Last week Katie decided to walk. She has been literally hopping around on her knees for months but she took the Big Step, so to speak. See pictures above on how she decided to do it. Jack has been standing for hours on end playing with his toys but hasn't taken that first step yet. Angela says he seems pretty close to doing so. As you can see in the photos of Katie, Jack also enjoys sprawling on the floor! Chloe is all over everywhere and seems quite happy to be pushing her babies in the twin stroller I gave to them at Christmas. (And look at who may be our red-head!) The last photo shows all three of the kids in their new lower level playroom sitting in their chairs (well, except for Chloe). They love their chairs. Jack is not in his own chair but they share well.
The 4th row of pictures show the January look of the Land. It is cold now and the photos show it! Not much snow. In fact its getting to be a real worry. But of course, all we need is a good snow storm and then some nice spring rains and everything will change. Still... it's so strange not to have but a total of 1-2 inches of snow so far.
I have been cleaning up several areas around the run-off creek and Willow Creek. There is a lot of work to do! As my neighbor said several years ago, "Couldn't you do some preventative maintenance?"Well...now I am! We are cutting dead branches away from the fence line, cutting down small box elder trees which are falling over, leaving a short stump to hold the soil. They will be the first ones to tear away from the soil when we have a good flood (and we will definitely have another flood someday) so I'm doing some "preventative maintenance" to reduce the damage done by a future flood. Nature will still flood my neighbor's land because he built up a low area for his airstrip and the forces of nature being what they are, they will not be abated when the full fury of a flood is upon us. ("full fury of a flood"- how do you like that for alliteration?)
I attended the Specialty and Organic Conference in Springfield last week. I was surprised and gratified that the president of Illinois Organic Grower's Association started off our annual meeting recognizing me for the article I wrote in the December issue of Acres USA. ("Chemcial Cowboys," page 4). It was a good conference and I met some really lovely people. My faith in farmers is going up, as more and more chemical farmers become interested in using fewer pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
And then! Yesterday down at my property next to Beemerville Bridge I met with an employee from ComEd who was looking at some old poles on my land (they turned out to be poles belonging to the telephone company), and lo! and behold! he started asking me about my organic farm. It turns out he farms west of Mendota on 400 acres. I immediately knew that with 400 acres he would definitely be spraying pesticides but as it turns out, he will not spray insecticides or fungicides. His sister is a doctor in Chicago and she says that Parkinson's, Alstiemers (spelling...because I probably have it!), cancers, etc. are all caused by the horrible amounts of organophosphates from these chemicals that we consume. He keeps bees and only uses a little herbicide. When I first said to him, "Oh, so you have 400 acres, you must spray pesticides,"he looked at me and said, "Oh, no, you see, it's all about the health of the soil..." Well! I nearly fell over! He works with Midwestern BioAg in Princeton and does cover crops, adds nutrients to his soils, etc. He said last year was his best year yet - so much for the drought!
Wow, Illinois farmers! There is hope after all!!!!!
Dear Reader, if you can stand more "agriculture" then let me gush on and on about the new book I just finished, "Restoration Agriculture" by Mark Shepard. I am dedicating The Land to restoration agriculture! It's something Jack and I have really been doing for the last 40 years anyway, so why not continue it? Now I have a road map of how to accomplish edible permaculture farming and I am looking forward to it. I am not just doing this for me, but for Katie, Chloe and Jack's grandchildren - and THEIR grandchildren.
So, congratulations Land! This is the 40th year since the Heim's have owned you. And all the Heims (here on earth and in Heaven) are happy knowing the trees, shrubs and vines I plant today will continue on for many more years, restoring the health of the soil, keeping the rains on this land and eventually providing food for animals and humans. What more could one ask for? It's time to "skin away the old and found the new! The world we experience is renewing itself. We skin away what is past and done with, challenge our old ideas and experiences. We go into solution..."
You, dear Reader, are most welcome to be part of this. It will take patience and far-sidedness so I need you with me. Just because we are aging doesn't mean we have to become stuck in a rut. Change is good! Restoration Agriculture is a perfect way to Change. It's good for all of us, dear Reader!