Category Archives: Farm

Hen For a Best Friend?

A dear Canadian farmer friend who keeps me updated with the current events of the chicken  world  touched base today.  He and I were wannabe -chicken -farmer -dreamers years back and we both have made our dreams of chicken poop and blood orange egg yolks a reality.  His dream expanded far wider than mine and he is going to town on his farm in Canada. His dream is his livelihood.  Mine is my hobby.

DSCN0399.JPG

Farmer Doug

He sent me the following story of a young sailor guy who is sailing the world with a hen.   The sailor  desired an animal companion rather than a human. Gee, I wonder why.   He settled on a hen.  It is my guess you cannot imagine why in the world he would choose a chicken for a sailing mate.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672

Please  open link to take a gander at his priceless photos.  Precious.

It is  my opinion that chickens get a bad rap.  They are stupid animals they say.  Well…I beg to differererer……Its all relative.    What would you expect given  their heads are the size of a cherry tomato?  Of course, we cannot compare their intellect with ours.  Is that what those people are doing?  Can we please look at the rest of their character attributes?  Intellect ain’t all there is, sista.

My chickens are gentle.  They chat with me when I enter their house. And they ALL  have a little to add to the conversation.  Personalities vary just like ours.  They know when I am coming to treat them and when I’m not coming to treat. They wait patiently for me to feed all the other animals.

IMG_9538

They walk quietly in single file line to their treating ground.  I could learn a thing or two from our “stupid” chickens.

IMG_0055

Chickens live in the moment.  They are honest about their moment.

They hoot and howl their eggs out.  These guys work HARD for your Saturday morning omelet.

They quibble and squabble away their differences.  No harm. No foul. No lasting resentments.  Unless of course there  is a weakling  lurking about.  I never said they were perfect.  Maybe that’s why the sailing guy chose only one hen to sail instead of a buddy system.

As with any being, if you love them, they can in turn love back.   If you give them room to grow, they will flourish.   If you keep the  creature locked in a cage  physically, mentally or emotionally where they can’t stand on their little legs, they can not blossom. They will lack the love and luster.

Every night after dinner, we abandoned the dirty dishes and run to  the swing to watch the chicken show.  There must be  some redeeming qualities in these little guys if we invest our evening entertainment hours in avian performances. Maybe I have the intellect problem.  Not the chickens.  I’ll have to think about that.  Or not.

They require no showers before bed time. No teeth brushing.   They march right on to their school bus (roost) at dusk  without being asked and lights out.   I do need to train them to shut lights.

IMG_4147

Could I go boating with one of my hens?  Oh yes.  If I liked boats.  Can I take her on a jaunt around the world in my pickup?  I’d love to.

 

Long live the hen.

IMG_0001.jpg

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Farm, Spiritual

Today. The Carnage.

We’ve had furious activity in the wood these days and I can give this little one 100 percent of the credit.

IMG_7687

Her name is Gracie.  Crazy Gracie.

If there is anything lurking in the whole of 85 acres, she will find it.  And she will flush it out.  She is about 16 months old and she is fierce and fearful of nothing.  As she flew by me today in hot pursuit of a  2 and 1/2 year-old 8 point deer, I said to myself, I really need to bring my camera on our morning walks because it is a wild world out here.  Nobody could possibly believe this nonsense.  But wait.  I captured some serious nonsense today.

We have lived here almost 4 years and I have carried my camera many mornings enjoying quiet contemplation with the ferns, the haystacks and maybe a wild flower or two.  The past 6 months I havent carried it cause I’ve been too darn busy working in my studio.  I had NO idea that all these shenanigans were lurking about me until Gracie came into my life and told me.  I’m not sure if I am happy about this or not.  It used to be peaceful.

Two months ago, as we strolled on our morning walk, she, as usual, got out ahead of Virginia and me.  About five minutes into our walk she comes tearing down the wooded hill with a small pack of coyotes on her tail running towards me.  I started yelling in a deep loud voice and the coyotes turned and ran away.   Thank goodness.   She turned and charged after them.

 How can I live this way?

Shortly after that day, she charged a small doe into a fence as I stood there and watched.  The poor deer broke her neck.  As I watched.  It groaned and groaned  a terrible loud horrific sound and died.  As I watched.  Pops and one of the kids hauled it off site quickly.

