“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

There are no bookstores in my area. They are all gone.

The last bookstore I was in was during a visit to State College last November. My sister took me to one in a cellar somewhere near the Penn State campus. My bearings are not what they used to be. It may have been on Beaver Street.

Stepping down the concrete stairway, the smell of dust and musty paper brought me home. It was a used book store; a maze of unfinished pine board book cases that faced all directions and could make anyone claustrophobic. On them were squeezed together a few zillion paperbacks about anything you can think of. Worn, faded, stained and dog-eared.  Novels, classics, kids stories, history, sports, religion, lgbt, literature, politics, poetry, documentary, and on and on.  Someone’s trash, someone’s treasure.  This place was a gold mine.

My sister and I were looking for “Slaughterhouse -5”. My sister had never read it, or any of Kurt Vonnegut’s books for that matter. We thumbed and searched through the first few book shelves of paperbacks that we saw, and not seeing it, we asked a woman there stacking books if she knew if there might be a copy somewhere. “No, we did, we have…anything we get in by Kurt Vonnegut goes out fast. People must really like him.” So it goes. People still like Billy Pilgrim.

In the hidden spaces between shelves were uneven legged tables that rocked when leaned on. Like the books, they were the kinds that are salvaged from the curb on garbage day. At one of the tables four people sat talking and knitting. I could just tell that this was where they often met, maybe to rest from the forced pace of life that went on up the stairs we had just come down.  Three women and one man. Simply knitting. They had no cell phones or ipods or laptops out on the table. They reminded me of some Quakers I know. I couldn’t stop thinking that this was a place that Quakers would go.

Near the table I was standing on a short step ladder looking at books about world war one that were on a top shelf. I read a lot about the Great War. It’s not the military aspect of the world war years that I am interested in, but the social aspects of the time, and how cultures were changed. Anyhow, I saw a familiar title…“Over the Top” by Arthur Guy Empery. Actually I had never read the “book”. I have read the digital copy on my Kindle, maybe three times now. I had never thought of it as a book, with pages and binding….Even though I have missed being in book stores and being around books, I realized that I hadn’t been a book person for some time. I had changed. I read on a Kindle, not paper. This really sunk in, especially that now I was standing in a book store that was as much as that as it was an antique store.

And I got to thinking too, that even though I had Slaughterhouse- 5, I couldn’t lend it to my sister…it was on my Kindle and couldn’t be passed around, handed down, or put on a shelf where it could have a new life 10 or 20 or 50 years from now. My version would always be data, but never a book. Never would it be dog-eared, worn, stained, or faded….

So much has changed and is changing.

I don’t know whether change is good or bad or if it even needs judging. But I know that I am old enough to miss some things, like bookstores when it was just as much about gathering with friends as it was about the books on the shelves and those we could share and pass around. I do miss going though shelves and stacks looking at and for books, discovering something new, or old. The closest I get to that now is scrolling on Amazon. Amazon’s got more subjects and books than I could find almost anywhere else, but it’s not the same. I don’t expect it to be. I accept that everything changes, but I hope some things, like books, don’t change so much that they are only downloads. That would be too much change. And at least for me, I don’t think it’d be a very good one.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3, 2012

I have been thinking about how lucky we were at the farm during Hurricane Sandy. Overall we had no real damage to speak of. We had spent a lot of time in preparation bringing things in, boarding up the stables, tying down bee hives, and cleaning field drains, which I think was a big help. We had extra feed for the animals, and stored about 200 gallons of water for them in case the electricity went out, but luckily that didn’t come to being.

About the only thing I had to attend to was ‘ol Lou who became lame with a hoof abscess (cleared up now). The goats didn’t mind the wind but as all goats go, they didn’t like getting wet so stayed in their shelter for the duration with a bale of hay to eat. After the storm they were so full of hay they turned up their noses at the grain! The chickens were protected from the wind by their shed, and most of them stayed out in the tempest sucking down worms, etc – the chickens just didn’t care at all, and even laid a few eggs which did surprise me...I thought the storm would stress ‘em out and shut them down but it didn’t. And then the ducks - to them all the rain and wind amounted to a great surprise party! They were almost too happy.

