Rosh Chodesh

   For over a year, I've been holding gatherings to celebrate the new moon of the Hebrew months. It's called Rosh Chodesh.  Chodesh means moon or month, chadash means new. Rosh means the head or start of the month.
    My friend Deanne Bednar holdsFull Moon celebrations at her place. It's usually a large crowd, often delicious food, and always exciting to walk around and see the new projects developing.
    Deanne and tribal mother/sister Tina Kahn were the 2 friends who supported me at the start of the Rosh Chodesh project.  I made a commitment to myself to light the tipi fire and celbrated the New Moon whether anyone joined me or not.  But I am such a one for others, I must constantly shake myself and remind myself – hey! – this tipi is here for me every day! If I want to commune with Shekinah in the Makom, the Holy Place, it is open to me! I placed a cot inside and thickened it with blankets and foam so I can rest there.
    I wanted to dedicate it on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, celebrated Sunday, but the rain came straight down on that windless, almost balmy late November afternoon.  The smoke was intense.  "This is too much with my asthma", said Miriam, "I'm going to bail." Sara Rus was holding the scarf over her nose and mouth, indicating her difficulty with the situation.  "Alright", I said, although I'd hoped we could overcome it.  So we went into the basement of the house, in my meditation/yoga room and convened there.  It was good.
    The 1st commandment given to the Israelites after being delivered out of Egypt, was to sanctify the new moon (Exodus 12:1-2). The Egyptians worshipped the sun-god Ra.  It seemed that the Israelites listened to the beat of a different drummer. They looked to the moon for a new means of reckoning time and seasons.  Jewish days start at sundown, as it is written "and it was evening and it was morning, the 1st (2nd, etc) day" in Genesis.
     Imagine a time when the month didn't begin until 2 people staring west into the dusk in Jerusalem, observed the waxing sliver of a moon. The followind day was a festival marked with music, speeches and sacrifices. In the time of Hillel II (360 C.E.), the pattern became so clear they fixed the calendar. Thanks to Chabad House of Flint, I have a calendar with all the important dates and times.
    My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.  I am nothing if not inclusive.  God is not a respecter of persons.  All are equal in that each one is here to fulfill their purpose, so they must discover what that is.  B'ruch HaShem.

Womens Writing Workshop

Title: Womens Writing Workshop
Location: House at Three Roods Farm
Link out: Click here
Description: The one and only Rae Bird leads us into Sacred Space where our Inner Muses arise and amaze us all. Bring a journal, a pen and a dish to share if you’d like to stay for lunch. Snacks and tea/coffee provided.

Start Time: 10:00
End Time: 14:00

Next Class: Wednesday, March 21st

Cost: $25

Schnitzle, always nearby.

Wrapping up the season

Its been a year of contrasts.  Long late rains in the spring which delayed planting up the fields, followed immediately by a hot, dry summer which shriveled the lettuce and cabbage before it could make any growth. The honey harvest was good. We had abundant apples, chestnuts and peaches, but few cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant.

We hosted the 2 oldest interns, Spring Goldeneagle and Anna Li as well as the youngest intern, Lily Wilkie-Jones and many others in between.  Thanks to all who blessed us with their willingness to lend a hand. Greg and I so much enjoy the exchange of energy and ideas.

Emily and Nate Brezinski joined Cameron, Michael Mallon and myself for an apple cider making extravaganza courtesy of my friends at Hilltop Barn.   This year we added crab apples to the mix which made it sweeter and thicker. So delicious!

According to the Jewish calendar, a New Year has begun. It’s 5772! I never did take down the tipi this year. Talked myself out of it. It only has a few wrinkles and there’s always a chance I’ll put it up worse.  Besides, I’m planning a tipi painting party in the spring.  We’ll take an entire week – take down the tipi, clean the canvas, condition the canvas with a mold resistant solution, and then paint it!  Hoping Persephone, Maggie, Monica, Cameron, and Kjartan can coordinate to come. All welcome.

Meanwhile, had a terrific visit with former intern David Rittenhouse. He stopped here with a friend on their way to Maine. David was here in 2009 and helped me put the tipi up the very first time.

