Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

9 June

Hen Party, Afternoon Mealworm Tea With The Ladies

by Jon Katz

Something new with the arrival of the two chicks. Maria has an afternoon tea with the hens every afternoon right after opening up the pastures to sheep.

The two older hens, who have no names and were not being sung to or cuddled, always steered clear of us until recently. Maria has been talking to them and both of us have been feeding them mealworms, which they love.

It’s a mealworm tea. Maria sits down with two handfuls of dried mealworms and the chickens come over carefully and peck the worms out of her hands.

Our afternoon tea is not like the Savoy in London, with no cookies or cakes or scones. Just meal worms, but it is a neat thing to come home and see the afternoon tea underway, with much clucking and pomp. The chicks and the older hens are getting along just fine.

The chicks are still sleeping in their crate in the barn. We’ll probably move them into the big roost this coming weekend.

9 June

A Positive Talk About The Cart Strip Illuminations:”Take What Is Offered You,” Said Jesus On The Mount. “The Heart Must Be Right As Well”

by Jon Katz

Take what is offered to you, but expect or demand nothing…” – Jesus Christ, Sermon On The Mount.

As with all good and honest negotiations, I need to keep the details secret as the talks get hotter and closer. I want to say I had an excellent visit to the Miller Farm, and I’m more optimistic than ever.

Last night, I pored through the Sermon On The Mount preaching by Jesus Christ for quotes that supported the idea of making the carriages safer. It was a good idea.

Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount challenged the crowds to live out his message of sacrifice and righteous living.

In doing so, he said, they will make the world a better place and bring others to God.

The Sermon on the Mount is the foundation and most sacred guide to how the Amish live and make decisions about their lives.

In respecting that, I make this conversation possible. Make the world a better place and point others to God.

First, I drove to see Mosie at his daughter’s new farm; he’s finishing up the details on the temporary house. Then I stopped at the farm and met with Barbara and several of the children in the family.

I showed them each and every image of the tapes in daylight and tapes in the dark. They carefully studied each one and made no comment about them. They were eager to see them and clearly impressed by their brightness when hit by car headlights.

The girls especially asked me good and thorough questions about the tapes and how they were made. I assured them they were not solar or battery powered.

It’s Mosie’s decision ultimately, but I wanted to see if his wife and children would have a say. They clearly do.

Moise was very busy, but I gave him the details of my experiment with the 3-D illumination tape. He was very impressed and very interested in the two or three details he saw.

I also told him I had searched through Jesus’s Sermon On the Mount, a cornerstone teaching of the Amish faith.

I surprised him, I think, by quoting Franklin Roosevelt as preaching that “no greater blessing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion. I doubt if there is any problem in the world today – social, political, or economic, that would not find a happy solution if approached in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount.”

In that spirit, I said that I raised the issue of the brighter lights on the cart. I believe we had possibly found a happy solution to an important problem. Perhaps this one would leave everyone happy.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is said to have preached to his followers that “following the Law to the letter is not good enough. The heart must be right as well.”

The concerns about the safety of the cars all came from the hearts of people, I said. Good hearts were right. Perhaps they found me for a reason.

I realized, I said, that there were deep and important religious obstacles to changing how the Old Amish carts were illuminated, I knew it would take time, but I think I might have a plan that would respect all of them and leave the cart intact unchanged.

We made plans to talk alone tomorrow or Friday, depending on how much work gets done on his daughter’s temporary home a couple of miles away from his farm. He said he was very comfortable talking again.

I was able to drive several things home to Moise and Barbara and the children – all of them wanted to see my images taken at night Tuesday.

One was that the tapes were invisible in the daytime, two that they had many options of using the tape without changing the cart’s look at all.

They could replace the four white strips now used for illumination. They could simply add a few that would not be seen in daylight but would be very bright in the dark.

They showed the invisible tape on the cart during the day, and the very bright reflections at night, taken from my car in the rain at several distances.

Once again, I offered to stop the process if Moise asked me to, and for the third time, he said he was open to what I was saying and wanted to continue the conversation.

I know he has to talk to other people, and I know there may be intense resistance to changing anything to do with the cart.

But he’s what my grandfather called a mensch, a person of integrity and honor.

If he says the process should go forward, then it will go forward.

I might know more tomorrow; I might not know anything for weeks or even months. I don’t know if Moise can make minor alterations to the cart himself or not.

And I might not ever know. I do know I had a different and excellent feeling about today. Those photos really told the story better than my words could.

My gut says we moved forward with our experiment this weekend. Take what is offered to you. Expect or demand nothng.

9 June

My Big Turn To Cauliflower Pizza Crust

by Jon Katz

I made a Cauliflower pizza crust dinner tonight; Cauliflower crusts are not the only crusts I use. They are thin, tasty, and light. Because they are smaller, they are easier to prepare, cook and eat.

