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This week the extra farm chores are all about greenhouse maintenance. The Farm Stand store needed a new greenhouse roof, so that was Tuesdays project.

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Thankfully, we had Lizz and Kaila and 3 wonderful friends that were able to help us put on the roof, which is a bit like managing a whiley kite that is 40′ wide and 100′ long and has 2 layers to it! In other words, we pray to the wind gods that they will be quiet and still for the day and then we hope that we have enough pairs of hands to hold onto the plastic until it can be secured with the wiggle wire in metal tracks.

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Many thanks to the gals, Jane and Rich and Drew, who all made it possible for smooth sailing on getting the Farm Stand roof replaced. It looks great!

Today, Kaila and Chris began replacing the floors in the Hygge House and the Farm Stand. Another couple of huge projects, but at least wind isn’t a factor for these tasks. Last week, Lizz and I took all the benches out of the Hygge House and Kaila and Chris began removing the benches in the Farm Stand greenhouse. The floor was finished today in the Hygge House, so we will start putting benches back into place tomorrow, while Chris starts working on the Farm Stand floor.

Ahhh…no rest for farmers. That is for darn sure :-}

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This past weekend, Chris and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary with a hike to Megan Lake. The autumn colors were absolutely incredible!

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And there was even a dusting on snow on the peaks. I completely adore the Autumn season!

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windmill repair 2021Saturday was a huge work day, and the bulk of that work was to replace the aerator motor on our pond windmill. Not a task for those faint of heart, like me, but thankfully, Chris is braver and stronger! I just had to suck it up and try not to get too scared helping him  while on the scaffolding.

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The motor weighs more than 50 pounds and it is a long long way up to the top of the windmill with that much weight to carry and maneuver. No problems happened…yay. Hopefully, now the motor is good for quite a few more years and this task won’t need re-doing any time soon.

This windmill generates air that is pumped into both of our irrigation ponds to keep the water fresh and oxygenated so that algae and stagnant water won’t become much of a problem, and the fish and other water creatures that live in the pond have a healthy environment. That includes all the native water birds and our two granny ducks, Hannah and Gretel.

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I finished picking the rest of the Winter Red Flesh Crabapples, which are always a favorite of ours to eat. These have bright pink flesh inside and they are destined to make pink applesauce because of that. I’ll cook them up this week, add a bit of maple sugar to sweeten them just a little, and put them in the freezer for winter.

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Yesterday, we played hooky from work and went hiking to Goodwin Lake. It was a really nice weather day and this was my lunch view! Doesn’t get much better than that.

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The water was so calm that Shrek could see the trout swimming close to the shore and he couldn’t resist a tiny bit of fishing. Of course, the trout swam off in a less than a heart beat and Shrek was left standing there wondering where they went, but his tail was wagging and I could swear he had a smile on his doggy face!

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Friday night found me working on my needlefelting project. I haven’t had a chance to touch this project since mid-July, so I really enjoyed the couple of hours I could spend on it. I’ll need to take an updated photo the next time I get it out to work on. The squirrel is nearly finished now – much further along than this picture shows.

We are hoping that today will be the last really hot day of summer. The forecast is showing a cooler week of temps in the 70’s, which we will gladly welcome, and a possiblity of a few rain showers, which we badly need. It has been so hot and dry that we are just desperate for the Autumn to settle in with more comfortable weather and maybe a bit of moisture happening.

Enjoy your last few days of September.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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Tomorrow, the Autumn Equinox arrives and today actually felt like an autumn day. It was Glorious after so many hot dry days!! It was in the 60’s, there is a hint of fall color beginning on the farm, and that autumn way the sunlight hits is just so beautiful.

Kaila and Chris are working long days in the flower seed crop field. Above they are pouring harvested seed into large paper sacks, where it will be kept until November when we box it up to ship to Jelitto in Germany.

001 (4)Chris is harvesting the Mojave Sage above. I so love this plant, as do all the pollinators like butterflies, bees and bumblebees, hummingbirds and the night moths. The fragrance is strong and pungent. It always reminds me of our time hiking the canyons of southern Utah, where many different kinds of plants have a similar strong and pungent fragrance. I find it heady and incredible!

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Bergamo Monarda is so far not even thinking about seed, and is intent on giving us a superb show of color that the pollinators simply cannot resist. Soon enough, with the nighttime temperatures dipping down to the 40’s now, will encourage this beauty to start producing its seed.

