Friday, December 18, 2015

Being a Keeper of Tradition

I have been thinking a lot, recently, about holidays and traditions, and about the words we use to talk about such things. Most often, it seems, I hear "celebrate" used in conjunction with holidays and other events. We "celebrate" birthdays, anniversaries, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the day of my tradition as well... Yule, Mothers' Night, Charming of the Plow (Groundhog day to most of you) and so on. And that has never quite sounded right, or felt right to me.

The main definition I see for celebrate when I Google it is: publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.  So, yeah, I can see from that apparently commonly held definition that it does not describe when I do. (a) it is not usually public and seldom is social.

Recently my mind landed on what seemed to me to be an older language usage: keeping Christmas.  Among the many modern definitions of the word keep I found: to honor or fulfill, to observe as well as "to guard or protect". Those definitions, while not spot on either, do resonate more with me.

I have been called a "keeper of liminal spaces." So I feel comfortable calling myself a keeper, for I am a keeper of many things and largely of tradition.
Keeper: a person who manages or looks after something or someone.
Synonyms: guardian, custodian, curator, overseer, steward, caretaker
I hold the threads of many traditions, not necessarily ones I was raised to or grew up with, but threads I have picked up, strengthened, held and shared along the way. Not all are even conscious, but build in the background and under the hubub of mundane life. 

This time of year, they call me to stay near the hearth, to bank the fire against the dark and cold (even though this year has seen little of that at present), to cherish the stores from summer on the pantry shelves and to bide my time carefully until the days begin to lengthen. Only then, the threads say, is it safe to begin planning the spring plantings and order seeds.

I do not put up massive displays of lights; in fact, on the darkest of nights, you will see my space lit only with a few candles and oil lamps. Though I am a scientist and know that longer days and spring will follow the short days of winter like a tail follows a dog, as a Keeper, tradition tells me not to try to push the season with "man-lights" galore. We can best appreciate the light when we have experienced the darkness and best appreciate Fire when we know Ice.

Maybe one needs to be a Keeper to feel such things, I honestly don't know... but I do know that I feel the threads stretching back beyond my memories and beyond family stories when I keep traditions as mundane as darning socks, knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, starting seeds in their season, planting, weeding, harvesting, putting by and then making meals by looking in the pantry to see what looks good. Some of these things my mother did; more of them my grandmothers did and I am as sure as I am sitting here their foremothers did even more.

But for me, being a Keeper is more than just blindly following tradition. What is important is the keeping and honoring of the INTENT of the tradition. For example: tradition holds that during the "12 days of Christmas" (what I observe as the YuleTide... beginning at the period of the shortest days (there is NOT just one, at least here! ) through what I call "changing of the calendar," women are to put down their distaffs and not spin. Back in the day, spinning was what women DID, when they were not actively doing something else. Well, here in our world while spinners do honor the tradition with gatherings to spin on Distaff, or Roc day, it seems to me that a setting aside of my painting for a spell keeps the intent of the tradition, so that is what I shall do. And as the darkest days begin, I shall begin preparations for holiday meals that will continue through the week... with fresh made bread and cookies and the butchering, tomorrow, of our turkey, Fred. And I will spin, and weave... for those are not my occupation, but my joy and in doing so, I honor AllMother and the Norns. And then, yes, I shall join the throngs on Roc day as well as picking up the seed stash to inventory and the seed catalogs to fill in with needed new seeds once the season is well turned.

The last hex signs to be painted this year will go out by post tomorrow: two from the new Companion Animal Protection line (customized) and a custom Love and a Happy Home, as well as a small Love and Happy Home to a different customer.
Custom Love and a Happy Home hex sign

Companion Animal Protection sign

Companion Animal Protection sign
After the holidays I will begin work on a large welcome sign, from the last order of this year.

I do not know WHY keeping tradition is important. Honestly, I am a simple woman and have never really spent time asking the why's of unanswerable questions. Why am I here? For me, it is enough that I AM and my trust in intuition and the guiding whispers of the Gods is sufficient to carry on. And to keep tradition, because that's what I do.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Are you Ready for the Darkness?

After a day of relative warmth, wind and rain, our cold front is passing and the temperatures are heading into seasonal norms yet again. The plunging thermometers and spinning anemometers, clouds racing across the blue sky, all remind me that the season of the Wild Hunt is at hand and winter is bearing down on those of us blessed enough to live in the Northlands.

Am I ready? Not completely... we have materials on hand but have not yet relocated the propane tanks for easier access. We have not worked on insulating the water system nor closed up holes in the skirting. But on the other hand, Fergie the tractor has all her wheels again, all of the manure from the neighbors' horses has been moved to our side of the fence and most of the currently fallow garden has been manured. After two days with the string trimmer, the overgrowth in the hedgerow to the west of the driveway has been flattened, watersprout trees that need to be removed have been eyeballed, it not yet tagged or removed and the asparagus beds have been weeded.

Early in the week, I finally processed the stupid guinea that hanged itself and the dogs have been enjoying the meat.  I am planning to have some home schooled youngsters over early next week to observe and have an avian anatomy lesson with a couple of ducks that need processed. That was supposed to have been THIS week, but I put them off in order to work on the weed removal while the temperature was more conducive to working out for a longer period.

I got back into spinning for the day on Saturday, and cleaned up a bunch of previously carded grease wool, so that I can focus on the Jacob's sheep fleece -- which is almost done -- to be used for spinning starting soon. I have committed to do fiber demos for a local museum at a big commercial show, called the Harvest Fest" again this year, so I need not only fiber to card and spin but also a bunch to weave with AND I need to get the little loom warped up. Soon!

A BIG Welcome! 48" sign ready to ship.
Abundance and Prosperity, 24" outdoor
$190 + shipping, ready to go NOW!
I completed and shipped this 4 foot diameter Welcome hex sign this week, and will finish the re-make of an Abundance and Prosperity sign that I incorrectly painted without the scalloped border. I'll be able to ship this 24" sign early in the week, I hope. It will be ready tomorrow, but poor Artie, my pickup, has been having alternator issues and has been declared on the "sick, lame and lazy list" until "Doc Johnny" at Pomeroy's Garage can see him on Monday. The one I painted incorrectly, shown above, right, is available for impulse purchase, and immediate shipping!

