September 2011

Darcy makes the invitation

Biak responds

“Hey, let’s go get William!”

Game over

With cooler temperatures
the alpaca
are a lot more playful.
Every morning,
as I bring their bowls of pellets,
William kicks up his heels
and makes a circle or two
around Darcy,
who twirls around
trying to get to his bowl.
Out in the pasture,
Darcy and Biak
have taken up wrestling again.
Sometimes it looks like play.
Sometimes it looks like it might be
something else,
for sometimes they bite each other’s necks
and knees.
When it’s not play,
their lower lips sag
and they can’t eat for awhile.
These days,
in the cool,
clear air of autumn,
it looks like
sheer fun.


Seven youngish guineas

Could this be a girl?

We haven’t been much into
here at Turtle Rock Farm.
Except for cats;
we get lots of happy little kittens.
But we haven’t arranged
for any other babies.
Three male alpaca.
Two female goats.
Hens only—
until this year
when one of the little chicks
we picked out at the farm store
turned out to be a rooster.
Two male guineas.
Until the other day.
A couple of months ago,
four young guineas came here to live
and then a couple of weeks ago,
three more arrived.
They’re a little larger,
though not fully grown.
They are large enough to make
adult guinea sounds.
And we’re hearing sounds
we’ve never heard before.
We think they’re girls.
In addition to the very loud
clacking sound
the adult males make,
they, loudly, croak out something like,
“Come BACK! Come BACK!” Come BACK!”
And the two males
are right outside their pen
(the young ones won’t be let out of their pen in the barn
until spring)
talking to them
several times during the day.

When the cold comes
and the days grow shorter,
we’ll keep the males in the barn
all the time
and let all the guineas in together.
We know it will be noisy,
but we like all those sounds.
The loud clackings.
The “Come BACKs.”
The squeaks and squawks and whirrs.
The cock-a-doodles.
The cackling.
The cooing the doves make.
Soon, throngs
of red-winged blackbirds
will wing their way into the pastures
and the tree tops,
and more pairs of cardinals
will arrive
chirping their way into the symphony.
And maybe,
in the spring,
we’ll hear some “cheep-cheeps.”


A rooster lives here
He is beautiful.
His red feathers shine
and his black tail feathers
His noble comb
is a rich red.
He gives voice
to his demands
off and on
all day long.
I love hearing him,
though I know
the hens
may not
off and on
all day long.
He’s taken to attacking
in the morning
when I open the barn door
to the pasture
and the chickens rush out.
He rushes me
when I forget to keep my eye on him,
and plants his beak briefly
in my knee.
Sometimes I actually hear
him coming toward me.
Yesterday, when he rushed me,
I heard him coming,
turned and got right down
in front of him
and told him I didn’t like him
to attack me.
Calmly, I told him I wanted him to stop
He stood looking at me
without flinching
or turning his head.
Then, I got up,
and, warily,
walked away from him.
He rushed me again.
So I spent more time with him,
telling him I didn’t like that.
When I stood up again,
he didn’t rush me
and I was able to walk away
without the threatening sound
of a rooster stampeding.
This morning,
when I opened the barn door
he either ignored me
or intentionally decided
not attack.
I was pleased.
But it’s way too early
to know what this means.
He is beautiful.


This is a time in the western culture
when learning to live in the moment
is both immensely challenging
and immensely life-giving.
The problem—
losing track of our Center
due to an explosion
of communication and work demands:
constant, instant availability,
demanding schedules—
leads to the solution:
the very opposite—
being mindful of this moment.
Living mindfully in the moment
leads us back
to our truest selves,
to the “Bigness that holds us all,”
to the beauty that is life,
in all its forms.

