Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Poetry and Passing of Mrs. Hannum

The month of April seems to be just flying by. With lots of farm work to be done and perfect weather to compliment these tasks, I am afraid my time at the computer has been scarce. Although I have had little time to reflect in front of the keyboard, all this outdoor time has allowed me the gift of inspiration and thankfulness that comes with the enjoyment of the unbelievably beautiful landscape that makes up chester county in the spring.

It is hard not to feel blessed this time of year. As I have been busily gathering supplies, plants, potting soil for the season to come--it warrants these short trips in and around the area, and a time to take in the full glory of the views and vistas of Southern Chester County. For much of the growing season my gaze is spent focused on the ground, so I appreciate the chance to truly enjoy what is affectionately known as "Hunt Country"--a landscape that would rival any other in beauty this time of year.

The protection and preservation of this landscape was due in large part to Master of the Fox Hunt Nancy Penn Smith Hannum, who passed away at the age of ninety early on in the month. I could go on and on about Mrs. Hannum's fierce yet full of grace personality, the attributes she shared with my grandmother, and how grateful I am that our community was filled with these amazing matriarchs that were not afraid to speak their mind, shape their community, and love their family (click here to read a great piece by Chris Barber). Instead I want to share this wonderful poem written by Mrs. Hannum's granddaughter Christianna Hannum Miller (pictured above as a young girl with her grandmother). A wonderful summation of a life well lived. Her legacy is the landscape we all enjoy so passionately, what a gift to the community.

Shall I Go Lightly – a poem for NPSH

Shall I go lightly
down Applegrove Road
Riding one leading two
Grandchildren in tow
One, two, three and on
posting on ponies fat and gray, chestnut and bay

Shall I sit on the edge of the swimming pool
Iced tea, broken arm and Lilly skirt
While children play in the dank, green
Deep end
jumping from the wooden dive.

Shall we stand in the tack room
Practicing our reins
Practicing, practicing
Among racing tack, wooden trunks
Leather girths and saddle pads

Shall I stop at Spingdell Deli
For a Mountain Dew and a sandwich
sit for a second to talk the cost of hay,
the King Ranch
And the cattle that lived there.

Shall we pile on top of the Jeep Wagoneer
Ages one thru thirteen
roll around
holding on tight
While speeding down the drive
Mothers aghast.

Shall I pass once again through Saturday country
Pinkerton, Chalfant, Brooklawn and Webbs
Heels fiercely down
hands light and sailing
over the Brooklawn Double
And on towards home.

Shall I pass through this natural world
Heart brave and soundly beating -
I shall.

2010 Christianna Potter Hannum Miller

Ida Lofting-my grandmother (left) Nancy Penn Smith Hannum-christy's grandmother (right) watching a horse event.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Extreme Delicacy of this Easter Morning

The extreme delicacy of this Easter morning
Spoke to me as a prayer and as a warning.
It was light on the brink, spring light
After a rain that gentled my dark night.
I walked through landscapes I had never seen
Where the fresh grass had just begun to green,
And its roots, watered deep, sprung to my tread;
The maples wore a cloud of feathery red,
But flowering trees still showed their clear design
Against the pale blue brightness chilled like wine.
And I was praying all the time I walked,
While starlings flew about, and talked, and talked.
Somewhere and everywhere like spoke the word.
The dead trees woke; each bush held its bird.
I prayed for delicate love and difficult,
That all be gentle now and know no fault,
That all be patient—as a wild rabbit fled
Sudden before me. Dear love, I would have said
(And to each bird who flew up from the wood),
I would be gentler still if that I could,
For on this Easter morning it would seem
The softest football danger is, extreme. . .
And so I prayed to be less than the grass
And yet to feel the Presence that might pass.
I made a prayer. I heard the answer, "Wait,
When all is so in peril, so delicate!"
-May Sarton

What a perfect beginning to a month in which we celebrate the daily miracles that make up our home here on earth--the delicate web of live in which we live. With the blue skies, deep green grass, and the feathery red maple blossoms mentioned in the above poem, its not hard to feel a special reverence for the natural world.

The Month of April is filled with events that celebrate this concept of the delicacy of our ecological place here on Earth. Indian born American Artist Subhankar Banerjee will be showing his amazing photographs at the Tyler School of Art this Wednesday, April 7th . Photographer, anthropologist, botanist, and filmmaker Wade Davis will be visiting the Stroud Water Research Center on April 15th and sharing his story "The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World." On Saturday, April 24th West Chester University will host the "Awakening the Dreamer" symposium. Keep checking the blog for the latest updates about local Earth Day events, including all the details for this amazing symposium.

To remain up to date on environmental happenings going on in the entire Philadelphia area, I cannot recommend enough staying tuned into the GRID Magazine blog the Griddle. I have a special place in my heart for GRID magazine since Inverbrook along with a bunch of farmer friends were featured in their 2009 Farm Book. GRID will be celebrating its one year birthday on Saturday, April 10th at Yards Brewery.

Happy Earth Month, Happy Easter!

“A child raised to believe that a mountain is the abode of a protective spirit will be a profoundly different human being from a youth brought up to believe that a mountain is an inert mass of rock ready to be mined.”
– Wade Davis

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Egg Sale for Easter

Easter is one of my favorite holidays, I love the symbolism and message surrounding the concepts of resurrection and rebirth. For a farmer this is an exciting and busy time. Easter often coincides with an upswing in egg production. With the grass greening up, the bugs starting to emerge and the days getting longer--our pastured hens have all the nutrition and forage time needed to start producing the delicious and nutritious eggs so central to this spring celebration of sacrifice and hope.

As the Easter holiday approaches I have been thinking a lot about my Grandmother who passed away this winter. Nana used to be in charge of washing and boxing eggs. She would constantly complain that we were charging too much (even though we would explain that the cost of organic feed made it impossible to sell them for any less), yet she was our best sales woman--eagerly delivering eggs to her Bridge group and hair dresser. I think she would be extemely happy with the fact that we are now lowering the price of eggs to $3.50 a dozen (we are using a new feed source, it is not organic, but it is local and free of GMO seed) and for the next couple of days we will have some older eggs on sale for $3.00 a dozen. Older eggs are much easier to peel, perfect for making deviled eggs. If you enjoy dying eggs here are two links to natural egg dying one from Mother Nature Network and one from Mother Earth News (thank you to Dawn Warden and Margaret Gilmour for some of these links). Eggs are available in the distribution shed, if you need directions contact .

Nana also liked Spring, being able to enjoy the out of doors again--she hated being cooped up all winter. I miss seeing her pick daffodils, checking on the new born foals, and sharing the enthusiasm for a growing season to come. I miss her asking me daily if I had planted spinach or lettuce and checking on the rhubarb and asparagus to see if it had emerged through the cold soil yet. I found this quote and it made me think of our shared excitement for the Spring season. Happy April everyone!

"When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring."
Dallas Lore Sharp, 1870-1929