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Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Path to Peace


On November 9th at 2:30 am I awoke with a jolt as if slapped by an announcement that things had gone badly on Election Day.  I told myself it was just a nightmare, but upon arising at 5:00 am, I like so many others was devastated by the reality. The feeling could only be compared to that horrible emptiness experienced when one loses a beloved pet and must accept that things will never be the same.  Ironically, my daughter expressed that very emotion.  She and I are alike in some ways-- not many, but a few, one of which is that we are each ‘only children.' 

Someone once said that only children spend their entire lives learning to be alone and that is true.  Mine was not a happy childhood (I hope my daughter's was better...), but we ‘onlys' find our unique paths to peace.  For me it has always been Nature, animals and art.  Now, at this late stage in my life I find these same elements are bringing peace and tranquility--so long as I physically restrict the rest of the angry world.  As a single woman living alone on an old farm, I can do this and make no apologies for my choice. 

I watch no more ‘news' on the telly, listen to no more NPR talk shows in the truck, and refuse to interact with the whiners or (worse still) the pompous goons who now feel entitled to vent their ugliness at the pool where I swim.  I just swim as if my life depends upon it, for in some ways it does.  I listen to more classical music and read books about and by people I admire and find them excellent company.  The dogs and I spend a lot more time in the woods or in the gardens and I've again taken up sketching my sleeping cats or patient model Tess although the current efforts are a bit disappointing.  


I know now that I can't change the world (although I used to believe that I could), but I can and have changed the bit of the world I occupy and this is making all the difference.  John Wesley said, "Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can to all the people you can."  This is good advice anytime, but especially now.  I'm focused on only what brings me peace and will help others find their peace by removing myself from their world.


4:25 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nature Is Never Static


Last May biblical storms ravaged ths area and took down several trees. A triple-trunk Wild Cherry tree was spared--sort of.  Its roots, loosened from the earth and sent the tree listing eastward at about a 45 degree angle.  In fact, the only thing actually keeping it more or less upright is a dead ash tree it's leaning against.  Since Sunday the cherry tree's fate has become even more ominous.  I know that another strong storm will send this tree which is utilized by a variety of birds crashing to the ground.  I'm pretty well set on firewood, so another windfall will mean a lot of labor to stockpile cordwood for years to come.  It makes me weary just thinking about it.

The drought has left leaky pond basically without a drop of water, but filled with weeds, some of which tower nearly five feet tall.  The weatherman's Saturday prediction for storms was the impetus for frantic weed clearance, something that I should have started long ago. 

The weeds were quite easy to pull, but the sheer size of the area was daunting.  I began pulling from the south end of the pond, loaded them into a cart and dumped them in the woods beyond.  After several hours I'd only cleared about a 30' x 20' area, so I called for help.

Al, my super handyman arrived armed with a heavy-duty weed whacker and began the assault.  As he whacked I raked and loaded and hauled to the woods.  This method was much more difficult (for me) than pulling the plants, but progress could be seen.  Then it happened.

Without warning I began to sink in the very center of the empty pond.  It felt as if a giant magnet were pulling me to a mucky grave.  It was impossible to free myself and my descent was intensifying.  Meanwhile, Al was busy with the noisy machine working toward the north, away from my southerly position.

Like a really bad dancer I'd fling my upper body toward his direction and scream at the top of my lungs, "AL!!!!"  He heard nothing.  Only when he ran out of fuel did my dilemma become apparent.  By then I was mired up to my knees.

Although Al was able to pull me from the muck, my favorite sandals are history.  A century from now some archeologist will discover them and wonder at the strange footwear his predecessors wore.  As for the weed situation we still have 2/3 of the pond to clear and now there is about a foot of water in the center.


A feathered oddball has decided this is a good place to call home.  I've named the turkey vulture Eldin.  When he isn't perched, wings extended to soak up the morning sun atop my neighbors' telephone pole, he's here, often lounging on the leaning cherry tree, but sometimes he flies right over the terrace between the two porches which enrages Tess and freaks out the hens.  Tess' eyes bulge as she watches the brazen bird.  Then emitting a low growl just before racing from the porch she attempts to run Eldin off her property.  Since he's always alone maybe it's not true that birds of a feather flock together.  He seems to want to join the chickens.  Poor Eldin.

6:38 pm edt          Comments

Monday, July 4, 2016



Returned from a wonderful two and a half week holiday in England and Wales only to find my gardens completely consumed by weeds.  The task that lay ahead looked daunting, but after liberating the intended plants from the intruders I discovered a glorious crop of basil in prime harvest condition.  The first batch of pesto is now in the freezer and when winter winds blow I need only thaw a container of this delicacy to enjoy summer all over again.


Cut basil about 2" from ground level so it will continue growing for future


Fill the sink with cold water and submerge the stems and leave to thoroughly clean

Place leaves only in salad spinner and discard the stems

Stuff food processor with leaves and 2 cloves of peeled garlic

Add a good quality olive oil and process to an oily paste consistency

Add more leaves and olive oil and process to machine capacity

Add coarse salt (sparingly), Parmesan and/or romano cheese and

pine nuts.  Pulse briefly to blend.

Spoon into freezer containers and top with a thin layer of olive oil.

This is so good mixed with pasta alone, but even better with shrimp,

sautéed peppers and mushrooms. 


2:42 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Still Caring For Kenny


At 7:30 AM, with only half a cup of coffee in my system, the discovery of what appeared to be a dead, bean-sized baby on the lid of the scratch feed can was not a good way to start the day.  The newborn mouse had obviously fallen from a nest somewhere in the rafters.  The tiny pink legs twitched feebly and its fate seemed hopelessly sealed.  I told myself that maybe the mom would come looking for her missing child, but knew it wasn't likely.  It saddened me to leave it there to expire alone in the chicken coop, but what option was there?

