A Message from our Hens

DSCF2754HI THERE!

We’re the hens at Three Roods Farm. The white chicken on the roosting bar is our rooster. That’s how he got his name. He roosts. We do all the work.

DSCF2750We’ve been at this farm for almost a year now.  Greg and Robin take good care of us here. We look forward to that green bucket of organic grain every morning. In the afternoon they bring us their food scraps. They make sprouted spelt just for us, too.

DSCF2752When we first came to this coop, there was dirt and weeds to peck through. Now there’s only snow. On a sunny day, we come out and scratch through the hay and scraps they set out for us. It keeps our spirits up. Better than nothing.

DSCF2755Our coop is warm and cozy, yet spacious enough for all of us. Amongst the 27 of us, we lay about 2 dozen a day, even in this cold weather. Greg and Robin gather our eggs, clean them and package them up nicely. You can buy a dozen for $5. Then they can buy more feed for us. They buy only certified organic feed.

DSCF2741It’s hard to believe, but they say the sun will get so strong, it will melt all this snow and we’ll be outside all the time. I hope they’re right. We’ll see you then!  Meanwhile, reserve your share of the 2014 CSA harvest! See the Subscription Garden page for details!

Slippin’ out between Storms

First came the ice storm.  4 days without electricity. Dreariness.

DSCF2693 DSCF2694 DSCF2695The poor river birch tree was heavy laden.  I thought it might never recover.  Greg and I went out that first morning at 6am to clear the driveway so I could go to work. No way! Another huge branch had fallen from that old willow and completely blocked my way. It was still dark and we could hear cracking sounds and thuds of falling branches in several directions.  Without light we had no way to tell if we were in line to be struck down, so we went inside and waited for daybreak. Fortunately, Greg had a new chain saw. He made light work of that limb once he could see what he was doing.

When the electricity came back, we were packed and ready. We got on the road and went to New Orleans to celebrate the marriage of our daughter Esther Rose to Luke Winslow King.  Queen Esther found her King.  I had too much fun to take many photos, but here are a few favorites:DSCF2700I took this one after we parked downtown and before we all got dirty.  I should have taken it in front of the restored historic mansion which Luke and Esther are renting. You’ll have to pretend.  Can you imagine all 14 of us under one roof? Not in this little house.  But I could not have photographed all of us and their mansion and gotten it in 1 picture. It’s that big.

DSCF2697Sophia and her beau.  Although they are both gainfully employed, I think they could earn well as models if need be.

DSCF2726Sophia with her father.  Now there’s a good-looking gentleman! What? He’s 63?  63 never looked so good!

DSCF2719Luke and Esther treated us to Sunday brunch at one of the fanciest restaurants in New Orleans: Antoine’s.  Established in 1840.  Rumored to be the birthplace of the Baked Alaska, as seen in this photo.  Cake on the outside, ice cream inside.  The waiters came around to drizzle chocolate sauce on our pieces.  Musicians serenaded us.

DSCF2734Look at the color! This is not only a food co-op.  It contains a healing arts center, a middle eastern restaurant, hip clothing store, and more.

DSCF2728The rug I made as a wedding gift from the wool of our Shetland sheep.

Esther and LukeInexplicably, I took no photos of Luke and Esther.  Probably because there are so many great ones already in cyberspace. I love this one.

Parting was sweet sorrow, but we knew another storm was coming so left while the weather was good, taking 2 nights at the home of friends along the way as we had on our way down.

Near Lansing the snow began.  We made it home safely. Snow fell all night, the next day, and the next day for a total of 15 inches.

DSCF2740DSCF2746DSCF2738DSCF2743DSCF2745That’s Michigan for ya.  Love it or leave it.  I choose to love it. For now.

 

The Old Willow Tree

Most of the trees at Three Roods Farm were planted by Greg, our family and the interns.  Some maples were started by the wind-blown seeds and some nut and oak trees were helped along by the squirrels.  But the big willow tree at the entrance to our farm was there before we were.  My father said it was his favorite tree. Here’s how it looked in October.DSCF2636This month a huge storm with terrible tornadoes hit the midwest.  We lost power for a few hours.  Some of our neighbors were without power for a couple of days.  The willow lost a huge limb.  Greg hired a fellow with a ‘cherry picker’ to come saw off the hanging branches, known as ‘widow makers’.  Here’s what the tree looks like now.

DSCF2645The feller made several piles of logs under the tree.

