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Farming is a Community Affair: No Farm is an Island

I want to tell you a story, a true story that has taken place here on a Maine farm. It happened this past spring and early summer. This is a farm that raises heritage goats and sheep on several large pastures, most often quite remote from their farmhouse, and is surrounded by undeveloped land of sprawling forests.


Heritage sheep.

But like any other farm or ranch, it is not an island. Whatever happens around their farm can have serious affects on their farm. And so it was for them. In the state of Maine our coyotes are heavily persecuted since they are given no protection by our laws.  And what happens to our coyotes, affects our farmers deeply.

In the spring of this year, individuals killed many of the coyotes in the town near this farm. As we know from our science, this killing causes chaos in their highly complex social structure. The only way I can describe what they experience is to compare it to the experience of the many people who are now fleeing the violence in their own countries.


Photo by Steve Stockton

When coyotes flee from the violence, they leave their very familiar territory and travel into areas that are unfamiliar to them, where they cannot as easily find their wild prey. As a result, they are starving, not just starving, but starving to death. In the case of very young coyotes, who are not even a year old, and whose parents have been killed, their situation is even more dire. They have not had the opportunity to learn from their parents to be effective hunters of their wild prey, and so starvation is their constant companion as they flee.

In time these fleeing coyotes came upon this farm where they observed sheep and goats, not protected by guardian animals or electric fencing. For these coyotes, it was either kill and eat the sheep, or die of starvation. And so it happened. When coyotes are faced by starvation they are forced to eat food they never have eaten before. And we as humans have done the same in dire circumstances, as we all know.

It is so interesting that this farmer understood the whole scenario. They understood that the killing of the coyotes caused the death of their sheep. Their farm is not an island. The behavior of those who cause such chaos and suffering in the lives of our fellow carnivores also cause so much tragedy and economic loss for our farmers. This farmer now knows that guardian animals and electric fencing is a must for them. They know that as long as this human behavior toward our coyotes continues, these precautions have become a necessity.

No farm is an island. Our farms are a community affair.

So how do we change this scenario?

Do we begin by teaching each other in our communities?

Do we begin by speaking up for the wild beings that live in our communities?

Geri Vistein is a conservation biologist whose work focuses on carnivores and our human relationships with them. In addition to research and collaboration with fellow biologists in Maine, she educates communities about carnivores and how we can coexist with them. You can find her at Coyote Lives in Maine, and read all of Geri's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Preparedness for Black Bear Encounters on Remote Properties

Remote Homestead Bear Proofing

It was a starry night in chilly Bethlehem, N.H. I had just finished plumbing the water supply lines in our off-grid cabin and decided it was time for a well deserved dinner from our local market. They had recently started making their own bread, and visions of grinder sandwiches danced in my head.

I couldn't wait to fire the wood stove in the tiny house, kick back with a few ambient air temperature brews, and put on my stylish flannel PJ's.

As I drove down the "road" to the cabin, I noticed a pair of eyes in the distance. Was it our resident fox? Our eyes locked and as I drove closer it was clear: A large black bear was just chillin' there, eating the wild blackberries on the side of the road like it was his job

I quickly drew from my outdoor professional database with wildlife, and mashed my gas pedal to the floor. Our resident bear "Mr. Fluffers" quickly turned and barreled through the brush.

With a 300-pound+ wild bear snooping around for food, you start to wonder if the ¼-inch plywood door you installed on your tiny house is bear proof. The answer to that question is a firm “no”.

If Mr. Fluffers decided he wanted to come in for a snuggle, I doubt a firm "Bad Mr. Fluffers" would sway him away. In all reality, Mr. Fluffers the black bear is a like a honey badger — he does what he wants.

I like to think that someday Mr. Fluffers could come over for a late night movie with his pic-a-nic basket and have a few cold beers. After a little while, he would invite over his bear cousin, Terry, and the party would really get started. We would all share some marmalade sandwiches and discuss the intricacies of the latest Sundance nominee.

What to Do When You Encounter a Black Bear

The harsh reality is Mr. Fluffers the bear is a dangerous, wild animal. So what do you do if you run into a black bear in the brush?

A post from The New York Department of Environmental Conservation says that with a black bear, you stand your ground. Don't run or climb a tree. If they charge you, speak in low tone, be assertive, and don't beat feet. Make yourself seem big by raising your hands, and slowly back away.

