Archive for the Organic Agriculture & Horticulture Category

In Garden of My Mind

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2020 by Drogo

I did alot of digging and tilling by hand for years.

I also trimmed hedges and trees since i was a boy,

because it was just chore maintenance for our yard.

Then i earned a living working on organic farms; 

until i realized i could not competitively do hard labor anymore; 

and wanted to focus on other jobs like teaching and the military.

I prefer only working with plants on my terms now;

I enjoy nature in between indoor work, without a boss.

I worked so many years on gardens that i did not “own”, 

and then to have my own taken away from me with the sale of our house, 

has made me not want to get attached to gardens anymore.

The ways of working and designing for others only gets me so far.

It has come as a shock to me, to realize how attached I became to wanting

To be the master of my own garden and designs, or else to let it all go.

If i was able to walk out every morning into a garden that was mine for the rest of my life, then i would want to again shape a garden. 

The wilderness is a huge natural garden,

which requires less work to enjoy than a manicured artificial garden.

My efforts now are for the preservation of wild organic nature.

I am focused on protecting Nature for all to use, since i don’t “own” a garden.

I never want to leave the garden in my heart anymore, 

so i live with that state of mind as my goal.

–  Drogo

drogo in g2002

Pokeberry Plant

Posted in Crafts, Food & Drink, Nature Studies, Organic Gardens, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2019 by Drogo

Pokeberry plant leaves are edible when young, but most toxic when mature (like rhubarb). Many people are allergic to the toxins so all parts of the plant are poisonous to them. The roots are the most toxic. The leaves are edible when young after being boiled 3x in water changes, or for those of us not allergic to poke frying in oil or butter is fine. Documented cases are common for people allergic to poke, but there are people like me who have been around poke their whole lives, handled the plants often, and squished the berries for stain and ink without any problems beyond our skin getting stained crimson for a day or two. I have heard of someone getting a skin rash from poke (like poison ivy), as they are allergic to touching it; but I am not. My mother had us paint and print with poke berry ink on water-color paper as children, with no problems.

Poke berries are not edible, but when used with vinegar and salt (and other blends) can make ink for writing pens and printing on paper. Pokeberry ink is not archival because it fades over time on paper, even when not exposed to sunlight everyday. However pokeberry ink is a interesting local organic native alternative to industrial toxic inks, but modern use is still experimental although the chemicals in it are known. In gardens they are beautiful in full maturity, with their ornate ‘goblin’ fruits.

“Indians and early settlers used the root in poultices and certain drugs for skin diseases and rheumatism.” – Michael Owen, ISU

The late 19th century herbal, the ‘King’s American Dispensatory’, describes various folk medical uses that led individuals to ingest pokeberry products. Modern commercial medical companies (big pharma) snubs remedies that are found commonly, for obvious pharmaceutical sales reasons, and so serious testing might be hard to study at length with funding for the purposes of common good, for free but cautious home use.

CAUTION:  Many people are allergic to poke toxins, so limit your exposure to the plant to reduce possible effects. There are many medical claims that eating poke roots, berries, or anything from the adult plant can kill in sufficient quantities.

Other articles: ‘Making Pokeweed Ink‘; ‘Pokeberry Ink‘;

For safer printing for all people, perhaps black-berries or mul-berries or huckle-berries are better? For long-term organic industrial printing, using a weed like poke which is not used for human food would make more sense for sustainability though. [Link Process for making any type of berry ink]

[photo from Wikipedia]

Phytolacca_pokeberries

Datura: Moon Flowers & Jimson Weed

Posted in Nature Studies, Organic Gardens, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2019 by Drogo

Moon-Flower, [Datura Inoxia]; leaves are soft & rounded, with one point.

Jimson Weed [Datura Stramonium]; leaves are spiky, with a few points.

Both types of Datura have spiky seed pods. Folk names: Devil’s Trumpet, Thorn-apple, Hell’s Bells

Datura_stramonium_2Datura_innoxia_moonflower

The 3 most toxic chemical agents (tropane alkaloids) in datura plants seem to be: Atropine, Hyoscyamine and Hyoscine (Scopolamine); which are used in industrial medicines as an Anti-Cholinergic to treat some conditions, but the side effects can be as bad or worse than what they claim to treat, as with most powerful medicines it seems (as commercials are required to list for industrial medicines).

