Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

11 August

Photo Journal: Bedlam Farm At Dusk: August 11, 2022. Fighting For The Fair Trip, Taking Care Of Maria, Back To The Pasture

by Jon Katz

Today was a wildly mixed-up day. I’m working hard with the Mansion to get the residents to the Washington County Fair. It’s a bit chaotic. We thought we found a bus for $300 (that never sounded believable to me), but it was a bait-and-switch.

The website promised $300 for five hours, but when we called, they said that was a mistake; it was $3,000. We said goodbye.

We are working on alternative plans now – van rentals, school busses, and if all else fails, a caravan of aides and me taking residents to the fair and back on June 24.

I’m in for the count. I love the idea of the caravan; it sounds dramatic and exciting.

This will happen; it will just take some strong and innovative thinking. Thanks to those of who are contributing and have contributed. However we get there, everyone will eat well, see what they wish to see, go on some rides, and get back and forth safely.

They deserve this and they will get what they deserve.

I decided to do a short portrait series at dusk, one of the most beautiful times on the farm. It is soothing, peaceful, and uplifting. We had beautiful clouds and relieved animals (it was only 82 degrees.

A hen snuck up behind me and pecked at my locked, and reflexively, my leg shot out and kicked her across the lawn.

Chicken and leg are acceptable, although the hen was quite indignant.

The sky was riotous and beautiful; the clouds were outdoing themselves.

It was nice doing Maria’s chores; it’s been a while – opening gates, cleaning out the barns, checking the sheep, making sure the fences are up and strong.

Hanging out with the donkeys is just about the sweeting thing I ever do. We were glad to see each other.


The shadows at dusk are a photographer’s delight. I’ve been so distracted by the beauty of the flowers I almost forgot the beauty of the farm, especially at dawn.

I hope you enjoyed them as well. I feel as if I’ve shifted into a good grove. I wish Maria were better; she’s having a hard time of it, but stoic and groggy and vulnerable.

I’m happy to be able to care for her. This caretaking stuff can wear one down in a hurry.

Tomorrow, back to the county fear and the challenge of getting the residents there.



11 August

Flower Of The Day

by Jon Katz

I decided to give my perspective a rest and take just one flower photo today.  I wanted to do a color series on dusk at the farm, a wonderful time.

I took a dozen photos I liked, but they can’t wait. I want to approach it with a fresh perspective. Thanks for all of the wonderful comments.

I’ll keep the photos coming.

11 August

Meditation Class: Birthday Cake And Discussion: The Dignity Of Giving And Receiving

by Jon Katz

I went to the Mansion yesterday to teach my weekly meditation class (and meditation), and we had another full house and growing interest. Meditation is catching on in the Mansion.

Two of the residents said that whenever they started to fight with someone, they went off to a corner and meditated and calmed down.

I said this was a great application of meditation, a great alternative to anger and argument.

The topic I chose today was the idea of giving and receiving and the dignity of both. I quoted Pope John Paul II who offered an essential direction for people who wished to work for peace and reconciliation.

“No peace is thinkable,” he said, “as long as the world remains divided into two groups, those who give and those who receive.’

He added that fundamental human dignity is found in giving and receiving. This is true for individuals, nations, cultures, and religious communities.

I looked up an essay by Henri Nouwen on the same subject, and he wrote this: “A true vision of peace sees a continuous mutuality between giving and receiving. Let’s never give anything without asking ourselves what we are receiving from those we give, and let’s never receive anything without asking what we have to give to those we receive.

I thought of this yesterday when the residents surprised me with ice cream and a cake to celebrate my birthday, which they all seemed to know about. Because of my diabetes, I couldn’t eat either, but the gift meant a great deal to me.

I had given, I had received; it was in beautiful balance.

We talked about this idea and then meditated for seven minutes. I could feel the peace and calm setting in the room.

11 August

How’s Maria Doing?

by Jon Katz

Maria has a lot of people out there (and in here) who love and admire her. If I write about her being sick, I better offer updates on how she’s doing, or I’ll be in deep trouble.  A lot of people are asking.

She is still quite sick, but she is doing 20 percent better than yesterday. She tested negative for Covid, looks like the flue, indeed picked up in Williamstown.

I can tell she is because she is talking, thinking, complaining,  harassing me,  sharing her many revelations about the world and poking fun at me for good measure.

Things are slowly returning to normal, but there was at least one day of peace. Just as she is a great caretaker, she expects the same of me. She needs to rest a couple more days; she is still worn out.

I was worried; I don’t often see Maria that sick.

Somebody messaged me this morning to ask how it felt to be a househusband, and I had to laugh since I’ve been one for ten years since we married. Maria is many things, but being domestic is not one of them.

It is not silent in here any longer.

Yesterday, she was as sick as I remember her being – silent, sweet, agreeable. It’s not something I’m used to seeing, and it gave me a good dose of perspective.

Neither of us is a natural caretaker; even if the other is barely conscious, we keep working. She is just in the next room, dozing, resting on the sofa downstairs, and writing about lying next to the donkeys.

This morning, she disappeared, and I worried she was stocking wood; I went out looking for her and was surprised to see her lying next to Fanny, one of our donkeys, who was resting in the sun.

Maria just lay down next to her, and the two held one of their memorable conversations, and then Lulu came over and wanted some attention. I swear the donkeys are mystical beings, capable of reading our minds.

I’m sure she will write about it on her blog.

This is how Maria heals; the animal part of her goes out into the wild and lies down to rest with other animals. This is not what doctors recommend for the flu.

11 August

Whenever I Need To See Beauty, I Just Look Up To The Sky. A Strata-Cumulus Show Today, Grace And Light

by Jon Katz

Whenever I need to get a dose of beauty and majesty, I just look up at the Sky and am rarely disappointed. I think the garden experience has enabled my addiction to color and light. It is always right there when the sun is out; all I need to do is look up, and it’s free and magnificent.



The juxtaposition of a corn pasture and some beautiful clouds was magnificent; it speaks to the beauty and fertility of the earth, and it’s so worth saving.

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