How Did You find Joy in 2020?

Adria and Tom Fuller, Guest bloggers

In spite of the difficulties associated with 2020, including state mandates limiting travel and gatherings, it’s brought us both joy and wonder. Who would have guessed:

  • that our family-centric wedding planned for May on the Maine coast would become an even simpler ceremony in Adria’s living room a month later, the State of Illinois allowing our minister in New Jersey to officiate over the phone.  Thank you, Alexis, for a ceremony that spoke deeply to us.

Walking

  • that this Mississippi River bluffs neighborhood (where both our houses are but not within sight of the River) could become as interesting and friendly as we found it to be this summer and fall.
  • that watching the corn grow in a farmer’s field just down our street really was entertaining.

Nature and Community

  • that for a couple of weeks, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo accompanied us for miles on neighborhood walks, out of sight, but not earshot.
  • that we’d be delighted with nighttime sounds of owls, coyotes, and frogs, and daytime glimpses of a fox, spotted fawns, wild turkeys, and groundhogs right in our yards.
  • that we would see the International Space Station traversing the night sky and five planets within 24 hours: Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.
  • that although our church buildings are not currently open, ZOOM services have become part of the fabric of our lives.

Games

  • that we could play Pickleball on a circular driveway.
  • that Chinese checkers could be so entertaining, especially when a sleepy opponent starts moving pieces backward.

Food

  • that although he may deny it, he likes chocolate and ice cream just as much as she does.
  • that she CAN SHARE chocolate and ice cream. (Note anything chocolate and/or ice cream/frozen yogurt is almost sacred to her!  So sharing is quite the accomplishment!)
  • that she learned from him that Skippy peanut butter is its own daily food group.

Joy

  • And that after six months of marriage, he still makes her laugh every day.

We hope you too discover treasures of hidden delights in these challenging days—enough to abundantly water the new year with promise, advancement, and fruition.

How Do You Create Calm from Chaos?

Reflecting on 2020 Courage and Creativity

When life is topsy turvy; When people we know get critically sick and some die; When our normal routine is tossed out the window, three questions come to mind:

How is mine to be? What is mine to know? What is mine to do?

So, I walk.  As thoughts emerge, I work to act on them in helpful ways.

This year, instead of walking various labyrinths on our trips, I walked those in town, virtually with Veriditas, and always, the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth daily.

Here is a summary of 2020 walking which actually turned out well as people pivoted and created sacred space.

Minnesota Labyrinth Group

Spirit Woods, Stillwater, MN

A lovely group of walkers

Lisa Gidlow Moriarty maintains a wonderful network of Minnesota Labyrinth Lovers. In January Rich and I spent the weekend with cousins in the Twin Cities. On Saturday, I joined the labyrinth group in Stillwater. The day was overcast, the home inviting, and the labyrinth tucked in a wooded spot. Such an intriguing group of people. A lovely walk.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Early in the year the Westminster Presbyterian Church members and staff worked with me to create a blessing of the beautiful labyrinth they installed in the undercroft. Three colleagues worked with me on music, movement, and art programming geared to all ages as a way to include and encourage participation in labyrinth walking.

Then, the novel coronavirus shut things down. Poof!  Gone. Unfortunately, I have not heard from them and often wonder what they did for blessing the space.

From Trauma to Healing

August 10th a straight-line wind called a derecho swept through Eastern Nebraska, all Iowa, and into Illinois and parts of Indiana.  The powerful winds up to sustained 140 mph struck Eastern Iowa hardest. Thousands of trees toppled in the storm. Clean up will continue well into 2021.

From this trauma emerged Edith Starr Chase, a woman with a vision to create a healing space from the derecho wood.  Teaming with Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Edith helped site the location. The staff mowed a space and laid down mulch.  In September Edith, Becky and I blessed the space. A few days later on a mild October weekend, Edith began placing stumps for a five-circuit labyrinth.  Edith has such vision and energy in designing all sorts of labyrinths from tiny three circuit ones for elementary children to hand-sized finger labyrinths to painted ones on school playgrounds to ones of recovered tree stumps. She created a beautiful, sacred space.  Easily accessible, private yet nearby, adjacent to a marsh and prairie.