Water did come up a bit toward the back of the property were it slopes off to the lowland forest, but not enough to concern me. And we lost a few branches from a tree or two, but again, nothing unordinary.

It was a bad storm. I watched the wind bend our trees over and it rained sideways for hours and hours. At times it was down right scary. I know a lot of people who lost their cars and homes to flooding, roads are still closed from damage and debris, many are still waiting for the electric to come back on...and that’s why I say I we were lucky at the farm, and to be honest, I am not taking this blessing for granted. I am grateful, and I am having a hard time putting it into words.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012

Allen caught this four foot black snake that was raiding the chicken nests for eggs. I think the snake has been here awhile as we have been finding very few eggs for the last month or so. Last week, I saw it in a nest with an egg in its throat, but before Allen got out to the barn, it had gone. I don’t like picking up snakes – one of those things, along with a good fear of heights. So if I see one I either get Kath or Allen to grab it. I will hold the bag as either of them lowers it in but that’s as best as I can do.

This time, Allen came out in enough time, and I pointed to the nest which was a hollow between some hay bales in the hay barn. The snake had an egg in its mouth but hadn’t yet started the swallowing process. Allen reached in and grabbed the snake midway, then grabbed it behind its head with his free hand. The guy dropped the egg, so we got that one back.

After a few pics we put him in a bag and Allen took him to a new home a few miles away, where we hope he will be ok and grow longer.

Snakes are a bit ying and yang here. I see them in the garden in the summer and leave them alone as they are mouse and insect hunters and keep these garden pests in check so that they don’t cause too much loss. In that way they are very helpful and I can appreciate them. On the other hand they have a penchant for eggs – not just chicken eggs, but any bird egg. Over the years I have observed them raiding bird nests, and once 20 foot high raiding the purple martin houses. I have since added snake guards to deter them from the bird nests.

There is not too much I can do to keep them from the chickens as there is no method to block them from the nests. All we can do is catch one in a nest and relocate it, knowing that sooner or later another snake will come along and takes its place. In a normal year, we relocate at least two or three. This time we were lucky that we caught this one. A four foot snake can down three or four eggs at a time.

Its hard enough this time of year to have eggs – most of our gals are older so they don’t lay often as it is, some are molting and that shuts down their production even further, and with shorter day length they lay even fewer eggs naturally. (Egg farmers harvest their chickens after a year, and keep them under artificial light to keep up egg production.) Add a snake to all this and it almost forces us to the grocery store to buy eggs. I think it’s been close to ten years since I have bought a store egg, and I hope to never buy one again. Hopefully, now that our egg thief has been caught, any thought of Acme eggs can be dropped .

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012

falling off on my writing, i picked up my camera and walked outside....

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

The problem with roosters…

…is what to do with them.

For years we have had chickens and that means invariably, we have ended up now and then, by a mistake of sorting sexes at the hatchery, with a rooster. There are a lot of reasons that we don’t need a rooster- two are that they don’t lay eggs and the hens don’t need them to lay eggs.

There are also reasons we don’t want a rooster- they rip up the hens in an endless passion for mating, they crow all day and all night (no, they don’t only crow at daybreak!), but worst of all, they attack almost everything that moves, including us farmers.

And roosters have no ethics or mercy when it comes to attacking. They need no reason except that they see you. There are no rules of engagement. They don’t give you a warning, or a chance to move away. Roosters don’t negotiate. They lack a Quaker gene.

And then it is how they attack. They wait till your head is turned. You can be ten feet away, or a hundred feet away –but if your head is turned, or worse yet if your back is turned, they seize the opportunity of surprise. With wings flapping they jump up from the ground, lean back in the air, and strike with the sharp, hooked spurs that have grown out long from the back of their legs. The spurs cut like knives. A really aggressive rooster can send its victim to the emergency room for stitches.

Over the years we have dealt with the problems of having a rooster in different ways.

For a time there was a young man who we were put in touch with who used the roosters for breeding (at least that’s what he said he did with them). Whenever we needed to unburden ourselves of a rooster, we’d get in touch with this young man through a series of contacts and he would pull up in his car and somehow catch the rooster and take it with him. At some point, the web of shadowy contacts dissipated and we never able to get word to him again.