DSCF2646Greg cut some of it up for tipi firewood. DSCF2649He chopped some into smaller pieces.DSCF2652Willow wood is light and will burn quickly.  But this is how we make the best of our misfortune. DSCF2650I wheeled the wood over to our new wood shed and tucked it away under the tarp.  Note the new rain barrel painted by dear friend Karen Page.  Greg happened to have a perfect size gutter piece in the barn amongst countless odd bits of junk he’s collected through the years. Now I need to figure out how to affix the gutter to the roof of the wood shed so as to harvest the rain water next spring. DSCF2654

 

 

A Poem

Their farm grows ideas

even now

when they are settled in

tied down to the plants

like a mortgage or a bill.

 

It still feeds minds

tends spirits that come in

 interrupting sentences of their

lives, paragraphs of gardens.

 

And now, decisions must be

made, like weeds to be pulled.

The grass grows tall,

flowers will grow.

The grass grows tall,

flowers will grow.

- by Iris Fuchs

 

Opening to Newness

dried fruitsAccording to the Jewish calendar, the New Year 5774 has just begun. In the USA school starts at this time of year, so most of us have a sense of new beginnings when September comes. As I open to new beginnings, I give thanks for all that has brought me to this time and place.

banana peppersMuch was said last year about selling the farm.  That is no longer being considered.  Rather we intend to keep doing what we’ve been doing and adding more community service events to our calendar. Our main raison d’être is our organic farm homestead through which we offer CSA shares. CSA member Larry Weber enjoys coming to the farm.

happy face

Our love of community service and cultural exchange brought us in contact with the WWOOF network.  We’ve hosted over 100 volunteers from as far away as Korea and Japan, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. This year we had 3 from exotic Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

DSCF2420

Women gather in the Tent on the New Moon to sing and share deeply, observing the cycles of the moon and the changes in our lives. We study Kabbalah and related teachings. A calendar wheel garden and a woodshed round out the area.  Potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes are planted nearby.

Deborah outside the Tent of Meeting

The Time Our Fiber Guild was started at 3RF about 8 years ago.  Women bring their fiber projects such as spinning wool, weaving, knitting or felting.  We meet informally, sharing ideas, laughter and a potluck lunch. We’ve grown so large, we now meet 4th Fridays at the Marathon Township Hall..

Digital Camera

Starting this year, Three Roods Farm will host non-denominational spiritual gatherings called Oneness Congregations. The purpose is to bring us into awareness of our Unity and join us in Love. The teachings of the Nirankari Baba will be shared. All are welcome. Bring a song, a story, a prayer, or simply share from the heart. Meetings are on 2nd and 4th Sundays at 11am.  The first Oneness Congregation is September 22nd. The Nirankari Baba and his wife Pujya Mataji visited our farm in 1996. Since then, the blessings have been flowing for all who come.

babaji and pujamataji

The top 3 photos are courtesy of newest intern, Penelope Crawford-Cottrell. She arrived recently from Portland, Oregon where she completed her undergraduate degree at  Lewis and Clark U. She is visiting family and friends in Michigan and doing a month-long stay at 3RF. We’re glad she’s here.  She seems happy, too.

happy intern

 

Julie Boy, it’s July!

DSCF2482Which means it’s your birthday month. Don’t we know it? Leonard is your middle name, Leo your sun sign, and your temperament is lion-hearted!

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1923 – so long ago! As a little boy, you rode a wagon with your Zeidy Max behind a horse named Dick, a horse so smart he knew where to stop along the route, despite being blind.  Your Zeidy delivered ice to his customers in those days before homes had refrigerators.  They had ‘ice boxes’ to keep food cold.  Oh those were the days!

You arrived in Michigan on July 3rd this year, in time to celebrate my 40th marriage anniversary the very next day.  The Luke Winslow King band played under the tent after lunch and you danced with me, just like we did long ago.  Dancing with Zaidy July 4th 2013 #2 Dancing with Zaidy July 4th 2013 #3

You were my first dance partner.  Mom didn’t enjoy dancing, so you danced with me at all the weddings and bar mitzvahs.  I took classes in ballroom dancing in 6th grade and that helped me follow you around the dance floor. 

Daddio, you take such pleasure in life! Drink, gezunte haid! 

Farm interns who are lucky to be here when you come visit me, always learn a few Yiddish phrases.  D’rehdle raitzakh – the wheel turns! Now it is time for you to share the wisdom of your experiences. 