Honoring the Space by Walking

I’ve walked it a few times and on the Winter Solstice Edith hosted a labyrinth walk that over 50 people attended in the early evening.  Families in cars streamed in. All wore masks. Mrs. Claus greeted each, offered a votive to carry, guided them in, and thanked them as they left. A candy cane, an offer to enjoy a warm beverage at the kiosk, and an invitation to take a finger labyrinth she had created all completed the evening of peace and appreciation. After the first group of people left and before the next ones arrived, I quietly walked the derecho labyrinth.
Creating sacred space out of chaos. Well done, Edith.

Not All Walks Are Satisfactory

A prairie

Winter Walk

Late in the year, I walked an outdoor labyrinth I have known for a few years. The setting is pleasant enough.  It sits in a large prairie with mature oaks on a hill as a backdrop. Yet, there is something unsettling about it.  I am not alone in my feeling.  It is rather removed from the parking lot, down a long path, with other diverging paths. Which path to take? Others have noted that is it too big to comfortably walk.  Almost like a forced march. Something rubs the wrong way when I walk it.  Yet, leaving and following a different path across the prairie proved to be a pleasant walk.

Veriditas Finger Labyrinth Walks

Finger Labyrinth

Weekly finger walks through Veriditas.

The pandemic canceled the Veriditas Council’s plans for a Renewal Day in The Black Hills. After a pause, the group worked on and is sponsoring a Virtual Renewal Day on January 16, 2021. One Veriditas member expressed interest in re-scheduling perhaps for 2022.  Glad to hear people are looking forward to the future.

Veriditas itself quickly began scheduling weekly finger labyrinth walks that I attended. People from all over the world regularly participate on Fridays.  Including Christmas Day! Australia, Africa, Europe, South America, Canada, and the United States. The director and founder host webinars a few times a month on different labyrinth topics. Council members have graciously stepped up and presented. Facilitator trainings have moved on-line.  More people can participate and become certified. Successfully branching out because of the topsy turvy world.

Intriguing Seasons of the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth

We began and ended 2020 with mild weather. Then, by the first week of January winter arrived. Cold, windy, lots of snow.  Warm temperatures melted the lovely snowshoe snow turning it into treacherous ice. Walking with trek poles was the order of the day.

Spring seemed long in coming and then summer burst upon us.  First rain. Then dry spells. Then, August 10th! Damn, that was a lot of wind and rain.

Surprisingly the labyrinth did come back mostly.  Tall grasses stayed lopped over, but the blue lobelia that always intrigues me showed up in unusual places. Friends helped with the massive yard clean up and together we restored the labyrinth.  And, each day I did walk it.  Right after the storm, I had to be content to thread my way to the center and stand in appreciation. Then, when the circuits were cleared, I went back to walking the full labyrinth.

Seasons

Early spring walking the path is an exercise in stepping around puddles. The path is checked with mole ridges. When the weather warms and a gentle rain falls, worm castings dot the path. The burned edges are full of winter stalks and promise. Summer mowing and trimming are part of the spiritual practice. Fall is when we burn the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Always a thrill. In winter wearing snowshoes is fun. Occasionally, a snow person shows up. Sometimes at the entry. Other times along the path.  Once, even sitting on the bench taking in the view.

Sunrises. Sunsets. The heat of the day. When the wind blows. Hurtling rain and gentle zephyrs.  I’ve walked in all weather for over three years now.

So, 2020 came to a close. We still wait and wonder.  I still pause and ask: How is mine to be? What is mine to know? What is mine to do? Answers are there.

Although 2020 has been topsy turvy people have adapted and created sacred and safe spaces for all. May we continue to create in 2021.

What’s New at Hoover’s Hatchery?

Hoover's Hatchery sign

A booming business in rural Iowa.

Our relationship with Hoover’s Hatchery started years ago and launched a long and mutually beneficial relationship that keeps growing.

