October 2009


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It’s probably a good thing
the air cools
and I can’t sit on the porch
comfortably,
even with blankets,
for long.
I have to move to be warm.
And so instead of early-morning in my sit-spot
I move on down the road
out into the prairie
to take in the neighborhood.
With autumn breezes,
my walk has moved from evening to morning
and I get a different view.
Instead of quieting down for the night
the prairie is waking up.
Fog hangs over the grass
before the sun appears.
A mockingbird shouts enthusiastically
from a tree top.
Larks sing sweetly
somewhere in the prairie grass.
With the first beams of sun,
a chattering flock of Cardinals
fly into the top of an evergreen.

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As I make my way back home,
the sunlight
has burned through the fog.

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The windmill peaks over the horizon,
the sun strikes yellowing leaves

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and my heart sings.

I’ve become aware that Doe Creek is part of my life.
A friend
I’m getting to know.
She has a beautiful,
complex life,
home for much of life on the prairie.
A few days ago
we set up a long dinner table alongside her
for dozens of friends
and she brought beauty and shelter to all.
Then, two days ago
we went to a “bug picking”
through Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Blue Thumb program.
In September,
we had taken a sample
of the invertebrates in the plants along her banks.
This week, we looked at that sample,
counting the bugs
and sending them to a scientist
to be catalogued.
The creek is like a nursery,
so the invertebrates we found were
mostly only visible under magnification.
PA270005Ann, picking out bugs from Doe Creek sample

We found baby
mayflies, dragonflies, beetles, worms, scuds (they look like tiny shrimp.)
We found big water bugs.
It was exciting to get to know the creek
more deeply, more intimately
by seeing who is raised there.
Then yesterday,
we took our monthly water sample
just below the beaver dam
and did the monthly chemical tests
to determine oxygen saturation
and pollution.
After a year of doing that,
and a winter bug sampling,
we’ll know our dear Doe Creek a little better.

Now today,
there is concern for our friend.
By mid-day,
two and a half inches of rain had fallen,
on top of the five that fell a couple of weeks ago,
and Doe Creek is out of her banks.
She’s covered entirely the area where we
dined last weekend.

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Her waters are rushing
into the ditches and pastures
all across the Home Place as well.

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I wonder about those nurseries along the banks.
And the beavers downstream.
But then I remember:
this is the life of a creek on the prairie –
seasons of dryness
and seasons of flooding.
And so I just stand
and watch her do what she does
as everyone
adjusts.

It was three weeks ago
that we said goodbye to Cha Cha,
an Alpaca on loan to us
from Heartland Farm
to help Mr. Darcy and Biak Bay
adapt to their new home
at Turtle Rock Farm.
They had all grown up together
and Darcy and Biak
were the first to leave
their Kansas home.
Cha Cha, an outgoing spirit,
was here for four months,
and did help the boys adjust
to their new home.
The day Cha Cha left,
Biak and Darcy
ran to the fence and cried and screamed
as Cha Cha disappeared
down the road
in the horse trailer.
These last three weeks
they have continued to grieve.
We know
because the two didn’t hang out together,
which is unusual for these herd animals.
They grazed apart from each other.
They sat apart from each other.
Darcy wouldn’t come to the barn,
as he usually did,
when Biak came for treats.
(Darcy has never eaten treats.)
But they seem to be at the end of their grief.
They are both coming to the barn.
They are grazing together
and resting in the pasture together.
And, finally,
playing together.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Biak and Darcy at Play on Flickr – Ph…“, posted with vodpod

Morning walk.
Fog
and birds – a community of Cardinals
in a Cedar
at the cemetery.
The gravel road was grated yesterday
by county workers.
And sadly,
the roadside was mowed.
That beautiful tall red and purple and golden grass
PA100221is gone,
PA270017lain low.

I don’t know why.
It couldn’t have been to control unwanted plants
because the seeds have already
dropped
and been carried away by the wind
and birds,
made their way to the soil.

I was overcome with pain
at the futile use of fossil fuel
and at the unexpected loss of this autumn beauty,
this lovely prairie grass
that would have continued to be a home for wildlife
and sustain my soul
all winter.

The day dawned sunny and warm,
amazing
after chill, wind
and cloudy days.
Volunteers and board members here
wrapped glasses and plates and bowls
and we carried them to the pasture
alongside Doe Creek,
raked the mown grass,
set up the borrowed tables
laid out the linens in the breeze
and set the table with family dishes.
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dinner and concert - setting the table

And so, in late afternoon
they did come
down the gravel road
to Turtle Rock Farm
for dinner and a concert.
They met the Alpaca,
toured the farmhouse,
photographed the turnable composters,
and walked the quarter-mile
to the pondhouse to tour gardens
meet the chickens
and take in the big pond in all its autumnal beauty.
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Then they ambled back down the driveway
to the long table set alongside Doe Creek.
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dinner - coming to the creek
This was a fund-raiser.
They paid to come have dinner in a pasture
and a concert in a barn
in support of Green Connections,
the not-for-profit corporation
begun by our good friend Sr. Mary Moloney
to help people come to know Earth more intimately and live more sustainably.
A fund-raiser to help raise money for straw-bale construction
of a hermitage and retreat center.

