April 2012


 

Beautiful little seedlings
planted with great care
and hope
have been disappearing
overnight.
Digging in the soil,
I have found the culprits:
gray, mushy-looking cutworms
which I take to the chickens and guineas.
These moth larvae
live in the soil during the winter
and wake up hungry in the spring,
then cut fresh seedlings at soil level
during the night.
Devastating.
We now plant our seedlings
inside toilet paper rolls
to trick the cutworms.
There is quite an infestation
this year.
And so, there is a huge population
of moths.
Moths of endless shapes, sizes and colors
(after all, there are 160,000 identified species,
with thousands yet to be identified)
are flitting all over the farm.
They fly in front of us
as we walk.
Yesterday, digging in the soil
to plant more seedlings,
I found a few more cutworms.
The guineas got those.
The trick is to keep the seedlings alive
until the cutworms hatch into moths.
Thankfully,
there’s only one generation a year.

Another thunderstorm blew in late last night
and brought another almost two inches
of rain,
in addition to the almost two inches
the night before.
This morning,
when I opened the front door
dozens of fluttering moths
showered my head.
These youngsters must have found shelter
from the storm there
between the screen door and the inside door.
Surprised at first,
I then was delighted
to have such a blessing:
more cutworms have wings!
Now they are busy
pollinating.

Moths and Honeysuckle

As humans we come into being as an integral part of this millionfold diversity of life expression. Earlier peoples celebrated the whole of the universe in its integrity and in its every mode of expression. From the moment of awakening our consciousness, the universe strikes wonder and fulfillment throughout our human mode of expression. Humans and the universe were made for each other. Our experience of the universe finds festive expression in the great moments of seasonal transformation, such as the dark of winter, the exuberance of springtime, the warmth and brightness of summer, the lush abundance of autumn. These are the ever-renewing moments of celebration of the universe, moments when the universe is in some depth of communion with itself in the intimacy of all its components.

Because we are so sensitive to any personal affliction, because we avoid any threats to our personal existence, we dedicate ourselves to individual survival above all else. In the process of extending the limits of our own lives, we imperil the community of life systems on the planet…Rather than become integral with this larger celebration-sacrificial aspect of the universe, we have elected to assert our person human well-being and survival as the supreme value.

We are ourselves only to the extent of our unity with the universe to which we belong and in which alone we discover our fulfillment. Intimacy exists only in terms of wonder, admiration and emotional sympathy when beings give themselves to each other in a single psychic embrace, an embrace in which each mode of being experiences its fulfillment.

—Thomas Berry
Evening Thoughts. Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community

Guinea Fowl

Clutch of Guinea Eggs

The guinea
who located this nest
did a good job.
It is in very tall grass and weeds
in a pen in the corral
where no goat or alpaca
can go.
It was hard to find,
though a cat did,
sitting watchfully
once in awhile.
We have not seen a guinea there
but every day
there was one more egg.
We waited
and waited,
hoping a guinea would sit on them,
and when there were 24 eggs,
we gave up hope.
Twenty-two of the eggs
are now in the incubator.
We left two in the nest.
There are lots of things
about this we don’t know.
Is there more than one guinea
laying eggs in the nest?
Will she/they abandon the nest
now that most of the eggs
have been removed?
If so, where will they lay eggs now?
And if there’s only one guinea laying,
is there another nest,
or do we only have one hen?
Will the eggs in the incubator hatch?
(We’ll know in 28 days.)
Most critically,
why isn’t a guinea hen
sitting on these eggs?
We know that with hybridized chicken hens
the brooding nature
has been sacrificed
to produce chickens that behave
better in factory settings,
and produce more meat
or eggs.
But guineas???
Evidently the hen or hens
who live here
aren’t in a “broody” mood.
Maybe they will be
one day
this summer.
In the meantime,
it seems a waste to let the eggs sit there.
Hard to know what to do:
gather them
or let them collect
until the hens are in the mood?
Would the eggs still be brood-able
then?
I think it’s a great thing
that we don’t understand
the mysterious Guinea.
We don’t understand
why they can’t figure out
how to fly back over the fence
they just flew over.
We don’t understand
the heirarchy with which they seem
to have to enter the barn at night.
We don’t understand
what they are saying
with their loud and long,
repetitive and insistent calls.
It’s a good and humble thing
that we humans
have to just observe,
pay attention
and learn;
that we don’t have all the answers.
We do hope
that in 28 days,
there will be more
keets.
For there is one thing we do know:
the more Guineas,
the fewer ticks—
and the more entertainment.
We love watching them
dash about,
in clutches
themselves.


A few years ago
we learned
that being in nature
helped people who serve in the military
heal from trauma they experience
in war zones.
Since then,
we’ve been offering a day
at Turtle Rock Farm
for women who have served
or are serving
in the military.
The first year,
we offered the retreat
for women who had been deployed.
That first gathering
we learned that women in the military—
whether they’ve served abroad or not—
benefit from time together in nature.
This year,
our Retreat for Military Women
is Saturday, May 5.
In addition to walks on the prairie,
kayaking,
visiting the animals,
relaxing in nature
and lunch together,
we’re offering a drum circle,
led by Dave Conrad.
Drumming connects us
in profound ways—
to ourselves,
to each other,
to the natural world.
And it’s fun!
To register,
click here.