There are many cases of reported poisonings on Public Medication websites; here is a fatal example:

“Fatal poisoning from ingestion of Datura stramonium seeds.

Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Medical School, University of Ioannina, 45110 Ioannina, Greece.

Citation

Vet Hum Toxicol. 2004 Apr;46(2):81-2.

Abstract

A 19-y old male who intentionally ingested an unknown quantity of Datura stramonium seeds to experience its hallucinogenic effects was found dead. Hyoscyamine and scopolamine were detected in postmortem blood and urine. Blood concentrations of hyoscyamine and scopolamine were 1.1 and 0.2 microg/mL, respectively; in urine only hyoscyamine at 14.2 microg/mL was found. This fatality presents the highest blood concentrations ever reported and confirms that death was due to Datura Stramonium seed ingestion.

These plants are known to contain high concentrations of anticholinergic substances; ingestion can result in anticholinergic intoxication. Signs and symptoms that commonly occur include hallucinations, tachycardia, dilated pupils, and disorientation. In our patient, use of the Naranjo probability scale indicated a possible relationship between the moonflower seed ingestion and the patient’s signs and symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of the Datura species can result in severe toxicity. Each plant varies in the concentrations of alkaloid substances. For this reason, it is very important for individuals to become educated on the toxicities and potential risks associated with recreational use of these plants.”

 

Wikipedia –

Anticholinergic drugs are used to treat a variety of conditions:

 

Toxicity

Acute anticholinergic syndrome is reversible and subsides once all of the causative agent has been excreted. Reversible Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor agents such as physostigmine can be used as an antidote in life-threatening cases. Wider use is discouraged due to the significant side effects related to cholinergic excess including: seizures, muscle weakness, bradycardia, bronchoconstriction, lacrimation, salivation, bronchorrhea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Even in documented cases of anticholinergic toxicity, seizures have been reported after the rapid administration of physostigmine. Asystole has occurred after physostigmine administration for tricyclic antidepressant overdose, so a conduction delay (QRS > 0.10 second) or suggestion of tricyclic antidepressant ingestion is generally considered a contraindication to physostigmine administration.[17]

Piracetam (and other racetams), α-GPC and choline are known to activate the cholinergic system and alleviate cognitive symptoms caused by extended use of anticholinergic drugs.

Hyoscyamine (also known as daturine) is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid and plant toxin. It is a secondary metabolite found in certain plants of the family Solanaceae, including henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia spp.), jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) the sorcerers’ tree ( Latua pubiflora ) and deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). It is the levorotary isomer of atropine (third of the three major nightshade alkaloids) and thus sometimes known as levo-atropine.

Hyoscyamine is used to provide symptomatic relief of spasms caused by various lower abdominal and bladder disorders including peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, colic, and interstitial cystitis. It has also been used to relieve some heart problems, control some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as well as for control of abnormal respiratory symptoms and “hyper-mucus secretions” in patients with lung disease.

It is also useful in pain control for neuropathic pain, chronic pain and palliative care – “comfort care” – for those with intractable pain from treatment resistant, untreatable, and incurable diseases. When combined with opioids it increases the level of analgesia (pain relief) obtained. Several mechanisms are thought to contribute to this effect. The closely related drugs atropine and hyoscine and other members of the anticholinergic drug group like cyclobenzaprine, trihexyphenidyl, and orphenadrine are also used for this purpose. When hyoscyamine is used along with opioids or other anti-peristaltic agents, measures to prevent constipation are especially important given the risk of paralytic ileus. Side effects include dry mouth and throat, increased appetite leading to weight gain, eye pain, blurred vision, restlessness, dizziness, arrhythmia, flushing, and faintness. An overdose will cause headache, nausea, vomiting, and central nervous system symptoms including disorientation, hallucinations, euphoria, sexual arousal, short-term memory loss, and possible coma in extreme cases.

Atropine is a medication used to treat certain types of nerve agent and pesticide poisonings as well as some types of slow heart rate and to decrease saliva production during surgery. It is typically given intravenously or by injection into a muscle.Large doses may be required to treat some poisonings. Common side effects include a dry mouth, large pupils, urinary retention, constipation, and a fast heart rate. It should generally not be used in people with angle closure glaucoma. While there is no evidence that its use during pregnancy causes birth defects, it has not been well studied. It is likely safe during breastfeeding. It is an anti-muscarinic (a type of anti-cholinergic) that works by inhibiting the parasympathetic nervous system. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.

