Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Relationship’

Red Insulator

In Chores, Landscape on June 19, 2016 at 8:57 am

160619

June 19, 2016 

Land identification does not change easily in rural landscapes.  When a farm, ranch, or corner store passes hands, folk continue to identify it in the name of the previous owner years beyond the exchange.

Ray’s place became part of the farm a few years ago.  The passing of land and its being used differently meant some fence lines would need to come down and other go up.  However, I found knowing my neighbor well, meant I felt out of place any time I was on soil that once was his.  Because of that, I’ve waited to remove and construct fences.  Eventually, however, the time came to get the work done.

H-braces hold fence lines taut and are the first features built.  Theses went up in the early spring.  A month later T-posts were driven and then wire stretched.  The fence is a five wire fence.  The top two wires are barbwire, the next is electric fence wire, the fourth barb, and the bottom electric.  The pattern works well for a cow and goat operation.  The barbwire keeps cows in place and the goats, who duck through the barbwire easily enough, are stopped by the electric wire.

Wire clips hold the barbwire to the fence posts.  Insulators hold the electric wire to the same posts.  I had a number of insulators on hand from pulling them off old posts; some from the farm and others from Ray’s place.

When working a neighbors place you are acutely aware they are never quite gone.  That has a lot to do with why locals call places by the last owner’s name—even if it has been decades since they last lived there, and why local folk know the land being fenced as the old Brown place.  Fair enough, the working sweat and blood of those people are embedded in the soil they lived and worked on all those years.  One does not need be the best listener in the world to hear those voices of work long after they have left the land. Read the rest of this entry »

Twisted Wire

In Poetry on June 12, 2016 at 8:00 am

160612
hands of long ago,
repair barb wire fence,
of hands long ago

Coffee & Microwave 2

In Reflections on May 22, 2016 at 11:17 am

160522

May 22, 2016 

My first recollection of coffee is at the kitchen nook table at my folk’s home in Granada Hills.  Three or four at the time, my image is a little fuzzy.  However, I figure my first awareness of coffee were during my wombed days.  Mamma, on the other hand, was three or four when her folks began allowing her a spoonful of coffee each morning.  Little wonder that by the time of my wombed days coffee was not only normal but embodied.

Until the microwave came along, I figure daddy’s enjoyment of coffee was questionable.  Morning coffee met mom’s standards.  Being a coffee drinker since the age of three meant her coffee standard was just this side of chaw—coffee poured sluggishly from the pot.  Using the word miracle for the microwave seems a little over the top, but only for those whose coffee lacks the consistency of mud.  For those who live with mudders, but prefer drinking to chewing, miracle is an apt term.  The miracle lies in the microwave’s ability to allow for one pot and two different cups of coffee.  One cup filled to the brim with coffee.  The other half filled, topped off with water and placed into the microwave for twenty or thirty seconds.  Two cups, two consistencies, two different ideas of coffee.

One can hardly turn around any longer without stepping on another coffee shop and barista.  The choices of having ones coffee either black or with sugar seem archaic.  Meetings and conversations with friends over an Espresso, Macchiato, Latte, or Frappé, in a coffee shop, are today’s norm.  Yet there was the liminal time of the microwave, somewhere between the twelve-cup coffee pot and the individual barista cup.  That was a time, when the miracle of the microwave allowed two people to sit across a table and talk, contemplate, and laugh, while taking in a breeze swaying tree leaves outside the window.

 

Gold in Them Thar Commodes

In Reflections, Theology on March 13, 2016 at 8:00 am

160313b

March 13, 2016

I never notice it during the summer. Well, maybe never is a little strong, but for the most part I do not. When I think of it though, how does one walk pastures and not notice it? After all, folk who know a lot more than I say that for roughly every thousand pounds of weight, a steer produces close to 9.8 tons of manure.

Let’s see now, we have roughly eight or nine thousand pounds of steers on the farm. 9.8 tons times 8 and you have…well, a lot of shit. Just imagine what must be going on with urine.

With those numbers, one would think mountains of manure would cover the farm. However, the moment manure hits the ground it begins its work of fertilizing. During irrigation season or rain season or when snow melts, cow pies break down fairly fast. The break down is best though during the growing season. This stuff is full of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—combined you get roughly twenty pounds per ton of manure—and the pasture soil and plants eat this stuff up.

