Lesson # 1,499,789,321


A bear got into one of my hives last week.  The carnage was, well…it was a bear.  Right behind where the hive sits there was a large place where it was obvious that he just laid down and slicked up the frames.  There was wax and wood all over the place, but there were three or four frames that seemed like they were laid gently next to some bricks.

I didn’t notice the hive had been massacred right off the bat.  During the day I like to look out the back window of the soon-to-be shop and watch the bees fly in and out of their home.  I did this, and I noticed.  Running out and realizing what had happened I didn’t get angry; it was strange.

I picked up the leaning frames and instantly saw a huge glump of bees: was the queen alright?!  Gently I set up the hive again, and put the three frames (full of globs of bees) in the middle,  surrounding them with clean, unadulterated frames.  The next day I added a frame of honey; they weren’t so nice.

Everyone has told me that bears attack hives; up in the mountains of Colorado, and evidently in Northern New England.  I can’t blame the bear, it must eat as we all do.  I only have myself to blame.  That is in fact lesson that is cyclical: it is my fault and no one else’s.  The lessons we learn are seldom about bears or bees, accidents or bad “fate”  (There is no such thing you know).

It is our fault, the blame is our own; and we must learn because to make mistakes is human, but to learn from them is god-like.


More is Not Better

Give Me Give Me MORE | sweatglow

There’s a lesson to be learned in the idea that more is better.  First, this is an idea that has proven itself time and time again false, and yet as a society, as individuals, and as a race we continually strive for more.

More is larger, more is better; we need more and we desire more!  In fact, our society has based the concept of progress on the idea of more.  Oddly enough, it seems that intuitively we know that this is not correct; it is not right.  But we continue on.

Our current president has made a name for himself by believing, or at least selling the belief, that more is better.  The idea clearly does not work.  More seems to undermine better; quantity does not equal quality.  Rhetoric does not equal intelligence.

To move forward the concept of value needs to be redefined: both what we value and why we value it.  A self-sufficient lifestyle will do wonders in redefining what is important.  In fact, the whole concept of self-sufficiency is better because it allows us to redefine value based upon need alone.

No longer is money the measure of value; no longer can we confuse desire with need.  No longer can we continually accept that more is better.  To be self-sufficient is not simply to feed, heat and shelter yourself.  No, to be self-sufficient one must THINK for one’s self.  More thinking does not equal better thinking.  More production does not equal better products.

We can no longer define what we value with quantity.  So, what do we do?  One good starting point might be to start with less: buy less, think better about those few things that are actually important, and produce quality rather than depend upon quantity.  Perhaps we will find that more is worthy only of less thought, and less importance.


The Human Condition

human condition

Always remember that sometimes it is your expectations that are the problem, they can hold you back.  This sounds counterintuitive, but think about it: it is old philosophical news that we act upon our emotional rather than rational motivations.  Our expectations are often our long and hard sought rational musings over possible situations, and when we finally act those musings often do not coincide with how we feel.

But should we, as rational beings , act upon our emotions?  Our intellect informs us that we are acting emotionally and tries to override how we feel with what we think. Do we act or do we think?  We are capable of both, but eventually we will act upon our emotions.

This is problematic for rational-capable beings such as humans.  We think knowing all along that we will act emotionally: we have no choice.  We know that we will act emotionally and that knowledge is not enough: this is the secret.

Our expectations will always be squandered, they will never be met because they are the product of our understanding.  My friend, Chris Ransick, and I have often debated (over scotch of course) terminology (he is a poet and I a philosopher/farmer).  I think that we are arguing this exact point: the intellect is our ticket to freewill, but we will consistently act emotionally knowing that we give up our freewill.

This is not a new discussion, it is centuries old in philosophy, and it will continue even given the knowledge that how we feel will determine the outcomes of what we think.  This, I believe, is the human condition: we must continue to think seriously about what we feel and why we feel that way.



Change is inevitable.  It does not come secretly into the night, but glaringly through our lives, if we only notice it.  Perhaps we turn our backs on it in hopes that it will go away.  But change will never go away; it is the reality in which we live.

Change is neither good nor bad.  It has no moral code, but a clear path which is all and everything.  It is the certainty that morality will never be.  It is reasonable to accept it, as it is reasonable to accept the moral codes which make sense.

Change cannot be ignored.  To ignore change is to ignore the water on the planet upon which we live; it is to ignore the infinite space above us to wonder at a small ditch beside the road.  To live life looking at the ground makes no difference to the change in our lives.

Change is fundamental.  It is both sufficient and necessary.  The fideism in which we lose ourselves blinds us to the ineffable, to the sublime, to the practical, to the rational, to the happiness in our lives, and to the sorrows that we must all face.

Change is the only consistent; the only inexorable constant, the philosophical truth, the scientific fact, the universal of the universe, the one god which is not love, but change itself.

We can change if only accept the change that is our lives.

The Birth of Dreams



Since the dream has died, it is time to make new ones and so it is time to brew beer.  Beer is one of the few possible proofs that there is a god in the universe, but brewing your own beer reminds you that really god is not needed; just clean water.  And so new dreams start again, this time with the help of some well water, yeast, malt and hops.

Brewing beer gives us a break from building other things and gives us a chance to remember what counts: time.  This because brewing beer takes time.  If you are not cleaning, then you are waiting.  The smells waft from the kettles and there is time to dream new dreams.