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These night-shades are toxic, but not well understood for medicinal purposes, although the toxic chemical is used in industrial medicine. I have eaten many seeds from both varieties over a few years, and felt no ill effects from them. I stopped trying them years ago because I felt no benefit either. They did not seem to even alter my consciousness as much as coffee or mugwort, after repeated weekly eating of several seeds a day. Obviously people react differently to any organic substances, due to digestive variations and allergies, so this plant is still very mysterious and therefore considered dangerous until substantial studies can be conducted by biologists and chemists. I have no idea why I was immune to moderate doses of seeds, but other people have told me they were affected greatly and it scared them. – Firewalker

Arboritecture – Tree Architecture

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Crafts, Futurist, inventions, Nature Studies, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2017 by Drogo

SCOD Tree Architecture – Arboritecture, a subset of Hortitecture

Trees could revolutionize our way of living, if we returned to living in and around them more. Conventional architecture is terrible at doing so, and is designed in opposition to trees, because vegetation touching dead building materials tend to make them rot. It is possible to live with an awareness of various levels of growth and decay, but it would require a culture more integrated with the natural environment.

Imagine devices that used living energy from photosynthesis. Design Science should explore the relationship of natural-artificial hybrids, methodologies of integrating plant matter into building fabric, issues of maintenance and sustainability, and ecological biological and organic architectural materials for environmental design.

20171028_134106

 

 

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WEME Village

Posted in Cartoon Comics, ecovillages, Fictional Characters, Homesteading, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2017 by Drogo

SCOD Ecovillage Short Story

The woman and man planned and ran their own dream village of fwends.

Twin spirit kindred flames, like mirror twinsies; except one was more fire and one was more water, and both were rooted in earth and speaking signs in aether air.

He would say “isnt it so sister?”, and she would say “yes brother, it is so.” and then she would say “isnt it so brother?” and he would say “yes sister, it is so, and you are also correct about that.” and they would wind the gears, and dust the chairs, and sweep the floors and patch the roofs, and mend the windows, polish the wood, and explore the woods. They sing French songs together that she taught him. They kiss and hugs like good brothers and sisters do, in honor of Hermes and Hathor; and they invite all to do the same, if they do choose.

to be continued….

elf-village-color-5

Herbal Teas

Posted in Food & Drink, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 2, 2017 by Drogo

Drogo’s favorite Herbal Teas:

Peppermint (or Spearmint)

Catmint (Catnip)

Beebalm

Lemonbalm

Tension Tamer (Celestial Seasonings) – Blend: Eleuthero, Mint, Cinnamon, Ginger, Chamomile, Lemongrass, Licorice, Catnip, Tilia, Hops, Vitamin B

 

 

ON THE WILD SIDE

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , on October 24, 2015 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for September, 2015

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Misunderstood but Beautiful (Part 2) : Tall Natives and Useful Pests

I just got in from collecting Japanese beetles from wild Evening Primrose flowers which are growing throughout my property. By 7 a.m. the bees are already busy on the yellow flowers, and the beetles are just waking up. Slowly I knock them into a container of water, careful not to interrupt the bees. Two things are accomplished by my doing this twice a day. First, I am saving the flowers from being devoured, and second, my chickens enthusiastically consume the crunchy bodies of these pests. Useful pests, I call them, providing extra protein and minerals for my birds.

The wild Evening Primrose used be seen in areas along roads which have not been mowed, in vacant fields and ditches if they are lucky, and in my gardens. Sadly I see very few of them this year, beyond my gardens, due to herbiciding and lots of mowing. I imagine most home owners would not like them since they grow much taller than the greenhouse cultivated primroses most gardeners buy. Perhaps this aversion is due to an over civilized fear of wild natives. Well, I have no fear, just curiosity. I have never seen my primroses grow as tall as they are this year which is most likely due to all the rain we had earlier this summer. My tallest plant towers above my head at a record breaking height of 9 feet. Now that’s tall !