We offer a day away
to learn and experience
the spiritual practices
that can be used
even amidst the harriedness
to live the sacrament of the moment.
It’s Saturday, October 8
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
at Turtle Rock Farm.
Register at

I’ve been fighting hopelessness
for a couple of years.
It’s depressing
to consider the state of the planet.
And it’s overwhelming to consider
how to make enough effectively radical changes
in time.
Grieving is a natural part of the process
of seeing and facing
the truth about what human beings
have done to the planet
and themselves.
We need to see
and accept the painful facts so that
we can make changes.
Once we muster the courage to look,
and grieve,
we can begin to move away
from the paralysis of overwhelmedness
and into life-giving action.
I’ve found a new kind of hope
that is allowing me to move ahead.
It’s not the hope that,
magically, all will be well;
it’s not the hope that
God will rescue us.
At a conference I attended last weekend,
Mary Elizabeth Moore spoke of
“the Bigness that holds us all together.”
It’s that hope, that
with the guidance and compassion
of the Bigness,
the Love-that-undergirds-all-being,
the human species is evolving;
and that, because I’m here,
part of that evolutionary process,
my part is necessary
to contribute to the evolvement of the species
and the health of the cosmos that is our home.
I may not get to see planetary health, wholeness and harmony
in my lifetime.
But if I don’t continue to do
everything I can,
I can’t hold hope for future generations
of humans
and all life in Love’s cosmic home.

Others too have recently
given me what I need to continue
to work toward a healthy planet
in spite of the fact that
it’s possible we may not do enough
quickly enough.
Wendell Berry said: “You know what
you have to do to conserve. Keep doing
what you know to do.”
Scott Pittman said: “The problem
is the solution.”

I finally got a rain barrel hooked up
on the corner of my house.
Rain can now drip from the downspout
into a blue barrel that once
stored soda pop syrup.
Last week, rain came;
we got three-quarters of an inch.
I captured a mere 55 gallons.
I will get bigger rain barrels
because it was such a joy
last night,
after I planted tiny lettuce seeds,
to be able to water them with
the nourishing water
that fell from the sky a few days ago.
“You know what to do;” (capture rainwater)
“do what you know:” (Simply, capture rainwater.)
“The problem” (water shortage, for instance)
“is the solution” (to stopping waste.)

I may never know my son’s children’s children;
I will never know the creatures that call the prairie home
fifty years from now.
But as a recipient of the gift of life,
as a citizen of the cosmos,
as a member of the human species,
it is incumbent on me—
and a source of joy
and hope—
to do everything I know to do now
so that these beloved ones have the chance
for this glorious life.


The supreme good lies in the integrity of the earthly and cosmic community, which at this phase of evolution is entrusted to human responsibility. Human beings live ethically when they maintain the dynamic equilibrium of all things and when, in order to preserve it, they prove capable of setting limits to their own desires. Human beings are not simply beings of desires; desire alone would make them anthropocentric and mimetic. They are also and fundamentally beings of solidarity and communion. When they become more so, they enter into harmony with the universal dynamism and carry out their cosmic mission as custodian, troubadour and guardian angel for everything crated, thereby realizing their ethical dimension.

— Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor

Prairie Dinner 2011

The Milky Way
is making a dazzling swathe
across the sky
these days.
And so it is time
for the Prairie Dinner and Concert.
Last year,
this wondrous evening ended
around the bonfire,
Kyle Dillingham playing “Ashokan’s Farewell”
on his violin
as we all stood in amazement
at the beauty of the Milky Way overhead.
It could happen again.
The stars are lining up:
Kyle is on tap
(and again, he’ll play a tune or two
on our dad’s old fiddle.)
We’re always glad to share an evening with Kyle
and are always in awe of the beautiful music
he creates.
Kamala Gamble, of Kam’s Kookery,
is gathering local foods for a scrumptious dinner
set alongside Doe Creek.
It’s a magical combination:
colorful, fresh, deliciously-prepared food
coupled with Oklahoma’s best wine
from Woods and Waters Winery
at a gathering of people who care about Earth
eating al fresco
as Earth rolls up and the sun paints the sky.
On Saturday, October 1.
Guests may arrive at 3 to tour the farm,
walk the labyrinth,
see the strawbale hermitage,
visit the animals.
At 5, we’ll start with appetizers,
then dinner.
At dusk, we’ll walk to the round-top
for the concert,
some hot cider,
the fire
and the stars.

Green Connections,
the non-profit that supports
educational programming
at Turtle Rock Farm,
benefits from the proceeds.
You can make your reservations

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