Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

20 March

Welcome To Spring: Looks Like A Health Care Week

by Jon Katz

Robin and Emma have returned to Brooklyn, a change of pace today. I’m going to Saratoga Hospital for a bunch of tests, X-rays, and blood work requested by my doctors. That will take most of the morning.

On Tuesday, I will talk with Dr. Daly, the surgical podiatrist,  to decide whether or not to amputate my big toe on the left foot.

Then I meet with the urologist on Thursday to check for urinary issues. A lot of health care.

There’s an eye appointment in there somewhere, but I might have to move it. And Friday, we’re going to Bishop Gibbons High School to meet with the art students and talk to Jared, who did such great work on the photo assignment with his Legos.

Somewhere in there, I will get to the Mansion to teach my meditation class.

Thanks for all your good messages on my Pocket Of Joy idea for the blog. I like it a lot; it’s time. To be who I wish to be requires understanding who I am. I am getting there; thanks for your patience (some of you.) I’m off to get tested.

It seems like a long time since Robin and Emma were here, I have no wish to live in Brooklyn, but it would be nice to see her more often.  But I have to take life as it is, not just as I wish, and my life is pretty damn good.

It’s the first day of Spring, and that is a welcome thing, despite the snow and ice still on the ground

19 March

Creating A Pocket Of Joy! Now Is The Time

by Jon Katz

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not falling, but staying down.” – Mary Pickford.

The Time Is Now For me.

I stand in a space between two worlds. The first world is one I grew up in, the world in which the Statue of Liberty stood proudly in New York harbor for my parents and grandparents to come to our promised land. I thought it would last forever.

The second world is the one we live in now,  a stranger, filled with hypocrisy world in which the immigrants are no longer welcome and the people who talk the most about Jesus Christ now war against the poor, the vulnerable, and the homeless.

This is a world of rage and grievance.

I have a choice. I’ve made my choice. I want this blog to be a Pocket Of Joy, a place of peace, calm, healing, and trust.

Paul Lightfoot wrote a beautiful message today which is timely, it echoes where I want to be and who I want to be, and what I want this blog to be:

“I’ve been a fan of you for a long time and appreciate your work and love of nature and all of God’s creatures; thank you so much…

My blog has evolved so much since I started it in 2007. I want it to be a safe place for good people who wish to be good and learn about other good people.

A place that looks for joy not outrage and grievance.

The world is a landmine of conflict and finger-pointing, and lies.

National borders worldwide are breaking down as people are driven by their homes and desperately seek a place in other countries.

At the same time, and perhaps in response, far-right and far-left political positions and climate changes divide us everywhere and threaten the stability and international peace.

I can’t solve the world’s problems or even come close to understanding them, but I can choose my destiny and my purpose in my life.

I can’t tell other people what to do. I don’t want to.

I can refuse to accept the moral deterioration swirling and embrace the concept of an as-yet-unknown indeed holder and gentler future.

I have little real power in the world but a lot of energy on my blog.

I can say no to hatred and argument. It has no place in this blog or my head.

I can say no to the abuse of women.

I can say no to the demonizing of the stranger.

I can say no to crimes and cruelty against immigrants.

I can say no to the isolation and abandonment of the elderly.

I can say no to any politician or political organization that promotes cruelty and extremism.

I can say yes to flowers, good deeds, — and joy.

I can say yes to the love of nature, flowers, animals, and God’s creatures, whoever they are and in whatever form they take.

They can never take the joy away from us.

There is no such thing as a failure on the spiritual journey – forgive me for being late – to the reign of compassion, empathy, and justice. To me, that is the Holy Land.

Better to have failed than to have missed the freedom of heart and soul that comes from speaking the Truth to those who would smother it with lies and hatred.

My mission is not to argue or divide or fight.

It is to work hard and faithfully to create a Pocket of Joy in a troubled world. That’s what I can do.  Make the blog a place for good. That’s my choice.

Thanks, Paul, for your kindness and encouragement.

I will get there. I am close.

19 March

Robin’s Visit: A City Kid Meets The Magic Of A Farm – We Will Miss Her Energy And Joy. And Go To Sleep As Soon As Possible

by Jon Katz

I’ve been taking pictures of Robin all weekend and posting many, but I’ve saved the most significant ones (to me) for now.

I got serious about my photography because I wanted an additional and credible way to tell my story, which is what the blog is all about. is an experiment in the living memoir, as shown as often as told. Photos can’t lie; they leave little to argue about in our suspicious and contentious world.

People often ask me two things about the blog: why would I share my life if I didn’t want the outer world’s advice, and why do I share so much of my life if I didn’t like and expect all the feedback I get, nasty or nice?

I’ve answered those questions a thousand times; people either get it or they don’t and never will. I don’t answer it anymore.

If this blog were in book form, everybody would understand it immediately  – I wrote four memoirs in book form and was never once asked either question –  but this is a new kind of memoir, and it will take more getting used to.

The people who get it like it. I have a lot of followers now. The blog began with words and now tells my story in two forms – words and images.

This weekend was a significant affirmation of that for me. On several levels, it is just what I hoped for. The pictures tell the story sometimes.

These photos, to me, are a way to tell the story of Robin’s visit in images that speak for themselves. I write a lot and often am too wordy at times.

These photos tell the story better in pictures than I could relate in words. You are invited to come and see them for yourselves. I put in words when necessary.

I’m still learning how to do this. I’m never quitting on words, but I love this powerful and often emotional new additional way for me to tell a story. My blog is an experiment that will only end with me.


The story of Robin coming to Bedlam Farm is not about a granddaughter and daughter visiting a father, grandfather, and stepmother. It’s about the magic of a farm, which drew me to this life in the first place.