As crazy as it sounds to not run from a 300-pound wild animal, the pros say that running could make you a bear snack. Those suckers can run 30 miles per hour and climb way better than all but the best of the Granite State's rock climbers.

If your sweet new bear-avoidance skills don't work, fight back. Strike them in the head and nose with whatever you can. The good news is very few bear encounters lead to death.

Be Prepared for Predators

So now what should you do?  Get yourself some bear spray, and educate yourself in bear country. Word on the street (and actual data) is that bear spray is a better defense then the finest 12 gauge, double-barreled shotgun.

An article in the March 2012 issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management by Tom Smith and Stephen Herroro, "Efficiency of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska", will give you a good idea on the benefits of bear spray vs. firearms.

I must say that after locking eyes with this majestic animal, the mere thought of gunning him and his pic-a-nic basket down, would just break my off-grid heart. Learning how to live with bears is something all mountain folks will need to do. So take the time to learn about wildlife in your area — it just may save both you, and Mr. Fluffer’s, lives.

Jamie Leahy is founding mountaineer at North Ridge Mountain Guides. After a few years commuting to the White Mountains, Jamie and his girlfriend, Becky, decided it was time to move to New Hampshire’s White Mountains and follow their dream of building an off-grid, mini-homestead debt free. Follow him at White Mountains Off-Grid.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Planting Living Fencerows for 'Linear Forest' Habitat

black raspberry fencerow

The last ice age left our part of Ohio flat and covered with beautiful topsoil. In the last few decades, this combination has resulted in individual farmers planting thousands of acres with ever-larger farm equipment. Decades ago our rural county was known for having many pheasants and songbirds, but now wildlife is as scarce as the remaining fencerows which previously provided habitat. Fences and their greenery have been removed to make room for maneuvering huge farm equipment.

Farmers actually consider themselves “bad farmers” if there are still “messy” fencerows on their land. There are immense consequences to losing these fencerows - to soil, water, crops and wildlife.

Fencerows and hedgerows were ubiquitous when farm equipment was small. They are still common where terrain is hilly and fields remain small. Fencerows were originally constructed to contain livestock or demark property boundaries. Hedgerows, which lack man-made fences, served similar purposes while being made up of shrubs and trees. As these living boundaries disappear, we become aware of the many other purposes they served.

Benefits of Fencerows for Habitat and Erosion Control

Fencerows provide wildlife with shelter and food as well as a corridor for travel. Diverse species of animals assist farmers with a degree of insect control that rivals today’s insecticides. A great variety of plants are fostered that lure and support pollinators.

Fencerows and hedgerows control erosion which helps prevent loss of topsoil and pollution of streams. On our farm, a ten foot-wide fencerow around the meadow also provides shade and a windbreak for the cows.

How We Created a Living Fencerow

This wide fencerow was created when my husband wanted to improve the deteriorating fence around our 10-acre pasture. By leaving the old fence standing and constructing a new fence further into the meadow, he saved work and also created habitat for other species. We’ve planted a variety of trees between these fences and call this 10-foot wide strip a “linear forest.”

Tom Shaw and living fence in cows meadow

Plant a Variety of Trees for Good Habitat

It was 11 years ago that we planted this linear forest with seedlings from our local County Extension Office. They are now ten to twenty feet tall and include wild cherry, crabapple, oak, white pine, persimmon, blue spruce, white ash, hawthorn and butternut. Birds and mammals have also contributed more variety such as black walnut, hickory and hazelnut. The fencerow and its underlying shrubbery now extend from one neighbor’s woods to the neighboring field on the other side of our meadow.

Besides the many advantages this fencerow provides to wildlife, the soil and our cows, it also delights us to have many other species join us on our farm. Although the number of songbirds has diminished in recent decades, we’ve seen or heard bobwhite, brown thrashers, cardinals, goldfinch, mocking birds, cat birds, bobolinks, and pheasants. It’s fun to see a box turtle emerge from the undergrowth and discover rabbit and vole tracks in the snow. We might not cherish the voles and mice if we didn’t also see hawks and owls that depend on these rodents for their food.

It’s true that our Dorking chickens and Narragansett turkeys don’t benefit from having more fox, mink, raccoon and opossums in the neighborhood. But we tuck the poultry in each evening and feel good about having habitat that makes it possible for other species to survive.