A big part of my preparation for the dark season of the year, which I love, continues to be my ongoing "decluttering" and sending on of things that I no longer really need. I am also reorganizing and hopefully streamlining some to make it easier and faster to accomplish necessary daily and seasonal tasks. We have many home-improvement plans and several continue in process, as we juggle energy, money, time and projects. We were both talking about kitchen issues this morning; it is NOT a two-person room and needs to be. Perhaps we will get around to moving the stove and making new cabinets this winter! Meanwhile, I have lots of fiber-y fun to work through.. I did not get any sewing done last winter, so all those projects are waiting in the wings, as well as spinning, knitting, crochet and an embroidery project for a friend. There will be plenty to do while sitting by the fire, so I think you can see why I am looking forward to the winter months!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

There Won't Always be More Stuff

I got into a "discussion" -- turned into a bit of a pissing contest, though, it seemed -- on a friend's Facebook post recently. I stated my position on bottled water (none, period) and was called to task by another poster who noted how necessary it was "in emergencies." I allowed as how, maybe, that was ok, but for years Red Cross and other agencies got along just fine and supplied emergency water without the wasteful and now ubiquitous containers.

Later in the discussion, I mentioned that I had all but eliminated plastic packaging in my shopping and was working to rid my home of plastic, though I was frustrated by the inability to recycle broken or otherwise unusable plastic items since the codes are only stamped on containers.

My nemesis all but called me a hypocrite and Luddite because "everything is made using plastic" somewhere along the line, much recycled plastic is just shipped to China to be buried and I was doubtless using a plastic keyboard. Which, I will admit I am. I would honestly love to have one made of a more natural material, IF it were made in a manner that would allow it to last at least as long as my electric typewriter, which I got as a high school graduation present and DID manage to wear out (multiple keys developed metal fatigue) after about 15 years of use. Keyboards, it seems, fail after far fewer years... and that is even with my having an old school tech in the house who is able to disassemble and clean them on a regular basis.

I finally opted out of the Facebook "discussion." I don't need extra frustration in my life. However it brought to mind several thoughts.

1. We all need to consider "appropriate technology" and "most appropriate materials" for all of the things we buy, make and do. Just because it's newer, less expensive, faster, brighter colored or such does not mean we need it. In my mind, the "most appropriate" materials are those that can be easily and efficiently re-used. I use only natural materials for clothing, for example, because when worn beyond usefulness, most often they can be re-purposed as rags. Sometimes the most appropriate materials are those than will decompose.

But even more than that, I think, many of us suffer from the unperceived delusion that "there will always be more stuff" as if stuff actually grew on trees. I wonder, since I have only American attitudes to observe, if this is not somehow an extension of manifest destiny. There was, for a good part of the formative years of our country, "always more land to the west" to explore, and exploit. But like the country, which has filled the land from border to border and has no land over the horizon to expand into, our sources for "stuff" are limited. Even stuff that does, essentially, grow on, or like, trees must be considered finite, for as the population on the earth expands, the resources available to produce crops like wood, hemp, food and even bio-fuels will not only not expand, but likely will shrink.

We cannot continue thinking that "there will always be" more raw materials from which to make plastic, be it for containers or for making "stuff.". We cannot continue thinking that "there will always be" more aluminum or iron to be mined to make cans, or cars or pots and pans.

Use it UP
Wear it OUT
Make it DO
because while maybe YOU won't have to... eventually your progeny will otherwise have to

Friday, October 9, 2015


Long ramble ahead. I have often said that it would be easy for me to be Amish, if only one didn't have to be Christian.

How did I get here? Well, it started almost 40 years ago, with a "Question Authority" bumper sticker I had on my car when I joined what proved to be a very authoritarian Christian denomination. I got flak for it, but no, I did not remove and and yes, I did continue to question...not only authority but just about everything. I had come to that particular doorway via previous questions; further questions caused me to walk back out of it and continue down the path. My motto, for a while, became "question everything."

I focused a lot on internal stuff... stuff I was taught or learned along the way. Much of it did not have a "why" behind it; a lot of what we do is habit, absorbed from common culture, from those around us. I heard an anecdote about a homemaker who always cut the end off a roast and set it aside before putting the majority of the meat in the pan and into the oven. She did this all her life. One day a friend was visiting and watched her begin to prepare the meal. Friend was puzzled by the removal of the end and asked why. The woman did not know, but that was the way her mother did it, was the reply; she had not realized this was NOT a common practice. Fortunately, the woman's mother was still living and on her next visit the question was asked, "Why?" Mom replied "I just have a small roasting pan, and they won't fit in unless I trim a bit off first."  I wondered how many similar habits I had, how many unnecessary things I did in a day, in a week...

My Five Daughters (we could have been a sit-com!)
All this came in handy, to me, as a mother of a passel of youngsters. What was important TO ME in raising my crew was not the spotless house my mother kept, but creativity and growing stuff. Being able to let chores that did not, in the long run, matter allowed me to not only claim extra bits of time (and mothers-of-many, for sure, will understand that every little 5 minute increment matters!) but more importantly to let go of the nagging worry about leaving things undone.

And the more I questioned, the deeper I got into things that, while they may not be visible, actually do separate me from the world by virtue of how I think. Take weekends, for example, or workdays. Even folks who have people in their family who do not work "the standard" 9-5, M-F, seem to try to  set aside the standard times off work. And yes, if you want and need to interact with folks who keep that schedule, those times do matter. But more and more, all 24 hours of a day are usable and all week as well. There is nothing wrong with taking a sleeping baby, in a carrier, shopping at midnight or 6 a.m. if it fits your life, and it may make the excursion much faster when the stores are less occupied. And the lake is still there on Wednesday, if fishing or swimming is your thing.

But more and more, over time, and largely as a result of a move "beyond the sidewalks, without electricity but with chickens" I began to sync to the natural world. "Vacations" or down time make more sense in the winter when there are not garden to tend and canning to do. "Daylight 'Savings' Time" is irrelevant when you naturally awaken with the sun and begin supper prep with the gathering twilight, after a trip to the barn to close up the critters. Long summer work days are balanced by extra sleep in the long nights of winter. Changing your clothes every day, regardless of whether they are soiled or not seems silly when you wear older clothes to do dirty daily jobs and save your good stuff for trips to town.

Now, I suspect that the actual Amish would look askance at much of what I have written, with their German heritage and picturesque, spotless farms. "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" and all that... But this German crone is not part of an extended family and is doing what makes sense to me.

Some of that shows (if you know me, you know how hard it is for me to find clothes for trips to town that do not show a spot of paint somewhere, and if you have had the misfortune to actually step inside the domestic chaos of my many projects-in process, well, enough said) but much of it doesn't. The way I think about things, the basic assumptions from which I operate, my motivation.

