Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Seasons’

Replacing Gates And What They Have To Say About Us

In Chores, JustLiving Farm on March 8, 2015 at 8:00 am


March 8, 2015

A while back I brought a steer onto the place who could not or would not settle down. Before I sent him down the road, he successfully bent the hell out of one of the corral gates. With longer days settling in (though it is going to take some time for me to settle into daylight savings time) and a mild end to winter (at least for the moment), it is a good time to replace bent gates.

Like too many other things around here, our bent gates are the result of trying to save money. Our lighter gage gates are fine for lightweight animals like our sheep and goats, but they are quite up to the job with a 600-pound steer runs into them. But we all know about that don’t we? You live with what you can afford at the time!

A few years back Belinda and I attended an auction at an out-of-business feedlot. We bid and picked up a number of heavy weight gates. Gates much more suited to a 600-pound steer slamming into them. I figured they would make great replacements for the light gates in the heavy use corrals. Me being me though, well-meaning doesn’t always get the job done. I’m willing to use the excuse there was always something more important to take care of, but of course all that got me was a few bent gates.

15.03.08b Read the rest of this entry »


It’s All A Little Foggy, But Let Me Remember

In JustLiving Farm, Soil on February 1, 2015 at 8:00 am


February 01, 2015

As January slips away so does my patience with fog. After weeks of fog, along with knowing a sunny blue sky is a hundred or two feet above, and because February can hold more fog ahead, my patience is normally wanting.

So I am surprised to find my patience fairly intact at the end of January. I have had enough, little doubt about that, but I have found the winter fog talkative. Walking back to the house the other night I watched the crescent moon barrel through the fog and backlight a bare tree. The tree stood full, chest out, nakedly proud in the showering mist of fog. Lovely how a cold foggy winter night brings out the ampleness of life lodged in water of air, tree, and moon.

I miss the fullness of life too often. I find it easy enough to think a tree as living, and when creek water tumbles or fog loiters, living water. Yet my secular and religious teachings have taught me to give little credence to the notion of life in rock, soil, mountain, or moon. When it comes to soil it’s okay to give life to the rhizomes and micro-critters living within, but the dirt itself? Not a chance. Moon shimmering through a night fog calls forth another story.

Some folk mindfully walk. Such walking allows awareness of grounded relationship. A relationship the ground has always known. Ground is fully aware of the feet who play ball, run, hike or swing a child in the air. The stories of twisting, heavy breath, and laughter become grounded. While we—our partners, our parents, our children, ourselves—may forget such moments, they are not lost, but embedded. If one listens, the ground has stories to tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Bothering Flies

In JustLiving Farm on October 18, 2014 at 6:00 am


October 18, 2014

“Do you have a fly swatter?” I almost laughed. Didn’t.

We were sitting in the shade of willow trees, talking. Water ran down tea glasses and wet rings grew on the wood picnic table. Folk lightly swatted at flies buzzing ears and arms. I hadn’t given my own swatting much thought as we talked about why paying less for physical work than for office work is an injustice.

It was June when I turned and answered, “Folk sometimes offer the suggestion that I should do something about the flies bothering the cows.” That didn’t seem to be the answer they were looking for, but I continued. “A Cow’s life is outside. Some seasons have more flies than others. Winter, for instance, there isn’t a fly for miles. Summer though, more flies than cow or human want. Thing is, just shy of nuking the cows with pesticides—with who know what residual effects—there’s always another fly to take the last ones place.”

I wonder when did we became a people of those blue glowing electric insect killers. Granted I don’t like flies or other insects—certainly mosquitoes—tenaciously buzzing my face. We all have our limit. But have we come to a time of believing we should not be inconvenienced or bothered, at all? I hope not. Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Cross-Street

In Reflections on December 25, 2013 at 6:55 am


December 25, 2013

The door banged open and Arnie blew in with the Santa Ana’s (that’s wind for the non-southern California folk).  “I just got off that L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught,” he said.  We knew what he meant.  Every one of us had spent time on California freeways to get to this room.  If L.A. freeways are good for anything else, they always make you feel like you’ve accomplished something making it to your destination in one piece!  But when an armadillo says without getting killed or caught (Had I said Arnie’s an armadillo?  We’re all uniquely created, but ya gotta admit, there’s something a bit different when it comes to armadillo’s.) you get one of those chicken crossing the L.A. freeway images and, well, Arnie probably had his heart beating a bit more than normal a time or two.

