Saturday, January 2, 2010

In which I join in the fun at "Sunday Stills" and my first challenge is FOOD

Every week, bloggers all over the world respond to a challenge issued by Ed at Sunday Stills, taking the opportunity to pick up the camera and use it. The challenge this week is food -- a good place for me to begin!

Madeline and Jill are home from college for the holidays. When we all get together, we like to make a big pot of soup.
Soup isn't just the best food in the world--it's also the best food for celebrating, because everyone can help assemble it. I don't use a recipe. We just hack up all the stuff that looks good, add water and hang out together for a few hours while it turns into magic food.

For New Year's, Jim and Willy and I attended a Science Fiction Potluck at a friend's house. We all dressed up as aliens and brought weird foods.
These little round guys were very tasty. No bones, but the eyeballs were crunchier than I expected.

This dish is very crunchy and sweet. The spines are mildly venomous. The green stuff is an anti-toxin.
Invertebrates were a popular contribution to the feast. These Galdoran mollusks tasted a lot like peanut butter.
For the carrion-eaters at the feast, a nice jellied brain.

Bajoran Tuwaly Pie
The plomeek-root casserole got eaten before I got a good photo, and the alien dirt was delicious, but blurry in the photos, perhaps because of the pan-dimensionality of the recipe.

But seriously, folks. This is a Farm Blog! How about some farm food?

These peanutbutter and birdseed fir cones are dangling from the apple trees in the orchard. The bluejays are insanely happy when I hang up new cones.

For the domestic animals:

Goatmeal and chicken crunchies, anyone?
I feed sixteen animals singlehandedly every morning (Jim feeds at night), so the stacking of buckets has become a science for me.
This stack contains two hay buckets, and two grain rations for the horses...the goats will help eat this stuff, too, of course. The whole concept of "somebody else's food = better than my food" is taken to a high artform by goats.

I'm a tooluser.
I stack up all the buckets and wheel the whole contraption around the yard to dispense rations, all the while thinking of the food trolley on the Hogwarts Express.

I wonder what the goats would think about Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans?

Tucked in on top of the smaller bucket is a grocery bag of kitchen scraps for the chickens. Today's bag contains assembly parts from the plomeek casserole, which looks remarkably like butternut squash rind, apple cores, and bits of rosemary and garlic.
It doesn't look that great to me,
...but the hens are quite enthusiastic.

More food that doesn't look like food to me:

Neighbors gave us their decorative pumpkins after Hallowe'en. Our chickens love pumpkins! The crows have been nibbling this saggy one as it waits to be scooped up and thrown into the chicken pen.

Of course, at the other end of the food scrap bucket is the payoff: beautiful, brown eggs for breakfast back in the house!

Can you identify this? I like to serve it with eggs, especially on a cold morning.
Okay, here's another shot:

The steam from the hot tea kept fogging up my lens.

I guess that means I should turn off the camera and eat breakfast now.

Life is good.

In which I share a story-gift: "How the Little Dog got a cold nose"

This is a story about dogs, and about rain. It seems appropriate to tell this story in January, when I sit by the fire with my warm dogs and their cold, wet noses.

How the Little Dog got a Cold Nose

When a man named Noah started building a boat in the middle of the desert, people laughed.

People thought he was nuts.

Noah wasn't listening to people.

Noah was listening to God, and God said “Build a boat.” So Noah built a boat.

Noah called his boat an ark, and when it was finished, he rounded up all the animals, two by two.

People laughed at the possums and panthers and penguins.
They laughed at the cheetahs and chinchillas, giraffes and gazelles, and rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses.

But the animals weren’t listening to people.

The animals were listening to God, and God said, “Get on the boat.” So, they got on the boat, all the animals, two by two.

Pretty soon, it started to rain. It rained, and it poured, and it rained some more.

People stopped laughing and the ark started floating.

Noah and his family and all the animals, two by two, rode safely on the waters. They sailed for 40 days and 40 nights.

When the rains finally stopped, out of the ark came Noah and his family and all of the animals, two by two...except one.

