Hi!  I was reading some of my older posts on here and decided that I miss writing short little updates.  So I decided to try to do more of them, even if they are semi pointless.

Yesterday my family and I took a long walk down to a creek that is behind a small cemetery which is down the road from our house.  We sat on a blanket in the woods, and I read Oliver Twist to my parents while my mom drew skunk cabbage.  It was very warm and the sky was the most amazing, smooth blue.

Tomorrow I have orchestra and my British Literature class.  I have to say that they are really dull.  I really enjoyed them earlier in the year, but now that it’s been six months and they are stiiiiiilllll going on.  It has gotten old.

All our animals are loving the warmth.  Our goats are giving more milk and our cow is much less cranky.  She did get out the other day because my dad forgot to latch the gate.  She made a beeline for the taller grass by the road, even though it is all covered in dirt from the plow and is totally dead.

Our chickens have also starting laying eggs again.  They don’t lay them in the winter due to the decrease in light, but as soon as the days start getting longer, they start again.  We have gotten about four or five a day for the past couple weeks.

Anyway, my mom needs the computer to read something I wrote for English class.


Moo, Bruh-Gawk and Maa-a: The Real Benefits of Keeping Farm Animals


, , , , , , , , , ,

Many people do not keep farm animals due to their own physical limitations, not enough land and because of the work and expense of keeping them.  However, strong, healthy people who have land should consider keeping farm animals because of their many benefits.  It is true that keeping farm animals has its hardships and heartbreaks, but it has its positive practicalities too, such as how they provide food and eat unwanted shrubs.  Additionally, there are the moments of wonder, friendship and love that one can have with them.

Animals provide food.  Goats, cows and even sheep can be milked.  Whether a person wants to make cheese and yogurt or just drink the fresh, delicious milk from these dairy animals, having them right on site is very convenient.  Chickens and ducks give eggs and meat.  Eggs are a seasonal product and chickens and ducks give fewer eggs the older they get, but chickens are so amusing and charming that they can be kept purely for entertainment once their egg laying years are over.  In addition to the food that poultry provides, pigs, goats, cows and sheep can be raised for meat.  Raising animals for meat may be a frightening prospect for some; however, there are certified people who can take the animals away to be harvested or humanely do it on site while the owner is away.  In short, raising animals for meat may be difficult, but it is well worth the effort.

As a result of being such an integral part in the lives of one’s food source, the animal’s owner will always know the details of how the animal was treated and fed.  Additionally, if the quality of the life of animals raised for food is important to the owner, then the owner will be able to treat their animals accordingly.  The animals will be raised in the way that the individual wants them to be, and there will be no question about whether or not the eggs produced by one’s own chickens are organic or free range, or that the meat is humanely raised.

Animals work.  As well as providing food for humans, animals eat plants and shrubs that humans do not want.  Today there are many invasive species, such as Autumn Olive, taking over in our area as well as elsewhere, and goats, sheep and cows can do a fabulous job of keeping those species at bay.  Of course, they will eat other things in the pasture too, but this can be monitored with fencing and rotational grazing.  Chickens and ducks are also great at scratching up a garden space before planting in the spring.  While they are scratching and pecking for food, they will also be providing manure that is excellent fertilizer for the soil of the lands that they are clearing.

In addition to being practical, farm animals enrich people’s lives.  It is true that having animals does tie people down since it sometimes is hard to find someone to take care of one’s animals while one is away.  However, having them can make home a welcoming place.  When one comes home to animals who are happy to see them (and probably eager to be fed), it gives contentment.  Animals are also interesting topics for stories or conversations.  One can write about their animal experiences and photograph and draw their animals as well.

Animals are entertaining.  Having animals is like having a nature TV program right in the yard, all the time.  Goats are notoriously playful and capricious.  They love to jump around and climb on things, especially when they are young.  The interactions between farm animals are fascinating, whether in the same species or among different species.

Taking care of animals builds character.  By observing animals and taking care of them, people learn how to commit to taking care of another living being and coming to love that creature is a formative experience.  Commitment and follow-through are built when one has living beings that must be taken care of and fed.  The animals are there in the pasture or barn every day, which means they must be tended to every day as well.  It is true that this may be a lot of work, yet that constancy is one of the greatest things about keeping animals.