At 5:30 PM I was stunned to find the orphan still alive, but just barely.  Its will to live was too powerful to ignore, so in that instant I became a surrogate rodent mother.  Every website dealing with caring for orphan / abandoned mouse babies said essentially the same thing; it's gonna die, but if you're determined to try to save it, feed it a drop of diluted goat milk every two hours and keep the doomed creature warm.  Intensive care was hastily fashioned. He is secure in a cotton-lined plastic incubator that floats on a tub of hot water until meal time. Then he's gently cradled, fed and massaged to simulate a mother's behavior and returned to his cozy crib. This has been my routine for three days and contrary to the dismal internet predictions, the patient is still alive and apparently thriving as seen by this photo taken this morning.

Over the years I have been the recipient of many strange ‘gifts' from dear recently-departed Kenny.  Most of these have been useless, but for some reason it seemed prudent to save the can of powdered goat milk he left on the patio bench along with a can of potato starch.  That goat milk has proven to be literally a lifesaver, hence I have named my little charge ‘Kenny' as a way of honoring my friend.  The baby may be Kenneth or Kendra, who knows, but whatever the sex it has been christened Kenny. 

In just three days I've witnessed dramatic growth which is rather amazing considering how difficult it is to even find its tiny mouth to administer a bit of warm milk while holding the squirming infant. 

Today my wonderful wildlife rehabilitator friend Fran Kitchen offered to take over Kenny's care.  Fran has over fifty years experience with a remarkable success rate saving injured or abandoned wildlife and returning them to their natural habitats.  She also has more suitable feeding and incubation equipment than the make-shift neonatal care here, so tomorrow Kenny will join other helpless critters at Operation Orphan, Inc., but will return to my barn when old enough to survive without aid. Kenny's future looks bright.

If the human Kenny were still alive he would probably quietly smile and shake his head in disbelief to think that anyone would bother to save a mouse, but some of us know that Mouse Lives Matter.


On Sunday the dreaded, but inevitable auction signs went up all along the road.  Kenny's farm will be sold on June 25th and the prospects are worrisome.  Seven individual parcels will be offered and then the farm will be auctioned in its entirety. Whichever brings more money will determine how the gavel falls.  We on the road are hoping that the farm stays intact rather than sprouting new houses with manicured lawns and litters of children.  We'd much prefer dairy cattle.  To be continued....
3:11 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, May 8, 2016


photos/kkow.jpg          The dogs and I took an early morning walk up to Kenny's today.  It's been quite a while since the last visit as there's little point anymore.  My Sow Good Garden in the barnyard has been abandoned since an absolute auction of the farm looms in the near future, but no one is sure of when. 

            Being at the abandoned place that has been such a part of my life for so long is depressing, but on this lovely spring day we trudged through Mr. Monsanto's freshly plowed fields, across the lush unmowed pasture where no cows have grazed since Kenny's trio of free-rangers were sent to a sale and then up to the house that whines of lonliness.

            In the junk-laden barn, above the rusting tractor only one stupid robin flew from wall to wall knocking himself senseless.  No other signs of life were to be found or heard.  No groundhogs, no rabbits, not even Mister Stinky.  It was eerie.  In the bottom of the big barn the floor is about two feet higher than it was originally, layer upon layer of manure and straw mixed with more bits and pieces of junk.  Kenny was not a tidy farmer by any stretch.

            On a ledge at the far end one lone cow paddy and a rope that had tethered countless calves provoked a long-forgotten memory. Tethering calves was Kenny's way of encouraging Cow to come into the barn for milking.  Back then about five acres was haphazardly fenced for pasture.  After calving Cow and her chums would be sent out and the poor calf would be tied to the wall with no more than five feet of rope.  He kept these pathetic prisoners in this condition for months on end despite my pleas and admonitions of cruelty.

            One young bull, wild with rage and frustration was kept this way for nine months.  At night lying awake thinking about the poor creature I knew that something had to be done.  I phoned a fearless friend whom I will call Mike.  Mike has no tolerance for any kind of animal neglect and was outraged when I described the situation.  We hatched our plan and the next day around midnight we set off to liberate the bull. 

            Finding a breachable spot along the fenceline wasn't difficult, so the plan was for Mike to cross the dark pasture and slip into the back of the barn.  He wore a hat outfitted with an LED light and he was armed with cutting tools.  I would remain on the outside of the fence and watch the house for any sign of activity, although I was pretty certain Kenny was fast asleep at that hour.  Should there be any hint of trouble I would whistle so Mike could take the appropriate action; run or hide.

            It shouldn't take long to free the bull, I thought, but a worrisome length of time passed and there was no sign of my friend, nor the bull.  Had Mike tripped on some of the junk and was lying unconscious in the barn?  Had the bull hurt him?  Just about the time I was ready to slip under the fence and investigate an explosion of beef blew out of the barn.  I'd never seen cows move so fast!  In the distant shadows followed Mike.

            "Jeezus Kee-ryst," he moaned when he finally crawled under the fence.  "He had that bull chained, tied with rope, wire and baling twine.  I thought I'd never get him free.  Kenny will never catch that animal now," he predicted, and he was right. Kenny didn't.  The bull became one of the trio that eventually tore down the shoddy fence and took to roaming the neighborhood.  It was a joy to see him running free at last.

            "Kirsch did it," Kenny told Mr. Monsanto.  Of course I denied it, and truthfully so for I had not set foot in the barn that night.  My only regret is that I hadn't called Mike earlier.

              So many memories....

5:40 pm edt          Comments


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