Category Archives: Stewardship

May Mow

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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Growth of the Soil

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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Pitching the Tent Caterpillars

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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First Mowing

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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Chipping Away…

Tucker and I were quite busy last week chipping branches using a chipper provided by New Cathedral Cemetery.

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The branches had been piling up for a couple years. Usually, the folks at New Cathedral do the chipping, but they’re understaffed at the moment. So they brought us the chipper and told us to use it as long as we needed it. We needed it ten days.

We’ll be using the chips to line the paths through the woods.

There were some logs too big to put through the chipper.

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We’ll use the chain saws to cut them down to log size. They’ll be heating the house next winter.

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