Happy Equinox when the relationship between daylight and night dark hours are exactly equal on Planet Earth. This took place at  3:28 AM PST on March 20th, 2017 the position where we are located on the large blue ball we call home. This is the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Calendar, Uranus in Aries will be with us for this year, Jupiter is still in Libra and Mars in Taurus will accompany us until April 21st meaning slow and steady does it, balance is key, don’t get pulled into over the top drama or divisiveness and allow the energy of Mars (in its detriment in Taurus) to yield to the methodical steady pace of our bullish friend.

I remembered that when we loaded 2 Ton of A+ lumber into the large rental truck in Seattle last weekend. Bound for our place where it was unloaded two days later to keep safe and dry until we need it.

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Tonight as the sun set (it’s moving fast now) and the coral and pink colors touched the sky I walked to the top of the driveway to admire the place where I live. We’ve had 6″ of rain in six weeks and the local paper says 30″ of snow for the season which is finally over, since today’s thermometer registered 72o F and the ground is warm enough to start planting. Our dirt & gravel road is still closed, having taken quite a beating this February and may remain so for some time as continual rain is forecast for at least the next two weeks. Our annual rainfall is 9″ – 12″ so when the snow suddenly melted and the rain kept coming the ground hit its saturation point and the whole area morphed into a loess mud cocktail thick enough to get our backhoe stuck trying to help a neighbor. It’s calving time and he was extremely frustrated that his truck, and his backhoe were knee deep in dirt pudding, the feed truck with hay still on it was up to its back axle.

Eventually, four hours later, a large combine came lumbering down the road and pulled us all out. Repair time for our backhoe which blew a few hoses, the radiator and another cush baring.

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I wandered down the driveway picking up stranded worms and depositing them in soft workable soil and rounded the north end of the shop into the orchard to close the door to the straw bale chicken coop; thanking my girls and the rooster for all their help today, because without them, I’d have much more work than one person can do to get the ground prepped for spring. Feeding the outside cats was the next step – an easy task with a can of food and the nightly song which I learned from Will, and the cats listen for the song and the tappity tap tap of the spoon on the can keeping time with the rhythm of the song. Over to Bitsy who lives in the large earth berm greenhouse and I see an errant chicken has gotten herself stuck (not for long) in the fenced-in syrup tree field. She screams and whoops and runs circles in the enclosure, the rest of her 14 compatriots have already put themselves to bed and by the time I’m done feeding Bitsy the hen has freed herself and is inside the small coop. I put the three trays of starts inside the green house and notice the cabbages and chard have received a trimming from this flock of wild chickens and make a mental note to feed them more greens. The two flocks are different both in behavior and favorite foods, the domestic chickens are much more likely to try to gorge themselves on cracked corn and generally walk away from greens from the kitchen.

I have to say I love having two flocks of chickens and feel like we’ve finally settled into a very decent set up of two good stocks and the occasional back and forth chorus of two roosters crowing doesn’t bother me. I knew nothing about chickens three years ago and made my share of mistakes when looking for and purchasing my first sets of older hens, then poults. The results were heartbreaking for me because I spent more time doing what I felt like was hospice and tending to irreversible health issues for adopted chickens already sick upon arrival, more than anything else.

the gang

wild chickens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic flock in the Orchard                                      Wild flock in the Green House area

I frequently thank the girls for their eggs and the fact that I no longer have to depend on a store for that portion of my food. I don’t eat my chickens and don’t judge others that do and that feels right.

We had to run to town yesterday over the pot holes and washouts to mail a check that will pay for the last of my things to be sent from Ithaca NY to here in a container and were pretty hungry when we got back.

It took a total of ten minutes to prepare; get the knife and cutting board out, heat the iron skillet, hit it with avocado oil, dispense with the Walla Walla onions, into the pan to caramelize, grab the brassica combo; broccoli leaves and crowns emerging from last year, collard greens, & kale (I picked from Dawn’s yard last weekend in between loading 2 Ton of first rate lumber for transport to the east side of the mountains), cut off the ends and place those into the Folger’s can for feeding the red worms later,

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Chiffonade the greens (that way they’ll cook faster and more evenly in the egg mixture), crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and throw the shells in the sink, add cream, salt, pepper & nutmeg,

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turn the oven on, check the onions, give them a stir and a flip exposing the brown sides, salt, pepper them, rinse out the egg shells and place them upside down on a plate to dry over the wood stove (later they will be placed into the egg shell jar and await they’re turn on the key-up for crushing and feeding back to the chickens),

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rinse the knife and cutting board and place to dry, dump the greens on top of onions after giving them one more stir exposing the caramelized sides and keeping them in an even and orderly layer on the bottom,

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5 minutes of the greens wilting then pour in the egg mix, 5 minutes more and the whole pan goes into the oven, counter cleaned and you’re done.

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The systems are getting easier now. What used to be arduous is now automatic and free flowing. It’s a matter of transitioning. It’s a matter of relationship.

If I understand and accept that humans are limited in their capabilities and time (which they are) to all things which encircles them in the constant vortex of ‘progress’, novelty and consumerism, an alternative trajectory and thus coordinates can be defined. So, now, I can choose to re-frame my life by doing less of that; feeding the centralized system with my life energy and redefine what a new trajectory might look like; slow down, think, reject debt, work honestly, know my limits, understand my resources, release superficial relationships, deepen relationships with those beings right in front of me, embrace place, have compassion.

In this age of contracting resources, population overshoot, and collapsing centralized systems, finding a new way to live and be present for one another on a deeper level is a very wise direction to take. It’s not that hard to understand really; there are no animals or environmental systems that elect to distribute more energy out than they can be assured of taking in, that would be suicide. In the Industrialized World, the majority of humans commit energy suicide every day of their lives.

What I have learned is that to insist otherwise is a lot like the joke told in 12 step settings that has to do with the addict letting go of ideas around the life of addiction: how do you know an addict is letting go of something? Answer: they leave claw marks. There are an awful lot of people right now in the process of leaving claw marks; insisting that our way of life must remain intact without understanding the underpinnings of how that life came to be: cheap to extract sunlight from the ground for the last 8 decades is now coming to a close. We can thrash in our own sense of entitlement shouting demands or we can let go gracefully and turn towards a new way of living.

I welcome the transition of power to rebirth itself as prayer and abundance, acceptance leading the way, balance and strategy charting the course, curiosity and creativity emboldened to participate, truth and honesty ready to do the work. This merry band of nouns; knowing what lies ahead entrains the Year of the Rooster, with all its wit and humor, to join them on the trail.

cheers,

Sheila