Step into Life at White Rose Farm!

Welcome to our blog.
Posted 6/16/2015 6:57am by Sally Voris .

This year, the mulberries are plentiful and sweet—and without the musky overtone that I found distasteful in years past. Paul Pitchford, in his book, Healing with Whole Foods, describes mulberries as fruit that were once “highly regarded as a general tonic for the whole system.” He writes that they build the yin fluids and blood, moisten the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract, strengthen the liver and kidneys. and treat wind conditions including vertigo and paralysis.

This year, I have picked quarts of them. I have made a mulberry punch and a mulberry tonic. Both delicious. A friend stopped by for a visit. She is making mulberry tapioca (using mulberries instead of cherries) to make a fruit dessert.

Here are my recipes for the punch and the tonic. (Please note that they are recipes from one homesteader, not a professional chef. The recipes have not been tested in a professional test kitchen--they are simply my sharing something that I have found delicious.):

 

Mulberry Punch

1 quart freshly-picked mulberries (best picked mid morning, firm and sweet)

1 quart water

½ cup sugar ( prefer raw sugar.)

1 sprig peppermint

Wash the mulberries, put in glass or stainless steel saucepan, add water to cover half the berries. Simmer gently until berries soften—5 minutes or so. Mash the berries and strain the juice. Reserve the berries. In the meantime, heat one quart of water and ½ cup sugar to a boil (until the sugar dissolves in the water.) Take off of heat and add one sprig of peppermint. Let cool. Blend the juice with the sugar water, chill and serve. 

 

Mulberry Tonic

My friend, Jon Lusby, taught me how to make fruit tonics one summer. He has now created Fermentation Creation and is selling fermentation kits at www.fermentationcreation.com.

 

Take the berries that were left from the mulberry punch recipe. Place them in the bottom of a clean half-gallon jar (Jon's kit work great!) Add ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup of whey (made from raw milk or good yogurt), and water to fill the jar almost to the top. Put on a lid with an airlock. Let sit 24 hours.

Strain the fruit out and bottle the liquid in Grolsch bottles. I had my first tonic after two days and it was delicious. After two weeks or so. It develops a slight effervescence. Again, it is delicious and nutritious.

 

Posted 6/16/2015 5:54am by Sally Voris .

For the last several weeks, I have gathered rose petals just after dawn. Then I make rose water using a recipe from Rose Recipes from Olden Times by Eleanor Sinclair Rodhe. One gathers the roses with dew on them, boils the petals and then lets the water sit in the sun “tyll it be readde.” I am learning so much about the delicate dance of life—and death—connection and release--through this process.

The recipe assumes ones knows roses--probably common knowledge in 1550 when the recipe was recorded. Those roses bloomed once in June with an intense fragrance that one does not find in the modern hybrid roses. As a young girl, I escaped from the battles and conflicts of the neighborhood boys and found myself under the large white rose in my neighbor's back yard. I was transported on the scent of the rose to a serene place of beauty. Perhaps that experience initiated my love of fragrant, old-fashioned roses. When I came to the farm, I began planting roses—many of them from Roses of Yesterday and Today. I now have roses in such profusion that I can make gallons of rose water.

The recipe also assumes one knows how to gather rose petals. An advisor suggested that I let the roses release their petals to me rather than taking them from the plant forcefully. It has become my morning meditation. Day is just dawning; birdsong fills the air. The rising sun often tinges feather-like clouds with shades of soft pastels. I approach each rose, noticing its fragrance, its color, its health, the form of the plant and its blossoms.

All roses seem to release their petals as the blossom fades, though each rose has its own distinctive pattern. I scan each plant for spent blossoms, put my fingers around the petals and gently pull. Sometimes, the petals release; sometimes not. Sometimes, I give another pull and they release; sometimes not. Sometimes, I pull and tear the petals, though that feels like a taking. More often now, I simply release the rose that is not ready to give and move on to the next rose. A clean release opens and fills me: I meet the rose and it gives me its gift.

Some roses seem capricious; some might say mysterious: one day they release their blossoms, the next day, they hold. Does it relate to the stars? The moon? A connection with their roots or some other unseen force? I do not know. At my best, I enter the present moment and allow that moment to unfold. It is an exquisite, intimate dance, as is so much of life—and death.

Yesterday, I made bouquets for a neighbor's wife. After eight years of suffering with Alzheimer's disease, she has stopped eating. She has stopped drinking. Her toes are turning blue; her body, long stiff, is becoming limp and loose. Perhaps for these long years, she and her devoted husband have clung to each other. Now, soon, there will be release. May it come cleanly, opening and filling the moment.

