Our Bees, Ourselves

An excellent op-ed ran in the New York Times recently (thanks to Lisa for the alert), and I want to make sure it doesn’t pass you by …

Our Bees, Ourselves: Bees and Colony Collapse


Mark Winston, biologist and director of the Center for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, eloquently explains how the intricate relationships between bees, pesticides, and nature’s diversity are irrefutable indicators of human health and societal stability.

“There is a lesson in the decline of bees about how to respond to the most fundamental challenges facing contemporary human societies,” Winston writes. “We can best meet our own needs if we maintain a balance with nature—a balance that is as important to our health and prosperity as it is to the bees.”

We have much to learn from the bees. But then, we knew that, didn’t we? The question is: Will the great hive of humanity take their lessons to heart?


Image from the Child’s Coloured Gift Book with One Hundred Illustrations, 1867, via Open Library

I’m looking forward to reading Mark Winston’s forthcoming book, Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive, due to be released next month.

Bovine Bathing Beauties

You’ve probably heard the old farmer’s tale that if you see cows lying down, it’s going to rain. Sometimes true, sometimes not, in my experience.

Or how about this? According to the Farmers’ Almanac:

Tails pointing west,
Weather’s at its best.
Tails pointing east,
Weather is least.

“If you can locate a cow or horse, note which way their tails are facing. People have observed that cows and horses prefer not to have the wind blowing in their faces, so they usually stand with their backs to the wind. Since westerly winds typically mean arriving or continuing fair weather and easterly winds usually indicate arriving or continuing unsettled weather, a tail is as good a way as any of knowing what the weather will be up to for the next few hours.”

But I’ve recently noticed that my herd of Heritage Jerseys like to lie in the sun.

I mean really soaking up the rays.

On very hot days.

Sunbathing like bikini-clad buxom babes on Spring Break.


We’ve had temperatures in the 90s and 100s for the last week or so, and I’ve worried about my precious bovine babes. But no matter how near, how convenient, how tantalizing I make their shady shelters, they seem to plop right down in the middle of the pasture under the blazing sun.


Cows have a relatively constant internal body temperature of 100-102ºF (quite a bit higher than we humans, so they might not feel the heat as much). When a cow’s metabolism converts its feed to the production of milk (rumination), heat is produced as a by-product, raising the animal’s internal temperature. So they eat less on hot days and drink more (standard-sized cattle drink around 30 gallons of water a day—an average bathtub full), but they don’t seem to crave the cool—I’ve never seen them lying in the creek, so to speak. And the Jersey breed is thought to have originated in the Middle East—built for heat, you might say.

So I’m guessing my girls are merely reducing their activity levels (and if you’ve ever observed a cow, you’ll know that “activity” equals eating). Cattle usually spend about 9 hours a day grazing, and from 8-15 hours a day lying down. On hot days, less grazing, less ruminating, more lying down …

in the blazing sun, apparently.

Summer Defined

What I love about summer is the absence of schedules. And long days outside doing whatever you want to do. Obviously, so do my kids. How about waking up in the morning and deciding to put on a Halloween monkey costume three sizes too small? Here’s my Mia in full bed head with dirty feet, playing for hours with her dolls and ponies …

Photo Jul 10, 10 08 20 AM

Summer is in full swing!

Photo Jul 10, 10 00 42 AM

Project Paint

I have one of those beautifully sturdy dining table and chairs from another era. One with multiple leaves that extend the reach of the table to seat 20+ people for holidays. But by beautiful, I’m referring to its quality. Not its appearance.

In fact, I’ve been saying since I got it that I couldn’t wait to paint it. Well, I’m finally about to be less talk and more action. Any day now I’ll be painting my dining table, leaves, and all the chairs.

Photo Jul 08, 9 02 57 PM

I was so excited to come home to a pile of paint and wax samples on my front stoop. Of course, they actually came in a box via UPS, but they were waiting next to my trusty milk cooler and dirty red cowboy boots. The cooler is for the days when I’m not at the farm to pick up my milk in person. And, randomly, my  boots are sitting out for a friend to stop by and borrow for a country singing gig (she has a stunning voice). The randomness of it all just makes me smile. And the notion that I’m finally going to tackle this paint project has me almost giddy.

I will, of course, keep you posted. 🙂



Strawberries are on!

One of our favorite families from town came out Monday to raid our strawberry patch. This is the first wave of berries from our ever-bearing patch. So S-W-E-E-T, just like the girls who came to fill their freezer.



Stress Relief

Back in the Raising Jane (Aug/Sept 2008) issue of my magazine, we featured a wonderful musician named Jo Davidson. Jo recently e-mailed us a link to a YouTube video with some of her photos set to piano solo music she wrote. Jo says, “Feel free to share with anyone who could use a calm break!” Take a minute or two out of your busy day to watch the video below as your cares melt away …

Read Jo’s original feature in the following post.

Jo Davidson: City Girl with Farmgirl Soul

Jo Davidson is a New York City-based musician whose songs have been praised as “the musical equivalent of Monet’s Tiger Lilies.”


At first glance, Jo Davidson appears to be the quintessential city girl. Take a moment to listen, though, and you’ll hear a deeper story. A multi-talented musician, composer, and instrumentalist, Jo makes her home in New York City, but her heart is rooted in wilder places. “The great thing about the City is that you are free to be out of the box. The pace is exciting and hedonistic, and it has a distinct pulse.” At the same time, she embraces her need to connect with the natural world for a sense of peace and creativity. “There is nothing more inspiring than nature,” Jo tells me. “It is the thread woven into everything we create.”

Jo’s music has appeared in many movies, television shows, and is played on top radio stations nationwide. She was featured on an Oprah compilation CD, and her music has been recorded by artists such as Meat Loaf. Her CDs include Kiss Me There, The Simply Said Sessions and two soul-stirring instrumental albums, Tell the Story and Merry Christmas & Happy New York.

Jo is also a photographer and hosts her own online radio show called Zentertainment Talk Radio. “It’s all about exploring possibilities and inspiring others with new ways of thinking and being,” she says. This show was born out of Jo’s own personal struggle with an illness called CFIDS/ME (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome/Myalgic Encephaloyelitis). “It is my way of making something possible for myself when many other paths at the moment are not.”

Zentertainment Talk Radio features interviews with best-selling authors, healers, environmental activists, and others who have overcome and learned through adversity. “This is a place to laugh, heal, learn, be inspired, and get connected.”


If that’s not farmgirl spirit, I don’t know what is! That’s why Jo was naturally drawn to MaryJanesFarm. “MaryJane keeps us connected. Her magazine appeals to the part of me that wants to slow down, that wants to live in sync with the seasons. I made biscuits using MaryJane’s Budget Mix, and my whole family agreed that they were the best biscuits in the world. MaryJane even makes me want to iron, and you have NO idea how big that is! Making a difference in the world really can start with one person. MaryJane is such an example of this.”

And making a dream come true starts with taking one step. “Even if you can only see what is right in front of you, take that one step. The future is made up of a bunch of moments called NOW. The sun sets, the sun rises—always, it rises. And in the morning, we have biscuits!”

You can listen to Zentertainment Talk Radio anytime at Zentertainment.org. While there, you can also listen to clips of Jo’s songs and order her CDs. Jo posts listeners’ stories, photos, poems, and quotes on her website, and she encourages all farmgirls to share.