For some reason I have a particular interest in tall, gangly, misunderstood plants. I suppose that is because I see their value for our pollinators, but mostly I believe it is because I admire them. In truth, I am blown away by the diversity of wild flora which are indigenous to this area, and have made it my mission to preserve as much as I can here on my property and elsewhere when possible, before they become extinct. I know my worry is legitimate since every year it seems many rare plants (see list at bottom of this article) have just disappeared from places I have seen them in the past. So, I am writing here to clear up misunderstandings about our interesting wild neighbors, and possibly to save them

Teasel, another plant which is normally not permitted to grow in typical gardens, can still be seen in areas along the highway and other unused places. It is not a thistle, though it looks like it. In my gardens I pamper it. It has multiple uses, primarily as a producer of beautiful lavender flowers which bees love. It is also an interesting component in dry plant arrangements which I make. Stately, but prickly, they are to be handled with care, preferably with a gloved hand. Presently I am cutting some of mine down now that they have flowered as I don’t want the seeds to scatter everywhere in my main garden where I also grow vegetables. I plan to scatter some of the seeds in the larger meadow before winter.

By far the most misunderstood wildflower of all is Golden Rod. I have learned through my reading that it is not the pollen producer that affects most people adversely. Ragweed is the culprit as it has very nondescript flowers and blooms at the same time as Golden Rod. Very sneaky of Ragweed, I would say. The pollen from Golden Rod is too heavy to be carried very far by the wind whereas ragweed pollen is very light. There are 16 species of Golden Rod throughout our country, and I happen to have about 4 or more species on my property. They are beginning to bloom, and I eagerly await the show ! All my various wild aster will bloom soon as well, so between the two of them my bees and butterflies will be well fed before the killing frost. Along with all these pollinators you can be sure I will be rejoicing as well !

The other day I nearly hit a Monarch butterfly which was caught between a road, parking lots, stores, and large grass deserts with no flowers in sight. It seemed confused and did not know where to go. This is a perfect example of a growing problem called “habitat fragmentation.”. Good-hearted people who plant flowers in their yards are doing a great service, but these same butterflies and bees we feed frequently must travel far and wide just to find other flowers to feed on or appropriate plants on which to lay their eggs. We all know the need of Monarchs for Milkweed, but there are many others, such as the larvae of the Fritillary butterfly for violets, the Checkerspot for Trutlehead flowers and the rare/endangered butterflies in the Blues Family for clovers and Lupine flowers.

Lately, and even over many years, I have been reading writings by prominent mystics and naturalists who all sing a similar theme song. This song is one of praise for creation and its awesome diversity which can aid us as humans to connect more intimately with ourselves and the Creator. This goes for everyone, even atheists and agnostics, for “things in nature are optimal teachers to help us discern how to be ourselves. We have been separated from the source of our identity and have to fall in love with it all over again “. Thus writes Belden Lane in his book Backpacking with the Saints, an amazing read full of wisdom.

And so, this Sunday morning the natural world is the temple in which I worship, today, and everyday. For me, and so many others, the amazing diversity of life forms on this planet are not only an expression of the infinite nature of their Creator, but also an expression of amazing love, without end, unless we humans choose to continue to destroy it. We always have a choice.

Some local natives which a rarely seen and loosing habitat: purple Swamp Milkweed, Goatsbeard, Moth Mullein, Bergamot, blue Lobelia, Vervain, Obedient plant, Deptford pinks, Cardinal flower, wild Columbine, Cinquefoils, St. Johnswort, Yarrow, Sweet Cicely, wild Sweet Clovers,etc..

Misunderstood but Beautiful – Flowers as People

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Drogo
Much of the beauty and value of the natural world will be missed,
and lost, if it is constantly condemned as unimportant, and destroyed.“
– from Garden Ramblings

In a very real way, flowers are a lot like people. Fragile, they are born vulnerable, and if fortunate to receive the proper care, will thrive and bear much goodness. However, many people, like flowers, are misunderstood. Some of us are late bloomers and get cut down while struggling to grow, while others of us may express ourselves in the wrong way, or the wrong place, and are criticized.

True, it is about the world of plants and flowers that I mostly write, but the connection between humans and the natural world being what it is – ever constant and essential—it is ofttimes impossible to separate the two. Many of our greatest writers and teachers refer to nature, recognizing the wisdom that is to be gained if we but open our hearts and our minds to it. Many of these people have been misunderstood as well.