Living Fencerows Benefit Orchards and Gardens

Finally, our orchard and garden also benefit from having hazelnuts and blackberries along their fences. These plants provide habitat for songbirds which gather hundreds of harmful caterpillars to feed their offspring. That sure beats poisoning our food with insecticides and also provides us with close contact with these beautiful birds. I enjoyed being scolded by brown thrasher fledglings when picking blackberries last summer, and don’t mind sharing some fruit for the pleasure of their company.

We may not be able to influence large farmers to return to the benefits of fencerows and hedgerows, but that doesn’t stop each of us from planting along our backyard fences, pastures or fields. The surrounding soil, water, wildlife and we humans all benefit when we do.

Mary Lou Shaw is a retired family practitioner who emphasized preventive medicine, is now homesteading with her husband in Ohio. Besides growing their own food, the pair help preserve genetics and knowledge needed by others to foster rare breeds. They have a large garden and orchard, Dorking chickens, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted cows and bees. Buy Mary Lou’s book, Growing Local Food, through Carlisle Press at 800-852-4482. Read all of Mary Lou's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Leadership Qualities I Learned from an Alpha Wolf


My wife and I live in the mountains of southern Colorado with our four German Shepherd Dogs. We have numerous wild animals visit almost on a daily basis and occasionally a wolf will be seen or the tracks from one. These animals are allusive and not often seen but we happen to love wolves and are delighted when we have an occasional visit.

We have a wolf refuge about an hours drive from us where wolves are kept in natural habitat and they are the purpose of this post. We have visited the wolf refuge many times over the 20 years we have lived here in our mountain hideaway. On one visit we made the decision to sponsor a wolf named Lucas.

Wolves Teach Us Lessons

This post is about Lucas and what he taught us. How do I start describing Lucas? I’m sure if the curator of the refuge reads this, he could amplify anything I write, but Lucas was a wild-looking black wolf who taught us a valuable lesson. Lucas had a pack within the refuge and he was the undisputed, unanimous alpha male. Some wolf packs will have young challengers who try to depose the alpha male and will fight for the position of alpha, especially when the alpha gets older and may be weaker or more vulnerable than the young upstart.

Maintaining Alpha Position

Lucas was the alpha of his pack until the day he died from old age. Lucas was unique in that he was so respected and esteemed by the pack that no one even considered challenging him. He was their choice, because he had a unique ability to love each member of the pack so deeply that none of the others could love as thoroughly as Lucas.

He was not the alpha because he was the biggest and strongest (although he was both) but due to his unfathomable love for the pack. When we would visit the refuge, we would go see Lucas and it was obvious he held an esteemed place within the pack.

Two Ways to Lead

Lucas with his special ability was the leader of the pack due to his deep and complete love for each pack member and none of the potential challengers could love like Lucas, so he was never challenged for leadership over the pack. What I specifically learned from Lucas is what a leader should be like.

You can lead by dominance and force but when the leader gets older/weaker the challenge will certainly be there. When you lead because you deeply love each of your pack members, you hold your leadership position by consensus of the pack. Lucas would defend any member of the pack against outsiders with every ounce of his great strength and would die before he would let any of his pack be attacked. Lucas demonstrated the finest attributes of a true leader.

Leadership of a Domestic Pack

Our pack of four German Shepherd Dogs know they are loved by both my wife and myself. We show our love for them every day numerous times. In a touch or kind word, we show them repeatedly how much they are loved. We pay close attention to their needs and happiness. There is no real hierarchy within our pack except two alphas — my wife and myself.

When people meet our pack, they inevitably comment how well behaved and friendly they are. That is true, but if someone would make any advance against us, they would likely see a different pack with the alphas leading the charge.

Learning from Various Sources

Lucas taught me that to be a true pack leader you need to love each member of the pack as if they were the only one. Our pack looks to us for guidance and direction because of what Lucas taught us many years ago. Lucas was a special wolf that had a powerful lesson to bestow on anyone who would take the time to learn. We can learn from numerous sources in life but if we are to really benefit from these valuable life lessons we need more examples like Lucas. We humans are not so superior that we can’t or shouldn’t learn valuable lessons from other species within the animal kingdom especially when the lesson is universal. Lucas knew what it took to be an outstanding leader and maintain peace and tranquility within the pack.