Last week, she came whizzing by after a beautiful red fox.  And when I say these events run right by me, I mean they  run right by me.  It’s something out of a cartoon.  Truly.  They went running west and 3 minutes later they come running east.  And darn.  Where is my camera?

Gracie often bounces out of the wood with a deer head, or a hind quarter, or a gray animal that cannot be identified.  In the spring, the turtles might as well come out with their hands up cause she will find every last one of them.  And when she is done tossing them in the air, they are left to spend the rest of their life searching for the place last seen.

Back to today…..As I said, the big buck and Gracie flew by on the morning walk and I thought, that’s it, this afternoon I will bring my camera.  And this is what I was able to capture on the afternoon walk….Be prepared.  We live in the wild, wild hills of Brown County and I can’t say we were not warned when we bought this property…….

IMG_9395

Buck trying to get up.

Virginia  and Crazy Gracie found the 2 and !/2 year-old 8 point buck (the wild men of the neighborhood gave me that info.  You didn’t think I could have figured that  out, did you?).  He evidently got his leg stuck in fence this morning when Gracie was chasing him.  He was struggling to get up this afternoon.  The dogs were barking  him to death.

IMG_9396

IMG_9404

Called the sheriff.  What did  you want me to do?  Dark was looming.  Coyotes were on their way.  I had to get this thing out of my yard.  The sheriff was most impressed with my off-road driving.  Where’d you learn to drive like this? he asks.   I think I scared him a little bit.   He was going to shoot the deer if it was still living but since Virg and Gace barked it to death, well….

IMG_9399

Look who might need a bath tonight.

IMG_9406

IMG_9411

Neighbor man came and dragged the poor buck  to it’s heaven place.

unnamed-4

The chickens are doing just fine all snuggled on their school bus though.   Not all is a stress job.

What will tomorrow bring?

Peace,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Farm

When Am I Ever Going To Learn..

….Or do I need to?

In my studio there hangs a print of a couple back in the old country that are bowing at the harvest that lay at their feet.  In prayer.  It is called The Angelus.  It’s lovely. It’s humble. And I like it.

The Angelus

When I was outfitting the retreat lodge, I came across two prints that looked to be from that same era of The Angelus. The Angelus, by the way, was painted by Jean-Francois Millet in 1859.  I was drawn to them in the same way and thought they would be a great addition to our lodge.  One print is of three women farming and the other is a gentleman winding up his day walking his tools back to the barn. I do not have the artist’s name who rendered the original work.

A few weeks back a good friend noticed the prints and brought to my attention that I had hung prints of slaves on my wall and that may not be in the best taste given the fact the lodge is used for many people coming and going.  Someone may find this to be offensive.  I was taken aback and argued as to whether or not these figures were in fact African-American.   That is not what I noticed when I purchased them.  I saw people farming.  He further said that these people had to be slaves given the time portrayed in the picture and the activity they were engaged in.  huh.  My first response was, well…that is not my intention and of course, I cannot be in control of how others interpret the print.  And that I see people as people and not as a color.  And why would I try to make a statement about slavery on my wall?  There is not a racist bone in my body and African Americans were very much a part of my childhood.    My friend agreed,  but others may not feel the same way.  If the lodge is to be used for retreating,  then  it is vital that I do not make anyone uncomfortable in their retreating experience.  Point taken.

IMG_9002

IMG_9004

My second response was a pity party.  I felt attacked for a decision I had made and how dare someone question my decision.  That is my go to even if it is not called for.  Working on that.  Diligently.

After I got over the attack which  wasnt an attack  at all(it was a sensitive concern about a sensitive subject brought on by a sensitive fellow), I talked to another good friend about it.  She said..wait a minute….Did these people in the print live north of the Mason/Dixon line?  Or south?   (I love this woman.)  Could they have been, perhaps, celebrating their freedom to farm?  Could these people be just plain farmers?

Yeah.  I liked these answers.  I wasnt looking to be vindicated but it helped that there COULD be more than one answer here.

