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Chapter 8 – We Became Wild

Chicks With Ticks:

As I text Kristen between tears, I realize how long it has been since I have gone deep into the woods….and Now i understand my tears….

Originally posted on Chicks With Ticks....:

As you might expect, we see a lot of wild things. I mean wild in every sense! We see wild flowers, wild animals, wild people, wild encounters, wild weather, wild places, and just wild things in general. It’s hard to imagine, but I much prefer wild things to anything else.

Somewhere along the path we lost our fears of most wild things. We forgot about the scratches and the thorns. The dangers were just dangers. We became more in tune with what we were doing. We became in tune with each other. We became in tune with nature. We became wild things.

It wasn’t apparent just how wild we had become until I got laid off recently and was removed from the wild places for a while. Don’t go sniveling now about that – it’s a story for another day. I look back, even right now, and it’s hard to…

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Chapter 8 – We Became Wild.

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

That’s right, I know you are all pouting and say, “Jacque, where have you been?” Well, I

This little guy os growing from our green logs where the creek disappears under a newly created natural bridge.

This little guy os growing from our green logs where the creek disappears under a newly created natural bridge.

have no really great story where I get chased by some wild animal or get lost deep in the forest (we wish right?). All I have is the fact that I have been running around crazy.

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

I thought you all would absolutely love the fact that I am working in a confidential area making guess what….? Ditches! I know you guys understand I believe in a lot of crazy stuff….but…NOT DITCHES.

So, I have taken it upon myself to team with my buddy and boss, Matt to stop the madness. We have begun designing what a dear friend Michelle Sims calls “conveyances”. I call them unditches.

So the basic idea is that we disguise a nasty and boring ditch or gully as a small stream segment. We give it character, habitat, shape, form, and a better function in the landscape. The bugs and fish already love it. I love it. Guess what? I got a sweet surprise birthday visit from 10-20 DEP reps.

The fish will love this pool.

The fish will love this pool.

Now, most folks hate it when they see a pack of DEP nerds coming but I get all excited. I LOVE THEM! There’s nothing like watching them tromp around in the woods downstream in the preservation

and all over the site. The smiles, questions, suggestions, and interest were fun! I love sharing what we do and why….especially with people who care just as much as I do.

This natural system will benefit from more care in the connection design.

This natural system will benefit from more care in the connection design.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Who will fill this man’s shoes?

Viewpoints

Viewpoints

That’s right, there is a time and a season for everything. You are probably thinking, “Jacque, there are only four seasons.” But, I am here to tell you that there are infinite seasons. Let me tell you what I mean by that.

Last Monday, at about 7am, a coworker was doing what he does and suffered a fatal accident. Now, we are all grown ups here (well, some of you at least) and we know that accidents, be they minor or fatal, all happen unexpectedly. After all, that’s why they call them accidents. But, I am here to tell you that this seemingly tragic life event has changed the way I will look at my coworkers forever.

A smiling, happy, driven father of three, husband of 35 years, son to two amazing living parents died in a tragic accident. In attending his services and funeral, I wanted to share a few epiphanies that may or may not affect you.

Firstly, whether or not you are religious or spiritual, you may find some message here that sparks something. Forget that I was at a Baptist church in Polk county Florida. Forget that I was a lone observer of a family’s grief and the sorrow of an entire community. I want you to remember this – I heard folks speak of this man we lost in the most amazing ways. Not fancy – not flowery – simply amazing. This man I worked alongside was so much more than what I thought.

In fact, I can’t tell you what a loss the whole world may be at. If the chaos theory and butterfly effects are at all true, we are all in for it! This man inspired many. Loved much and as the preacher placed his muddy work boots on the pedestal he said, “Who will fill this man’s shoes?”

Who will fill my muddy boots?

Who will fill my muddy boots?

I can’t tell you how effected I am to this moment by that question. It made me think…..who will fill the shoes of any lost loved one. It made me think of my responsibility to those left behind. It inspired me to think of those around me in a different light.

