats. Death has come to the farm. One goat was a first time mom that was due to have babies in a couple of weeks. She went off her feed and so we had to induce labor early. Pregnancy toxemia was the culprit, but later we discovered that her gut was twisted. It was pretty sure a fatal end either way. She tried her best and on Eater Sunday she gave birth to two little bucklings. We managed to keep the little guys alive until I could get them to the vet Monday morning. I learned a lot about how to care for preemies. For one they can not regulate their own body temperature. So we needed to warm them up a good bit at the vets and then I had to learn how to tube feed them. In nine years of caring for goats I have never had to tube feed! So home we went and the first little guy passed within an hour or two. And then the every hour feeding for the other one started. He just wasn’t responding well and last night at 11pm he passed as well. I cried a lot yesterday. These are beautiful little creatures and someone should grieve for them!

There are some farmers that say it is not worth the expense to call the vet, or if they can not survive on their own, they are not worth keeping. Only the hardy survive. I get that—and I look for sturdy, hearty stock in our sustainability plan for the farm. But, we confine livestock whether with fences or barns and we choose what to feed them. Even if you could keep them on pasture, we choose what the mix is that grows there. We choose their water source and breeding schedule too. We manipulate their lives and because of that I feel we must intervene on their behalf no matter what the cost.  They are not wild. They can not be wild as long as we fence them or stall them, so therefore we should care enough to intervene where hope is still possible.  It is never easy, and it shouldn’t be.

When we loose an animal we pray over it, just as if we had killed it for food. When an animal is dying and there is nothing I can do for it, I sit with them and stroke them, tell them how wonderful they were and how grateful we are that they were in our lives. I have seen animals call out to me if I try to leave the barn. They do not want to be alone. If you think for one minute that the animals in a barn don’t know what is going on then you are not paying attention. You are thinking they are beneath you.

On Easter evening when my doe Fiona was in agony delivering her babies, the mama goats in the stalls around her were calling out to her. I have even heard the bucks calling out to their does and the does answering back when they are in labor. So as I finally wrapped up the two little boys in a towel and knew mom could not take care of them so I had to take them to the house, my head doe Sunshine, in the stall next to us, put her head up over the divider and called to me. I knew she wanted to see the kids. I held them up to her and she nuzzled and kissed both of them and then she kissed me. Nothing could have kept me from crying at that point. So if someone tells you they are just dumb animals that are a price tag for your future benefit, tell them differently. They know more than we do. We just don’t understand them. S now my little doe Fiona and her two little boys are running in greener fields—may they be happy!

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The Tree of Life

Today, my heart is saddened by the loss of a beloved elder–Unci Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance. She was a Lakota elder who believed that prayer was very powerful, and that the old ways of her people should be preserved. She dedicated her life to her people and even in her work would drive hundreds of miles to make sure someone had their medicine. She loved her people. But she loved everyone else too. She prayed for all her relations, the people, the sky, the water, the Sacred Black hills, Mother Earth–everything. She prayed for the next seven generations, that their world would be better, that they would be happy and healthy and have a clean world to live in. She prayed daily for everything and everyone–even you who did not know her. She was a woman of prayer.

When I look at the tree of life, I see it covered in leaves. Each leaf to me represents an Elder who holds the wisdom of balance for this Earth and our lives. The tree is sacred. The elders are sacred. We are sacred. We are the prayer that someone made seven generations back. We are a walking prayer. Someone who did not know us, prayed for us to find balance and happiness.

So on the night of the 18th, Unci Beatrice started her journey home. Her job done. And a leaf from the great tree of Life has just fallen to the forest floor–to return to the Mother that made it. Wado Unci for all you have given me on my journey, and may I be able to help carry that torch that leads us back to balance.

Farm Surprise

 

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At 3:30am this morning I heard the coyotes howling and carrying on right out front of our house. It woke both of us up and as I laid there trying to go back to sleep I wondered why they were so close this morning—what message did Coyote have for me? I often wonder why they howl every time a train goes by. Does it hurt their ears? Or are they just looking for an excuse to sing? I finally fell back to sleep thinking of all I had to do today.

Today is a day to plant and transplant and I was sorting out my schedule, writing a letter that I needed to get out to an Elder and hoping for things to go smoothly today. I went out to the barn were several does have been holding on to the last minute to deliver. And then I heard the little kid calling—not a child but a baby goat! My dear girl Phoebe who always gives me girls had one on the ground and wanted her breakfast! I gave her some feed, rushed with my chores and ran to the house to get towels and iodine and gloves.

When I came back it was clear that she was not done and I think this sweet little girl had only been on the ground for a short time as mom was still cleaning her through bites of grain. So we waited while she ate. I have had many people tell me a goat will not eat while in labor—obviously this one and several others I own do not listen to that sage advise! So after she was done eating, then cleaning the first one again, she finally got down to business and out popped another lovely girl! What a way to start off the kidding season! Two healthy little girls! The first one was the biggest, the second smaller. I think I will name the second one Amber for her lovely color! Still working on a name for the first one. She has a very outgoing personality! Amber is more laid back and quiet. Now we will see what else happens in my day—so far the schedule that I swore I would stick to has gone out the window! Such is a day on the farm with the plants, the bees, the birds and the goats! Only nine more does to go!

