Friday March 24, 2023
I whispered to the goat Molly and got her attention. I silently asked her to follow me by waving my hand. She followed me into the shelter. I pointed to the hay in the corner, inside the triangular pen and without hesitation she walked over to it. We are quiet, speaking in whispers and sign language because we don’t want the other two goats to know what were up to. Molly doesn’t like sharing a hay bag, she likes to eat alone. Those shorter monsters are pushy, even forceful when it comes to food. Molly doesn’t feel like competing. Molly’s not fat, like the Kinder goats and I’m concerned she’s not getting enough food. Whether it’s true or imagined on my part, I cannot get over how Molly and I communicate. A whisper, a motion of the hand and a trusting disposition.
It doesn’t take long for Mae Mae to stop eating and look around for the matron goat. She calls out for her, but Molly doesn’t respond. I believe Molly got a 30-minutes of eating alone before the curious little goat discovered her hiding spot. By that time Molly was ready to go elsewhere.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I whisper to William, the blind potbelly pig. His hearing is excellent and when I whisper his name, he knows that Karen has something special, just for him and that we need to make the exchange quietly and quickly before Millie, the big pig, discovers what were up to. It’s like sharing a secret with a best friend, slipping them a note in front of the teacher.
Molly and William were my first farm friends and I spent a lot of time with them before we expanded to other friends. And although our world has changed, we still know each other and communicate, like best friends in a classroom, with a whisper, a gesture and love messages.
At Crow Moon Healing Bed and Breakfast we communicate we care in all kinds of ways, in a gesture, a whisper, a laugh and of course, through food.
Monday March 6, 2023
“Sometimes I get so wrapped up on the logistics and labor of having animals, I forget the reason why I brought them in my life. This moment, sitting next to Millie, with a cat on my shoulder and a chicken on my lap, I’m reminded that to be present with another being is why I surround myself with animals, as they are easy to be with.”
My goal for the day was to take the last bale of cornstalks to bed the dry-lot shelter so Alfred would have a comfy bed when we transitioned the herd over from the barn. It would be the first time they would be back in this space since Bella, the horse, passed. I wasn’t looking forward to the move as even looking towards the dry-lot brought sadness. I wanted to move past the pain so I rolled the wheel barrel with the pitchfork down the driveway to the three-sided, cement block holding space under the apple tree that housed the last bale of cornstalks. As I unclipped the carabiners from the tarp and folded back the heavily beaten plastic with holes and tears, I saw I was right to argue to Fred last fall. The huge bale was wet and looking unusable. I was deflated.
The Cats, Greg, Finn and Leon had followed me and were investigating the exposed bedding. Millie, the pig and Tic, the chicken were close by, in the yard rutting and scratching the soft grass.
“Well, this is a bust,” I announced to the gang.
Millie stopped her grass flipping and gently, carefully, with intention, walked to a softest sloped section that transitioned from yard to gravel, where I was. She quietly oinked as she maneuvered her large body to the cornstalks. This was new to her! Her nose was fully engaged with investigating being both shovel and sniffer. I just watched the girl smiling. Perhaps she could loosen up some of the tight, expanded, damp, cornstalks so we could discover some dry stuff. She wasn’t that helpful. She rutted enough to make a bed, made herself comfortable and laid down on the damp stalks. She had a good point. I found a less damp spot by the hog’s butt and took a seat. I was tucked in between the cement block on my left side and Millie’s body on the right. Finn, the friendliest kitty, walked along the top of the blocks and posed on my shoulder, rubbing his chin on my ear.
After taking some selfies with the cat, I took a moment to just be. I’m almost 60 years old, sitting on a pile of wet cornstalks, with a behemoth of a pig resting like a dog by my side and tiger striped cat loving the shit out of the side of my head. The little girl in me was thrilled!
Chicken caught sight of us and came over to get a closer look. Arching her head.
“Hey Chicken,” I called, “Want to come sit with us?”