Four of my very favorite wildflowers are the lavender bergamot, rarely seen anymore due to mowing, the shy blue chicory, the wild asters of which I have 4 species on my property, and the tall rarely seen white and yellow wild sweet clovers (which look nothing like clovers, but are in that family). Both chicory and bergamot are blooming profusely right now here at my Mystic Meadows and I can never see them enough. The wild bergamot has cross pollinated with its relative the gorgeous red monarda, creating two new shades of purple and maroon. I am blown away by their beauty and their usefulness. Standing very still by each large cluster of flowers which are shoulder high, the hundreds of flowers seem literally in motion with the activity of hummingbird moths, various butterflies, and bumble bees large and small. Of course, even a hummingbird cruises by for a nip on the way to its favorite mimosa tree. Sadly, I see very few honey bees this year.

Chicory is the most tenacious wildflower I know. It tends to grow right up against the country roads people drive down in their early morning rush to work or school, gracing our journeys with their joyful blue color, brightening our moods if we but see them. Even when mowed down, they grow right back, undeterred. If permitted, they will bloom right through the summer into fall, providing nectar for bees and later, essential seeds for small birds like finch. They usually close their blue petals during the heat of the day, and so are seen as ugly by most people as they have tiny leaves and look spindly when their petals are closed. But oh, when the day is cooler and the flowers are open, behold the powdery blue profusion !

Wild asters spend the entire summer growing slowly into tall, elegant plants full of elongated leaves. There are 4 varieties which I grow throughout my gardens, and the reward for my patience is a glorious, end-of -summer show of tiny, daisy-like flowers, a final bust of white and purple beauty which goes well into the fall. These plants, besides being a welcome source of inspiration for me before the long, cold days of winter, serve as essential nectar and pollen for our bees. Without these wildflowers the bees could easily starve in their hives. Goldenrod, which I will write about in a sequel to this article, is also significant for bees, and even butterflies, to stave off starvation. It is and has been mostly misunderstood as well.

Many years ago I was enjoying the beauty of my back road where, unfortunately, the white and yellow wild sweet clovers were growing embarrassingly close to the road. They are somewhat guilty of looking gangly, like some people I know, and were very tall. I knew they would eventually be mowed, so I decided to cut them with more care by myself. So, I went home and came back laden with an arsenal of cutting tools, only to loose my resolve when I put the blade to their stalks. I thought to myself “what is more important, the flowers or the road”. I had observed very few of these particular flowers being permitted to grow anywhere, so I put down my weapons and joined the ranks of the misunderstood. After that day, they moved themselves to a safer place. They now grow, undisturbed, in various spots on my property. Plants come to me that way, and I welcome them with open arms !

I love the late bloomers and the misunderstood ones, be they human or flower. Perhaps our biggest challenge in life is to embrace these ones, to accept them as amazing creations on this miraculous planet which is full to bursting with diversity. I leave you with an ancient Indian quotation I love which reflects the awesomeness of it all…” Flowers are the footprints of the dancing steps of God.”

Now off I go to enjoy the rest of this glorious summer !!

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Christine is a Master Naturalist in the State of MD.. She welcomes any questions and feedback at songbirdschant@gmail.org

GARDEN HELP (Shadow Black Cat)

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2015 by Drogo

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

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Wishing for a shadow

as I do my morning chores…

Another “me” to follow

lifting buckets of manure.

Like a streak my little black cat

races past me down the path.

I smile…

he makes me laugh.

After watering I go into the house,

and there he quietly sits,

My shadow…

beside his dinner dish.

My garden help,

little Black !

Smoothies

Posted in Food & Drink, Green Fashions, Health & Fitness with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2014 by Drogo

Smoothies are awesome!

Use fruits and vegetables in a blender to make a smooth healthy drink.

Any fruits or veggies with milk, yogurt, or ice-cream all not over 3/4 full in a blender.

Blend. Put in pitcher container and refrigerate.

WAR WEARY : Turning to Nature for Solace

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Homesteading, Memorials / Obituaries / Epitaphs, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Spiritual with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by Drogo

August 2014

There is no one on this earth who is not affected by all the wars, and rumors of war, these days. Of course, all through the history of mankind there have been wars and rumors of war, and according to some thinkers and writers this is how it will always be, forever.

However, that is not what I want to debate, or discuss. I only wish to convey a few of my personal feelings about how war is affecting people, all people, and the natural world upon which we depend for survival. Whether people are aware of it or not, those in the muddle of the Middle East countries, or here in the USA where we are not hearing air raid sirens daily, we are all affected. There is not one thing on this earth that does not affect another.

Now how can I say that ? Aren’t we insulated from the worst of it here in America? Actually, we are not. “Whatever happens to the least of these happens to us”. Some very wise person said something like that 2,000 years ago. Actually, the words are more like this: “Whatsoever ye do to the least of these, ye do also unto me.” No wiser words were said.

