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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Home the Land Built: Week 12

We planted our first little landscape tree.  A Meteor Cherry.  A memory lane impulse.  We’d planted one at 4140, right outside our window in the narrow space between our old house and Chris and Alby’s kitchen window.  So beautiful, all those red, round cherries, and so very tasty.  Here at the Land, we figured this tree would be safe, from the ever-browsing deer that is.  After all, we’re surrounded by thousands of cherries and I’d never seen a single browsed stem.  Silly me. 
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
We planted a lawn.  We spread grass and oats and covered the steepest hills with erosion mats.  All we really wanted was something green, something besides bare dirt around our house.  We prayed for rain.  And got it.  Whoosh!  The seed is now stacked in nice piles at the bottom of the hills.  Cowbird food.    
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
Dawn called to me this morning.  “Come on out.  There’s something special I’ve brought for you to see.”  I stepped out onto the west porch.  It was beautiful indeed.  First light.  And all the bird song.  Yup, another amazing morning on the Land.  Then, just as I was heading back inside, swoosh!  A huge creature falls out of a hedgerow tree.  As I gasped, he spread his wings and arched skyward.  As he disappeared up and over the high spot, I thought, “How could I have missed an eagle perched so near, hungrily eyeing Kirby cat crouched at me feet?” 
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
I have two full buckets (black Fleet Farm logo buckets) to empty from the composting toilet, but the compost heap looks full.  Dang!  I’ve been meaning to finish our much larger two-bin Humanure Hacienda.  Hmmm.  
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
I’ve been carefully tending a tree we planted last year, an American Elm seedling Linda had nurtured from our Minneapolis home.     “You sure that’s an American Elm?” a visiting arborist asked.   I stared and stared, and then slapped my forehead.  Thousands of these aggressive invasives plant themselves all over the Land.  I didn’t need to look it up in Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota.  But I did anyway.  Anyone want a Siberian Elm? 
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
I wrote an article for CERT, Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Team, about our off-grid journey, which they published on their website.  Cool!  Then the director published it on Renewal Energy  More cool!  Then I started reading the insightful comments.  Way, way cool!  Then I started to comprehend the passion and knowledge and wisdom of these readers and I thought, “I’m way out of my league here.  What am I doing, posting on a site like this?” 
The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
This week, when I saw Dayna Cruz, my dear former work colleague, she asked the best question ever.  “Don’t you just spend your entire day adjusting to the new system, solving problems, figuring out how to live this entirely new way?”    That’s exactly it!    I keep trying to explain what I do all day, but it’s frustratingly hard.  It all belongs to this whole new world we’ve created.  The School of the Land has so much to teach me.
Oh, boxelder bear, my trusted guardian, show me the way.  At least show me the door to Kindergarten.  May I just curl up at your feet and sleep well.  The School of the Land has so much to teach me.


  1. Michael,

    My name is Brian Todd, and I am a writer with the Post-Bulletin. I'd love to share your off-the-grid story with our readers.

    You can contact me at