Recognizing that whole circle of life thing, it is nice to know the soil gives grass the will to live, the grass does the same for the steer, and the steers manure in turn enhances the wellbeing of the soil. Makes one rethink the value of shit.

Manure is more than steers, goats, and chickens though. You would think healthy humans naturally know this truth with their daily bowel movement. However, I imagine few folk living with modern bathrooms give it much thought as they push the toilet handle. Gene Logsdon gives a reminder in his book Holy Shit that this was not always the case. At one time, the worth of human manure for fertilizer was very valuable in China. So much so, that when your neighbor invited you to their home for dinner, the neighborly thing to do was to visit the bathroom before you left. Really! You can’t make this shit up! Read the rest of this entry »

The Sentient and Soulful Landscape

In Landscape, Theology on February 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm

160214

February 28, 2016

She was nailing it! Speaking on how the Federal and State government were dealing with an environmental issue in northern California, she told stories of her family, earth, and water. Yet, many folk in the room of predominantly non-Indian middle (more or less) class folk were not getting it.

A problem with being middle (more or less) class in the US, is to have made it out of poverty and subsistence living, folk did it by obtaining and accepting a western education. While this education has served us well in obtaining a good money-earning job, it has done a shabby job of having us maintain relationship with the spirit of the landscape.

I grew up with an Okie neighbor who told stories. Those stories kept him in relationship with folk, told much about him, and spoke to his outlook on life, land, the future, and the past. Most often peppered with words most folk would find inappropriate for children’s ears—and many adults for that matter—they were the racy stories that kept a young teenagers attention from beginning to end. From him I learned stories spoke truth and were much easier to remember later than, say, the historical dates being taught to me in school. His stories also helped me know there is life and ways of being different from my normal. Which meant later in life I heard other stories as truthful rather than fantasyful.

Another friend, a Yakama, told me stories of her and her family’s life growing up in landscape of ancient people. Her stories walked a path that before too long intersected with a rabbit trail. Not one to walk away from an adventure, her story wandered the rabbit trail, many times finding and taking another trail. Often, but not always, a trail would be found leading back to the original path. Whether the story found the original path or not, each story found its way to a natural truth needing telling. Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Through Allies

In Peace & Justice on January 31, 2016 at 8:35 am

160131b

January 31, 2015

Friends often make you think. Not a bad thing, but often a hard thing. Thought, while good, is not always good or risky enough without verbalization. Shayne and Sandhya, I figure, know that, which, maybe, is why last October they asked what I thought about the blog Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM). Thinking about it wasn’t enough. I would have to risk voice. Something I seldom enjoy on edgy issues. Well, five months is enough time to stew over it.

The blogger uses a quote from Dr. Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail,

“Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

We all like Dr. King quotes, don’t we? Yet, we seldom see ourselves on the challenged end of the quote. The problem Dr. King addresses here is that of ally. He speaks about justice orientated folk who are about change, but fear what might happen to their reputation if their heart is voiced (hmm, like me for the last five months?); and the perceived communal stability that exists with the no comment negative peace.

Some sixty years later I find I line up closer with Johan Galtung’s understanding of negative peace than I do with Dr. King’s. I figure there is plenty of tension lying just below the communal surface now (listen to the tone of the blog) and in King’s era. The peace known in society, now and then, is not the absence of tension, but the absence of violence. Which for my money means, no one should be surprised if the boiling tension below the surface ends up blowing the lid off the teakettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Fathers-In-Law

In Chores, Landscape, Theology on January 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

160124

January 24, 2016

A fog storm settled in around us as we worked the rail fence. We started setting posts in the last moments of autumn hoping to beat the winter cold. We didn’t make it. The cold barreled in and uncritical chores became critical and the remaining post and railing took a seat. Those chores ended just in time for winter days who freeze nose hairs as you step out of the house.

Cattle are a curious bunch. So there we were trying to lag rails to the few posts we’d set weeks ago, with steers breathing out great buffs of fog as we worked, each settling a foot above our heads. Before you knew it, it was hard to see Belinda at the end of a sixteen-foot board. You think it an exaggeration? Well, perhaps a bit. Just the same…

I could hear Belinda’s dad scoffing at us as we worked. “Four below zero? Well, let me tell you. I was returning home from school one day when mamma stopped and picked me up. ‘Buddy,’ she said, ‘Don’t you know it is 43 below!! You’ll freeze before you ever get home.’ Four below, …hmpff.” My figures numbed inside unlined leather gloves.

