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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harmony's First Peach Tree!

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Well, I've purchased my peach trees and now I must make another very important decision:  where and how to plant them. Once again, I consult an expert (after throwing out many lifeless plants I've learned to google before I just dig a hole and throw a plant in it). Oklahoma State University is famous for it's Ag Programs, so who better to ask?

After watching the video, I think it would be prudent to take an ibuprofen before I take up my shovel.  "An ounce of prevention..........." My back problem you know. O.K. Now that I have the scoop on the "how to" it's on to the "where". 
Since Becky never met a tree she didn't want to plant, I need to find a place where my precious peach trees won't  be  in  the  shade  from  the  many  other  trees  we have  planted  here  at  Harmony  Acres. 

Hm mm...............What about...no, that is too close to the black walnut trees.  What about.....no, that is too close to the plum trees.  What about....no, that is too close the the cedar trees.  Oh, come on now, we have five plus acres. It shouldn't be this hard. There must be a place!  I can almost hear the little peach trees sighing in frustration and thinking "humans can be so dumb"! 
Meditating on the problem (smoking a cigarette on the front porch and drinking a Dr. Pepper) I decide to go out into the yard and pretend I'm a peach tree.  Where would I want to show off my blossoms and fruit in the years to come?
After careful consideration, and changing my mind no less than a dozen times, I've found the perfect place, I think.  I'll put them out by the Red Delicious Apple tree and start a mini orchard there.  I knew I could do it.

Next week, I'll pretend I'm a  blueberry bush (very picky plants) and  a cherry tree and decide where I want to be planted.  Until then, I will leave you with one last thought for the day:

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harmony Acres In Bloom

Ann Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea)
I have learned by some experience, by many examples, and by the writings of countless others before me, also occupied in the search, that certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification of life is one of them.

As if by magic, Mother Nature released her personal color palette upon Harmony Acres, our home.  Each day brings forth surprises unsurpassed by anything the human hand can create.  It is with great joy and anticipation  that I step outside each day to see what awaits me as daylight breaks.  This is what I see:

After a lot of hard work, my rock garden is now ready for a new gazing ball and colorful annuals to be added.

We wanted to plant peach trees this year, so my friend John suggested we plant Red Haven.  I purchased the new trees at Lowe's because they have a one year replacement guarantee.  Now when a friend who happens to own an orchard, gives me advice, I am certainly smart enough to take it!  So, Red Haven it is. Becky also wants to plant blueberry bushes and cherry trees.  Will have to check with John to see how cherry trees do in our area.

Even the birds awake with a song in their heart and a cautious eye on the cats.  Cats seem to have a real problem understanding the 'do no harm" philosophy we have here.  
Pushka hates the "do no harm" rule.  She thinks I won't miss a couple of birds.
On Monday my brother David and his wife Vicky helped me put up a new fence for the puppies. I would have blogged about it yesterday but I couldn't move any part of my body without discomfort (translation:  I hurt from head to toe).  The puppies are so excited to have so much room to run and play.  

I really appreciated their help even more because I know David was in a great deal of pain with his knees (waiting for a knee replacement) and ankles (bone spurs). But they kept their sense of humor. Vicky kept me laughing as she declared over and over again to her husband "you knew when you married me I wasn't a country girl." and I finally told David, "just because I am the one driving most of the poles into the ground doesn't mean we need one placed every two feet." He was enjoying my pain a little too much.  You know how big brothers are.
If you look closely, in the background by the trees you will see a blue tarp.  It is attached to the greenhouse frame which the high winds sent belly up.  Someone (David) took a couple of the stakes out of it when we were building fence on Monday.  There is no sadder site that a greenhouse belly up in the wild rose bushes and timber.  Especially if your the one that has to fight the thorns to retrieve it! 
I have found there is nothing more satisfying at the end of the day than to feel physically exhausted from doing the things that bring joy to my heart, a new song for my soul to sing and pure bliss and harmony to my tattered state of mind.  Simplicity really is a gift!  The Secret:  Do the things that bring you joy and true happiness will follow.  It comes from within not from having the most "toys".

 John Burroughs
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter ... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring—these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nature's Rebirth At Harmony Acres

"I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. 
Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?"