Making Medicine

Today is Medicine making day for me. A day filled with prayers and concentration on the plants that are  here to help us. This year for several of my salves I was able to include at least 50% of the herbs needed from my own farm. Next year I hope that to be 100%! There is a different feel to making medicine with plants you have lovingly cared for from seed to harvest. It is far more powerful than simply ordering from the internet and hoping it was raised in a good way.

I was taught by my cousin, who was taught by our Great Grandmother to always, when making medicine, stay in prayer. I pray in gratitude to the plants that have given their lives so that medicine can be made. I pray to Creator in thanks for allowing me to make this medicine and for having the knowledge and ability to do it. But most importantly I pray for all the people who will use it, who will need it to help them to heal. This is the kind of Medicine that can not be bought from a mass produced marketing scheme. It is small batches, made at certain times of the year, and made with prayer. I take this very seriously. That is my job. To take it very seriously. The one salve that was my Great Grandmother’s recipe, or one that she had, is very special to me as well as my cousin. We know in our hearts that it was no accident that she found the recipe buried among the cook books of my Great Grandmother. We honor her and her Black Welsh heritage. She had knowledge that was common back then but now has been forgotten. Every Mother and Grandmother knew how to heal their families as much as possible. There were no doctors just down the street. And on my Cherokee side of the family it was the same. A strong will to sustain life and survive what ever came their way.  Now there is judgment, and opinions of your Spiritual beliefs. It is so sad that we are so scared of something that is as much a part of our personal heritage as food is. It was a part of everyday knowledge, no matter what faith or religion guided their hearts. My Great Grandmother was Southern Baptist. So judge away!

I will continue to make medicine for family and friends no matter what they think of me. It is the job that Creator has put before me and he is not one to be argued with!  So, may someone close to you, who loves you, be making medicine for you to use.  And if not, make it your self or get it from someone who honors it for what it is. A gift. Wado

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Ama-Water

Water is the most important thing that we have. It helps us live everyday and it cleanses and heals us. We bathe in it and we cook with it. When we don’t have water, we have famine, disease and death. Plants won’t grow with out water in our gardens.

We have been very dry here in Central Kansas this winter. No snow and very little rain. But today we heard the rain falling gently outside. It is a new Moon in Pieces  I believe. A water sign. And a good day to get some rain.  Right now it is raining, but that doesn’t stop the birds from flying. They love the water too. They’ve missed it. Some are taking baths right now. Fluffing their feathers and enjoy the healing affects of just being clean! They seem happy to see it.

I’m glad it is not a pounding rain—gentle is better after so long since the last one. So now all the plants that have come up early will at least have some water to carry them through whatever the Spring will bring! And the fire danger might just drop a bit—or better yet just go away!

I am of Cherokee decent and water is very sacred to us. For me personally it is important to start every morning by drinking my first glass of water for the day with a prayer of gratitude for water. When I bathe I thank the water as well, for the cleansing away of all things not needed. I consider even bathing as healing. I am grateful to have it in my life. Nothing feels better to me than a tall, cool glass of water after hard work. It refreshes me! So maybe the next time you drink some water, bathe or wash your hands, you should thank Creator and the water for it being in your life too, and stop to realize that just turning on that faucet is a blessing as big as life.

I would ask that everyone pray for the people of Flint, MI who are suffering so horribly in their water crisis. We trust when we shouldn’t always trust, and now a whole generation of children and adults will be damaged for life because their water was not clean. We are spoiled in America. We think that the water will always be here and be safe to drink. Not so. And this is not the first time this has happened, nor is it the only thing happening right now. Let us hope and pray that it will never happen again. Stand up for your water. It is your life.  Wado

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Turkey Dance

When we are not sure if Spring is here or if this is just a warm trend that will disappear in an instant, we look to signs around us from nature.

The Turkeys were dancing this morning in the field next to my house. Turkey is the “give away” in my culture. When you go to a gathering there is always a give away, the honoring of those who have come to support you in what you are doing, by giving gifts. A blanket, some food, tobacco–just something to share. Turkey represents Spring, the giving after a long cold take away time. So out doing chores the Turkeys danced and sang, filling the cold morning air with music. That music and that dance bring hope. Spring is coming, plants are growing, the greening is taking place.

I am so blessed to live where I do and to know these gifts when they present themselves. Turkeys are a blessing to me, a gift from Creator/Mother. A sign you are loved and not alone. I don’t think many people ever really notice this unless they are hunters. They do not see the blessings all around them that come in seeing or hearing such things. I on the other hand can not imagine Spring without the beautiful sounds of the Turkey dance–singing and dancing and bringing us the gift of hope for all that will grow and be this coming summer! So listen for the Turkeys and remember the give away!