This is the first spring
that I’ve continued to put out birdseed.
In the past,
I stop when grass and trees green.
But this year
I decided to continue to spread birdseed
under the Hackberry all summer.
The birds who eat from the feeders
seem to have flown on—
except a Chickadee or two.
But the sparrows and black birds—
Red-Winged Blackbirds, Cowbirds —and Mourning Dove
and the Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Cardinals and Bluejay
come morning and evening to find the seed strewn
under the tree.
Mockingbird comes to the water bath.
I enjoy their company
all day as well
as they fly from tree to tree
or sit singing.
We’ve been hearing a high whistle,
as some birds call each other from tree to tree.
Now I think it’s one variety of cowbird.
Sometimes the birdsong is so loud,
it distracts human conversation;
all we can do is smile and listen.
And on Earth Day
as we gathered on the front porch
next to the expansive branches
of the Hackberry
to pray the prayers of our Earth Day liturgy,
the many birds were present
and in full song.
Our friend Elizabeth had to lift her voice
to be heard alongside the birdsong.
As Barnswallows dipped and dived
and sailed above,
it seemed that birds and humans
joined
in celebrating life on Earth.

Earth Day 2012 Blessing Litany
adapted by Elizabeth Box Price for the prairie, from Chinook Blessing Litany, Whidbey Institute, Whidbey Island, WA.

Leader:  We call upon the earth, our planet home, with its beautiful depths and soaring heights, its vitality and abundance of life, and together we ask that it:
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  We call upon the prairie, the tall grass, the fields of wheat, the subtle rises and meandering creeks, and we ask that they
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  We call upon the land that grows our food, the nurturing soil, the fertile fields, the gardens and orchards, and we ask that they
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.
Leader:  We call upon the trees clustered along creekss and sprinkled over the fields, providing shade and shelter; the Cottonwood, the Bois d’Arc, the Hackberry, the Sand Plum.
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  We call upon the creatures of the prairie, the coyotes and deer, the black snake and red-tailed hawk, the wild turkey and prairie chicken, the buffalo, the cattle and scissor-tailed fly catcher.
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  We call upon the moon and the stars and the sun, who govern the rhythms and seasons of our lives and remind us that we are part of a great and wondrous universe, and we ask them to
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

Leader:  And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the universe… to be with us  to
All:  Teach us, and show us the way.

The Second Annual Green Connections Earth Day Celebration
was last Saturday at Turtle Rock Farm.
It was a day set aside
to come together
and learn more about our planet home,
all who live here
and how interdependent we are.
And it was a day to thank Earth
for food, air, water, clothing, shelter.
Too, it was a day to celebrate the Source of Life
in song, companionship, picnic and dance.

Guests visit the tipi and in the straw bale hermitage

Diane Ford teaches wheat weaving.

Kayla and her star made of wheat.

 Janice Robinson demonstrates spinning alpaca wool.

Renee Hoover teaches Cherokee double-wall basket weaving

Dave Conrad teaches about finding our natural rhythm
and the rhythms of all on the planet

Marty Hoffman teaches about alpaca wool, as Darcy is sheared.

Guests visit Biak, waiting his turn.

Darcy and William, freshly shorn, wait in the pasture for Biak.

Listening to the sweet sounds of George,
Dale and Sylvan’s swing music on the front porch.

Making solar ovens in the round top barn.

        Elizabeth Box Price leads the Thanking-the-Earth ceremony
during which Mary Moloney reads a Wendell Berry poem.

Guests join in the prayers for wisdom and blessing.

    Volunteer Extraordinaire Doug Sander manages the grills and fire pits
to cook corn on the cob and Buffalo hot dogs.
Nothing’s finer than a picnic with fine food, fine company, fine fiddling and clear skies.

Two of the children from Lone Star School cook
their Wichita Buffalo Hot Dogs in their new solar oven.

And then the Mud Dobbers
and the Scissortail Traditional Dance Society
danced us into the night.

We thank everyone who came to share the day.
We thank the Lone Star School for bringing their students and parents,
who enriched our time together
with their total engagement and interest in the events.
We thank Diane, Renee, Janice, Marty, George, Dale, Sylvan, Dave,
Shanda and the Mud Dobbers for their generous sharing of talents.
Thank you Whitney Pearson of the Oklahoma Sierra Club
for bringing our awareness and activism to the environmental issues that threaten the planet.
We thank Elizabeth, Dorothy, Mary and Claudia of the Green Connections board
for their deep commitment to environmental education
and their lovely presence.
We thank Susan, Doug, Nelda, Erica and Frank for their extraordinary efforts
to make this celebration happen.
We thank our parents,
who left this beautiful place on the prairie
for us to tend and share.
And we thank the Source of Life and Love
for bringing us all together
here.


 

The experiences that we have spoken of as we look up at the starry sky at night, and as, in the morning, we see the landscape revealed as the sun dawns over the Earth—these experiences reveal a physical world but also a more profound world that cannot be bought with money, cannot be manufactured with technology, cannot be listed on the stock market, cannot be made in the chemical laboratory, cannot be reproduced with all our genetic engineering, cannot be sent by email. These experiences require only that we follow the deepest feelings of the human soul.

What we look for is no longer the Pax Romana, the peace of imperial Rome, nor is it simply the Pax Humana, the peace among humans, but the Pax Gaia, the peace of Earth and every being on the Earth. This is the original and final peace, the peace granted by whatever power it is that brings our world into being. Within the universe, the planet Earth with all its wonder is the place for the meeting of the divine and the human.

As humans we are born of the Earth, nourished by the Earth, healed by the Earth. The natural world tells us: I will feed you, I will clothe you, I will shelter you, I will heal you. Only do not so devour me or use me that you destroy my capacity to mediate the divine and the human. For I offer you a communion with the divine, I offer you gifts that you can exchange with each other, I offer you flowers whereby you may express your reverence for the divine and your love for each other.

— Thomas Berry
Evening Thoughts. Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community

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