Leading by Genuine Love for Those Being Led

We have applied Lucas’ principal of leadership in our own pack and it works perfectly. On the rare occasion that we have to raise our voice to one of our pack members, it has instant results. The pack member realizes that their behavior is not acceptable and they make a quick correction. Even when correction is needed, they are never made to feel they are not a part of the pack and our pack maintains its stability with each member feeling important and loved.

Canines are creatures of habit and we make every effort to maintain that habit so they have consistency within the pack. I do not know about other breeds, but with German Shepherds, the margin of error can be very narrow. Because the breed has such high intelligence and excellent memories, it is best to be sincere with your love and never send mixed messages. They will pick up on insincerity or weakness quickly.

Two Choices: Love or Dominance

Leading by might and power or dominance is possible but when any weakness is displayed the leadership role will be challenged. As for us and our pack we will be forever grateful to Lucas the wolf for his revealing to us true leadership qualities. Being in charge of four large dogs who by nature have an independent character plus living in a small cabin works very successfully by following Lucas’ leadership lesson. Leadership like Lucas demonstrated makes being a pack leader far easier and makes for a more calm and well balanced pack. Perhaps if we humans applied Lucas’ principals we wouldn’t have all the rancor that we seem to be bombarded with on a daily basis.

Lucas the wolf had something to teach us and we can attest that the application of his principal has worked for us. Maybe it will work for others also. Thank you, Lucas, and RIP because your job was well done.

Photo of the Lucas look alike courtesy of  Google Images. 

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lives in the Sangre de Christo mountains of southern Colorado, go to their blog They live in a small cabin with their four German Shepherd Dogs at 9,800 feet elevation. Read all of Bruce's remote-living blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Changing the World with Effective Communication


What kind of world do we want to leave to our kids? Where will all of our plastic and styrofoam be in 20 years? Will we be strong and healthy, or chemically dependent? Will our food be nutrient dense and abundant, or packed into monocultures on shrinking farmlands?

It can be hard to see it this way, but as a whole, I’m a firm believer that the human race always has the best of intentions. We take calculated risks, we weigh the pros and the cons, and we do what makes sense at the time.

However, this short-sighted thinking has landed us in some hot water, as the ecological impacts of our excessive lifestyles have become impossible to ignore. More and more of us are looking at the foods we eat, the products we buy, and we’re asking ourselves, are we part of the problem?

It’s a humbling thought, the kind that makes you want to stare at your feet in shame, that you could be a part of those floating islands of trash in the Pacific, or the once fertile lands that have been hammered flat and barren by years of industrial agriculture, and are quite literally becoming dust in the wind.

We’re only human, but in this, the greatest age of information mankind has ever seen, word travels at the speed of a click, and more and more people are turning off the drone and humdrum of everyday life to stop and examine their lifestyles. It’s happening, and we’re all part of it.

As someone who works on the (insert ominous music) marketing side of things in this niche, though, I can tell you that there is something of a tug of war between folks that want to live a better life, and people that would rather not change. Something happens when people get and share information, and if it’s not what someone else wants to hear — it can stunt education, rather than enlighten people.

All too often, there seems to be this sort of social issue occurring, wherein the people that do things like plant dandelion seeds and make their own clothes look like crazies to what we’ll refer to as "mainstream society" (though I use the term very loosely). There’s this social disconnect between what the norm is, and what someone else is doing, and for many, it becomes hard to even take their point of view seriously.

I mean look at this chick - dirt under her nails, no bra, a baby on her back — what a weirdo. (And yes, that weirdo is definitely me).

The Wheaton Eco Scale

My boss over at dreamt up this idea for what he calls “The Wheaton Eco Scale”, a successive model in which the higher the level, the more conscious someone’s efforts are to be kinder to the Earth, but the crazier they look to the people back at the other end of the scale.

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So how we do change this? How do we effectively communicate with each other, and with people that are just at different points in their lives, without coming across as having a screw loose?

There is no perfect answer, but the first step is just acknowledging that perception is everything. To some of us, it may seem like people on level one are uneducated or don’t care about the environment, when it could be a simple matter of them just having never considered or questioned the way they do things.

I know it took me a long time to look at something as simple as the stuffed animals I was buying for my son, and when I realized what a horribly wasteful production process went into creating those loveable creatures, I finally dialed it back.

