Sunday, June 20, 2021

Favorites - Postal History Sunday

Welcome to this week's edition of Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog - the place where I get to share something I enjoy and we all have a chance to learn something new!

Before I start with this week's topic, take your troubles and worries and put them in a file folder.  Or, if you do things all electronic now, put them in an electronic folder.  Name that folder "Not Today" and put it in a random drawer or directory.  If you are like me, you have so many files and folders that you may never see this particular one ever again!

If that doesn't work, put the folder some place "special" so you can remember where you can find it in the future.  If you are like me (and so many other people in the world) you won't be able to find that "special" place when you go looking for it.


I have had people ask me what my favorite postal history items are in my collection more than once, so I thought those who read the blog might enjoy it if I showed three favorite items and give my reasons for selecting them as favorites here.

But, first, you need to understand that my favorites change over time as I discover new things.  And second, you probably won't be surprised if I tell you I have a LOT of favorites.  You can take a guess that if I feature a particular item and give it its own blog post, it may well be a favorite of mine (or maybe it became one as I gave it the attention a blog requires).

So, here is the rules of the game:

  1. I can't select a cover that has been featured in its own Postal History Sunday blog.  So, even though the item in this blog post is one of my all-time favorites, I can't show it this time (you'll just have to visit the blog post I linked in).
  2. I can't pick more than one item with a 24 cent 1861 stamp on it.  Again, even though this has been the focus of my collecting for a long time, I only get ONE slot.  This is made easier by the fact that I do have a number of blog posts that show other favorites with 24 cent stamps on them (such as this one). 
  3. I can't have the same reasons for picking each of the three items I choose for this article.

Let's Get the 24-cent Item Out of the Way

I actually surprised myself a little with this selection because I do have many others that would make me very happy to show you in this slot.

This is an 1865 letter mailed from New Orleans (USA) to Leipzig, Saxony.  At the time, Saxony was part of the German-Austrian Postal Union (GAPU) and it qualified for the 28 cent rate per 1/2 ounce via the Prussian mail services.  It actually has 30 cents in postage applied (one 24-cent stamp and two 3-cent stamps), so it qualifies as an over-payment for the rate required.  

So, why is this one a favorite of mine?

Some of the basics that make a cover attractive to me are here.  The markings are clear.  The hand-writing is legible and, actually, pretty nice.  The overall condition is actually quite good for an item that is 150 years old.  But, I have other items that fit the same criteria.  There must be something more.

First, you won't be surprised if I tell you I like this because the item has multiple story lines I could choose to dig into.  For example, if you look at the top, you will see the words "per Fung Shuey x first Mail."  This docket was intended to instruct the post office that the sender wanted this letter to go on this particular ship as it left New Orleans for New York City.   Most examples in my collection show dockets identifying the ship that would carry the letter across the Atlantic.  It isn't often that I can catch an instruction for steamship carriage for a different leg of the voyage.  

The Fung Shuey was part of the Cromwell Line of steamers.  Records I have found are unclear as to whether this ship was chartered from another company or owned by the Cromwell Line.  However, one source indicates that it was chartered starting in 1865.  With a January trip, it is actually possible that this would have been taken on the first voyage the Fung Shuey took on behalf of Cromwell - wouldn't that be neat?

The New York Times on May 19, 1865 summarizes some of the available passenger lines to the Southern states and includes the following paragraph:

The Cromwell line of steamers for New-Orleans direct have been running to that port ever since 1862, and consists of four screw steamers, the Star of the Union, George Washington, George Cromwell and the Fung Shuey. These steamers leave Pier No. 9, North River, every Saturday, at 3 P.M., and are thoroughly adapted to the New-Orleans trade, invariably passing the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi without detention. The accommodations for passengers on this line are unsurpassed; fare to New-Orleans, $60. H.B. CROMWELL & CO., No. 86 West-street, are the agents.

Another newspaper clipping from the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct 9, 1866 illustrates the other end of a journey from New York City.

