Stewardship

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Chickens

We have begun our endeavor into raising chickens.  Our little chickadees arrived a week and a half ago.  At 7:30 in the morning we received a phone call from our local post office that a little box of peeping chicks had arrived.  Auggie and I rushed out to meet our beautiful new additions.  They are quite cute and we have been enjoying them thoroughly.  We spoil them rotten.  Digging up worms and dandelions daily.  They have already grown now and are trying to fly around.

Tucker and his father have been working diligently on building a nice coop for them.  We have had volunteers come weekly to help in the construction and we are nearly finished.  Now we just need to add a door and nesting boxes.  We will begin working on the run this upcoming week.

We plan on adding more Guineas to the fleet as well.  15 little Keets are due to arrive in June. Hopefully we will be able to keep our newest members happy, healthy and safe from predators 🙂

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Humanure 2016

Joe Byrne helped the tree planting effort by harvesting some humanure. If you’ve never seen that term before, it refers to human manure, usually from a composting toilet.

This is humanure that sat untouched for a year.

The humanure was shoveled into the holes where the trees were being planted. Regular compost was also added.

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Here’s the humanure before it was harvested.

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Here Joe is scooping out the humanure and putting it in bags. In case you’re wondering: the humanure was dry as dust and gave off a woody (not a poopy) smell.

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Here are a couple of the bags of humanure ready to be transported to the tree planting site.

 

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Tree Planting

Shortly after we split our wood for winter, we put in some trees in the back portion of the cemetery, which we’ve decided to re-forest (we now call that section Jetta Grove, a place where the Buddha liked to meditate).

The trees were donated by Baltimore Green Space.

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Here are some of the trees that we planted. There are a couple magnolia, and fir trees in the picture.

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Tucker dug most of the holes ahead of time. This is one of about 25 holes.

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Our good friend Booch also dug some holes, for the fir trees that now line the north fence.

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Here Maia, Amy, and Dean work together to plant one of the trees.

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Winter is coming! So it’s a good thing we got all our wood split. We rented a wood splitter a few weeks back and spent the good part of a couple days splitting the wood we had on hand.

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Joe had the first shift, with help from Dan Parr, Emily’s brother, who was in Baltimore for a visit.

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Ardeth took the second shift, with Dan continuing as head assistant. Tucker is in the background deciding which logs to bring out.

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Tucker also spent a good bit of time stacking the split wood.

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Here’s the the wood pile after we finished splitting. You might not be able to see it: there’s a row in back, all the way to the top, one in front of that one about three quarters to the top, and a short row in front.

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Saturday, September 10, was a big day for tree people at Jonah House. We had two groups visiting simultaneously.

The Baltimore Orchard Project (BOP) had a canning workshop in the cemetery.

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This was part of a year-long orchard stewardship program that Jonah House is participating in. The canning workshop was entitled “Sharing the Harvest Among Neighbors.” The participants discussed harvesting basics and learned about canning from the Caiti Sullivan. Caiti works at Hex Ferments and now works at Millstone Cellars. She is a canning expert as well as an artist.

Caiti was great but our own Emily would have done equally well in teaching a canning workshop. Emily gave me some excellent pointers when I wanted to can (jar, really) some apple juice I had made with my juicer. Now with Caiti’s AND Emily’s help, I’ll be able to take on other canning projects.

After the canning workshop, Dean Freeman, outgoing harvest coordinator from the Baltimore Orchard Project, talked a little bit about harvesting. He mentioned that the BOP had already hosted a couple of fruit picks at Jonah House (pears and apples). He also said that the Jonah House orchard is a model for what they’re trying to accomplish in Baltimore!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the cemetery, the Baltimore Naturalist Network was wandering around our 8-acre forest patch. The host was Charles Davis, from the the Natural History Society of Maryland, and about fifteen folks came out for the forest walk.

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The Baltimore Naturalist Network is part of the Maryland Community Naturalist Network, which is a project of The Natural History Society of Maryland. The Network is attempting to provide nature mentors within walking distance of every neighborhood in Baltimore. The Network connects participants to a larger community of knowledgeable experts to promote skills of awareness, place-knowledge, and nature connection. Together they explore the nature of our neighborhoods and parks, and share what we discover with those in the neighborhood.

We look forward to future visits from the Network.