Edward Giobbi

Spring! Spring! Spring! If the March winds don't blow me away, I will dance in the yard to the tune of Spring. Yes, I really do dance in the yard but I'm fully clothed nowadays.  It's time for my inner child to emerge and my imagination to take wing. The long months of winter are just a memory now.  I wanted to share with you how it looks at our home when Spring is in the air.  Here are a few pictures:
The front porch is cleaned off to a certain degree so now we can prepare to paint soffet a medium grey and the porch poles white with our new trim going up in a white also.  Replacing shutters this year too.  I like to call it "my beautiful porch-in-waiting".  Big plans for little porch!
Rock Garden coming alive.

Baby's Breath will be dried this year for floral arrangements.
And the puppies are growing like crazy.  They eat like it's their last meal every time.  Kind of pitiful.  Mom still dropping by to check on them and have a bite of their food and water.  One of our neighbors stopped by today (a different one from last week) to see if her puppy (a sister to my boys) had come a callin.  It has gone missing.  Becky called on her way out of our neighborhood at 7:00 a.m. this morning to say she saw the pup running with it's mom if anyone came looking.  And they did.

I don't have a favorite but the smallest of the three boys.........
Got so carried away with the pups, almost forgot to show you my salad garden planted in the fire pit.
Our hearts and prayers go out to those in Japan who are suffering and homeless, those who have lost loved ones and those who have loved ones missing.  Also, deep appreciation for the rescue workers and those brave souls who are still trying to save the world from a devastating nuclear accident.
There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe...
At every crossing of the threads there is an individual.
And every individual is a crystal bead.
And every crystal bead reflects
Not only the light from every other crystal in the net
But also every other reflection
Throughout the entire universe.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Little Kindness

 "Until one has loved an animal,  a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
Well, it's happened again!  A stray dog dumped three of her young puppies in our yard and left.  The pups and I waited all day for her to come back but she didn't.  So...........just before dark, I chased them down, one at a time, and moved them to the back half of our fenced in back yard.  There just happens to be an unused dog house and plenty of room for the little orphans to play. They were really hungry and thirsty.  As everyone knows, we have a passion for helpless animals.  Nothing melts my heart faster that a homeless ball of fur (all of our animals are adopted or strays).
Becky was as taken with the little darlings as I was.  We discussed second jobs and possible pay raises to care for three more mouths to feed (we already have six cats, three dogs, a lovebird and a fish) and the vet bills for shots, frontline, heartworm pills and other long term expenses (including a higher fence as they grow).  God just keeps blessing us!  He will provide a way.

Shifting gears now, the weather has been so cold lately that outside garden preparation has been tough.  We had a frost Sunday morning and the temperate was 29 degrees.  I don't know about you but welcoming Spring with the North wind freezing my tush off is not my idea of fun.  However, my indoor herb garden is making some headway despite my urge to give it a drink too often. I know, it looks a little weak.  Maybe some sunshine will help us both.
Thanks to Pushka (outside kitty), the day lilies I planted in a pot are not doing so well.  She dumped the plants out and is using the soil for a litter box.  Oh, well.  She is just a kitty and has her own way of doing things.  She and Gracie (other outside cat) weren't too thrilled with the new pups. I think the cats may be suffering from anxiety due to the arrival of the puppies.

Last night David and I discussed the necessity of yearly maintenance on my beloved lawn mower.  If I am good to it, it will be good to me.  So, the next time I go to town, I will need to buy oil, filters and new blades.  It will be a little expensive but a lot cheaper than buying a new mower (not in my budget for a while).
The time has come for me to see what adventure awaits me today.  The simple life is not necessarily a dull life.  And remember: a little kindness goes a long way for animals and humans.

Just a reminder:  Daylight savings time begins this weekend.  We Spring forward an hour. Does that mean I lose an hour of sleep?  Gee, thanks!

Each day, awakening, are we asked to paint the sky blue?
Need we coax the sun to rise or flowers to bloom?
Need we teach birds to sing, or children to laugh, or lovers to kiss?
No, though we think the world imperfect, it surrounds us each day with its perfections.
We are asked only to appreciate them, and to show appreciation by living in peaceful harmony amidst them.
The Creator does not ask that we create a perfect world; He asks that we celebrate it. 
Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dustbowl Days...........Uncommon Valor In Everyday People

Where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valor to dare to live.
Thomas Browne, Sr.