If we put two and two together, we can guess that travel was typically about six to seven days between locations.  The letter in my collection backs that up with a January 21 departure from New Orleans and then a departure to cross the Atlantic from New York City on January 28.

The other reason for liking this one so much?

There happens to be some postal historian history attached to this item as well.  It should be no surprise to you that I am only the latest caretaker of this artifact of history.  This item has connections to other postal historians that also favored material with the 24 cent stamp who have gone before me.  As I began the process of learning about my area of interest, I came across the names of Leon Hyzen, Clifford Friend, and William Herzog.  It was records of their collections that informed me as to what might be available in the world that I could study and collect.

This particular item was part of the well-respected Leon Hyzen collection and was listed in an article in 1982 as being a rare shade of the 24-cent stamp by Herzog.  While the status of this item being a rare shade can be debated*, it is the connection to these individuals that makes this item special for me.

* more in a future blog

There you have it.  It's a favorite because it looks nice, it illustrates an aspect of its travel that I don't see with most items in my collection and it makes a connection to others from a prior generation who liked some of the same things I do. 

It's Just Pretty (to a Postal Historian)

Sometimes an item becomes a favorite because I just like looking at it.

This item was mailed by being folded over and then having a wrapper band placed around it.  The postage was then used to hold the folded content in place within the wrapper.

This is, again, a piece of mail from 1865 - which just happens to be a coincidence.  And it illustrates a local letter that was also sent as a "registered" piece of mail (note the Charge marking).

The condition of this item is excellent and it is a favorite of mine, in part, because it looks different from much of the rest of my collection.  How often does one find a rose-colored wrapper band holding an official notice?  Not often.  

The thing is - the simple use of the stamps to help hold the wrapper and content together certainly invited the recipient to tear things apart to read what was there.  Either they did not bother, or, they took great care as they gently unfolded it (as I did to scan the insides) and then refolded it. 

Since I collect paper items from a time where colored paper was very much an exception, getting a splash of something different attracts the eye and makes it hard to forget this item.  But, looks aside, there is also a fair amount of digging I can do as I learn the stories that surround this piece of postal history.  I haven't done that digging yet.  Once I do, I doubt it will become any less of a favorite.

Puzzles are of Interest

The third favorite item I selected for today is one I enjoy because it masquerades as one thing, a fairly astute postal history dealer recognized it as another thing - and it turns out that neither of these descriptions tell the whole truth.

The busy looking envelope shown above has a 1 penny red stamp from Great Britain and was mailed in 1859.  The penny red would be the stamp used for all of the regular mail within the United Kingdom.  So, if you see that stamp, all by itself, on an envelope or folded letter AND you are a postal historian, you tend to assume it is a typical (and common) letter mailed from one location in the United Kingdom to another.

And - oddly enough it IS that.  Sort of.  Look just to the left of the stamp and you will see a round marking that reads London S JA 18 59.

You see, the item was mailed from London on January 18, 1859 and it was received in Leamington on January 19.  The penny red stamp was placed on it to pay for that mailing service and it was accepted and delivered as it should have been.

The thing about it is...  that is not the beginning of the story.

Here is what the person who sold me the cover noticed:

The conclusion they reached was that this item was mailed from Hamburg and the postage was paid in cash, not in stamps.  Once this letter reached London, the person it was mailed to was at a new location.  So, the people at the old location put a 1 penny red stamp on it to mail it to that person at their Leamington address.

Once again, this is true.  But, it is ALSO not the beginning of the story.

I'd already seen one clue that there was more to this story, but we'll get back to that.  Instead, let's look at the back of the envelope.

The lower left marking reads KDOPA Hamburg with a date of 1-16 (January 16).  The "KDOPA" references the Danish post office in Hamburg.  You see, the free city-state of Hamburg hosted post offices for many countries within its borders.  This tells me that the letter probably did NOT originate in Hamburg, but that it either started in or went through Denmark or it was carried on a Danish ship.  Hmmmm.

