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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making the best of it

turkey flock as of October, 2016
We are down to 4 turkeys now. Our second-in-line hen went missing some time back, one of the older young was Thanksgiving dinner and another is in the freezer. And today, one of the two youngest ones, both of them having been stupid of late, and taken to overnighting on the fence rail of the chicken yard, got stupid and flew into the dog yard.

Livestock Guardian Dogs are typically not naturally inclined to guard poultry. I can understand this, from the dog-psych angle. They are "flightly" by nature and dogs are inclined, by nature, to chase. To add to the issue, our turkeys love to tease the dog and mornings often feature long sessions of turkeys, near the fence, strutting and gobbling at the dog and his barked responses, which spur more strutting and gobbling. So when the bird landed in his area, he gave chase.

This has happened before, but on other occasions we did not have deep snow and less than sure human feet getting in the way of rescuing the bird. While K did get to the somewhat naked turkey in time to collect it and bring it into the house, and we were hopeful of recovery, it was not to be. When I checked it a bit after supper this evening, it seemed unusually sedate. When I checked a few minutes later, it was no longer warm, though still alive. I made the decision to dispatch it at that point and did so, in the bathtub, which we use as emergency hospital quarters for all kinds of livestock.

I do not like "harvesting unripe poultry" but I am glad that we were monitoring this one closely and were able to turn it into food. Most often, it seems, animals that die of stupid moves or the like, do so quietly, in the barnyard. In those cases, when we do not know when they died, I cannot assume they are safe for human consumption, but I do -- always -- process and cook down for the dogs.

"Thou shalt not waste" is one of my guiding mottos and that includes, with exclamation points, "Thou shalt not waste FOOD!"

I abhor the waste in our supermarkets here in the USA. Driven by folks who think that only "beautiful" food is fit to eat, pounds and pounds of food is thrown out daily. I am betting that even if you realize that, you do not realize the extent of it.

I am friends with a pig farmer, who gets produce and other discards regularly from one store of a local grocery chain. Yes, thankfully, they are WILLING to give it to farmers to feed their stock. This is not always the case. My friend and another pig farmer split the late afternoon pull from this store. This is the THIRD pull of the day! Yes, this store culls produce, bakery and other goods THREE TIMES each and EVERY DAY! Some times the culls amount to a single banana box of food. Other times the discards, in bags and boxes, could easily fill the bed of my truck two layers deep! At an average, that's a Toyota pickup bed, full to a depth of 14-18 inches, possibly three times a day. I have no idea how much is contained in the earlier pulls, only the one my friend shares with his fellow farmer.

And this is just ONE store of a chain, ONE chain of many!

Much of this food is perfectly edible, BY PEOPLE.  It is not moldy, rotten or even wilted. Maybe there is A BAD SPOT. Oh dear! A bad spot! I would like to think that if you pulled an apple or a pepper from your fridge and found that it had a bad spot, as you were preparing a meal, that you would cut around that spot and use the rest of the fruit. I do know that in the grocery trade, here, workers in stores that have services like delis and so on that produce in-house salads, packaged cut fruit, etc. are instructed that if they can cut around a bruised or broken place on a fruit or vegetable a thumb's width from the damaged part, the balance of the produce can be used for making stuff.

Some stores DO mark down and try to sell blemished produce. This one does not.  I am happy to be a friend of my friend who shares some of what they get from their every-other-day waste food run with me, for my poultry. Cluck, cluck...

I am also told that the companies that fill vending machines cannot afford to pay their employees to check expiration dates on the candy, chips, fruit, etc with which they fill their machines. It is more cost-effective for them to have employees empty the machines completely and refill from new stock. The pulled products are... you get it... often thrown away. PERFECTLY GOOD FOOD that has GOOD expiration dates!  Some of these products go to farmers and others for non-human consumption. But were you to pick one out of their barrel, it would compare with the same item from a sale shelf, safe to eat.

Here at Hex Central, under the sign of the Fussing Duck, we do our best not to waste. Leftovers get re-heated or re-purposed. If they get to the back of the fridge and accidentally overlooked, the dogs, cats or poultry are happy for our accident. None of them have ever suffered from eating our cast offs, and they all look forward to "waste food day."