So, maybe then, I am wrong. I probably couldn't be Amish -- or whatever the northern tradition Pagan version of that might be -- because even in that context, I think, there might not be enough commonalities to bridge the differences, even if I wanted it to. Which, most likely, I might not. I am not, despite what many folks who encounter me in short increments would assert, a people person. I like my own company and prefer my solitude on a day-to-day basis. Money, necessary as it is to have some, is not even close to my primary motivation; I have quit or declined to accept jobs that would have required me to wear clothes that I consider uncomfortable (grown up lady-type office wear) or which required a daily application of face paint. A position with responsibility, honor and appreciation with low pay seems much more satisfying than one where the employee is just a replaceable cog in the wheel, regardless of remuneration. And so it goes.

Now, in retirement, my meager stipend from my working years floats the bottom line and the Powers That Be bring in a few bucks with art sales and the sharing of a bit of extra produce from time to time and that is fine with me. It means times, like last month, when necessary trips to town skyrocketed in number and frequency, the gas budget bottomed and borrowed from several other "envelopes," panic tries hard to set in and I may wonder where relief will come from. And I may wonder a bit longer than is comfortable, at that, but always, in the end, the Powers That Be come through and a sign sell or something such. And no, I don't go asking, knocking, petitioning, praying or stirring up extra abundance spells. The Gods know the needs. And I know that by showing gratitude for what abundances I do have -- be it three feed sacks full of sunflower heads of varying ripeness, an extra pepper that had been overlooked in the garden, or a big harvest of small potatoes -- and making the most of it all, and of my time, that I will remain in the flow.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oh, What a Week it Was!

Draft horses pass under the barn sign I painted for the
Penobscot Chapter of MOFGA
I was going to entitle this post "A Fair Week" but it was so much more than that. Yes, it DID start with a fair, Common Ground Country Fair to be exact, where I demonstrated the fine art of hex painting all day Friday (in the overcast, damp chilly weather) and Saturday (with a bit of sun and much warmer temperatures). I got to chat with several old friends and many new folks, while pointing out the large version of the smaller signs I was painting.

Next year (it appears there will be a next year to this project, as we will move on to sign the next barn, for the oxen) I should be able to demo all three days, but need to make sure that everything is set in motion well before the fair book goes to print. NO ONE seemed to know where I was or even THAT I was there painting! Also need to set specific times for demos, so I will have a bit of time to wander the grounds.

Sunday my fair decompression was accomplished by means of the first of two crochet classes. I am finally learning to follow a pattern, while working on a cute little stuffed bird. I doubt if I will have all my squares done by Sunday, but I am trying!

Life, in many forms, has got in the way of crochet. First off, there is the back-from-fair stuff to be dealt with and signs to finish. But most of what has been occupying me this week involves getting ready for winter.

First off, we mounted a major flea offensive on Monday, with each of the house cats and dog getting a good dose of flea dip and then getting put outside so we could set off flea bombs. Yeah, I hate to do it but there are times, desperate time, when chemical warfare is warranted... at this level, at least. I ended up doing one of the cats and the dog again today as flea combing showed they needed it. We will see what the comb finds on the rest over the next few days; today only those two were still badly afflicted.

Standing water in the tractor tracks in the garden - a first!
Lake at the end of the driveway.
With 4" of rain in the prediction for Wednesday -- and the radar showing good support for that prediction, I spent much of Tuesday getting the last of the potatoes dug, collecting the remaining few tomatoes and hunting onion. Onion crop was terrible but waste not, want not so they are all in the house now. And then the rain came. And indeed it was a good 4" over the course of 24 hours.  Even in our garden here on the rise, we actually had standing water, and the "lake" at the end of the driveway was huge despite Tractor Guy having done some filling and cut a drain channel.

One soaked, soggy, dirty
The poor Moose-pup ended up with no place dry to lay, as his doghouse developed a roof leak. We took pity on the livestock guardian and brought him in to the back porch (until he was dry enough that his shake didn't give me a shower!) and let him visit in the house for a bit. He is NOT a house dog, though, and his sad demeanor in the picture seemed to be as much about his not being able to do his job as it was about his soaked coat!

Of course, after setting of the chemical bombs, all surfaces and all the dishes needed washed and the flea project set laundry day behind, so only today did that finally get completed.

Weather has turned much cooler with lows in the 40s or lower and highs stretching to reach the 60s, so it was time to begin the clothing shuffle. It was great to have a flannel night gown and my winter robe on while sitting by the Frigga's day fire this evening! I brought in some more long sleeve shirts, several pairs of sweat pants and some warmer fall dresses, most of which got a quick washing and are flapping on the line overnight. Tomorrow, I think, I will deploy the flannel sheets.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hope for a Good Season

This week I have been thinking a lot about gratitude and thinking of the sign, above, that I found last year and still hangs on my wall.

Harvests are iffy things. Some years they are good, other years less so, but like the fishermen and boat builders of the Core Banks (about whom the book by the same title as my post was written) what keeps the farmer, the gardener, the hunter, as well as the fisherman going is hope.  And, in many ways, being able to live within your harvest, however that may turn out.

It can be easy to be grateful for abundant harvests. I can also be a challenge, when the last thing you want to look at is ANOTHER sack of potatoes or onions, another bushel of tomatoes to can or another few pounds of an herb that you usually deal with in ounces.

I try to always be grateful, even with extreme abundance, and not to fuss while finding shelf space or freezer room or still more jars. This year's overabundance may very well pad the larder in a year to come. This is the case here at the sign of the Fussing Duck this year; our tomato crop has gone down the tubes. Between a late, cold start and uneven temperatures and rain, the blight and the marauding fowl I have harvested barely a half a bushel of fruit. We are out of canned whole tomatoes, BUT thanks to an overabundance last year, we still have many jars of tomato sauce on the shelves. Cucumbers also are a bust, but with a bit of care we will still have pickles and relish sufficient to get us through.

Likewise it can be very hard to be thankful for meager crops, but we must remember that each plant is trying its best, regardless. If a tomato or a bean or pea plant produces a single fruit, bean or pod of peas, it has more than replaced the seed I planted to grow it. And, even in the worst of years, those plants that survive most likely produce many more than just a single offering.

My 75' row of "Vermont cranberry beans" which started out as a handful of seed from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) seed and scion exchange in 2014 grew enough seed for the long row last year. This year I have a canvas shopping bag full of dry pods, hopefully some to eat and sufficient seed to plant two rows next year. They, too, got a late slow start but they gave their all and I am grateful.