Then, I noticed the marking at the top left that reads Christiansand January 13 (the date is very hard to figure out).  This city is a southern port city in Norway.  That means the letter may have started out in Norway.  Not Hamburg.  Not Denmark.  Double Hmmmmm.

Which brings me back to this:

Some of you may have noticed there is a second marking by the London marking.  This one reads Svinesund and I think it may read January 12.  Below is a quick snapshot from Google maps.  The red dot is where Svinesund is located, on the border of Norway and Sweden.

Svinesund is a body of water known as a sound.  The sound separates the town of Halden in Norway form the town of Strömstad in Sweden and is part of the Idde Fjord.  At the time this letter was written the Svinesund marking could indicate a letter from either Norway or Sweden, we really can't tell.  But, we can assume it boarded water transport at this time.

Sadly, this is where the trail runs dry.  There are no additional markings that tell me exactly where this letter originated and there are no contents with the envelope to give me further clues.  

What we can say is that this letter likely originated somewhere near Svinesund, it then went to Christiansand in Norway.  From there, it went by water either to some point in Denmark or it went directly to Hamburg on a ship that had a contract with the Danish postal services.  

This piece of a postal history is a gift that keeps on giving.  I think I can still uncover more details about how the item went from Hamburg to London and I have not yet figured out how much was paid in postage (among other things).  It is a favorite because I have made progress on a puzzle that I think others have missed and the roller coaster ride that is my discovery process is ongoing - so there is more fun to come!


And there you have it.  Three favorites - all with different reasons to receive the honor (such as it is).  I did, sort of, break the rule that they couldn't have the some of the same reasons for being a favorite because I learned something new from each of them and that is often good enough reason for me to like a piece of postal history. 

Thank you for joining me once again on a Sunday (or whatever day of the week you happen to visit and read).  I hope you enjoyed your time here and I do hope you learned something new in the process.

Feel free to ask questions, offer suggestions and (of course) make corrections if you see I've interpreted something wrong.  After all, I like learning something new too.

Have a great weekend and a fine week to follow!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Farmer Update

Yes, you read the title right.  This is a farmer update, not a FARM update.

Although, you might be on to something if you figure there can't be an update of the farmers without some farm thrown in.

You may recall that I did have surgery to remove a cancerous kidney on April 28 of this year.  By May 5, I was able to write my first blog update for those who wanted to know how I was doing.  And, on that same day I went out into Eden and pushed a seeder and did a tiny bit of cultivating with a stirrup hoe.  I didn't last too long - about 15 minutes - but that's how long everything seemed to go at that point.  Some of the milestones we celebrated as I recovered were pretty humbling.  

I am now seven and a half weeks post-surgery.  I had my check-in with the surgeon and he pronounced me "still alive," which I considered to be a good thing as I agreed with him.  All formal lifting and activity restrictions are removed at this point, though he did tell me I should "listen to my body" and not get too crazy.

Well darn it.  I was going to hoist a piano over my head and toss it over the Harvestore silo.  

I guess I'll wait until next week to do that.

I think most people who have had a chance to observe would say that this has been a pretty quick recovery.  But, I would like to add that while I have been fairly aggressive with keeping moving, I have been playing the long-game by quickly identifying movements that would require caution.  

Happily, most motions are approaching some level of normalcy.  I can hoist the water and feed buckets and put implements on the tractor.  The biggest difference is that I am still rebuilding strength that was lost when I wasn't doing any of this lifting. 

On other fronts, I still have some trouble with concentration, especially on writing or office tasks.  At this point, I suspect it has more to do with building endurance.  Similar to the loss of some of my muscular strength because I was not using them as I was prior to surgery, I lost some of the 'muscles' for these other tasks.  I just have to build them back up.

I no longer flinch if something touches the incision areas, but I still don't care to have a cat decide she wants to knead directly on them and I don't think about my recovery every other moment of the day as I had been just a few weeks ago.