We are still eating on food that I froze a summer ago. Has it, maybe lost a bit of nutrition? From what I read, maybe. But I am betting that it's still better for me than most of what I see in the supermarket! At least my most recent blood work that the doc ordered show no deficiencies and we feel fine. My storage beets and carrots are not in a cooler and are beginning to show a bit of wilt around the edges. Am I eating them? You bet! I am also processing them as time allows, in jars or for the freezer, for longer storage. Waste not, want not.

And likewise, we will eventually make a few meals from a smallish, "unripe" turkey. I don't think it's ready to be roasted, but in a slow cooker with a bit of liquid, it will yeild meals of turkey and dumplings or noodles, turkey tacos, turkey tetrazini and who knows what else!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On Being Snowed In and Anonymous Helpers

As the nor'easter of Dec 29-30 started
the weeds next to the deck took on a
magical look.

The month ended with real Northern weather, finally! Officially a nor'easter, the overnight storm brought winds out of the east to north and at least 8" of "good packing" snow. The snow fell over ground that had previously had snow and rain and freezing temperatures, so as it turned out, the driveway was literally a
Nor'easter buried everything!
sheet of ice, under the snow. Once Tractor Guy got Fergie uncovered, heated up and started, she was willing but could not get any traction. She slid down the bit of a hill from the dooryard to the main drive and even using her bucket to push, he could not get her back up. The next day, the snow had frozen enough to turn her around and get her back to her parking place, but there was still 12" or more of snow in the driveway (not a typo, nor a fish story... remember the winds? think drifts, folks!) so the following day he tried again, to no avail. He managed to get our non-road-worthy 4WD project truck going (the idea was to pull her back up) but with old mud tires, R2, the new old truck, just wanted to slip side around.

By this time I had beat the chore paths into submission with the snowshoes and sled, so I had energy after chores for something more than housework, so I attacked with a snowshovel. Yeah, I'm old and I know this is a known heart attack attractant, but I truly enjoy a snow shovel workout and, now that I don't have the pressure of getting to work pushing my efforts, I know to take my time and let the project take several days if need be.

Before the storm, I made sure we had sufficient necessities to be comfortable for a good while: we filled the kerosene cans (15 gal all told) and propane, except for the big tank that lasts a month or so running the overnight heater. Of those we have two, and one needs filling, but we had not planned that expense until January. I brought in two bales of hay for the goats and we had sufficient pellets for the fowl and rabbit and kibble for the cats and dogs. We always have plenty of people food! Having lived remotely, and only made a supply trip once a month, this is not a difficult scenario for me to work with!

So, well supplied and happy, I started playing in the snow. The first thing I discovered was that, if there is ice under the snow, vehicles need to stand down! My first day I did not accomplish much, as I spent much of the time with a small spade (as opposed to a more typical snow shovel) liberating and tossing bits of heavy, very compacted icy snow (much like the "plow gift" that the town plows pile up at the end of the driveway) that was mixed and hidden in what appeared to be "just plain snow." I could not get the snow shovel into where there was hard stuff buried and I could not make quick progress with the soft stuff in between the hard lumps while using the spade. Everywhere the tractor had tried to run or had pushed piles of snow since the ice was preventing Tractor Guy from turning and dumping was a fight. While TG had been worried about my ability to stay on my feet on the snow-covered ice (he had fallen 6 times on his first day's attempts), standing and working was not an issue for me. My fight was with what he and Fergie had left me to work against!

On the New Years Day official holiday I was finally able to attack and clear most of the Fergie piles and today, January 3, I was looking forward to being mostly able to just shovel the somewhat packed snow. Having been a kid in Michigan gave me the skills that I use to do this! "Good packing snow," especially when assisted by gale force winds, lends itself to being cut nicely into blocks with an old fashioned snow shovel. The blocks can be the same size as the shovel and can be lifted out and tossed aside (though as a kid, we placed them carefully in place to build a fort or igloo.) Where the snow had drifted to be deeper than the 8" fall I did have to take two shovel bites per area, as I can not life 12" or more on my shovel and keep it from tipping. With the lesser depth, I only have to shovel twice, not three times in order to recover dropped pieces. I had hoped to shovel clear to the plow gift at the end of the driveway today and clear the heavier snow tomorrow, but didn't quite make it. Close though... and I was shoveling a path more than just wide enough for the tractor. My goal was to enable TG to get to the pavement, and traction, to clean most of the plow snow, but to not have to try to widen the path enough for the trucks to make their way down and back. TG had said that, moving forward, Fergie could move on the ice by pulling herself with her bucket, even up the incline, so I knew we could get her back after clearing the end of the drive and I was pretty sure, once he was turned around, that R2, even with the mud tires, could get up the hill, especially if Artie (with his studded snow tires) was out of the dooryard.