A farm that gives children a chance to roam free in nature and the animal world, two things I believe essential to human health and well-being. She opened up here and I was able to return the favor.

When Robin first came here a year ago, she wanted little to do with the animals, which unnerved her. She found the donkeys overwhelmingly big. She stayed inside all day watching the fish.


This weekend, she was outside all day, feeding and talking to chickens, donkeys, sheep, dogs, and fish, sledding, and building a snowman. New experiences all. Maria’s presence made a huge difference.

She wants to come back. She wants us to go there.

As the photos show, Robin was doing things she had never done all weekend.

In the photo above, she held out several handfuls of grain for the sheep and was delighted when they ate it all. A heavy gate was between her and them.

Something magical happened here this weekend; we’ve seen the farm’s magic before, which is beautiful, before. This time, it struck even closer to home.

Robin is a city kid and a great and happy one. She is not shy or self-conscious and says what is on her mind. She is scary smart.

Her life is filled with classes, lessons, museums, and some of the richest cultures in the world.

She loves Brooklyn and believes it is superior to any other place she’s seen. She even talks a bit about Brooklyn.

Robin often calls me “wise guy” and “buster” when she is teasing me or arguing with me. She loves blowing paper straws at me and throwing snowballs at me when my back is turned. I love doing both back to her.

There are all sorts of ways to communicate.

I think there’s some love in there.

Every kid should get to stand on a hay pile once in a while and baaa like a sheep. They answered her back.

Robin has spent all of her in Brooklyn, surrounded by tall buildings, cement, and crowded streets.

She loves it there, but I thought the magic of Bedlam Farm would penetrate sooner or later. This was the week. This will never replace her love or life in Brooklyn; that’s not the idea. I think we all love animals in our hearts.

Some of us don’t get the opportunity to feel it.

Our farm will give her another way to see the world and feel the powerful pull of animals and nature. I wasn’t sure this would happen – my daughter has resisted the country thing – but it happened this weekend.

Enough said; see for yourself. I’ve written brief captions. Pictures do tell a thousand words.

Robin was throwing rocks over the pasture fence with Zinnia and Maria and loving it. Both of them were laughing each time they did it.

Robin finished the snowman Saturday but woke today realizing he needed some hair.

She got some moss to put on his head. She is delighted with the outcome and asked me to take pictures (Maria’s idea) so she can show the kids at school. Done.

We blew paper straws at one another all weekend, making a huge mess and learning how to communicate with each other. I understand I am not an easy person to get close to. If straws do it, great.

Wherever Robin went, Zinnia came along. He adopted her over the weekend; he was her dog. They want in and out of the barn all weekend. By today, she knew where everything was.

Sweet  Zinnia waited for us when we entered the barn; she didn’t move; she just waited for us to come out. She was a Disney dog for Robin.

Throwing rocks was so much fun; Robin did it again and again. She sees the world differently. She and Maria seem to be on the same channel. Maria was laughing just as hard.

Five strong women. Robin and Maria loved feeding the hens together. A year ago, Robin wouldn’t go near the hens; they made her nervous. Yesterday, she sat alongside them and demanded that they eat from her hand. They did.

I loved the sight and sound of them squatting on the ground and clicking loudly and enthusiastically. The chickens were a little puzzled but game. After all, food was involved.

19 March

Watching Daffy Duck, A Bear Pancake Breakfast – And A Beautiful Goodbye Sky

by Jon Katz

We had a riotous goodbye, me, Maria, and Robin howling to a Bugs Bunny cartoon Emma found for us on YouTube. It was the best goodbye; I love Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck couldn’t stop laughing; both were early mentors of mine.

We couldn’t stop laughing.

Robin loves bear pancakes, and we celebrated her visit by giving her a Bear Pancake. As we got ready to leave, the sun came out. Robin also loves Bugs Bunny, as does Emma.

We’re heading to the train station now; they are getting on a 1 p.m. train. When I return, I’ll sort through some animal pictures; the Bedlam Farm magic has hit Robin and even Emma. The bear pancakes were a hit.

More later. We left to a  beautiful opening sky.

My Blue Sky danced for me.

19 March

Cynthia’s Story (Robin’s Last Morning). A Beautiful Story

by Jon Katz
We’re taking Robin and Emma to the train later this morning; we’re having a pancake breakfast to celebrate the last day here. I have more photos to put up when we return; they focus on Robin’s extraordinary interaction with our animals.
I wanted to first post this message I got this morning From Cynthia Daniello, a friend I have never met and will probably never meet. Cynthia lives in Virginia; she is in her 80s and needs a wheelchair to move around.
A couple of years ago, she adopted a rescue dog named Edgard and learned that he was deaf. She learned how to talk to him, and their love for one another is one of the most beautiful dog stories I know.
I wanted to share this message with you, as it reaffirms what I do and tells us much about this brave and very kind woman.
She wouldn’t go to the hospital until she knew Edgar would be cared for. It almost cost her her life.
I am very proud my flowers helped her when she and Edgard needed help.
From Cynthia:
Jon, Home now, but I was in the hospital and rehab for about three weeks with pneumonia.
I wanted you to know how very much your lovely photos of flowers, the farm and
Robin perked me up. (I had my tablet with me.)
Edgar had good care in my absence, e.  I was very ill for a week before my neighbor
called the ambulance e.  I did not want to leave Ed r.  My son came and stayed
with Edgar for a week.  When he had to return, my neighbor took over and cared for m.  But he was delighted to see me home and is keeping a good eye on me
Thank you so much for your blog postings – even when you were tired!
More later.
Email SignupFree Email Signup