13 September 2015

A Changing Landscape, A Fallen Tree

A Fallen Tree

A Fallen Tree

At our farm, in our life, a changing landscape.The big old pine tree that shaded us in the garden is gone, toppled over. It missed the Dahlia garden, it took down some big limbs of the apple tree, it spared our fence by landing squarely on a fence post, it changed our view. In a sense, our landscape is opened up, it was not a beautiful or graceful tree, unlike the apple tree and the white birch that survived the storm. The wood from the pine tree is neatly lined up, it will go to our neighbors who have outdoor furnaces, they take soft wood.

The collapse tree was ugly, a kind of scar in our yard, it is good to have it cleaned up.

We are grateful the other trees were spared. We did lose one of the Adirondack chairs, it will be simple to replace. Our life is a changing landscape, it's not the landscape that matters, it's new eyes to see it.

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The Joy Dog: Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

Fate was inside the house, watching Tyler and his father chop up our fallen tree. She couldn't contain herself and pushed open the front door and got outside where she showered Tyler with grateful kisses while his father watched. We are all grateful to these good people, our neighbors and friends. The yard looks great.

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Family Ties: Tyler And Family. The Good Father.

Family Ties

Family Ties

Tyler is just 14, but he sometimes seems to be a decade older. He is a football player now, he scored two touchdowns yesterday. I'm going to see him play next week. It was good to see Tyler work with his father Justin and his younger brother Matthew. I see where Tyler gets his work ethic.

Justin is a good and loving father, he said taking down a tree is good bonding time with him and his sons, they worked well together, everyone doing their part, helping out, working hard. Justin is one of those men who know how things work, he installs a good work ethic in his sons and is teaching them all the time, but in a loving, never hectoring way.

He is a good man and it was a great pleasure to watch him work, an even greater pleasure to see how a good father relates to his children, provides them with examples, joins with them in good and hard work. This is, I think, something sometimes lost in a generation that spends more time on Facebook than in nature.

We laughed about Tyler, Justin said he worked 50 hours recently milking cows, Justin says he has to remind him that he is just a kid and he needs to relax. Tyler is already saving up for a truck, he says. If you get to know Tyler, you have to respect his parents, they did a good job.

Justin assures me that Tyler knows how to have fun, he just doesn't do it as often as he works. The family mastered the art of the tree, Justin sawing and trimming, Tyler managing a roaring fire, Matthew hauling stick and visiting with Chloe and Fate. I did have a pang watching Justin, I don't remember ever doing a single thing with my father (except an annual trek to Fenway Park). It is important.

I saw Justin passing real values onto Tyler, I saw him listening and learning, even around a fallen pine tree.

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Taking Down A Tree: Tyler, Matthew And Dad

Tyler, Matthew And Dad Take Down A Tree

Tyler, Matthew And Dad Take Down A Tree

Tyler and his brother Matthew and father Justin showed up this morning to clean up the huge pine tree that fell on our pasture a month ago. I am very partial to the big men in trucks who live up here and who seem to know things about the world that I do not know and understand. The men in Tyler's family swept in her around 9 a.m., took the big tree apart, started a burn pile in the pasture, repaired the damaged apple tree, cut the pine logs into pieces and swept up.

It was a whirlwind, they were gone by noon and there was a near fist-fight to pay anyone for the good and hard work they did. The tree is gone, we are grateful and impressed (we did pay, after a battle). More photos to come.

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New Workshops! Bedlam At Pompanuck: Intuitive Quilting & Talking To Animals

Workshops!

Workshops!

I am excited to share some new and exciting news. Maria and I had a long meeting with ourselves this weekend and we decided to go ahead with our long simmering plans to hold some weekend workshops here in Cambridge. Now that we have linked up with the Pompanuck Farm Institute, a retreat and learning center, we have a beautiful space to do the workshops we began doing at the first Bedlam Farm – they were immensely popular – and suspended when we moved.

We are planning for two workshops in November, in the weeks following the Bedlam Farm Open House. The first will "Talking To Animals," a weekend retreat and workshop on how to communicate with our animals; what animals are really like; what they really need; how they really think, and how we can learn to listen to them, use emotions, body language,  visualizations and food to communicate, and how we can talk to them, rather than shout at them or emotionalize and anthropomorphize them.

This will be a two-day workshop, broken up between talks and lectures and real interactions with animals. Show as well as tell.

The message of the New York Carriage Horses and many other animals is that we cannot understand what animals need without understanding what they are like, without communicating with them and listening, rather than telling them what they think. Talking to animals is important, it means saving animals rather than sending them away or watching while they become extinct. It also means forging spiritual and powerful relationships with our pets, especially dogs and cats. We need a new and more mystical understanding of animals than exists now, and this will be the point and purpose of the workshop.

"Talking To Animals" will take place on the beautiful 90 acre wooded campus of Pompanuck, but also at Bedlam Farm, where we will work together studying sheepherding with Fate and Red in the sheep pasture, sit and talk with our donkeys, learn how to read the body language of a pony. A combination of lectures, talking to one another, workshops with real animals. Not a place to bring your pets or animals.

But do bring your experiences, questions, stories. We will want to hear them.

I'm thinking 8-10 people. I want everyone to have individual attention and individual experience. This is not about animal communicating or animal grieving, those are different subjects. As some of you know, I am working on a book called "Talking To Animals," a 15-year project detailing what I have learned about understanding animals during my time living with them. I will share some of the themes and lessons of the project.

Details to come. We hope the set the dates and costs for the workshops in the next week or so. Shooting for mid-November for both.

The second workshop will be called "Intuitive Quilting," it will be run by Maria. Most people think of quilting as being formal and structured, with fixed rules, competitions and traditions. This is not about the rules and dictums of others, it is about helping each individual person to make their own rules and trust their own sense of designs and pattern.

Maria believes strongly that you don't need the rules of other people to make your art. People will be asked to bring their sewing machines, they can bring their own fabric (Maria will supply fabric also.) Everyone will set up along the big table at the Round House (or maybe in one of the beautiful Yirts) go to work, they will follow their and creative instincts.  Maria will be available to help, guide and encourage. Everyone will make something of their own over the weekend. You make your own rules.  This will also be a two-day Saturday/Sunday workshop.

Maria will also talk about how she has marketed her art over the past year, she has sold everything she has made through her website.

There are some rooms available at Pompanuck, but other rooms available near by in Bennington and Cambridge. The fee will include food but not lodging. We are excited about this new (actually not so new) direction for us. Deb Foster, our friend and a veteran organizer, will help us to set up these workshops and handle inquiries and applications and fees. She is thinking between 6 and 8 people in her workshop.

So stay tuned, Maria and I will make further announcements as things get finalized. I expect to be  holding workshops over the next year on blogging, writing, short stories, and of course, the meaning of animals in our lives. Maria wants to see how this workshop goes, but I suspect she will be launching some Pompanuck workshops as well. Exciting stuff for us, and we hope, for some of you.

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