In contrast to the commitment and work that must be put into animals, taking care of them gives pleasure.  Besides the fact that it is surprisingly satisfying to pitch a load of manure out of the barn or to do the milking every morning, going out to take care of animals can be a relief from the fast-paced pressures of modern life.  It can also be satisfying to show an animal at fair or to sell a calf from one’s own cow.

Above all else though, animals are friends.  Looking beyond the many practical purposes for keeping them, animals can make fantastic companions.  Most animals are great listeners.  While they may not always provide input or advice, (and they may walk away while one is talking to them) animals will provide a non-judgmental ear.  Animals will not care if their human has done something hurtful or irresponsible elsewhere in their life.  Animals will love right back no matter what is going on in their human’s life.  What they care most about is being fed and cared for, and being treated with respect.  The more time a person spends with a particular creature, the more human and animal become attuned to each other’s habits and expressions.  The bonds between humans and animals are amazing and beautiful.

Animals not only provide practical things like food and land management; they also make wonderful friends and give pleasure to their caregivers.  My family and I have had chickens for nearly ten years, and goats and a cow for three.  Taking care of these animals and forging bonds with them has developed me as a person and has given me so much more confidence.  It is true that animals can be a lot of work, take up a lot of space and cost a lot of money, but if one has the means to do so, one should consider acquiring farm animals.   In the words of Anatole France:

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

On Not Having a Smartphone


, ,

Today when I am out and about, I seem to be one of the only teens without a smartphone.  When I look around at all the people who are checking their phones constantly, I feel so glad that I am not one of them.  People miss so much when they are looking down at the tiny, glowing screens of their phones.  I feel like they are missing out on life.  Phones are wonderful for keeping in touch with family and friends that live far away, but so many things that people do on their phones is much less meaningful and worthwhile.

My dad used to spend so much time on his phone.  What was he doing?  When I asked or looked over his shoulder, I saw that he was snapchatting little snippets of himself talking in a weird voice with bunny ears and a mustache put on his face.  I felt like he was obsessed, practically addicted.  For many teens, it seems like the moment they stop doing something physical or put their phone away, they start complaining about being bored.  Then they pull their phones out again and start playing games or aimlessly flipping through pictures.

I am so extremely glad that I am not one of those people.  I feel like I get to experience life so much more fully because I am not stuck on a phone.   It is very true though, that there are times I wish I could have a phone just so that I could maybe be in the loop more.  But when I really think about it, having a phone would, by appearance, make me fit in, but first of all, none of my friends have or use smartphones regularly and secondly, I would despise being so attached to a phone.  Of course too, I am pretty sure that I would get terribly tired of my friends.

In conclusion, I feel that I am extremely lucky to not feel the need or pressure to have a smartphone, though there are many upsides to having one.  And I also think that the things that would be available to me if I had a phone would just pressure me and influence me to want more and more things that I don’t need or want.

Tide You Over


, , ,

Hey! I took these awesome photos of our animals in the sun and snow and I know I’m overdue for a post, so I decided to post them.

A quick update to go with the pictures: I took a placement test and tested into college Honors English, but am just going to take regular old English because Honors would make us drive an extra three hours and 20 minutes a week to a different campus of our local community college.



Hodge Podge


, , , , , , , , ,

As you can see, it has been over two months since my last blog post was published.  My lateness is partly because of busyness and partly because of lack of inspiration.  Finally, just this morning, I realized that I could do a collage post including the things that have been floating around in my head.  Thanks to my mom for the title.


One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew–
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

-Robert Frost (1915, A Boy’s Will)


Copyright Jonah

It is sixteen years since John Bergson died. His wife now lies beside him, and the white shaft that marks their graves gleams across the wheat-fields. Could he rise from beneath it, he would not know the country under which he has been asleep. The shaggy coat of the prairie, which they lifted to make him a bed, has vanished forever. From the Norwegian graveyard one looks out over a vast checker-board, marked off in squares of wheat and corn; light and dark, dark and light. Telephone wires hum along the white roads, which always run at right angles. From the graveyard gate one can count a dozen gayly painted farmhouses; the gilded weather-vanes on the big red barns wink at each other across the green and brown and yellow fields. The light steel windmills tremble throughout their frames and tug at their moorings, as they vibrate in the wind that often blows from one week’s end to another across that high, active, resolute stretch of country.