No one could find the little dog.

Noah searched everywhere. He looked on the first deck. He looked on the second deck, then the third deck.

Finally, in the farthest corner in the lowest deck, he found the little dog.

The dog was shivering and standing with his nose pressed hard against the side of the boat.

"Come here, little dog!" called Noah. "It's time to come out! Come on out, little dog!"

But the little dog wouldn't move.

Noah gently pulled him away from the side of the boat.

Then Noah saw what the dog had been doing.

"What's this?" said Noah. "Plugging up a hole in the ark with your nose? The ark might have sunk! Little dog! You kept us safe me, my family, and all of the animals, two by two with your little nose!"

"Little dog," said Noah, "you will always live with people to help them through the cold, wet times.

"And so that people will always remember your bravery, your nose will always be cold and wet, just as it is today.”

That's how the dog got his cold, wet nose.

When you feel it, remember the little dog who used his nose to protect Noah, his family, and all of the animals, two by two.

Friday, January 1, 2010

In which I share a story-gift: "The Tailor's Coat" - learn to tell it too!

A traditional story that you can hear storytellers telling all over the world. And hey: at the end of the story, you will be able to tell it, too. Not a bad thing for a new year, huh?

The Tailor’s Coat
There once was a tailor who spent his life making beautiful clothes for other people to wear.

He made clothes out of soft velvet, shiny satin, and he used beautiful threads of silver and gold to make pretty dresses, and splendid shirts and ever so many other things.

One day, when he was cleaning up his shop, he found a box of beautiful cloth scraps left over from the fine clothes he had made over the years.

None of the pieces were big enough to make anything by themselves, but if he sewed the scraps together, there was enough to make a fine coat for himself to wear in his retirement.

And that is what he did.

He stitched and he sewed and he sewed and he stitched and by the morning time he had made himself a beautiful coat.

When he wore his coat into the market, everyone admired it so much that the tailor decided to wear the new coat everywhere.

And that's what he did--he wore it, and wore it, and wore it, until it was all worn out.

Or was it?

He looked closely at his coat, and discovered that there was just enough good cloth left in it to make a jacket.

The tailor set to work that evening.

He stitched and he sewed, he sewed and he stitched, and by the next morning he had made a very fine jacket, and when he wore his new jacket, everyone admired it so much that the tailor decided to wear it everywhere.

And that's what he did--he wore it, and wore it, and wore it, until it was all worn out.

Or was it?

He looked carefully at the jacket, and discovered that there was just enough good cloth in it to make a vest.

The tailor set to work that evening, and he stitched and he sewed and he sewed and he stitched, and the next morning he had finished making a very fancy vest.

Everyone admired it so much that the tailor decided to wear the fancy vest everywhere. And that's what he did--he wore it, and wore it, and wore it, until it was all worn out.

Or was it?

He looked carefully at the vest, and discovered that there was just enough good cloth in it to make a hat.

He stayed up all night, and he stitched and he sewed and he sewed and he stitched and by the morning time he had made a beautiful hat.

And the hat was so fine and sparkling that the tailor decided to wear his new hat verywhere.

And that's what he did--he wore it, and wore it, and wore it, until it was all worn out.

Or was it?

When he looked at the hat, there was not much material left in it. But there was just enough to make a shining button to wear on his shirt.

So that’s what he did : he stitched and he sewed and he sewed and he stitched and he made himself a beautiful button.

In fact, it was so beautiful that he wore it everywhere. He wore it, and wore it, and wore it until it was all worn out.

Or was it?

The tailor took the ragged button in his hands and held it up in the sunlight, where the sparkling threads shone brightly.

Just then, the wind came up and before he could close his hands, the threads from the button floated up and away...

...and there was only enough left to make a story.

And that is exactly what he did. And now you have the story for your very own.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

In which I share a story-gift: "Accuracy" - a timely story

If you stay up late tonight to watch the shiny ball fall, I want you to tell this story to somebody while you're waiting. Okay?