In addition to putting up tomatoes (6 quarts) and having three trays marjoram and two of basil in my newly acquired electric food dehydrator, I have a large baking sheet of basil being frozen. It will join the remaining "overabundance" of parsley from last year in the "fresh frozen herb" larder. I also have dill weed frozen and many more stalks currently air drying.

In the hex world, abundance is again flowing. There is an order for three signs from a single customer on the books, an order for a single small one and -- best news -- the 4' sign destined to adorn the draft horse barn at the Common Grounds Fair is well underway. I am excited to be able to support the Penobscot County Chapter of MOFGA and the fair with my talents! It will be hard work to continue getting the harvest in (there are still potatoes, carrots and cabbage out there, plus lettuce and chard) while getting ready to spend two days painting as a demo at the Fair. If things go as well there as they did at the 55th Anniversary Community Appreciation Day event put on by Pomeroy's Garage August 1, I will have all my orders completed and ready to go by the end of the demo.

Meanwhile, I will be off to a natural dye workshop tomorrow at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Waning Moon

This HAS been a week. With the dark moon approaching very early next week, the end of the moon "dejunking" and cleaning rituals have taken center stage. I went through a plastic tote of books that I had not had shelf space to hold for some time and ended up putting the majority of them up for friends to choose from. I posted pictures of the books, grouped by subject or author, on my Facebook page and shared with some local Pagan groups (they were mostly pagan oriented materials) and before the week ended, I had posted them all off for the promise of reimbursement for postage. Loved the process! Much better than dealing with trying to sell them on Ebay.

I pulled a few from my shelves as well, and cleared out a bunch of old school art projects and moved the remaining books to shelves. That, along with hauling the odd ends that had collected over the month to Goodwill, and finally taking the trash, recycles and redeemable containers out has completed this moon cycle's abundance ritual.

And abundance has been flowing in, as well. Early in the week I scored a free electric food dehydrator and later in the week got an order for 3 hex signs from a single customer. In the hex realm, as well, I accompanied my friend Galen, president of our local chapter of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to the meeting of the committee which oversees the organization's annual shindig, the Common Ground Fair, in an attempt to finalize a proposal that we had offered earlier in the year, to paint "folk art barn sign" style signage for the currently un-signed livestock barns. The last I heard was in February, when the proposal was to be taken before committee. With the fair starting on Sept. 25, I needed to know one way or the other, and after the meeting ended we were able to find out that they did want a sign (this year for the Draft Horse barn) and would indeed allow me to sit and paint "within sight" of the new sign, as I had requested. I will not be selling signs, of course, since each is painted to order, but I am able to hand out business cards, which I shall do.

During the week we also discovered that the "bay window" area of the bathroom actually has openable windows, but only on the outside! The inside window is a single pane of decorated glass. The outside unit is opaque plastic, designed to open but (until recently) lacking screens. We discovered this while cleaning up behind the bathtub. We have at least one cat who does NOT like the new boxes and/or their location. Disgusting. But nevertheless I am glad that the cleaning brought the window issue to our attention. It was quick work to remove (for now) the inside panels. And did not take much longer for Tractor Guy to make screens. It is nice to have the extra air flow, especially as the windows face generally west, towards the prevailing winds. Especially with the 90 degree temperatures that we had to deal with this week, and the lack of overnight cooling. Thankfully, we are back to much more normal Maine weather now.

The cats are another issue... we plan to segregate one at the time to try to find the culprit and meanwhile, scooping boxes each day seems to help.

Midweek I had an appointment with my health care provider (a PA-C) and we talked among other things, about the rapid pulse and non-associated vertigo that had been popping up randomly during the last month. She tried everything to get them to fit into a diagnosis box and failing that, said she would consult with the MD. The upshot of that all is that they fixated on the ONE incident that seemed to have been postural in nature (I bent over to check on something on the chicken pen we were working on and became instantly VERY dizzy) and have recommend physical therapy. Hey, at least it is non-invasive!

I have been hard at work, mostly early mornings and evenings before supper, taking the weed eater to the "green manure" between the garden rows. Some might actually say I am whacking actual weeds, but "green manure" it is, that is my story and I am sticking to it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Rituals of Autumn

I know it's not Autumn yet. It is barely September, but September is a liminal month and even while I am working hard on the late summer tasks of the Putting By Moon, I am thinking ahead. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons.

As a farming/homesteading witch, from early August through the end of October I focus is on harvest and preparing for the season of dark and cold. Starting with "First Harvest" in early August, through Equinox I am mainly working with the garden, "putting by" with thanks to the Gods and the Elements for all the abundance. Even in years like this one, where some crops are REALLY sparse (I had one cucumber plant survive the late, cold spring for example) it is important to me to be as thankful for that one-at-a-time cucumber as for the plethora of beans and peas. All the plants are giving their all and deserve thanks!
One annual fall project -- weed whacking and mulching!

Then, as September wanes, my focus shifts to having the homestead "buttoned up" against the cold and snow. Even though we don't get more than flurries before December, usually, I like to have it done and everything protected by the time the Hunt traditionally begins at the end of October. That also includes putting the active garden to bed and having the fallowed one ready for spring planting.

I feel an urgency this year to get to, and through, the rituals of Autumn. No, I don't mean gathering under the moons -- dark or full -- with a group of fellow travelers. Nor will I be likely to attend a gathering for Equinox. My rituals are more of the "chop wood, carry water" type and though we do not yet heat with wood, the growing piles and stacks of fuel that I see in yards and sheds and barns as I do my errands makes me think that my neighbors may be feeling a similar urgency this year. Or, maybe they are just reacting to the past long, cold winter and the scarcity (and related price increases) of the supplemental supplied they needed to fend of the cold until Spring finally managed to break through.

I've already started picking up odd ends that gather around the farm... broken pieces of plastic fence post, shredding tarps and the like... for the next couple of dump runs. These odds and ends do not need to sink even more securely into the earth over the winter.

I have been taking mental note of the missing kerosene lamp chimneys and each Saturday brings me closer to beginning the weekly Autumn and Winter ritual of chimney washing and lamp filling. Yes, we have electricity, but the warm glow of these lamps is comforting to me and in the dark of winter, when I arise before the house is sufficiently lit by the sun, it is their light I prefer to use to greet the day.