If you want an annual that is beautiful and blooms from mid summer through hard frost, this Monarda citriodora ‘Bergamo’ is one to really consider adding to your gardens. As I mentioned, pollinators of many kinds love to visit the flowers. It is used for cooking, with a lemony oregano-kind of flavor and aroma. Medicinally, it’s used to support good digestion, soothe a sore throat or reduce a fever. What more could you ask of a lovely garden bloomer. It also makes delicious herb butter, by the way, that is great on a slice of warm hardy bread!

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In the greenhouse, the next winter and spring crop of hardy figs are planted now in their final pots. By Christmas they will be big enough to sell to wholesale customers and in spring when we open the Farm Stand store, there will be a lot of them for you to purchase.  Yum…fresh figs are hard to resist!

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On our return drive from where we take Shrek in the evenings for our people-dog walk, we are seeing the resident huge herd of Elk now. There must be over 75 in this herd and they are so amazing to watch. The bulls are joining the calves and cows now in preparation for the breeding season. We expect to hear them bugling at any time now.

IMG_1327This treadle sewing machine is full of precious memories for me. It was my Grandmommy’s (my Mom’s Mother) sewing machine and I learned to sew using it when I was around 6th grade I think. My Mom has been care-taking for it since Grandmommy passed on many years back, and now it has been gifted into my care. I’m very honored!

On top of the sewing machine is a plant we fondly call LJ. It belongs to a dear friend of ours and we are plant-sitting for it until she returns home to Colorado this fall. It was planted by her husband, LJ (also a dear friend to us), and it is pretty happy right now blooming away. I think it knows that Ro will be returning soon and it will return home to live with her and that is making it bloom with joy.

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I’ll leave you with your favorite messengers – Shrek and Willow. They think these cooler nights are perfect for snuggling in Shrek’s bed together. Until next time…

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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Chris and I were up the road a bit to walk Shrek one evening and someone had built this very cool cairn. I love cairns, so I couldn’t resist taking a photo, but later this week I realized how appropriate it was to see this.

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My Mom is at a new crossroads in her life. Papa passed over last this past spring, and now Mom is in the process of re-organizing her life to simplify and make things a bit easier. It’s hard, emotional work! I honor her very much that she is doing this with such grace. My sisters and their families, my Aunts and their families, have all been here to support Mom, along with Chris, M’lissa and I.

When you have lived your whole life with the man of your heart and now he is gone…well, living life solo is very different and quite a big deal.  And so, Mom is finding her way on the next part of her life journey.

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Here on the farm, we are watching seedlings germinate of perennials, natives and others. These will be for sale next spring in our Farm Stand store.

The process of seeds sprouting and growing into beautiful plants is always a process that leaves me awe-struck.

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Last week, The Tri-Lakes Women’s Group visited our farm for a tour. I think they had a good time.

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The seed harvest is in full swing at this point. These are Arctic Glow Echinops seed heads. Harvesting the seed crops is pretty much all encompassing, especially for Chris and Kaila. Lizz and I have our hands full doing greenhouse work and preparing for spring next year.

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Of course, the food garden is jammin’ too!! Every other day I pick a very large bowl, sometimes two bowls, full of raspberries. We are eating them with glee and putting the extras in the freezer for winter breakfasts. Everything is doing really well this year and we have an abundance of tomatoes, peppers (sweet and spicy), squash, sunberries, greens, cucumbers and so much more. I’m really excited to be picking Christmas Lima Beans! I hope you are enjoying the bounty of your gardens too.

I want to leave you with a recommendation for 3 really good books I’ve read this past month. If you are looking for a good read, then check out one or all of these books for sure!

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Have a great week!

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Life these days is all about seeds it would seem. Lizz started sowing some specific perennial seeds in the greenhouse for next spring’s plant offerings in our Farm Stand store.

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Kaila and Bethany spent hours harvesting the Anacalyus Daisy seed this past week. They’ve been picking that, Gazania, Chocolate Flower, 2 kinds of Gaillardia seed every morning for weeks now and no end in sight. These plants just keep on producing seed. There will be seed everyday from this bunch of seed crops until late fall.