A certain soldier had the job of firing a gun at six o'clock every evening.

He had done this job for many years and he was proud of his efficiency and time-keeping.

The government appointed a "Commission on Accuracy" (a very strange thing for a government to do, you might think) and the Commission made inquiries into the time-keeping of the soldier.

"This is what I have done for many years past," he told them, "Every day, at a quarter to six, I stop in front of the clock-maker's window in the village. I set my watch by the big grandfather clock that stands in the window. Then I walk up the hill. At one minute to six I step out to the gun, which has been made ready, and at six o'clock exactly, I fire.

All this being very satisfactory, it only remained to question the clock-maker:"This is a most wonderful clock," he told them, "It is the most accurate clock in the world. Clock-makers from all over the country come to look at it, indeed from all over Europe and from over the seas.

"How do I know it's so accurate? Why, every day at six o'clock a gun is fired, up on the hill, and I look at this clock, and it always says exactly six o'clock!"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In which the New Year approaches, and I don't write a "Holiday Card"

Every year we get a few "Holiday Letters from Our Family" in the mailbox.

You know the kind: a 1- or 2-page brag sheet for the most perfect and highly-accomplished family on the planet, disguised as a holiday greeting card, telling about everybody's perfect grades in school, everybody's major promotion at work, etc. etc.
Humbug, sez I.

And yet....

2009 has been a heckuva year. Why, at the beginning of 2009, "Haiku Farm" didn't even exist.


If I were the type of person to send a "Holiday Letter from Our Family", this would be a good year to send it!

But I'm not. I'm the type of person who blogs. So, I'm gonna write a blog post about this entire year....because it was really a good one!

January, 2009 Isn't this sweet? An aerial photo of the farm, with our hopes and dreams scribbled all over it. Yup, the barn will go right soon as the Money Fairy klonks us a couple more times.

February 2009: A view of the pasture and house, before the fences were installed.

March, 2009: Good news came in batches! We bought the farm, moved the household, and got a great kid, all in the same week. Willy came to live with us when the ink was still damp on the first mortgage payment.

There was so much work to do. We pruned as much of the orchard with handtools as possible, and then Jim and Willy went to work with the chainsaw.
Building fences seemed to take forever. I pounded so many t-posts that I dreamed about t-post pounders for a month.
We also used Larger Tools to build parts of the fence

April 2009 : We added dozen Minerva Louises to our farm!

May 2009 : We planted a garden, which was not a complete failure, and we apparently totally sidestepped the tomato curse.

Summer 2009 : The horses came home at last!
We had some great parties.
We took some lessons and learned some stuff.

We went camping, and built trails....

...and went camping just to have fun and relax.

August 2009 : things weren't silly enough around here. We got goats.

September 2009 : the First Egg.

Winter 2009: our Minervas produce an average of 9 eggs each day.

We celebrated the winter holidays by toasting with a bottle of Round and Red, Jim's first batch of cherry wine, made from our own orchard cherries. That's a picture of Hana on the label--our roundest and reddest resident.

Didn't you know this already?

Life is GOOD!

Happy New Year!

In which I share a story-gift: "The Nomad's Dream" which gives some advice

I love this story, and haven't the faintest idea where I learned it. Ah, well.

The nomads' dream

A group of nomads were discussing their dreams from the previous night, and discovered that they had all dreamed the same thing.

In the dream, a voice, like the voice of God, had said to each of them: "Gather up stones from the morning camp, gather pebbles and rocks from the morning camp, and carry these stones and pebbles and rocks all the day in your saddlebags. When you reach the evening camp, you will be both happy and sad."

They agreed that it was an important dream, although none of them understood it.

Some were puzzled, for gathering rocks seemed such a silly thing to do.

Some were angry, for surely a true dream should be significant, yet they could not see the significance

Some were resigned, for they had no understanding and did not hope to gain it.

Yet they all gathered some stones, some pebbles, some rocks, and put them in their saddlebags, and carried them all the day.

