January 2009

Gardening Workshop

Growing your own food is one of the great pleasures of life. More and more people are getting back to it. Last year, we held workshops on building 4-foot-by-4-foot raised bed gardens and the people who attended have shared the thrill of eating the homegrown tomatoes, lettuce, squash… We put two of the raised beds on the floor of our greenhouse this winter and have been eating from them these chilly months. What a joy it is to have fresh greens all winter long. (By the way, our favorite way to cook kale now is to lay it on a cookie sheet, spray it with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with ground pepper and some sea salt and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Healthy chips!)

Our Grow Your Own Food in Small Spaces workshops this spring are February 28 and March 7. If you’d like to join us, go to the Turtle Rock Farm website, click on Workshops and Retreats and send us your registration form. On that one-day workshop, you’ll learn how to build the raised bed, a drip irrigations system and a hoop house as well as mix that huge amount of soil (and the ingredients.)


To my way of thinking, it’s always helpful to learn to live mindfully in the moment in our daily lives, but times like these make this practice almost essential. On February 21 here at Turtle Rock Farm, we’ll spend the day together learning how to live in the moment and practicing methods that help us remember to do it. They’re simple, but we are easily and deeply distracted, so learning or refreshing the learnings is helpful. If you’d like to join us, go to our website, click on Workshops and Retreats and send us the registration form.

icy gate with wire

Even a rusty iron gate
a left-behind tangle of wire
becomes a gift,
wrapped in ice,
lit by the sun.

cardinal in icy tree

Hard winter
is a fitting description this year,
as ice arrives,
as the economy freezes,
fear grips.

I watch the birds,
the dogs and cats,
the cattle
this snowy, icy day.
Tiny feet on frozen ground,
sharing corn, milo, sunflower seeds –
tiny Sparrows, Juncos,
big Cardinals, Red-Winged Blackbirds,

lots birds

Trips to the water pan, the pond,
pecking and breathing holes in the thinnest ice.
Sitting on ice-wrapped branches.
Making a bed in hay.
Snowy backs, hurrying along the fence,
into the north breeze,
to get to the cover of trees in the corner of the pasture.

cattle in snow - better

They don’t appear frightened at all –
just busy,
doing what is theirs to do
this moment.


Rich Heffern writes about walking in his book Adventures in Simple Living:

To cultivate the habit of walking is, I believe, to make one of the very best investments possible. This modest practice can be a lifetime prescription for continued health and joyful living. And walking can be an invaluable aid in personal transformation, a discipline in learning to live a life of trust and simplicity, a help on the way to wholeness: that place where the love that moves the sun and the stars makes its nest snugly in the palm of your hand.

bird at twilight

Orange Moon

Rich Heffern, in his book Adventures in Simple Living: A Creation-centered Spirituality writes:

A long and loving look at the natural world we inhabit can actually change us. We can become different persons. In his book The Universe Is a Green Dragon, physicist Brian Swimme points out that when you stand in the presence of the moon, for example, you become a new creation. There is an actual physical interaction between the photons from the moon and the optical nerve cells in your brain. The feeling of awe that arises in the presence of the dazzling and luminous night sky is as much the creation of the moon and stars as it is yours.

Anyone who can be content to perch on a rock for an hour and listen to the southwestern desert come alive at sunset or watch the nighthawks rise and plummet on carefree currents of air over the (Oklahoma) prairie, anyone who is busy awakening and nourishing that appreciation of the wholeness in nature is also developing an ability to live more fully, more heartily, more effectively, more genuinely.

One of the comments we get from guests at Turtle Rock Farm
who stay in the east bedroom at the farmhouse
is how wonderful it is to see the morning sky from bed.
there are some mornings
when the sky is so magnificent,
you can’t watch from the bed;
you have to go outside to take it all in.
This morning was one of those mornings:

#1 morning sky jan 23

I had not put on enough warm clothing when I dashed out,
so hurried back in
and then the still-warm covers of the bed looked so inviting,
I climbed under them –
until I looked out at the sky again.
Added clothing,
went outside,
crossed the lawn, the road
and leaned against a fence post
to watch the spectacle.

#2 morning sky jan 23 09

I could hear the geese across the pasture at the big pond.
Grazing cattle began sauntering my way.
Ducks, quacking, flew overhead.

#3 morning sky 23 jan 09

It’s going to be a cold day,
after yesterday’s April.

“Red sky in morning
sailors, take warning.

#4 morning sky 23 jan 09

Actually I never saw the sun this morning.
Clouds moved in
before Earth got to the place where I could see the orb herself.

#5 morning sky 23 jan 09

But what glorious evidence of her existence.

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