Now, our forecast for tonight is -- gues what -- mixed precipitation and rain! After completing my work today and coming in to get ready for lunch I was thinking "I know there will be challenges tomorrow" and I was getting prepared to deal with whatever comes, when I heard a plow truck on the road and looked up to see not one of the big town plows, but a green plow pickup with the rotating yellow light on top and a yellow plow on the front busily attacking the plow gift in front! Looked like he was getting ready to dig out the mailbox and I commented my surprise to TG. "I thought the homeowners were supposed to do that!" I said and we theorized as to who, and why... never coming to a conclusion, but being thankful never the less, when the green truck started working on the driveway! I did not recognize the truck... the only one I know of similar color and look belongs to a neighbor, but I know for a fact it has his business logo on the side and this one did not appear to have one. The truck and its driver cleared not only the plow gift at the mouth of the drive, but pushed it back to allow for easy turns in from both directions and then began working on the driveway itself!

I had taken my spade down with me today, but had not needed it for more than just the first couple of feet, so I had left it stuck in the snow in the middle of the drive, easy to find and haul down for the plow gift work tomorrow... now I was hoping the helpful stranger would not bury it! But he did not.. he stopped short and moved both the shovel and an ad-hoc walking stick TG had left nearby out of the way and continued on, clearing a WIDE path up to where Fergie was sitting... then drove away!

So tomorrow, come what will after our current bit of "wintery mix" is done, instead of clearing the plow gift at the end, we will be clearing a smaller bit by and possibly in front of Fergie and R2 and putting up a "thank you" sign at the end of the driveway.





Saturday, December 31, 2016

Put up that Calendar!

'Tis the time of year, again, when everyone is looking back at the year (many with regret over the well known figures who have died and many on both sides considering the past election and what it holds for the future) and the cultural "party hearty" meme takes center stage. For some folks (not many in my circles) it will be a night to dress up, take to the town, eat, drink and watch some local cultural icon descent from a high point at midnight. Many of these same folks will stagger in the the true first day of the new calendar feeling less than optimal and especially glad for the "extra day off" that the holiday being on Sunday has decreed.

As one who believes strongly in living with intention and in sympathetic magic, I have never truly understood this phenomenon. For years I have done my best to take down the old calendar in a home that is clean and in order and put up the new in the morning with a cheerful countenance, much rest and an energetic start to the day. After all, that is how I would like the rest of the days in this calendar to pass.

I'm not quite as far along with all that as I would like, though I will complete a bit more organizing this evening. I am satisfied with what I have completed. I had planned to spend more of the day on this project, but having a tractor "stuck" in the driveway necessitated other work. Tractor Guy had tried to start clearing the drive after our 8-10" of blowing snow the other day, but the under layer of ice had other ideas. Not only did little get cleared, the tractor did not have enough traction to get back up the slight incline. Getting some of the snow cleared from "the hill" and the below freezing temperatures, TG though, might help the old Fergie to at least get back to her resting spot... so I spent the day's energy attacking with a shovel. It worked, the tractor is back up but once again, no clearing happened. AND we are expecting 3-5 more inches of snow tonight! So, all things considered, the domestic order that has been obtained thus far will have to do as a calendar-turning base line this time around, along with thankfulness for electricity (most of the time) and alternatives when it fails (kero lights and a space heater, propane heaters and range) and a roof that does not leak, along with walls that are beginning to leak less wind.

