July 2010 Archives

Appetite Fatigue


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A View inside the Graceville, MN Grocery Store

It's important to me that my kids can comfortably eat a really wide variety of foods. You never know in life when you will be called upon to eat something that you are unfamiliar with for a long period of time. Without a wide repertoire of food familiar to your palate, you simply may not be able to force yourself to eat. That is called appetite fatigue.

Part of preparing my kids for an uncertain future is to make sure they are exposed to many and varied foods! For example, I'm prepping the fam (and myself) to start eating rabbit, because it would be pushing the "meat" envelope for our family. Plus, it is considered one of the "sustainable" meats of the futures.

But I realized I may be taking the appetite fatigue thing too far, as evidenced by this morning's children sermon. Today's Gospel lesson was the familiar:

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?

The Minister called the kids up to the front for the children's sermon and held out a plate with a toy snake coiled up on it. She asked the kids "if you came down for breakfast and asked for eggs and your mommy gave you a plate with a snake on it- what would you do?" Jens replied for all to hear "My mom would say you have to eat it or you'll get appetite fatigue!"

One of the things about eating local foods is that our menu is based on what is available, when it is available. After living this way for a couple of years, it surprises me that some people don't change their meals based on what is fresh and local. For example- eggs. First, there are some people who only want to eat "industrial" eggs. I had a woman at the farmers market tell me she cannot eat farm fresh eggs because they go "straight from the pooper to the pie." Imagine if that woman was stuck in a farm for some period of time and the most abundant food was farm fresh eggs. With that level of aversion, she could starve before she could eat them. Seriously. But some folks simply don't think about meal planning with what is before them- here's a dozen eggs. Hey I could make egg salad sandwiches, a quiche, devilled eggs, etc... No, they work it the other way. I'm hungry for custard, better find some eggs.

It's going to take some "reverse engineering" to get many of us to change what we eat from what we want to what can we make with what we have.

Some may ask why we should even consider appetite fatigue with all the variety and abundance of our current global food system. I mean- I just bought some Labneh (Middle Eastern sheep's milk cheese) from an Asian market in Fargo, North Dakota no less. I can think of many reasons for concern- and that is why I have a category for these blog entries called "Inner Apocolypt."

The Stillness of Motherhood


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A winter's walk to the slough

The picture above shows a cold, snowy day in complete contrast to the 110 degree humid heat index we're experiencing in SE Minnesota. Next to me, asleep, is my little son with a 102 degree temp- that's after the tylenol and motrin. He and his brother were visiting their aunt and grandma near Rochester when his Fever Syndrome struck. I left work in St. Paul and we're now in a hotel off Hwy 14 so he can rest comfortably.

There is a stillness that comes from being a mother. Being tethered to a place. Right now my place is with my son- not more than a few feet away at any moment. The throw-up bucket at my knee- just in case. As women, we are tethered to a place with our children. There is only so far that one can travel with babes on your hips. In the picture above, I had to pull my kids in the sled back and forth to the pond. It seems so far away when you are trudging through deep snow pulling 2-3 children behind you.

As my babes get older- the steps that we take together are expanding. The wetland is closer- amazingly closer if you don't have to pull or carry anyone there and back. The old farmstead down the road is now within the scope of our world- "let's go play in the that old grain bin!" The world is expanding as my kids get older. I can see now that is the natural order of things.

It is why men were hunters and women were gathers. Gathers that got to know the place where they and their children held the ground. It's why women invented farming-- women with young children no doubt.

And yet- I read a quote the other day that "Stillness does not impress or frighten others in the rat fight for a good spot at the feeder." Being a mother requires that we find ourselves completely still at times.

I left the house for an early morning walk over the weekend. I was about a mile from home when I heard a calf "bawling" in the pasture. It didn't sound right. I stopped. Then I heard across the bean field "Mommmmm! Mommmmm!" It wasn't a calf- it was my early riser. "I'm coming" I yelled, turning back towards home. There- about a 1/4 mile down the driveway in the pre-dawn light was my little boy in a giant red robe. Tears on his face. "You kept going when I yelled mom." "I thought it was a calf dear." And we walk back home hand in hand.

Yes- my world is getting bigger as they grow. And yet- that tether calls me right back to their sides and to the quiet stillness of being a mother.

