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Back of Beyond Farm is a small, family run operation in Rist Canyon, Colorado. We work closely with natural rhythms to create wellness teas from indigenous and naturalized plants. 2013 marks our 4th year of supporting our community through tasty teas. In the year ahead, we hope to continue our work of not only producing healthful teas, but also exploring the edges of what it means to farm and be a part of a place.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Old Soul Herbalist

Josephine came to us on the wind. We've made up these legends for each of our children and Josephine's story is one of a hot air balloon, City Park in Fort Collins, and an old man that looks a lot like St. Nicholas.

Her name roots back to abundance and truly, she has added so much to our lives. On the farm she is the sampler, the wanderer, who strolls the yard picking berries and tasting leaves. You would think that rosehips are candy the way she stands at a bush, pulling off the red berry and cleaning the seeds.

Her sampling and experimentation reminds me of the old herbalist, wandering the garden or field, listening to the plants speak and then trying the lessons they have shared in hopes of healing or restoring life.

As she grows, I hope to her willingness to experiment with our teas and how they blend and mix offer something of substance to each of you. Our old, new master herbalist at work on our little farm.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ambassador to Magical Creatures

Magic. What is more magical than the process of seed becoming plant, plant becoming flesh, flesh becoming soil, soil calling forth seed, and seed becoming plant? The rhythms of life and death, and rebirth have captivated the human soul throughout time, history, place, culture and religion.

Every month Acres U.S.A. comes in the mail and I sit down and read through the articles on soil fertility, the scientific research on building soil through biochar, or the nutrient values of sea minerals and their effect on plant health. I marvel at the brains that study and present the information on the complexities of chemical reaction and the science behind eco-farming. Most nights I sit down with my kids and read some book of fantasy - The Chronicles of Narnia, The Legends of King Arthur, Tinkerbell, or The Big Book of Fairies. Both hold truth for the Earth Farmer, one clouded in formula and science, the other in beauty and metaphor.

On our farm, our Ambassador to Magical Creatures reminds us that even what we know remains mystery and that mystery is tied to the Greater Mystery we still haven't figured out - What calls forth life? What happens in death? How does it all, really, work?

Luci moves through our forests signing and dancing, at times almost flying. Her name, rooted in the light, fits her. We have a little fairie village, off to the side of the yard. She visits it in the summer, sometimes laying on her stomach and just looking. She wonders where the fairies are - off in the woods likely. It reminds me of all of the stories that have been told throughout time involving those magical elements that produce fruit and grain. The tomtens of Scandinavia that help with the farm chores when treated well. The flower fairies of England, that paint the flowers in the Spring. The trolls that cause trouble and raise hell with the livestock. For me, these stories point towards the mystery of growing and consuming food and the true healing magic that comes with food well raised. A magic that builds flesh and heals spirit.

On our farm we need an Ambassador towards this mystery. Someone who can sign a song to make plants grow. Someone who can dance to call forth sun, or rain, or joy. On our farm we have Luci. She does the work of making sure magic remains.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Gamekeeper

Being our first child, Makabe, taught me so many things I didn't know, I didn't know. Now, two kids later, I know I don't know anything. I remember a particular hike I was taking with Kabe on my back, he was 6-8 months old. I could feel his weight shift from side to side on my back. Finally, I realized he was moving his whole body with his eyes as he tracked birds flitting in the trees above us.

When he was two we would use him as a party trick to list off animals and their habitats. I learned new animals myself - Gnus and Pygmy Hippos. We rooted him in the Earth in his naming - Maka - the root of his name is Earth in Lakota.

On the farm he works as our Gamekeeper. He's planted dozens of trees, worked on the gaibons in our creek, feeds the birds, replenishes the salt-lick, works on our watering whole, spreads alfalfa pellets on the coldest days, builds bird houses, and calls forth the animals in his imagination we need to make this eco-farm work.

It seems an essential role for any farm. In Europe, England in particular, gamekeepers manage habitat and game for the use of landowner for sport. Here, our gamekeeper works to create fertility, pest control and beauty. I am thankful for all he continues to teach me, and draw into my awareness.