While I don't count the new year as beginning until spring equinox, I recognize that the period from Yule until our calendar change is highly charged with energy from the masses who hold the winter new year dear. And that energy is available to those who wish to "amp up" their efforts to grow and change.

garage and house shadows near dawn
While I do not do resolutions, I have begun, with this dark moon, to work with a local group and the Perennial Course in Living Druidry as well as working with my friend's book, Writing with the Stars. The Druid project has us paying especial attention to the natural world and as a result, I noticed the shadows (left) out my window this morning. The small bit of sunlight between the house shadow and the garage shadow was
Arrangement of house and garage
something I had not seen before. You see, the arrangement of the two buildings is such that, when the sun rises as far south-east as it is presently, would be the only time this would be possible, as the way the buildings are located, most of the time the early morning shadows fall much farther west. You can be sure I will be watching at sunrise for the next few weeks, and again before the equinox come December 2017.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hygge - we don't have to name it to have it

The world has been shrinking for a long time. Beloved customs and traditions of a culture have been shared, adopted, adapted, modified and even corrupted as they move around the globe. I have been thinking about this today, in regard to hygge.

Hygge (koselig, mysigt in Norwegian and Swedish) is a thing in the Scandinavian countries. And it is, so it seems, becoming a thing elsewhere in the world as well. There have been articles about it in the NY Times as well as a spate of books published recently. And from my recent perusal, it seems that this (to me) most natural of things, when coming to the USA, is taking on a distinctly capitalist slant, much the way the "simple living" movement did in its day.

 Hygge, if you have not yet encountered the term, was described in a comment in a friend's blog:
It’s all about creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in your own space and/or a good and positive atmosphere with the people you are with and the presence of mind to take notice of the things and people around you. It’s about creating a space where you are comfortable and safe, with things and happenings you find beautiful, joyful and enjoyable. 
 To me, nothing there says "Go! Spend money! Shop!" although I supposed, given the commerce-o-centric mindset of many of my contemporaries, that might be a common take away.

I was thinking about this today as I drove through a light snowfall on my errands: taking trash and recycles for disposal, visiting a friend, hauling hay. Trash and recycles are a monthly
Artie, the old farm
truck with 4 studded
snow tires, considers
the driveway.
thing, just prior to the dark (new) moon and disposing of them allows space for abundance to flow into my life, and this was the last day of the moon cycle to accomplish this task. My old farm truck did its job and I was safe on the road, warmed by his heater and happily carried out my ritual, visit and returned with hay for the goats, in advance of what may be a week to 10 days of actual winter weather here in the Northlands. I would hazard a guess that I was not only feeling hygge, but my trip was building more for the future. And yes, there was money involved (you don't get good hay for a smile and a promise of future milk), but not in the sense that many of those who are working to monetize the concept would have us believe is necessary.

My first awareness of hygge, as I think back through my life, was around Christmas time, though I was only in WA state at the time and not in the far northlands. I was living in a 12x16 cabin with no utilities, a couple of kero lamps and a tiny formerly coal furnace that I was feeding with gathered wood. Snow was falling and night was, as well. I had recently hauled water from the
Carrots from this
year's garden.
creek and my supper of some of the last of the gleaned carrots and potatoes from my friends' garden were simmering on the stove with an onion and a bit of a bullion cube for flavor. I poured a bit of the ice cold water into a crystal goblet (the last remaining of a set handed down in the family), threw another handful of wood in the stove and felt that, at that moment, in that time and place, life was perfect. Yes, I had on wool socks and sweater and was sitting on a hand made quilt (according to the writers, all are important aspects of hygge) but all were second hand. I didn't call it hygge. I didn't call it anything. Heck, at that point in my life, just starting on the spiritual path that has led to evolving into a crone and volva, I didn't call it anything either!

I firmly insist that, while having names for things does make it easier to talk about them, and much easier to sell them, they do not have to have names in order to exist. And while the Danes seem to take as much pleasure from talking about hygge and from experiencing it, I am not sure it's necessary.

And I AM sure that going out to buy stuff specifically with the intent of invoking hygge is counter-productive, and pretty sure that the consumer-oriented folks, for whom "newer-better-faster" is a mantra, for those who put more stock in "the latest," be it a food trend, an item of clothing or whatever, will never find it.

Some things can't be bought.