At that point, we turned to Craigslist  to advertise that we had a rooster to give away, free to a good home. We would get replies from Craigslist from all kinds of persons, but then no one ever showed up to claim their feathered bargain.

A few years ago a friend of a friend had a friend who wanted one of our roosters because they liked to hear them crow. We asked if they knew what a rooster was all about and word came back to us that “yes they did” and this was not their first rooster. So we gave our rooster to our friend who passed it to the friend who passed it to their friend – transaction complete. Just recently we were told that the rooster met its end. Apparently the rooster became so increasingly aggressive that the people were scared to leave their house, so in a moment of bravery fueled by frustration they literally shot their way out…

Last year, I bought a small, chain link dog kennel and that is where we keep our current rooster. In this way, he has his own space and he can’t get to us or to anyone else. Once a week we allow him conjugal visits with the hens. It’s not a bad life. I also got an incubator so that I could breed him and hatch chicks. I assumed that my chances of getting another rooster this way were probably the same as if I bought sexed chicks. So far, of the five chicks that I’ve hatched, two have turned out to be roosters.

I can’t put these two with the current rooster as they will fight, and so now I am back to the original problem of what to do with the roosters.

Can’t re-home them, Craigslist doesn’t work, and we can’t keep them…

… so this time we are setting the oven to 375.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 3, 2012

Maybe this isn’t such a bad deal. He doesn’t ride me too much which is good cause I ache in my joints. If you listen, you can hear me creak as I walk. I remember all those days I was at some camp and was saddled and bridled for the entire day.  See my nose? The hair is permanently rubbed off from wearing a tight bridle for so long. It never came off. This aint the worst it could be.

But anyhow, being the bigger horse at these camps I had to carry the bigger people. Then I was leased to a fat kids camp. One of those camps where they say they give rich fat kids exercise and healthy food – I was the one who got the exercise while some Big Mac sucking kid bounced his blubber on my back, and then as for food….well, I was lucky to get any grain – mostly I just got some moldy hay.

That was when I was getting older, and my knees began to hurt. Sometimes I hurt so much I couldn’t lift my feet high enough and I would trip, falling to my knees and the kid on me would panic and yell. If I could have, I’d a bucked him off just to get a bit of relief, but I didn’t have it in my back legs either.

I coulda been a race horse. I just wasn’t as fast as my dad, Whitey’s Fella. Dad was fast. He won a lot of money in his time.  (He also had a lot of kids, which I cant, cuse I got my nuts whacked off.) I was compared to him, but I just wasn’t as fast. I was fast, but a few tenths of a second behind meant I was slow. Its amazing that a matter of one or maybe two tenths of a second determined my fate. Most people don’t even think in seconds. I was judged by them. I was judged by tenths of a second. But I was fast. Still am. Even at 25 years old and with arthritis in my knees I am faster than Zipps and Patrick – hell, I was faster than that dork Jake who used to live here and torment me - a thoroughbred that bullied me to no end. He liked to come up on my blind side – yes I am blind in my left eye – and bite my butt and try to chase me. I could out run that dork even if I was trottin’! I’d be waitin at the other end of the field waiting for him to get there. He too, was supposed to be a racehorse. Whatta slow putz. He couldn’t out run one a the chickens round here. But that’s not important. Ya see, being fast isn’t fast enough in the racing biz. I got auctioned off. I never saw Saratoga again.

Instead I saw trails. I don’t even know where I was, or where I’ve been.  I don’t really remember. But I saw a lot of miles of trails. Being a trail horse wasn’t so bad – people were nice, and at the end of the ride most people would sneak me a treat – a carrot or peppermint. Some people were jerks though. They had seen too many westerns and would yank the reins and kick me thinking that’s want horses needed. Dumb farts. Sometimes I’d get so mad! Then I would – and I am not sayin I am proud of myself for it – veer a bit off the trail and walk under a low branch…that knocked the John Wayne right out of em. Hell, all us trail horses did it.

