Category: Farming


100_3505

“Springer Barn” Photo by Carl Johnson

I met Evelyn Johnson in 2006 while speaking out in support of saving the barns at Maple bay during a city council meeting.  She was full of energy and described herself as “the barn lady.”  Later, I purchased her book, The Barns of Old Mission Peninsula and Their Stories, and found myself immersed in a delightful series of stories stored for years beneath the rafters of these great structures.  

Earlier this year, as I began research for my own historical narrative on Old Mission, I received and invitation from the barn lady to work on quilt barn squares for some of the historic barns out on the peninsula.  Quilt barns can be found throughout the Appalachian States, where they originated as a way for people to tell the story of their community and family history and display it proudly on the side of their barns.  These barns are found traditionally off the beaten path and quickly spur the most adventurous to explore less traveled roads to learn more about the region.  

We’ve been painting all week alongside some wonderful people from our own community, all committed to sharing our story with future visitors to the Grand Traverse Region.  Yesterday, my mother-in-law, an artist, accompanied me and helped detail a square featuring cherries at its center.  It’s wonderful to see this coming together and in the next few weeks, as the remaining squares ascend, we’ll see the beginning of a new chapter in our history – a manifested adventure for people from young to old.

Photos by S. Tengelitsch

DSC_0002

A vision takes shape.DSC_0005

Anne and Christy demonstrate their technique to Popo.

DSC_0005a

Evelyn, Tina and Samantha work to finish the first coat on a square.DSC_0007

Windmill pattern.
DSC_0011

Choosing yellows.DSC_0012

Popo at 2Ladds Winery overlooking East BayDSC_0022

Stacia works on the cherries.
DSC_0024

The tape still adhered, two squares take shape.
DSC_0030

A close friend of ours was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She’s a farmer’s wife who has always been good to us and treated us like family.  She’s a second mother to me and the news hit with a ferocity unmatched by my own diagnosis.  I say that because, as with most things in life, we know what we can handle, but when the same infliction is paired with someone else, the doubt we shelved on our own behalf is more easily recovered.  

And then there’s an anger that resides in the memory of what it was like to survive cancer.  The horror of it, the fear that will emerge and the knowledge you can’t fight it for them.  At the same time, the experience of cancer can draw out strengths we didn’t know we had and it’s a comfort to know our friend will experience, in her hardest battle, a courage that everything else will, eventually, surrender to.  

When you are diagnosed, your battle isn’t to fight the disease, but to fight to remain in the moment; to stave off the need to know what lies ahead, to find solace supplied by each breath unaware, as we all are, whether ill or healthy, of what future we’ll meet around the next corner.  That is primary.

Secondary is our need to survive by whatever means we find acceptable.  And for those co-survivors, there are no sidelines.  It’s our duty to our loved ones that helps us focus on the here and now and survive alongside them.  We find our own courage – a word that reflects a strength that does not come from muscle or brawn, but from the heart.  And again, as I discovered emerging from my own illness, we find ourselves feeling fortunate having come to some understanding that we are all in this together.  And that is something cancer will never destroy.

Yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Empire to witness the release of an adolescent eagle back in to the wild.  Despite not having the characteristic coloring of an adult eagle, she was still a beautiful, powerful presence.  A few hundred people were there and we all cheered as the magnificent bird soared skyward.  

dsc_0050dsc_0051

Following the eagle, Erick and I took the girls over to the big lake and collected stones and watched a lone freighter pass quietly in the distance.  The water was a vibrant hue – a turquoise blue.  

dsc_0075

dsc_0073dsc_0070dsc_00721

The sun was setting as we left for Boones in Glen Arbor (yum).  And on the way back, I captured my farm at dusk.  The wind turbine moved slowly on a light breeze.  Love that place.  

dsc_0085dsc_0101dsc_0102

The girls were sleepy on the way home.  

And finally, a photo of Grandpa and me at Thanksgiving.

dsc_0021

Yesterday, Dianna and I went out to a farm west of town and met a couple who have two beautiful horses boarded there.   It wasn’t all that far from the house, but off the road a ways and tucked between other larger farms so that you felt like you were in the middle of nowhere.  I befriended a thoroughbred gelding who was cribbing.  When my hands reached through his new winter coat, I found nothing but ribs.  His hips protruded through his new coat.  He had no muscle mass on either thigh.  

Cribbing is defined as a “vice in which the horse bites or places its upper incisor teeth on some solid object, pulls down, arches his neck, and swallows gulps of air which go into the stomach, not the lungs.”  It generates a high for the horse and can kill them over time when the air in their stomach makes them feel “full” and reduces their urge to eat.  

There are cribbing collars which prevent the horse from angling their necks out and taking in large gulps of air.  Why this horse isn’t wearing one at this stage is beyond me.  I hope to find out in the next few days if there’s some way of getting him one to save his life.  Unfortunately with the economy in this shape, horses in particular are suffering. 

I’m also wondering about animals seeking out a high.  I’ve seen hot-blooded horses do this by pacing – they get a sort of “runner’s high” from it.  And I wonder how anyone could think horses aren’t intelligent when they search for the same way out so many humans seek out when it seems there is no way out.  