He mentioned a time and a season for everything. Never mind the biblical references, there now seems a season for everyone, every creature, every living thing and the living things to come. Now I see cycles of life everywhere I turn. I can’t tell you folks how I saw the whole world and life itself in a new way. I saw it all as cycles. It makes sense. It became quite clear that life is actually much simpler that we think – it’s just a cycle.

As I stood alone outside the service watching family and friends, young and old, some crying and some smiling with some memory of their lost loved one, I immediately felt so tiny and insignificant. I was witnessing a web of people connected by that set of muddy work boots. I was watching as the trickle down effect began to change them all forever. I was seeing that when one cycle seemed to end, it really just changed momentum and direction. It took many forms right before my eyes.

I watched them walk to their cars and leave that place. I wondered how so many could have known him. I wondered how he had touched so many lives and hearts. I wondered if he was aware that his season is still not over! If so, I hope he is smiling at the vibrations he struck in that web of folks on Saturday. I hope he knows that those infinite cycles are all connected in some way. I’ll bet he knows now that those infinite cycles are, in fact, infinite!

You think my tractor’s sexy?

Wide open spaces.

Wide open spaces.

That’s right, it’s official, I am now a farmer! You thought, ” Jacque, what the hell are you doing farming? I thought you were a scientist.” Well, I’m here to tell you – you can’t farm without science…and mud, and cows, and grass, and fertilizer (fancy name for cow poo), and TRACTORS!!

Rolling Rolls

Rolling Rolls

I have spent some hefty time sitting on a Rollmaster harvester on our sod farm near the Myakka river. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to ride and operate the harvester which rolls up the sod. Sitting behind a diesel tractor all day isn’t my idea of a glam job – but it sure as heck had me smiling. So, I have come to the simple conclusion that….drum roll please…..KRISTEN WAS ALWAYS RIGHT – WE SHOULD BE FARMERS!!!

It’s such a green and simple life, fraught with weather watching, cow chasing, muddy boots, pump fixin, rain gauging, cow patty avoiding, and

Farmer Jack

Farmer Jack

sweet smelling grass! The most interesting thing is – all that GREEN brings in a lot of GREEN! Green side up and

Trucking along...

Trucking along…

payday is Friday kind of green.

I thought all you kids out there would want to see how a girl farmer works…and what a sod farm looks like. So, without any further adieu…..For Fun Friday – Here’s Farming….

 

Healing…

The mother tree stood in silence somewhere in the middle of a long forgotten hammock glade. The morning dew lit brightly by the dawn. Crystals hanging from her leafy fingers. I said a secret kind of prayer as I approached. Something from my childhood. Not wanting to disturb her slumber lest her limbs began to thrash wildly like before.

Mother

Mother

Withered and rough, I felt her furrowed bark cut into the skin of my thighs as I began to climb. Eyes still wet with disappointment and fear. Heart full of shadows.

Reaching higher and higher looking down occasionally to see if anything had followed me I knew I was almost there. I calmed myself so as not to rush. One slip from her heights could leave bruises best not explained. 

I found my space worn smooth by years of reverence. I took my usual position on my belly, limbs hanging loosely, face pressed against her bark. I would remain until my tears stopped, until my pain dulled, until I smiled. Her arms rocking me gently with the breeze. Her scent filling my nostrils with that loamy warmth.

Eyes dried, heart lighter, healed.

Animal Power

Originally posted on The carbon pilgrim:

One ancient practice nearly wiped out in the United States by “progress” was the widespread use of animal power in many important endeavors, including farming, hauling, logging, herding and various types of transportation. In the late nineteenth century, for example, getting around in New York City meant employing at least one of the nearly 200,000 horses stabled in the city (whose manure production posed a serious and perennial public health hazard). Equally hard to imagine today is the knowledge that until the adoption of tractors in the1920s, nearly all American agriculture was powered by livestock!

As someone who came of age among the asphalt suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona during the 1970s—the nadir years for animal power in the U.S.—these historical facts were hard to comprehend when I first heard them. Although I had spent my youth around horses, they were strictly the recreational variety. I knew nothing about draft animals…

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That’s right….I have been watching the guys play Plants vs. Zombies on the Xbox. “But Jacque, why aren’t you playing,” you might ask….BECAUSE I CAN’T SEEM TO FIGURE OUT THE BUTTONS. I get all excited and end up spending my 5 minutes of combat looking at my cactus feet or the zombot.