“I thought I’d left the key in the ‘ol’ front door lock,” Arnie said, “but, then, we got something to believe in, don’t you think?”  We sat there looking at Arnie and no clue as to what he was talking about.  But that was nothing new, Arnie often kept us a notch off center, wondering.

“I walked through the downtown yesterday, he said.  The streets were filled with laughter and light…and the music of the season.  We looked at each other and wondered what in the world was Arnie doing downtown?  There always a risk when any of us visit the city, but an armadillo, downtown, with foot and car traffic, in this season!  Well you’ve gotta give some thought to how well he’s tracking!  Arnie went on, “as I walked I got those stares, you know the ones.  It was all a little surreal, there is something about when their christmas comes they tense-up and focus on possessions.  You’d think the act of giving to their relations would be a good time, but many seem to walk with smiles on their faces while the season turns their temple to a robber’s den.”  We were tracking him, more or less, but one couldn’t be sure.

“I came to the corner of 25th and Chris Street,” he said.  “There was this old boy in worn out shoes, sitting on the curb.  Read the rest of this entry »

Two Lane Roads

In Reflections on December 7, 2013 at 7:01 am


December 06, 2013

Two lanes, hot weather, and apricots are of summer memories.  One memory pulls in each year with the apricot harvest.  As I migrated north from the southern California canyons of my youth, the season of memory has shifted, but not much.  West coast apricots all seem to ripen sometime from mid-June to mid-July.

Two lane road names describe place.  We, my younger brother, my more younger sister, and I grew up just off Placerita Canyon Road, on the western slope of Sand Canyon, with friends living along Sand Canyon Road and up Iron Canyon Road, Oak Spring Canyon Road, and Lost Canyon Road.  Each a two lane road, at least until they narrowed and the asphalt gave way to gravel.  I imagine they will always be two lane roads.  That may not be the case.  Any more, with fast pace of life and faster driving, fewer folk seem to appreciate the curving roads following canyon bottoms that call for slower driving and life pace.  Just the same, I like to imagine there will always be a need for the slow pace of canyon two lanes.

Come late June-early July we would load ourselves into the old Ford station wagon and head up Sand Canyon—Mamma and daddy would have the three of us sit upright on the backseat and keep our hands off each other, it was, however, many more years before we gave serious thought to putting on a seatbelt.  Some years, we would turn right onto Soledad Canyon Road, others we’d head over the next ridge and turn right onto Sierra Highway.  Both were two lanes.  Though Soledad Canyon twisted more, water and Live Oaks made for a cooler drive.  In either case as the canyons faded in the background and the countryside heated up, Soledad hooked up with Sierra Hwy just east of the small town of Acton.  Another few miles and a right onto the Pearblossom Hwy took us out to our folk’s destination, Littlerock. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall’s Fence

In Chores, JustLiving Farm, Seasons on October 22, 2012 at 7:57 am

October 22, 2012

As we worked putting up temporary fence around the hay fields, it is apparent fall now owns the valley landscape.  First snow has fallen on the foothills to the west.  Wind blows steady from the west.  Sun glitters leaf edge—alfalfa, grass, and neighbors dry corn stalk.

Pulling wire and driving posts this time of year is a gift.  The fall wind hasn’t blown so long and hard that it tiring and obnoxious.  Instead, it heightens awareness allowing for considerations easily walked by otherwise.  Mixed with sun and fall smells, the wind whispers the fence from chore of metal upon metal to plate rim.

