31 March 2009
27 March 2009
Grass is amazing stuff, it's started growing under the snow, on top of the compost piles which are just beginning to peak out. Our first sighting of bonafide dirt and vegetation since December!
This is as close as we get to flowers this time of year, last year's evening primrose pods. But they are beautiful in their own way.
The larch are beginning to show some of the bright spring green of new growth.
Still, the most beautiful feature of the landscape is the snow itself. We had some light snow and wind this week, and it left ripples in the snow like sand on a beach. The melting snow even felt like wet sand under our feet, we could close our eyes with the bright sun and reflecting snow in our faces and take a no-hassle, zero-impact and entirely free vacation.
This one reminds me of an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture.
To prolong our beautiful day outside, we got the dogs out to pull the sleigh around. We made some harnesses for them, and have been training them to pull a light sleigh. Partly to teach them to work, as they are the right age, and partly because they have so much energy, they pull our arms out on our longer walks. It took them a few times in the harnesses, pulling the empty sleigh to get the idea of pulling, but once they got used to it, the were jogging along, tails up and dog-grins on their faces. Animals like to know their purpose.
We had to get them in the right order too. First we tried the alpha male in the lead, and the female, who is second in dominance, in the rear. But the alpha male kept turning around, in mid run, to nip at the other dogs, and the female, in the rear, was pulling most of the weight. So we switched them around, and our female, Ruby, is an excellent lead dog, she leaps into the harness to get the sleigh going when I call her. And the alpha male, Blackie, is an excellent rear dog because he has the strongest herding instincts of the three and loves to keep the others in front of him, nipping at their heels. Buster, the middle dog, is the good natured follower, and would follow either of them around.
And now they are ready to pull a load, we gave them a couple of logs to pull down to the house. With the surface of the snow still fairly hard, they could easily pull a load of about 100 lbs, 500 feet down the field. Harnessing the dogs this time of year has been good for them, it settles them down and gives them something to learn. Next winter we hope to have some second-hand cross country skis, and harness the dogs up for skijoring. Ruby and Buster will no doubt be thrilled at this, but it will take some training to keep Blackie out in front of us, and not in the rear, herding us home!
25 March 2009
I do not see an end,
I see that we have destroyed
our way of life, and our home
is changing, beyond prediction or recognition.
The only curse upon us
is that we must watch it collapse,
watch the life support systems fail.
I watched my mother die
not of cancer,
but of the treatment of cancer,
though the tumor would have overwhelmed her,
in it's own time.
In trying to save her, we subtracted,
until her organs, or what remained,
could not possibly perform all of the functions
her body required.
In the end, I believe,
she died of a loss of hope,
finding no other way to escape death,
with pain and kidney failure
snapping at her heels, she let go.
Maybe it was the graceful ending,
maybe we will all die of broken hopes.
One thing I regretted, after she died,
after the flowers faded and the memorials
were spoken, I found that I did not know
who she was, deep inside of herself,
this woman who birthed me into the world.
There were so many pages of her story
ripped out, kept private, never spoken
aloud. Before it was too late
I never asked, and she never told,
what, above all, did she desire for her life,
what, above all, did she regret?
From that clear-sighted precipice before death, still
we lacked the courage
to unburden the artifacts of her life's work,
and stitch the unfinished pieces together, the things that she learned,
the life that she lived and left
behind her, whatever the end result. Instead
we let it lie, sequestered in her body, we let it die
with her, locked and encoded in her blood.
Her story was a key I regret
Who will come
to our collective bedside, as the oceans like kidneys
collapse, and what remains of the forest lungs
succumb to disease and fire? Here too,
we have subtracted, to claim another day, another year.
What desperate and futile measures
will we attempt, sequestering the truth,
bioengineering the manipulated results of our industrial experiment,
to preserve ourselves, to salvage our way of life
for the few? Should we not
gracefully break upon the hard kernel
of our hopes, and let go of this earth
for ourselves? Is this not
the time to turn within, to dredge
our hearts, revive our spirits,
and confess to the next generation,
to those who will inherit the consequences
of our cumulative actions, our mistakes,
our deepest unfulfilled desires,
the simple truths we all knew as children,
but denied for fear, greed or fame?
Otherwise, what will remain
of another civilization fallen to ruins?
If we leave this part of the story untold,
will there be enough left behind,
scattered among abandoned artifacts
for the future generations of an unrecognizable
earth to pick up, rethread, and carry
forward the tapestry of our human inheritance?