Flowers are teaching me to cultivate awareness and a sense of beauty. It is the gift I choose to give to my community, to my son, and to all of our grandchildren. My uncle loved the words to the classic hymn, “In the Garden.” Its words speak of intimate connection: “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses, And he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

How many of us take time to smell or gather roses? To know roses? To know each other? To cultivate awareness with nature? With God? That work is calling me. The sun is just rising, rose season is almost over and I must grab my basket and head for the garden. May you too find time for beauty as you start your day!

 

Posted 5/31/2015 2:09pm by Sally Voris .

Several of my friends have responded to my expression of the need for quiet with a comment about the world in transition. Consequently, I share this post with you: 

I am exploring starlight and finding deep space quiet.  I read A Monk in the Bee Hive, a Short Discourse on Bess, Monks and Sacred Geometry by Skye ann louise Taylor. She writes of the importance of starlight to feed our souls. We humans have bathed in starlight by night; sunlight by day for eons.  She adds that roots of the word, “consideration” mean “with the stars.”

The book nudged me into the night. As I did my evening chores in early May, I walked into clouds of fragrance—often surprisingly, unexpectedly—they perfumed the night air. I was intoxicated, fascinated: What flower was spreading that scent? I identified lilacs, apples, lilies of the valley, iris, and a fringe tree, a native that has a spicy sweetness. 

Inside the house, the air seemed stale and lifeless. I craved the liveliness of the out of doors! On an especially lovely evening, I pulled out the sleeping bag and pad I had tucked away years ago. I went to the center of the garden. I lit a fire, burned sage and said prayers. The air was clear; few bugs were present. I spread out the pad, the bag and a pillow on top of a picnic table. I wrapped a shawl around my head and climbed onto the table. My dog looked up at me and wagged his tail. “What are you doing? Can I come up with you?”  He asked. “No,” I answered and he lay down next to the table.

I nestled into the warmth of the bag, looked up and took a deep breath. I felt myself inside a dome of stars; I connected with the Universe above me, with the ground below me, and with the life all around me. It was incredibly enlivening.  

The next night, I set up the tent and slept inside it. I smelled tent. I decided to let the superfluous go: Give me the stars and the night air! One night, a cold front blew in: I felt the wind deep into my bag. Another night, I woke to drizzle falling gently, the clouds lowering. Last night, the dew sat heavy on the outside of the bag. I had tucked an extra blanket inside the sleeping bag to keep me warm.

On Friday, a friend visited from Long Island. She has recently had a hip replacement and was delighted to sleep in a warm bed. A biodynamic consultant, she has worked with the farm since 2005 to improve the quality of our produce. The food from the garden now has the highest nutritive quality, she reports.  She noted the potency of the flowers and herbs. The farm itself is healing, she concluded! 

Initiated by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, biodynamic agriculture cultivates connection between the Earth and the Universe.  At the Biodynamic Conference in 2014, Gunther Hauk explained that the food that we eat nourishes our nervous system. Then we are fed through our senses by the sights, sounds and fragrances that surround us. Perhaps that is what is feeding me so deeply at night.  

Before bedtime, we went to the picnic table. She lay down on the table; I lay on the bench next to it. We looked skyward. She too marveled at the sky—it was expansive, mysterious, and ordered! Then we saw a long-tailed shooting star streak across the sky. It was sheer magic!

The lines from this famous hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” capture the sense of awe that the night sky inspired in us: “Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds that Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the Universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great thou art, How great thou art.”

Consider the stars. Be with the stars. You may find the night sky as filling as I have. The farm is now hosting overnight guests.  We have inside accommodations and a long picnic table. Come explore!  

Posted 5/17/2015 3:25pm by Sally Voris .

Yesterday, Abby Porter presented an Introduction to Biodynamics at White Rose Farm. Participants were able to examine herbs used to make the biodynamic preparations: yarrow, dandelion, chamomile and valerian--all were in bud or blooming. Abby explained the preparations and their significance. She described how to get started doing biodynamics in one's own back yard. We strolled in the gardens and visited the new calf in the barn, the Guinea hogs in the field. A wonderful day! 

 

 

Posted 5/7/2015 7:53am by Sally Voris .

The hills are greening, flowers bloom; there is birdsong, nest making and gardens waiting for blessing. With the Maiden Earth in ovulation, creatures are enlivened, inclined to entwine! Warm-hearted, we stretch in the sun, walk barefoot in the new grass, bear the spring rains with good cheer and gratefulness. Passions stir-flashes of sweet desire, hot lightning of anger, gusts of giddiness, heartbreaks of grief and fits of unbearable joy. How to meet these relentless tremors? Dance!

