What better way to celebrate
than to enjoy it.
And we did,
last Saturday—
a beautiful,
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.




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



May Days at Turtle Rock Farm.
Our May Newsletter.

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

from Earth Day Network

When we decided to offer the first
Earth Day celebration at Turtle Rock Farm,
we didn’t realize it was also
the Christian celebration of Good Friday.
We tried to change our celebration to Saturday,
but couldn’t reschedule some of the participants,
so we decided to go ahead with our plans.
As it turns out, Good Friday is enriching Earth Day
and Earth Day is expanding Good Friday.
Sneaking up on us
is a sense of surprise dawning;
and that is always,
the result of Grace.
Perhaps it’s an advantageous calendar
this year after all;
for, in addition to the sense of education and festivity of Earth Day,
there is now awe and reverence.
In addition to the solemnity of Good Friday,
there is now, awakening.

The first Earth Day was in 1970.
Having witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill
in Santa Barbara, California, the year before,
and hoping to propel environmental protection to the national agenda,
Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin,
tried to harness the energy of anti-war rallies at that time
to bring the problems of air and water pollution
to the public’s attention.
It was a “national teach-in on the environment.”
20 million people took to U.S. streets that day
to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.
Out of the energy of that event was borne the Environmental Protection Agency
and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
We have been celebrating Earth Day—
not only in the U.S., but globally—
on April 22, since then.

This year’s celebration of Earth
is especially poignant.
Not only is it Good Friday,
but this country is facing budget cuts
and attitude shifts
that could further endanger
the health of our Earth home.

At our Earth Day Festival tomorrow,
there will be educational moments:
Alpaca shearing,
fleece spinning,
solar oven-cooking (and making.)
We’ll plant grass and wildflowers.
There’s a prairie labyrinth to walk,
animals to observe.
And there will be celebration:
guitar music on the front porch,
and later, fiddle music in the barn for the contra dance.
As always at TRF, there will be sharing of food
(served in reusable or recycled dishes.)

At 5 p.m., we will dedicate
the straw bale and clay hermitage
we and fine friends constructed with our own hands,
in a lovely liturgy that combines
the awareness of God’s amazing, abiding care
for this wondrous blue planet
with the awareness of our responsibility to live here
carefully, thoughtfully, creatively—
in a sustainable, life-giving way.
Good grief,
Jesus of Nazareth would be/is (in another realm),
I think,
horrified at what we’ve done to his former home,
this planet Earth,
(God’s first revelation),
where he walked—mountain, lakeshore, desert, wheat field—every day.
On this Earth Day,
we are going to give thanks for God’s good gift
of good creation,
and apologize for the sickness we wrought.
On this Good Friday,
out of regard for the love shown to this world
in the giving life of the one
who made his talking points with images from nature
(lilies, salt, mustard seed, rain, moth, rust,
birds, fig tree, fruit, snakes, fish, weeds, grass, wheat…),
we are going to commit to do much, much, much better.
Then, like the “Lord of the Dance,”
we’re going to dance too.

Chinking the north wall last June
during the straw bale construction workshop

It seems a wonderful way to celebrate both Earth Day
and our straw bale and mud hermitage:
have the dedication ceremony
for the hermitage on Earth Day.
And while we’re at it,
we’re going to learn a few things
about sustaining life on this beautiful planet,
spend some time in the natural world
and then, dance!

Biak and Darcy after last year’s shearing

At 3 p.m. on Friday, April 22,
Paul Wolf will shear Mr. Darcy and Biak Bay,
the Alpaca who live here.
We will also welcome a third Alpaca,
The three grew up together at Heartland Farm,
the Dominican Sisters’ community at Pawnee Rock, KS.
Sr. Terry will also bring two other Alpaca
to accompany William on his journey.
It will be a good day to meet Alpaca.
Joni McSpadden will spin wool
and visitors can also try their hand at spinning.

Renee’s beautiful baskets

Renee Hoover will demonstrate
Cherokee double-wall basket weaving.
Our tipi will be open for visiting.
Diane Butler will demonstrate
wheat straw weaving
and visitors can weave a St. Brigid’s cross,
which were, traditionally,
hung in new barns.
Visitors interested in solar cooking
can make a solar oven to take home.
Besides visiting the hermitage,
the farm, the gardens,
the other animals (rabbits, chickens, Pygmy Goats,
barn cats and our two dogs, Joe and Maizey)
there is a prairie labyrinth to walk
and wildflowers to plant.

Walking the prairie labyrinth

At 5 p.m., Elizabeth Box Price
will lead us in the dedication ceremony
and then we’ll cook hot dogs
from our friends James and Sandy Stepp
at the Wichita Buffalo Company.
The Mudders, a contra band that named themselves
after playing the music for the contra dance held
at the opening of our week-long straw bale workshop
last June,
will be back to provide the fiddle music
for the contra dance,
in the round-top barn.
Tom McSpadden will be the caller.
This contra dance is for beginners
and it’s one of our most favorite ways
to be in community
and to be in celebration.

Contra Dance last June

Let us know you’re coming
(we need to know how many hot dogs to order)
(and you will need driving directions,
which we’ll email to you.)
It’s free, but we’ll happily accept
voluntary donations
to help defray the costs.

Bring friends, family
and spend the day with us
celebrating this wondrous planet
that is our home.

It was like April today.
My second February afternoon
working from the front porch.
I watched two honey bees
at the bird feeder,
felt relieved that the fish pond
is now thawed
and no fish float on top.
Opened front and back doors
so that a soft, warm breeze
and birdsong
could flow through the house.
we met today with friends and supporters—
the amazing group of wise and committed people
who sit on our advisory board—
and made plans for the first
Turtle Rock Farm Earth Day celebration.
I hope for another April-like day
April 22.

We will dedicate the Straw Bale and Mud Hermitage,
give thanks to the good Earth,
celebrate life on the planet.
There will be Alpaca-shearing,
Alpaca-wool spinning,
solar-oven cooking
(and you can make one to take home).
Other interesting and fun
Earth-related things to do,
for adults
and children:
animals to meet,
things to plant,
nature hikes,
walking the labyrinth,
a cookout,
an old-fashioned contra dance
in the round-top barn
and some things that haven’t even
occurred to us yet.
Keep posted here
and on our website.
And plan to spend the afternoon
and evening with us
on a real April day.

Tom Temple and Friends
came yesterday
with a truckload of lumber
and before lunch,
the hermitage had grown from a flat gray plain
towards the blue sky.
They’re framing for the straw bale walls and roof
on our hermitage.
On June 6, Steve Kemble and Mollie Currie
from MudStrawLove in Asheville, N.C.,
will be here for a week to teach us how to
install the straw bales and stucco the walls.
It’s going to be a great week of celebration
of natural building, community and sustainability.
We’re going to kick it off with a Sunday afternoon introductory session
from 2 to 5
followed by supper and a contra dance
(think Celtic music and Jane Austen’s dances in shorts)
in the round-top barn.
Then we’ll build (and play in the mud) for a week.
All are welcome.
Register for the intro session
or the entire week
at our website.
(Click on Workshop/Retreat Calendar.)
It’s already a celebration of natural building, community and sustainability –
as well as the spirituality underlying and motivating it all.
We look forward to the Big Week,
when more will join us.

The Front Door and Front Porch Face East