It’s Hunting Season

hunting season

Deer in Blue Mood by Nicole Gelinas http://www.fineartamerica.com

It’s 6AM and still pitch black outside. I’m outside with the dog on our first walk of the day around the property. I’ve already done my morning meditation and have felt the surge of energies coming in from above. It’s a beautiful morning, not too cold. The moon is just past full and I can see Venus shining in the Southern sky.

As I walk, I do my morning prayers, blessing the world, my property and all of creation. I stop and look at the moon as it begins its descent for the day. And I thank it for sharing its beauty with me. I just stand there soaking up the silence. No planes, no cars, no equipment running and no gunshots. I allow the peace and the moonlit morning to envelop me as I bless the day.

And then I hear it. The gunshot. And it is close. It jars me so much tears begin to flow. Its hunting season here and I live in the country. I have allowed myself to be wide open as I connect with the day and the gunshot rattles me to the core. It’s dark outside and they are not supposed to hunt deer in the dark. I look towards the sound and I can see the red light from the gun through my naked trees. And I hurry back into the house with the dog. Although they are not on my property, they are close.

Last fall they clear cut that land behind my house and I mourned the loss of those magnificent hardwood trees. The noise and dust were overwhelming, and I felt that my space was being invaded.  But the loggers were just doing their job and they were very respectful of me, as much as they could be under the circumstances. Fortunately, I have a little buffer of my own trees before you see the damage done. After it was over, some friends and I did ceremony out there for the lost trees and I felt better.

Now it is deer hunting season and the owner of that land allows hunters to use it. And although I am not a hunter, I understand that the deer need to be culled. I’ve lived through hunting seasons every year that I’ve been on this land. But this year is different because of the clearcut. It’s easier for them to see with the trees gone. I suspect the hunters come in and put down deer corn and just wait, hiding with a clear view of the deer. This year they are hunting closer to my house although they are still within legal limits.

I told myself that when I heard them shoot a deer on Thanksgiving morning as I was preparing the feast for the company coming later that day. But once again it upset me and I had to calm myself down. I could hear the hunter in his glee saying ‘I got it, I got it!’ as I silently blessed the spirit of the deer that was killed. I think it was the buck. I just saw that buck on my land a few weeks ago and I marveled at how handsome he was. At the time I did a silent prayer that he would survive hunting season. I don’t think he did. They came back after dark the next day with an ATV, four of them retrieving the deer carcass.

This is the time of year that tests me. How do I not judge these hunters because I love those deer so much? I try to put myself in their shoes with the adrenaline rush of the hunt and the thrill of the kill. I try to see them ‘just like me’ doing something that they love. And I remind myself that they will be using the meat for food.

But it is hard. All the teachings I share about this life being an illusion come to mind and I am challenged to remember them in my grief. All I can think of doing is to light a candle for the hunted and the hunters. I don’t know these men. They could be my neighbors who would help me in a second if I needed it. Being hunters does not make them bad people.

I think of how the indigenous peoples honored the animals they killed for food. The respect and gratitude expressed for the animal giving its life so that they could survive. I don’t know if these hunters do that or even understand that concept, though I am sure they are grateful for the meat. And so, I do my own ceremony for the cycles of life here upon this land adjacent to mine.

Hunting season ends on January 1st. Another month to go. More time for me to learn to toughen up to this cycle of life. There is a part of me that wants to find that deer corn and pour human urine on it so that the deer don’t eat it. That is my human, visceral response. But is that truly the best response from a spiritual perspective?

Just as I was the one who mourned those magnificent trees that were felled last year, I can also honor the fallen deer as they give up their life’s breath for another’s life. That I can do and will do until this season ends. They will be in my prayers along with the hunters, for we are all one. Even if the hunting causes me distress, we are still all one and don’t I have to walk my talk?

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Blueberry Season is Over

 

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Another blueberry season behind me.

Hard to believe that seven weeks have gone by so quickly. And it was a wonderful season. The bushes were full of beautiful clusters of blueberries which made the picking much easier than last year. In fact, it took half the time to pick 5 pounds (the amount that fills a one-gallon bucket) than it did last year.

We only pick in one-gallon buckets so as not to crush the blueberries with the extra weight. This is especially important when they are wet, usually right after a rainstorm. Those mornings are always challenging especially when we cull them. The berries have to be dry before we handle them too much or else they get soft and very sticky. They get a shiny coat of sugar on them and look like they are still wet, even though they are dry. The first year I picked blueberries, it took me awhile to figure this out.

I had such a great team of workers helping me this year. They knew exactly what to do while I was gone making deliveries, giving me one less thing I had to think about. A few of them have been picking for me for a number of years.

They become like family and blueberry season creates a special community for me. It is made up of all my workers who I usually see only during the season as they go off to do what they do in the off season.

But it is also made up of all my clients, many of who have been buying from me for at least 8 years. I love these clients of mine and have a good rapport with them. They end up thanking me at season’s end for all that I do. I’ll miss them all in the off-season.

