Garden Raising!

We had our garden raising yesterdy.  About 30 friends showed up for various amounts of time.  We all worked, laying cardboard, carting compost, leaf mulch and wood chips around to  create the gardens.  The weather was lucious, not higher than 72 all day with deep blue skies.

The idea of a garden raising came from Broadfork, a group of talented and enthusiastic permaculturists.   Ashley, Evelyn and Llani are a sort of perfect hybrid between farmers and landscape designers.  Most farmers don’t have any concern for landscape design and most landscapers don’t care about growing food.  Broadfork helps people design and install beautiful, functional and abundant gardens.  They helped with measurments and planning as well as working their fannies off all day at the garden raising.  All along, they have been teaching Zoe and I about the basic principles of permaculture as we go.   For a really deep understanding of it, watch the movie Inhabit.

We first laid cardboard.  Cardboard is sort of a miracle for gardening.  The purpose of it is to first kill the grass underneath it.  But much more than that, the cardboard offers a kind of 4 seasons hotel for worms.  As the grass dies, it provides food for worms.  The cover of the cardboard helps keep the worms protected from both cold and heat.  As the worms move in make their home under the cardboard they poop like crazy and also aerate the soil.  The worm poop is just about the best fertilizer there is.  So rather than focusing on putting nutrients into the soil, we let the worms do the bulk of the enhancement.  The soil in our field is rather sandy and poor.
By spring, with the cardboard covered with compost and then layered with leaf mulch, we will have amazing soil by spring.  How cool!

We have lots of plans.  In addition to the 15 fruit trees already here, we will plant many kinds of berries and fruits.  Of course there will be tons of vegetables as well as mushrooms and native flowers to attract bees and butterflies.  Of course we’ll have animals too – chickens, bees and our wonderful horses.
So many wonderful friends came to help.  Thank you!   I felt that everyone who came now has a connection to this place, some ownership of it.  I am so excited to see how this will continue to manifest.  Zoe and I both feel something magical happening but we don’t quite know what it’s all for yet.  We like that sense of the unknown.

We ended the day with a ritual led by Phyllis Labanowski.  Almost everyone had left already.  My friend Anneke had brought a lobelia which we planted in the central herb garden.  The gardens are already blessed and bringing blessings.


Zoe said yesterday, after hearing that a friend had come to the gardens when we were not there, “I love when people just come!”  I agree.  We want people to come and participate and hopefully be fed on many levels.

Stay tuned for garden raising part 2.  We still have a lot to do and hope people will feel welcome.


Garden Raising, Hickory Nuts and Cornelian Cherries

Garden Plan

A Garden Raising is when friends and neighbors come to help someone put in a new garden.  We were planning on having our garden raising tomorrow but hurricane Jose is making his way up the coast and will make tomorrow a very rainy day.  We postponed it to Sunday, October 1.  Everyone is welcome.  I’ve posted a picture of the garden plan.  During the day we will be creating the beds that circle the herb garden.  Continue reading “Garden Raising, Hickory Nuts and Cornelian Cherries”

Agoraphobia to Agri-Myco-Equi-philia

When I reflect on my life, I see that even since just a year ago, there has been tremendous internal and external change. I wonder which came first? A year ago, I lived in my little cabin as a bit of a recluse. I did not want to go out much, even to buy groceries or have dinner with friends. Somehow, this felt right for a few years though it was a small little life. There was most definitely a sense of agoraphobia mixed in as well. Going out too much, except for going to the barn to ride or going to teach, provoked some anxiety. Continue reading “Agoraphobia to Agri-Myco-Equi-philia”

She’s Home!

Zoe has been in Taiwan for two years. She came home for my niece’s wedding last summer, and we spent a good couple of weeks together, and there is skype. With the twelve hour time difference, we often spoke in my early morning while she ate noodles for dinner. But I’d not hugged her in fourteen months! That is a LONG time.
Now she has returned, my girl. She completed her contract at the school where she taught kindergarten for the last year and now has landed here at Ancient Ponies Farm. Her plan now is to live here for a good while, at least through gardening next summer. She wants to learn to drive the tractor so she can plough snow and move piles of manure. She wants to build our gardens and muck our stalls. Hallelujah is all I can say.
I can hardly express how nice it is to have her here. She’s so interested in everything and enthusiastic. We’ve been cooking up a storm, eating out on our lovely hillside, going for horseback rides and doing chores. Yesterday she went out on Jasper for her first solitary ride ever. How nice for me to see my daughter saddle up a horse and go off into the woods on her own.  Here is a picture of our ride together yesterday evening.


Last weekend we left the farm and drove to Philadelphia for my nephew, Emile’s wedding. It’s the first time I had left the place over night since moving in. Erika and Ryan house/dog/horse sat, taking the dogs on long walks and even going riding a bit. The wedding was lovely and such a chance to connect with old friends and family.

My mom and I drove home on the day of the eclipse, with Zoe staying an extra day to hang out with her cousins and aunts. What a feeling for me to be coming home to this place. I had not left so I had not experienced that THIS is what I am coming home to. On the way home, mom and I stopped at my CSA to pick up my share just as the eclipse was peaking. They had set out a wheelbarrow with water in it so we could watch the eclipse in the reflection. With bags of vegetables, I took my mom to her house and then arrived home. Ahhh…..