The biggest difference, however, is the relief I feel that I can pull my own weight at the farm and in our household.  And who knows, maybe I'll be able to offer help to others when they need it too.

It's good to be on the off-ramp from recovery and back onto the highway.

Friday, June 18, 2021


It's been a pretty sparse week for blogs on the Genuine Faux Farm blog and I actually have a pretty good reason for it.

June is filled with days with the most daylight hours.  If you don't need further explanation, then you have either worked on a farm like ours or you have enough familiarity with what we do here that the mention is good enough.

With the long string of hot days with strong sunshine, we've been getting up fairly early to try and do as much of our outdoor work as we can before it gets to the hottest part of the day.  Of course, our poultry like to be let out of their buildings early, it is important to get high tunnels open to prevent them from heating up too much, and if it is a moving day for the broilers (every other day) it is best to get their buildings moved as soon as possible.

On the other end of the day, we need to close everything up.  But, since the days have been warm, the poultry aren't too anxious to go inside.  After all, the temps are finally nice and the brutal sun is not baking them.  They want to hang out until the last drops of daylight fade away.  They don't really care if the farmers are pretty tired and just want to finish chores so they can clean and then catch some sleep.

Mid-June is also the point in time when the turklets make their appearance on the farm (Thursday).  The prelude to their arrival requires a thorough cleaning of the brooder room, feeders and waterers.  We often realize the day before that there are some supplies we need (including turkey starter food -which is much higher in protein).  Or, if we realized we needed these things earlier, we still end up going and getting them in the days just prior to their arrival.

We usually get a call around 6:20 AM from the post office telling us they want the noisy little creatures taken away and getting turkeys situated becomes the top priority..... um... after all of the other top priority things get completed.  Normal June day.

In any event, this has been a bit of a week for us.  Lots of balls in the air and we're trying hard to not let any of them fall.  On top of that, we're starting to figure out adjustments for the lack of rain.  While some folks reported rain in the area, we only had a rumor of it. 

Well, ok, the weather station claims we got .01" of rain.  Our sum total for June so far? 


So, we got half of our rain for the month so far in yesterdays little display.  We saw more lightning than anything from this thing.  Since I am writing this the day prior to its publishing, it is possible we'll get something overnight.  But, I'm not counting on it.

To make our long story less long - we're a little tired right now.  It's a combination of working in heat, which we've noticed has a cumulative effect on us and the confluence of lots of things needing attention at the same time.  But, the biggest issue is just the fact that the days are LONG.

That's ok.  Longer days just mean there is more time to enjoy living.  Maybe not so much time to write a blog - but plenty of time to live.

Have a good day today!

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Benefits of Changing Habitat

This weekend, Tammy and I were pleased to look out the front windows of our house and see a Brown Thrasher hopping around in some of the bushes we have put into the front yard area that sits between our house and the gravel road.

It is entirely possible that the thrasher has a nest in this thicket of Redosier Dogwoods from the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery we put in about six or seven years ago.  After a little taming a year or so ago, it appears to be achieving the multiple purposes we hoped for when we put these bushes in.  Yes, they catch some of the dust.  They also slow the wind down that had often whipped around this corner of the house - causing various problems.  And, the wildlife has apparently discovered this is a pleasant place to be.

We were delighted further when we recognized that we have a pair of Common Yellowthroats that seem to like this little thicket as well.  We can't recall hearing these little birds at our farm until the last four or five years.  It is possible they were here and we just didn't recognize their song.  But, I believe it is more likely that the changing habitat that we offer at our farm has provided them with an opportunity to thrive here.

You see, Redosier Dogwoods (we personally call them Red Twig Dogwoods) are not the most attractive landscaping bushes you could select for a feature by a house.  Maybe if we groomed them more?  But, they are serving the purpose we desire of them right now - and we are thrilled by the role they are playing in making our farm more habitat friendly.