One time, I forget where I was, but I was in a paddock, a man came and shouted at us. None of us knew what he wanted. Then he’d hit us, and I mean hit us. I still shudder about being hit. If I only knew what he wanted I‘d done it – so would have the others. To this day I still get flashbacks of those beatings and even sometimes I snap at people – I can’t help it. It’s a reaction I can’t always control. It just comes over me. Sometimes I snap at people who are good to me. It’s like a defense mechanism…I can’t shake what that man did to us. Its not like I can go to a shrink. They don’t have shrinks for horses – there’s this lady named Temple Gradin, but I just gotta deal with it. At least I don’t snap as much theses days. No one hits me here so I don’t have that trigger. But sometimes I just snap. It’s a tick in my brain, like an instinct I shouldn’t have. I can’t help it. We all have our ghosts. This man is mine. I wish that’d never happened.

I oughta get back to what I was sayin. My knees would just give sometimes. Or I would trip. Trails aren’t smooth – there’s all kinda things in the way . Like logs, rocks, puddles, and whatever. Things that the fat kid on my back couldn’t walk over. But I had to. And lets face it, I wasn’t getting any younger. I couldn’t keep up as well. My eye was losing sight, and my breathing was getting a bit shallower…my nasal passage had collapsed a bit. I was just getting older, that’s all. Couldn’t help that. No one can.

I guess I wasn’t worth much after that. No one wanted me. So I went to auction. Its not the kind you are thinking of, where people are bidding and fighting over the horses. That was the kind of auction I had been at when I was young. But this was different. These people were haggling to get the price lower. Ya see, it costs the buyer all kinds of money to truck a guy like me – and about twenty others at a time – way down to Mexico. Something about profit margins. Its also why they like guys like me. I’m sorta big, and in Mexico they pay by the pound…so I was worth the cost, cause I would bring a profit at the plant.

But some lady took me. She had a petting farm, more or less, and thought I could pull a cart and look cute or something like that. She also thought if she didn’t buy me, I’d go to Mexico. She didn’t want horses to go to Mexico. She didn’t know about my knees or my brain snaps – how could she? But she bought me and took me to her farm. It wasn’t a very pretty place, but she was nice enough to me. She fed me. She put me together with a little horse named Hershey who didn’t tease me. But in the end, I wasn’t what she wanted. She fed me, but didn’t take the best care of me. She figured she’d sell me and let that person pay a vet. She sold me.

And now I am here. Like said it aint such a bad deal for an old guy like me. They fixed me as best they could – got rid of my infections, my feet problems, even got my teeth looked at. They give me stuff for my knees, and asprin when I get stiff ! All that stuff. They don’t ride me all day either. Just every now and then. In fact they sorta let me roam around. I free range like those dumb chickens that are always in my way! Friggin chickens! Do you know how hard it is for me not to step on those pecking feather dusters? They are always under my feet, catching grasshoppers and stuff. I gotta side step every where! Its like walking on eggs! Get it? Chickens! walking on eggs! That’s a good one! (I still got my sense of humor!) But if that’s the worst thing I gotta worry about then its ok. I am kinda fond of those damn birds though, which is why I dont step on em.

I mean I get my own field where Pat and Zip cant sneak up on my blind side and bite me. And I get to wander in and out of the stable as I please. Sometimes they leave the hay out and I nose thru it- I get the good stuff and then Pat and Zip get the stuff I don’t like! I can deal with that! And then I get itched almost anytime I want. I just walk up to those guys cleanin the stables – yeah, I get room service- I just bump em a bit, and they get my brush and start massaging my hot spots. I make these funny faces and they like that! So I make more funny faces and since that entertains them they keep brushing me. I got em wrapped around my hoof. These people are so easy to train. Ya know, I got em so well trained that if I sorta gurgle at them, they go get me a treat! imagine that! and I get Gatorade when its hot, a blanket when its cold, and then I get this rock that I can lick for salt. And my own feed bowl. I never had my own feed bowl before.

I can be happy here for a long, long, time. Sometimes I hear them say I am retired. Sometimes I hear them say I am spoiled. Oh well, here they come, I gotta gurgle a bit…I hope they got peppermint today. Or one of those orange gumdrop slices, or ginger snaps… think I will walk over and see what they got….

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5, 2012

I always knew that Kath and I are different.

