Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Weather’

Snow Enhances Creations Wonder

In Animals, JustLiving Farm on November 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm

November 24, 2010

First snow is on the ground here in the Yakama’s valley.  Based on the reports we’re getting, snow is throughout most of the state of Washington this morning.  First snow makes one wonder.  I imagine because there is a certain amount of wonder in the snow.  It is magical and mysterious all at the same time.  When writing to her congregation, Laurie Rudel, a friend of ours, recognized that we all begin as children and the first snowfall brings something of that child out in all of us.  This child doesn’t mean we necessarily like living in the snow, but rather, if we take a moment we all can experience our first wonderment of our first snow.

Wonderment of first snow doesn’t look the same for all of creation.  Two spring kittens jump out the back door like they have done every morning since birth.  Being teenage kittens, they didn’t look before they bolted out the door.  After the first few bounds, they stopped and found their eye level below snow level.  Not only did they not know what to do with snow—is it wet or is it dry?, for a moment they were lost.

When it came to roosting in the evening, the spring chickens who had come to the chicken coop every evening since birth, couldn’t quite find their way to the coop last evening.  Now, they have to journey twenty feet from the northwest corner of the barn to the coop door on a windy-snowy evening, so their not making it to the coop might have as much to do with the wind as it does with the snow.  In any case, there are fewer eggs in the laying boxes this morning.

There are not any spring goats this year.  Everyone has a winter or two or three behind them, so snow and cold isn’t something new.  However, if there is an animal that does not like the snow, it is the goat.  Sure, mountain goats may like snow good enough, but it is a stretch to think of these we raise have much lineage with those longhaired animals.  Instead, these shorthaired goats have almost no fat, which makes for great meat, but doesn’t do a thing for warmth.  No snow and no rain suit them just fine.

Wonderment might come a little differently for the two-legged rational folk.  This morning’s visit to the chicken coop garnered a few eggs.  After gathering them from the laying box, I placed them off to the side while I checked water and feed.  Three or four minutes later I came back to them and they had all frozen and broke their shells—that’s what a negative eight degrees will get you.  Now, I imagine one could say that a rational person would have had the good sense to know you can’t leave eggs out in negative eight-degree weather and not expect them to freeze solid…or…it might be said…snow brings about an amazing transformation of rationalization to childlike wonderment that enjoys the acquirement of wisdom through hands-on learning.  Yeah, let’s go with that, childlike wonderment, sounds like a good argument as I serve cereal rather than the promised eggs for Thanksgiving breakfast.

© David B. Bell 2010


Warm Tomorrows by Way of Today’s Freezing

In JustLiving Farm, Seasons on October 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm

October 15, 2010

A light frost welcomed most of this week’s mornings.  Then with this morning came word we could expect a hard freeze the next two mornings.  Such word has a tendency to change the day; this one certainly changed the afternoon.  We got an early morning start on a grant due today and a workshop for presentation next Saturday.  The grant made it to the mailbox before today’s delivery, and an art-based workshop on community and hospitality was in place by noon.  We then got to the important stuff.

We picked the remaining tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers.  Next, we grabbed onions and garlic out of the cupboard, and lifted a few spices from the rack.  Then we got to chopping, grinding, shaking and mixing.  Once everything was in the pot and stirred up, off to the stove to heat to a boil, bottled, and hot water bath.

It might have been a push, but the rest of the day was perfect for canning.  Sun and clear sky, and temperatures such that you could spend the afternoon in the sun and never break sweat standing next to the stove.  The next couple of hours were spent filling jars, fixing lids, and dunking them into the bath.  While waiting for the fifteen-minute bath to finish, we got in a little reading, a little talking, and a little landscape.

Fall may be cooling down, and winter might be coming, but salsa…along with a little goose down…will make those cold days ahead a little warmer!

© David B. Bell 2010

Whose Story should We Listen To?

In Crop, JustLiving Farm on September 24, 2010 at 7:44 am

September 24, 2010

This morning the full moon reflects white from the sun while at the same moment the mountain’s snow reflects peach colors from the rising sun.  Two massive forms of creation speak two stories of the same light rolling over the eastern horizon.  I find it curious and good how the created birds, mountains, wind, and deer can experience the same sun yet have much different experiences.

Hay holds many experiences these days.  With rain on and off over the last three weeks everyone is trying to find the right time to cut, dry, bale, and load hay out of the fields.  To get hay off a field without any rain has been near impossible.  This holds true for us.  We did not cut all the fields at once, but left a gap hoping some would be harvested without rain.  Didn’t happen.  Instead we found ourselves picking up the early cutting hay yesterday, which had caught rain last week, as the sky over the southern ridge spoke of rain.  As we loaded one bale after the next onto the flatbed trailer, the clouds deepened and soon there was little doubt we would hear rain soon.

As we backed a full trailer into the barn, rain began to fall.  Our hope was a light sprinkle that could easily dry the next day.  There rain said a little more than we cared for.  This morning, though, I wonder who listened to the same rain and heard a song of joy, or wonderment, or laughter?  I imagine grass roots and rain danced yesterday.  Perhaps the local mallards in the creek sang along.  I wonder if this morning’s relationship between the mountain, moon, and sun call for another hearing of rain.  Might be, it is best to put my own story off to the side for a moment and take the time to hear or at least imagine other stories creation might tell of yesterday’s rain.

© David B. Bell 2010

Flowers and Rain

In Crop, JustLiving Farm on September 19, 2010 at 7:50 am

September 19, 2010

Having cut hay the other day and then having rain most days since, I probably should feel unhappy.  I cannot say at times I do not.  Yet, something about rain this time of year is special.  Moderate temperatures, clouds and midst settling into the hollows of the ridge, the sharp line of the ridge against clouds moving high above, makes one settle down for a moment and enjoy the smell of damp earth.  Where the grays of midst and clouds, the browns of the ridge, and the golds of grasses don’t get it, then there is the bright flowers of garden and flower beds calling for attention and a moment, a bit of silence, and shear enjoyment.

© David B. Bell 2010

Sudan Grass and Water

In Crop on June 18, 2010 at 6:53 am

June 18, 2010

Summer solstice is just a few days away and morning sunrise is still seeing temperatures in the mid-forties.

Today we are planning to plant a few acres of Sudan grass.  These acres are lacking in organics and are a bit high in alkali.  Sudan does okay in alkali ground (not great but okay) and grows quickly.  Over the course of the summer we’re thinking we might take one cutting of grass and then turn the next growth into the ground to increase organic content.

To water the grass, though, we need to assemble two more lengths of wheeline.  Yesterday we pulled two lengths of pipe and two wheels out of the grass and weeds and started to put them together.  These are old lines and most everything needed replacing.  Some parts were on hand and others meant a trip to town.  We now have everything we need (I hope) and expect to finish the lines today.

Plant grass and start water, not a bad way to live out the day.

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

Raking with Hope

In Crop, JustLiving Farm on May 19, 2010 at 9:40 am

May 19, 2010

We had good wind all last evening and night.  I thought the wind might have taken up the moisture in the hay from the day before.  So, I went ahead and tried raking the outside rows of the field.  I would say ninety percent of the moisture is gone.  However, the grass can use another good day of drying and a day wouldn’t hurt the alfalfa.  The National Weather Service is now saying a strong and fast moving cold front is coming through this evening, bringing with it very strong winds and scattered showers and thunderstorms.  I’ll look forward to the wind and hope the scattered showers scatter somewhere else!

© David B. Bell 2010