What better way to celebrate
Earth
than to enjoy it.
And we did,
last Saturday—
a beautiful,
clear,
warm,
yes, breezy,
Oklahoma April day.
We learned about bees and other pollinators,
took the Cosmic Walk,
made seed bombs,
spun silky alpaca wool,
cooked in solar ovens,
discovered Smart Pots,
toured the house made of straw and mud,
walked the prairie labyrinth,
watched the goats and alpaca,
led children on a nature scavenger hunt,
climbed old Junipers,
danced, hilariously, to sweet fiddle music,
picnicked on grilled corn and bison hot dogs,
and thanked the Earth.

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May we be so attentive,
so appreciative,
so thoughtful about living our lives
with this magnificent planet
every
day.

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Our Latest Newsletter:
An Astonishing Summer at Turtle Rock Farm

 

 

 

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A year ago,
permaculturist Mark Shepard
came to Turtle Rock Farm
and taught us about forestry ag:
building a food forest
on the prairie.
He helped us lay out swales and berms and pocket ponds
on the slope below the “hill”
where we have mowed our labyrinth.
The swales and berms follow the contour,
with the pocket ponds on the ends.
Rain water collects temporarily
in the ponds and then flows into the swales,
where trees would be planted.
With rain predicted the week after the swale-building,
we spread a mixture of prairie grasses on the berms
and were relieved and grateful
that the rain did materialize.
In January,
an Oklahoma City Boy Scout troop
helped us plant drought-resistant varieties
of trees and shrubs.
This spring,
we have barely had any rain. Immeasurable amounts.
Yet, the Yellow Clover is abloom
on the berms
and the swales are green.
Many of the tree starts are growing.

The summer forecast
is that the drought and heat
pattern of the last several summers
will remain.
So Ann and Frank are placing five-gallon buckets
in the swales
and watering the trees and shrubs,
to help them get established
in the dryness.
After the trees are more mature,
the expectation is that this will not be necessary
and the prairie will be producing
increased habitat and food
for bees, animals, humans.
These times call
for creative solutions.
We hope our efforts at this experiment
add to the knowledge.

 

 
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Two Oikos scholars
and their faculty sponsor
spent Sunday afternoon
with us.
Oikos (the Greek word for house)
is a program at Oklahoma City University
that aspires to prepare students
to engage in lives of social
and ecological responsibility.
Joe Meinhart brought
Collin and Zander,
amazing young men
well on their way
to living lives,
doing work,
that engenders care
and sustainability.
Exploring the prairie
on a cloudy, almost-chilly
April afternoon,
they discovered a couple of Baltimore Oriole’s nests,
a wasp nest with a wasp larva (though dead)
still in one of the cells.

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Standing at a buffalo wallow,
they reflected on the great prairie hydrology system
that existed when 60 million buffalo
existed on the prairie
(plus nature’s other prairie hydrologists:
prairie dogs, and beavers.)
They were enthralled watching bees
at the apiary,
where they wondered why a pollen-laden bee
was walking in the grass
and observed the clever placement
of a spider web between two hive boxes.

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They met the alpaca boys
and the goats;
toured the straw bale hermitage,
the high tunnel’s year-round garden.
And finally, they made the cosmic walk.

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Eyes asparkle,
they tried to grasp more deeply
that they are made of stardust.
Not hard for us to see!

The idea that people could
use the energy provided by their feet—
instead of burning fossil fuel—
to propel them up the street
proved to be a popular one
yesterday afternoon,
as hundreds of people
walked NW 23rd street,
enjoying sunshine,
community,
and all sorts of educational
and health-related
(health of people and planet)
activities.
Open Streets OKC
an alliance of several groups
working for a healthier community—
held the first annual
event to give people the opportunity
to enjoy city streets
blocked off from traffic.
A people-mover
powered by people pedaling
was great fun. On board,
as they pedaled,
there was community
sing-alongs
and not only enough energy
to move them up the street,
but also to make smoothies!

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Our friends with Transition OKC
helped gobs of people
make seed bombs,
to provide food and habitat
for bees and butterflies,
who provide necessary pollination
for people food.

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We set up the Cosmic Walk
right there on the street
and invited people to walk
the story of the creation of the universe.
It was a thrill to see parents
reading the story to the youngest ones,
older children making the walk through time
on their own
and so many people enjoying
this experiential way to learn
our expanding universe story.
It’s the kind of experience
that can lead to a change in perspective
and changes in the way we live
together on the planet.

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Seeing people happily
walk right down the middle of the wide street,
enjoying the beautiful day,
each other
and eagerly participating in new learning experiences
gives a friendly new meaning
to the phrase
“take to the streets!”
Thank you Oklahoma City.

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Last April,
permaculturist Mark Shepard
came from Wisconsin
and guided us through the process
of creating swales and berms
on the prairie hillside above the Big Pond.
Rain came immediately,
to our utter astonishment
and profound appreciation,
and the swales slowed the water,
directed it to pocket ponds
so it could slowly soak
into the prairie
instead of rushing down the hillside.
It was an unusual summer;
periodic rains came in the hotter months.
Though we had no “gulley-washers”
to completely fill farm ponds,
the swales and berms
allowed the rains to slow
and soak
and the grass grew
lushly.

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The time has come
to plant trees and shrubs
along the berms and swales.
Ann and Frank
dug 180 holes
and this weekend
a Boy Scout troop
will help us
plant…
American Plum
Indian Currant
Native Pecan
Red Mulberry—
to further prevent erosion,
provide food and habitat
for bees, animals
and humans.
Maybe this project
will guide us to new,
less-invasive,
healthier ways
to grow food
right here amidst the native grasses,
(without destroying their 20-feet-long roots)
and in spite of the windy,
drought-to-flood extreme conditions
of the Great Plains.

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In the high tunnel garden

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Meeting Red Wiggler Worms

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Learning about bees

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DSCN1242Feeding the paca boys

DSCN1245Hanging out with the animals

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Tour of the straw bale hermitage

DSCN1254Meeting Maizey

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Lunch on the porch

DSCN1258Eating farm-grown tomatoes and cantaloupe

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Freedom to explore

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Children from our local school
in Billings
came for a visit to the farm
last week.
Billings is a farming community;
still, only one of these 17 children
lives on a farm. So, it was pretty much
all new to them…
We call it our “Poop Tour.”
They met the alpacas,
the Red Wiggler worms,
the pygmy goats,
chickens and guineas—and learned
how all their poop
one way or another
helps grow the garden
from which they could eat
fresh tomatoes and cantaloupe.
(How the bees help too.)
And how giving the kitchen scraps
to the chickens and worms
and feeding the alpaca
helps produce the poop.
But the best part of their trip for us—
as always—was watching them enjoy
the freedom
to explore and play
in the natural world
that is their home.

If you have a children or student group
you want to bring to the farm,
let us know. The free visit

is funded by the Oklahoma
Disciples of Christ Foundation.