It has taken some time for some of these Yellowthroats to find our farm and to determine it is friendly to them.  But, this should not surprise us.  Nature is constantly changing habitats.  Sometimes with catastrophic events such as a derecho, hurricane or wildfire.  The changes to the landscape often make the area much less amenable to many of the species that had once thrived there.

But, as the area recovers, other species find the new environment to be a good place to do what it is they do.  It takes time, but nature has its ways of healing - ways that can be quite amazing if we take a moment to observe them.

More Habitat Changes at GFF

For those of you who have not been to the farm in a while - or those who have never been on the farm - you have all witnessed the results of a "habitat change" of sorts if you have been reading the blog for the past fourteen months.

You see, I have been thinking (a dangerous pastime you know!).  And, I am realizing that the pandemic has certainly been stressful and limiting to most of us in some fashion or another.  In short, there has been a catastrophic change to our habitat that has enforced change.

Many people who had thrived (or thought they were thriving) in the world before Covid-19, found themselves at a loss.  And I understand that.  There are many things that we once enjoyed but have not out of necessity.

On the other hand, the pandemic created an environment that allowed some people to thrive in new and beneficial ways.  I was just noting that a few musical artists who had moved on from their music careers to take jobs so they could feed their families were suddenly finding themselves motivated and able to create music once again.  In addition, some new creative voices were finding the motivation and desire to share what they do - and people, such as myself, were finding that we were hungry for their artistry.

It was the pandemic that caused me to consider writing more frequently than I had in previous years.  Some might say I was reasonably prolific (for a farmer) prior to the pandemic.  Now, they just think I am insane (or at least a little imbalanced).  But, there is no denying that I have become a better writer.  And I am amazed by how much I have learned in the process.

I would be hiding the truth from myself if I did not recognize that the changes in the world and in my life that came about from this pandemic presented me with... a gift.  One that I hope to keep on sharing with those who enjoy reading these blogs.

Bigger Picture

As I considered this topic - all motivated by Brown Thrashers and Common Yellowthroats - I was reminded that sometimes discomfort is necessary so a new population or a different group can have its time in the sunshine.

We have moved away from the perfectly manicured landscaping around our house (both intentionally at times and involuntarily when we run out of time).  Our natural inclination is to present some beautifully maintained perennial gardens - and we would still like to do some of that.  But, the reward of naturalizing has netted us the opportunity to talk to Common Yellowthroats.

You see, the All About Birds site suggests that if you know these little birds are in a thicket, and

 "If you don’t spot one after a while, try making a “pishing” sound; yellowthroats are inquisitive birds and often pop into the open to see who’s making the sound."

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to trying that one!

But, I am also reminded that there are many, many people in this world who are not as comfortable with the "norm" as many of the rest of us seem to be.  Sadly, we don't seem to be motivated to find ways to help these people to thrive when everything seems to be following regular patterns.  It takes a catastrophe - then maybe some of these people can thrive for a time - while others struggle and suffer.  I guess its a silver lining to the storm clouds.  But, I would rather we found ways to give a broader range of habitats for more people to thrive without a pandemic, or wildfire, or whatever....

So, this is all a reminder to me (and to you) that my comfort zone is not always your comfort zone.  And, sometimes my comfort zone is not always the best place for me to be because I am often not motivated to be my best when I am wholly comfortable.  It is also a reminder that we can make changes to our habitat without a disaster.  And, perhaps, we can make changes in hopes that we make someone else more comfortable so they are able to create, live and maybe even thrive.

And maybe my blogs are the equivalent of a "pishing" sound.  I'm just trying to see what will pop out from the thicket.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hyper - Postal History Sunday

Welcome again to Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog!

For those who may be unfamiliar with Postal History Sunday or the Genuine Faux Farm blog, I thought I'd give a brief re-introduction this week.  The GFF blog is our farm's blog and has been active since late 2008.  Content runs the gamut from farm doings, to thoughts on agriculture/horticulture and poultry, maybe some philosophical things, policy suggestions, flowers, birds, music, and whatever else comes up for me.