For a sweater, sweatshirt, shawl, shirt or dress to become a favorite, it has to have been around for a while. One or two seasons just doesn't cut it, in my world, at least. It need to have accompanied you on adventures, absorbed feeling of wonder and success from those adventures. It must, through those shared memories, wrap you in love and good will, as much as warmth. That's hygge in my world.

And that cup from which you drink your coffee or that glass from which you have wine (or, in my anecdote, above, water) must bring comfort and good feelings from long use, from memories of morning coffee-talks with friends or family or evening spent in similar fashion. Likewise, your "cozy" abode, in which you sit, drink in hand, and watch the storm rage outside becomes your refuge not by the purchase of the "right" accents but by the arrangement of beloved trinkets and comfortable furniture acquired over time, often adjusted and readjusted perhaps as seasons change. For me, lighting by fire (be it candles or kerosene lamps) will always invoke hygge and the modern LED favorites -- especially the bright blue-white colored ones -- are its antithesis. As does spinning and to a lesser extent knitting (just because I need better light to see the stitches!)

I think that, for those who seek hygge, all I can say is that those who tie it all to money will never get there.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The "No Matter What" Committment

I have always put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment. None of that has changed.

I also used to be known for my "no matter what" commitments. If I said I would do something, I would move heaven and earth to make it happen. Long hours, no problem. Stress, no problem. multiple irons in the fire? Juggle faster. If it was winter and I had to make connections, I would leave hours in advance, if necessary, to make sure that I got to my destination. If I ended up sliding off the road (which did not happen often) as soon as the tow truck cleared the area, I was on my way again. I was loath to use the disclaimer "weather permitting" and pitted my big rear-wheel-drive rambling wreck of the year, 4 studded snow tires firmly affixed, against roads and conditions that often had me passing multiple 4WD rigs of the road on either side.

I still put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment.

But.

The time has come for me to back away from those "no matter what" commitments.  It is not going to be easy, because, after all, I still WANT to be that young, bulletproof go-getter. My mind doesn't always pay attention when the body says "Hey! Wait just a bloody minute! Remember ME... the one that really can't..."

But the truth is, I am not that young woman any more. I can't shovel our 200 foot long driveway and clear it of ice and snow, quickly, in the morning after a day of snow, a day of rain and a night of zero degrees. I can't comfortably spend a day running about in town, slide home on inhospitable roads after dark and jump up before dawn the next day to do it all over again. Doesn't mean I don't want to, but the body has other ideas.

I still put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment. And therefore I know it is not going to be easy scaling back, sorting out commitments and learning not to always lead with "I can do that." Because, even if I can and want to, it does not mean that -- here and now -- I should.

Many of you have fought and are fighting your own battles against programming over the years to put everyone else first. Women, especially, with our maternal hormones assisting, appropriately prioritize our kids needs. And then wants, wishes... It can get out of hand. Hubby figures in there too, and year upon year it becomes habit. And it often gets extended beyond the family to our social groups, churches, jobs...

"You gave your WORD." Powerful stuff, and rightly so. But I am no longer that bulletproof youngster, that eager maiden, that busy mother. I am a crone, and as such I give my word, to myself, that I will listen to my body, will mind my energy levels and will speak this new truth as exactly as I am able.

You may hear "I would like to, though this week is already full." Or "I wish you well. This is my time for planting and the soil and air are right for it. I hope you enjoy your day as much as I will enjoy mine." Or you may hear "Sounds like fun, but not now" or simply "No." Or alternatively "I'll be there if it rains!" or " I really want to and hope I will be able to. May I let you know later?" Please understand that I am doing my best to say what I mean and mean what I say.  And understand that it isn't because I like you any less but rather because I need to prioritize my needs a little bit more.

