Dry Creek Valley

Deep spry fatty soil
Birthed in this valley’s time between horses
When lands across the seas worked in their New Stone Age
We now harvest peaceful kale and chard

Black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia)
Jerusalem cricket
Yellow rabbitbrush
Powdery sage

Spotted elk calf’s growing marrow
Insulated by blood and the herd

Ghosts of the tribes
Still ride their new horses here
Painted light yellow and dark red

Sunny golden energy blankets the valley
Seeping out of open hearts
What would the guardian of the foothills speak today?

Night frost melts
Warming drops sit on the grasses
Each have their own big rainbow inside
Amber, bright bug green, violet, shiny red, white

Trail runners, old and new
Feel this air travel their lungs
Seamans Gulch Trail
This land is our friend

Poetry: Thanks, Mother

Standing sans shoes, socks
Stronger with the pulse again
What kind of bird makes that noise?
The winged ones don’t have crazy politicians

Humming buddies should return again soon
Honeysuckle shows its first growth

This cup of yerba mate
From the earth
From far south of Texas
Steeped with cozy valley water
Thank you

That nine point loss we watched yesterday
The dreaded final buzzer to end the season
True fans shaking our heads at the TV
Seems less important today

Poetry: What would Yeshua eat while listening to Goats Head Soup?

Proud midwest Farm Bill mascots
11 from each side take to the field

Cornered farmers tend to their insured lines of fuel and feed
Jaundiced corn and magical drugs poured into the crossbred Angus
Juiceless coat of dust covered hair
Tongues, intestines, and stomachs ride the white caps westward

Floating towards the sea foam of the East

Food pyramid and plate striving for a paradox
Lab coat brains’ creation of homemade gummy bear snacks
What does the seahorse make of all of this?
Monarchs and honeybees exchange stories

Regenerative heart
Star blanket moon, the robin returns, summer moonlight, the real harvest moon
Thomas Jefferson’s 330 veggie varieties in Monticello
Harmonic appetite of a hundred or more species
What would Yeshua eat while listening to Goats Head Soup?

The Sustainable Food Movement: Where’s Our Focus?

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” – Mother Teresa

We can learn a lot from that quote. In the sustainable food movement there is an inherent responsibility to protect the environment, soil, animal wellbeing, farm workers’ rights, and our local economies. How we work towards a more sustainable food system can take many different roads. One question to consider is “where do we want to focus our time, work, and energy to reach our organizational, community and societal food sustainability goals?”

Do we want to focus more of our time and energy fighting for something or fighting against something? Are we spending more time fighting for food security or fighting against food insecurity? Are we spending more time promoting and celebrating organic and sustainable farms, ranchers, and artisans or fighting against conventional, chemical-heavy industrial “food” operations? Are we spending more time sharing information about regenerative agriculture or fighting against companies that are depleting our soil and damaging our environment? Are we spending more time pointing out why CAFOs are terrible or more time promoting the benefits of holistic management?

There is indeed a balance to these dualistic focuses. We absolutely must tell those that are doing wrong how to change directions for the greater good. We also must let them know how to do it the right way.

Informing the public about the full truth of our food systems (the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly) is essential. Then, once we know the problem or challenge, the question is do we focus more of our time on the problem side or more on the solution side of the issue? Ensuring that these two yin and yang energies are balanced will help us be successful in our vision for a more sustainable food system.

How much time do we, as a collective, spend fighting against what we don’t like or want (e.g. Monsanto, bad ag policies, etc.) compared to how much energy is spent on promoting GMO-free food and all that is right with organic and sustainable agriculture? Are we spending too much time fighting against and not enough time fighting for?

We can to remind our friends and supporters of the solutions as well as the powerful organizations and farmers that are working for sustainable food, just as much, if not more, than we remind them of the corporations and politicians that are causing the problems. If we point out something that is wrong, then we can also give our readers some inspiration to help solve the problem as well as some steps they can take to support the sustainable food movement.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“An Egg is an Egg” – Are We Comparing the Right Things?

“As far as I’m concerned, an egg is an egg,” a general store clerk once said to my friend as she was buying a dozen organic farm-fresh eggs. “I don’t know why you buy those, they are more expensive.” My friend, of course, bought them anyways and reminded the clerk that if she and others opt to spend more money for farm-fresh eggs there might be something to it. Comparing an organic/pasture-raised/farm-fresh egg to an industrial operation-produced egg is easy to do on the surface when comparing price, but doesn’t make much sense when the whole picture is developed.

“They are fresher, better quality, and have better looking yolks,” explained one of my coworkers as the reason she prefers farm fresh eggs over industrial produced eggs. When have you ever heard someone compare a Pinto with a Mustang? Probably never. The difference in quality is too great. Comparing an inferior car to a superb machine that people admire doesn’t make much sense and is more likely to be discussed as a joke than a real meaningful debate.

Buying the farm-fresh/pasture egg is just as much about what you are buying as much as what you are avoiding. To explain this, here are my definitions of both types of egg options: 
Farm-fresh/pasture-raised eggs
(this is my definition, see this article for some nitty gritty labeling and terminology): Come from chickens that have access to roam and hunt for bugs and eat what they find on the ground, are fed organic or similar feed, live a happy life (get to be a chicken), produce deep golden yolked eggs. These eggs contain vitamin D and are just a few days old when they are sold.
Industrial operation-produced egg (again, my definition): Eggs where we really don’t know what the chicken was fed (you are what you eat ate), we don’t know if it even got to go outside, it probably lives in a cage or super crowded facility and cannot really be a “chicken,” unknown level of chemicals that are used in the feed, the egg is aged considerably, in most cases it is weeks old.