Here we were Sunday driving back from “Just Kiddin’ Around” farm north of Allentown with four young kid goats we had just bought – three in a homemade carrier made out of scrap plywood, hardware cloth, and two by fours, strapped to the bed of our pickup, and one goat, the smallest, inside the truck tucked up and sleeping on Kath’s lap…

I know it’s not what most people did Sunday afternoon. Most cars on the roads were filled with beach balls, beach chairs, etc either coming back from the shore or going to the shore. But like Kath said, its not so much that we are different, its just that this is who we are…its that we love the farm life, albeit ours is a very small farm, and we are meant to have a truck full of goats rather than one overflowing with beach chairs.

I have resigned to the fact that I would miss the animals and CSA more than I’d miss other things. It’s why that after we get home from our full time day jobs we head out back to weed, plant, harvest, clean stalls, water and feed the chickens, horses, and goats, etc. Usually we don’t get in till it begins getting dark, then we eat dinner…and in the morning we put on muck boots to go out and clean and feed and check on everybody before going to work. Many times I find myself sharing a fence rail with Patrick looking up at the stars, well before the world awakes…I don’t think that we would have it any other way.

The following are pics of our new purebred Boer doe goats. I am planning to raise them for eating brush and vegetation for hire – more or less a natural way to clean up overgrown areas. Our new venture is called “Quaker G’Oats”…Even if this venture doesn't pan out, I will still have four new friends! Its a win-win no matter!All four goats are a little over 3 months old now. Lucy is about half the size of Irene, Frances, and Mary because her mother ran dry early. We’ll catch her up on grain and she’ll grow out fine.





Sunday, May 6, 2012

Honey bee swarms…

Late spring is swarm season. A swarm occurs when a hive gets too crowded. A new queen is raised and a swarm of bees, along with the older queen, leave the hive to find a new home. When the swarm leaves, it gathers somewhere, usually on a tree branch. Scout bees leave the swarm to search out a new home, and when one is found, they lead the swarm to it.

A swarm is both good and / or bad depending on how the beekeeper looks at it. If the beekeeper can catch the swarm and re hive it, it’s a free colony! On the other hand, the amount of bees in the original colony is reduced, so honey production goes down. For me, it doesn’t matter. It’s a wash.

The first swarm I saw was two weeks ago. It gathered about 15’ up in the maple tree and since it was pretty much impossible to get to, I let it go. The next day it was gone – the scouts found it a good home somewhere.

The 2nd a 4th swarms were easy. They occurred about ten days apart, and both gathered on the beach plum bush in the front yard. This bush has been a popular gathering place for years for unknown reasons, and I have caught about 5 swarms from it. #2 and #4 swarms gathered on the branches two feet off the ground so all I needed to do was put a hive box, or super, under the swarm, then shake the bees off the branch so that they fell into the super. For the most part, it was that simple.

Very easily I went from having four hives to six with a few shakes of a branch.

Swarm #4 in the Beach Plum

#3 swarm was a whole different story.

A week ago #3 swarm formed about 20 feet high up in the young elm tree that we had planted four years ago in the front pasture. Last year I re hived a swarm from the beach plum bush and set the hive more or less underneath it. I am pretty sure swarm #3 came from this hive.

Up there 20 feet, I decided, like I did for the one that had formed in the maple tree earlier in the spring, that it was too high for me to reach and I’d just have to let it go. That was Saturday. Sunday it was still there. When I got home from work on Monday it was still there. Same thing on Tuesday. Of all the swarms I have ever let pass, most left in a day – I had never seen one stay for this long without finding a new home. When I came home from work on Wednesday…

… it was still there, but not doing too well. For five days now the swarm was getting smaller as bees that were weak from the weather and lack of food were dropping off. Five days without food is a long time for a bee, and also having been exposed to three rainstorms and cold temperatures during these five days decreased this swarm’s chance of survival. I looked up and could hear bees dropping down through the leaves, too weak to hang on. The swarm was also beginning to split into separate clusters, and beneath the main swarm, a number of bees that had fallen from it clung together on a branch below. On leaves beneath that lower branch, there were a few more small clusters.

I figured that at this point, I would have to try to re hive it. Better to try than to let it starve.

I put together a plan – Allen could raise me up in the loader bucket as high as it could reach and then with my pole saw, I could reach higher and with it, hook the branch and pull or bend it close enough for me to reach. With the super on the bucket with me, I would then clip the branch and then shake the bees into it.

