Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Broody Duck and Other's Wild Nature

This morning when I went out to release the five Indian Runner ducks
from their house and to gather eggs,
this arrangement of eggs in one of the nesting boxes
is what greeted when I lifted the lid on the side of the duckhouse.

One of the Tootsie Rolls, the smallest in size, has been broody for the past couple of months. She often arranges the 2 wooden eggs and the eggs laid by herself and her sisters in one of the nesting boxes. She only sits on the eggs while in the duckhouse and spends her days foraging with her sisters. Indian Runner ducks are not known for their ability to sit on eggs until they have hatched. Although, there was one in a past flock who did so but unfortunately outside of the duckhouse, so just as the first eggs were almost finished their incubation, a night time marauder had her for a meal. 

Welcoming and accepting the creatures and their life cycle as an integral part of MuRefuge and her vibrant web is sometimes trying, as with the gophers mentioned in a previous post. However, the rewards of doing so offers such an array of "wild nature" behaviors which adds  to the wholeness of the landscape of which we are the present stewards.

For months now we have had a male Western Bluebird pecking at the windows that reflect his image. At first I thought he was protecting his family’s nest. However, the behavior has continued long after the eggs have hatched and his offspring have fledged. A few evenings past while lounging in the bath and looking out the window, I could see sitting in the bare branches of the dead curly willow Mom and Pop and two beautiful youngsters. In the dead curly willow just to the East of our East most fence is one of the many bluebird boxes Dwight has built and installed. This particular box must be this bird family’s home. Many Bluebirds used to nest in the many apple trees to our South which were all cut down a few years after we began putting down roots here. Given the loss of old trees in which to nest, we find each year the bluebird boxes are often used by these gorgeous birds.

Native Twinberry Honeysuckle ((Lonicera involucrata).
Not surprising a family of Bluebirds has claimed MuRefuge as
their territory with the abundance of food for their taking.
We have watched Mom and/or Pop feeding one berry at a time to their offspring.
As some of you have read in previous posts, bird tape has been installed on most of the windows to decrease bird collisions. The two windows where the male Bluebird first pecked, the windows were recently reinforced with additional bird tape which over the few weeks has minimized his pecking at his reflection since there is little window pane for him to see himself in. Alas, he has moved to other windows which have a bit more glass for his reflection to be seen. Wild territorial behavior in the winged who has claimed MuRefuge as his territory is a wonder to behold.

Flowering native Wild Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)
which also has berries for the birds to eat.
With the El Nino rains of Spring passed the native bushes and vines have put on a stunning display of flowers this year. Natives to this area seem to be familiar with years of drought and years of an abundance of rain. With the former, plants of all sizes seem to sequester their energy, providing an abundance of seeds for reproduction/survival of their species. With the recent Spring rains the flowers on the perennial bushes, vines and trees have been exceptionally spectacular this Spring, and now the cycle turns to Summer.

The rising sun shining on flowering Cream Bush, aka Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor),
which provides nectar for native pollinators.

As we observe Wild Nature all around us during the turning of season, may we each 

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Living here in the Sonoma “West County” its human inhabitants understand that gophers, in abundance, live here also. Our neighbors to the West had to replace their above ground swimming pool with a cement pad beneath when the gophers nibbled through the bottom of the pool. And when most perennials are planted at MuRefuge they are installed in gopher baskets.

Gopher baskets give young roots a chance to grow and feed the plant of which they are a part. However, they are temporary after years of sitting in damp soil. Even with many years of drought here the soil still does get damp from the intermittent rains. As the gopher baskets disintegrate and are incorporated into the surrounding soil, the apple trees seem to be the most susceptible to the gophers who apparently like the taste of their roots!

Accepting all that appears at one’s place of setting down roots is by no means easy. Accepting can be simple, however. As I surveyed  this Pink Pearl apple tree a few weeks ago, I noted the foliage was droopy and the little green apple were wizened. Since this is not the first apple tree to have lost its root system to the gophers, I wiggled the trunk: not too wiggly. But once the dead vegetation was removed not much soil needed to be removed from around the trunk before the entire trunk and what was left of the roots system could easily be pulled up from the soil. 

Remains of a 30 year old dwarf Pink Pearl apple tree.
As I set the trunk in the pile to be chipped, I was grateful for all the Pink Pearl apples this dwarf antique apple tree has given us over her many years. 

Pink Pearl apples picked and ready for applesauce making.

Pink Pearl apples almost all cored and chopped for applesauce.

Canned Pink Pearl applesauce ready for one of our previous Winter.
And I thought, “apple trees come and go just like humans.” Accepting is easy when one embraces cycles of birth, life and death.

This part of Sonoma County use to be mostly covered with apple trees; in fact the very property on which MuRefuge is located was a Gravenstein apple orchard. Most of this area was the same until the land was divided into much smaller parcels, like the six 3/4 acre parcels here at the West end of our road,  or ranging in size up to several acres.

To our delight the nearly 50 acres abutting the West most house on our gravel road has become Green Star Farm.  

Sonoma County has been an agriculture county since it was settled. The “old time” farmers, like the man who owned the old orchards on which MuRefuge is now located, are either dead or retiring. These farmers focused on farming without conscious thought of their practices, farming as they were taught by their parents, so now top soil essentially no longer exists and the nutrients of the soil long ago extracted. Soil regeneration is a hot topic now a day. The young and energetic 2 legged present day farmers are now carrying on the agricultural tradition and are focusing on caring for Mother Earth in ways so all living BEings, including the soil, can thrive.