My Own Private Pelicans


Photo credit: Shon Reed Photography http://www.shonreed.com/gallery/favorites.htm

**Apology** In fact, these are not my own private pelicans they are Shon Reed's. I mistakenly attributed the photo to National Geographic, when in fact, this is one of the stunning collection of nature photos from Shon Reed. Thank you Shon for capturing this image of the pelicans and for freely sharing Your View. Kathy

Big Stone County is the eastern most breeding grounds of the American White Pelican in North America. And we have these majestic birds in abundance. My husband grew up in this county and so is used to seeing the huge, prehistoric looking birds as part of the everyday landscape. But they are unique to this area. From here their breeding grounds range north and west into Canada.

Their wintering area is either 1) the Southern California coast or 2) the Gulf of Mexico. Frankly, noone knows where our Pelicans overwinter. If it is the Gulf, there is a chance that these birds may not be coming back next year in the same numbers due to the impact of the BP Oil Gusher. And some of those that come could be ill.

If you are reading this in Big Stone County- remember to take a good look at the Pelicans this year. Appreciate their gliding, synchronized flight. The way that they land on the water- they slow to a near stop just above the water and then lightly touch down with zero (0) forward momentum. A completely still stop on the water- hardly making a ripple despite their huge size. Look at these ancient creatures- as close to a teradactyl as still roams the earth. Lovely, silent creatures.

We have a flock of Pelicans that circle, low over our farm at least twice a day- morning and night. They live in our south wetland and must feed elsewhere during the day- or visit friends in neighboring sloughs. Sometimes when we are in the garden more will circle over us. Seeming as curious and watchful of us as we are of them. They feel like our own private Pelicans. Godspeed.

Kings Play Chess On (our) Fine Green Sphere


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Self portrait after a thoroughly soaking 2 mile return walk in pouring, warm rain (my friend Tiff dear is encouraging us to turn the cameras on ourselves. Of course she does so in opera gowns. I'm completely rain washed and bare)

I walked this morning at dawn under low grey billows of clouds. It's nearly 80 degrees with 100% humidity before 7 am. The air so heavy I can feel it resisting my arms as I walk. The song playing in the background of my mind today it was 59th Street Bridge "No deeds to do. No promises to keep. I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep. Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life, I love you,.." Written before I was even born- but apropos for a lifetime.

It occurred to me that I am species rich. As species rich as nearly anyone on this planet. This morning I encountered- closely:
Mammal: Deer and fawn, muskrat (still watching the sunrise to the east), dogs, mule, cows, humans.
Birds: Numerous, including; Yellow-headed blackbirds (5 feet away on cattails), Pelicans, ducks, seagulls, sparrows, swallow, many more
Amphibians: frogs
Reptiles: Got skunked - didn't see a turtle, snake, or salamander this morning. (Actually got literally "skunked" on yesterday's walk when Sunny had a completely silent battle to the death with a skunk. She won- but bloodied and reeking of fresh skunk spray. I couldn't have been more than 100 ft away when this battle took place and all I saw was my bloodied dog)

We are living through one of the planets greatest global extinction event-- known as the 6th Extinction. Human activity, not natural events, is the distinction between this and the previous five extinctions. Some estimates have the extinction rate at 30,000 species per year or 3 per hour. The following is from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America...

There is consensus in the scientific community that the current massive degradation of habitat and extinction of many of the Earth's biota is unprecedented and is taking place on a catastrophically short timescale. Based on extinction rates estimated to be thousands of times the background rate, figures approaching 30% extermination of all species by the mid 21st century are not unrealistic (1-4), an event comparable to some of the catastrophic mass extinction events of the past (5, 6). --Kathy notes- they are talking about dinosaurs- the 5th Extinction--

And so the Kings Play Chess on (our) Fine Green Sphere. I don't trust those kings and this is no game.

4th of July, 2010

...Let us be Truly Thankful


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The season of abundance is upon us. We have 10 gallons of organic berries from Kristi and Brad's Coyote Grange (Appleton)- plus another gallon from our establishing berry bed. We are now "setting stores in" rather than drawing them down.

And we enjoy all-we-can-eat fresh strawberries for this one very week a year. Last night I made a strawberry shortcake. I ground wheat into fresh flour, cut in the Cass-Clay butter from our dairy farmer down the road, and sweetened with just a small amount of our honey. We ate the shortbread hot from the oven and the berries warm from the early summer sun. As my stoic people bit into that simple delight, they closed their eyes, sighed, and tears rolled down their faces. They were awash in a deep appreciation for all that this good earth has to offer and for each other. No one even had to give the ambiguous blessing of "for what we are about to receive, let us be truly thankful." They gazed out onto the prairie adoringly and turned to each other with kind words of love and gratitude.

It was my Babette's Feast and Like Water for Chocolate moment.

Ok. I made that up. But they did leave off watching the Twins Game for a few minutes in appreciation of a good dessert.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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