A Peaceful Holiday

The full moon hovered brightly over the land last eve and Yule was nigh.  The 12 days of Christmas was originally the 12 days of Yule.  Festivities, bonfires, hearth fires, the yule log, the decorated trees, feeding the birds and other wildlife, exchanging gifts, and checking on the elderly and homebound fill the days of Yule leading to new year.

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It is a quiet morning here in my cozy home.  Father Sun peeks through the windows while climbing to start the day.  I sip my warm coffee, the earthiness and steam filling the air.  We keep the lights on the tree on often.  Just sitting in my rocking chair watching the glimmering lights, scanning the many ornaments that hold place as story tellers, makes me joyful and calm.  I put a Christmas album on.  My favorite is Andy Williams.   The presents are piled on the bed ready to be wrapped in paper and bows.

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Christmas past when my children were very young. (1999)

The birds outside sing and dart about.  The fat squirrel looks at me through the window.  She is out of bird seed.  Sweet thing; I wish blessings on all the wildlife.  A young eagle landed in the tree the other day and we sat together for some time.  The geese fly overhead noisily, their synchronized flying like swimmers in the sky.  Upon this great landscape of earth is such a lovely place to live.  I am thankful each day for health, for life, for family, for this cozy home where the hearth fires burn.

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Dreaming of Christmas cookies

Yesterday I did ceremony on my friends who are getting married beneath the full moon by a fire outdoors.  Today I get the honor of officiating their wedding.  Tomorrow we are off to my cousin’s, the next day to our friends’, home again for Christmas eve and my children will all gather here.  Santa knows to come to Grammie and Pa’s house.  Christmas morning will shine bright with the love of family.  A late Hannukah celebration with family and my daughter’s birthday round out the festivities before the new year dawns with promise and light.

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Christmas present. My beautiful granddaughters, Maryjane and Ayla.

What are your plans for the holidays, my Friends?  From our home to yours, I wish you the happiest Christmas and a blessed Yule.  May you be with those you love and may peace fill your home.

A New Farmgirl and the Family Farm

A new little farmgirl is joining our family this November.  During Emily’s ultrasound yesterday I watched in awe as the little skeleton baby moved her knees into her chest, moved her arms, and turned her head.  Is there anything more amazing than new life?  My daughter is five months pregnant.  Her five year old, our beloved Maryjane Rose, is overjoyed to have a sister coming.  We have so much to show her!

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New life is everywhere.  My garden beds overflow and bees, goldfinches, and hummingbirds delight in nectar as a baby squirrel eats walnuts from the tree.  I am not sure if there will be any left for us again this year.  There were plenty of mulberries to go around though.

No matter what new endeavors I take on, no matter where my life and studies take us, I always end up back to this place.

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“I keep asking myself what I do I want to do now?  What are my goals?” I told Emily while we were waiting for the doctor.  “And all I want is to be able to live on a big family farm, take the grandkids to see what is growing in the gardens, check on our general store and restaurant, and be together living sustainably.”

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“That’s all I want too,” she responded.

At dinner the other night, my son has it all planned out.

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In the end, all I want is to live close to the heartbeat of the earth, surrounded by family and community, and live sustainably.

It is time to can peaches today.

Life with Squirrels

 

squirrelWe have never been known to have underfed animals, and that goes for wildlife too.  Where most folks purchase squirrel proof feeders and shoo them away, we set out welcome signs.  We have a long history with squirrels.

It started with me as a child and teenager at the park feeding them and talking with them.  I didn’t think it strange, I still believed everyone spoke to animals.  Our first home we had together in Parker had a lot of squirrels, one particular was named Pierre, and he had a large bowl that we kept on the table in the back yard filled with bird seed and squirrel food.  The birds could still get to it and we didn’t have to mess with feeders.  One time we heard him yelling so we looked out our window.  There he was with his empty bowl.  He caught sight of us, showed us the empty bowl, then threw it on the ground.  Yes, squirrels are not much better than toddlers, I am afraid.

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We moved to Elbert county, and to our surprise found that there were hardly any squirrels!  We had one that visited us on the porch in the mornings as we had our coffee when we lived in Elizabeth.  His name was Pedro.  When we moved to Kiowa, there were even less!  We were delighted when we noted the squirrel nest in the tree near the road.  Unfortunately one baby fell out of the nest.  I carried him in my shirt tending to him, trying to bring him back to health.  But, I fear he had too much internal damage.  As I gently held him on my lap swinging in the back yard he had a seizure, scared me so that I tossed him.  I felt so bad, I held him close to me again crying as he passed into the next world.

You may have noticed we are not particularly scared of rabies.  Rabies is one of those rampant fears that is actually quite rare in reality.  No one seems to be scared of dogs and cats or people.  They could all be carriers!