In circles, growl and flirt, wail and strut and yip! Exaggerate feelings until laughter or tears claim you—and keep dancing. No matter the furies unleashed in the world, a circle of women dancing out passions is a potent alchemical mandala. Shakers sing it this way: “To turn, turn, will be our delight, til by turning, turning we come round right. “ Weaving in and around one another, we thread our passions in the web. Warp and woof, spokes and runners, take up your strands with clear intent. Weave what you want into being, into Life!

Marian Spadone from Mother Tongue Ink.

 

Posted 5/6/2015 9:21am by Sally Voris .

On Sunday, we celebrated May Day, an ancient festival that honors the fertility of the Earth. For the last ten years, three committed volunteers have spent hours setting up the May Pole and decorating the farm to make it festive with color for this event. This year, twenty other people joined us on a perfect spring day. They walked around the farm, taking in a feast of the senses. Some smelled the earth; others picked flowers. Several swung in the hammock, lazed in a chair or on the grass, or just chatted with each other as the fragrance of lilacs and the sound of music floated in the air.

“People feel free to do what they want here,” said an old friend as she surveyed the lawn and took a deep, easy breath. “I feel it every time I turn off the main road to come to the farm.”

People were touched and in touch with life. “Is that what an apple tree looks like?” said one guest. “I have never seen one in bloom before!” She was looking two full-sized apple trees, each thirty feet high and thirty feet wide, filled with clusters of white blossoms and abuzz with bees. My father had planted them fifty years ago.

Some stood in front of the lilac, marveling at its profusion of blossoms. Most walked down to the barn to see the cows and the new calf, the Guinea hogs, the Indian Runner ducks, the geese and the white cat in the barn. “Where did she come from?” Several asked. “She looks pregnant!” others noticed. “I want a kitten!” several exclaimed.

Mid-afternoon, we danced around the May Pole as the musicians played a Morris tune. We weaved long strands of pastel ribbons in and out, much as the invisible world of Spirit weaves life into form.

How do we honor the web of life that supports us and connects all things? How can we touch the Earth as a beloved and honor her exuberant fertility and the incredible mystery of creation? How do we value such an experience? How much does connection cost? How much is it worth? What is life without it?

On Wednesday morning, as I opened the door to the cow's stall, the door hit something faun-colored and lumpy on the floor. A new calf had just been born! I lifted her and carried her close to her mother. Then mother and grandmother licked her for an hour or more. They seemed to be licking her into life, calling cow spirit into physical form. “Come on, little one, come on into this Earth! Come on, little one, we are here for you!” They licked and licked. They were strong, insistent, cajoling, comforting. That first day, she stood on wobbly legs and nursed weakly. Each day, she has gained strength and vitality.

That evening, a golden moon rising, I led the frisky young heifer and her mother to the barn. They did not stay. They walked into the main pasture. The little one slipped under the fence and disappeared. Close to dark, I noticed that mother and grandmother were standing at the fence bawling. “Where is our baby? Where is our baby?” they communicated. I saw no calf.

I was exhausted. I searched for the calf along the fence line. I could not find her. So I took the mother, Buttercup, on a lead to find her calf. She let out a long, low moo. “I am here for you, little one. Moooo. I am here for you.” She led me into waist-high poison ivy and into the prickly needles of a cedar tree. I could go no further. Hiding beneath the cedar tree, was our little Daisy. Buttercup licked the young calf. Soon I was guiding the heifer in between my legs as I held the lead of the cow in one hand.

Life is so rich and so worth living at White Rose Farm. I am offering to share it. Come for a visit!

 

Posted 5/4/2015 6:08pm by Sally Voris .

 

 

The grass was so green; the ribbons so festive; the flowers so fragrant!

The music floated on the air as we danced around the May Pole

and savored a perfect spring day.  

 

 

Posted 4/30/2015 5:15am by Sally Voris .

As the vet finished examining the farm's new heifer, Daisy, he commented," You have doubled your herd!" Buttercup had a heifer, and we have named her Daisy. I found her yesterday morning in the barn, probably less than an hour after she was born.

For the next hour, Buttercup and her mother, Brigid, licked this young heifer, coaxing her into life. It is an amazing process! Daisy bonded with Brigid, Buttercup's mom--a cow who spent the winter here. The vet recommended that I separate Brigid--even keeping her from the sight of the new born calf. Brigid paced the fence bawling to get to the calf, while Buttercup, as a first-time mother, warmed slowly to her new offspring.