On cue, just like she knew exactly what I had offered, the chicken, Tic, strutted down the slope of the yard, chattering away in conversation. She hopped on my lower legs that was stretch out and crossed and carefully balanced her walk like a gymnast, climbing to my lap. She tapped on my pants a bit with her beak before settling herself in the crotch of my overalls. I sighed and then breathed deeper, resting my body more fully on the cornstalks, not minding the damp.
We were four animals “Being” together, enjoying the mild weather. We were all content and satisfied with this moment. It didn’t matter that we were all different species, we recognized ourselves as family.
To hell with the cornstalks, to hell with my agenda. I Quit!
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
The chicken Tic likes to eat eggs. No, it’s not gross or cannibalism to me, get over it! The Chicken Tic makes her own breakfast about every other day. At first, I gave her raw eggs and she’d eat just the yolks and the rest went to William but then I read that they should be scrambled but I can’t remember the reasoning why. I just did it. So, now the chicken named Tic calls out when she’s laid an egg and if I didn't hear her, she comes to the door and calls. When I discover the egg, I scramble it and serve her but she is a particular chicken and has developed a pallet for scrambled eggs, scrambled just right.
Rules for scrambling eggs for Tic the Chicken
1) No scrambling of eggs without Chicken aware that I'm cooking.
2) No cold scrambled eggs are served at any time. So, I can’t plan ahead.
3) No buttering the pan so the egg doesn’t stick. She doesn’t like the flavor or possibly the sliminess.
4) No egg is served above the chicken nestbox beside her feed. It’ll be wasted.
5) No serving of scrambled eggs that are too hot. Put in the freezer for less than a minute!
My Chicken eats scrambled eggs in the house, when she is ready, with no butter, cooled to just enough, served on a plate in the kitchen where she is allowed to peck and make a mess, with the option to walk away and come back to finish.
Crow Moon Healing is a full-service bed and breakfast. If I can make a chicken happy, I can make you happy too!
"State of Balance"
It’s a beautiful morning. Cool with a light breeze, sun shining. Everything appears to be coming back into balance.
Millie is moving better, that’s a relief. After breakfast, she limped around the yard finding the scraps I flung over the upper deck. William came into the pig pen a bit further this morning for breakfast but left after sniffing around. The smell of the vets that came for Millie’s procedure on Friday must still be lingering. Mr. Drama will be Ok. I predict he’ll be in his bed tonight.
Chicken stopped losing feathers finally after treating her for mites and now is eating better. I finally found the meal worms Fred picked up for her so she’s happily pecking at breakfast with sprinkles of crunchy, stinky worms. The garage family is coming into balance.
Looking towards the herd, I see Molly is playing “Chase me” with the little goats in the dry-lot. It makes me smile to see my lonely goat playing with friends. Alfred is resting flat out soaking up the sun this morning on the scrap hay we dumped from unloading wagons yesterday. The steer loves fresh hay bedding. Bella noticed I left the pasture gate open, so she’s grazing without the herd in the pasture. That’s a big deal for her as she used to be anxious without her posse. None of the rest of the herd has any clue where the horse has gone so they hang tight with Alfred.
Greg, the cat is not liking his food lately. I think he’s getting plenty of fresh mice from the hay shed as he comes for his usual feeding time more out of habit then necessity these days. He’s just checking in. He left before I could get to his turn for breakfast this morning. I refuse to fuss over the cat, he chose to live here, I didn’t rescue him. He’s not a pet, he’s something else, a drifter perhaps or a roaming lover. I appreciate his independence. I give his uneaten food to Millie.
My attention goes to the people in the house. They are sleeping in, well-deserved rest after a long year of teaching and serving other’s in their jobs. My part is to create a relaxing space for breakfast.
Today’s breakfast will be on the deck; omelets, sister Sue’s cinnamon rolls, roasted potatoes, fresh fruit, and strawberry pie. I drink coffee, and put together a puzzle waiting for the guests to wake up but move to the deck to journal and listen to the birds singing and flitting for sunflower seeds I’ve spread out on the railing.
This moment here on the deck, witnessing my animals in a state of contended ease helps me relax. I wish I could just be in a chronic state of relaxation. I’m not there yet, but I’m feeling my way towards it.