Likewise, I have been making a note of the location of all the flashlights, many of which have ceased to function over the summer. The stash gets fewer each year, because I cannot stand the cold bluish glow of the LED bulbs (and as bright as they may be, I don't seem to be able to see well by them) and the old fashioned kind are becoming hard, if not impossible to find. Soon I will gather all the units up and give them to Tractor Guy for a working-over. As many as can be made to work will be what I use. When one does not light fowl coops and eschews a yard light, it's important to keep flashlights at hand in various places.

Unexpected apples tree
Unexpected apples!
I am also thinking about food storage. "Fresh" storage of onions, potatoes and carrots, mostly. Apples we don't have in that quantity yet, so I pick up local ones from the store through the winter. I DID get a surprise, though, this week of the apple variety. While none of the trees I have planted are old enough to make fruit yet, there is a tree that came with the house. We were not told what it was, but it has leaves that look like apple and an apple growth habit. It has, until now, not fruited however. And somehow it must have sneaked the blossoms past us this spring, for neither of us noticed anything... until yesterday, when Tractor Guy was working the back field and noticed an apple on the ground. Coming back around, he spotted one, then more in the tree. I have no idea what variety or if they are ripe. I will check them with a spray of iodine solution once I acquire some.

Basil, waiting to be dried.
 In the garden, the tomatoes are beginning to ripen -- a good sign here that the Summer season is coming to an end. They are a late season/early fall veggie for me here in Maine. I am digging the potatoes (another fall ritual, which is early this year) and harvesting herbs like crazy! Basil, dill, marjoram, chives and sage are producing in abundance and the parsley is giving a decent report as well.

We are also getting ready to put an insulated box around the water inlet, pressure tank and such under the house and run plastic around the skirting -- inside, this year -- to hopefully keep the water flowing, another Autumn ritual in Maine. Thawing the pipes is a Winter ritual that we would rather avoid.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The "Putting-By" Moon

I am trying to get back in the habit of blogging each week on Frigga's day.

This week I have been quite busy dealing with food abundance. As the moon turned a couple of weeks ago with the new moon, I declared this "month" to be the time of the "putting-by" moon, as the garden has begun in earnest to give us lots of things not only to eat fresh or freshly cooked, but also to "put by" in the freezers.

Doing so, though, has meant that I needed to get some of That Pig, the 700 pound boar that I helped OUT of the freezer and into jars. The Flow was with me and I was able to get my pressure canners tested to determine that, indeed, they did both need replacement gauges, as well as being able to find and afford the replacements immediately. When they arrived, Tractor Guy did the installation and I immediately set about cutting one of the large pieces of pig meat to fit into my new extra large crock pot. Big pig = big pieces, especially when the entire 3-person butcher crew was totally worn out by the time the quarters hit the cutting table!
"That Pig" in BBQ (left and center) and plain (right) versions
friends butcher this spring,

I know most folks raw-pack meat, but this fellow was just SO fatty that I really needed to cook him down some in order to most efficiently separate meat from fat, which is being saved for soap making later in the year.

I started the process a bit over a week ago, with a wonderful feeling of being connected to both my own past experience canning meat, but with a thread going much farther back. I completed the round of canning recently, filling two of the jars with chunks of pork and a friend's home made BBQ sauce. I am delighted to be able to say that all of my jars kept most of their liquid, which was a problem I constantly fought in the past. This means that "end of the garden" will likely involve several batches of vegetable soup to be pressure canned! Hard to can soup when most of your jars loose half of their liquid contents!  I also want to can some beets, but my beet crop this year consists of 2 (yes, I did count them) plants, so I will have to hit a farm stand or farmers market soon.

I have been freezing green beans and both freezing and drying lots of herbs. This has been a bumper year for marjoram and basil, and I need to pick dill as well. The cucumber harvest has consisted, to date, of three cukes; the picklers' vines are full of blossoms but, as yet, no fruit. The tomatoes are, finally, starting to turn and I will likely have a good crop by the time I need to worry about killing frost and the peppers are also setting fruit.

Pea vines have been pulled and the dry pods removed, to be processed for seed and I just got the trellis and posts brought out of the garden. I am trying to be more organzed, going forward, so I am stowing the trellis mesh and the posts I used in recycled feed sacks. It will take 2, and I will label both as "100' pea trellis" for re-use next year.

11 "pullet surprises," one turkey egg
and the rest of a day's production
Our new pullets, a RI Red/White cross, have started laying and this week I found where they had been stashing some of their eggs. I "float-tested" and all are good.

Lady Grey, our hen turkey, has begun laying again. We do not want her to go broody again (this year, at least) and it appears she shares our sentiment, as she has been dropping eggs randomly in the turkey yard instead of in the house, in the nest she used for the previous broods. The first one must have surprised her while she was roosting on one of the supports for the poult enclosure, as I found it laying on the ground, inside of the closed baby pen!
The 6 youngest turkeys outside finally!

Young chickens, hatched by Lady Grey
had just landed in their outside pen.
We also are now free of "house-fowl" as the last of the living room brooder crew went outside today. As I was preparing to take the photo of the young turkeys, two of them slipped through the fence and into the chicken yard! I netted them and HOPE I have repaired their exit.

After a week's hiatus, I am finally back to spinning again. I missed the evening's end task and working meditation on Frigga, not to mention progress in working through the Jacob's sheep fleece. The last of it is washed ("scoured") and hopefully will dry during the coming heat spell.

And I have another of the "Pennsylvania Dutch" hex signs in process... this one is a custom job based on the "swirling swastika." (In case you do not know, this symbol is not the same as the one appropriated by the "nazis"  from much older spiritual traditions.)  I am also working on a digital model of a old hex sign, with the intention of recreating it for a potential client. not only paints and sells a line of hex signs both based on the traditional and of my own creation, but also is happy to recreate older signs that were painted on masonite and other less durable media, but which still have special meaning for their owners.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Summer in Maine

We had summer this week -- or maybe August. Temperatures reached and exceeded the 90 degrees (F) mark. I am glad that this does not go on for long, here in Maine. Would be happy to not see that 9 in the tens place ever in a forecast or as a high temperature for the day, but it happens. I AM thankful that (a) it doesn't happen often, (b) go on for long and that (c) it cools off in the evening. I am also thankful that I am no longer working off the farm, so that when I get up before the sun, which I do on these "summer" days, I can have my coffee and hit the garden, instead of the road, as the sun rises over the nearby trees.

This week has been a routine of early mornings, moving soaker hoses from row to row in the early morning fog and dew, followed by a bit of weeding or picking before starting the irrigation and tending the fowl. By the time I am done in the barnyard, I am feeling the heat attacking the back of my neck and I am glad to be able to retire to the house and indoor chores.