I have a dream


To dream of making a dream a reality takes foresight, hope, imagination and a vision. To make a dream a reality takes those things, but it also takes a hefty dose of courage, hard work, money, and willingness to give up comfort in most of its forms. This is why it is easy to dream, but difficult to live your dream.

Be ready to smile when your friends, your family, and most others remind you of how many ways there are to fail, how good you have it and how you should “give it a second thought…” or how it is simply impossible. These will be bumps in the road in comparison to the endless work and hours, to the face of poverty staring in your window, the relentless pummeling that you will take physically and mentally. Make no mistake, to make a dream a reality you must give up the dream…but only almost.

I say “almost” because dreams are not made to be broken. Live your dream!

If you have a dream first make your mind up to do it. Secondly…do it. It really is that simple. Afterwards, don’t look back.


To have regrets is easy: take the path most travelled, bury your hope and your imagination; your vision. To make your regret a reality takes those things, but it also takes a hefty dose of fear, making decisions based upon what others advise, and willingness to give up your dreams. This is why it is easy to forget your dreams, but difficult to live with that decision.

Be ready to smile when your friends, your family, and most others remind you that you could of, or should have if only had. These will be bumps in the road in comparison to the endless days, months and years of remembering the dream, the face of comfort staring in your window, and the relentless pummeling that you will take as you wake up at night and realize that they were right. Make no mistake, to make your regrets a reality you must give up the dream…completely.

I say “completely” because regret lasts a lifetime.

If you have regrets, first recognize them as regrets. Secondly…change them. It really is that simple. Afterwards, don’t look back.

Two Sides of a Coin

two sides of a coin

Money is typically defined as anything of value. Money is often used as a means of barter, trade, and for transactions. And so money is not often valued for itself, but for what it can get us. Money, then is useful, but not necessarily valuable. In thinking of this, I realize that there are two sides to every coin.

It seems that much time and effort is spent in trying to become rich in order to buy things that are not necessarily valuable or useful using something that is not necessarily valuable. This seems strangely  a waste (rather than a valuable)  of our time. However, most of us live our lives by this axiom; most of us.

The recent upswing in locavore, organic, self-sustainability and other descriptive ways of living seem to be motivated not by money, but by something far more valuable: happiness. The motivation to turn away from money to “do what’s right”, or to “be more healthy” seems to have its basis in virtue.

Virtue is a philosophical ethical theory founded upon a moral education, which is considered by Aristotle as a good in itself because such a life leads to a higher quality of happiness. Without getting into the philosophy too much, the value of living such a life is found in actually living that life. Money is not valuable in itself. However, living a life of virtue is.

So, one side of the coin seems to be the motivation to be happy, and the other side of the coin seems to be the kind of happiness that matters: the quality of our happiness. Money seems to abide by one side of the coin, but not to the other. Don’t get me wrong; I think that money is a viable tool, a useful means to live comfortably and securely. But I’m not sure that it is the best means.

The current movement towards more viable and sustainable agricultural methods and cultural beliefs is certain to lead to jobs and opportunities that are yet to be seen. But these movements do seem to be good in themselves as well.  We have to be careful. On the one hand, money is a motivator for our dreams, but on the other hand money often undermines the dream itself. Perhaps what we must always remember is that what is useful is often not what is valuable, and what is valuable is not always useful: there are always two sides to a coin.

Head or Heart

head or heart

This is part of an old saying: follow your heart. But when I think to follow my heart, my assumption is that in doing so things will somehow “magically” work out. I do realize, perhaps because I listen to my head, that following my heart means a lot of work, a lot of compromise, and as I am beginning to understand: a lot of courage.

Let’s be realistic! Dreams are often best left as such. But following your heart often demands that we forget that fact. In fact, it is often best to do so. I’m sure that many people have realized that much too late. When the dream becomes a nightmare of endless nights, lack of money, and no way out it becomes difficult to remember that it was the heart that got us into the pickle in the first place.

But like love, the heart is a fickle thing, and to truly follow the heart, to make that dream a reality (nightmares and all), often means to follow many paths least followed; often for good reason. When I think of following my heart I always remember that we wake from our dreams and that nightmares end. I remember that money is often found at the end of rainbows.

Perhaps the head or heart question, when I ask it, is already answered and I simply don’t realize it? It’s good to remember that unlike the head, the heart does not ask for permission, directions, or if a dream makes sense or not. The heart is the two year old that we all have inside of us that follows the floating paper in a brisk wind, stumbling down the road with only one goal in mind.

So, the question: do I follow my heart or do I follow my head is in fact a meaningless question because as soon as it has been asked, it has been answered. To not realize this little fact is to live with regret, but only the heart realizes this.

The Silence of Stones


Stones do not wrinkle up and wither away, blossoming into a new flower on the stalk;

Never ending- end.

We stand empty-eyed and stunned.

We cannot see the stones in our life; they seem to disappear over a flat horizon, but reappear.

There are no trees or bushes that have taken root beside the long length of life.

The land is flat, and only old wise rocks lay where life has left them.

They lay there without question, silent.

Silent and wise they rest while we stand open-mouthed and frightened.

They do not move

As we pass them and wonder at their quiet wisdom.

Looking at the many stones

Sitting and sinking into the ground;

We don’t understand a goddamned thing.