At the end of the day's travels, when the nomads unpacked their saddlebags to make camp for the night, they discovered that all of the stones, all of the pebbles, all of the rocks which they had gathered had turned into diamonds, into rubies, into sapphires.

They were happy indeed to have the valuable gems.

They were also sad that they had not gathered up more rocks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In which I share a story gift: "The Dogs Choose a King" : for dog-lovers

I know lots of versions of this story. Someday I'll settle down and tell them all!

Think of this story when you're attending holiday parties and are introduced to a bunch of new people. Just don't tell them why you are smiling....

The Dogs Choose a King

The dogs held a council to elect a king.

But how should a king be chosen?

The collies thought that the king should be the cleverest dog.

The retrievers thought that a swimming contest should be held to determine the king.

The poodles thought that the cutest dog should be king.

They argued and debated for many hours until at last, an old mutt said, “I think that, since the dog-king will be a leader, the king should be the dog with the best-smelling tail. After all, that’s the part that the rest of us will be nearest.

All the dogs agreed that this was the best suggestion, and they immediately started looking for the dog with the best-smelling tail.

But all those dog tails smelled so good—how could they choose?

The dogs still haven’t chosen a king.

Even today, when dogs meet each other, they sniff tails to determine “should you be the king? Or should I be the king?”

Monday, December 28, 2009

In which I share a story gift: "Fishing" for those who need silliness

This is an old favorite story. I think I got my version of it from Garrison Keillor.


There were once two good friends who went rented a boat and went fishing.

They spent an enjoyable afternoon and caught some fine fish.

When the sun began to set, and the fishermen were starting to get a little sleepy, they brought out the thermos of coffee, and added its contents to the cups of whiskey they'd been drinking all day as they fished.

Alas, the whiskey had a head start on the coffee, and one of the fishermen accidentally dropped the thermos over the side of the boat.

"You fool," said his friend, "that was my wife's thermos, and she'll be plenty mad to learn that we've lost it. The water is too dark and cold tonight, and we'll never find this spot again in the morning!"

"Don't worry," said the buddy, taking out a pocketknife. "I'll mark the side of the boat, so we'll be able to tell exactly where we dropped it."

"That's no good!" said his friend. "Suppose tomorrow they give us a different boat?"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In which I share a story gift: "The Girl with Wings" : for all my children

Storyteller and author George Shannon told me a bare-bones version of this story in 1995. He said that a friend sent it to him on the back of a postcard, and he didn't know what to do with it.

I know what to do with it: tell it. share it. live it. give it away! I've been telling this story for that many years; it is always my most-requested tale.

The Girl With Wings

Once there was born a girl with wings.


Can you imagine it?

Of course, at first the wings were just tiny stubs, barely visible at all, but very soon it was apparent to everyone: this girl had wings.

The neighbors came to visit, as neighbors will do, and when the neighbors saw the wings, they were appalled.

“What a horrible disfigurement for such a beautiful baby!” said the neighbors. “Of course you will have them removed immediately!”

But the parents said that they were content to wait and see.

And they sent the neighbors away very politely.

The child grew, as children will do, and she learned to smile and she learned to crawl.

The wings grew too, and sprouted pretty white feathers.

And the neighbors returned, as neighbors will do.

And when the neighbors saw the wings, the neighbors were dismayed.

“You’d best be clipping those wings,” said the neighbors, “so that they don’t get in the way of that child as she grows.”

But the parents again said that they were content to wait and see what happened.

And they sent the neighbors away again, a little more firmly this time.

The child grew, as children will do, and she learned to crawl and to walk and to run and to ride a bicycle.

And the wings grew too, and trailed behind her in a blaze of white and gold feathers that shone in the sun.

And the neighbors returned, as neighbors will do.

And the neighbors were very distressed by the wings.

“She’ll be starting school soon, and if you don’t bind those wings back tightly, we’re afraid that the other children will tease her because she looks so different. We don’t understand why you haven’t done this before!

"We are only thinking of the child’s welfare—what can you be thinking?”

“Actually,” said the parents, “we were thinking of teaching her to fly.”