And, being human, I may forget. I know, even when I was that bulletproof young'un, I tended to over commit. I hope that any of my friends who read this will continue be willing to ask and invite. I know most of you don't live in "my world" -- one that is closely aligned with the cycles of the earth; day length, temperature, precipitation, planting and harvest, and critters and with less attention than you likely can imagine to weeks and weekends, to time by the clock, to the routines that town and city folk take for granted. So, please ask me what's on my plate. I can (and possibly will!) talk your ear off about the seedlings, varieties, experiments, precipitation or lack thereof and the antics of the fowl and goats and the latest hex signs I am working on. I'll try to be aware of your eyes glazing over and I am pretty sure I will notice your snoring when you fall asleep. By the same token, if I go off on a seemingly endless litany of "exciting things" that are happening on the farm, please ask me, if you are sharing an event or asking for my help in some way "you sound very busy. Are you sure you can do this?"

And remind me about this post if you need to. I may need it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"The Season": Winter Holidays/Holy Days

In my world, tonight -- December 20, 2016, and the night before the winter solstice -- is Mōdraniht (Mother Night), the night to honor the disir as well as our own foremothers and, if appropriate I would add the female mentors along our spiritual path. I choose, at the time, to also raise a glass in honor of my "aftmothers" -- my 5 daughters and one granddaughter who are currently actively mothering my grand and great-grand children. 

I see threads of Mother Night in the Christian folks honoring of Mary during their winter holiday. Mary, who will give birth on this night (by custom, though not likely by the calendar long ago) to the Son of their God harkens, in my mind, to honoring the AllMother, and all mothers, on this night which gives birth -- once again -- to the Sun. 

Regardless of what path you follow, I urge you to take time, at some point in the next few days (before the secular Christmas overwhelms all else for most folks) to consider those who nurtured you in Faith and in Creativity and to lift a glass (water works well!) or a cup (coffee??) in their honor and to consider, on the spiral of life, what may be reborn this year from your "loins" and your heritage.

http://www.hnpca.org/ is the source for
high resolution printable file!
There are many changes afoot in our world at this time. "Evil" (regardless of how you define that term) IS afoot! We need to align ourselves strongly, as I see things, with the Earth, its creatures and elements and with each other as fellow beings. We need to stand with those who protect the earth and with each other. 

Yule, Winter solstice, comes tomorrow but in truth there are three nights of 15h13m length here in Maine: tonight, tomorrow and the following. (For what it's worth, summer solstice has two days at 15h36m. I have to research and figure out why the discrepancy!)  And though you watch like a hawk, I bet you will not be able to discern a lengthening of the day for some time to come. Our ancestors did not recon time to the second and likely not even to the minute. So the "12 day of..." feels to me somewhat like the Mayan "day(s) out of time." Tradition holds that women do not spin. We are supposed to have our homes in order (I hope I will be forgiven on this account this year!) and take some time to make offerings to land spirits and ancestors.
36" Natural Balance
hex sign

24" Welcome (Wilkom)
hex sign
The sun on the breast
of the hard crusty snow
gave the luster of
glare ice to all down below.
Here at Hex Central and Fussing Duck farm, we just posted the last two hex sign orders for the year. I have one more to work on, a gift for a beloved friend, so I do not feel it a desecration of this time to work on it. We have done all our errands in town for the next couple of weeks (I hope, at least) and will be spending the 12 days happily ensconced at the farm. Winter here in central Maine began pushing on autumn with a vengeance recently, leaving the land covered with a layer of snow topped with ice. It's been interesting trying to keep the fowl, goats and guardian dog watered, as the temperatures have been well below freezing and plummeting quite low at night and some days, especially when you figure in the wind chill. We ARE on a rise, remember?
 

But as we hunker down, we also give thanks for warmth, a full pantry, and many friends far and wide. Whatever you celebrate at this time, may you find at least a modicum of peace and inspiration. Blessed Be.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hunting Moon

Yesterday I wrote:
The primal world is close today. Wind, which I normally enjoy, even howling 'round the eaves, has a fell edge about it. (And my words are writing themselves, for I had started to write "has a FEEL of...") The Hunt was riding by, for sure; the goats, who normally take to their shed overnight, awakened me with many loud yells, though no mortal predator was about, for even the guardian dog stayed quiet and in his hut. K was up (getting ready for his early appointment) and had lit the fire, so I arose. I huddled close to Firelight, in the dark, with Frigga's candle burning on the altar and my Yule Fuel cup in hand, awaiting the rising of the sun. Even the kerosene lamps were hard to start this morning (you know, I think, that I do not use "man-light" in the hours before the sun); I did finally get a couple lit. There will be wick trimming and refilling on the list today, as well as other mundane chores. I hope to take advantage of the cold in the back room, as I need to complete re-sorting of the contents of the freezers; it will be easier to do this on a cold day, when I can easily open them all at the same time and make sure one holds meat, one "boughten" foods and the large one has all our fruits and veggies. It is time, as well, to soak the stalks for making the Yule Goat!

