life in the country


We gathered
Saturday
to learn about
and practice
Living Mindfully in the Presence.
Gathered in a circle,
inside the pond house,
the morning growing bright
through the plate glass windows
that look out onto the patio,
the Big Pond,
the prairie beyond…..

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Many of us strangers,
we were introducing ourselves
to each other
when a Road Runner
hopped up on a table on the patio.

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We were all excited.
It sat there,
looking around
for a long time.
And we began to wonder
if
this Road Runner
had something to teach
us.

Once, long ago,
a Road Runner came to the bathroom window
at the farmhouse
and stared at me for a long time.
It was a time of great movement
in my life.

But for this group
on this day
in this context—
Living in the Moment—
what were we to make
of Road Runner’s dramatic
appearance?
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By morning,
there was some insight:
perhaps Road Runner
shows us ourselves,
running.
Yet,
even Road Runner

pauses.

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Our March Newsletter:
Turtle Rock Farm is Going to Town

There are reasons
I’ve decided to spend a little time
regularly, some weeks,
in the city.
Mainly, I want to be engaged
with people living in the city.
Friends are in the city.
Most people
are in cities,
so I want to know:
how do we live in the city
so that all can thrive?
Though it is a good question,
it is a troubling question,
for me, personally,
since I would rather not bother;
I love being on the prairie
and wish more people could be there.
But this is unlikely to happen.
So this is not about choosing—
once and for all—
country or city.
I will never be able to do that;
I love the natural world in the country
and I need to be engaged with people in the city.
It is my life’s conundrum.
Knowing this may not always be the case,
for the time being,
I get to have a foot in both.

I have settled in a neighborhood
with friends close by.
This morning was my first exploration
on foot.
And suddenly,
the sparse apartment
doesn’t feel like a motel room anymore.
It feels like part of a neighborood.
I walked a block
to Douglas Park—
a full block of park,
on a hillside.
There is a playing field,
concrete paths,
gazebos with picnic tables,
a shiny, colorful playground,
benches,
trees.
I was glad to see cedars,
some as worn as they are on the prairie,
still allowed to stand.
There is a planting of crepe myrtles
and other trees—
budding,
as another winter storm is predicted—
are planted throughout the park.
It is not, however, a forested park.
And I know some neighborhood friends
with an understanding of permaculture practices,
are concerned that water
flows down the hill
and into the gutters,
while bags for water
are wrapped around tree trunks.
Swales and berms could slow that water
and trees could be planted there;
but, alas, there is this low-lying playing field
in the center….

DSCN3061Hilly Douglas Park

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DSCN3071The Playing Field, and beyond, Deep Fork Creek and Centennial Parkway

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Another significant feature in this landscape
is Deep Fork Creek,
which parallels the Centennial Parkway
at this point in the city.

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Deep Fork behind the apartment

Both are directly behind
my dwelling. The landlord
has seen six deer and a red fox
there this winter.
I keep watch,
and look forward to learning more
about the Deep Fork,
the watershed here,
the ecosystem and its parts,
the neighbors—
human and others.
As I walked by this morning,
one neighbor greeted me with
“hello.”
And, above the din of the parkway traffic,
I heard,
then saw,
a male Cardinal,
shining in a tree.
Then, on this beautiful morning,
slightly homesick
for knowing how beautiful it is on the prairie,
I heard an insistent, unfamiliar call.
Curious,
instantly distracted from the homesickness in my belly,
I walked slowly around a corner
to see if I could see who was calling
and there was the bird who so often
accompanies me—
singing a city song,
I guess.
It was Mockingbird.

 

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Here’s Our October Newsletter
Food! Music! Stars! at Turtle Rock Farm Retreat

As more cities are beginning to allow chickens,
people want to have a few in their own backyards.
There are so many benefits to raising your own chickens:
they eat bugs, till the ground, fertilize the soil,
provide delicious eggs and are great entertainment.

Recently, we held our first workshop on keeping chickens.
We discussed the challenges of keeping the chickens safe–
shared our experiences with skunks, racoons, coyotes
and other predators who find chickens irresistible.

We toured the farm and looked at the progression
of coops we have used for our own chickens.
Then participants built models of what they want their coops
and pens to look like.

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We learned that the city of Norman now allows homeowners to keep four chickens.

One of our guests is doing her dissertation at the University of Oklahoma
on how individuals can affect change in city policy in the area of raising chickens.
We look forward to hearing about other cities that are
coming on board with chickens.

Our October Newsletter:
Great Gatherings at Turtle Rock Farm

While the breeze
was still coolish
(in the shade)
this morning;
while clouds veiled the sunshine
for a little while,
I savored a few moments
on the front porch.
Old friends appeared.
Hummingbird
came for breakfast.
I saw a flash
of Bluejay wings.
Wasps
were already drinking
from the fish pond.
The alpaca
each took a turn
standing over
the water sprinkler
I had turned on in their pasture.
The guinea fowl
and chickens
hung around
the wet grass too.
Box turtle
has evidently abandoned
its early-morning walk
through the flower beds
because it was also in the alpaca pen
near the water sprinkler.

Yesterday was our third day
with 109-degree air temperature.
It looks to me
like green tomatoes
are cooking on the vine
rather than ripening.
Squashes and cucumbers
are still coming on,
and cantaloupe.
Sunflowers
seem to love the heat;
they are taller
than usual.

By mid-morning,
when I went down
to turn off the water spray,
Biak Bay and the goats
were sitting in the shade and breeze
on the south side of the barn.
They seem simply to adapt
to the situation
of the moment.
Perhaps I can take a lesson
from them—
and do my job
of noticing
what’s happening in the moment,
that the planet is heating up.
Noticing,
without being scared to death
about it;
without becoming paralyzed by it.
Perhaps,
like the animals,
innately trusting that Goodness
is taking us in the best possible direction;
and,
responding to this particular moment—
this particular hot moment:
give the animals water and food,
enjoy their presence,
keep cool
with as little fossil fuel as possible:
time to shut the blinds on the sunny windows,
keep the thermostat at 84,
turn on the ceiling and floor fans;
be grateful for the solar panels
on the roof.
Appreciate how fast the hot air
dries thin slices
of tomatoes and zucchini
hanging in the dehydrator on the porch;
appreciate the chance to share
lusciousness, fresh, acid-and-sweet
tomatoes,
crispy cucumbers
and those cool, sweet cantaloupe
with dear old friends who came by
unexpectedly
for lunch.

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