The Divide is now thickly populated. The rich soil yields heavy harvests; the dry, bracing climate and the smoothness of the land make labor easy for men and beasts. There are few scenes more gratifying than a spring plowing in that country, where the furrows of a single field often lie a mile in length, and the brown earth, with such a strong, clean smell, and such a power of growth and fertility in it, yields itself eagerly to the plow; rolls away from the shear, not even dimming the brightness of the metal, with a soft, deep sigh of happiness. The wheat-cutting sometimes goes on all night as well as all day, and in good seasons there are scarcely men and horses enough to do the harvesting. The grain is so heavy that it bends toward the blade and cuts like velvet.

-Willa Cather O Pioneers!

Charles Burchfield                              Vincent van Gogh

COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship, 10
Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind;
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

-Walt Whitman from Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Lore Rasmussen 1949



Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


, , ,

I was asked to do a report on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in a British Literature class I am taking, since I was the only student to be reading it in full.  I was very happy because I love this story and want to enlighten others to its greatness.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a Middle English storytelling poem written in the late 14th century amid the peasants’ revolt and the Black Death plague.  The poem is written in alliterative stanzas followed by a short rhyming stanza called a bob and wheel.  It was written by a contemporary of Chaucer and, while no one knows who the Gawain author was, it is clear that they were pretty clever in their storytelling.  They created a character, the Green Knight, from their own region which we know was the north of England by the dialect that the poem was written in, and sent him south to seek Camelot and Arthur’s Round Table.  Then they brought an Arthurian character, Sir Gawain, to their own area seeking a local landmark: the Green Chapel.

Arthur and his court, including his nephew Gawain, were making merry around Christmas time.  Suddenly everyone was quiet.  A large knight rode into the hall on his horse.  The author waits until the last moment to say that this knight and his horse were entirely bright green.  This Green Knight greeted Arthur and said that he had heard of how brave and good at battle Arthur and his men were and that he had come to offer a challenge to them that has come to be called the beheading game.  The Green Knight wanted a man in the hall to take his ax and chop off the Green Knight’s head;   if the Green Knight lived, the man who had beheaded him would journey to a certain Green Chapel in a year’s time and receive the same blow from the Green Knight.

After some silence, Arthur got up and said he would do it.  Gawain can’t let his uncle, the king, get his head chopped off, so he got up and, taking the ax from the Green Knight says that he will do it.  The Green Knight knelt on the floor and bared his neck and Gawain cut his head off.  The Green Knight got up, put his head back on his neck and, reminding Gawain of his promise to come to the Green Chapel in a year, he rides off.

True to his word, the next year Gawain sets out a few weeks early to find the Green Knight’s chapel.  Winters in England are very wet and miserable and here is Gawain, a young knight, probably not more than 20 years old, all alone journeying through the countryside.  After days on the road, Gawain comes to a castle and begs admittance.  The lord of the castle welcomes him and treats him like a royal guest.

After staying for a couple of days, Gawain says he really must be going to find the Green Chapel.  He doesn’t want to ruin his honor by breaking the Code of Chivalry and breaking his word.  The lord says that it will be fine; he will make sure that Gawain reaches the Chapel on time.  Then he makes an agreement with Gawain.  Gawain will stay in bed as long as he likes for the next three days while the lord goes hunting.  Everything that the lord kills in the hunt, he will give to Gawain as long as Gawain gives whatever he receives in the castle to the lord.  This has come to be called the exchange of winnings.  Gawain agrees.