Most natives of America thought along the same lines. They were natural ecologists, born and bred with “all our relations” in mind as a way of life. Some wise native said that we are all connected, that what befalls one part, affects another, and more…that a great sadness would befall us, as human beings, when there are no more sounds of nature and we loose the company of wild creatures. They are here for our use, but also to uplift our spirits with their amazing beauty and diversity. The earth and all of its inhabitants are a profound miracle! So, as I look around at what war and materialism have done to the natural world, and are doing, I feel a great sadness that I cannot seem to shake.

Such is the sadness we all feel on different levels, whether we are conscious of it or not. We are all war weary. Weary of wars between each other, and war against the natural world. The earth itself is weary too, its water, its air, its swamps and rivers, its plants, its butterflies, bees, birds, the polar bears, and on and on. Shall I list every remaining species?

As I wandered my gardens this morning, picking dried peas for next years planting (now there is an act of hope) and herbs for a healthy tea I need to make, my thoughts were solemn. What if there comes a day, due to rampant human ignorance upon the face of this beautiful earth, what if someday, there is no pure air to breath, or clean water to drink, or swampy breeding grounds for myriad birds and amphibians to thrive and procreate. In Syria, Gaza and Iraq,and many other places around the world they are already experiencing serious problems, and my heart bleeds for them. Innocent, hardworking people, with children and old people, all suffering due to the ignorance of their leaders. There is no clean drinking water and poor sanitation is pervasive. Swamps are drying up, rivers and lakes polluted. The inhabitants are war weary, and so am I, and so are we all. So is the Earth….

Yet, there is always hope. There are people doing their best to keep the balance between … and I will say it as it is…good and evil. To water it down, between dark and light, life and death , is stoically philosophical, though true. But this is not a philosophical exercise. This IS a war, another sort of war, a genuine fight for survival, and not just for survival of humans, but for the entire delicately balanced ecosystem.

So, how not to groan and lament the demise, the poisoning, of such a gift? Why are we throwing this precious gift back in the face of the Giver, the Great Spirit, as well as our OWN spirits. Doesn’t , shouldn’t, everyone know that without the purity of the earth, we will all sicken and die, together, some sooner, some later? I suppose some people simply do not care enough, or think, or feel for that matter. If egotistical ignorance and materialism continue as they are, and if misguided leaders feel only hate and fear, then we are doomed indeed.

Am I war weary.?… You bet ya I am. So are you. Now, what to do about it ?

I say, turn to the purity of nature, and fiercely protect and nurture it, wherever, however you are able. That is our only salvation, our only hope. Then someday, when we are truly weary of this life, and it is our time to say farewell; with forgiveness in our hearts for those who knew not what they were doing, we will die in peace knowing in our hearts that we did the best we could.

Walk Lightly, but with a strong walking stick…

~ Christine SCHOENE Maccabee

CSM 3

Thin Veil … A Chicken Tale …

Posted in Farming, Homesteading, Memorials / Obituaries / Epitaphs, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by Drogo

THIN VEIL  …A Chicken Tale… of sorts…

There is a thin veil between yesterday and today, between our present moment and our past moments, between our experiences yesterday and those of today. Something happens in the present moment and WHAM, there we are again facing our past head-on. Something happens that we are not totally in control of, triggers a sad or a happy response, and we are suddenly reliving our past, immersed in similar / familiar sorrow, or joy.

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to distinguish between the two, between our past and our present, as they are such an integral part of the fabric of who we are. There is no way to consciously control what comes filtering through that thin veil, between then and now, and all the emotions trailing behind the memories. I guess the best we can do is acknowledge the veil, and then try to embrace it as a part of who we are, both the good and the bad. For example….

Last night I was so busy I forgot to close the chicken hatchway. My body was so tired, my knees and arm ached from the days activities, and I could not wait to fall into bed. Just as I was drifting off, I heard a chicken shriek, and I knew what had happened. Pissed at myself, I jumped out of bed, threw on my robe, and rushed down to the chickens. Golden girl had been slaughtered by a fox, and poor Red was beside herself, looking around warily and squawking. I pet her and comforted her and little Belle, my blue egg layer, even as I tried to comfort myself.

