Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Water’

Loosing Wildness

In Doctrine of Discovery, Theology on October 28, 2016 at 8:00 am

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If you were to go back two hundred and eleven years ago last Saturday (October 22) and stand on the bank of the Columbia River at Celilo Falls, you would watch hundreds of fishing families hoop-netting the salmon fall run.  Mid-day arrives and with your kin, you sit and eat in as unending mist rises from the falls turning waters.  The sound and constant mist is a wonder, but that wonder deepens as a group of folk portage the falls—the only place needing portage on this river of Canadian birth.  Word came weeks ago about these people headed by Lewis and Clark traveling west on the river.  However, you have lived long enough now to know what you hear, what you see, and what you experience seldom are a match.

Some two hundred miles upstream from the river’s mouth, these fishers are folk of subsistence. The falls are a natural barrier to returning salmon.  As more and more arrive on their journey to mate, lay eggs, and die in their spawning streams and creeks of birth, the pools below the falls fill.  As they leap and hurdle themselves ever forward over the falls toward embodied spawning grounds men with large hoop nets stand firmly on long-ago constructed family platforms pulling salmon from the river.  Youth gather fish and carry them to women who work carving meat away from bones and hanging it to dry.  Children help where they can, but most run about and play games as children do.  The value of those fishing, gathering, fileting, or drying is the same.  The work is natural work.  Honorable work.  The righteous work of community.

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Until the 1930’s, the Columbia did not know a dam. A century and a quarter after Lewis and Clark portaged around Celilo Falls, that all changed.  Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

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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 »

Luminous Water

In JustLiving Farm on August 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

August 18, 2010

The early August summer morning has wonderful light flowing across the garden.  After sunrise colors have faded, white light filters through morning watering.  No rainbow this morning due to the angle of light, rather a brilliant spattering of luminous drops fills the air.  Refracted and refracted again, light only allows sight of the garden when quaking sprinklers angle and mix water and light, newly.  Each tick of the sprinklers floats a new painting of light.  Each painting feeds the soul and the fruit of the garden.

There is talk about the need to return to gardens—inner city gardens, community gardens, backyard gardens, and church gardens.  Gardening folk naturally understand why gardens benefit communities.  Gardening allows the soul to awaken to the natural intimate relationship it has with earth.  Deeply residing in every soul is a need to connect with earth regularly.  Not to say everyone needs to garden, but rather to say gardeners provide spiritual healing for more than themselves.  That reconnection, for the gardener and the observer of gardens, is critical for good life.

The soul knows the soil from which it came and which life without is impossible.  Reaching into the ground, picking it up, allowing it to flow between the fingers back to its home is necessary for every human.  Be it brown or red, black or gray, soil reminds the body that meaningful life is lived in simple relationship between Creation and ourselves.  When this life giving relationship becomes playful on a summer morning, blending sun and air and water and plant and soil, soulful paintings burst forth.

Of Rainbows and Wheelines

In Crop on June 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

June 22, 2010

We bought our wheelines a number of years ago at an auction in Moses Lake.  The lines had been out in the “back forty” for who knows how long.  We broke them down and brought them to the farm and have put them back together again as we have needed them.  Last Friday we assembled four for the field with Sudan, Emmer, and Wheat.  We took them to the field, hooked them up, and turned water on.  We found out how lucky we’ve been.

Three of the four pipe have holes.  Not just a few holes, but enough to make the wheeline look like some type of water show at Disneyland.  Little pin holes, large holes, and cracks threw water upward, sideways, and downward.  Turning the water on in the late afternoon with the sun in the western sky meant we had a multitude of rainbows mixing and dancing with one another up and down the wheeline.  It was quite a sight, and I imagine I should have taken a picture of the wonderful event, but I have to admit, I didn’t see a lot of beauty in the moment.

Yesterday we pulled in a few, replaced the pipes, and got them back in place.  We’ll work on getting a few more replaced today.