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by Joe Byrne

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On June 18th Baltimore Green Space and Baltimore Bird Club will be hosting a bird walk through our woods.  Please come join us to experience these marvelous creatures.

BirdWalkBash_FinalAll are welcome!

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Here are some photos of the cemetery and forest patch after our most recent mowing. It’s quite a bit of work to maintain the grounds, but we love it. Maia, who just finished her month-long stay with us, and Terry, Emily’s father, have been a huge help. Mowing, weeding, gardening, chainsaw work and bush whacking!

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Above, our pasture area where we formerly kept goats, lamas, and donkeys. We hope to have animals again, once the kids are a bit older.

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Above, a space we’ve cleared out in the forest patch. We hope to connect it with another clearing (below) and cover the ground with wood chips. It’s a great place for contemplation, a kind of forest refuge among the trees and wildlife.

IMG_3152Above, a space we’d like to clear out. It’ll be tough going considering the area is overgrown with vines and thick bushes. Poison ivy, too. The open canopy offers lots of sunlight and, once cleared, will provide another beautiful area to sit, rest, meditate and wonder at all the life in the forest patch.

IMG_3138Above, a section of the walking path that runs through the forest patch. In the early part of spring we spent several weeks collecting and chipping fallen trees and branches.

IMG_3137Above, the grounds along the south fence. While mowing this section, I (Tucker) came across what looked to be a rat snake sun bathing.

IMG_3134Above, the middle stretch of the cemetery that extends from the east gate all the way to the forest patch.

IMG_3133 (1)Above, Maia bouncing Evie.

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Above, Terry, Emily’s father, helping dig a hole in which we set a large tire that became a sand box. Auggie loves it!

IMG_3093Above, Auggie sitting in his “mow tractor.” He prefers the Toro, but he’ll ride the Scag if it’s out. The Yazoo Kees doesn’t impress him much.

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In light rain this past Saturday evening we planted two pecan trees to mark the arrivals of our children, Auggie and Evie. Beneath the saplings we buried the placentas we’d saved from their births.

The ritual invited me to think about the meaning of home.

Home isn’t always a physical place, though it can be that, but it’s always, in my experience, something I return to. A dwelling space. A relationship. A state of heart, mind and being. Even an image and the feeling tone that image inspires.

Home, for me, is vulnerable, authentic, all-embracing, and intimate the way climbing vines twine together. As intimate as air is to breath.

By planting these trees here at Jonah House, along with the once living tissue that helped sustain Auggie and Evie in the womb, their first home, I feel I’m vowing to return to these trees, to both care for and be nourished by them.

IMG_3106All this makes me consider how birds home to a particular place. Habitats in physical space that orient their lives and journeys. Places of return and the innate sense to find them.

Emily and I have returned to Baltimore. We also home to other places — like New Mexico, South Dakota, and North Carolina — where we have family and where we’ve experienced transformations of the sort that sculpt soul and body, of the kind where I feel I’ve been folded into the landscape, worked into its soil.

And so it is, now with our family, tilled into the earth here, our lives and bodies knit with the growth of this soil.

Tucker Brown

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You’re probably seen tent caterpillar nests in trees in your yard, neighborhood, or at the side of roads, in wild cherry trees or crab-apple trees. They spin web-like nests and propagate. Each nest holds hundreds of caterpillars. During the day they come out and munch on the leaves of the tree or (we’ve discovered) sun themselves on cemetery monuments.

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Tent caterpillars are bad news for fruit orchards, since they prefer to build their nests in fruit trees. Since we have many fruit trees on the property – cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, and quite a few apples – we had to climb the fruit trees or stand on ladders with longs poles, to pull down the tent caterpillar nests.

After they were pulled down, they were deposited in a bucket.

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Most of the tent caterpillars survived the ordeal. We decided not to kill them. Instead they were removed to another location where they would be no threat to our fruit trees. After they become moths, they are welcome to return.

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This past week we did the first mowing of St. Peter’s Cemetery. Here’s one view.

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The cemetery has 22 acres. We have to mow about 14 acres (the other 8 are forest). It takes 3 people on 3 mowers to do it all in one day.

On the east side, whoever’s mowing has to weave between flowering apple trees.

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Looks pretty but if you’re not paying attention, one of those lower branches could knock you off the mower!

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