Monday, March 31, 2008

Old trees

We went to the farm near Grand Rapids this weekend. There is still some snow there. It is nice to see the snow on the two-track, because it lets us know if there have been trespassers or not!

I spent the weekend taking pictures of the trees in one of the orchards. Some are still in healthy condition but others are really in bad shape.

I took 359 pictures, all are of individual trees except for a few at the end of the rows. It is overwhelming how much work we have to do. I did the biggest orchard, but I suspect there are nearly as many trees remaining, if not more, in the other sections. The corner of this orchard has really old, standard-size trees. The blackberries and raspberries grow really densely in this part of the orchard. There are quite a few limbs down and we can't get in and get the mower to mow down the berries until we remove the fallen limbs. Since we're not able to get there every weekend, and have a limited amount of time when we are there, I'm not sure we'll ever get done.
I originally had an idea to catalog each tree and document the process of bringing it back into production. I am wondering now if maybe I should just heed DH's advice and bulldoze them all.
If we have 1000 trees, and we saved 10 percent, I would have to identify the 100 best trees. That still seems like a lot of trees to take care of.

Monday, March 17, 2008

random paragraphs

I've been having a lot of back/hip pain recently. Got X-rays and an MRI and it seems that I have stenosis of the spine and a bulging disk that is pressing on my nerve leading to my hip. Definitely not bad enough for surgery but enough to keep me awake some nights.

My chiropractor is "stretching" me twice a week. The theory being if he stretches me out, the part of the disk that is bulging out will be pulled back into position. He's also got me on a supplement made from beef and sheep liver, spleen and kidneys.... and ground up bones. I told him I stopped eating liver many years ago because of the potential for heavy metal contamination. Evidently this supplement is produced and processed on an organic farm, so, theoretically, it doesn't have heavy metals in it.

I asked if yoga lessons would be helpful, since the yoga movements are also stretching movements. I didn't realize how hard it would be to find a convenient yoga class in a town this size. I bought a beginner's video at Target, but I think even it is way too far advanced for me.

Of course, as with any doctor I've been to in the last twenty years, he told me that losing weight would help. More exercise and fewer calories. Ever since he said that I've been gaining weight. I don't think I'm eating any more! I'm certainly not exercising any less!

On Saturday I walked across the street to the park, where, for the second year in a row, a bald eagle is making a nest. The nest is huge. I can't believe the tree is about 50 feet from the highway. Didn't see any eagles, but a group of senior citizens with a leader from the local bird sanctuary was just leaving as I arrived. Maybe the birds were disturbed by the commotion? As I was leaving a young Amish man came up the trail behind me. Talk about anachronisms, he had a camera with a telephoto lens the size of a Pringle's can. I never thought about Amish people taking pictures before. At least I don't think he had graduated to a digital camera... What will happen to Amish picture-takers when the film-processing companies like Kodak and Fuji stop making film?

Yesterday I challenged my dear husband to go walking with me. We picked up cans and bottles along the roadside and put them in bags and brought them home. It was great exercise. I think we walked about four miles total. Plus all the bending and stretching was good. My next-door neighbor saw me and was amazed that we would do that, couldn't believe it. I was thinking I should petition the state to get a sign put in our front yard "This two-mile section of road maintained by Bright Meadow Farms". That would shake her up, too!

Yesterday morning in church our pastor talked about Jeremiah Wright. I am a UCC (United Church of Christ) member - all this coverage in the news seems to be putting our church in the spotlight once again. But the news coverage doesn't seem fair or balanced, or even well-researched.

My pastor has personally met Jeremiah Wright and visited the Chicago church Barak Obama attends, and he said it is a pity that the life and work of a man get reduced to a 10-second sound bite that is not typical of the body of work that he has produced over the years. Some of the news reports I have heard have made it seem that the UCC is a mostly black denomination. This is far from true, although the local congregation there in Chicago may be a black church. Does this mean the reporter has done little but pick up a story someone else researched? Remember playing telephone when you were kids? Remember how the message got twisted by the end?

The truth is that the UCC is an inclusive church. Our motto is "that they may all be one", words of Jesus. The church was born in 1956, the same as me, from the merger of the German Evangelical and Reformed Church with the New England Congregational churches. Some of the individual congregations in those churches elected to not join the merged church, but many did, and since that time many other churches have joined. This is the church of the Pilgrims! This is the church of the wave of German immigrants that came to Ohio in the 1840s! More recently, this is the church that welcomed African American congregations and also Hispanic congregations. We are a mainstream, main-line Protestant denomination that is "in communion" with Lutheran and Disciples of Christ and Presbyterian denominations, among others. When I was young, in the idealistic 1960's, this church was always in the mainstream of the ecumenical movement.

Our motto is probably more representative of Barak Obama's oft-repeated political position "if we can put an end to partisan politics, bring people together, and recognize that what unites us is greater than what divides us – then we can make fundamental change possible in this country"
than the words I have recently heard from excerpts of speeches from Jeremiah Wright, but according to my pastor, those words aren't typical of Jeremiah Wright, either. I am sure that 20 years in the UCC has had an indelible affect on Obama and shaped him. I am proud of the UCC, don't know Rev. Wright personally but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the words I am hearing were taken out of context.

I'm not sure what effect the news coverage of Reverand Wright will have on Obama's campaign, just as I'm not sure what effect the news coverage of Obama's campaign will have on my church. In the long run I am sure we will, all of us, weather the storm.

For comments concerning the news coverage on this subject from the general minister of the UCC, see the UCC web site

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Level 2 Snow Emergency

I think it is time to start planting - but it definitely won't be in the garden. We are under a level 2 snow emergency, here are the views from my front and back doors:

They are threatening to turn it into a Level 3, meaning law enforcement wants people to stay off the streets except for emergencies.
The snow is still coming down. Hard to believe that Easter is only a few weeks away, and the peas and potatoes should be planted next week!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I'm in a bind. Here it is Tuesday, voting day, and I still don't know who I'm voting for. I have to get serious about doing some research! The candidates' goals are so close, so far the only difference I am seeing is their management style - Hillary seems to be a doer and Obama seems to be a delegater - but that is just an impression.

What are the candidates' positions on the National Animal Identification system (NAIS)? Do they even have a position? A quick Google search doesn't turn up much.

What will they do about the FCC? Do they have a plan or will they just let the current administration remain in place?

Neither of these questions gets much coverage on TV news. The candidates haven't addressed them in commercials. I will have to actually go to their campaign web sites to find out, I guess!

Both candidates promote greater broadband access for rural areas. Neither page mentions NAIS. Hillary mentions strengthening access to farmer's markets. Obama talks about micro-enterprises.

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