© David B. Bell 2010

Proverbs raining Understanding, Grace, and Hay

In Crop, JustLiving Farm on May 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

May 29, 1020

On and off, we’ve had a fair amount of rain since Wednesday.  As rain often is this time of year, it has benefited some and not others.  Some without benefit are those who have cut hay or who have baled but the bales remain in the fields.  Questions arise for those folk. Is it going to rain too much?  Will the sun come out and stay out?  Will the wind come and dry the hay?  Will the undersides of bales mold?

I grew up in southern California.  The landscape of my youth was full of canyons.  The drainages, we called washes, were sand and gravel.  Over the ages these washes wandered back and forth creating canyon floors of, yep, sand and gravel.  From sand wash floor canyon forming ridges raised, fingering their way up to the mountains.  This is a dry and arid land; a land where rain came seldom and first drops often vanished upon touching the ground.  Growing up in arid canyon’s meant rain became important to me.  More often than not, rain was something good.  Waking in the morning hearing water drip from roof eave was comforting, and exciting.

The rains of the last week, have me looking around and wondering what it means for others who have hay on the ground.  How do they feel?  What does it mean emotionally? mentally? spiritually?

Yet, I imagine my thoughts are as much about me as they are about my neighbor.  Who am I emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, when the rain isn’t lived out as my childhood memories would have it?

Ancient proverbial writings are not a bad place to turn to in times of wondering.  Hebrew teachers living long before the Christian era used these writings and stories to teach their young folks basic stuff like how do we get along with one another, with the environment, and with ourselves?  Like today, the teachers of Proverbs understood individuals, communities, and nation states did not always live up to the ethic principles they set for themselves, and as a result, the wellbeing of people and of creation were lacking.

The writings of Proverbs, though, strove for something more than ethics.  Proverbs often strived to awaken that something residing deeply within ourselves that hungers for perfect relationship with the created universe.  These writings awaken us to the possibility that if the people of creation could grasp, could fasten onto a moment of pure understanding, a foundational shift in all of creation—bringing forth exhilarated oneness, is within reach.

The Proverbs keep on hanging-on, through the centuries, for the day, for the moment, when all that is explodes with a gladness, a delight, a blissfulness that makes creation and Creator one forever.

Imagine humanity, earth and sky, fire and water, wind and silence, plant and animal, rock and star becoming fully, intentionally, one.  Somewhere in this imagination, somewhere in believing the realm of all good is attainable, do we begin to hear proverbial poetry speaking to the hope and knowable created goodness flowing in and through and around all we are in the midst of all creation.

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

“To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.
The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first,
before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—

when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
(Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31)

The ancient proverbial writings are not the cure for angst when clouds rise up over the ridge and drops of water fall one after another into windrowed hay fields.  Yet the wisdom of an ancient people reminds us, reminds me, the firm skies above and the fountains of the deep are not a transgression upon us, but simply us.  There is perfectness where we perceive imperfectness.  Not to say everything happens for a reason, that is far too simplistic.  Rather, there is the unexplainable, that which is mystery, flowing in and through and around us giving us life, relationship, and connectedness.  If we open ourselves to that which cannot be taught, only perceived, then we find our sister, our brother, in the next cloud folding over the ridge.

© David B. Bell 2010

Worms

In Animals, JustLiving Farm on April 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

April 21, 2010

A good rain last night and the sky looks like more will fall today.  Living on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range means we live the “rain shadow effect” I learned about in high school.  There is a difference between academically learning about mountain ranges so tall that by the time a storm passes over the range it has lost most all of its water content, and tactilely experiencing it.  Academic means the shadow in interesting, tactile means we don’t often get rain like last night.

