March 2010


We try
to make decisions here
at Turtle Rock Farm
that contribute to a sustainable existence
for all
in our neighborhood.
We have a long, long way to go
in making changes.
At this point,
it is a life’s work.
We enjoy having animals around –
for many reasons:
spiritual connection,
education from the natural world,
as well as all that for our guests.
Too, we want to give them a healthy existence here.
much thought
goes in to any decision to expand the community here.

Besides the fact that we would enjoy having a rabbit,
and we thought our guests would too,
why would we bring a rabbit to live at Turtle Rock Farm?
We were happy on the day
when the example and teaching of our friend Bruce Edwards
at Urban Harvest
at the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank

gave us the answer:
a rabbit
would help our Red Wiggler worms.
By putting the rabbit hutch
above the worm beds
(which make compost out of our kitchen scraps)
the rabbit poop helps feed the worms.

So Ann has been building a rabbit hutch
and a stand for it that fits over the worm boxes.
we picked out a rabbit from a family raising them.
And that’s how Bella
came to Turtle Rock Farm.
Welcome, Bella!


When I was a little girl
I would sit in the backseat of our family car
by the window
and at night
sometimes the moon
would be following me
I loved it
and tried to conceal
this secret experience
from my sisters sitting beside me.
It felt very intimate,
though I didn’t know that word then,
and I wasn’t sure
I was supposed to be experiencing
such closeness
such friendliness
with the moon.

Last night
as I headed on a journey eastward,
the moon appeared
– huge –
and orange on the horizon
then rose into the sky
white and brilliant.
It was breath-taking.
I rolled down the window
as I drove the two-lane country highways,
and became intoxicated
in the light of the moon,
the smells of dampness
and cool
and soil
and creeks
and tender green wheat
growing silently
in the darkness.

As I turned on the road
there she was
beside me.
Fence posts and prairie grass
passed in a blur,
but she held me steady in her gaze
all the way home
in the closeness
and friendship
we’ve shared
since my childhood.

I would have hesitated to turn
into the driveway
and leave moon,
but the car lights
struck Maizey’s eyes
and caught my attention.
She was standing at the edge of the yard
waiting for me
to turn in.

We had heard on National Public Radio
a story about soldiers returned from combat areas
finding healing from time spent in nature.
We thought that inviting service people
to Turtle Rock Farm
might help.
When we met a woman who knew a lot of service people,
we scheduled our first Military Women Retreat
and put out the word.
It was last weekend.
Women who served in Air Force, Navy and Army
in Oklahoma and Texas
spent the day hiking the prairie,
meeting the Alpaca,
kayaking on the pond,
preparing lunch together,
sitting at table
and sharing their stories.

We were deeply moved
by their good cheer,
their camaraderie,
the challenges they have endured
and overcome,
their care for each other.
Some hiked uphill with canes,
some with pain not as easily seen –
all service-related injuries.

As we walked together up the hill
through the prairie grass,
we heard sighs
as the fresh air,
the wide-open space
and the Oklahoma wind
seemed to release tension.
“This feels so good,”
was the refrain.
Kayakers setting out on to the water,
called back to shore,
“This is wonderful!”
and on shore we felt their peace
as they slowly made their way
around the pond shoreline,
headed in,
then changed their minds
and went around one more time.

We saw,
once again,
healing in the natural world.
We learned,
once again,
that the people who understand you best
are the people who’ve had the same experiences.
And once again,
we witnessed
the need for community
and the power of solidarity.

Morning Sun Sparkling on the Big Pond

Presence is experienced in a participative way outside the mind. The mind by nature is intent on judging, controlling and analyzing instead of seeing, tasting and loving. This is exactly why it cannot be present or live in the naked now. The mind wants a job and loves to process things. The key to stopping this game is, quite simply, peace, silence or stillness. This was always seen as God’s primary language, “with everything else being a very poor translation,” as Fr. Thomas Keating wisely observes. I would even say that on the practical level, silence and God will be experienced simultaneously – and even as the same thing. And afterward, you will want to remain even more silent. The overly verbal religion of the last five hundred years does not seem to understand this at all and tends to be afraid of any silence whatsoever.