I love the way you talk to yourself  ‘so someone will listen’.  I rarely need to admonish you, because you eventually tell yourself to sheket, to sha, to be quiet, Julie boy. 

 

You make people smile wherever we go.  You disarm them with your  ‘Hable Espaniole, Baby?’  Or by asking the young girl at the ice cream parlor, ‘Do you sell ice cream here?’  Out of respect, people don’t ignore you.  They think you’re confused, but soon they realize that you’re just having fun with them.  They laugh.  Whatever they’re doing becomes a pleasure.  Because of you. DSCF2514

June sings a happy tune

Please note: We had a computer glitch which erased all the posts since August 2012. We are working on restoring the site.

Strawberries!

Strawberries!

When the weather is normal, we feel so happy.  June weather has been normal so far.  Yay!

All the seedlings are in the ground and doing well.

We have certain vegetables growing in the chicken yard where the deer can’t get them: beets, Swiss chard, carrots, leeks and spinach.

The CSA started on time and our 1/2 share members got a pound of strawberries on the 2nd harvest. They also got rhubarb, sorrel, Swiss chard, purple scallions, garlic scapes, radishes and marjoram.

The 1st harvest was sorrel, rhubarb, horseradish leaf, dill weed, mint, and purple scallions.

Meghan cleans the sorrel.

Meghan cleans the sorrel.

The 3rd harvest, on June 27th, will contain spinach, peas, strawberries, lettuce mix, dill, purple scallions and Juneberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meghan picks a winner.

Meghan picks a winner.

Willing workers continue to show up and help with the farm work. Meghan McKnight has been here since April.  She was joined by Theo Manazir from Burlington, Vermont and then Jesie Stefani from Mt Pleasant, Michigan.   Most recently, Amy and Dan from Pittsburgh have come to help for a month.  So the first 3 we’ve ever had from Pittsburgh are here at the same time!

Amy and Dan thin the apples.

Amy and Dan thin the apples.

The orchard looks good. We have 5 apple trees, 1 peach tree and several chestnut trees which should bear fruit this year. Greg planted apricot trees last month.

 

 

 

Merriweather and Robin.

Merriweather and Robin.

The bees are doing well.  I checked the hives with a Vermont beekeeper’s daughter, Meriweather, who has learned much from her father. She was visiting my daughter Sophia.

 

 

 

Sophia and Merriweather plant out lettuce and kale.

Sophia and Merriweather plant out lettuce and kale.

Careful hands.

Careful hands.

Midsummer’s Superhero Deluge

August began with intern Sarah Boehm leaving after her two-week stay on the farm. As she left, two new interns filtered in to take her place.  Peyton Ginakes (coming from Minnesota) and Emily Hines (traveling from Colorado Springs) came at an unusually hot and dry time. The long drought that has been plaguing the US has certainly been felt here at Three Roods. Luckily, rain came just in time. Here they are weeding the Saskatoons.

018

The excitement of the precipitation was paralleled by the arrival of our visitors: a rowdy, affectionate, and colorful group of 21 Superheroes. Organized by Laughing Moon and Stardust, the Michigan Superhero Bike Ride began with the intention to bike through SE Michigan performing random acts of goodness and allowing their collective consciences to lead the way. After several days of synergizing energy, they broke camp this morning with words of gratitude and inspiration – along with singing and dancing. All was right with the world.

Super Heroes say grace before lunch.

P1010113 Sarah’s last day at Three Roods Farm.

P1010125A preview of the glorious tomato harvest. We tried a small variety called Indigo. It is a deep purple and green while ripening. When the green becomes red and the purple becomes black, its ready.  It’s visible in the foreground of the photo. Despite the excitement of a purple tomato, the taste is dull.

045Dr Greg, later dubbed Mulching Peacock, talking with Superhero Training  Director, Laughing Moon.

033The Superhero stance.

031Bike ride organizers Laughing Moon and Stardust with Dancing Breath.

058

The Superheroes, capes flying in the wind, depart on heavily laden bikes. Bon voyage! Adieu!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July flew by

July 29th. The end of a full weekend.  All my daughters were here for their cousin's wedding, and a very happy affair it was.  Intern Rivka Switala left this morning after a 4 month internship. So much gratitude for her excellent help! I'm taking time to catch up and post some recent photos taken by new intern Sarah Boehm, a teacher from Massachusetts. 

 

This week brought rains giving over an 2 inches of needed moisture.  The garden has responded with bright colors and ripening vegetables. These are crookneck squash with a visiting honeybee.

