On our urban homestead, we have three laying hens. Over the weekend I spent a couple of hours mucking out their pen. We’ve been using free leaves from the city for their bedding and in return, the hens have given us nearly a half-yard of well-shredded compost material.
Mucking is often considered a tedious, dirty chore. Yet, there is a direct relationship between pen mucking and building healthy soil. The soil in which we grow food and medicine to nourish and heal ourselves. In addition mucking is physical work, a nourishment unto itself.
Compost sifter built from recycled materials. | Rajab/Spring 1438.
If you have ever sifted compost, the finished, fine material is delightful. It contains life-giving nutrients and microorganisms. It nourishes the garden soil, therefore, it nourishes the gardener.
Before sifting, compost is rough uneven material, often called a heap. It contains the past lives of kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, animal bedding, and less frequently, the carcass of a small animal. The heap heats, decomposition begins, and the microorganisms appear. Compost transforms death into life.
Spinach sprouting in seed flat. | Rajab/Spring 1438.
Rajab arriving in early spring gives “Rajab is the month to sow seeds” both metaphorical and literal meaning. Rajab invites to spiritual renewal and spring a season of renewing. In this month, in this season, what will we renew? How will we bring what is in our heart to life?
From seed to lettuce. | Rajab/Spring 1438
In early spring, light and warmth gradually increase. The conditions for seed to germinate slowly become present. Soil temperature and moisture, water, humidity, and unseen forces, transform seed to seedling. In Rajab, light and warmth increase with fasting, night vigil, and supplication. The conditions for spiritual seed to germinate become present. Once a seedling emerges it’s care continues. There are many obstacles to survival. Early spring can bring a late frost no seedling would survive. Seedlings need to be protected from frost, wind, and creatures. Spiritual seedlings need similar care and protection.