It's Christmas Eve, and I wish you the peace and joy that I find here on the Land. I miss my family, of course. Yet I feel perfectly content here on The Land, with the beautiful trees completely encased in shimmering ice, the pond in its deep freeze and covered with a smooth layer of white, and the cottage so inviting. I am passing along my best wishes for all of you tonight. May you be enjoying family and friends by the Christmas tree!
Jeff and Angela and kids are visiting Angela's parents - Brenda and Dave, in Grant's Pass, Oregon. They flew to Portland yesterday after having an early Christmas in Denver. (The pictures below show Jack holding his dinosaur that I bought him, Katie sleeping on the sofa with the Bears football, and Chloe holding all the furry kittens on her lap. And oh! a hilarious Santa picture with the girls crying, Jack actually content on Santa's lap, and an exhausted Santa. Only Jeff and Angela look rested and upbeat!) Angela's sister's family will be in Grant's Pass, too, so I know they are all having a great time as I write this! This is what Christmas is all about!
After I returned from Thanksgiving in Denver, I immediately went to the Acres USA convention in Springfield. I spent two days in a seminar with Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture which is Mark's very practical take on permaculture. He foresees a complete change for our industrial agriculture using his methods. Needless to say, I am a Mark Shepard groupie (see the picture with him sitting down). My seat mate was Edwin from west of Springfield who also teaches permaculture (posing with me in the next photo). Edwin is a very quiet, intelligent person and we had a delightful time. There were so many other people who I feel are my friends - a young man from Alaska who is going to be buying land somewhere in the lower 48 - perhaps Washington state or Missouri or New Mexico. Anther gentleman owned a restaurant in North Dakota, and grows most of his own produce for the restaurant. He is looking to include permaculture shrubs, trees, etc. in his long-range plan. So many neat people - a woman who inherited a vineyard in Oregon - the list goes on and on. One of the very nicest things that came from this, was to see all these people swarming around to different classes and lectures - all dyed-in-the-wool Acres USA readers who practice what they preach. That is...to farm with the health of the soil deeply in mind, including all of the ecosystem. It was heart warming to know there are so many people who care about our earth, and how they grow and eat their food. Some were vegetarians, some were there to learn how to mob graze their cattle. A huge range of people - all caring for the earth. It was inspiring!
I also took a course on holistic farm planning, and what an eye opener that was! I am presently putting together my whole farm plan which will take the Land far into the future, long after I am gone. Although Jeff has no desire to run a farm, I may ask that he manage it from a far with good managers on the land. And maybe,... just maybe... some day one of my grandchildren will want to take up where I leave off. I plan for the Land to be an educational farm. More on that later. There is so much to do! And I love it all!
I am still working on barn plans and have not come up with a definite "look" for the barn. I want it to be adorable (can barns be adorable?), but should it be a story and a half, or a two-story, or ??? I have no firm idea yet but I can tell you it is in my brain bubbling away! I plan to start digging the foundation late spring so I guess I better get my ideas to gel soon! Meanwhile I'm looking for a second farm in another state and will schedule some excursions sometime late winter. The more that is going on, the better I like it!
With the wind storms and snow we've had in November and December, I sadly lost a big portion of my old weeping willows. So Jim Bogner (in need of wood for his shop) and Jeff DeLong came out and cut up the huge limbs and took them away. It was great to have them here, and to be able to help with extra wood for warmth! It is finally dawning on me (with Mark Shepard's examples, too) that there is more than one way to run a farm. I don't have to do it all myself. In fact, I can't do it all myself, even with Dave Haury's invaluable help. (see pics of Dave plowing the lane with my little Farmall Cub) There are all kinds of ways to have animals out here, have people clean up wood I don't want, etc. That's all going to be part of my farm plan, so stay tuned!
It's frigid here - 10 below last night. As you can see one of the pictures below, I spend a lot of time working on jigsaw puzzles. I think it's little Jack's influence. I've helped him with his puzzles. Who am I kidding...Jack puts is puzzles together so much faster than I can. I really can't say I am "helping" him!
The trees and the telephone wires have been covered with a hoar frost for days. I took some pictures coming down Steward Road this afternoon. The house/barn belongs to Edith up the road. The trees, shrubs and even weeds look beautiful glowing in the late day winter sunshine! And last but least, the pictures in the last row say Merry Christmas to you! from Willow Creek Organic Farm!
May we remember at this time, we celebrate a birth of a child born two thousand years ago in a land far away who changed the entire world. He was always accepting of different people, different faiths, and had compassion for all. Let us feel His teachings in our heart tonight and tomorrow on Christmas Day and every day thereafter. Let us try not to be polarizing, let us be open to other's thoughts and opinions, let us not hate or say mean things about other people and hurt their feelings. As Hugh Downs said, "Hate is never anything but fear. If you feared no one, you would hate no one." Let us not fear anything so we will not have hate in our hearts. As Lillian Hellman said, "Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?" Both quotes are so deep and meaningful and give us much to work on. Most importantly, let us love all.
Merry Christmas, dear Reader. I love you!