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DSCN3689Cochin Rooster

They are shy,
the Chinese chickens
called Cochin—
staying in the smallest pen,
until we urged them out
into the larger barn community.
They began to move about
some.
Still, they seem to like
each other best,
and cozy corners.
which is where we often found them,
together.
After a few weeks,
they had yet to find their way
up and over and out
the chicken and guinea door.
So Ann made it safe for them
to exit ground level
out into the goat pen.
(In other words, she moved the goats
into the alpaca pen
to use as their daylight home.)
With some enabling,
the Cochins walked into the sunshine
and began pecking at the grass.
It wasn’t long
before they retreated back into the pen
(the hen, before I had photographed her)
but they don’t have direct access to the barn now
and surely the sunshine
and the goodies in the soil
will beckon them
and they will enjoy the outdoors
as much as the other chickens.
Maybe.
The one thing we know
about the natural world—
every single being in the natural world—
is that nothing is predictable.
Nature surprises
at every turn.
Something new emerges
as the parts
respond to each other.
So thank you,
dear chickens,
dear guineas:
you are great teachers.

From personal experience,
we know
that when you photograph
or draw
or write
what you see in the natural world
you see it more intricately,
thoroughly
and tumble into
wonder
more surely.
Our friend Jane Taylor
is a gifted observer
because she writes
and what she writes
is deeply beautiful.
So we are thrilled
that she is coming to Turtle Rock Farm
to lead a writing workshop
May 3.

Here’s how she describes the day:

This is a day-long workshop for new and experienced writers who want to explore or deepen his or her understanding of poetry as a lyrical form. Form will be a guide, but not a strict rule.  Emphasis will be on the mysteries of language, our relationships to the earth, and on listening, discovery, and compassionate sharing. The Owl will serve, as she has over the ages, to remind us of the mythologies we encounter and carry with us in our daily lives. You are invited to spend an extraordinary day at Turtle Rock. Wear your comfortable clothes and shoes for possible hiking. Bring your ordinary stories and be transformed in a natural circle of writers.

You can register on our website.

Consider joining us.
We look forward to a wonderful day,
and all that emerges.

Here’s one of Jane’s published poems:

Watercolors                         
             signed N. Bird, 1967.
A pile of watercolor painting tied with string
and I begin to barter for them
as though they were meant for me,
these unframed 10x16 giant holy cards,

holy cards sans halos, saints, enraptured faces.
I see the holiness of bare and bark-white trees.
They breathe in their nakedness and make
the winter winter.
They are watered by a stream that dreams 
of resting soon in ice, 
if the washy gray-green clouds are true.
I believe they are.
I know the likeness isn’t perfect.
Perhaps the sycamore (we call the button-wood) 
should thicken toward the base, 
be more deeply furrowed.
But I believe this watercolor world. I see
there is no bird, no red of hope, no cardinal
quiet in the branch, not even a blackbird wing 
to take us into spring before the hardest freeze.
If only I knew how to stand the cold, and wait,
and paint that kind of white, 
that true and lonely blue.
 
                                    Jane Vincent Taylor
                                            Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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Workshop leader is Jane Vincent Taylor. Jane has a Master’s in Creative Writing from University of Central Oklahoma, a Master of Library Science and a BA in Women’s Studies from O.U.  She lives in Oklahoma City. She is a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellow. Journal publications include Red Cedar Review, Nimrod, Whetstone, Enigmatist, Red Plains Review, Calyx, Flyway, Third Wednesday, Rhino, and many others. Jane also teaches writing at Ghost Ranch, Abique, NM. Recent publications and activities are posted at janevincenttaylor.blogspot.com.

DSCN3620Eagle Nest is in center of photograph

It was a quiet Easter afternoon
down on Red Rock Creek
where a Bald Eagle couple
have made their home.
Their two eaglets are growing;
we can see them clearly now in the high nest.

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Mom and Dad were perched
nearby
side-by-side,
talking to the eaglets.
A little while after I began observing them,
one of the eaglets
spread its wings,
then spread its wings again.
There was more communication—
a loud squeaking sound from parents;
rapid-fire squeaking from youngsters.
Then Mom and Dad flew farther away,
perching near each other
in another tree.

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Our first observation of this family
was in mid-March.
At that time, we could only hear the eaglets.
We don’t know when they hatched.
Typically, eagles learn to fly at two months
and leave the nest at four to six months.
They keep their dark feathers
for five years,
before growing out the white feathers
that have caused humans to call them
“bald.”
Mom and Dad have made this
quiet neighborhood their home
and most likely will raise their next family
here, in this nest.

When the eaglets’ calls grew louder,
one of the parents
flew back
and kept watch
on a branch closer to the nest.

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A human family
came to watch
for a few minutes.
Townspeople make regular visits.
There is a reverential air
there—
we humans
in awe
of the beauty
in the Eagles’ simple domesticity.