Not what we accumulated,
but what we learned,
and how we loved.
by Freija Fritillary
21 March 2009
fresh milk steaming in a pail,
a perfectly formed rose-brown egg
in the nesting box,
robins and dark-eyed juncos,
spring's first sunrise
clear and bright,
melting frost through the eastward
faces of the kitchen windows.
This is the direction
stealing quietly over morning's
hard frozen snow,
leaving small gifts
on the doorstep of our waking,
promises, still tightly wrapped buds,
patiently bidding their time.
20 March 2009
And of course there's piles of recipes and interesting tidbits, lots of solar heat collectors and solar hot water designs... It's the original blogosphere. But to be honest, I find a lot more relevant and useful tips, designs, news and stories on my favorite blogs. But we are grateful for the gifts.
16 March 2009
The goats and horse stick to the packed snow in front of the barn. Pilgrim tested the snow a week ago, but he can't go far. You can tell it is Pilgrim's usual hang-out, that's not dirt you see! It is a bit of a sun catch, out of the wind, and he likes the company of the goats.
Check out that bag! Pretty good balance too. :)
Juniper has absolutely no fear of Pilgrim, even though this is the first horse she has ever hung around. She treats him like a big goat, and walks right underneath him, Pilgrim is a gentle giant with the goats. Poor fella can't wait to have a proper roll and romp out in the pasture.
Even miss kitty found a warm spot out of the wind for a snooze. Up in the bay window where the seedlings will be moving, hopefully she is not troublesome, we may have to put up a little electric fence to keep her out. She is cute, but not very smart. Promptly after this picture, and the bit of attention it got her, she rolled over to strike another pose and fell off! Wish I got that picture, hanging by one paw to the wood. Giggle. She did the same thing off the front steps this morning, not the brightest button.
Even the bikes got some sun... Winter is hard on them too, salty roads and rusty chains and all.
Snow bank at the end of the driveway is still about 6 feet tall. Mr. Fritillary cuts some stairs into the bank for access.
Sorry I haven't gotten many pics of the kids up here, they don't stay still long enough for a decent shot! Only when they are drinking milk. We got them drinking out of the bucket this week. Not something they take to on their own, always preferring the nipple. We don't like to starve them into drinking out of the bucket, so we submerge the nipple into the milk and they drink through it like a straw. Once they get the idea that there's milk down there, they figure out the rest.
13 March 2009
I've yet to successfully save my own brassica seeds. There's a cabbage in cold storage to put back in the ground this spring, and some Winterbor kale heavily mulched under the snow, and I am just plain determined to beat the frost this year for some broccoli seeds. The red cabbage on the right is seed from 2005, they are a bit reluctant to wake up, time for some new seed.
These are our own spinach and lettuce seeds, and they came rocketing out of the soil on the 3rd day after planting, some of them got a bit leggy, they grow so fast! We don't use any lights for seed starting, so they get germinated behind the wood stove, and the moved up into the bay window we built for the seedlings. But some of the lettuces got up so fast, and I was still trying to germinate the rest behind the stove. Nothing stops them from racing toward the light, lessons in determination and resilience.
09 March 2009
04 March 2009
I cannot do justice to the flavor and savor of our fried egg breakfast this morning. The creamy texture of the yolk... yum, I love my eggs right on top of the toast.
The two hens that layed these eggs are 8 months old, we could have encouraged them to lay earlier with a light in the barn, but it is a cold time of year to start laying eggs, so we let them concentrate their feed on keeping warm and growing to full size, and knew that they would start laying when the light approaches 12 hours. There is another batch of hens just now 6 months old who should start laying eggs this month as well.
This rooster shows the characteristics of both parents, and even has some iridescent green feathers in his tail like the Rhode Island Red. The hens that look like the Barred Rock are just that, and do not have the red and green feathers. And there is a kind of White Barred Rock hen, the one who layed the first egg, who, to be honest, is not the most attractive of the bunch and looks a bit sooty. But she is the biggest hen, and won the prize for the golden egg.
We have been feeding our chickens our own wheat and rye, without any other protein supplement. Last year we ran into problems feeding soy to our chickens, they had underdeveloped organs, and did not gain weight. After doing some research, we decided to cut the soy out of the feed. The wheat and rye are 13-14% protein, and the pullets are growing well. With this mix, we may not get an egg a day on a pure grain diet, but when they are out on pasture, the protein will be supplemented in a more digestible form. This summer we will also be growing more peas and amaranth to add to the winter ration.
So, with eggs and milk back on the menu, I am revisiting old favorite recipes with a greater appreciation. I am also glad to know first-hand that resource rich foods like dairy, eggs and meat can be incorporated as seasonal foods, with a bit of substitution and creativity in the kitchen.