I feel sad for those who are so tied into the modern life, so divorced from the seasons and the natural world, that they must go about life as if today was the same as yesterday and will be the same on the morrow. Perhaps some feel a bit -- unsettled -- and wonder why. Most likely they attribute it to that extra bit of food or drink last evening, or the stress of the holidays, or working in retail, if they take note at all. Maybe a few might consider the chance of a disturbing, though unremembered, dream.

We throw up lights everywhere in this season, but no longer remember why. We light streets and yards as if to shame the sun into shining day and night, and forget the need for balance. We manufacture scary stuff for October's end, and never feel the real spirits flying by on the winds that only begin with summer's end.
 One theme that keeps returning to my thoughts, as I seek to walk in harmony with the natural world is Balance. You have likely seen me write that balance is dynamic, not static. There is the cycle of long nights/short days which morphs through a time when the light and dark seem the same length (but on they day of most equal balance, here in my neck of the woods, there is 1 minute difference on March 17 -- day is 12h1m and night 11h59m -- and even though the most even time in September, the 25th, shows both at 12h, I am betting that to the second, there is a difference) and then to the opposite as the summer give us short nights and longer days, which are most appreciated by this busy farmer. So over the year, balance. And in each day, both light and dark and in the world, both light and dark, especially when we can leave behind the human artifices. In the day, we can find shadow in the woods and in the night, there may be a moon or even when he is dark, with good night vision, one can see the path by starlight.

The changes of the dynamic balancing act can work to fuel us, as the universe pumps us up and down like we might work the handle on a well pump. It can also work to recharge us, as happened to me last night/this morning, when I very uncharacteristically slept a full 12 hours. "You must have needed it" was something I heard more than once, and I guess I did, for try as I might, I am still a bit more connected to the never changing times that the modern world dictates.

I am feeling more and more called to be inside once darkness falls, and mostly I managed it. Mostly. But not completely, for Nautical twilight, the time when most stars can be easily seen with naked eyes, and hence, "darkness", arrives here just after 5 pm here these days and at the very least, I go to collect waste food at 4:30 once a week. Which means, at the earliest, I am headed home AFTER dark. And which will continue to happen, but I am consciously working on keeping my away missions to the daylight hours this winter to see what changes that will bring.

So why did I title this article "hunting moon?" Deer hunting season has ended but seasons are still open for much of the smaller game but that is, for better or worse, not part of my current world. Instead it is the Wild Hunt, the energy of which I felt yesterday, and my Livestock Guardian Dog having bagged a rat that most stick in my mind at this time. Were I living in a different time, or even a wee bit of a different lifestyle, I WOULD be hunting, though. The snow having fallen makes tracking easier for me. I have been keeping tabs on the "rat trails" as I plan to put out deadly bait for them and I have checked on other footprints coming near the fowl pens, easily determining they are from our own domestic cat and dog and not wandering neighborhood beasts, or wild ones, in search of sustenance.

This moon cycle ends on Dec 29, so soon I will be hunting up all the things that need new homes, as well as collecting our trash for the dump. With the mundane holidays affecting schedules, I make note that we may not have an open dump day on Saturday, which is the eve of their Christmas and that the next scheduled open day, Dec 28, may be my only, and will be my last shot at "letting go" for this moon cycle and this calendar cycle as well. I will need to allow time, if Wednesday proves to be the only option, as the "first dump day after Christmas" always stands as a testimony to the gross level of conspicuous consumption of our general culture and as such, dumping my single can and droppin a bag of materials to be recycled always involves sitting in an extended line.

As we move into the peak craziness of this time, let me take a moment to urge you to open your senses to the dark, and yes to the spirits that ride the wind... to spend quiet time inside by the fire... to douse your lights and truly feel.