My response was non-verbal, Dad has been gone for nearly three years now, “Yeah, well Bud, that’s what you Swedes and Norwegians get for choosing North Dakota when you arrived in this landscape. Some of us had the good sense to head straight to warm land, like, say, south Texas and California.” The trouble with having in your head conversations is you start countering your own arguments and it is no longer Bud but myself saying, “Oh Yeah, then why the hell are you here at the end of a board in below freezing weather? Damn!” I continued bickering with Bud and myself until the last lag screw is twisted in. We packed up the tools and took them to the shed. Then headed up to the house, the woodstove, a cup of coffee, and verbal conversation—I’m sure I will pick up the conversation with Bud another day. Read the rest of this entry »

Family—99 %’s & Malheur

In Peace & Justice, YCM on January 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

160110

January 10, 2016

Never gave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge much thought before? Neither had I. I traveled nearby, once, a few years ago. Heading south to the Steens Mountain Wilderness, I skirted by to the west on the two-lane highway. I probably passed a sign telling me to turn east to the Refuge, but I missed it the high desert of sky and sage. Though traveling at 55 mph doesn’t allow for much, you can still catch your breath in this beautifully rural and open landscape

I find it sad that the first time most US folk become aware of this landscape it is not for its beauty.

Enough has been said about the gun toting, cowboy hat wearing folk who are living at the Refuge these days. However, as one who wears a cowboy hat, hunts, and whom neighbors think of as the local liberal, here are two more cents.

It figure it was about the time I first heard about #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS tweeting and folk wondering about calling this occupy movement domestic terrorism, that I began thinking about the Refugee occupiers and the now, mostly, defunct Occupy Movement/99 percent movement in the same light. Sure there is a difference between those who carry guns and those who don’t, but then again, who is feeling their lives are threatened by the few folk in the 10-30 degree weather of the east Oregon high desert, locals notwithstanding.

I find I agree about as much with the Refugee occupiers as I did with the Occupy Movement. In both cases, it seems most folk are/were about maintaining a middle (or higher) class existence for themselves. I want more land (the Refugee folk). I want a better job (the Occupy Movement). My friends who support one group or the other would say that is simplistic and it is more complicated than that. I’ll give you that. My question though, then as now, is when this is all over will you give of your time and resources to better the lives of those who have less? Read the rest of this entry »

Sign—Post

In Poetry, Theology on January 3, 2016 at 8:00 am

160103
no hunting, no trespassing?
why do I assume
it was not “Welcome”

 

Not Probable, But Believable

In Peace & Justice, Theology on December 27, 2015 at 8:00 am

151227

December 27, 2015

Snow crunched as we walked to the truck. Christmas morning, 5:30am, 4 degrees, and a full moon had the landscape glimmering and welcoming in mystical, frozen sort of way. Little is like the sharpness stars take on when the air crackles. Thus an unexpected gift, I gave no thought to fifteen minutes earlier while pulling on boots next to the fire knowing the outside is cold enough to freeze nose hairs. Moments, when the world enters into sharp focus is unbelievable, yet believable.

Belinda drove as I tossed one alfalfa flake after the other from the back of the truck. Cattle followed until they figured one flake is as good as another and got to eating. Settled into routine, I wondered, then remembered a friend using a clip from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Lucy Pevensie first walks through the Wardrobe, to open the Advent season in her church. When Lucy backs out of the wardrobe into a place of snow, so unexpected, the moment becomes mystical. As she chances movement away from the wardrobe and into a wonder snow filled forest, she comes upon a lamppost. Forest, snow, and a lighted lamppost, unbelievable, but Lucy is standing in its midst, therefore believable.

Leather gloves only go so far in the cold and as numb fingers dropped the last flakes I wondered more and stumbled upon the Pauline letter of Colossians and the words, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another… forgive each other… be thankful… teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” Maybe it was the cold, maybe the numbness was spreading, but in the dark of Christmas morning, the thought of compassion and kindness coupled with humility and meekness was unbelievable…yet… believable.

Imagine your, mine, our community where every person lives in a warm home? We all know this reality is not probable in our time, but don’t we all know it is possible? Read the rest of this entry »