The plan worked great for the lower cluster.

The main warm was too high for me to balance every thing and stay steady enough to grab it. Kath stayed on the ground and used the pole to hook the branch, but at her angle it pulled it too far from me to reach. So Allen jumped on top the hood of the tractor and took over the pole duty. He reached it up over my head about 5 feet, hooked the leader and slowly pulled the swarm to me. I stretched out as far as I could and reached as far as I could, and grabbed the branch holding the swarm. I clipped the branch from the leader and …the leader, under so much tension, released, slipping off the pole saw, and whipped back

I didn’t really know what had happened. I remember that I was holding a small cluster of bees in my hand as another cloud of bees descended on me, then on Allen, and down to Kath who was standing in the pasture watching. I started taking stings, but holding the little cluster and up in this bucket I didn’t have much choice but to submit to the assault  and hope that it would be just a few bees. It wasn’t.

Kath took off, wiping bees off her as she ran off down the pasture. I was getting pummeled, and so was Allen. I somehow managed to get the small cluster that I was holding into the super, and jumped down out of the bucket onto the hood with Allen, who was still holding the pole. I almost knocked him off. We both jumped down and hurried away, with angry bees stabbing our skin and more in tow.

We all were stung up. When it was over, Kath had gotten quite a few stings, Allen more, and I even more than them. I couldn’t even estimate how many times I had been stung – my arms, neck, face, ears, and head were burning and I couldn’t separate the pain into each sting – I just burned all over. In  pain, a bit exhausted from the stings, we all just stood at the bottom of the pasture “licking our wounds”. This had never happened before.

Kath saw what had happened: the cluster was actually gathered around two branches – one we couldn’t see from where we were. When I cut the one branch, I was left with a cluster, but the other half, still clinging to the hidden branch, went flinging through the air when the leader released, and that got them very riled up.

So there we were. Out in the field the tractor was running, a super in the raised bucket, and a small cluster of bees now higher in the tree, but too riled up to go near. And the three of us so stung up it was hard to move or to think bout anything else but the pain.

But I couldn’t leave it at that.

A half hour later the bees had settled down and since I wasn’t sure if I had gotten the queen in the previous clusters, I decided to go back and finish off the job. Allen and Kath reluctantly helped. We set up again, and this time Kath on the ground got a better angle to pull the leader to me. I clipped the branch, dropped the cluster in the hive, and that was it. All calm. As easy as buttering bread.

I put the super in the yard and fed it sugar water, then went in for the night. A very uncomfortable night as the burning wasn’t going down.

To make a long story short, I ended up in the doctors office the next day as for the first time ever, rashes began rolling across my body and I felt very warm. I had never had a reaction to stings before, nor even multiple stings. Turns out it wasn’t really serious – but simply my body reacting to a bit more than it could handle. The doctor, who was fascinated by the story as he wants to keep bees sometime in the future, put me on a few meds to calm my body down. (Luckily, Kath and Allen didn’t get the reaction from the stings that I got)

When I got home from the doctors, I checked on the hive. The bees had left.

There they were, back in the elm tree. All that for nothing!

And now it is Sunday, eight days later and the bees are still there. Maybe a quarter of them are left, weak, but with enough sugar water to sustain them for a few more days. I hope.  

Remnants of swarm #3 in the elm tree.

I have decided that it is what it is. I won’t try to re hive this swarm again. I have done all  that I can, and have taken all I can from this swarm. Nature will need to care for this swarm now. It won’t let me. Good luck swarm #3. I wish you had chosen to gather on the beach plum bush….

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012

The other day I took my camera with me to Still A Hill when I went there to see Zipps. I have been going over there at least once or twice a week to see him. I halter him and take him out on a lead for grass. We just browse around the lane and the area around the stables for about an hour or so – he gets out, gets a bit of grass and I get to relax – I am not at work, not at the farm – Me and Zip have an hour without any expectations put upon us. We all need that every once in a while.

Back to my camera….so I took a few shots while there. It wasn’t easy to stay steady with a camera in one hand and a horse on the other, but I tried. I would have liked to have taken more too, and I will try to the next time I go.

