Hope in Feathers

Winter weather invites us to consider the birds. Famed New England poet Emily Dickinson offers (in #314): "Hope" is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -

Celestial Travel

Where do the heavens want to send us during these winter months? It is difficult to travel in these times, except "otherwise". Viruses, ice, distance, and apprehension keep us bound to our homesteads this winter. But we do have the means to transport ourselves via celestial avenues. And the primary access to such travel is through good food!

Soil & Hope

Here is our compost machine at work. There is little as potent as the capacity to create soil. The rise and fall of civilizations is attributed to treatment of soil. When it becomes depleted, food becomes scarce, and attentions suddenly turn to filling the belly, in rapid cascade down Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Conventional agriculture accepts depleting soil by applying substitutes like anhydrous ammonia from the fossil fuel industry in place of basic stewardship. Substituting chemicals for biologic activity is a hope and prayer that does not hold up to scrutiny over time.

Honor & Dignity

Honor is too the left; Dignity to the right. Yesterday morning at 3 AM, Landis Weaver departed from this farm, after 12 years hereon, to start a new chapter of his life in Smyma Mills, Maine, 20 miles from the Canadian border. Landis is the epitome of honor and dignity, and these are two of his four draft horses the day before departure.

Eastern Sky

The eastern sky brings to us, from the sands of Kuwait, Chris & Yurie Whitmer and their winning children. Chris arrives to us after serving three tours of duty with the Army in Afghanistan and subsequently being employed by Boeing Aircraft in Kuwait. In the Army, he developed essential expertise at managing and maintaining helicopters, which permits little tolerance for error.

Spinning Wheel

The wheel of change is always spinning, and it does so especially rapidly with laying hens. A few weeks ago our egg production suddenly crashed. After a good bit of second guessing, we finally concluded that the path of the hens had crossed their own previous path too soon. Their rich manure had not yet been fully absorbed, and was thus somewhat adverse to them, as they dwelled upon the same spot. Hens express themselves quickly, both in distress and in healing. We have adjusted management to move them more often and provide longer rest periods before returning to the same spot. Egg production is accordingly returning.

Querencia

Querencia is a Spanish term. It was introduced to us by a friend, Penny, who spent an afternoon with us on the porch this fall over food, conversation, and wine. In turn, she sent to us this term to ponder. If we understand it correctly, it is: The place one's strength is drawn from; where one feels most at home; the place where one can be one's authentic self.

Sculpting the Future

This is the present, replete with beauty and challenges. It is tempting to be satisfied with this tranquil scene, luring one toward a sense of equilibrium. This is the status of the creek, 4 miles long, that runs through the middle of our farm. Do we accept this status or seek to modify it to sustain seven generations into the future? Each choice comes with tradeoffs.

Building A Bridge

This morning we woke up to find ourselves in the bridge-building business. Calves born over the past six weeks have to cross this stream to join their mothers, who have moved on to the next greenĀ pasture. Yesterday the stream was a trickle and most of the group navigated its way across this ribbon of silver. But seven of them found it too confounding, and are still on the far side.

Rural Symphony

As clouds darken our nation's capital, we find light in our own quarter. It is reassuring to rediscover that our well being lies within ourselves. Cynical actions of the powerful can be offset by the spirit of the meek. That spirit is imbued by observing the simple joys and beauty in our lives -- whether that be the face of one's partner, the dignity of one's parent, the goodness of one's child, the laugh of one's grandchild, the tree in one's backyard, or the conversation just relished... This is where we can turn to remind us how good life is.

Soft Soil

We are extending our underground water lines, and the operator of the trencher remarked how soft the soil is. He said it made for easy digging. I hadn't thought much recently about soil being soft, but it makes sense. Soil that is cool, filled with tiny tunnels of air made by worms and microbes, and is moist due to a layer of compost on top would be soft. That describes the soil we are developing and amending. It also helps that most of our farm lies on a former lake-bottom and was just beyond the reach of glaciers that once littered parts of the Midwest with boulders from the Canadian shield.

Carrying On

"Carry on, love is coming, love is coming to us all..." Crosby, Stills, & Nash offered this hope-filled refrain back in the golden days of music, and it has been visiting me of recent. As some of us feel overwhelmed by dark distortions of power in our culture, the question arises, "How do we carry on?" Well, it is not by looking to power, but by looking, in part, to small matters that inspire us.