Education as a Journey of Experience

But the point is, I had to come to that conclusion on my own, because if someone had attacked me and called me a thoughtless idiot for buying those things, I would have dug in my heels even harder, and dismissed their claims as a result of them being psychotic jerks.

Yea, I’m just that stubborn. And as it turns out, so are a lot of people.

If we explain our thought process and don't dismiss people as just being inherently thoughtless, maybe we won't get dismissed as being completely nuts.

So if this cute, cartoon scale that Paul put together tells us anything, it’s that this life we lead is a journey in education and experience, and we’re not all going to be at the same level, and need to understand that communicating with people in this space is going to take being tactful and respectful, and understanding how they might be perceiving us.

You can check out the full image of The Wheaton Eco Scale here.

Have you ever had a difficult discussion with someone that resulted in them thinking you were super crazy? What did you learn about communication?

Destiny Hagest is personal assistant to Paul Wheaton, founder of and, as well as a content curator and freelance writer. You can catch Destiny hanging out in the forums at quite regularly, and visit her LinkedIn profile, and follow her on Twitter. Read all of Destiny's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to our Terms of Agreement and to follow blogging best practices. They are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

Where Have All the Wolves, Cougars, and Wild Horses Gone?

There is an old tale that has been passed down about a frog, who was living in the bottom of a dark well. One day, a toad came and peered down at the frog. He asked, “Why do you remain down there in the darkness? If you climb out of the well, there is a whole new world out here for you to see?”

So the frog did so, and discovered what he had been missing in the darkness.*


It keeps coming up — the tragic plight of our nation’s wild mustangs and burros.

Plight of Wild Mustangs and Keystone Predators

These icons of our nation’s history endure the ongoing cruel roundups by helicopters, forcing them out of their remote refuges and into holding pens. They are no longer free. At this time there are 45,000 of these wild animals being held by the the Bureau of Land Management. Many die along the way, small foals trampled and adults collapse in exhaustion and terror.

Why? It is the story of the frog in the well. As a society we are acting like that frog — just comfortable remaining in the darkness. Not wanting to find another way to share the land with those who were here before us, and have a right to be here for sure; preferring to grab up all the land for oneself, even the land that belongs to all Americans — public land. Our landscape is covered with a monoculture of cows, who are displacing our magnificent wildlife.

I remember when I was participating in research in the Mission Mountains of Montana, my fellow researcher and I came upon a whole herd of cows high up in these mountains, in a very remote area. There were no people around, only the cows, and it seemed so, so unnatural a situation. Even in this remote wild area of a National Forest — they were there. When one experiences this personally, there is a sense of the “unnaturalness” of this situation. There were no wildlife to be seen anywhere.

So why is this government agency rounding up our wild mustangs and burros? First of all, a trust has been broken with these wild beings. They have been pushed to remote areas far too small for them to graze environmentally. The cows have taken their land.

So does rounding them up and keeping them in pens, costing the taxpayer millions upon millions of dollars a year fix their “overpopulation” in shrunken habitats? No!

Will planning all forms of inhumane birth control efforts fix it? No!

Conservation Biology for an Informed 'Land Mechanism'

In my work as a biologist, it is my goal that I never focus on the problem, but instead move on to seek viable solutions and keep my eyes on how we want it to be, not how it is.

So now back to our frog’s story. We need to climb out of the darkness into the light. The words of Aldo Leopold are so appropriate here: “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: What good is it? If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.”


Photo by Tambako


Photo by Ronnie MacDonald  

And that land mechanism Leopold spoke of is all about the predator-prey relationship. All these places where the wild Mustangs live, wolves are not being allowed to inhabit, and cougars are being aggressively killed.  So if you were a wild Mustang, what would you choose — living with your predators, or being violently chased into miserable holding pens, your freedom taken from you, your families destroyed, and an unknown and painful future at the hands of humans?

Let us come out of the well! Let the wolves, cougars and wild Mustangs find that balance together. Let us allow the wisdom of Nature to create the balance, but also let us share the land.

Is it really all that hard to climb out of the well?

*You can see the frog story told in the wonderful film Mao’s Last Dancer.