But, what it got me thinking was this – WHAT PLANTS WOULD I WANT WITH ME IN THE EVENT OF A ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE? So, here it goes, the yummy wild things you could find in the nearest woods….while not accidently eating something that will zombify you.

Do not eat wild plants unknown!

Do not eat wild plants unknown!

***CAUTION***

This article is for entertainment – please do not consume any wild plants without proper knowledge or experience. This can prove to be dangerous and even fatal. Some plants must be prepared in a particular manner prior to consumption. I want to tell you funny stories – not how to harvest them. See above reference!!!

Once upon a time, Kristen listened to John and ate the tender tips of a smilax vine. Most people call it a oh SH*T vine – it’s light green and has horrible thorns….but you can eat the tender tips of the vines. It appears that not everyone should do this – ended in well – the RUNS.

Smilax

Smilax

Palmetto bushes seem tough and rough – but you can actually pull out the middle new growth shoot and chew on the bottoms…..only trouble – it’s hell getting them out!

Blackberries are yummy if you want stained teeth and seeds for days….if you rubbed them on your teeth you might actually pass for a zombie.

Wild blueberries of any kind are delicious when RIPE….early morning dew and some warm sunshine make for a very nice start to the day. Remember to leave some for the wildlife.

Palmetto

Palmetto

 Florida has an abundance of wild citrus. Even in the most remote areas you might find a tree or two in a stand of oaks – caution – have Josh Raysin cut and taste first….lol! This will save you from having the nastiest taste in your mouth. Not all wild citrus tastes like sunshine. They taste like….well – ask Josh!!

There are so many more….but this should get you through the first night of total horror! It appears that zombies don’t eat plants. So, you should be able to fill the belly.

When the zombies attack, it is my recent experience that you should grab your pea Gatlin gun (classic of course) and be the berry shooting pea shooter and go for it! The Zombies don’t have a chance….!

As always – don’t ever eat or drink anything that you are not absolutely familiar with. If you want to see what might happen – you can search Tracy Layton’s camping video on YouTube. He’s is a very experienced wild eater and his latest venture went VERY wrong….it’s entertainment and teaching from poor example at its best. A dear friend almost got into a serious situation from consuming wild plants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TVIt5WZAQQ

A MUST SEE!!!!

 

As Jacque mentioned in previous posts, our team has gone through lots of changes (and challenges) over the past year. I’m sorry for my long absence, but it’s been difficult for me to dig out the words I’d like to say. For now, I will simply say that I dearly miss my fellow Chicks with Ticks and think of them often and fondly.

 

photoWhat inspired me to come out of blog hiding is that I had the opportunity to visit some wonderful preservation lands the other day, and I wanted to share! I recently joined the Board of Directors of a central Florida-based land trust, called Green Horizon Land Trust. *Note: this is a volunteer position, I have not changed jobs* For those of you who don’t know what a land trust is, it’s a non-profit organization whose goal is to protect land from being developed by putting it under conservation (either fully by purchase/donation or partially by easement). The Nature Conservancy is an example of a very large, international land trust who many are probably familiar with. The land trust I’m now a part operates at a much smaller, more local scale– but it still makes a big impact!

 

photo3The preservation lands I visited were small parcels that you may never even realize are right there in your own community. They had trails winding through wetland and upland habitat types, exposing one to a wide diversity of plant species. Benches were located along the trails to provide a space to relax and observe wildlife (we saw swallow-tailed kites and gopher tortoises) and stunning vistas (lakes and the famous Bok Tower). Some even had geocaches hidden away, hoping to be discovered.

 

photo2I encourage all of you out there to not only enjoy your state and national parks, but to also enjoy smaller scale preservation lands like county nature parks and land trust holdings that may be practically in your backyard. They might just be the best places to see wild things since they aren’t on most people’s radar!

 

ps -The blackberries are ripe for picking in the Florida wilds right now!! (more on that to come)

 

 

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