Gentle Rain

It has been dry here on the farm. No snow to really speak of yet. Some rain in January, not much if any in February. Dry. Wind. Drier still. But last night I saw the Thunder Beings gathering to the North. They were not supposed to be there, but they came anyway. They don’t really listen to  weather men. They like to surprise them instead. I watched them and prayed that they would come and dance. Anything—a sprinkle, a kiss of drops, a mist—just something to quench the thirst of Mother Earth and the plants popping out of the ground early. Something.

I could smell it the last time I went out into the dark night before going to bed. I could smell a hint of that moisture touching something. I had hope. Hope is what keeps us going in the dry spells. Hope that the Thunders will come down and kiss the Earth. That everything will be alright.

I slept well. A deep sleep filled with good dreams and woke feeling refreshed. And then the proof was there. Sometime in the night, my prayers were answered and a very gentle rain fell. Not a lot, a kiss. A trace, but enough to leave small puddles on a sheet of plastic. Enough to quench the Earth for another day. Not muddy, but the soil clumped just a bit under my Wellies as I did chores. A puddle in a feeder outside, damp grass. Relief. For just a moment, sweet relief from the Thunder Beings Kissing Mother Earth. Hope.

 

Ancient beings-Corn

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Corn is an amazing gift from Creator. It goes back with us in time and has saved humanity many times from starvation. When you think of corn you think of white or yellow, maybe sweet corn eaten on a hot summer day drenched in butter. I think of blues, reds and many other colors. These are the colors of corn for the Native peoples. Yes there are whites and yellows in these ancient seeds, but the deep colors of greens, blues, reds, burgundies, rusts, every color you can imagine—even purple.

So this week we had a gathering of people who carry corn. Elders. People who protect the corn and who would maybe even protect it with their lives. Corn, you see, is sacred. It is more than food. It is Medicine, food, spiritual connection—life. To eat these amazing corns is to experience flavor like nothing you can imagine. Full, sweet, robust, alive. So different than store bought corn.

So with this gathering the corn came to my farm. Corn you do not see in catalogs, gifts from Native elders, passed around to hands that lovingly will hold it and care for it. Passing it along to others who have been called to the corn. These seeds are not sold. They are passed, hand from hand, heart to heart with hope in every kernel. It was amazing. You could not walk for all the corn on my floor. Passing, sharing, telling the histories, the stories of where they came from. The trust that was passed on. No money. When all had left there were kernels who had dropped on the floor, forgotten under couches and chairs. I gathered them all. Sacred and rare. Into a prayer basket to hold that ongoing prayer for the corn. To hold it and then plant them all together in Spring so that whatever comes from it gives birth.

The Corn fed our hearts and fed our bellies in the form of blue cornbread—baked in love and shared. But more than anything it fed our souls, our paths on this journey that we do not always understand. The corn and other ancient seeds feeding us, pulling us along, showing us a path, whispering to our hearts.

And gratitude. Tons of gratitude from the hearts of all peoples that the corn is still alive and making its way to the right hands. Silently moving, out of bondage into love and gratitude. Corn is sacred. It is love and hope and the food for all generations. It is blessings. May the corn keep moving, kept safe but shared for all of those that are hungry in both their bellies and their souls. Wado!

Fire on the Prairie

Fire—it is a powerful element in our world. We use it to control things here in Kansas like the prairie. But anywhere where water has been in short supply, it can be dangerous. Across Turtle Island fires used to start by lightning. Now we have them start by man. I have witnessed massive fires that destroyed a half a million acres of forest. Forest takes a long time to re-grow.  When I was a girl there was a fire on our drive up to our Cabin in Northern Arizona. I am now 49 and it has still not grown back to what it was. Time. It takes a lot of time.

So here on Saturday we had a fire start not far from our farm. We have had very little moisture and the wind was very strong—in the 35 to 45 mph range. With dry grass and trees and wind like that there is very little to stop flames. We were at a friend’s farm and saw the smoke so I jumped in my truck and drove to see where it was. There is a lot of animals in barns and pastures between us and the smoke and the wind was coming right in our direction. Not good. It was several miles away but it was moving very, very fast.

One fire truck, then the call for more and then a call for more again. Several communities in the area sent their volunteer crews. In a few minutes it had raged across a pasture and hit a tree line of Hedge trees—Osage orange is another name for them. Then it jumped a road. There were several of us watching and passing the information on to the firefighters. Then it jumped again. It went across two giant pastures—over 80 acres never catching anything on fire but then landing on a hill and burning a barn and raging forward. Finally it was stopped.

It is upsetting to see tourists driving around when we know the people who own the land and are trying to help in the only way we can. But these people are aggravating! And in this case dangerous!

The hedge trees glowed in the night, the wind sending sparks like popcorn into the sky. Hedge is notorious for throwing sparks. You hope and pray that they do not catch anything else on fire during the night. All those trees died. Hedge was planted to stop erosion—to undo the damage of the Dust Bowl days. Now they are gone. Habitat for birds and wildlife, they are no longer there. Many corporate farmers are taking out the Hedge rows—more area to plant in. They forget, like so many why they are there and just how important they are to keeping the soil here.

So the Fire came to visit—started, it is believed, by a train driving by. Goodbye trees.