Friends ask me if I’m glad that it’s over and honestly, I have mixed feelings. Yes, my body is tired, exhausted from the early wake-ups and the non-stop activity. I could never do this all year round. But for 6-8 weeks, I can handle it.

But I will miss the comradery with all the people who fill my days for this short span during the year. Transitioning back into my normal routine takes a little time. For one, I have to rest and give myself a little time to recover. Then I’m back on track taking care of all the things that were allowed to slide when the main focus of life was blueberries. One of the things I’ll miss the most is just walking down the rows and grazing on fresh berries. Especially at the end of season when they are the sweetest they can be.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would become a blueberry farmer, although I’d always wanted to live on a farm. And now I have ten seasons behind me. You never know what will come next year, depending on the weather and when that late freeze will come in the spring. Will it come when the buds are still tight and pretty safe? Or will it come after they’ve opened and the bees are starting to pollinate? Will we have hail that will damage the crop?

Farming is a humbling experience and my way of connecting with Mother Earth and the All. I bless those bushes every day and thank them for coming back year after year with another new crop.

I’ve been very fortunate and work with the fairies throughout the year. People might think I’m crazy but I thank my fairies all the time for guiding me and for protecting us from bad weather. I can see them covering the land with a blanket of protection prior to a bad storm. Maybe I’ve just had a bit too much sun, but its my reality and it works for me. 😉

So now it’s time to clean up the rest of the land that has been ignored. I’ll harvest some fruit from my small orchard and tend my herb garden. Oh yes, and graze on grape tomatoes which always seem to grow in my compost pile every year. Who needs to plant tomatoes when they seem to thrive in my compost pile?

The hummingbirds have grown to about a dozen at the feeders at this point. I refill those feeders multiple times a day. Especially since one male seems to like to claim a feeder for his very own. I’ll miss them when they migrate south.

So on to the next part of my year which involves more writing and teaching and yes, a couple of part-time jobs also. No more blueberry work until February when I start pruning again.

It has been a good year!

Thank you blueberry bushes for a wonderful crop!

Thanks to my wonderful team of pickers and cullers.

And thanks to my loyal clients.

Till next year!

 

It’s Blueberry Season

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I thought I should tell you all that I am 3 weeks into blueberry season. We started picking June 20th and will pick until around the first week of August. So if you don’t hear from me, its not that I don’t care, I am just consumed with blueberries.

So far its been a great season. I have a terrific bunch of pickers and the berries are sweet and abundant and beautiful. My buyers continue to purchase my blueberries year after year, for which I am very grateful. Cannot believe it is my 10th season.

I have an acre of blueberry bushes which provide more than enough for my small business and the local fauna. I use bird scare tape as a deterrent, but honestly, I think this is the last year I will use it. For all the birds are in there, crows, cardinals, finches, hummingbirds, mockingbirds and so on. You never know what you might find in those bushes.

It was an absolute thrill when one of my pickers found a hummingbird nest. I’d never seen one before and we all were just amazed at how beautiful it was. Once there was a groundhog up in the bush. I suspect the dog might have chased it up there. Although I see groundhog holes all over the farm, never thought I’d see one hanging out in the bushes.

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And of course, the deer feast daily in the patch. Early in the season it starts with one or two and by the end of the season, I think they have a family reunion in there with does, buck, and fawns all meeting for a snack. Often when I go out after dark with the dog, I hear a deer snorting in the bushes. No sense in chasing them away. They’ll just come back later.

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Its hot work and the humidity here can shorten the picking times because its just too dang hot. We pick starting at dawn for 3 to 5 hours depending on weather. My job is to juggle pickers, cullers, buyers, berries and try to anticipate the weather when I make up the picking schedule. I deliver 5 days a week and fill with pride when my chefs are so happy to see me and my blueberries.

Two friends who I lovingly refer to as my blueberry pimps take orders and deliver pints of berries to friends and co-workers. They tell me how everyone walks around with blue tongues and big smiles on their faces the day they bring in the berries. Getting feedback like this makes all the hard work worth it.

So if you don’t hear much from me in the next few weeks, know that I will be back at the end of the summer. I will continue to post every week. I try to carve out a chunk of time to sit and write whatever messages I receive to share with others.

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I love living this life, even though I do work very hard and wonder where I get the stamina to keep it up. But when I can walk through those rows of berries and graze, oh that is heaven to me! Being on this farm, living in the country, never knowing what might show up, be it the neighbor’s cow or a praying mantis guarding the hummingbird feeder, a snake in my HVAC unit or saving bunnies from my dog. It is a wonderful life and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to steward this land.

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I tell my shaman friends that my land is my mesa. I bless it daily and offer gratitude for being able to live in harmony with all the other creatures who call this piece of real estate home. It is also my canvas to paint as I add trees or bushes, flowers or an herb garden to the mix. It is my sanctuary and I will steward it as long as I am able.

So enjoy your summer, my dear readers. And think of me when you have a blueberry or two for breakfast, for dessert or just for a snack.

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