For now, these are some pics I took that day- 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7, 2012

Last night as the clerk of my Quaker Meeting, I took part in the areas ecumenical Good Friday service. This is what I said:

What I want to share is a leading…a leading, in Quaker speak, is when God speaks through you. Its something that you cant shake off, ignore, or just forget about. It comes to you, into you.  It stays with you, everywhere you go…..a leading is god speaking. A leading is Gods message. Its God telling you what to do…God has given them to you…. This is a leading that God gave to me.

My leading is a poem. Ever since Pastor Tom sent me an email and asked if I’d like to say something at Good Friday, this poem has surfaced in me and wont leave. Fact is, this poem is always with me, but when it usually comes to mind once or twice a day, now it won’t sit down. It just repeats to me all through the day, each day. It is God speaking. God wants me to share it. I don’t know why. But I know God wants me to, so I trust …

The poem was written some some 600 years ago, by the Sufi mystic poet, Hafiz…

This is the poem –

“So Thirsty”

First the fish has to say
Something ain’t right about this camel raise
And I am so thirsty

This poem can be interpreted in many different ways – which is why it’s remembered all these years – it survives change. It can be interpreted as just a simple lyric that is just for fun – a fish on a camel – of course he’s thirsty! Or about becoming lost…the fish is definitely lost. Or maybe all this silliness isn’t silliness at all

To me the poem is about searching for God, about leaving what we know to search for what’s missing – it’s our thirst for finding God.

Its can go deeper than that too. The fish would not be thirsty had he not left the water he once lived in…something isn’t right, we need God to survive

It is also about faith….


It takes faith to say something isn’t right…it takes faith to admit you are so thirsty. It takes faith to seek God.

Jesus had faith.

Jesus was always moving towards God…. by faith. That was what Jesus’ life was about.

And maybe that’s what God is trying to tell me…to keep moving towards God. To keep my faith. To let my faith carry me back to the water where I belong.

Didn’t Jesus say?

“Seek and you shall find”

First the fish has to say….

And that is my leading…it speaks to thy condition. It speaks to thy condition every day. …thanks for allowing me to share my leading with you on this Good Friday…Amen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27

Last Friday Tanya, our vet, came out to give the horses their spring shots – rabies, west Nile virus, etc. Zippy received a few extra shots for diseases that I can’t begin to pronounce. On Saturday Zips will be going to the barn where Kath takes riding lessons and he will stay there for the month of April to get exercised and retrained for some serious riding. Zip is a former dressage champion, retired. And he’s had it good here, eating grass. Pretty much the only stress he has here is Patrick coming up behind him to nip him on his butt.

We bought the trailer so that Kath could take Patrick to the barn for lessons, but that didn’t work out too well. Patrick didn’t mind, but he isn’t very athletic and has some kind of gait that the trainers didn’t want to work with. They pretty much said he’s a great trail horse, but his body was never meant for ballet. One of those “I like you, but lets just  be friends…” deal. So they asked what else we had….

Lou only walks, unless he smells a peppermint, or if Patrick nips him in the butt – then he will run. But we pretty much figured that the trainers weren’t going to offer him peppermints and I couldn’t quite picture Sophia or Illona sneaking up behind him and biting him in the butt to get him to move…trainers aren’t born with too much of a sense of humor. Lou wasn’t gonna work, so it was no use to even contemplate it.

So that left Zips. And so poor ol Zips got marched into that new trailer that was meant for Patrick and sped off to the barn for a trial.  ‘Ol Zips did all the right moves and had the right gait or whatever…things that trainers know about but something I may never understand. Dumb ‘ol Zips – had he been smart enough and trotted out of whack and not responded to Sophie’s heel, he’d been home free and left to enjoy grass and retirement and hang out with me in the back field. Just like Patrick and Lou. But no, not Zip! he decided to show off. The dummy.

So this Saturday he will be loaded into the trailer for an extended stay. He will get good care. During the week he will get exercised and put in shape. He will get re trained to get his responses sharpened up. Kath will go over every Saturday to take lessons on him. He’ll be fine.

But I will miss him. Sorta like sending your kids off to college – ya know it’s a good thing, and the right thing, but it still leaves that bit of emptiness that never gets totally refilled….

The problem with me and animals is that I get way too attached. Way too attached.