This week was Bethany’s final week of work before heading to college. We have so enjoyed her company and her help and we will miss her a lot.  Kaila goes on vacation to visit her family this coming week and Chris will be visiting his parents too. So, Lizz and I will be picking the seed this next week, with the help of Diane, who is coming back to work for a couple of weeks to help us with seed picking and weeding in the flower seed crop field. It’s going to be extra busy this week for sure.

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Last week found me picking California Poppy seed for over 4 hours on Wednesday when Chris’ band was playing music at the Westcliffe Farmers Market. The California Poppy is going crazy producing seed these days, and since Jelitto wants a boat-load of this seed, we are trying to pick every single seed pod as it ripens.

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In the food garden there is abundance happening too, especially Spaghetti Squash, which I have a massive amount of already picked and more coming on. I don’t really mind, though, because we really love the taste of Spaghetti Squash, and they will keep well into the winter months.

Chris is even trying to come up with a Spaghetti Beanie Hat idea, but it doesn’t look to me like it will offer very much sun protection ;-}

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I was able to pick some Usnea for my sister this week. She doesn’t live near where it can be found, so I was happy to pick some for her. Usnea is traditionally used as an antimicrobial herb.

Think of us this week and send some cooler weather our way, maybe some rain too please. We badly need both! We will be the team of three women busy picking seed until we feel like we have seed coming out of our ears and are knees will feel like they might fall off from moving about on hands and knees. But…We have some audio books and music to listen to, which will help to pass the time.

Talk to you next week.

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It has been far too long since I’ve written a post about the happenings here. Life has been so full and we are staying far more busy than usual for this time of the year, so my apologies. I hope to get back on track with my weekly posts.

Look at this fig woman! She is beautiful with so many bright green leaves. She has company too, as there are two more fig plants just like her planted in the garden soil, instead of a pot, and they look just as fine. I keep this girl in a big pot so that when cold weather arrives I can take her indoors for the winter and still have fresh figs to eat all year, as the garden figs will go dormant and sleep through the cold months of the year.

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Back in April and May, you might remember that I posted this picture of her, and she was very nearly naked then, as she had dropped all her leaves and was just quietly hanging out, waiting for the summer months to arrive. That is what hardy figs do. It is their resting time of the year.

For those of you who were worried  in spring that the figs you bought in the Farm Stand looked like my gal, mostly naked and with only a few yellowish leaves, I hope you were patient. I know that if you took me at my word and you waited patiently, your fig re-leafed out, just as mine has done, and you have a beautiful plant now I’m sure.

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And look at all the figs growing on this plant! They are starting to get plump now and when they turn all brown and get soft, they will be ready to pick and eat. There truly are hardly good enough words to describe how delicious a fresh fig is just picked and eaten in the moment!

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We have a lot of baby fawns hanging out on the farm now, still with their baby fawn spots, all curious about everything, and just as precious as can be. There are 3 sets of twins and 2 single fawn babies to 5 different mama does. One doe, who is here nearly all day, every day, always keeps her fawns near to us. She trusts us and Shrek to cause no harm, and so her children are comfortable with us moving about the farm near to them.

However, even we were surprised when about two weeks ago this set of twins decided they were going to help Kaila weed the Mongolian Bells Clematis seed crop early one morning. As Kaila worked on pulling bindweed from the Clematis, these two stayed just on the other side of the 4′ wide bed and watched intently as she worked. I think they stayed like that for close to half an hour before they finally got bored with the task and left to explore other things in their day.

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Last week, I took over 15 lbs of Red Robin cherry tomatoes to the local food bank! Our plants are producing a lot more than we can eat or dehydrate right now. The white bag-full I kept and sliced to dehydrate, sprinkled with garlic and rosemary.

Those will be delicious on flat bread pizza and other meals when the cold weather settles in later this year. I also have a lot of Buena Mulata Peppers coming on and so those also got dried. They will be coarsely ground for sprinkling on pasta, stir fry, into sauces and on garlic bread. They are really a pretty mildly hot chili with their bright purple color.

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We are also beginning to harvest some apples by now from the heirloom orchard. Just a few at this point, but soon there will be big amounts to harvest.

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The Tumeric finally woke up too from it’s dormant winter/spring sleep. They were supposed to come out of dormancy by late May, but it was well into the second week of June before they started to sprout new leaves. Now they are beautiful!

