Musings on our lives as urban farmers.parents.citizens.humans

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Observations from an Urban Farm in Lakewood, Colorado

The Fourth Sister

April 2020

The sun is warm and my arms are burning.  I"m hilling up mounds of dirt three by three feet wide, at least a foot deep.  Circles.  This year we're dedicating space to grow the Three Sisters and the anticipation I feel is tremendous.

First of all, the possibility of growing and harvesting glass gem corn sets me in a tizzy.  My beloved friend (& fellow farmer) Noel gifted me my first glass gem seeds seven years ago and it was love at first sight. For all it's beauty, Maize (corn) needs a great deal from the soil.  On it's own, Maize will deplete the earth around it.  Still, she grows tall and straight and strong.  She is gorgeous.

Sister Bean (Frija) will be a dragon this year.  She will "fix" the soil with nitrogen, providing Maize with what she needs for glossy silk and juicy kernels.  Frija keeps the pantry stocked,  making sure life is stable and reliable with enough extra to put on some dancing shoes.  She knows she has substance.  Without something to climb, Friija is at the mercy of hungry rodents, so she reaches for her corn sister to climb to safety.

Did you know rodents will climb corn stalks to eat the beans and tear tender ears from the womb of a husk?  Yes, they are relentless.  These thieves grow so fat they break stalks.  They work quickly and have no mercy.

Our third sister, Calais (calabasa=squash), is voluptuous and fierce.  She sequesters water for her family by spreading her wide leaves over the earth, her fertility spreading across the land.  Calais's vines gather around the feet of Maize and Frija like a ruffled skirt.  Reach underneath, though, and her prickly stems will rake across your skin and give you a rash.  Rodents beware.

And so they grow, in harmony.  

As I hoe and shape the earth  to form mounds for the Three Sisters, I think of my family,.  My mother has three sisters -- so there are not three, but four.  Four elders, four women who have profoundly shaped my life (and continue to guide me).  My arms hoe and my mind thinks and then the realization blooms inside of me.  I stop mid-stroke.

There is a Fourth Sister.

The Fourth Sister, Crecia (to raise, to grow), is the invisible sister.  She is the one who holds the seeds, the one who forms the earth, the one who pokes each sister into the ground with well wishes.  Crecia brings water.  She tends her sisters so they live in beauty, free of weeds.  She watches her sisters work together, a benevolent witness to their harmony.

As I spend my time in the sun, I wonder what my mom and tias would think of this theory.  I wonder which sister they would pick as themselves or point at for someone else.  Perhaps, over a lifetime, they have taken turns at different roles to test their strengths -- or lend support when little was to be found.

May we continue to grow in harmony.  Thinking of you.

Pullin' Weeds

June 2020

 Pulling weeds (which are just plants growing somewhere I'd prefer they not) is the best way for me to process thoughts and emotions.  Each tug can be cathartic, symbolic.  It's a removal of something no longer needed in an effort to make way for nourishment ~ beauty ~ space. 

I pull weeds for hours and hours and hours a week.  It's a straightforward and fairly mindless task.  Most days, I put my hands to work and heighten my other senses to enjoy the world around me in a different way.  There are hawks overhead, kids laughing (or bickering), traffic noise, and neighbors coming and going.  I feel the sun on my skin and the breeze on my cheek.  I smell chicken manure in the wind and sneeze a few times from pine pollen.  Sometimes I'll stop and enjoy a few bites of viscous, tangy purslane.

My mind is a busy place and meditation is a practice that helps me make sense of the cacophony - or at least be amused by it for a while.  So when I've entertained myself long enough listening to the world, that's when thoughts and emotions come to the fore.   As my hands move, I feel the heaviness in my belly from sadness, blink away the piercing sting of tears for injustice, stop and stare at the sky with expansive joy for the love of friends and family, shiver from waves of self doubt, become energized by great ideas.  

There are days I pull for myself in a conscious effort to remove something inside blocking me from joy or deeper understanding of the world.  I kneel in the dirt, sun on my back and think, "Why is this relationship difficult right now?" --- riiiip -- "What is my role in this?" -- riiip -- "What would it feel like for [myself, the earth, humanity] to be wholly restored?" -- riip -- "I'm so effing [pissed, disgusted, disheartened]!!"-- riip, riip, riip.  There are a lot of days lately when I pull for someone else or pull for the world.  

A hundred metta meditations with my hands in the dirt.  

Sometimes the weeds come willingly as if they, too, are ready to let go.  Other times I give 'em a little wiggle at the base, a forewarning -- loosen up your roots because I'm gonna pull!  Riip!!  Then...freedom.  

Winter Bees and Snow Flurries

January 2020

The calendar tells us it's a new year, a new decade.  The earth tells us it's a new day, another sunset.  Winter is here.  The hens post up together in a pile of feathers at the back of the nesting boxes.  The field is frozen.  The bees are balled up inside their hives, keeping warm.  We're on to other things -- work, board games, trying our hand at making deodorant.  And then the phone rings.

A friend from the lumberyard says a huge tree was felled -- and the guys discovered a feral beehive in the trunk.  The whole thing is being cut up or chipped in the next 48 hours -- can we come take a look?  Yes!