 David and Adam helped me move the firewood to a new location and then brush hogged the old area.  I think Dave amazed himself that he remembered how to use the brush hog.  Big improvement. The Hebrew calendar wheel is now under a tarp til spring.



I’m celebrating the Sukkot holiday in the Tent of Meeting. Happy for all the occupation of cities going on, including Flint.  May the Almighty One spread the Sukkah of Peace across the nation, rather across the entire world! We should all have that much faith to live outdoors and know that our needs will be met.  To share with one another, to remember our ancestors, to create a simple life. To decrease our dependence on the government and the corporations who do not have our interests at heart.  To expect nothing and to be happy with all that we have been given.


The Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, joined by some  members of our CSA, bravely walked all over the farm in cold, wet, windy weather searching for hidden fungi.  We found several edible varieties, but all were too old to eat.  Now that I know what to look for and where I might find them, I will be more proactive in the future. Everyone learned a lot about mushrooms and the potluck was delicious.

Winter Writing Workshop

Rae writingThe popular Women’s Writing Workshop resumes this month. Leader Rae Bird uses Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes as a jumping off point.  Rae has involved herself in womens writing groups for many years and is an expert on the subject as well as an inspiring example of the Wild Woman archetype. 

Classes will meet on 3rd Wednesdays from November through February: 10am – 2pm. We do some writing in the house, some in the tipi. We share a potluck lunch.  Bring a journal.  $80 before the start of the first class will cover all 4 classes. Individual classes are $25.

Unleash your creative potential! You’ll be amazed to hear your own ‘writing voice’ speak to you. The first class is November 17th. (photo from the summer workshop)

Time Out for Grandchildren

Our grandchildren
Our grandchildren

Greg and I will be away most of February visiting our son Zayn and his family in Kuching, Sarawak.  This is on Borneo Island where he has lived with his wonderful Malaysian wife Raudzah since December 2002.

Although Greg and I have each made 2 trips to Malaysia in the past 13 years, it is the first time we are able to travel there together.  We are very excited!

Sam Wagner, our winter intern, will be looking after the farm.  We have no worries that all will be well in his capable hands.

Yoga classes will resume the last Thursday of February at the  United Methodist Church in Columbiaville.  8:30 – 10:00.

Eggs are still available through the winter. Just come to the front door.

Yoga classes at 3RF

Satchidananda's Yantra
Satchidananda's Yantra

The first news of 2010 is that Integral Yoga classes are starting up at 3RF.

Robin has been a student of yoga for 40 years and a teacher of yoga since 2001.  Most of her training has been through the Integral Yoga Institute founded by Swami Satchidananda who came to the USA in the late 1960’s and stayed at the request of his students.

A large ashram was built in the 1980’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Buckingham County Virginia. The community that has grown up around it is lovingly called Yogaville.  All facets of yoga are taught and practiced at this place.

The classes offered at 3RF are Level I-II suitable for all ages, but especially for those who enjoy gentle stretching, breath work and deep relaxation.

Time Out Fiber Guild

Robin spins wool
Robin spins wool

For several years, I’ve organized a local fiber guild in the off-farm season. We take turns hosting the meetings which occur every other week.  Women come with their spinning wheels, knitting needles or felting projects.

This year, our meetings began in October. We’ll continue until the warm weather calls us outside again.

All are welcome.  Please check the calendar for times and places.  Let me or the host know if you are planning to come.

Winter in the Tipi

November sunset
November sunset

After some discussion, Greg agreed to my request that we leave the tipi up through the winter. I convinced him that it will get sufficient use to offset the ‘wear and tear’.

Sure enough, 2 young interns appeared who want nothing more than to camp outside through a Michigan winter. Staying in our tipi is an answer to their prayers.  Megan and Sam and I winterized the tipi by laying down lots of rugs on top of the ground cover. We wrapped old t-shirts around small logs and placed them all around the base of the tipi to keep out cold winds.

Last week, Sam’s father installed tubing from the outside of the tipi on the west side, directly into the fire pit.  This will keep oxygen coming into the fire pit, assuring a strong fire.  Sam and his friends brought in several cords of wood.

