Critical Specimens

Amelia has a strong sense that if we have animals, they should be producing more animals.. She watches and wishes for her hens to go broody -- but they rarely do. She doesn’t ask for much, but she mentioned the word "incubator" on a regular basis. 
And she is faithful to keep a calendar and watch our giant pig, JP, to keep track of her heat. But, we don’t have a male pig and we don’t have a hen that will brood or an adult rooster. 
As the summer months were ending and school was beginning, we decided it was time to take action. Amelia informed me that it was time.  JP would be in heat in the next few days. Action was required and right now. 
I called our friend Jim Elliot. We acquired JP from Jim and he used artificial insemination to produce piglets from giant JP, so he had wonderful advice on how to order semen from Bill in Iowa and how to make sure she was in heat. She’ll be grunting and make sure she is “standing”. “You won’t be able to push her over with a bulldozer if…

Painting, Baking, Writing, Edible Bugs and a John Deere Tractor

When my dear friend Abby asked if she could visit our home school day, I was glad to have her come and join us with her two boys Durham and Auggie. I knew, however, even though I had no idea what it would be, we were going to have a wild ride of a home school day.
They arrived and I settled in with the six and under crowd baking banana bread, reading fables and creating our own (or just a story with an animal...), while the older ones settled in to do a bit of painting with Abby. We had a serious groove going. Both dads, George and Micah, were working from the house as well, so we had some thoughtful and creative stations happening all over the house. 

Within an hour of grooving along, George asked, “Elisha, can you make a pot of coffee?” He sort of explained, “Rob is on his way with Monica Martinez, the sculpture and the bug lady…” 
I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant, but I cleaned out the French press and started the kettle to boil while the smell of baking banana bread filled th…

It Just Makes Sense

We met our neighbor, Byrd when we first moved into the neighborhood. She was quite friendly and eagerly invited us into her home. Not everyone’s house has a name, but Byrd's does. The Lewis Spring House — built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s just around the corner. For years, we hollered "Hellos!" and popped in a time or two to see the home and chat, always delighted by Byrd’s stories and constant joy for life and people and her community. George Wilder, especially, was enamored by the architecture and he grew quite interested in Wright's work.

Her parents built the house in 1954 - when Byrd was nine. She’s moved back there to live and she, along with hundreds of volunteers are thoughtfully working towards the restoration of the home. Both the house and the grounds have experienced Florida’s tropical push against the orderly. It prefers wild vines, briars, climbing ivy, rot, algae, and decay.

Byrd and the Spring House Institute have gently given space to the wild and r…

When The Earth Recycles...

When the air cools every so slightly. When it is Friday and littles wiggle after a math lesson, we take a nature walk. Our driveway is long from house to road, long enough, I say, to start spotting season changes. I hope it’s true. 
If we look. If we are aware enough and keen enough to see, there is plenty of life and change happening right at the edge of the driveway.

A bumble bee collects pollen deep in the pumpkin bloom, ants carry away a dead bee to their home. The bees start dying now. Their honey work is done and all that is left to do is to become an ant feast. We watch a dung beetle eat the last of a cow pie that is now a pile of dirt. A giant garbage truck rumbles by to collect our trash, while this humble beetle silently and perfectly composts. No waste, just beautiful, fertile soil ready to begin the cycle all over again. And just after we observe the beetle, we watch ants feast on an old cicada. Once again, a silent composting taking place right in the middle of the drive…