Ever had one of those days when it feels like you live in hot water?  The bills just keep coming, the car needs repairs, the cost of gasoline and groceries continues to skyrocket and winter weather just keeps hanging on.  It's time to strengthen my soul by comparing our hard times to those of the past.  Perhaps then courage will emerge and I can live to fight another day with grace and dignity. So I began my search for everyday people (like you and me) showing uncommon valor in everyday life just trying to survive (like you and me).  Here's what I found:
In the 1930's we were called the dust bowl because over cultivation of the land (soil conservation ideology was created as a result of the dustbowl), the years long draught which caused erosion which caused what came to be known as  Black Sunday (April 14, 1935).  We were also in the throes of the depression.  We were a nation on the brink of disaster.
But you just can't beat us down and expect us to stay there!  Our region of the state is called "green country" today but it was once called the dustbowl.  In order to appreciate how good we have it now (even with daily increases in gasoline prices and groceries), let's have a look at where we've been.
I must caution you that the content of this clip is very disturbing; as real life often is.

We've come a long way since those harsh days that our parents and grandparents endured.  When my Mother (born in 1922) was a little girl, her older sister died one night on a pallet they shared in the floor and the next night her mother died.  I've always been told there was a flu epidemic but I have to wonder if perhaps it was pneumonia from breathing the dust of the dustbowl days. And then her father, Eli, went blind. There was no cataract  surgery in those days.  You simply went blind. Period. End of statement. Mom used to tell of eating berries in the woods because they were hungry and had very little food.

My Dad's life was far from easy as well.  When he and mom married (both very young), he took on the responsibility of her family and my mom took on a strong willed mother-in-law (mom often accused me of being just like grandma Saraeh).
Mom and Dad had three children: Joyce, David and a number of years later, me.  Times were still hard when my siblings were young.  My parents would load up the car with all their earthly possessions and the kids and drive to California to pick cotton.  They would sleep on the side of the road during the trip and live in chicken coops or anything else that was available when they arrived in California. (Remember the novel "Grapes of Wrath") Even the youngest child learned to drag a cotton sack and pick cotton.  Joyce and David used to argue over who would get the meat scrap in the pork n beans.  I still remember Dad sitting down at the table and eating cornbread and buttermilk.  I didn't realize it was a staple food from the hard times. Occasionally a tibbit of memory will return at unexpected moments of things that have a greater meaning to me now (like Dad and his cornbread).

Dad lived two years after a diagnosis of cancer and passed away at the age of only 58 (the age I will be later this year).  Mom never remarried.

My family and I have the "survivor gene" encoded in our DNA as do many of you. We may fall down, but we will always get back up; bruised and broken though we may be. One moment, one step, one hour, one day at a time.  We will "Just Stand"!  I am so proud to be a member of this incredible family!

Take this opportunity to ask an elder about your personal history.  Perhaps you will find stories that will strengthen you in times of turmoil and crisis and enrich your life. 

I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come.
I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers,
and in front to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.
And their eyes were my eyes.

Richard Llewellyn

Friday, March 4, 2011

Whatever Happened to "Made In America"?

Maybe a person's time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food. 
Frank A. Clark
Today, my neighbor Willis drove me over to visit our  friend John's orchard.  We were greeted with a smile and told to help ourselves (we had come to dig plum tree saplings).  It was my first trip to John's house. 

My friends and country neighbors Willis and John.
An orchard doesn't really shine this time of year but the mass removal of trees shocked me.  John said the apple trees were over 20 years old (past their prime) and he was 80 years old so it was time to cut back.  For both he and the trees.  He told us that last year most of the fruit rotted on the ground because no one wanted to come and pick it (the orchard is one of those pick your own fruit enterprises) and he had trouble finding anyone to work the land with him. 
Don't misunderstand me, there are still plenty of trees left, but in my mind I could see it as it once was. The blackberry bushes had been ripped out. There are the remnants of a beekeeping building located next to the pond which has an irrigation system for the orchard.  It is easy to imagine how glorious it was in days gone by.
I came home with five new plum saplings with the hope of having an orchard one day.  We already have a good start with a Granny Smith apple tree and a Red Delicious, both very nice producers. We also had one plum tree already and last year we planted two Black Walnut trees. There is also a Pear tree out the in pasture that requires some attention before it will bloom (smothered out by scrub brush).