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Many things were later than usual waking up from their winter sleep. The Passionflower (Passiflora edulis) never starts to come up again until at least memorial day, but this year it also waited until around the 12th of June to start growing new shoots. Once it began to grow, though, it hasn’t wasted any time putting on a lot of growth, flowering and now it is starting to set fruit. Plants can be very persuasive and demanding teachers of patience.

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This week there are loads of different kinds of butterflies all around the gardens and out in the wild places where we like to walk with Shrek. I was standing on my back porch two days ago and there were Monarch, yellow and black Swallowtails, a Painted Lady and some Skippers all visiting these Zinnias at the same time. I think they may have been having a Butterfly Garden Party!

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We have been enjoying the Cleome (also called Bee Plant) that is blooming in abundance out in the wild places where we go for dog walks with Shrek.

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Finally, I’d like to introduce you to Sassafras, my new electric assist bicycle. I’ve been saving pennies for the past two years for this and finally made my purchase in late July. Isn’t she a beauty! I ride her as a normal bike most of the time, but when it is time to tackle the big hill going up Field Ave. from town to the farm, I can use the electric assist setting and it is ever so much less painful on my old joints. This bike and I are going to have a lot of fun.

All for now.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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Hello from Bonsall in California! I’m here, with Cornelia Funke, for a week working on our book project. We are nearly finished with the first draft and just doing some last bits and pieces to the manuscript. It will be a plant book for children and adults, with loads of wonderful plant information in a story of a city girl and her introduction to the Green Kingdom. I think everyone is going to really enjoy this book and most certainly Cornelia and I are having a grand time writing it.

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Bonsall is quite a nice place to work, with a lovely big patio filled with shade, fruit and avocado trees and flowers.

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It has been a delight to spend time with Cornelia and Angie.

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And…there is a dragon labyrinth here with secret twists and turns filled with Rosemary, Hibiscus and Sycamore trees!

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Next door is Thorn Family Farm where Laurel and Larry grow cut flowers, loads of fruit and vegetables. It is so beautiful!

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Before I came to California for the book work, I was working in Mancos, CO. On the way there, I pass huge potato farms, with giant pivots filled with different kinds of potato crops. One farm is planting bands of plants that attract many kinds of beneficial insects and pollinators. By doing this they decrease the amount of insect pest pressure the potato crops have. They improve pollination of the potato crops so that they get good or even greater harvest yields. And, they greatly reduce or eliminate the amount of pesticides that they must use on the potato crops. In addition, of course, the plants that attract the beneficial insects and pollinators add a great deal of beauty to the potato fields.

It was difficult to take a good picture, as I couldn’t stand higher than the field itself, so I had to look at the pivots at eye level, but I think you can still get the idea.

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Last weekend I taught a class on wild plants and their uses. I limited the class size, which meant that we were able to make the learning experience much more personal. This group of women, plus one more, and myself had a very enjoyable day talking about loads of different plants.

In August we will have another class offered on all the ways you can use fruit plants. September will bring a class about the herbal uses of trees and shrubs. Go to the “classes & events” page of this website for registration information.

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I harvested leaves from the pink flowered Dandelions, I’m growing, to add to my spaghetti sauce. It was really a delicious meal, as now that the garden is giving us vegetables to harvest, I had fresh yellow squash and tomatoes to add to the sauce too.

There is really not too many things that will make you smile wider than knowing you have grown and harvested your own fruits, veggies and herbs to cook with!

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Chris, Shrek and I had a hike up Cottonwood trail. Two years ago I came within 3 feet of being nose to nose with a cinnamon colored black bear on this same trail…and no….this is not an exaggeration. No bears in sight this time.

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The wild flowers and butterflies are just amazing this summer!

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Even the mushrooms are quite beautiful.

Enjoy your last days of July and I’ll be back in touch soon.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

New Mexico Fruit Explorers: November Field Trip--Tooley's Orchard

tooleystrees Instagram posts (photos and videos) - Picuki.com

The orchardist rescuing fruit trees in New Mexico — High Country News – Know the West

We get young fruit trees from Gordon and Margaret and sell them at our Farm Stand store and nursery after we have grown them on a bit longer.
These are some of the best trees for our area and they are old heirloom varieties that have a memory for our soil, climate and elevations.
Gordon Tooley
I hope you will enjoy reading this article about the fruit tree expertise and work of two amazing people. Gordon and Margaret are the best there is!