Old memories of loss of precious birds came flooding back as I kicked myself for forgetting. But I had to stroke and comfort myself, understanding that I was exhausted and overly tired from a huge day of music playing and car driving. I was consciously taking a small break last evening from all my responsibilities, watching a movie and emailing friends. I was so relaxed and spent, that I forgot to protect my chickens, one responsibility I forbid myself to forsake. I had let my guard down, just as I did the day my yurt burned to the ground last year. Yes, such things have happened before and no doubt will happen again. I will mourn the loss of my lovely gold chicken who laid huge brown eggs. Later today I will do as I have done in the past with other good birds. I will take her body to the field for the vultures to feed on her, I will bid her farewell, and I will go on with my life. Yes, there is a thin veil between yesterday and today.

What is that saying that I really did not like nor completely understand? “The more things change, they more they stay the same.” Now I understand the meaning of these words. They apply appropriately to this latest episode in my life here as a mini-homesteader. And then there is the ongoing problem with a woodchuck eating my soybean plants and broccoli…yet another difficult perennial problem to solve. Nature is consistently indifferent and does not care about me. I tire of trying. Perhaps it is time to stop. I have no help here…there is too much for me to do…so what’s new? The thin veil, the triggers, are intact, there is no denying it. Nothing has changed. Would I really expect it to ? Perhaps that is my problem… I keep trying, and all I am doing is spinning my wheels.

Pretty morbid, mournful thoughts today. Thanks for letting me vent. See me tomorrow once the garlic is harvested and the blueberries and the peas are picked ! The Indefatigable will continue to pick up the pieces, get beyond the grief, and continue on with life with even more humility than before.

Humility…human…humus…hmm… Still, darn that veil. Would it could be a high, thick, impenetrable wall, protecting us from pain and sorrow !!

But such is the stuff of stories… I suppose I should be happy they keep coming !

CSM 2

Christine Schoene Maccabee – July 3, 2014

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Waiting on the Chickens

Posted in Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2014 by Drogo

It was late afternoon, the time of day I make my 2nd trip down to the chicken pen to feed my three birds a 2nd time. It had been raining, torrentially, off and on all day, but I decided to get my attitude straight as I put on my long German cloak and rubber boots. Those things, along with my large pale blue umbrella, kept my clothes perfectly dry, and I was happy to feel the wind and mist against my face. Breathing deeply of the purest air, there was nothing going to bring me down on my afternoon jaunt to the chickens.

Opening the door of the coop, there they were, all wet and happy. It surprised me when I first observed years ago that chickens like to stay out in the rain, scratching in the mud to find that last little worm or bug. They some tough ladies ! As soon as I opened the door, they scooted out into their yard thinking I would be throwing the sunflower seeds and cracked corn out there in the puddles. However, today my new plan on this rainy day was to keep the food in the coop. So I poured it clanging against the side of the metal feeder, hoping they would hear the noise and come running back in to eat. That way I could then close their little hatchway door and they would be in for the night, earlier than usual. Unfortunately, chickens are just like children. They don’t want to come inside until it is nearly dark, and trying to force them in is practically impossible without a lot of squawking.

Patiently I leaned against the door jam, and waited. One came in, Ma Belle, but she didn’t stay long. Darn, I thought, it is pouring out there, the food is in here, and still they play. I did not fancy having to come back down again by dark, in the rain, putting all my stuff back on again so as not to get wet, being more chicken than my chickens ! And so I waited, calling to them in a high pitched, chicken-like voice, but they refused to walk up their little plank and into the nice dry coop.

Then it struck me. I was waiting on the chickens, in more ways than one, and I do this everyday, twice a day ! I am their dedicated waitress. I bring them leftovers from breakfast , lunch and dinner, things like cold oatmeal, apple cores, rice and beans, greens, chicken bones from the rotisserie, just about everything their little hearts desire…except the brussels sprouts. The other day I put several little cooked brussels into a hollowed out cantaloupe half, and all they ate was the cantaloupe, leaving a very thin rind. Somehow I didn’t think they would care for the b.s. any more than most people, but this was only an experiment, so I was not surprised or upset. Most children don’t like brussels sprouts anyway. I eat them because they are good for me and I am one of those rare individuals who actually likes them. Children and chickens, on the other hand, are not so easily convinced !