For now, my focus is that gelding.

Avocado Seed

I’m attempting once again to grow an avocado tree from seed.  This time I’m going to wait the WHOLE six weeks before giving up.  I’ve not yet been successful, but I also didn’t realize little avocados gestate for so long. I’m concerned because while inserting the toothpicks, the seed cracked a little.  Does anyone know whether this is okay or should I try another seed?  I suppose I should try several seeds.  That would be more scientific.  

*Avocado Nutrition Facts*

Avocados contain just 5 grams of fat per serving. 

Avocados contain NO cholesterol and NO sodium.

Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas! 

Avocados are high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and folate.

In addition to the Carolina house, we’re considering an old farmhouse a little closer to Charlotte (still a 40-min commute).  It’s a neat house with a slate roof and a fireplace in every room along with some of the worst wallpaper of the century (and cats- lots of cats).  The house comes with 2.76 acres and some old out-buildings, nut trees, peach and apple trees and road frontage named for the farmstead.  

Asking price is well below recent appraisal and the house seems very solid, but I didn’t get the same warm-fuzzies I get with the Carolina Ave. house.  I think mostly, it’s the presence of the people and the wallpaper detracting from the original structure. I’d show you additional photos, but the rooms were in a very messy state.  The house has been updated and is “move-in ready,” as they say.  Even our youngest has been spouting real estate lingo:  “Location, location, location,” she repeated over and over again last night. 

For photos, please visit our flickr site


 

Okay, I know it’s escapism, but Erick and I have been going back and forth with the notion of moving to New Zealand, known to the eloquent natives as “The Land of the Long White Cloud.”  It is a country thick with native culture, governed by a woman and governed symbolically by a queen.  NZ is home to several organic farms and was one of the first countries to initiate WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) International programs, which began in New Zealand in 1974 and supplies volunteers with opportunities to live and work on the farm, while traveling to foreign states or countries. I worked on a WWOOF farm and it’s one of the best ways to get to know locals and folks from out of town who share a love of farming and a passion for learning about sustainability.  

Imagine living cradled by a mountain with a view of the sea – NZ seems like a perfect nest perched on the edge of the world with a spectacular view of the sea and heavens.  Yeah, we’d have to visit first and even a visit could be quite a production.  Imagine moving across the world!  How strange, how wonderful, adventurous.  Would it make travel to other countries easier?  Probably not, but it might encourage us, having taken the first step to relocate to a foreign land to investigate further this incredible world around us. 

According to Wiki, NZ is home to plenty of unique flora, birds and wildlife.  And they have sharks.  How can you go wrong with sharks outside of the water?  The climate on the North Island is mild, dry.  The government is extremely protective of its fragile ecosystem, which means it recognizes the value inherent in preserving an ecosystem in the first place.  Go Kiwis!

Anyway, just some thoughts about why I might consider traveling across the US and over an ocean to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud, even if for only a week.

Rennie Orchards

My first website made with Mac’s iWeb software: Please visit Rennie Orchards.

4_08-002.jpg

My oldest thought it wise to sketch an idea for her room.  She’s only six and already drawing perspective!  And FYI, she explained, “Mama, I added face pillows, but my pillows won’t have faces.”

4_08-005.jpg

 

4_08-006.jpg

An echo of a former life, remnants of the original paper could still be seen on the walls.

4_08-007.jpg

Some say demolition, I say POTENTIAL.
4_08-031.jpg

The next house we toured was on a nice piece of land not far from town.  Six+ acres with three individual creeks and totally fenced for horses.  It was beautiful.  The land was ecologically diverse and the perfect setting for continuing with Healing Tree.

4_08-027.jpg

At the rear of the house was a beautiful little girl making a funny face while standing near a gazebo.  I liked everything about the exterior of this house, but wasn’t impressed with the interior.  However, for the right price, I think this could be a great buy.  It’s definitely on my top three.

4_08-001.jpg

We no longer have stairs, so we made them with DVD cases so Gug-bug could watch the slinky walk.  She said, “It’s alive!”

Something I’ve noticed about the city: There’s a lot of glass.  Most of the buildings have minimalist railways, doors, divisions, so as to express the enormity of space stretching out before you.  It isn’t obvious, and certainly it’s not the kind of thing I would ordinarily mention, but today I ran into my second plate-glass window and it got me thinking that I should pay more attention.  It’s so embarrassing!

In other news, we’re on the hunt for a condo in Uptown.  We met with a Realtor who shows rental properties.  In the next month, we’ll need to move into a larger space and move our belongings down from Michigan.  This is the next step before a purchase either in Uptown or outside of town.  It’s too early to make any major decisions, so we’re just hoping to find something comfortable and spacious enough for our table.  Uptown is pricey, so we’ll be fortunate if we can even find something affordable.

I bought an ivy and umbrella plant this afternoon for some greenery.  Wherever we land, I really need access to dirt and planters and room outside or enough sunlight to sustain some greens.  I’m going to do some research into that permaculture farm an hour north of Charlotte.  If I can’t have a planter, maybe I can spend some time learning on a working farm.