At Crow Moon Healing Bed and Breakfast, we do our best to support people in having a relaxing stay and come back to their own state of balance.
I just assumed puzzles were for winter, when the days are short and cold. I began to notice that the guests that came in the winter months enjoyed working on my puzzles and to be honest I liked the support with them. I had upped the ante on my puzzles, getting larger ones, sometimes a 1,000-pieces and some didn’t have defined borders. I’d start to feel stuck, then guests would come and magically parts of the puzzle would be put together. This happened so often that I got a puzzle board with drawers and ordered more puzzles from Amazon. I like bright colored, whimsical ones with animals and I like larger pieces, easier to see if they accidently fall on the colorful area rug. It doesn’t always work. Most of my puzzles end up with a piece or two missing which I can only assume got sucked up into the vacuum cleaner.
This Spring I continued with puzzles and I noticed that guests really do like to sit with them. Puzzles can be a solitary activity or they can be a group activity. I noticed that people can make conversation while working on a puzzle or be comfortable being together in silence working on a puzzle. Puzzles are calming and stimulating. With people so often buried in their phones, disengaged it’s so special to see people do something as simple and complicated as a puzzle being quietly present.
Last week, I started a puzzle, 750-pieces that had no defined border. It was of a farm scene with a piggy playing hide and go seek with a puppy, cat, horse, cow, and baby chicks. Adorable and bright art work in larger pieces made it easy to distinguish what pieces belonged where but the shapes made it challenging to fit the pieces together. A guest came for an extended stay, visiting a sister with Cancer and getting together for another sibling’s birthday. She was in need of some quiet time and the puzzle was the answer. She made great progress with it during her stay and she felt bad as she put it “for taking it over.”
“No, no, that’s what the puzzles are for,” I assured her. She thanked me for allowing her to work on the puzzle.
The next day, a different guest, a boy of eight, worked on the puzzle. He didn’t have much time to spare for the puzzle, although he wished he had. He put the kitty together, the animal I had been struggling with earlier that morning. He proudly showed me what he had gotten done while his mother and brother were packing the car.
“Great job!” I exclaimed.
“This is the best bed and breakfast I’ve ever been to!” He announced. “Because it’s my first one! But I’ll always compare the rest to this one.”
Connection through puzzles. Isn’t that interesting. At Crow Moon Healing, we believe that connection can be as simple and beautiful as working on a puzzle.
Whether you'll looking to get away for a change of scenery or wanting a retreat, consider Crow Moon Healing Bed and Breakfast. Here are some recent reviews from guests staying at Crow Moon Healing. You may want to come and stay yourself!
"Karen is situated right near Baraboo, close to skiing and so many of the other interesting things the area has to offer. And she fits right in. She’s every bit as interesting as the surrounding area, and her breakfasts are out of this world. Her place is situated in some beautiful country and it’s filled a very peaceful and charming atmosphere. She made a sweet potato egg bake the last morning we were there, and my mouth now waters at thought of it.
Thanks so much for the stay, Karen! Jill and I had such a great time. We had planned to go out last night but ended up staying in because your place was so relaxing."
Matthew, Chicago Illnois
And we get repeat customers!
"Another amazing stay at Crow Moon Healing. Karen is the best host we have encountered and you cannot feel more welcome in her home. The accommodations are so comfortable, the food is delicious (portions are generous), and the scenery is beyond comparison. Sunset is an absolutely magical experience in this valley, and her menagerie of farm animal friends make this a one of a kind setting. We skipped the soaking tub this time for lack of time, but that is a wonderful experience, as well. We will certainly be back over and over to seek refuge from our lives. You will leave transformed and well-rested, no matter what your reason for coming."
Newsletter January 2022
"In the Moment"
I felt I was a child again as a crouched down to reach under the stairs in the barn. I was offering a small can of cat food to the young, feral cat crying out. As my gloved hand got closer the kitty gave a slight hiss but changed to a soft mew of gratitude to the nourishment I was offering. Scaredy Cat, as I’ve named it, is either just slightly feral or really, really, desperately hungry to allow my hands to get so close without bolting. I believe the kitty is less afraid of me though then of Greg, the resident cat.