I asked one of the egg farmers at our local farmers market about the main difference between the eggs they sell and industrial eggs. One of the main differences she cited was that industrial eggs are going to be older. Many industrial operations wash their eggs before shipping. When they do this they are washing off the bloom which is the protective coating that keeps the insides of the egg clean and undisturbed. The bloom stops bacteria from entering the egg’s pores. It also keeps the moisture in. Washing the bloom off opens the door for the egg to age faster and decreases its freshness. If that’s not enough, the industrial eggs will be older just for the simple fact that they are probably trucked in from out of state and have been sitting in a refrigerated environment for days or weeks longer than the farm-fresh egg.

Will the farm-fresh/pasture raised eggs have a higher price at the market? Sure, but a Mustang will also be more expensive than a Pinto. Even with the higher investment cost, high quality eggs are still an affordable source of protein and nutrition. Even at $4.50 a dozen, you are only paying 38 cents an egg. Assuming you eat two eggs with a breakfast meal, your protein from a pasture-raised chicken eggs comes in at under $1 per meal.

An egg is an egg? Well, an industrial egg is and industrial egg and a farm-fresh egg is a farm-fresh egg. But talking about the two as comparable options is not even close to being accurate. Comparing an egg scramble chock full of farm-fresh, pasture-raised eggs to a holistically managed grass-finished beef burger would be a juicier discussion.

References/Acknowledgements/Helpful Sites I Came Across and related sites readers might also find useful:

New Mexico’s Brillance

Living clay pottery.
Prickly pear flowering like a double spider web.
Dry molecules taking what is needed.
Abundance of Dead Man’s Curves. Thoughts of crashes, and living.

Earth energy lighting up the dark night ground. Pulsing rhythm. This is real.
White clouds moving slowly overhead. Mesmerizing Christmas toy.
Buffalo skull’s medicine wheel of directions.
Fry bread flour on the propane stove.

Our winged, ungulate, and scaled teachers.
Moonwise, sunwise. Woven together.
Horsehair braided into the dream.
Traveling on Mother Earth to the rug auction. Black and white pattern of the Acoma pottery.

Poetry: Plant and Harvest Values

Nose-to-tail and vegans living
Same energy
Vegetables surround us, fruit is our jumping dessert
Plant and harvest values

Food desert, food swamp
Bottom line, processing until death do us part
Cheap “food”
Lessons, connected health, keeping your eye on the ball

Gleaners, sturdy ranch hand, workers and workers
No Farms No Food bumper sticker
Big bang to plate
Pleasant pastures and rolling thunder

Feverfew, tiny hummingbirds, cooling night breeze
Breath, sun, living with and within the elements
Raspberries growing by the backyard window

Sage, huckleberries, dandelion leaves, grass, morels
Volunteer tomatoes, gift from past hands, the soil, and the Mother

A Quick Thought on Superweeds

This National Geographic story certainly does have a lot of good information in it, so its worth a read and provides some different viewpoints on GMOs and ends with a story on organic farming benefits. To add to the story, I thought it was important to add one piece in the GMO arena: SUPERWEEDS.

It is vitally important to note the concern of superweeds caused by GMO crops and the chemicals involved. This is escalating and requires even more chemicals now to deal with superweeds. In a nutshell, the chemicals/technology developed with GMO crops works to kill the weeds on the land where GMO crops are planted. But…there are some species of plants (which we call superweeds) that are immune to this technology, so they run rampant and can overtake the farmland. In response, one action is that the company or farmer would then need to apply yet another dose of chemicals on the farm land to deal with these superweeds.

Here are three stories about superweeds:



Poetry: Lively Stock’s Path

Calf growing, grass lengthening, morning dew and baby breath
Shadow of bird flying overhead, mother’s milk
Mother’s eyes, gateway to soul of sacrifice
Stomach system of four, flowing warmth
Rancher’s Love, grazing patterns, noble butcher

Bone marrow, life’s dessert
Osso buco, big apple, liver and heart, bones and stones
Protein of grass greatness, omega, oh Mega, omega
Rich fat, collagen, ligament, tendon, veins

Medium rare, dripping nutrients, sprinkle of sea salt
Steak knife working, cutting through it all, little by little
Last cut, letting go, free from hanging on
First bite, 44 unique chews

Taste with gratitude, elements contributing
Loving, nourishment, beings helped
Cowhide warming the cabin floor

Using the Whole Animal: Buffalo Skull Art

If we are going to take an animal’s life for food, we should honor the sacrifice through using the whole animal. We do this by eating all of the parts of the animal we can, using the hide, fur, bones, and other bits.

I paint buffalo skulls for many reasons. One of them is the idea of using the whole animal.

I bought this particular buffalo skull from a local taxidermist. He buys the buffalo heads from a local buffalo ranch, cleans them up, and sells them. Interesting side note: I have bought and eaten buffalo meat from this ranch before too.

Below are some pictures of my most recent painted buffalo skull, titled Spirit LineThe design is inspired by Native American Diné (Navajo) rug designs. The spirit line on the upper right side of the skull in red. In Navajo weaving, the spirit line is common and represents the pathway for the weaver’s spirit to leave the rug.

photo (27) - Version 2  photo 1 (5)

photo 2 (6)  photo 2 (9)  photo 2 (5)
For more details on Spirit Line click here. Also, check out my new (and still in development) facebook art page, Buffalo Lands Art.