Geri Vistein is a conservation biologist whose work focuses on carnivores and our human relationships with them. In addition to research and collaboration with fellow biologists in Maine, she educates communities about carnivores and how we can coexist with them. You can find her at Coyote Lives in Maine, and read all of Geri's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

'Only the Rocks Live Forever': Exploring Healing Energy in Stones and Crystals


One of my favorite lines from the James Michener mini-series Centennial is one he attributes to the Arapahoe. The line serves to segue from their native tongue to English during the first episode which shares the title, “Only the rocks live forever.” That idea has always brought me a peaceful feeling—that there are stalwart witnesses to time passing, though the rest of us are temporary blips in comparison. I like the idea that others feel life in the rocks.

With this in mind, it was a natural fit for me when our family dog passed away recently to choose to honor her with a medicine wheel garden atop her resting place. A good friend let me scavenge the rock pile on her farm for the anchor rocks and those lining the beds which I’ll be planting in the springtime. The large rock at the bottom of each photo in the collection above marks north. I find myself drawn to this new garden each day and love that it feels like a new reflection of my Sacred Fire Circle.

Perceiving Healing Energy in Rocks

My love affair with rocks began during childhood searches for agates and wishing rocks along the beaches and riverbanks in the Pacific Northwest. As I aged, I added perfect skipping stones to my quest. Each find brought a certain amount of glee and victory with it since no two were alike and most were just elusive enough to make each hunt a challenge.

Fast forward to a time in my mid-forties. I was visiting a dear friend who lives on a mountaintop in northern Georgia. She has a lovely three acres of wooded paradise through which she has cleared a lovely walking path. I was enjoying an afternoon stroll when a small rock gently accosted me. At first, I kept walking. But the darn thing would not stop calling to me so I went back and picked it up.

Imagine my surprise when I felt a light buzzing energy emanating from the stone. I’d never felt such a thing. If it hadn’t been so persistent and accompanied by such a strong intuitive pull, I likely would have assumed I was imagining things.

I took my find into my friend’s house and asked her if I might take it home with me. I was so intrigued that I wanted to find out more and was curious to see how long the buzzing would last. Thankfully, she acquiesced and I still have that stone today. It continues to speak to me at the same frequency. I credit this small piece of rock with helping awaken me to the subtle energies that come from seemingly unlikely sources surrounding us.

Stones and Crystals for Positive Energy

Since that day, I’ve visited many stores that sell rocks, stones, and minerals and have developed a very specific routine that I go through when shopping. I discovered that by listening to my intuition with my eyes closed I could feel the energy more fully. I found very quickly that the stones I am visually attracted to rarely vibrate in a way that I physically feel their energy.


I find great beauty in visually attractive crystals and stones. Their eye candy can bring joy and a peaceful place to meditate. However, this is a different realm from the healing and support I feel from those that speak to me with their subtle energies. A small amount of research on the internet yields a plethora of information about the supposed qualities of different stones. For a great many years people have used crystals for all sorts of purposes.

As I mentioned in my post about Healing Dolls, crystals can enhance healing, offer support, and boost good intentions. I recently created a healing doll that combined a variety of small crystal chips. The overall energy effect of the doll felt expansive and grounding. Because each combination of chips is uniquely chosen for a specific person, the energy every doll gives off is different from the others.

I recently added trees like those pictured above to the choices in my store of goodies. The woman who consigned the expansive healing doll just mentioned added a small rose quartz tree to the mix (see photo below). This will make a lovely little bedside altar for her friend, the lucky recipient.

Using Stones in Energy Work

Beside the crystals I have on the various altars around our home and the pieces I have for inclusion in my arting, I also have a set of stones that I use in my energy work. I set them around the cleansing water that I use to rinse off my hands and arms while working. I also place three quartz crystal points in the water with a bit of purifying salt from an ancient sea bed in Utah. This also serves as a ritual to honor the rocks and crystals for the help they give while I work. If you want to know more about my energy healing, visit this page.

Something I find quite fascinating is that many times I will feel strong energy coming from a rock while other people feel nothing. The same occurs in reverse—they feel something and I don’t feel a thing. This serves to show me that we are tuned into different frequencies with differing needs. It also triggers my curiosity and further understanding of how one person’s reality can differ from another’s. I remember all over again how people can experience the same thing so differently.

Whether or not the attribution in Centennial is accurate, I am happy to have heard the words. Only the rocks live forever is true for me in my beliefs. My heart may break when another animal family member crosses the rainbow bridge, a human family member passes on, or when I see trees ripped apart by shredding winds… but I find solace in the idea that the rocks will continue to take note of all that has passed before them.


Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.