As each of us considers ways to care for Mother Earth, may we 

Friday, May 6, 2016


recent Sunday past, as Shasta and I usually do, we were walking on the West County Trail in Sebastopol. And as often happens, others walking their dog(s) stop for our 4leggeds to greet one another. Shasta exuberantly greets humans; however her greeting other dogs varies. One of the dog owners made the comment watching Shasta meeting up with her dogs, “she is so respectful.” That term “respectful” is not a familiar description to me of Shasta, but upon further mulling I can see how this dog owner came up with this word to describe Shasta. 

“The essence of life shall never be known by a human being as long as that person seeks 
to observe life like viewer and subject. The absolutely essential nature of life 
can only be comprehended by merging fully with the flow of life, 
so that one is utterly a part of it.” 
365 Tao: Daily Meditations, “Essence”, Deng Ming-Dao (1992).

Being respectful of others and their gifts, in spite of our individual “point of view” from which we may not understand the other, is part of the “flow of life.”  In the past I was not only skeptical but downright disdainful of one who claimed dowsing abilities until I met and studied albeit briefly with Desda Zuckerman.

Immersion in  her teachings and practicing her lessons, I came to realize some of my own abilities of sensing subtle energy. In my searching for a tool, since the one suggested by Desda did not seem to work for me, I remembered the rutilated quartz crystal that my now dead brother sent to me. I attached it to a chain and began using that as my tool with which to connect with energy of the subtle nature.

Rutilated quartz 
“is a clear crystal that contains rutile fibers that have a golden or reddish color. 
These fibers add even more intensity and transmission power to the crystal 
because they bear cross currents of electrical charges that amplify healing . . .”
Healing with Crystals and Gemstones, Daya Sarai Chrocron (1988)
This is the reason my brother sent the crystal to me
when I was healing from the autoimmune disease in my forties. 

This simple yet powerful tool works for me and I use it in in a variety of situations depending where and when I wish to BE more in touch with this powerful, yet often denied by our culture, subtle energy source surrounding us all. 

When I am preparing flower essence for myself or another BEing, I use the crystal pictured above. The crystal indicates by the direction of circulation a “yes” or “no” which is agreed upon by the user and the crystal, or whatever tool is employed, during the “bonding” of tool and user. Once an essence preparation is chosen and completely mixed for those BEings who have sought a remedy, maybe or maybe not then I might check out what is written in Flower Essence Repertory, Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz (1994) about the flower essence(s) indicated using the crystal. If I do so, I am often surprised but respectful of the constituents of the preparation. However, once the remedy is used by the BEing for whom it was created, the feedback is positive.

One woman who sought support for the transition of her recently adopted dog who had a traumatic journey arriving at her now “forever home” called the flower preparation mixed especially for her dog a “magic potion.”

In the background and immediate foreground is 
“flowering” Nodding Needlegrass (Nassella cernua)
and the fairy like blooming plant is 
Blue eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum).

Flower essence offers living BEings support and opportunity for transition. Many of you have heard of and perhaps used Rescue Remedy, aka Five Flower, to ameliorate shock. I use this in spray form when I transplant seedlings to minimize transplant shock. The Flower Essence Society In Nevada City, California has built upon the original research done in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician. This organization has expanding the number of flower essence available for adjusting, healing, shifting the life forces at play in any living BEing. 

MuRefuge’s Indian Runner duck flock: Coco the chocolate duck is in the far back, 
the two Tootsie Rolls are on either side with the yellow bills, 
in front is Miz Crone and behind her greenish yellow bill is Blue. 
When the Tootsie Rolls were introduced to the older ducks, 
the way of ducks was to put these two youngsters in their place in the flock.
 To soothe the transition a flower essence was used for several weeks. 

Just like different plants sequester different elements/nutrients, likewise different flowers possess the ability to shift different life forces. The flower essence offers a BEing support to shift or not. The living organism, if not ready to let go of stuck or cellularly embedded energy patterns, or comfortable and familiar ways of going about in the world, is totally unaffected by the flower essence. The flower essence is inherently respectful of any BEing’s choice.

Another way of checking in with the subtle energy surrounding everything is muscle testing. This simple connection with our muscles strength can be used for deciding whether a flower essence remedy/preparation is the one for you. 

“If you have ever seen applied kinesiology,you have experienced this tool for tapping into the subconscious mind and the energy fields surrounding the body. When something is true, the electric impulses in our muscles fire; when something is not true or doesn’t serve us, the electric field is weakened and so are our muscles. “

To use this technique “make an O-shape out of your thumb and forefinger. Do the same with the other hand, then interlock the two circles. Tug firmly on the little chain shape, not letting the circles break. State something true, such as ‘my name is [your name]’ and tug. Now state something false: ‘my name is Asparagus,’ and tug - your fingers will not be able to hold the chain.”

“This works whether you know the answer or not, as it is based on the integrity of the energy fields in and around your body.” 365 Green Practices for Sacred Connection: Living Earth Devotional, Clea Danaan (2013).
May each of us BE respectful of all BEings, small or large, as they journey on their individual life path and

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Belated May Day "Basket"

Beltane, a cross quarter day in the Celtic calendar, is a celebration of the shift from Spring into Summer. Passion and creativity are the focus where paper baskets of flowers are delivered to friends and neighbors, and pastel ribbons are tied to the May pole for children of all ages to dance joining forces to light their passion for transformation.

The flowering native Buckeye tree at MuRefuge.
This tree was planted in Fall, 1994, a "housewarming"
gift from my parents when they visited that year in October.
My belated May Day basket to you is filled with the Buckeye tree's flowers.

As we take this opportunity to become more attuned with our land and support her bounty, may we each