This week the indoor chores have been mostly involving blueberries, purchased at the Brewer Farmers Market with the extra benefit of their food stamp matching program which allowed me to buy two 10# boxes for the price of one! One batch was quickly divvied out into quart size freezer bags and tucked into odd spots in the small "meat" freezer. The second batch was divided into makings for blueberry syrup and jam, both "lower sugar" varieties using a 50/50 blend of sugar and Splenda for the benefit of my diabetic. I discovered that I was way short of jelly jars so had to make a run to Corinth since I forgot them on my Wednesday town run. Paid more, of course, but saved gas and driving time. I think, if I didn't count the time, it would be considered a wash, after checking the price in Bangor today.  Some of the berries I just crushed with some sugar on them for blueberry shortcake, as well. I had cake in the freezer, left from strawberry season... good desert and more freezer room liberated!

To get things out of order... the first round of pressure canning of pre-cooked pieces of That Pig was a rousing success! All of the jars kept over 90% of their liquid and most kept most of it. I realized after the fact that I did process them at "too high" a pressure; these guys only require 10 pounds and the weight I have for the pressure canner only does 15 pounds. I now have a variable one on its way, should arrive Monday. Unfortunately the next batch is ready to be canned and will also be done with 15 pounds. Since I am expecting to use this mostly for pulled pork or as an ingredient in stir fry or the like, I am not worried about the over-processing, as it is not a safety issue. I also found out that one of the local meat processing outfits WILL smoke home-butchered bacon... so that big piece will be thawing in the fridge soon and will be sent off to be done. When I get it back, it will be also in smaller amounts which will fit in the freezers more easily and make space. I am glad that most of what remains in the garden is stuff that does not need freezing, but stores "on the shelf" or in a cool, dark location or will be canned.

The heat has, however, set me behind in the hex painting department. I have been taking the time I needed to "just sit" during the heat of the day -- getting out of the heat of the kitchen -- and hopefully will be able to quickly complete the 24" sign that I have drawn and ready to paint during the rainy days predicted early in the week.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Need a Reset?

Do you ever feel like you need a reset? I never really thought about it quite that way, until today, a few minutes ago, while washing dishes.

Week started with the arrival of the customer supplied photo:
last week's hex shipment from installed.
This week has been.... busy.... "off".... and we have been off too, both off the farm a lot and off the routine-that-is-not-a-routine that weaves it way around the turning seasons and quiet farm days.

We spent a day hauling mulch hay, and two more helping a friend move. Tried to put the moving work on cooler days and had to work it around the rain, which meant laundry on Sunday instead of Monday, which always puts the whole week off for me. Somehow, it's not so bad if Monday proves rainy or snowy too otherwise unfit for "hanging out" and laundry day is later in the week. But moving it back a day "for no good reason" sets things a-kilter.

Moving days were long and hard. Harder by far than they used to be, for all of us "no longer spring chickens." The friend we were helping move is my senior by a few years, has asthma to deal with and the upcoming school year breathing down her neck. And she was moving from a roommate situation to a tiny efficiency apartment, which makes having stuff much more of a challenge. I spent considerable mental energy, I fear, longing for the days when I could work even much younger colleagues into the ground.

It really wasn't THAT long ago that I took a long weekend temp job "flipping carpets" for customers to examine at a tent sale. On Friday there were three of us doing the job: me and two college footballers who grunted and groaned through the day. On Saturday and Sunday, I worked solo, as they did not complete their contract. 

It was only 7 years ago, when we moved here, that we loaded a huge moving truck, car and pickup on a tow dolly (full to the gunnels) over night, drove straight through and though the other half collapsed (diabetic who had not been receiving medical care) during the unload, I worked it so hard that the much younger retired veteran that showed up to help took a break to go back home and grab his teen son when school got out and both of them were beat by the end of the day. He says he has not moved anyone since; I know he did not volunteer to help load and unload when we finally found our farm! Instead I got to "work to the ground" a couple of much younger friends and the elderly father, who insisted on helping.    But those days are, it seems, gone for good.

Between all those away missions, and egg and herb delivery on Wednesday (so I can spend time also at my favorite yarn shop, spinning) the kitchen got no attention. It did, however, get inundated with herbs needing processing, pork getting cooked for canning (it's a fat pig and I wanted to remove as much of the excess fat as possible) and general life. I am not a good housekeeper, but eventually it DOES get to me and it had passed that point earlier in the week, though there was no time nor energy to deal.

And this morning, sad to say, STILL no energy. After doing chores, I sat. Just sat, and I guess I dozed while the kitchen called.

It's Frigga's day -- a hearth Goddess -- MY Goddess -- and my kitchen is a shambles, I have no wool carded to spin and it's new moon. 

And the light comes on in the ol' noggin while I am washing dishes after finally summoning the energy to do so.  I need a reset and this is the day for it!

Current spinning project: Jacob's sheep
fleece, AKA sheep of a different color
The "just sitting" was part of it. Too much "going" needed balance.

Washing dishes was part of it. Though I haven't hunted down every last piece, the majority is dripping dry.

Realizing that "all" I need to do is card a little, spin a little, light a fire and lift a glass to Frigga and to Mani and hail the turning cycle and take the time to take the time to allow it all to fall back into place.

By tomorrow, I suspect, the reset will be complete.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Magic, Science and the Natural World

8" diameter Abundance and Prosperity hex sign, painted
since new moon here at
I realize that my background in science -- and the "hard sciences" of physics, astronomy and of mathematics  and engineering as well -- likely give me a bit of a different perspective as a witch. Add to this that I see much of the alleged "common culture" in a different way (see previous post A Manifesto - I am not what you think you see. ) than most folks and I can easily understand when moments of disharmony crop up with other Pagans and witches.

Hence, this entry.

Many online sources have been making a big deal out of the full moon tonight, a so-called "blue moon." I have stated my opinion online that, " There are actually multiple definitions of "blue moon" and I prefer mine to be the least common of all -- when the moon ACTUALLY appears blue, because of particulate matter of a particular size, in the correct place in the air between me and it. THOSE happen "once in a blue moon" in my world. The other two varieties are far too common." Research has shown me that even my take on the potential frequency of the "blue moon" is more often than the term originally was meant to express, as it was used in the same manner as "when pigs fly." Short of being launched by a hurricane (which could arguably be considered to not meet the criteria) visually appearing blue moons are, in my experience, at least possible. I have seen one, just one, in my 67 years. I have also seen a solar green flash but that is a topic for another day.