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A few months back Shyanne brought to the shop a squirrel that she had rescued from the street.  We didn’t think he would live the night.  His held was tilted to one side and he made slow circles when he tried to walk.  We thought it was spinal, but began to believe it was neurological.  Every day without fail, the squirrel allowed Shyanne to give him his medicine.  We make very good animal medicines, and he received his twice daily doses of Arthritis and Anti-Parasite.  He took to us rather well, particularly Shyanne.  She could be seen out on her smoke break in the back with a squirrel playing at her feet.  Every day he wandered further and further, she would just call him and he came prancing back to her, gaining strength each day.

Soon he was well and we knew it was time to release him as he looked at us as captors instead of friends.  Shyanne drove him to a nearby state park and released him.  She sat on a rock watching as he climbed a tree, came back to her, climbed a tree, fell out, climbed a tree, looked at her with thanks, and was gone.  Through tears she made her way back to her car.

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Healing animals is one of our favorite aspects of our work.  We are glad that we did not raise our children to fear animals.  We adore these creatures that share the earth with us and they have made our lives so much lovelier, even the wild ones.

On our new homestead here, there are two rather fat squirrels that have been working very hard, despite the black birds, to build a nest in a hole in the tree outside our kitchen window.  We leave them bits of toast and greet them.  Perhaps we will have some young ones scampering around the yard and house.  I better get a bigger bowl.

Winter Delights

Outside the sliding glass doors, under the clothes line he stood.  Regal and great.  Large antlers he held with grace and the snow on his thick fur glittered in morning light.  A young doe lay near.  Under the pine tree she held her gentle face to the sun.  I watched them from the window in calming awe.

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We readied for work and walked out of the house and turned to walk down the long snow packed driveway.  There we startled four fluffy young deer.  They stood still for a moment then hopped away in their comical rabbit-like impersonation.  Their bouncing feet stirring the light snow as they quickly adjourned down the pasture.

Last night under the full moon we drove slowly up the driveway basking in the moonlight and there they were again.  Four youth and the doe.  They greeted us and huddled closer.  So enchanting.

Is it possible that one doe could have four infants?  They are the very same size and seeming age.  I was always under the impression that deer generally only birthed one infant.  Do you think she is mother of quadruplets or did she adopt these young babies?

Either way I feel blessed to see them.  To be near them.  To share this beautiful earth with them.

May this beautiful season bring with it great blessings, tidings from friends, and memories of joy and laughter for all of you. 

A Dragon in the Tree

“I think I just saw a dragon,” I hesitantly told Emily.

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Now, I know you are thinking what I was thinking when I thought I saw a dragon.  I need to take a break…or get a drink.  Or, perhaps dragons are actually real.  It’s funny what your mind races around thinking when it tries to figure something out.  Racing through files of memories and education to find the proper conclusion.

Last night, I was carrying my really old farm dog outside and as I stepped off the porch I noticed something different in the air.  The tree in the yard was shaking.  I stopped to listen and watch.  The moon was dim, for I couldn’t see it, and the stars were very bright against the black, cloudless sky.  From behind the house the street light could not be seen so in the dark these scenes played out.  I watched to see if it were the wind.  Perhaps the breeze was idly dancing leaves off the tree.  But the sky was still.  Wood smoke on its wings, the air crisp and fresh, a proper Autumn evening was present as I took a deep breath in.  My eyes struggled to make out images in the dark, in the shadows.

I am well aware that in this kind of country dark, one can make out the most intriguing figures and crazy ideas out of nothing but shadows and wildlife sounds.  Especially around Halloween.  One begins to regret watching horror movies as a child.  I laughed off anything scary and went back to examining the dancing tree.  My eyes caught a sight above, the sky blacking out in the shape of wings.  The figure was so large that I could see an actual void in the sky as its large frame covered the stars.  It wasn’t very high up, but it seemed so giant that I imagined it might be a plane, but alas it was lower.  It was far too big to be the hawks we see regularly.  I was baffled.  My mind out of ideas.

So, I concluded that it was a dragon.  Emily replied rather nonchalantly, “Oh, that?  Bret and his friend saw it when they went hunting the other day.  They looked it up and found out it was a Golden Eagle.  The wingspan is eight feet long.  She has a baby with her who’s wingspan is five feet long!  The mom was bigger than their truck!”

Oh yes, an eagle of course.

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I have viewed in the wild eagles only a few times in my life and always in the daytime and never quite that large.  I wish I could have seen the two in the light.  I bet they are a breathtaking sight to see.  A bit of untouched nature flying overhead in the midst of our built up world.  Perhaps dragons were made up after viewing eagles.