country life



Spring Come Early at Turtle Rock Farm

Our March Newsletter


The New Year at Turtle Rock Farm

Our January 2016 Newsletter

I changed my city sit spot.
I thought it was in the food forest,
under the umbrella of trees
and amid the undergrowth.
But then, a few mornings ago,
I was in the urban farm before anyone else
and I sat down on a half-log
that serves as a bench
and before long
and it was like coming home,
like sitting on my front porch
at the other farm,
Turtle Rock Farm, up north.
It felt so good
to feel in the city
what I feel at the farm.


Female Red-Winged Blackbird




I watched and listened to Mockingbird
and Robin, chirp and eat Juniper berries.
I watched three gulls
flying high in lazy circles
in the gorgeous, cloudless blue sky.
When they caught the sun
at a certain angle
their white feathers
shined silver.
I watched a female Red-Winged Blackbird
(I think) and Sparrows play
on the high line pole.
I watched a squirrel scamper across
a high line wire,
with trips into the trees.
The afternoon sun was warm,
the breeze soft
the light golden,
shadows long.

View of CommonWealth Urban Farm from new sit spot

Evidently it’s true what they say:
Your sit spot
finds you.

OG&E has applied to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission
to levy four new tariffs
to residential and business customers
who have solar panels.

The proposed residential TOU tariff (R-TOU-kW) includes a monthly customer charge ($18.00), a demand charge ($2.68/kW), on-peak ($0.173/kWh) and off-peak energy charges ($0.0137/kWh), and fuel charges.

The proposed commercial TOU tariff (COM-TOU-kW) includes a monthly customer charge ($34.75), a demand charge ($3.30/kW), on-peak ($0.1875/kWh) and off-peak energy charges $0.0143/kWh), and fuel charges.

In addition, if the customer generates more solar power
than they use that month,
they will not receive any compensation
for net access. (This is also true of Kay Rural Electric cooperative,
which services Turtle Rock Farm,
where both of our houses have solar panels.)

The Oklahoma legislature made this tariff possible
by passing packaged legislation presented by ALEC
last legislative session. One U.S. utility company,
has already levied demand charges on solar customers.
In that state, solar installations have decreased
by 98 percent. Of course, people have lost jobs as well.

Making the transition from burning fossil fuel,
which causes global warming and climate change,
to alternative fuels is financially painful
for some; many in Oklahoma.
But so was ending slavery.
Both transitions were/are moral imperatives.
This time,
moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy
is about revering life on this planet.

The powerful fossil fuel industry
is going to great lengths
to prevent development of renewable energy.
In Oklahoma, fossil fuel company executives
and university presidents
serve on each others’ boards of directors,
with compensation close to that of the salaries
of the university presidents.
Bloomberg News reported earlier this year
that Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm,
a major donor to OU (and OU President David Boren
sits on the CR board) told an OU dean
that he wanted certain OU scientists dismissed
who were studying the links between
oil and gas activity
and the 400-fold increase in Oklahoma earthquakes.
The state’s top seismologist, Austin Holland,
was called into “a little bit intimidating” meeting
with Hamm in Boren’s office.
This summer Holland left Oklahoma to go to work
as a supervisory geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey
Seismic Lab in Albuquerque, NM.

And this week comes the revelation
from Inside Climate News and the LA Times
that in the 1980’s Exxon scientists told Exxon executives
that climate change is real,
dangerous and caused by fossil fuels.
Exxon’s climate models accurately predicted
the global temperatures that have occurred since.
But Exxon executives publicly cast doubt
that climate change is real, insisted
the planet is cooling, and funded campaigns
to manufacture doubt about climate change
that its own scientists had confirmed as real.

So, Oklahoma,
we invite everyone to participate
in three events this week
that we are participating in.
Monday evening, 5:30-7, there will be
an Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Solar in Oklahoma
outside the Corporation Commission offices,
Jim Thorpe Building, 2101 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City.

And Thursday evening at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral,
Pat will present the spiritual foundation for environmental care
as one of three panelists during
An Evening of Conversation: Climate Change is Real.
Other panelists are Cimarron Presbytery Stated Clerk Deborah Meinke,
presenting the science,
and Jim Roth, Murrah Law Firm,
talking about what we in Oklahoma can do.
Rev. Tim Luschen, Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, is moderator.
6:30 p.m.
127 NW 7th Street., Oklahoma City.
The event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, at 10 a.m., at St. Paul’s Cathedral,
Oklahoma Conference of Churches is holding
a news conference in which,
in advance of the UN Climate Summit
in Paris beginning November 30,
representatives of many faith traditions in Oklahoma
will speak to the necessity of nations to commit
to lowering carbon emissions.

Back at Turtle Rock Farm,
we, who have long lived in—
and yes, benefited from—
an oil and gas field,
are thrilled to welcome a wind farm
that will stretch twenty miles
from Billings to Bressie.
It is our understanding that this wind farm
will supply energy
to the currently coal-fired
Sooner OG&E plant.


Have you been watching the evening
and night
sky lately?

20151023_190413Three nights ago, in the west
20151023_190523and in the east
DSCN8450and later
DSCN8451above Turtle Rock Farm.

DSCN8471Last night, above CommonWealth Urban Farm (also, photo below)

Tonight, Oklahoma,
an even almost fuller moon.
the fullest.

I saw them a week ago
as we drove through Kansas,
long waves of Red-Winged Blackbirds flying
over fields of sorghum.
But I thrilled
yesterday morning
when I heard them,
the first time this autumn,
in the trees between
the farmhouse and the hermitage.
How can the simple, sweet, chippy sound
of a mass of Red-Winged Blackbirds
in the treetops
swell the heart?
It’s a sound familiar.
It’s the sound of community
It’s a sound of winter.
It’s a sound of home,
and for a moment or two,
my heart ached,
for I was packing the car
for a several-day stay
in the city.


For two days
I’d watched three turkey vultures
terribly close to the chickens and guineas,
blithely making their way around the farm,
focused on grabbing seeds from grass
and pecking bugs out of the soil. One turkey
vulture was perched atop the Hackberry tree
at the back door of the farmhouse,
where chickens were busy foraging
in the wildlife plot.
One turkey vulture was atop a power pole
in the goat pen,
where a Cochin rooster spends much of his day.
Both vultures lifted those wide black wings
into the air
when I came near.
And then I saw at least 30 of them,
above the southwest pasture,
circling in the sky,
slowly moving south. I hoped
that as I drove away
those two didn’t return
to snag a snack for the road.

My angst then
at leaving the farm
with so much aerial action—
two Red-Tailed Hawks
have returned this week as well.
I hope they focus on mice
instead of chickens and guineas—
abated somewhat
when I met up with a city friend,
a city friend who lives in a busy
part of the city, and she
described the group of buzzards
above her house. Besides the buzzards
on the wing,
she’s been watching Monarchs
and those yellow butterflies
in her beautiful garden, enjoying
them before they flutter their way
to Mexico.

It’s heart-swelling season,
in country
and city.

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