I, personally, do not consider having two full -- or for that matter, new, first quarter or last quarter -- moons in the artificial construct that we call a month to be of any particular significance.  Although the month (in Old English monaĆ°, related to the word for moon) was originally calculated from lunar cycles, the increasing importance of agriculture (both planting and animal husbandry), upon which the seasons have more effect than the phases of the moon, led to an almost universal use of a solar-based calendar. This calendar has been changed, adjusted and manipulated across the centuries, and continues to be, although nowadays the ongoing adjustments are in the range of "leap seconds" rather than "leap years." Since I farm, using a conventional yearly calendar does help me to keep track of planting schedules, frost dates (both in the spring and fall) and mundane events such as appointments with my health care provider. 
One pea harvest, just after new moon

For other things, such as many "witchey matters" I find a lunar calendar most appealing. I do, given that our solar calendar has given one day of the week to Frigga, Odin, Thor and Tyr, acknowledge them on "their" days. As I observe and acknowledge the moon cycles, however, I am less likely to work with the astrological correspondences (either tropical or sidereal, the type of astrology that I practiced, which works with the actual positions of the planets in the constellations their precessed and therefore current locations ) than I am to tie my working to what's going on in the natural world around me. I understand the various cultures' naming of the moons, though I can not accurately apply any one sequence of names to what I experience. And, if you have followed my writings for any time at all, you will know that my own experiences (also known as UPG) are the basis of my practice and my work. Last month was The Month of the Fireflies. This is The Month of Summer's Coming, which leads directly into the cross quarter coming up early next month: First Harvest. While we do not yet have local corn to celebrate, there are, or have been lettuce and spinach, peas and beans and asparagus, strawberries and blueberries. I can likely harvest some early potatoes soon. None of the poultry are mature enough for the table yet, but the freezer is full of unexpected spring pork and last fall's second turkey. 
Beans and peas harvested yesterday

In my world, there are logical, repeatable and proven scientific truths upon which I base much of my agriculture and my witchey work. This has always been the very foundation of my life and will continue to be so. However much the natural world around me obeys the laws of physics and thermodynamics, though, there are also always variations and surprises. Worlds beyond mine intersect, touch and impact my little world, be they the doings of the Asgardians or of the mundanes.
Helping them to grow: trellis for
pole beans (dried bean crop)

While at least some, if not many folks might find that magic and witchey doings incompatible with science and I find some pagan and witchey folks somewhat out of sync with the actual natural world around them, in my world they all work together for me. That does not imply that anyone else's world's rules are anything other than different than mine. We all, to a greater or lesser degree, create our own realities and I know many folks do share the "common culture" world which I occasionally visit. Your mileage will vary. 
4 chicks hatched by Lady Grey the
turkey since the new moon

6 turkey poults hatched by Lady Grey
since new moon
Ducklings at 5 weeks old
Turkeys from the first hatch!
And here at the sign of the Fussing Duck and Dutch Hex Sign, I will lift a glass tonight to Frigga, light a needfire and toast the abundances coming forth from my fields and flocks and hex work. In addition to the 10 new additions to the flocks shown here, there are 11 young ducklings happily putting on size and feathers out in the barnyard as well as three young turkeys from the first hatch. The summer temperatures have arrived and while they do not make for a very happy worker, I am thankful for the growth on the tomatoes, peppers and vine crops. Hopefully there will be squash and pickles this fall!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Manifesto - I am not what you think you see.

Went to the doc this week, not that I needed to... but when I went in a while back for allergies, the receptionist told me I had need of an appointment for something undefined so I bit. Turns out it was a follow up for my GERD, on account of having to have the prescription renewed. Whatever. I did find out that the doc who had ignored my rejection of his "if the antihistamine doesn't work" back up plan is no longer with the practice.

Skeins of black yarn, spun during the "Tour de Fleece."
Turns out my blood pressure, which has been high since last August-Sept when I started the rounds of dental work necessary to move forward with the knee surgery. It proceeded to stay high, hitting a few reading in the scary-high area over the next few months, including while I was in the hospital after surgery. Thankfully, no one suggested medication, as it came down into the high, but not dangerous level and stayed there pretty much since a couple of months post op. Until a week or so ago, that is... when I got a strange, off the wall, reading much closer to what it used to be... For most of my life it seemed to be fixed at 100/60. For the last week it's been a wee bit above that, but pretty much staying stable, not only with my wrist monitor device but also, today, at the doc's office. Thank you, spinning! Thank you, Tour de Fleece! So she could not fuss at me about my blood pressure... nor apparently my cholesterol, which was "excellent" with the last blood work. So she decided to pick on my weight.

I will admit I weigh more than I want to, at 170 more or less. But, as K says "we are not gaining, and in this world, that is something!"  I have been working on losing but it doesn't seem to happen. The only times I have been able to loose weight I have had to do things that are NOT good.. extreme calorie reduction, "eating funny" etc. I do not drink soda, eat processed or convenience foods as a rule (and seldom even once a week on our town trips now that I usually leave after an early lunch and go solo). I don't keep boughten "snack food" in the house and rarely snack anyway. Seldom buy chips, only have cookies or cake when I make them which is not even weekly.

She wants me to keep a food diary for a week, so I can get a calorie count. Standard good idea, except that when you cook from scratch, not using recipes or even measuring, how the heck are you supposed to find the calorie count of such things as tacos, casseroles, or even tonight's supper of turkey in gravy made from the broth resulting from the cooking in the crock pot and flour, home made stove top stuffing and peas. I could probably easily google the count on the peas, if I weighed or measured my serving , and the turkey as well but... "it's just math" she says... but even if I were to take the time to try to measure everything in a meal as I cooked it this week, I have a pretty good idea it won't be the same next time I make the same dish.

She wants me to walk. Just walk... not going anywhere or doing anything. Yeah right. And that was what got me going on this rant/manifesto.  Because I do not REALLY live in your world, Doc.

 I do not live in a world where I have a job and spare time and hobbies and such. And even when I did have a job in town -- last year... I am coming up on a year of "retirement" from that world -- I did not live in that world, only visited it when needed. That is true, today, as well. My egg delivery, staples shopping, visits to my favorite yarn shop for the weekly Tour de Fleece check ins are just visits to another world, scheduled (sometimes with difficulty) around what I consider to be Real Life. It's a long way from here to there in many ways. Fourty-five minutes for a one way trip is nothing to sneeze at when the price of fuel is up, but the mental distance is even farther and truth be told, I think the distance between the greater Bangor area and the lands of Fussing Duck Farm and hex central is even farther for those who live in town!