I want to do the right thing but I don’t see the world always the same way the majority does sometimes.  Just like the farmer picture.  I didn’t see slaves.  I still don’t see slaves.  I see people.  Like me.  Like you.  I realize that that is not the experience of others so  I DID take the prints down. The last thing I want to do is offend people. If I was African-American, I might see all photos of farmers from another time as slaves.  I don’t know.  But I take some comfort in seeing these people as people. Which is what they are.  And for me?  I am glad I don’t see color when I look at them.  And I get that color is important, but the people underneath the color are more important.  I feel the more distinguishing of differences we make about each other the greater the chasm we create.

I’ve thought about what to do with the prints.  The farmers and I have a history now.  We’ve been through some.   While I believe some African-Americans don’t want to associate themselves with farming because of their ancestral background, I can assume there are a good handful of them that love being farmers or would love a slice of land they could call their own to grow their food.  Next door to me.   Farming  + African-Americans doesn’t = Slavery all the time.  I have decided to keep the prints and enjoy them in the privacy of my bedroom  where there won’t be a chance to offend another and I can share my love of farming with people in the picutres who  I am choosing to believe are people enjoying their love of farming.

Peace,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Farm

The Queengdom Is At Stake

Queen Claire, our Pyrenees, is the ruler of our land.  I nominated her and voted for her at election time as she is more wise than I. She is more calm and patient than I.  She is prettier and more fairer over all the land than I.  She is gentle, soft and frosty.

Claire

Claire

I can’t begin to compete with the gloriousness of her tongue.   Most of all, the most content being  I have met.  I aspire to be Claire.

Claire was  met with our other Pyrenees, Francis, when we moved our goats and  Francis over to Claire’s palace. Claire kindly welcomed her and has been putting up with Francis’ immaturity ever since.  Although Francis is beginning to get that she is a Pyr now and that work is first and foremost.

Serious guarding goin' on.

Serious guarding goin’ on.

Great Pyrenees have an impressive history as Livestock Guard Dogs.  Roaming the slopes of  the Pyrenees  mountains of France and Spain,  they can maintain in the most frigid of temperatures.  Which is fortunate for us this week.

It is  unfortunate that the rescue scene for this breed has grown quite large because at first site they are fluffy, cute, white puppies.  What is not known about them is they are not domesticated dogs.  Their instinct to work is still bred strong.  As a result, their behavior can be off-putting by humans.  The main complaint is that they start barking at dusk  and wind down at dawn patrolling their pasture perimeter in order to protect their flock.

IMG_5560

They are aloof.  And an invisible fence can not keep them from the distance and effort they risk to keep their flock safe.  We knew all that going in.  To watch them ward off hawks and other predators is nothing short of spectacular.   I was feeding Francis a few weeks back.  She was all hunkered down at her bowl ready to devour her hard-earned kiblits and out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of shadow on the ground.   She knew immediately that danger was present.   She went tearing off to shelter and protect.  I looked up and there was a Red-Tailed Hawk swooping back and forth over the pasture.  Good job, Francis.

The territory is at risk of a take over while I digress.

When you order day old chicks from a hatchery,  they come via the good ol’ USPS.  They call you when they arrive at the post office and you run your little buns  over to pick them up fast, fast, fast,  before the little critters fail.  They are sexed at birth and I always order hens. That makes the most sense since I’m in the market for eggs.  Every once in a while a mistake is made and a rooster is thrown in there.  It is not to be revealed until they are 3 months of age when you begin to hear a strange throaty sound coming out of one of them.   We have one that has just been revealed.  When he realizes that he is a he…..well…. watch out world cause there will be an overthrow attempt.  Every time I visit  the pasture he lets me know that he is NOW in charge of all with his puffed up chest.

IMG_8927

Now some of these chickens have not been in the same room with a gentleman rooster for over three years.  These last couple of weeks have been traumatic to say the least for the lowly hens.  It has been survival of the fittest to be sure.

Some hens stand frozen with their beaks to the wall hoping if they stand still long enough  and they can’t see HIM,  just maybe he can’t see THEM and will leave them alone.  And might I add that….well… some would simply rather die than to be subjected to the goings on that he brings into our Chickondo.   Three to be exact.  My farmer friend who spends time here once a week, Mr. Shady, said he would take him off my hands.  He is good at doing that.  Thank you, Mr. Shady. I may take you up on that.

IMG_8897

In the meantime, maybe Mr. Rooster will freeze his little…………….never mind..

Have a super weekend.

Peace,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Farm

Try, Try As I might.

My plate is full and I cannot keep up.