In moments like this, I don’t worry about catching the cat or the expense of vet care or Greg’s response to having an invader. I’m just a girl, making a new friend, a friend who is in need of a friend. I’m kneeling with hope in my heart while fear is turning slowly to trust with the cat. The background noises of Bella’s soft nostril blows, Alfred’s hay munching and Mae Mae’s quiet bleating supports this moment. In this beautiful space, I’m transported to my childhood where I believed I had the ability to become friends with all the animals on our farm.
“Mew” was the response from Scardey Cat and she began devouring the food before I even move away. It’s sweet and magical moment that perhaps will lead to other magical moments.
As I stand up, I’m once again an adult, strategizing capturing the kitty, and worrying about the cost of veterinary care and how Greg will be affected by the presence of another cat. I’ll need to trust, like Scaredy Cat, that Crow Moon Healing is the place where she belongs.
December Newsletter 2021
Whether it’s sitting with the pair of amethyst cathedrals in the early morning hours before daylight with a cup of tea, or working on a fanciful puzzle for small intervals of time, quiet time is like a mini-oasis for me. Although my mind is easily scattered, latching on to obligations, and concerns, these moments of soft focused attention, with no seemly purpose or deadline brings me back to myself.
I am surprised when a whole cup of tea is drunk in serenity or that in a matter of days a puzzle is brought to wholeness with intermittent moments of attention. This wasn’t always possible for me in years past as my mind pushed a to-do list. “Being” productive had value but not just “Being” quiet.
I’m beginning to crave quiet time. It’s more of a necessity then a want. Everything that needs to get done, gets done, but in the moments of quiet activity or inactivity, is where I discover contentment, gratitude, and kindness towards myself and others.
“Being Quiet” is a prayer, a remembering of who I am. At Crow Moon Healing, we support guests in experiencing their own version of “Quiet Time.”
November Newsletter 2021
“Can I have the recipe for this?”
I cringe when someone asks me that question. Not because I’m resistant to giving out my secrets but it’s because I don’t have an exact recipe to share. Being a creative person, who is also one of those “Use it up” kinda girls (Thanks Mom!) I never really make the same thing twice. The basic recipe might be the same but if I’ve got cream cheese, the muffins might end up with cream cheese filling. Or if I think it needs a lift, I’ll put a streusel on top. If I want a second flavor I’ll replace the vanilla with a lemon or orange zest. I might add more cinnamon or other spices to compliment what is being created. All the different muffins you see on my Facebook page come from one basic recipe, mostly. Whether it’s raspberry streusel, cranberry nut, apple cinnamon, blueberry lemon, or banana chocolate chip, chances are its humble beginnings started from my base recipe.
I also get creative with recipes when dietary preferences of guests come into play. My basic muffin recipe is dairy free and doesn’t have cane sugar for sweetening, but it can be tweaked so it’s also gluten-free and vegan. And I can lower the sugar by swapping out Monk Fruit syrup for the maple syrup.
People who don’t enjoy baking think it’s got to be hard to manipulate recipes, but for a someone like me who sees recipes as inspirations rather than a set of rules and guidelines, it’s creative and fun!
I’ll share with you my base recipe I use for muffins.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes about 9 to 12 medium muffins (I use larger muffin tins, so it makes about 5 or 6)
Preheat Oven to 350
In a bowl combine:
1 C. mashed banana (I do this whether it’s a banana muffin or any other muffin)
2 eggs (vegan option- 2T. ground flaxmeal with 6T. water (or juice), stir and set for 5 minutes before adding to banana.
¼ C. maple syrup
Another bowl combine:
1C. Almond flour
1C oatmeal flour (gluten-free oatmeal if needed)
1t. baking powder
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. salt
1/3 C. mini-chocolate chips (Dairy free chocolate chips for vegans)
After stirring the flour mixture combine it with the banana mixture, just til moist and put in greased muffins tins.
Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips
Bake for 20 minutes (I do 25 minutes because I use the larger muffin tins)
At Crow Moon Healing, were all about inspiration and creating!
Karen Mcintosh - Crow Moon Healing Owner & Operator