Five of these little darlings now grace our land.
Our long driveway has blackberry bushes all the way down to the road on one side.  I picked some last year and boy, did I have the chiggers to prove it.  Snakes are really fond of blackberry bushes too so I wore boots to pick berries. If I were ever bitten by a snake, forget anti venom, just bring Life flight because I'm sure a heart attack would be imminent! 

The trip to John's was bittersweet.  I can almost see happy families picking fruit together, children running and laughing and finally taking their treasures home for freezing, canning or just eating as they are.  It was a much simpler time. 
There is a deep sadness for the waste of last years crop because no one was willing to pick their own as opposed to running to the nearest WalMart.  It's very important to buy as many local products as possible.  We save on fuel consumption to deliver the product, ensure employment for our friends and neighbors and more importantly buy American.  There was a time when the only things in the stores marked "made in China" were junk trinketts.  However, that is no longer the case.  How did this happen?  Apparently, I did not fully understand the legal mumbo jumbo of the trade agreements and the long term effects on the working class (me and you)!  It's hard to decipher the truth when two opposing sides have spin doctors to deliver "their" truth.  This is America, dog gone it! How did this happen?

 If we, as a nation, continue on this instant gratification binge, I fear we are in for some serious hard times ahead.  We will someday chastise ourselves with.....if only I had............What? Picked an apple? Planted a tree? Found alternative fuel sources? Learned to plant a garden? Used less with more efficiency? Appreciated our elders for the vast knowledge they have? What?  It's never too late to start! Anything wrong with beginning today?  I have an unshakable faith in "we the people". Americans are "clutch" players. (A "clutch" athlete is one who performs well in pivotal or high pressure situations. This includes many instances where a good performance means the difference between a win and a loss.) The more difficult the circumstances the better we perform. Just watch us!  God Bless America!

Well, I'll step off my soapbox for the day and get back to my gardening.  Let me leave you with one last thought:
America is another name for opportunity.  Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Seeds.....Miracle In A Package

Now seeds are just dimes to the man in the store
And the dimes are the things that he needs,
And I've been to buy them in seasons before
But have thought of them merely as seeds;
But it flashed through my mind as I took them this time,
"You purchased a miracle here for a dime."

-   Edgar A. Guest,
 A Package of Seedshttp://www.gardendigest.com/seeds.htm

I've taken another eager step toward Spring!  I bought my seeds!  They cost a little more than a dime (not much for most) but who can put a price tag on a miracle in a package.  It was so exciting trying to choose which ones to buy when there were so many.  My garden is becoming a reality!  Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
This morning the sunlight streaming in through the windows and doors beckons to me.  As I step outside, the birds are singing the unmistakable songs of Spring.  The bees entice me to begin my labor as they have.  There is a very special joy in the soul that only Spring can bring.  Life! Life!  There are signs of life everywhere.  Even the harshest of winters cannot withhold Spring.  Today I will plant my little miracles keeping in mind an old saying:
One for blackbird,
one for the crow,
One for the cutworm,
and one to grow.

I have planted my salad garden in a never used grill.  It's domed cover will serve as protection against birds and provide a greenhouse effect when covered in plastic.  Have high hopes for this cleaver idea from my sister(Joyce). She is way ahead of me on her planting.  Darn her. Just because she was born first, doesn't mean she has to be first and best at everything. Different flower, same garden. 
Every year I have to add to my perennial collection.  Perennials are awesome! Plant one time, enjoy many years.  Cuts down on manual labor.  The one thing I had not counted on was all the little kitty help I would be getting.  Pushka cannot help herself!  She has five acres to play in, but no she wants the fresh turned soil in my planters.  Kittens.  You gotta love em!  I also see signs of life in my daylillies we planted several years ago:

Well, that's all I have time for today.  Got to go clean the Wickett's (lovebird) house.  Talk about a nasty attitude.  She  has  plenty  of  it and plenty to  spare.
And then there is my moral obligation to the hateful treadmill ( but I have promises to keep, and  miles to go before I sleep-Robert Frost you know). 

Before I go, I must leave you with one more thought for the day.  It is another way of saying "Living Simple" is beautiful.

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. 
The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. 

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