Today and yesterday, I installed my 2nd panel for Marian University. Whew.  Taxing event.  But I had good help  (Thanks MC and Holly!)  and it is done.

2 down.  3 to go.

IMG_6481

IMG_6489

IMG_6510

IMG_6522

IMG_6533

Came home to very rainy beautiful fall evening.  The leaves were spectacular on the drive home.  I looked up our peak last year and it came a full two weeks earlier last year.  That was normal.  Peak the last day in October is not normal.

Happy Halloween.

IMG_6543

We only have three trick or treaters.   I dont know if they are tricking us or treating us.  Or are we treating them?  Or…. I never understood Halloween.  It falls in the same category as amusement parks and parades for me.  Maybe I don’t know how to have fun.  That’s it.  I’m no fun.

IMG_6549

My mosaic project is a large project for me.  Largest ever by far.   My farm duties, studio work, normal chores are spreading me quite thin.  I am thankful that the mosaic job is not a permanent add to my daily agenda. But am sure glad I have it.  It is all my passions rolled into one.  Art, God, and nature (The nature part is the fact that St. Francis, who the work is about, is a patron saint of nature. and I love him and nature).  He is the bomb.  This work is affording us to visit his hometown this coming Christmas in celebration of him, my work and Marian University.  My job will end and I will be able to resume painting and creating at the pace I am used to.  Everything I love to do will be given more attention.  Including this blog.  I have so enjoyed writing here.  Many days are spent in solitude, which I love, but I also love being connected.  This blog gives me that opportunity to connect.  Especially to those I miss so much from the ol’ hometown.  I am going to suspend writing until my mosaic is through so that I can fully pour myself into my work and  not feel pulled so thin.   I don’t even have any tomatoes put away for the winter  the pulling has been so severe.

I will see you next year!  I love you.   I  pray that God blesses us and keeps us until  next year.  And forever.   He is so good I can’t stand it.

Photo on 11-1-13 at 7.16 AM #2

See you soon!  I will miss you.

God bless,

Karen

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Farm, Spiritual

Tribal Dance

IMG_6123

Our poor guineas have been trying for months to do the hatching thing to no avail.  They lay a clutch of eggs, then the doggies come along and snatch them.  Laying them out in the middle of the yard will do that.  They finally got smart and went over to  the wood’s edge on the outside of a fenced pasture.  The dogs can get there but they dont know it.

About 6 weeks ago, they began laying their eggs.  They lay everyday until they think they have an ample supply, then they pick odd lady out to sacrifice the next thirty days of her life to sitting on those eggs.

IMG_6125

Fifteen was the magic number.  I kept thinking…I don’t know if I want 15 more guineas runnin’ around here making all that noise.  And shooing them out of the barn at night so they don’t poop all over my barn floor.  Only goats are allowed to do that.  By george, that guinea sat on those eggs every minute except 10 or so minutes in the late of day.   She’d get off and the other 4 would chase her around saying..get back on that nest.  We told you…..  She is Cinderella and they, the wicked step sisters.  I imagine she did not even lay any of those eggs herself.

Glanders Wedding-694

Last week, we had 5 hatch.  I went out one morning and saw little things wiggling underneath her.  I snatched them up so they would have a chance at survival.  With all of our dogs, cats, etc.  They would last about a minute.

IMG_6198

Four guineas.  The fifth came later in the day.  They are growing like weeds.  Healthy as can be and will be out running around when they get older.

Cinderella sat on the eggs for about 3 more days and said..I’m outta here.  You guys want more keets, you sit on them yerself.   10 have been left unattended.  Since she stopped sitting, they have either died from hypothermia or they were not fertilized.  What I have decided is that the internal clock  or gestation of the mommy guinea is 30 days and she can detect that when that has come and gone she must be done, whether the eggs are done or not.  I, quite frankly, am glad.  I only got 5 new guineas and that is plenty.

Another sort of tribal dance…

I received all of Eric, my son, and his wife, Emily’s wedding photos last week and need to go through them.  I will  post some special moments of that torrential affair next time.  One photo makes me laugh or cry, I don’t know which….