I used a pizza stone in the oven and sprinkled cornmeal over the wood platter to prepare the pizza. I take the pizza out of the package just before cooking time, 12-15 degrees at 420 degrees.

I painted homemade pesto from a Vermont farm on the crust,  then spread kale leaves across the pizza. I added 10 or 12 cooked broccoli heads on a bed of seven slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese.

Then I sprinkled pine nuts over the crust and put it in the oven. I overcooked it by a minute or two, but it was delicious, the crust was crisp and delicious, this is a  great meal for us both in summer and winter.

Thanks to our friend Julz Iron for turning us onto cauliflower, my default crust now. (It’s available in supermarkets everywhere in the Frozen Pizza department.

9 June

The Prom Queen Gets On TV Today. The Prom Is Friday

by Jon Katz

We’re getting excited here. Zinnia has been chosen Prom Queen at Bishop Maginn High School’s Farewell Feast on Friday night. From 6 to 9 p.m.

Zinnia was on Albany TV tonight, I didn’t see it, but her picture was on the evening news.

I plan to dance with the kids (I have three requests) if they don’t mind my boot on my left foot. It won’t be pretty.

Zinnia will have a blast, and I’m sure she’ll get her mouth on some of that foot.

The student’s parents are preparing the food, and there are already 20 different kinds of meals coming from all over the world – Mexican, Asian, African, Japanese, Chinese.

TV crews are coming to film her on Friday night. I gather she’s getting a pink bow tie and scarf (from Maria.) Zinnia has been written about several times in the Albany media. She’s a thing.

I started training Zinnia as a therapy dog at Bishop Maginn three years ago. The idea was for her to train with the children she’d be providing therapy support for. They were all chosen by the school, and we trained her together as a therapy dog.

As she grew up, she slipped into the therapy role naturally. It was a great way to train her and helped several students overcome their fear of dogs. At the end of the year, nobody in the group was afraid of dogs.

Zinna bonded beautifully with a dozen or more of the students there, and when we show up at the school, it’s like going home for her in a way; she and the students rush towards each other and fall to the ground, hugging and kissing and licking and wagging.

The pandemic interrupted our training, but we will be going to Bishop Maginn all summer.

Because of the rise in crime in Albany, Sue Silverstein opens up her art class (and the student gym) for students who need a place to go and get off the streets.

I’ll bring Zinnia to the gym and Sue’s art classes all summer and write about it on the blog.  We’ll also be back in September for our regular therapy work as the school fully reopens.

I’m proud of Zinnia. She’s a fabulous therapy dog, and I’m proud that the kids want to honor her. They very much wanted her to come. Friday is going to be a blast; Sue Silverstein says the kids are incredibly excited about it.

The Bishop Maginn experience has been one of the most meaningful of my life, and thanks to all of you, we did a ton of good. More to come.

They lost almost all of their festivities last year because of the pandemic and the experience of finishing high school. This year was better, but not normal.

Friday is critical to them as they say goodbye to a school that has been a lifesaver for so many of them. All are going to college. I’m grateful to be there.

9 June

Tina’s Work

by Jon Katz

I’ve fallen in love with Tina, the Miller’s farm dog; she has a great back story. She got part of her left front leg sawed off in a  buzz saw.

Moise carried her into a barn, cut off her dangling paw, bandaged her up, and kept her quiet for a day or two. She runs hard and often.

Two days after the accident, she was out working around his farm. What, I wondered, is Tina’s work, and this week I have figured it out.

It is the children. Whenever I see Tina, she is out with the children. Watching them plow, watching them plant, watching them pick rocks up off of the tilled ground, watching them back and forth to re-supply the wooden shed where they sell their baked goods and vegetables.

She is always with them. When she sees me, she runs up, jumps into my arms, licks my face, jumps off, and goes out to find the children wherever they are.

She gets in front of them when cars or trucks arrive when they wander into the field when they walk towards the woods. She is a working dog through and through, and that is her work.

When the girls go into the pasture to water the seeds and crops, Tina climbs to the top of the hill and watches them until they come back. Luck, all great working dogs, she can neither be distracted nor deterred.

What a great heart she is. This week, I have to go and pick up some more dog food for her; she is thriving on the new Purina premium brand. I’ve chosen for her, with the family’s blessing.

I love working dogs, and she is one of the greatest working dogs I have seen. The other day, the small children went out into the field to help pick up rocks. Whenever they picked up a big one, one too big for them, Tina would run over to one of the older boys or girls, and they would come and help carry the rock to a pile.

When the kids started to head to the barn for lunch, Tina followed behind them and lay down on the floor to nap while they had their lunch. I love this dog and am happy to see how contented she is with this work.

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