By the end of the day, Daisy was standing and nursing from her mother. A good thing--because the vet said that if I could not get them to bond, I would have to milk the mom and bottle feed the calf, a process that could easily take two hours every day. 

So a new chapter starts at White Rose Farm. It will be filled with both wonder and drudgery, I am sure--and the farm has taken another step toward sustainability. We hope to offer classes on how to milk a cow later in the season. 

For now, I celebrate new birth, warm milk, motherhood and green green grass. 

Sally 

 

Posted 4/16/2015 7:07pm by Sally Voris .

At a recent gardening meeting, one backyard gardener asked about planting a garden. He was preparing to dig the soil. Several experienced farmers strongly advised him not to dig, but rather to layer cardboard and mulch over top the soil and plant into it. Research, they said, showed that digging the soil disrupts the microorganisms that create the soil's web of life.

I use mulch and newspaper to cover established grass when I am making new flower beds, but sometimes I pick up a shovel and dig. Perhaps, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time to dig and a time to refrain from digging.

It may depend on our primary purpose for gardening. Are we growing food or making a life for ourselves? World class gardener Alan Chadwick asserted that the garden is for the gardener: we see our reflection in the gardens that we create. Theologian Thomas Berry said that the inner world of man and the outer world of nature go together. What if we are to learn about life by gardening? Why not begin in our own backyard?

Anastasia, in the Ringing Cedars series of books by Vladimir Megre, describes how people touch the Earth with love in their small garden plots in Russia. The Earth, she says, is very large, but exquisitely sensitive to loving touch.

What mother does not rejoice when her children return to her with an urge to connect? To appreciate what she offers? Mothers offer comfort, support, a listening ear, a warm lap, a gentle touch. I have seen women who willingly bear the brunt of rage so that it can be transformed and lifted. Our Earth Mother can take our anger and our raw energy and transform it. Perhaps she suffers most when she is not seen, felt or appreciated for what she offers.

Poet May Sarton wrote a poem focused on Kali, the dark mother in Indian mythology. She ended her poem, “The Invocation to Kali,” with these words, “Help us to be the always hopeful gardeners of the spirit who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light, nothing flowers.”

When I dig in the soil, my innards go down into my own depths, my own darkness, my own confusion. While I am working with what is below the surface in the garden, I unearth some truth hidden within me. Grieving, raging, confused, frustrated,I have always found answers shovel in hand. In the process, I have created beautiful gardens.

So I say to this backyard gardener, “ If you feel called to dig, dig. Dig with love! Dig with rage! Dig with frustration! Dig with confusion! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig knowing that something new will emerge from your efforts. Feel your energy flow into the land; feel the energy of the Earth flow into you. The soil will be disrupted, it will also be energized by your work. You will be enlivened by that flow and nourished by food coming out of your garden.”

Parents know that when their children take on a new task, it might be painful at first. When my son began playing the cello, the squeaking sound of the strings set my nerves on edge. I endured, though, knowing that sweet music would come with time and practice. The Earth can take the cut of a shovel as long as it is done with a desire to connect, to be real and to engage consciously.

Remember how sweet it is to really connect with another person? It can be that way in the garden too. Make love, make life in the garden! If it is time to dig, dig away! Get down and dirty. It is delicious!

 

Posted 4/10/2015 7:58pm by Sally Voris .

Celebrating May Day! 

Sunday, May 3 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. 
 

 

 

 

The farm will open its season with a May Day Celebration on Sunday, May 3 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.  This event celebrates spring! It is filled with flowers, fragrance, music, pageantry, and dance. 

We make flower garlands, baskets, necklaces and processional staffs. Then we process to the May Pole and weave satin ribbons around the May Pole as musicians play lively tunes.

The event captivated me more than 50 years ago. It still thrills the girl inside me who loves flowers, ribbons, pastel colors, pageantry and spring. This event is one I can especially recommend for elementary school children. Many will carry their memories throughout their lives, as I have. Click here to register ahead of time. 

Happy, happy spring! 

Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

www.whiterosefarm.com, 410-756-9303

EFT workshop cancelled

The EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) workshop scheduled for Monday, October 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. has been cancelled.  

Support the Circle!

White Rose Farm Circle, Inc. fosters community to empower people to work together to restore health to the land, the natural world and each other. Learn more about membership and/or donate to support our 501-c-3 non-profit organization. 

Mailing list sign-up