Each morning for the next three days, Gawain stays in bed late. And each morning also, the lord’s wife comes into Gawain’s room and flirts with him, tempting him.  One of the rules in the Code of Chivalry is to never refuse a lady, but Gawain must keep his honor and respect the lady’s fidelity to her husband while not refusing her.  Luckily, Gawain comes up with ways to resist her temptation while still keeping the Code of Chivalry.  On the last day of the exchange of winnings, the lady comes into his room tempting him even more and gives him a green belt that she says will keep him safe from harm.  Gawain knows that he shouldn’t break his agreement with the lord, but he is about to get beheaded, so he does not pass along the belt.

The lord sends a guide with Gawain to lead him to the Green Chapel and once they arrive, the guide tries to persuade Gawain to turn around and leave so that he doesn’t get killed.  Gawain is determined to follow through with his promise to the Green Knight, so he refuses the guide and is left alone with the special belt hidden around his waist.  Gawain hears humming and whirring noises from the top of the hill (the Green Knight sharpening his ax) and yells that if the Green Knight doesn’t show himself, Gawain will leave.  The Green Knight says to wait and he’ll come down.

The Green Knight comes with his massive battle ax and Gawain kneels down with his neck exposed.  The Green Knight swings his ax, but stops short because Gawain hunched his shoulders.  He reproaches Gawain for being a coward and Gawain says he won’t do it again.  The Green Knight swings a second time, but stops short again just to make sure that Gawain wouldn’t hunch his shoulders.  By now, Gawain is mad because the Green Knight won’t get on with it.  The Green Knight swings and makes a small gash on Gawain’s neck.  Gawain jumps up and the Green Knight says that Gawain is like a pearl compared to the white peas that are other fair knights.  The Green Knight reveals that he was the lord who made the agreement to exchange winnings with Gawain and that he sent his wife to tempt Gawain and that the special belt that his wife gave to Gawain was, in fact, his own.  The lord/Green Knight then reveals that he was sent to Arthur’s court in the form of a green knight by Morgan Le Fey, (who was once romantically attached to Merlin) to test the Round Table and see if it was really as wonderful as it was said to be, by testing Gawain.

There are three themes in the story: the beheading game, the exchange of winnings, the temptation of the lord’s wife and temptation to not follow through with the Green Knight.  All three test Gawain’s self-restraint, his character and his willingness to discipline himself to keeping the Code of Chivalry.

I can picture Gawain in knight school, with his teacher listing the rules of chivalry for the young knights to memorize.  Gawain, looking out at the green grass, begins to daydream about his adventures as a knight: a beautiful lady, an enormous bright green knight, beheading and his own grand outcome.



, , , ,

It’s really quite hard to get good pictures of goats: they eat a lot, so there heads are mostly down in the grass, they jerk around a lot and they are always very interested in the black thing you are holding, so you get a lot of really big heads and noses.

I spent 20 minutes out there with them trying to get some good ones, but I still didn’t get any of Morisot nursing.  Bummer.

Top left is Hildegarde, (aren’t her ears great?  They flop all over when she runs too), the top right is Morisot grazing, the next down on the right is Widget and Morisot (can you tell they’re mother an daughter?), bottom right is Hildegarde again and bottom left is Morisot (her eyes are the prettiest colors.  The pupils are a very dark blue-black and right around them are a sort of aura of lighter blue, then the rest of her eye is a beige color).

August 21st Eclipse


, ,

By the 17th, all the towns within an hour of our house had sold out of the eclipse glasses.  We thought we might have to figure out how to make our own, but my mom found out that my grandmother’s library was having a program on the eclipse and would be giving out the glasses afterward.  On her suggestion, my grandmother took my cousins to the program and managed to get an extra pair of glasses for us.

We had my family plus four friends all sharing the glasses and it worked great.  The friends also brought a pin-hole camera that they had made and some binoculars to project the eclipse on paper.

The morning of the eclipse day, the sun was unbearably hot and it was in the mid eighties.  By 1:45pm, there was a cool breeze and we stayed in the sun, with its intensity lessened by the eclipse, the entire time we viewed the eclipse and were perfectly comfortable.

We just got a new goat who loves people.  She and our cow (also a people lover) stayed quiet and inside even when we sat right outside their paddock.  They didn’t come out until after the peak of the moon’s coverage of the sun.