When we do, then it is worth getting up early and walking the pastures and hay fields.  The extra water brings the worms and nightcrawlers to the surface.  A walk tells a story about how well the soil is.  Worms, like most critters when they have choice, live where there is good housing and food.  Worms help tell us, by their presence or non-presence, if the soil structure is good and food abundant.  They also tell us if our chemical buildup is too high.  Too much chemical can mean no worms.  Though we do not use chemicals to control pests, weeds, or as a fertilizer, many of our neighbors do.  They are careful and caring in their use, but overspray and drift does occur.  So, the number and health of the worms at the edges of our fields tell an important story.  It is fair to say, I felt good about the number of worms found this morning in the pastures and hay fields.

© David B. Bell 2010

Nursery Day

In Events, JustLiving Farm on April 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

April 19, 2010

Saturday.  The first car arriving around 9:30am and our first Nursery Day began.  A friend arrived with her four children.  She opened her door, got out, and then the kid’s bailed out with the energy only people under the age of ten have.  It’s hard to say if their feet ever hit the ground before they exploded with excited comments, names, and questions.  As Belinda came around the corner of the house, I quickly ascertained the safest thing for me was to guide them toward her and the hot chocolate and cookies!

The day moved quickly.  Soon, others arrived and by a quarter after ten, we had a healthy group full of hot chocolate and coffee ready to get on with the day.  Everyone loaded up on the hay wagon and for the next forty minutes traveled the farm talking about land, animals (hawks, voles, rabbits, coyotes, goats), plants, and people.  When they returned, they headed off to the back of the nursery barn where human kids could pet, play, and learn a little something about goat kids (like, goats don’t have top teeth!).  By the time they were done with goats, it was dinnertime.

The mid-day meal is always good time with friends and neighbors, and this was no exception.  Folks gathered round, grace spoken, and a dinner of beans, greens, bread, and (of course) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was eaten.  The meal was as local as possible this time of year.  The freshest and most local part of the meal was the greens that came from the organic co-op, RicOrganic’s.  The greens were special, not only for their taste, but also because there is something special in eating food grown in the local landscape.  One is inescapably and forever part of the landscape from which they eat food.  On this Saturday, food eaten transformed the soil, water, and plants of the valley and birthed new cells and new thoughts while sustaining old cells and old thoughts.

After dinner, folks retired to the hay barn.  There a piñata hung.  With a foam bat, one kid after the next took turns practicing their batting skills—while parents and friends took time to digest, talk, and laugh.  At the end of the day, the kids may not be better batters, but they went home with stories of goats without top teeth, land and plants, hayrides, and candy.

First Water

In JustLiving Farm on April 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm

April 16, 2010

We finished moving the wheel line for the hay fields into place last evening.  Around 5:30, we turned on water for the first set of the season.

Getting water turned on for the first time of the season is always a bit of a chore.  From checking gaskets to make sure their still pliable to sprinklers and checking to see if the nozzles and levelers are good, to flushing the lines for any nests where a bird or a mouse might have made the line a winter home, to checking the engine for running order, it takes some time to get everything in place.  Chore or not, the grass field will appreciate the water—it has been awhile since we’ve had any measurable water fall.

When Dirt Reconnects with Ground

In JustLiving Farm, Soil on April 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

April 12, 2010

Water now flowing in the mainline, we could finally “jet” the ditches where we place new mainline this last month.

Every time I back fill a ditch I find it amazing that the dirt I dug out of the ground is more than will go back in.  I’ve dug enough ditches to know why, but knowing why does not stop me from remembering the first time I learned, why.

Years ago, when I was much younger, I worked alongside my dad and younger brother backfilling a ditch.  I don’t remember who asked the question, Don or I.  We didn’t ask a lot of questions, but when we did, they were always important, at least to us—important for two reasons.  One was that need to know the why behind the common every-day-stuff.  There are those somethings, that occur in our landscape so often, they are simply normal though we don’t have a clue as to the why they occur.  And isn’t it true that as we get older, and maybe question the WHY to these somethings, we don’t ask the question for fear of looking foolish?