In the next day or so, most of the fall fencing will be done and the field transforms from hay to a large vegetarian supper plate.  A time of rejoicing.  Animals have an abundance of feed and we have the freedom of not feeding every morning and evening throughout most of the winter.  Such rejoicing lived time and again when wind and cold push temperatures into the single digits—or worse—and animals feed while we watch from the warmth of house.

Fall joy.

Sunflower Snow

In Art, JustLiving Farm, Seasons on January 23, 2012 at 7:31 am

January 23, 2012
JustLiving Farm

I walk by them every day.  Each spring we plant more sunflowers than we will ever harvest.  This isn’t so hard, a sunflower or two will produce all the seeds we’re going to eat for a year.  We plant the rest for birds to partake during late spring and early winter.  By now, they have figured out how to get the last seed out of the flower head.  So, I walk by those stems and flower heads that were so green and yellow last summer, each day, without thinking much about them.  Then the sun came out.  With sunlight touching the snow buildup on each head the sunflowers presented a beauty that comes after life has slipped away.

© David B. Bell 2012

Fog Listening

In JustLiving Farm, Landscape on December 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

December 13, 2011
JustLiving Farm

One good thing about frozen fog mornings in December is the sound.  The sound of quite frozen fog mornings is unlike anything else.  Unlike mornings of snow-covered landscape that encases movement and sound, frozen air allows the wheatgrass to move with the slightest of breeze.  The grasses dampened rustle plays with the conversation of two chirping birds which mingles with crunching frozen grass below each boot step.  Frozen fog, a natural symphony of sorts.

© David B. Bell 2011

Thanks for Brown Teeth and Straggling Geese

In YCM on November 24, 2011 at 7:10 am

November 24, 2011

Native American Heritage Month

Board with music I pushed the scan button.  The next voice I heard was that of the radio when I walk into the local steel supply.  A steady rant on why it wasn’t Indians who were hurt in the selling of Manhattan.  The voice went on and on as if the spilling of words would make his thoughts the new truth.  But I rush on…

Why rage against the poor comes so easy for a wealthy urban person the day before Thanksgiving I don’t know.  And I guess I’m really not up to putting up with it and want to go on a tirade myself.  But instead…with some steadiness? is good to take time  and appreciate today’s sky, John bundled and sitting in front of the P.O. before the sun rises on a freezing morning smoking a cigarette, a mountain white from yesterdays snowfall, a dog sniffing a paper bag across the street, and the wealth of a warm car as I drive by.

© David B. Bell 2011



Turkey, blue head on the ground
body in a gleaming white tub
with lion claw feet.
Heat rises in the yard
melting crystals of ice
and there are feathers, bronze,
metallic blue and green
that were his strong wings
which never flew away.

And we give thanks for it
and for the old woman
shawl pulled tight around her
she sits
her teeth brown
her body dry
her spoons
don’t match.

Some geese, last stragglers
trickling out of Canada
are flying over.
Noisy, breaking the glass sky
they are grey
and their wings are weightless.

Linda Hogan

First Freeze

In Crop on October 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

October 25, 2011

Today is a sad day.  I find it too bad that after a long absence from the farm journal I return with such an opening.  It was and has been a busy through late spring, summer and so far this fall.  In the middle of busy days, something I enjoy is left undone, and too often, it was the garden.  I never felt like I got enough time in the garden.  That is why, though this day comes around every year, it is a little sadder than most years.

We had a heads-up the first fall freeze would occur last night.  Over the weekend, we pulled what peppers, green tomatoes, and other vegetables there were left out of the garden.  However, with the end of the yearly garden (though we have potatoes still in the ground and still need to harvest what is left of them) is the end of fresh vegetables for another year.  Sure, some of our friends live on land a little higher (in elevation) than ours and we might get another butter-squash or two, but there is a lot of cold between now and the next garden.

Yet, I reckon, even thought there is a bit of sadness with the first freeze, it was not hard and deep, which allow a few more days…maybe weeks?..of those flowers who seem to power through these early frosts and continue to give beauty and in their color a reminder of days that have been and of days to come.