Ever hear that saying "You create your own reality?" Despite all those who diss the idea, yes, indeed you can. I did and I do. In my world it is important to DO as much as you can for -- and by -- yourself to keep body and soul together, keep roofs over heads, food in the belly and clothes on the back. No, I
Fruits (actually vegetables) of my labors -
yielded 3.5 lbs shelled peas.
don't live in the 1800s -- and for this I am glad, for had I been born there, I would have actually died. I do, sometimes, appreciate modern medical advances and technology. My pain-free knees, and the medium I am using to communicate these thoughts attest to that. But in my world, most often the old ways get first crack at solving problems: herbs over drug store potions, letters, face to face meetings and at last resort digital communication over electronic summoning of disembodied voices, the fruits of ones own labors over laboring for money to buy fruit. Exercise is not something one stops working to do, but something you get from working. Meditation is not something one stops thinking to do, but something you fall into while spinning or weaving or knitting. Everything, it seems, serves more than one purpose.

Yes, it is hard work. Yes, I am often alone (but seldom lonely, thanks to this little bit of technology with which I communicate.) And yes, as I get older, it gets harder, I hurt more and more often in more places. But it is also just as satisfying a life as it has ever been, perhaps even more so.

In the modern world, where appearance seems to take the forefront and where many try to stand out by dress, or in other ways, you probably would not give me a second glance were you to pass me on the street. Internal differences, attitudes, outlooks don't often show. And I come from a long line of German witches. While we never tried to "fit in" we did not try to stand out, as many do these days. We were -- and are -- the folks that live just beyond.... just outside the routines of the mundane world, just a bit farther from town than you typically go. Those who need and really want to find us will, and do. To the rest, we remain overlooked.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Frigga's Day and Tour de Fleece

Just a quick blog post, for Frigga's Day and in honor of the Tour de Fleece which begins tomorrow in conjunction with the Tour de France cycling event. I started attending weekly knit-and-spin nights at my local yard shop, One Lupine, around about this time last year, and was intrigued by the folks who were busily spinning as part of this event.  This year, though it comes at a busy time of the year, I decided to join in.

Five of 8 bags currently full of FREE fleeces!
I know that, for the yarn shop, sponsoring a team is at least partly about making money. One Lupine sells roving (from which you can spin yarn), spinning tools, etc, as well as yarn. I also know, from having hung out with the folks at the store and some of the customers for a year now, that it is not just about making money or moving products. Everyone associated with the shop is passionate about fiber and eager to share their interest and knowledge whenever they can. As a business person, I also know that this is one of the best ways to build a loyal customer base, of which I am pleased to be a part.
...three bags full! Black, brown and
I don't buy lots of stuff -- and my main focus for my spinning projects for the Tour will involve trying to work up as much of my backlog of free fleece as I can -- but rest assured that I am hoping my current cash flow issues resolve
before the third week of the Tour -- when the "challenge week" at the store will feature a wonderful roving of yak and silk... two fibers that I would love to play with and I know I will never find offered for free -- like my fleeces -- on Freecycle or Craig's list.

Most of a fleece, in the grease,
that I am working on carding.
My first successful attempt at washing wool!
So today, in addition to working in the garden, I am hoping to get the bit of white wool that I have washed and dried processed through my new little baby drum carder. I have a decent start on the black wool which I am working in the grease ( my favorite way to card and spin wool). Above is the contents of ONE of many bags I have that I got for free, spread out on our kitchen table.
drum carder

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Connecting with "The Wild"

On Solstice just past, I attended a wonderful ritual with a local group called The Fellowship of the Wild. We met, in the rain, off a trail on land belonging to the University of Maine. It was a great event with good people, and I have been thinking about "the wild" with at least the back of my mind in the days since.

I was first introduced to the concept of "encouraging" or "allowing" the wild to be part of one's land in the 70s, by a friend who spent some time at Findhorn. This was long before they became an organized foundation and association, not long after the founders, Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean settled in an old Scottish trailer park in 1962 and began to transform the place, under the guidance of the land wights and plant devas, into an amazing garden spot. One of the first "teachings" that I recall my friend sharing, was the spirits insistence on having a spot left un-tended.

Now, I have never been any more fanatical about keeping my garden "Better Homes and Gardens" perfect than I am about keeping my dwelling to those standards, so untended areas were always about on any land I tended. I did, upon learning of the Findhorn protocol, begin deliberately setting aside a wild area and dedicating it to the spirits and wild things. And over time, I have noticed that the plants in my tended garden tend to "talk to me" more and do so more clearly.

Our "proto-forest" wild area as seen from the back field. Note the power lines running behind it; the darker forest behind
is on neighboring land, beyond a driveway.

Proto-forest wild area as seen from back deck.
Here at Fussing Duck Farm, our "wild area" is what we call the "proto-forest" in the back north east corner of the 4 acre plot. Since, as I joke, "we bought the only land in Maine without any trees," it was my intention to allow the "baby" birch, pussy willow and other woody things that were already trying to grow in that corner to continue and to possibly spread. The trees that were, at the tallest, my height in 2008 are now much taller. We use that grove as a place for offerings from our blood sacrifice (from butchering fowl for food) and as a final resting place for farm animals that die of old age or predation, when we find the remains.

Almost anyone who lives in a house on even the smallest bit of land can set aside a bit for a wild place. It really need not be any more than a square foot or so in an inconspicuous corner, deliberately left un-mowed and dedicated to the land spirits, the plant devas and /or the fae. If you feel inspired to do so, adding a flat stone in or adjacent to the wild place, can serve as an altar though even this is more for us than for "Them." It could be a place where you might put a small offering of food, or onto which you pour a libation at the turning of the year.

When I lived in an apartment with a patio or balcony, I found a larger type flower pot and mostly filled it with readily available potting soil. Then, as I went about my wanderings in my neighborhood, I gathered little bits of actual soil from here and there and added it to the mix. Keeping the "empty" pot watered for a while (when and if the rain was not sufficient) I soon had a bit of wild at my doorstep! No one ever complained about, or actually ever said anything about my "pot of weeds"... but if it had been a concern, I would have just become familiar with the botanical (Latin) names of my potted wild things, so that I could rattle them off at anyone who might have commented, fairly sure that would deflect the issue.