Back to waiting on the chickens. I had the revelation about my servitude position while waiting for the chickens to come in out of the rain, but then I grew tired of waiting. Going out into the yard with them, I nonchalantly and very slowly, went around behind them and gently shooed them in the direction of the ramp. Happily it did not turn into a fiasco, with no success, as it frequently has in the past. Likely they were considering going in anyway. Or perhaps it registered in their little brains that there was no food in the yard, so it must be inside the coop.

Whatever they were thinking, or not thinking as the case may be, they all ran quickly, squawking as they ran, up the tiny ramp. Quickly, I closed the little door, saying “gotcha ! “ Whew, that was easy, I thought. Thank God, as it was beginning to pour down rain again, and I was getting hungry. All wet and happy, the three little imps began to discover the food in the dispenser, and I was happy too. I said “Goodnight girls, thank you so much girls for your eggs.” (I always thank them) and then “see you tomorrow”, as I closed the main door.

Whoever said captive birds aren’t happy ? They are no more imprisoned than I am. We might as well be happy together. I don’t mind waiting on the chickens. I serve then and they serve me. Their large brown eggs are the best, and their manure helps my organic gardens to flourish. Plus, everyday they give me a reason to get outside one more time, rain or shine, and take a walk down the hill, sometimes wading through wet grasses with the feel of mist on my face. I might even have a little adventure besides.

Who could ask for more?!

– Christine Schoene Maccabee of Mystic Meadows

chickens 1

SCOD Food Cooperative Concept

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Economics, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Organic Gardens, Services, Sales or Trade, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2014 by Drogo

SCOD Food Cooperative ideas by JF & JT based on our post-bubble recession economic reality and independent personal finances:

“I have been exploring the idea of a virtual cooperative for the trade of services, labor, skills, and instruction similar to a cross between Ebay, Bit-Coin, and Linked-in with maybe a little bit of a D&D style.

I’m thinking it would work something like this:

A merchant would setup a standard merchant style account showcasing their skills, wares etc… in an online profile where they could search other merchant profiles. This account can be further refined as membership evolves to the trade guild level. Services or wares can be brokered directly or they can go into a bidding pool.Services or offering could be bid upon by others to determine a fair market exchange for labor, goods, and services as well as establishing a found for a virtual economic system.

Every account starts out with 100 ‘trust point’ credits to purchase the service, etc… from another merchant offering a different service and some other desirable arrangement. Once the transaction is completed by the service provider, the receipt of the service transfers a previously agreed upon amount of credits to the service providers account. Problems or disagreements will be mediated by guild leaders.

The virtual cooperative only works if people continuously participate to retain credits in their account.No money ever changes hands and credit cannot be bought directly through the web application. Every member is initially set up in the ‘commons’ until they have acquired enough proficiency to join a guild. Prospectus must be invited and approved by members of the guild they are seeking membership from. Guilds will be broken down into the various subtypes Artisan, Teacher, etc…”

 – JF

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We aren’t really left with any options. It’s at the point if we want health in our lives, we have to work for it. What we need to do is sit down and figure out the dietary needs of everyone who wants to be involved, plot out who will be in charge of what, and figure out an effective timeline that will keep everyone fed through the winter months. I’ll set up a wiki and link it to the SCOD group.

I’ll be hunting a fair bit this season. I can work to provide deer and turkey at the least. I’m good for beans and corn as well. the more the merrier. I’m going to create this as a private wiki, so I just need email addresses for those to be added.

So who (around here) would like to buckle down with me in a cooperative to feed all our families on organic, home-grown, locally raised, or locally hunted food? We’ll need to cover all areas – protein (meat and non-meat sources), eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Mushroom growers are also welcome!”

– JT

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(see modern economic theory article – Post-Bubble Recession Economics)

Seed Planting

Posted in Organic Gardens with tags , , , on March 11, 2014 by Drogo

1. Feel free to start growing seeds indoors by a window whenever you want. Even if it is too cold outside to transplant them, there can be satisfaction simply in growing seedlings.

2. Do NOT plant anything OUTSIDE during frost periods Oct.30-April 15 apx.

3.  Small seeds – plant close to surface of soil / large seeds plant 1/2″ – 2″ / 3″+ for bulbs.  Loose organic soil is always better.

4. Too much water can wash the seeds out of place (especially small seeds close to the surface)

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Sad thing is most growers end up killing more plants than they grow, since we weed all the time, and many die; ironic but the harsh reality.  i think the thing that makes a grower is someone that keeps planting and letting and helping plants grow despite losses.