Thanks to quality products and innovative management, the Hatchery, located in tiny, Rudd, Iowa, is thriving today and offers increasing services to its primary market – small flock owners. Raising tiny chicken flocks has become a popular backyard activity that combines fresh eggs with a fun learning experience.

Questions? Turn to Hoover’s Hatchery

Chick in hand

Hoover’s chicks are fed the best ingredients.

Many newcomers have limited or no experience keeping chickens. Hoover’s is there to help.  Want a mixed flock of docile hens that lay brown, blue, green, or white eggs? Hoover’s sells the chicks. Need help learning how to care for them? Hoover’s website is filled with tips and the staff is just a phone call away. Want to learn more?  Hoover’s will guide you. Hoover’s is accurate because as Tony Halsted, Director of Business Development, stated, “We rely on people who have kept chickens for years and know what they are doing.” They are successful because they innovate. Flock Journey is their latest innovation and expansion of partnering with businesses and small flock Ambassadors across the country. From backyard poultry experts in the northern climes to those in the South East to Homesteaders, Hoover’s works with experienced and creative people.

This winter Hoover’s is launching a new website called FlockJourney.com. It’s filled with chicken keeping tips.  Marketing Manager, Kelsey Spotts, explains that Flockjourney is a “…one-stop-shop for backyard poultry.” Visitors can come to one site to get all the information they need.

Partners

Tony speaking

Innovation has helped the business grow.

Hoover’s Hatchery partners with several proactive businesses to support healthy poultry. Strong Animals out of Marshall, MN, advocates natural solutions to poultry care. Nature Serve in DeMotte, IN, formulates poultry feed for optimal nutrition.

So, how does Winding Pathways fit?  We write blogs for Hoover’s Websites and help with a monthly Facebook Live program. Take a peek at Hoover’s Hatchery website. And be sure to order your chicks early as the business is booming.  And, Flockjourney is a one-stop site for information on Lifestyle, Breeds, and Poultry Care. The images are engaging, the blogs and videos both informative and entertaining, and topics range from warm treats to decorating the coop for holidays to chickens off the grid. There is always something brightening up the website, thus, encouraging your creativity as a poultry owner.

One of Several Hoover’s Hatchery Ambassadors

Why Winding Pathways? Well, we have plenty of experience. Rich has been keeping chickens since he was a child in New Jersey in the 1950s and Marion grew up in a family that gardened and raised chickens and pigs in New England. The Pattersons have kept chickens for most of their married life, tested many breeds in small flocks, and experimented to find easy and effective ways to keep chickens.

We blog occasionally about chickens on Winding Pathways and are proud to be part of the team with Hoover’s Hatchery to help encourage people everywhere to keep small flocks in ways that are fun, productive, and safe.

 

How Can You Jazz Up Your Chickens’ Winter Diet?

Late December is special. There are lots to be thankful for and a good reason to celebrate. The solstice just passed, promising a daily addition of sunlight and signaling that spring is on the way. Then there’s a multitude of seasonal, cultural holidays and Holy Days. St. Lucia’s Day, Las Posadas, Yule Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

People everywhere enjoy special year-end treats. For us, it’s stollen and pickled herring plus delicious cookies and, in some years, a tender roast beef dinner.

We remember our chickens and give them special year-end treats. They need it. Few things are as delicious to a hen as a juicy grasshopper or fresh grass shoot. By now those are just memories, and the poor birds have to make do with a diet of nutritious, but boring, commercial mash.

Jazz Up the Diet and Relieve Boredom

So, while keeping plenty of quality mash in the feeder, we jazz up their diet with these things:

treat items for hens

We vary the treats.

Mealworms:   Our chickens might not like them as much as a June caterpillar but dried mealworms are a great winter substitute, so we sprinkle a couple of handfuls in the coop every day. These treats can be bought online or in farm and pet stores.

Sunflower seeds:   Many people put sunflower seeds out for cardinals, chickadees, and other birds to enjoy on frosty days. Chickens also love them.  We toss a handful of black oil sunflower seeds with the hulls on into the coop. They quickly disappear.