I brought 11 pounds of sheep fleece to the woolen mill in Frankenmuth and asked them to make a full size mattress for me.  I’m determined to sleep outside in the cold, too.  If I can make it nice enough, I might be able to convince my husband to sleep out there with me and keep me warm.  Meanwhile,  Sam and Megan are definitely the hottest couple in Columbiaville!

The Tipi is up!

Dave, Trish, Verena, Robin
Dave, Trish, Verena, Robin

On a beautiful Sunday in July, the dream of a tipi became a reality. It had started as an idea: a place for the grandchildren to play when they visit.  It grew to become a place for guests to stay, for womens groups to meet, for spiritual congregation. At this point, my hope is that it will be a place of blessing for all who enter, whatever their purpose.

Myself, several interns and a couple of friends had spent a month sanding and oiling the poles.  Then we waited for the rains to stop, after which the sod was cleared and a yard of sand brought in. Finally, the perfect day arrived.

Robin brings the first pole.
Robin brings the first pole.

With the help of interns Verena Eichenberger from Switzerland and David Rittenhouse of Minnesota, I gathered all the necessary items and we drove out to the site. We opened up the tipi cover and began laying out the tripod poles. The Nomadic Tipi Company had sent along very clear instructions with many photos.  Moreover, I had been lucky enough to have assisted Toby Benetti, Michigan’s own tipi maven, in setting up his tipi in May, so I had ‘experience’.

Pulling up the tripod poles.
Pulling up the tripod poles.

We selected the 3 biggest poles for the tripod and determined the angle for the door pole. Then we made a clove hitch knot and while Verena pulled, I pushed. David took all the photos.  Theoretically, 2 people who know what they’re doing, can set up a tipi in half an hour. It took us all day. But what’s the rush? We knew the knot was strong because Verena proved it.IMG_0152 We spent much time centering the tripod poles at the correct angles in the alloted space. Fortunately David had learned trig in high school so he figured it out. Then we laid in the remaining 12 poles. The instructions called for someone to whip and snap the long piece of rope around the poles. Fortunately, Dave was tall enough and strong enough to be our whipper-snapper.  The dictionary says that a whipper-snapper is a presumptuos person. But I don’t think Daniel Webster was ever called upon to help put up a tipi or he would have given another definition.

A young whipper-snapper.
A young whipper-snapper.

As soon as the frame was up, we noticed one groundhog – and then another – step out from the edge of the windbreak, stand up on their hind legs and look curiously in our direction, as if to figure out who their new neighbors could possibly be.  Dave hoped they might bring over a welcome basked with treats for us. No such luck. But Trish Hansel, who happened by around this time, suggested that we make an offering to them when we have our first meal at the tipi. In any case, we took a break for lunch.

Pinning the tipi together.
Pinning the tipi together.

The canvas cover is very heavy. We used the last pole to hoist it up and then unfurled it around the other poles.  The tipi is held together with sharpened wooden dowels which pierce the overlapping pre-made holes. It was hard to get the pins into those tight holes. I can see how this entire process will be easier next time.  We used a step ladder to reach the highest holes.  If you didn’t have a ladder, one person could climb on another’s back to reach it. After this, we staked the tipi down all around the bottom.  Then it was time to put in the liner.

IMG_0169Verena and Trish worked together to get the smoke flap poles into the sewn pocket flaps. That was a tricky task.  It has been accomplished in this photo. The clouds gave us the message that a storm was approaching.  So we kept working busily, even though we were tiring of the job. We put 3 levels of rope around the poles on the inside of the tipi. These were used to attach strings from the liner pads, so the liner would stay up.  The inside liner is 6 feet tall.

Trish ties on the liner.
Trish ties on the liner.

One of the amazing things is that a tipi kit doesn’t cost much more that a good computer system.  Another, is that Native Americans lived through cold winters in such tents because the tipi is the only tent design that allows an indoor fire!  The smoke hole at the top takes all the smoke out, and the cozy design means that a small fire will keep the inhabitants quite warm.  The inner liner provides privacy when a fire is lit and also keeps the occupants drier in a rain.

looking up from the doorway
looking up from the doorway

I’m looking forward to sleeping in the tipi. And hosting womens writing groups. And holding satsang.  And playing with my grandchildren……