Mid-Summer on the Farm


, , ,

We have finally finagled a way for us to go on vacation for a few days this year.  It took weeks to figure out how we could do it, since we have to cater to the needs of all our animals.

Meg, our milk cow, will be going away for breeding in a few days, which means that we have to dry her up.  It’s a very sad process, because we love her milk and we won’t get any more until next June.  We milked her Monday evening and will be doing it on Thursday morning or evening, depending on how full her udder is.  She is doing fine with not being milked, as long as we feed her copious amounts of hay.  Cows love eating.

We are separating Morisot, the baby goat, from her mother, Widget, at night and then we milk Widge in the morning and let Morisot out.  Widget is giving about three cups a day, which is pretty good for a Nigerian Dwarf goat with a baby.

Morisot’s horns are getting to be about an inch long and she enjoys butting people’s arms and legs with them.  We keep telling her no, because when her horns are five inches long, that will not be very pleasant, as you can imagine.

The sweet little bantams that I’ve been raising for my friend are going back to her soon.  They are very friendly and amusing to have around and I’m considering asking her if I can give her $20 for them, but we really don’t have anywhere to put them and our big rooster has taken a disliking to pipsqueak upstarts in his job field.

Marvin, the head bantam rooster, had a standoff with one of the big hens the other day, which was hilarious.  She is one of our largest hens, at about 10 times his size.  Marvin put his wing down and did his mating dance around her. Deciding that she would not take sass from a little pint sized rooster, she put HER wing down and did the rooster’s dance around him.  Needless to say, he strutted off to go woo his brothers.

A few days ago, I tore out our peas, since it’s getting too hot for them and they had powdery mildew for some reason, and last night I took out the pea poles.  It was very satisfying.  Then I pulled all the weeds (well, not ALL the weeds, there are always more), cut the roots off and put them in a big bucket for Meg.  We do that with most of our weeds, because the animals love them.  We call them salads.

Actually, it’s a circle.  We take the cow manure and put it on the garden.  Then the weed seeds in the manure sprout and we pull them and give them to the animals, who in turn give us more manure for the garden.

The chickens really love the cow and goat manure as well.  Whenever the cow sticks her tail out in preparation to poop, the chickens come running and look up (“manna from heaven” as my mom said) and immediately start to scratch it up, looking for bits of grain and seeds.  The goat poop, which is little “nanny berries,” is like a little gift.  The chickens follow the goats around just waiting for it and then break each one open to see if there’s some tasty something inside.

Another really hilarious thing happened, which was this:  I had an old piece of roast beef in a container that I took out to give to the chickens.  I gave it to them and a chicken picked it up and carried it away with a horde of other chickens running along behind, trying to intercept it.  Then I saw that one hen, Clio had a hold of another something and there was a chicken screaming and I saw Thia, who has a very floppy comb, had fallen down on the ground.  I finally realized that Thia was the one screaming and the nice piece of meat that Clio had, was in fact, Thia’s comb.  Clio didn’t see the actual bit of meat and instead thought “I want that bright red juicy piece” and clamped her beak onto the prize and refused to let go of it (and apparently realize) that it was her sister’s comb!  I felt really bad for Thia, whose comb must have hurt a lot.

While on the subject of funny animal stories, I’ll tell you this one that got a group of adult friends that I was giving a tour of the farm to, laughing like crazy:

Our dog is deathly afraid of goats.  She will walk out the back door; see the goats and then back herself into the breezeway again.

Our goat, Molly, has head-butted her numerous times, so she thinks the whole caprine species is out to get her.  My dad decided to take her out into the back yard to introduce her to Widget and Morisot, because they are really sweet and there’s no reason for a 60 pound dog to be afraid of a Nigerian Dwarf goat and her tiny baby.

So he drags the dog out and shows her to Morisot and Widget.  The dog cowers and flinches away from them thinking “something is going to happen.  They are going to hurt me.”  Finally, she is like “please let me go back.  I want to be done with this” so she turns around and begins to slink back towards the house.  Then…WHAM!  Widget head-butts her retreating back-end and our dog puts her tail between her legs and runs to the house thinking “I knew it!”

As my mom would say, “never a dull moment around here.”