Squash seeds:   We enjoy eating butternut and other winter squash during the cold days. Our chickens devour the seeds.

Scratch:  Chickens love eating commercial scratch grain, a blend of corn, milo, wheat, and oats.  A handful or two a day is plenty. It’s chicken candy but low in protein. Be careful when buying scratch. Some brands include a high percentage of milo, a grain that chickens don’t favor.  It’s a round reddish colored seed.  Try buying scratch with a low milo content.

Flock block:   Each winter we buy a flock block. They’re made by several companies and are compressed scratch grain fortified with molasses and other treats.   We simply put the heavy block on the coop floor.  It takes the birds several weeks to eat it all and keeps them busy picking out tidbits. Farm and pet stores sell them. Some folks make their own!

Three chickens eating scraps

We toss a few treats outside the pophole door to entire the hens outside in winter.

On winter days, before enjoying our morning coffee and breakfast we open our coop’s pop hole door and scatter some chicken treats. We’re sure to say good morning and thanks to our hard-working hens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Forest is More Than Trees

We won’t forget August 10, 2020.  On that summer day, Cedar Rapids was hit with 140 miles an hour winds that tore off roofs, felled signs, and toppled at least 65% of the City’s trees. The damage was awesome.

We lost 47 of our 53 big trees at Winding Pathways and spent the next two months cutting up a twisted jumble of trunks and branches. We bucked up what we could for firewood and made huge brush piles on the north end of our property for wildlife habitat. We used chain saws for cutting but muscle power to haul brush and wood.

Nearly all woodland owners suffered similar damage, and most of them immediately began clearing away broken and downed trees. Some used heavy equipment to haul off debris, leaving bare soil in the woods, a perfect seedbed for weeds.

Resetting the Forest

The derecho reset Iowa’s woods. Prior to settlement most of the state was prairie with woodlands typically lining streams and rivers. Frequent wildfires raced through grasslands and never hesitated when they encountered woods. This created a savanna ecotype characterized by scattered fire-resistant big trees, mostly oaks, walnuts, and hickories, with a stunningly diverse array of wildflowers carpeting the ground.

Savanna was an “open” forest. It lacked a shrub understory, and because trees didn’t create a closed leafy canopy sunlight dappled the ground. Perhaps no forest is as beautiful or endangered as savanna.

Iowa’s settlers quickly suppressed fire. Gradually trees closed the canopy, keeping the ground in shade most of the day. Many savanna flowers need some sunlight and declined as a shrub layer, often of exotic invasive woody plants, thrived. Many woods that owners considered healthy were actually degraded by years of fire protection.

The derecho changed it within under an hour. Many trees fell to the ground, but others survived.   Woodlands will now have sunlight reach the ground, stimulating both invasive species and long-suppressed native wildflowers.

Planning and Planting

The woods on the east side of our house created nearly a complete canopy, but suddenly they fell. After we cleared away the debris, we did these things:

  • Planted a few white and bur oaks in the fall. We’ll plant a few more next spring.  All are protected from deer browsing with a stout ring of wire mesh.
  • Purchased a diverse mix of savanna wildflowers and a few kinds of grass from Pheasants Forever. Mid-November brought two inches of new snow, and we hustled out to broadcast the seeds on it. It’s called frost planting and works well.
  • Discovered some tiny oaks, hackberries, and walnuts amid fallen trees. We marked them and know they’ll grow rapidly next year.

Recovery will be slow. Newly planted trees grow slowly their first few years and savanna and prairie seeds take a few years to establish. We don’t expect to see much change in 2021 but our “new” savanna will eventually be gorgeous and look much like it would have in the early 1800s.

Sources

We bought our prairie seed from www.pheasantsforever.org.  Our fall-planted trees were ordered from the National Arbor Day Foundation www.arborday.org.  Spring planting will be of trees we bought from Chief River Nursery www.chief rivernursery.com.

We’ll follow up our planting with occasional prescribed burns to retard invasive plants and invigorate natives.