For years my morning routine has been to get to work.  I heat up a big bowl of raw milk and put a shot of espresso in it and sit down to study, prepare lectures, translate.  Now with Ancient Ponies Farm, this is all changing.  Now there are morning chores.   So far the chores are pretty easy for me but I am looking forward to more as the farm takes shape.  For now, I get up before the birds (which moved from 4:30 when I first moved in to 5:15 in such a short time!) and walk out to the barn to give the horses their morning grain.  With all the grass here, they don’t actually need the grain but I give them a token amount so we have some morning and evening routine together.  Then I have to muck the stalls.   This takes less than 20 minutes I would say.   Continue reading “Chores”

Other Dark Friends are Here Too

Black Trumpets

Last year there was a drought.  I went out to my secret places regularly but never found a single black trumpet.  The year before, my friend Danielle and I found more than 30 pounds of them but last year, nothing.  So, when I came upon a colony of them, imagine my happiness!  It had been nearly two years since I’d seen them, my friends.  Plus, there is something very happy about a village of black trumpets.  I cut them with scissors so as not to disturb the root that connects the flower to the mycelium below and cut judiciously, just enough to eat and some to give away. Continue reading “Other Dark Friends are Here Too”

They are Here!

Yes! They are here! Jasper and Spencer are here at the farm finally. It only took six weeks from the closing for the barn and pasture to be ready for them.  It only took 60 years to have this dream come true!

I arranged with a friend to go with me to pick them up, but at the last minute, she could not go with me. I have to admit to being just a bit intimidated by trailering two big horses by myself. The whole thing is intense. Everything is so BIG – the truck, the trailer, the horses….but I did it! At first, I couldn’t get the trailer hooked onto the truck because the trailer’s support had sunk into the dirt. I had to put the mounting block under the support so I could bring up the wheel off the ground and then get a good big rock under it. Then I could jack it up to hook it to the truck. There is something about driving the truck with the trailer hooked on the back that makes me feel so small! Little me controlling this big equipment. Continue reading “They are Here!”

Making progress

Day by day this place is transforming.  Hay was delivered which felt like a big step…that the horses are really coming.

The edges of the fields and the hedges in the swale have been bush-hogged so the pastures are open.  I can now see from the house all the way to the garden area.

Flowers keep appearing in the perenial gardens.  New jewels, gifts each day.


Settling In: Summer Solstice

I had a feeling yesterday that struck me in its simplicity.  I was taking a walk with the dogs to the little swimming hole a minute from here.   It is a place where the brook turns and deepens against some moss covered rocks.  There is a sandy shore to invite one into the water, which is waist deep at the deepest part.  The dogs waded and swam and I thought, “I live here.”  It was the first time I felt that this is my home.  I think I’ve landed.

Meanwhile, Dan came over with his backhoe and cleared the wall of invasives off of the stone wall in front of the barn.  One would never have known there was a stone wall there and now, there it is and there the barn is, much more visible.  The backhoe is so powerful, pushing huge stones around, ripping out bushes.  Luke came as well to plan the shed at the back of the barn that will house my tractor.  It will just be a roof with open sides.  They are going to dig down after the shed to create a lower area onto which I can put the cart for the manure.  This way, it is an easy shot with a wheel barrow from the barn out to the dumping area.  Plus it will be easy to pull the manure cart from the barn to the garden area.  It’s amazing to watch the vision come into being.

Edward, the Welsh fence guy comes next week to start the pasture fence.
This is the road to the north side of the pasture and to the gardens.  I can’t get there through the pasture yet but will be able to once Edward does the fences and Bush Hogs the pasture.  For now we walk the long way.

baby pears

There are three types of fruit showing up this year on the fruit trees; pear, cherry and peach.  It’s all such a surprise to see what is coming!  There are other fruit trees that have not given fruit yet so the suprises will keep coming.  Already I feel a sense of abundance here.

I had my first dinner party, sitting out on the lawn over looking the view to the west.  Joan, Josette, Lisa and Kirsch came.  There are still no mosquitos which I think is due to the abundance of swallows.  They are constantly swooping and turning.  Of all the song birds, swallows and martins spend the most time on the wing.  The barn swallow may be the fastest swallow. It’s been clocked flying 46 m.p.h.  So beautiful!   Many of my windows don’t have screens now and yet, there have not been mosquitos.  Well done little bird.

One important indicator that I have actually moved in here is that I finally got work done.  I so love to study and prepare the classes.


Phew, moved in….

The closing was already almost two weeks ago. The move was like entering a vortex like that old TV show, The Time Machine. I was spun around for ten days or so and then spit out into this new world, my new home.

Moving at age 60 is so different than my last move was, almost 20 years ago. My body complained! Last Thursday I finally went for some acupuncture and moxa with Jennifer and felt so much better. Before the acupuncture, my low back, legs, feet, arms and neck all felt like a twisted up towel.
All movement was stiff like my limbs were made of cardboard. And, speaking of cardboard, it is piled in the garage waiting for me to use in the garden. These boxes filled with stuff. So much stuff!

Much love to my friends for helping: Molly, Phyllis, Emily and Danielle gave me brawn and moral support. Many thanks to Daniel and Rose, the extreme cleaners, and to Ideal Movers. Continue reading “Phew, moved in….”