They came to dine on foods grown locally and organically,
in our garden
and the garden of Kamala Gamble,
Slow Food
chef extraordinaire,
and beef grown naturally at No Name Ranch,
fresh butter and cream from Wagon Creek Creamery,
bread from the Farrell Family
and wine made from grapes grown at
Woods & Waters Vineyard and Winery.

dinner - Kamala

Kamala Gamble finishing salads

Shiraz.
Tender, fresh green salad.
Tomato Basil Soup.
Ribeye with sweet potatoes and beets.
Swiss chard with carmelized onions.
Pear tart with caramel and whipped cream.
It was all scrumptious.
Deeply scrumptious:
local foods help sustain Earth
because it doesn’t take so much petroleum to get them from farm to table.
These foods were grown without chemicals,
more sustainable for soils, water, animals, humans.
And so it was also a fitting event,
for that day, October 24,
was a day of Global Action to let the world know
that we care about Earth
and that we insist that we do whatever is necessary
to live in such a way
that carbon dioxide be reduced
to less than 350 parts per million,
the number scientists tell us
is sustainable for Earth.
We joined millions of people around the world
with our toast for a healthy planet.
You can find this photo of our dinner,
taken by our friend and journalist Candace Krebs,
along with over 16,000 Global Action photos taken that day
all around the world
at 350.org.

And you can find our friend and dinner guest Deb Blakley’s post
about the evening at
At Home on the Farm
.

350 dinner - best shot

Course after course,
communal bowls
of beautiful, healthy, delicious food.
Conversations among friends and strangers,
new connections created
to further the work of sustainability.
The sun poured golden light on the yellow-leaved Chinaberry trees
and then disappeared as Earth rolled up
and the sky turned yellow and pink,
tree trunks silhouetted against the last light of the day.
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Something was going on there
that is inexplicable.
It has to do with eating meaningfully
and sharing with each other from big platters
the provisions of Earth.
It has to do with the golden sun of evening
and autumn’s colors in the Chinaberry trees,
the sky’s yellows and pinks,
creeks meandering through prairie,
hawks and red-winged blackbirds overhead.
We were satiated
and only able to move from that spot
as the cooling night set upon us.
And so we meandered the quarter-mile back
to a bonfire outside the old round-topped barn
and the amazing music our long-time, dear friend
Kyle Dillingham
shared with us.
It was a heart-warmer,
a mind-blower
of a violin and fiddle concert.

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PA240052Kyle, on his knees, serenading Ann

The prairie,
a farm,
local, healthy food,
friends at table,
a walk on a country road,
fine music.
We are grateful to all who came,
to all who had the vision
and did the work;
to Earth for the food.
I think the deepening glow
will last
until we do it again
next year.

Doing what we do
here at Turtle Rock Farm:
A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality and Healing

takes all we’ve got.
Still,
sometimes it seems our efforts are small
compared to the situation we all face
with global climate change.
So it’s heartening
to see the hundreds of thousands of people
who are this weekend
participating in a Day of Global Action
to take a stand for a healthy planet.
Organized by writer and activist Bill McKibben
to draw attention to the fact that Earth cannot tolerate
more than 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide,
(we’re now at 390!)
the Day of Global Action
is being organized through the 350.org website.
Tomorrow is The Day.
4641 actions
have been organized
in 177 countries.
Go to the 350.org website
click on the map
and find one near you.
Already you can see photos
of people highlighting the number 350
as they gather to let the world know
they care about the health of the planet.
This is from New Zealand:

'350 Islands For Change' in New Zealand

Sending a message that New Zealand’s Pacific Island neighbors are being “hung out to dry” by climate change,  they erected a massive series of washing lines in the sea.

Pacific Islanders waded out to the lines and hung 350 T-shirts, each printed with the name of a different island, on a series of giant washing lines to highlight the insufficient action being taken to combat climate change.

Jane Filemu, a 9-year-old Samoan girl, walked through knee-deep water to hang the final T-shirt–a poignant reminder of just how high the stakes are, and an incredible sign of how intergenerational this movement has become.

Tomorrow
we will gather here
at Turtle Rock Farm
for a 350 Global Action.
Friends and supporters of Green Connections,
a not-for-profit organization here in Oklahoma
that supports the educational work of sustainability
at Turtle Rock Farm,
are coming for a fund-raising Dinner and Concert on the Prairie.
We’ll serve local foods and wine
to raise awareness of agriculture’s impact
on global climate change.
At table,
as the Earth rolls up
and the sun disappears,
we will raise a glass to a healthy planet
and snap a 350 photo.
It’s a small thing.
But connected to thousands of people
all around the planet
who are not only calling attention
to the urgency of reducing carbon in the atmosphere
but are actually working at living sustainably,
it helps.

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Ann digging sweet potatoes in the north garden,
next to the chickens.

Yesterday volunteers were helping out in the garden,
moving the chicken tractor,
pulling out plants,
digging for the last onions
and they found a sweet potato
with its head above ground.
So this morning,
Ann went out to dig sweet potatoes.
And discovered
we can grow sweet potatoes!

PA210005The first basket of sweet potatoes.

She dug a good bushelfull.
They’re beautiful.
Tomorrow:
pork, hominy and sweet potato stew.

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