The second reason to ask the question is common among all children, I think, certainly rural children who work and do chores with their father.  Questions are a chance for a break!  Dad was one of those fathers who after a long life of working in the sun knew how to keep a steady pace throughout the day.  Don and I would tire long before him.  A question, if we could get Dad to respond, would often allow for a respite (Of course, there were many times Dad would respond, not lift his head, and not miss a lick.)

“Why is it, when we put back into the ditch the same dirt we dug out, there is so much more?  The pipe we put in wasn’t that big.”  The dirt above the ditch, best I recollect, was a good foot above level ground as we backfilled.  The answer was slow, as answers often were from Dad, and went something like this.  “The ground has been here a long time.  It is compacted and tight.  When we dug it up, it loosened and lost its compaction.  It only seems to grow, but really, it is the same amount we dug up in the first place.  However, because it has expanded, we will put many more shovel fulls back into the ditch than we took out.”

I don’t recall if that was the first time I saw a ditch “jetted,” but it is the first I remember.  Once the ditch was backfilled, we took a six-foot-long pipe with a hose connected to it, turned on water, and shoved the pipe into the ditch.  Slowly, as water saturated the loosened soil, the gaps and voids were eliminated as the soil turned to mud.  We stood above the ditch, and watched as the mounded dirt slowly sunk back into the land from which it came.

We didn’t always jet ditches.  When they were out away from the house, or roadways, we would let them be, and allow them to recompact over the course of time.  So often, there is no hurry, and often, Dad was not in a hurry.

Nothing like Mud

In JustLiving Farm, Soil on April 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

April 8, 2010

A broken irrigation mainline sent me to town yesterday.  My plan was to pick up a small backhoe, bring it to the farm, and dig up the lines.  Good plan, I thought, but when I reached town the backhoe the rental agency thought would work for me was more weight than worked for my trailer.  Of course, with the weather as it is these days, everyone in the county is working ground and there was not another hoe for renting.  That left one option.  Dig up the line myself.

Two feet in the ground isn’t a long way to dig.  At least not in ground dug in the last month.  It is a long way though when that ground is saturated with water.

Mud has never been my thing.  Really, working in mud, lines up much closer to one of the things I hate than love.  Digging in mud means you have to bang the shovel against the ground on most every shovel full.  That’s a lot of banging.  Another problem with mud, especially mud so inundated with water it seeps out of the mud, is about the time you have portion of ditch dug, more mud slithers into the ditch.  This results in a lot more digging and banging.  If that isn’t enough, when the ground is as soaked as this was, a fair size hole below the pipe needs digging to store all the water that continues to seep into the ditch (this is also critical because when the pipe is finally cut for repair, all the water remaining in the pipe flows into the ditch as well!).

As I said, mud isn’t my thing.  I always start as if I can get this job done without ending up full of mud myself.  Well, that just isn’t going to happen.  Nope, instead, when I lean over to clean the mud out from underneath the pipe, a nice slimy, muddy, chunk of what once might have been called earth—that I didn’t throw quite far enough away from the edge of the ditch—falls back in, on my neck, and oozes down my back.  Then when standing in water that is more mud than water, sooner or later, when cutting pipe or reaching out of the ditch for a can of glue, you slip and plant your shoulder and cheek into the muddy sidewall of the ditch.  And if that isn’t enough, without fail; you slip and find yourself sitting in the bottom of the ditch, in a pool of watery mud—which is pouring into the back of your britches—looking up past the dark walls of the ditch into the blue sky, and you don’t know whether to laugh or just be good and angry.

At the end of the day, the repair is finished, and that does feel good.  Before backfilling, though, I figured I would leave the ditch open for the night, let the pipe set well, and then start the pump the next day and test the pipe under pressure for any other leaks.  I’m figuring, the fewer times I dig in the mud the better it is for my mental health.  And come to think of it, when I think about that pile of muddy britches, shirt, and socks in the wash room ready for the washer, I bet the fewer times I live in the mud, the better off it is for my marriage.