Glanders Wedding-685

I think Eric’s and my feet tell the story here.  It was “our” dance.  It was a song that was interwoven in my past where our parent-kid relationship was concerned and I thought of my kids with a  hearty passion every time I heard it for years.  I would sing it with verve  and gyration where ever I was.    The day was stressful with the rain and when I began to hear the song, I sang and danced circles around my son.  I celebrated the hearty passion that I feel about him and my two other sons.  Eric was taken aback.  Didn’t know quite what to do or how to answer back.  I don’t blame him.  There may have been some feelings of embarrassment on his part.  There were days in my past I was capable of embarrassing my children for all the wrong reasons.   When I begin to feel bad about how I may have made him feel, I stop myself and think….this time my “out of my head” response was a full-blown celebration from my heart that could not be contained.  Not even in front of 200 people.  I was out of my head.   In love.

Glanders Wedding-686

Glanders Wedding-680

Glanders Wedding-687

Glanders Wedding-677

He says….Holy Father, let this be over.   God love ‘im.

I can’t wait to get through the 1000 photos and pick the very favorites to share.  When I shared with someone about the weather conditions at our wedding and how that changed the expectations I had for the wedding, they said…Wait til you see the photos.  They will tell the real story.  They do tell the real story.  The wedding was gloriously us.

God bless,

Karen

4 Comments

Filed under Farm, Spiritual

Organic Hoosier Apple? And Thomas Merton?

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

Oxymoron?  I have been told there is no such thing as an organic Indiana apple.  We began out orchard from scratch 6 years ago.  This year was the first time blossoms presented themselves.  We decided to let the trees do their thing.  No sprays.  No powders.  No nothin’.  Just a dose of wishing and a little prayer.   Well.  Well.  Well.  Here we have an apple.  A most gorgeous one.

IMG_6189

Not a bad size either, if I do say so.    I will admit that this is by far the most beauteeful one of the bunch.  But the bunch tastes pretty wonderful.   We plan to cull them next year to hope for larger apples.

We have picked 4 five gallon buckets full.  Not bad for the first season.  And you are wondering….are they diseased?  Is there such thing as an organic Hoosier apple?  They are not diseased.  Nothing too terrible got to them.  They have this black splotchy stuff on them.   I have read that the black splotchy stuff is harmless and it washes them apples up nice and pretty.  Just like the store makes them.   I bet there are children (and adults) that think apples grow in the back room of the grocers.

Organic apples in Hoosierland do indeed exist.

End of apple story.  Have you heard of Thomas Merton?

images-11

He was a Trappist Monk priest who lived as a hermit for many years at The Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky.  Wikipedia describes him as a poet, a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.   He was all those things but much more.   He is known for studying and embracing many other religions in an effort to bridge social/religious gaps between other religions and his, Catholicism.  An ambassador of sorts.

images-10

He has written many really good books.  Look his work up if you haven’t already.

Thomas can be considered a “cool dude”.  He is by far not the stereotype priest or monk.  And has had much controversy surrounding his life because of his unconventionalism.  Life before monkhood took him places that made him very uncomfortable.  Same places I (and probably you too) have been.   He did not feel a part much of the time and felt out-of-place in this world.  Check.  Check.  Been there.  Alone in his thoughts often.  Check.  When he encountered life that included God, he began to feel more himself.  Though rebellion in a sense remained with him.

His writings have taught me about contemplative prayer and embracing solitude.  Contemplative prayer is a state, not too unlike meditation, that  you enter into with God and just be.  In His Presence.  I am with you, God.  Wholly.  I am sitting with You.   Opening a door to let your relationship grow on God’s terms and not yours.  By staying silent, we are inviting God to do the talking and not us.   It is a powerful form of prayer.  It is,  by and large,  the type of prayer that has so greatly enriched my relationship with Him. How can I hear Him if I am doing all the talking.  I really want to know what He has for me.  What He has to say to me.  And if I face the truth, what I have to say in any matter doesn’t work or matter or interest me.  Really.

He spent years in communication with other religious leaders and finally was able to participate in an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian leaders in Bangkok in 1968.  He spoke at the conference, went back to his hotel to rest up and was electrocuted stepping out of  the shower and died at the age of 53.  Controversial even in death.    There are numerous books written by him that are wonderful, inspiring, and educational as well as an autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, which is also a great read.

Apples and Thomas Merton are both food for the soul.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

• Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

God bless,

Karen

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Farm, Spiritual