Richard Rohr, The Naked Now. Learning to See as the Mystics See

We’re pretty excited
about the possibility of having apricots this year.
Seldom do we get apricots.
The trees bloom early
and the blossoms usually freeze
because its mid-April before last possibility of a freeze.
The last time I remember a generous apricot harvest
was twenty years ago.
My son was about three years old
and when neighbors called us over to help
pick their apricots
Will stood under that giant old tree
picking them and eating them
one right after the other
until we thought he might get sick.
They were delicious.

The trees here were beginning to bloom
a week ago
when the blizzard blew in.
But they are in full bloom this week
and it seems they were not damaged.
Perhaps the snow protected them.

Everyone’s happy.
There are lots of blossoms.
They are delicate and pretty.
They smell very sweet.
The honey bees are drinking heavily from them.
Even the cat
has been attracted to them –
although distracted by the bees.
He didn’t stay long amidst the buzzing.

We’re still a couple of weeks out
from the possibility of a freeze.
But temperatures are predicted to climb
into the 70’s next week.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
to be able to receive the sweet, luscious fruit
of the apricot trees
this year?
All the more so
in their rarity.

It’s a blustery spring day.
Horizontal rain,
though light,
first thing.
I had hoped to be able to take to the porch
for my first springtime morning contemplation.
There was no escaping the wet
even on a wide porch.
And once I’d settled in at the window,
I was reluctant to go out
and feed the animals.
When the rain stopped, I did
and it isn’t as uncomfortable
as I had expected.

The porch is a “thin place” for me.
A place where I can quite easily
be overcome
by the really real,
from within
and without.
So I’ve been looking forward
to warmer weather
and my morning sit.

Turns out, a thin place this winter
has been the alpaca pen.
No doubt,
for one thing,
because of the paca boys themselves.
When Darcy chooses to stretch his neck my way
and touch his soft nose against my cheek,
there is a happy stirring in my heart.
who never kisses anyone,
and might kick you if you touch him,
is the one I can commune with.
After I feed him his treats,
I stretch my neck
into his face,
an inch from his soft nose,
inches from his huge black, glistening eyes
and, while he munches the last,
I look straight into them
for several moments,
and enjoy looking deeply at each other
before he turns away.

Strangely though,
it is scooping the boys’ black beans
and putting them in a bucket
when I most am overcome
with love and,
This morning,
was one of those moments.
Confounded by the ways of the world,
(have you read the stories of hate lately?!!)
weary of
and resistant to
further efforts to try to change the world,
I was contemplating
our time here on this planet.
Worn down,
I let myself slide dangerously into
the question:

Then, as I scooped the alpacas’ beans,
now turned to mush in the rain,
the word came:
I had to smile at the irony,
the timing.
And something inside me
took a break;
something lightened up:
keep scooping the muck;
just change your focus:

The beans are bucketed,
ready for composting.
Going out now
to hang clothes on the porch.
It’s one of the things I enjoy.
it’s one way I can help
the world.


It was a challenging day
on the straw bale hermitage site.
We were missing a helper
and then the dump truck
loaded with sand
got stuck.
Couldn’t find any neighbors
for a couple of hours
to help us get the truck out.
When our neighbor Steve showed up
with his giant tractor,
we realized the way the truck was situated
made it very difficult to pull it out
with the tractor
without damaging the truck.
So we abandoned that idea and
finally located our neighbor Dan
with the bulldozer.
Even with a bulldozer,
it wasn’t easy getting a 1500-ton dump truck
loaded with sand
out of the sticky Oklahoma clay.
But he did.

Jae and Bob Leveling Sand in Foundation

The plumbers got the plumbing done
under the foundation.
Our new intern, Jae,
on her first day,
helped shovel sand
and she and Bob got the sand filled in
and so the foundation is close
to being ready for the next pour.

Sustainable Designer Tom Temple
and Concrete Guru Bob Ruzycki

Tom and Bob unveiled
the compostable toilet
and made decisions about
the vault.
Our neighbors took a gander
at the compostable toilet vault
and declared they’d never seen anything like it.
A challenging day, for certain.
A productive day all in all.
And a good day in the neighborhood.

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