 

 

 

 

Rivka found someone her own size to talk with.

 

 

 

 

 

                                              

                                              Sun Gold tomatoes in all stages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close-up of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz on the barn roof this morning.

 

 

 

Sarah and Rivka spent some time visiting the sheep and in the tipi and then Sarah conducted this interview:

Sarah: Since arriving at Three Roods Farm earlier this week, Rivka, who has been here since April, has been my guide. She showed me the secret to collecting eggs without getting pecked and how to know when the cucumbers are ripe for picking.

Sarah: What brought you to Three Roods Farm?
Rivka: I was here for a week in 2011, preparing for an Ag-Forestry program with the Peace Corps. During my stay I received an invitation to go to Ukraine.  I spent several months there. After returning to the States,  Robin found me on facebook and  invited me to come and do an internship this summer.

Sarah: What has been your favorite project at the farm?
Rivka: The act of moving the sheep, known as rotational grazing. Watching them leap after Greg opens the fence has been an entirely new experience. Watching the lambs grow has been really rewarding.


Sarah: Have you eaten any foods here that you had not eaten previously?
Rivka: Greg's fermented oats for breakfast. Edible weeds like lambs quarters. Different meats such as lamb liver and lamb heart. I never knew how delicious lamb heart was.


Sarah: How has the farm changed since you arrived?
Rivka: The whole place has changed altogether: there were no crops planted when I arrived, and now as you can see the place is full of all different sorts of plants. In the spring we did more forestry because it was too cold to plant.  But after it warmed up our time has been consumed in growing food.

Sarah:Have you changed at all during your time here?
Rivka: I feel more open, more connected with nature and like I have a deeper understanding of the earth. It has created in me a peaceful balance.

Sarah: What lessons have you learned these four months?
Rivka: Maintaining patience and seeing projects through. I've learned that if something doesn't go according to the plan you can start over with something new, which often times works out better.

The Formless Farm

Only two weeks here and time has already faded away. That seems to happen when you fall in love. Before arriving to 3RF, dates and times, schedules and weeks, tomorrow and yesterday, I was thinking all about when the events in my life would happen. Sometimes waiting and remembering kept me from the present experience, right now, in each moment.

It helps that the landscape here is more beautiful than I could have imagined. Immersed in nature, the birds and fireflies, the plants and trees, the sun and bees, I have found a balance in the perfection of nature‘s handiwork.

While reflecting on the feelings of pure nature I have begun to quiet my mind. More and more I am tuning my inner-being and body together with the rhythms of nature. Meditating in the magnificence of this place I feel balance and become calm like the silent sun. When my total self is in the present, I am able to perceive and learn more. I have only been here a couple of weeks and yet I have gained so much.

 

Greg is incredibly knowledgeable so I try to absorb everything I can. Just like the plants! (It has been so hot and dry here that the plants extend their roots to try and absorb all the water they can.) I have learned so much about organic farming that I can’t wait to one day have a permaculture farm of my own. Planting and harvesting your own food is very rewarding because you and the plants must work together. One of the greatest lessons that I have learned here at 3RF is that you can choose which seeds to plant. And those seeds that you choose to water are the ones that will grow. These seeds can represent any thought, feeling, or behavior. 

Robin is full of goodness. She always helps to bring a positive atmosphere, especially after working on the farm all day. She is a refreshing brilliant light of peace. She has also given me so much and has been a catalyst to my spiritual growth.

Both Greg and Robin have been generous to take in interns and make us feel at home. They remind me of my own loving parents, and I am so grateful for their gift.

I will always remember my time at 3RF, and all of the amazing people that have come into my life. An intern named Rebekah (Rifkah)is a beautiful person who has taught me to see all sides of things. I look to her as big sister. She is a boss.

Marian, who is our lovely Kiwi neighbor intern over at Clark’s place, has been a great person to meet. And most recently Sophia Rose, a friendly herbalist, has joined us on the farm traveling all the way from Texas.  And I can’t forget about Schnitzel, who is recovering from a hurt paw, and cats George and Fuzzy.  
       

 

Three Roods Farm has a special spot in my heart where I will always be reminded to be more present in each moment.  I have fallen in love with this place. I want Greg and Robin to know that this land is not what I fell in love with. Rather, it is the formless atmosphere that has been created by two awesome beings, as well as everyone that was here before me.

My spirit has been truly uplifted on this stop of my journey. Excited to see what comes next! Please comment, and keep me updated!

Peace,

Ryan Abboud