It takes an entire morning to cut open the trunk with a chainsaw and extract the comb and bees.  The hive is big.  Really big.  It appears they've been in this tree for a while by the looks of the wax.  It feels good to rehome a hive but slightly illicit to do it in the middle of winter.

A day later, we return with the shop vac so to suck out the remaining bees, doing everything we can to make sure the queen is transferred over, too.  The bees were dazed at first but took to their new home well, buzzing in and out busy as ever on the first warm day.

Rehoming swarms or transferring a feral hive is exciting and nerve racking and uncertain.  Will they settle in well?  Will they like it here?  We are ever grateful to play a small role in the lives of these incredible creatures and hope they will feel good , comfortable, abundant in their new environs.  

Thank you to our friend, Gil, who called on us for help.  

It feels good to be of service.

Chickens 3.1

January 2019

Baby Chickens on the Way!

All chicks are certified for breed and will have a pullorum certificate.  

Look for more information in the coming months...


Whiting True Green

Whiting True Blue

Partridge Cochin

Silver Laced Wyndotte

Light Brahma

Salmon Faverolle

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          * 

UPDATE:  The babies are growing well...and have made it to their "teenager" stage as pullets.  Just like human teens, they sometimes look and act a little weird but we see their amazing potential xo       

Many Hands Make Light Work

May 2019

It's true. So true.

This season feels good, feels grounded, feels more connected than ever.

And we're just beginning.

Thank you to those who come and work the field for an hour or three. For those who pull grass. For those who laugh with us and bring vibrancy to the farm. Thank you to those who bring children who play and plant and play some more. Thank you to those who bring their old people to sit and watch the chickens and reminisce on their own childhood, with joy in their eyes.

We are strong. We feel the sun on our backs. Our nails are dirty.

We are many hands.

Dry Farming - Musings

January  2018

I heard on the news today that snowpack isn't a good predictor of our ability to resist drought in the coming year. That it's not that simple. They say the land is too dry and 'hungover' to be fecund.

Tell that to the dry farmer.

Tell that to purslane.

Tell that to the morning dewdrops.

We didn't expect to dry farm last year. The ditch water ran out by late June. Too early. Way too early. We were nervous, but what could we do? So we watched and waited. We danced every time a small storm spit on that little plot of land (our secondary plot called the Annex).

Hundreds of pounds of sweet cantaloupe, watermelon and a bumper crop of cannelini beans later, we had unwittingly become dry farmers of the land. The melons weren't huge, but they were firm and sweet and EDIBLE. It was FOOD. And it was GOOD.


Februray 2018

There's something reverent - grounding - humbling - motivating about placing a seed in soil and watching it grow.

Between the furrows we find equal parts science and mystery, live in the space between control and surrender,

and play roles that turn from participant to witness then back again.

Over the years, we planted ourselves into larger and larger gardens, adding bees, then chickens. We learned lessons from the earth-stained hands of relatives, friends and guides; gained encouragement from those who know our hearts and see we're at our best in the field; and stay inspired by hungry and curious neighbors.

And when our kids and their friends ask for farm chores, we know we're on to something good!

Welcome to Lost Creek Micro Farm.

Visit us! We may grow something you fancy. You may be invited to eat a flower.

And if you're in the neighborhood and you see us in the field,

give a little beep!beep! or a Hey you!

~ Chris & Diana ~

The Fallow Season

November 2018

Days grow shorter, nights longer. We wake up long before the sun and look out upon a quiet field. Hardneck garlic cloves are tucked inside their blanket of soil, dormant until spring when they sprout fragrant green scapes.

But not yet. Not yet.

Now is the time to breathe in, gather some rest, and daydream about what to grow next season. It's time to light a fire in the wood stove and spend an afternoon sharpening tools, threshing seed pods, scraping beehive frames. Time to wonder if the raspberry canes we were gifted (thanks, Larry) will give fruit next summer and if our traps will hold the good fortune to attract another swarm.

So warm up a mug of tea, fill 'yer belly with soup, have a game night and know that the best is yet to come.


Our gratitude to all who supported local agriculture in 2018 -- whether it was Lost Creek Micro Farm or somewhere else -- for you are the visionaries. You are living the change you wish to see in the world.  

Winter Solstice

December 2018

Living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains brings us a full four-season existence. We rejoice in the winter-spring-summer-autumn cycle, consciously connecting to the changes each sunrise brings.

Every season brings it's own classic display of greatness. Oftentimes we try to guess when we're in the peak of the season -- is the ground frozen? how many millions of tree buds exist right now? is this the hottest day we will feel this year? aha!  autumn winds are cleaning out the trees! It's literally and spiritually centering to stand in the full expression of a season with courage and gratitude. And it can be a relief when we feel ourselves moving into the next stage, ready for warmer days or cooler weather or whatever it is that keeps us moving forward.

When winter solstice arrives, it's such a celebration. A beginning! Earth's axis tipping this way, then that. Lots of candles and warm drinks. We know snow's silence is near, that winter is coming. The nights can get no longer. The sun's warm rays will stay with us just a few moments more each day.

Do you feel these shifts, these changes around you? We, each of us, has the tiniest internal see-saw calibrating the dance of light and heat, night and cold. It's science. And it's so much more. It's the deepest of human desires to grow again, to be warm, to know the darkness will not win.