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This week finds me writing this post from Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve & Educational Center in Mancos, Colorado. I’ve been coming here since 2010 both to work and for relaxation. Check out their website to see more about this amazing place.  Willowtail Springs in the Natural Sciences, Conservation and Ecology | Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center 

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My home away from home is always the sweet little Garden Cottage, that overlooks amazing wild spaces, gardens and the spring-fed lake that all exists in this amazing place.

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This week I am here both to work a little and rest a little. We have been creating plant lists for many of the plants that live here, both wild native plants and those in the gardens around the building compound. The gardens are extensive, and beautiful even in this year of extreme drought, and the wild nature parts of Willowtail are equally extensive. Wildlife is very abundant. In fact, I’ve had a few encounters with a flock of wild turkeys on this trip, including young turkeys with their parents.

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Below is a photo of one garden here from past trips when drought wasn’t severe and the plants were thriving. This year the drought has been so bad that very little water is available to water the gardens. Still, the gardens are surviving quite well, although, I wouldn’t say they are thrilled about not getting regular watering, they are doing fine and very beautiful!

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The managers (past owners before the Preserve became 100% an educational non-profit), Lee & Peggy Cloy, have become dear friends. I treasure their company and I always learn new things while I’m here. This trip is no exception.

As we have been walking the property, creating plant lists of all the plants living here, we have had a chance to talk extensively about how the effects of climate change are really noticeable these days. We have spent much time talking about trees, as we are all passionate about trees! The impacts of the climate change on the trees, along with all the other plants and wildlife. is so significant.

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Although I have been working while I’m here, there has also been time to rest and work on my needlework. For those of you that have been reading my blog over the years, you will know that I often refer to my Willowtail trips as my “stitching retreats” and no matter what my reason for being here, I always have time for needlework. This trip I brought my needle-felting project with me and have been working on it. This project was packed away – sight out of mind – all through the spring and early summer busy farm season, and nothing has gotten done on it since late winter last year. That is changing now. Our farm is always busy…indeed, sometimes Chris and I feel like we could work 24 hours a day every day and we would never get finished with work tasks and projects, but now that the spring and early summer busy season is finished, there is a pace of more sanity in our lives. We work a lot, but we also have time now for a hike, to visit with friends, play more music and do some stitching.

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Life is good and we are in gratitude.

Now about trees….we all need to be planting more of them everywhere! We need to care for the ones that already are growing and existing around us as though they are sacred creatures. They are!!

Think about all the ways that trees take care of this world. The provide habitat for wildlife. They hold the soil and prevent erosion, while at the same time helping to protect and preserve much needed moisture in the soil and air spaces. They keep the planet cooler with their canopy of branches and leaves.

Think about all the ways that trees gift us humans. In many cases they provide us with food and medicine. They help us build things, weave things, and make other kinds of things. They provide us with coolness in the hot temperatures and in cold seasons, they protect us from wind and inclement weather. Trees give us places to rest and relax. Their branches even sing to us when the breeze passes through us. We should be grateful to them and appreciate them indeed!

So, please consider planting more trees in your community, at your home if you can, and support the wild spaces, both public and private where trees live. Take care of the parks and other open spaces near you where trees grow. You can even grow some trees in containers in your home to have them in your space if you live in an apartment or someplace where it is not possible to have trees growing in the Earth near you.

Think about them often. Teach your children and grandchildren to respect and honor them. Listen to our storytellers as they weave stories about all the trees on the Earth and in our imaginations. Know that they are “Beings” just as we are and be kind to them. If you use trees for different purposes, or if you must cut one down unavoidably, take a moment first to just say thank you. I belive the trees appreicate this kindness and consideration.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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I will be holding my annual Free Market event this Saturday, July 3rd, starting in the morning about 9:30am and going on until I get tired or it starts to rain or when everything is gone.

A Free Market is like a Yard Sale, except everything is totally free. If you find something in the Free Market that you like or can use, you take it home. Simple as that.

There are household items, some clothing, books – including children’s books, maybe some food items. There is a pair of roller skates, some Christmas tree stands, a couple of chairs – all sorts of things.

The Free Market will be held in the front yard at 1270 Field Ave. in Canon City, CO. No phone calls or emails about this please. Just show up and do some free shopping.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi