Finding Ourselves in the Garden

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
―     Abraham Lincoln


Gardens invite me to think, process, heal, and discover.

Even before the ground has ever been turned and tended, the open untamed spaces tell me things about myself and what I believe. I remember pulling up to our land in Wisconsin shortly after signing the papers to call her our new home and experiencing a feeling I can only describe as awe. When we stepped out of the car, looked around and took that deep breath, I now know I experienced my first garden. A garden full of trees, squirrels, flowers, sunshine, hooting owls, darkness and undeniably powerful possibilities. This was a place to weed through life’s questions, remember what really is, and ponder my place in the world.

Planning a garden also sends me the great invitation to higher thought. The garden is in my mind, as I weave my way through onions and potatoes, into my heart and happiness, pain and suffering, past the scratching chickens and under the trellis of blooming Morning Glories. A chronic illness last summer left me feeling like the tiny seeds in the dark of the soil, madly trying to find their way to the sun or the spindly little cherry tomato plant that we were ready to put out of its misery, barely able to hold itself up. But again, the garden teaches me. Those tiny seeds hold within them a brilliance that should make us weep, and the spindly tomato plant just needed time, love and a little support to find it’s abundance.

Each of the five gardens we have planted have painted a picture of that present moment. There is the one of me squatting down, breaking off my first purple bean or me triumphantly pulling a giant Canadian Thistle or me sitting at the entrance of the abundant garden sipping tea with my husband or the one where I am gone and the garden is left alone. They all have a single word written below them that describes the main lesson of that year. My first year was courage. The second was persistence. The third was grief. The fourth was weary. The fifth was anxious.  If I could predict the sixth, I think I would choose the word restored. 

Thoughts of this year’s garden inspire me to honor the greatness within all of us. To transcend the trappings of culture, think boldly, live mindfully, love fully and connect with Universe. We are all like the tiny seeds and the once spindly tomato plant, full of brilliance and our own unique greatness.


We Can All Help Reduce Hunger

“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas. These facts are before us. Thus, we can look at lawns, like double garages and large guard dogs, [and Humvees and SUVs] as a badge of willful waste, conspicuous consumption, and lack of care for the earth or its people.

Most lawns are purely cosmetic in function. Thus, affluent societies have, all unnoticed, developed an agriculture which produces a polluted waste product, in the presence of famine and erosion elsewhere, and the threat of water shortages at home.

The lawn has become the curse of modern town landscapes as sugar cane is the curse of the lowland coastal tropics, and cattle the curse of the semi-arid and arid rangelands.

It is past time to tax lawns (or any wasteful consumption), and to devote that tax to third world relief. I would suggest a tax of $5 per square meter for both public and private lawns, updated annually, until all but useful lawns are eliminated.”
―     Bill Mollison


How can we help reduce hunger? Follow this link to learn more:

A place to begin…

1) Contact a local church or community center and find out if there are any families struggling with food insecurity.

2)  Bake the bread and share. Collect the eggs and share. Grow a ginormous organic garden and share. Share, share, share, share, share, share, share.

3) Be grateful for all we have even if it seems like we always need more, more , more.










Learning to Listen

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
―     Parker J. Palmer,     Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Here is an inspiring video of Parker Palmer, a man who set me on the path towards vocation over 7 years ago. I read his book Let Your Life Speak  many times a year to re-inspire me on the journey to listen instead of tell.

Being Me

“Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.”
―     André Gide

Alright, I will.


“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”
―     Jean-Pierre Barral

Taking time to relax. Closing my eyes and imagining myself in front of the garden, sun warming my face, and sounds of chickens all around me. All is well. All is well. All is well.

Worried about Bees? Plant some Flowers!

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.”

– Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
Love this post…

Adventures in Natural Beekeeping

Last year in June, before the deer discovered it, the bees were on the Meadowfoam everyday. Last year in June, before the deer discovered it, the bees were on the Meadowfoam everyday.

If you’ve ever watched the bees on a Poached Egg Meadowfoam (Limnanthes Douglasii),  you will want to grow some for your bees.    Last year I bought 12 plants from my friendly nursery (101 Plants).  The bees were on them everyday.  Unfortunately, the deer discovered them, and mowed them down.  This year I’m happy to say I found a source for seeds.  I’m buying 1000seeds for under $5.00 from Outside Pride in Oregon.  With that many seeds, I can scatter them in quite a few areas (fenced in, this time).  The bees will love them and so will I.

aaaaa Another photo taken shortly before the deer decided to sample it last year.

I was under the mistaken impression that Meadowfoam was grown mostly in Oregon and Northern California, but I see…

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Thinking about Bees

“I like pulling on a baggy bee suit, forgetting myself and getting as close to the bees’ lives as they will let me, remembering in the process that there is more to life than the merely human.” ―     Sue Hubbell,     A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them




“Find gratitude in the little things and your well of gratitude will never run dry.”
―     Antonia Montoya



“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
―     A.A. Milne,     Winnie-the-Pooh

Updates: Little Mille and sister Fleur are still living between our porch and kitchen. If you were ever thinking of having an indoor pet chicken, Mille Fleurs would be the breed to choose. Little poops and big personality. Mille’s foot is looking better and she seems to have more energy. She is drinking, eating and making us smile. Fleur has been desperate to perch up high at night, squawking as she tilts her head to the side, sizing up the feasibility of chandeliers and cabinets. After finding Fleur spinning around on the ceiling fan, Sabrina created a makeshift perch out of two chairs, a broom and a little tape. That seems to be doing the trick.


Tally, our special cross-beak chicken, died last night. She spent a night inside after finding her in the barn with frozen feet and feeling under weight. I tried keeping her comfortable and warm by putting her in a bin with a towel, food and water, yet each time I would return to check on her, despite her weakness, she had found her way to Mille’s side. They were snuggled together the last hours of her life.


“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
―     Kahlil Gibran
There I stood in the old red corncrib as I watched all of my resolve to be tougher and care less break apart into a million pieces, and I wept.

Embracing the Elements

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ―     Albert Einstein


Crunch, crunch, crunch. The snow beneath my feet called me to the moment as I took one of my first winter walks since the last arctic freeze. I was inspired to bundle up and embrace the elements by my husband and daughter’s snow fort construction, with its front and back door and steps that lead to the upper back entrance. By far, the best part of my day. What is it about being outside? It seems to solve most my problems, or at least puts them in perspective.


I found our little bantam chicken Mille hobbling around the barn yesterday, so she and her sister Fleur spent the night in the Chicken Intensive Care Unit, otherwise known as the Kitchen (Fleur is hanging out purely as moral support). We think she has Bumblefoot, yet it looks different from the other cases we have seen in our flock. Usually there is a distinct black sore that varies in size, and can be easily treated. We did not see any such spots on Mille’s foot, yet there looks to be a small scratch between her toes. which can also cause Bumblefoot. We are soaking her foot in warm water with iodine, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, packing the wound with antibiotics, wrapping with gauze, and orally treating her with amoxicillin 3x a day. Mille and her sister shared an apple, preened themselves, and then fell asleep tonight, perched together in the KICU.I am hopeful she will recover.



“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”   ―     Percy Bysshe Shelley,     Ode to the West Wind
April 2013 038
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