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I’ve been to Earth Day celebrations
on the east coast—Washington, D.C.’s mall—
and the west coast—Topanga Canyon, California.
They may be bigger
with more educational opportunities,
more music, more food, more people
(and less wind,)
but I dearly love celebrating Earth
here on the prairie
at Turtle Rock Farm.
Chickens and guineas scratching around for insects,
goats and alpacas munching away in their pastures,
Red-Winged Blackbirds calling from tree tops,
Maizey greeting guests…
Transition OKC team members
helping people make seed bombs,
Lisa Piccolo explaining about natural fibers,
helping people learn to weave them;
Renee Hoover showing the beautiful belt
she made from the alpacas’ fleece
and demonstrating Cherokee finger weaving…
Bruce Johnson and Barbara Hagan
teaching about energy with their hand-cranked generator
and cracking TRF black walnuts and pecans for tasting…
learning about fighting legislation
that would fine Oklahoma residents who install solar and wind systems…
Dave Conrad leading an Earth Drum Circle…
George, Sylvan and Dale
making sweet homemade music in the round-top…
lunching on corn grilled in the husk (and kept warm in a solar oven)
and the delicious Bison hot dogs from Wichita Buffalo Company
labyrinth walking…
porch sittin’…
making the Cosmic Walk…

Together,
with all ages of people
who care about
and celebrate
our planet home…
in a soft place…
a thin place…
It was a day
when our humanity
was showing!

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William in center, Darcy to left and Biak at right—
corralled for shearing those heavy winter coats

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First up: Mr. Darcy. Frank, Ann, Marty, Eric and Boaz at work.

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Marty giving Darcy his “do” with help from Eric and, holding the line, Boaz

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William is next, and calmer with Boaz sitting gently on his neck

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Darcy checking on Biak

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Darcy kisses for Eric

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Thinner, cooler

Yesterday was alpaca shearing day!
It’s a festive day on the farm—
for humans,
and, when it’s done,
for alpacas too.
They will be much cooler
without their thick fleeces
come those sizzling days of summer.
But getting it off is no fun for them.
Marty and Eric,
shearers extraordinare,
brought Marty’s son Boaz with them
this year. Boaz is four
and already learning about caring
with animals. He helps set
and release the ropes. Then,
once Marty has skilfully
sheared one side of the alpaca,
and flipped him to his second side,
Boaz takes his place,
gently sitting on the animal’s neck,
to calm him.
Boaz seems to recognize at some level
the privilege of his position
and takes the opportunity to tentatively,
respectfully,
wiggle his tiny finger
into the thick hair atop the alpaca’s head.

Darcy, the ungelded one,
is most energized through this process—
spitting at and swift-kicking us as we comb him
before the shearing,
checking on Biak
as he is laid down,
then, when all are shorn,
first confronting Eric,
before exchanging kisses.
Biak—He Who Will Not Be Touched—
is most violated
by the ordeal, whimpering
the entire time anyone is being sheared.
He’s last
and once finished,
stands up calmly, quiet now.
William, the oldest, is most laid-back.
He and Darcy take turns rolling in hay
and then the three
take to the pasture,
their silky fleece
soon to warm
someone else.

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Because Green Connections’ Earth Day Festival
is on Saturday, April 19,
you have another opportunity—
on the official Earth Day,
Tuesday, April 22—
to plan to attend
an Earth Day Rally
for Climate Change Action.
Sponsored by our friends
at The Peace House,
Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign,
Citizens Climate Lobby,
and Peace Education Institute,
it’s at the Oklahoma State Capitol’s South Plaza,
5:30 to 7 p.m.

Earth Day week
is a fitting time to consider
what actions, changes
in your life you will take
this year
to help create a sustainable life
for all.
Here’s a list to consider,
provided by Nathaniel Batchelder,
director of the Peace House
in Oklahoma City:

- Ask a minister/priest/rabbi for a message on Harmony with Nature/Earth
- Write a brief  “Letter To the Editor”
- Contact a Congress Member and communicate:
“GlobalWarming is Real & Man-Made. Do Something!”
- Challenge a house-of-worship and/or school to adopt a “Green” practice
- Check out the website:  <350.org>
- Lead a discussion on Global Climate Change (Or ask us at Turtle Rock Farm to help with that.)
- Switch to LED light bulbs – more efficient than compact flourescent bulbs… and they last much longer.
- Plant trees, bushes, or ground-cover not needing to be mowed
- Plant a vegetable garden.  Conserves lots of energy.
- Consider Vegetarianism
Conserves lots of energy.   Contact Vegetarian Society of OK http://vegok.org/ for a presentation
- Recycle what you can. (Home recycling in OKC is less than 20%)
Conserves natural resources. Saves energy. Reduces pollution.
- Join SIERRA CLUB
Oklahoma Sierra Club http://oklahoma2.sierraclub.org/
Okla. City Sierra Club—http://oklahoma.sierraclub.org/cimarron/

 

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We also encourage
composting,
water conservation,
solar cooking,
spending time in nature,
giving children a chance to lead exploration
in nature.
Find a “Sit Spot”—
a place you can go to daily
to watch what’s happening
in the “neighborhood.”
Learn about your bioregion.
Take a hike or walk weekly,
observing the natural world.
Take a workshop at Turtle Rock Farm
or ask us to present a program or retreat
for your group.
Every day
is Earth Day.

 

Sunday mid-afternoon,
temperature dropped from 83
to 65
and storm clouds darkened
as I drove west,
towards home.
Rain and hail pummeled
all for miles.
At home,
I emptied only three drops
from the gauge.
Monday morning,
snow blew almost horizontally
from the north
for a couple of hours.

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A sunny close to the day that began with two hours of snow, falling almost horizontally

Early Monday evening,
we covered all blossoms
and tender plants
that we could
and set an alarm for 2 a.m.
to watch the lunar eclipse.

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The full moon rose pink
just as sun was disappearing
in the west.
In the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday,
it turned orange
as it moved in
and out
of Earth’s shadow
during a complete eclipse.

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DSCN3461Temperature dropped to 26
Tuesday morning,
as Robin sang atop the pecan tree,
and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds
had breakfast in the sun.
Busy days,
these,
simply observing!

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