January 2013


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeautiful Friends

It’s chilly out this morning;
nevertheless,
it’s also sunny
and something calls me
to the porch.
I resist the temptation
to answer a request to chat
with a new friend in Bethlehem
(I have so much work to do today):
I explain this in a brief note,
and go outside.
The birds have been all morning
at the feeders
just off the corner of the porch.
Today is the day this week
I count for the Cornell Bird Feeder Watch:
almost 50 Red-Winged Blackbirds,
10 Goldfinch,
40 or more Sparrows.
It is the couples
that thrill me this morning:
Bluejays
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
House Finches
Cardinals.
They all take flight
even though I step gently
out the front door.
I’m sorry to disturb them,
but they will return.
I stand in the cold air,
feeling it,
breathing deeply,
listening—
to the chirps high in the Hackberry,
where the birds await my departure;
to the wind in the Hackberry branches,
to a Canada Goose honking
in the distance,
to the kazoo-like call of a Eurasian-Collared Dove
flying overhead.
The Alpaca sit in the sun,
chewing;
goats, napping.
Then I hear the traffic
on the Interstate,
a mile to the west.
And I think beyond,
of my new friend
in Bethlehem
and how, a week ago when we chatted,
this teenage girl
told me of two young people
killed by Israeli soldiers’ gunfire—
one in her neighborhood.
I wonder if I just didn’t have the courage
this morning,
to hear what she had to say.
I am tearful
as I stand in this beautiful air,
in this beautiful, wide space,
listening to the beautiful birds,
watching the beautiful animals.
Remembering our meeting
in the shadow
of a giant wall
that confines her life,
I send all this to her,
and realize
this may be the most important work
I do today:
remembering,
that we are all
one living organism;
believing,
with heart brimming,
that somehow,
we hold each other’s
pain
and beauty.

As more cities are beginning to allow chickens,
people want to have a few in their own backyards.
There are so many benefits to raising your own chickens:
they eat bugs, till the ground, fertilize the soil,
provide delicious eggs and are great entertainment.

Recently, we held our first workshop on keeping chickens.
We discussed the challenges of keeping the chickens safe–
shared our experiences with skunks, racoons, coyotes
and other predators who find chickens irresistible.

We toured the farm and looked at the progression
of coops we have used for our own chickens.
Then participants built models of what they want their coops
and pens to look like.

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We learned that the city of Norman now allows homeowners to keep four chickens.

One of our guests is doing her dissertation at the University of Oklahoma
on how individuals can affect change in city policy in the area of raising chickens.
We look forward to hearing about other cities that are
coming on board with chickens.

Sunday evening
after sun disappeared
the beauty of the colors in the clouds
were deeply felt.

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The breeze was soft
as darkness came
and I went in the house.
Shortly,
a friend on the phone:
“You are looking
at the moon, aren’t you?”
I dashed out
as if the house
were on fire.
A full
orange moon
crested the horizon,
striped
and glowing
behind inky blue clouds.
I sat in the soft breeze
and watched
it appear
and re-appear
until it was well above the clouds,
still glowing orange.
What an entrance!

Monday,
January 28,
the temperature reached 76.
It was windy.
At moonrise,
the moon was hidden
behind dense clouds
and climbed high in the sky
before I could see its
white glow.
There was soft, silent
lightning
on the horizon.
I opened a bedroom window.

6:15 a.m.,
Tuesday, Jan. 29,
a thunderstorm.
Rain, thunder, hail, wind,
rain.
I had to close the bedroom window,
but opened the front door
and listened.
By 7:30,
we had over two inches
of rain.

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It has been months
since this much rain has fallen
at once—
or since we’ve had rain
at all.
It’s still sprinkling
and I hear thunder
again.
There is dripping.
Birds are splashing
in puddles.
It’s the real thing:
a rainy morning.

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Snow is predicted
tonight.

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Winter Wheat last winter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinter Wheat, same field, this winter

Winter
is when the wheat fields
are green.
Red Winter Wheat
is planted in the fall,
grows all winter,
when cattle usually
are let out to graze it,
until late winter
when they’re taken off
so the crop
can grow
and the grain be harvested
in early summer.
In winter, then,
the wheat fields
are a gorgeous green;
after harvest,
all summer,
they are brown.
But not this year.
We begin the third year of a drought
and there is very little wheat
growing;
no cattle grazing
wheat.
Cattle are being fed hay;
water hauled for them,
as many farm ponds
are dry.
There was a chance of rain
yesterday,
but, again,
not a drop.

 

 

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…our practical living amongst all the members of creation is a deeply religious matter. This point needs stressing, especially in an age of individualism, because we are tempted to think that religious faith is ultimately and primarily about the believer’s personal relation to God and then secondly about how we humans treat and relate to each other. Faith is thus reduced to a spiritual affair that does not have lot to do with bodies. The danger of a disembodied or gnostic faith…is that it becomes nearly inevitable that we will devalue and forget the many other bodies of creation too. When we fully admit the body into religious life, we are at the same time compelled to think about and care for other bodies—microorganisms, earthworms, tomatoes, wheat, bees, chickens—because it is through them that our living takes place. our bodies, in other words, join us integrally to the whole of creation and thus also to the life of God there at work.

— Norman Wirzba
Living the Sabbath. Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight

20130126_105652At the Big Pond
on a Winter Morning

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Wind,
water,
sun
doing what they do,
creating sparkling beauty,
balm.

 

20130122_094521Black Rabbit having its greens with the Chickens

Changes,
tweaks,
adaptations,
remodelings
never end
in the barn,
in the village
which rabbits,
chickens
and guineascohabit.
Because we don’t like to keep
rabbits
in small hutches,
we give them a big pen
on the outer edge
of the barn.
But because that pen
has a cement floor,
we also built them a pen
inside the barn,
where they can burrow.
And now,
again,
they have burrowed
their way out of the rabbit village
and into the rest of the barn,
where chickens and guineas
live.
Chickens and guineas
could always get into the rabbit pens,
so we would close the door to the outer pen
to feed rabbits
their greens.

The hens and rooster
are crazed to get to the greens
when we enter the barn.
A black hen jumps as high as our waist
to peck at the greens bag—
repeatedly.
Now that the rabbits hop freely
around the entire barn,
they and the chickens
eat their greens together—
though we still toss some greens
into the rabbit burrows,
to be sure they get some.

Ann has now built a foyer!
just inside the barn entrance—
at the gate from the alpaca pen—
so the chickens and guineas
will be able to get out
when spring comes
without the rabbits
getting out too
(she built it around a cement
doorstop.)
Life with animals
is a never-ending series
of occasions
to be creative.

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