Postal History Sunday became a regular weekly post in August of 2020.  The idea was that PHS would provide me with an opportunity to share something I enjoy with people who may have interest - whether it is merely a passing interest or you already enjoy postal history.  My goal is to allow persons who don't have expertise in these topics a chance to see why I find these pieces of paper so interesting.  At the same time, I hope to be able to provide some tidbits of information to other postal historians that may be of interest to them.  The hobby has a wide range of sub-topics and there is always something new to learn.

If I do it right, a wide range of people should find these posts enjoyable.  If all else fails, I typically find that I learn something new - and that makes me happy.

Now, pack those troubles and worries away for a time and let's see what we have in store for us this week.


This week, we're going to take a look at an area of postal history that fascinates many people, but is not in my area of expertise.  Of course, that does not mean I can't find my way around the subject - but it does mean that I will miss subtle differences that a person who concentrates on this area will see.  If you are that person, feel free to feed me more information if you think I am missing something.

The period of time after World War I was difficult for Germany after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.  The treaty caused Germany to forfeit their overseas colonies as well as contested areas Europe.  Limits were placed on their military and Germany was forced to pay 132 billion gold marks in reparations to compensate for civilian losses due to the war.  The amounts that were actually paid and the timeline for that payment are another story that you can find if you are interested.

The aftermath of the war in Germany set the stage for something called hyper-inflation which was, in part, fueled by the unrestrained printing of paper money and government debt.  Of course, the situation was much more complex than that and if you would like to read a fairly easy to follow piece that explains hyper-inflation in Germany better than I will - please check it out on the PBS site.   

To give you an idea of the type of inflation were are talking about "prices that had doubled from 1914 to 1919 doubled again during just five months in 1922."  Prices continued to increase rapidly throughout the rest of 1922 and throughout 1923.  As 1923 progressed, people looked at the first five months of 1922 wistfully because merely doubling prices seemed pretty tame by October of 1923.

And here is where postal history intersects with fiscal history.  By collecting old letters from Germany in 1922 and 1923 you can get a real lesson in what hyper-inflation looks like.

A Domestic Letter in 1920

I'm going to start with a simple letter sent in November of 1920.  The cost of sending a letter that weighed no more than 20 grams to another destination within Germany's border was 40 pfennig (100 pfennig = 1 mark - not unlike our cents and dollar in the US).  This rate was effective from May 6, 1920 until March 31, 1921.  Prior to World War I, the postage rate had been 10 pfennig, so we can already see that the simple act of mailing a letter was already four times more expensive.

I suppose at this point, people might already have been a little bit disgruntled by the higher postage rates, which accurately mirrored prices of other items, such as milk, bread, paper and other common items.  

This rate would increase to 60 pfennig on April 1, 1921.  Certainly annoying, but it would be nothing like the next jump in the postage rate.

The January 1, 1922 Increase

Just like every business in Germany at the time, their postal service was finding that their expenses were rapidly increasing and their employees were demanding greater pay so they could stay ahead of the cost of living trends.

The cost of a single letter, that weighed no more than 20 grams, was pushed to 2 marks (200 pfennig).  The letter below was mailed on April 12 of 1922 and shows a 2 mark postage stamp.

Let me put this in perspective. Here are the letter rates in the United States during the first part of the 1900s.  This table was first shown on this Postal History Sunday blog.

 Letter Mail Rates in the United States

Effective Date
July 1, 1863
3 cents
half ounce    
October 1, 1883                  
2 cents
half ounce
July 1, 1885
2 cents           
November 2, 1917
3 cents
July 1, 1919
2 cents ounce
July 6, 1932                 
3 cents

The postage rates in the United States went up one penny to help pay for the war effort, but it was then reduced after the conclusion of the conflict.  The rate did not increase to three cents again until 1932.  Our current price in 2021 to mail a letter is 55 cents.

This rate increase would be like jumping our 55 cent rate for one ounce to two dollars tomorrow.  While I know few people send much mail anymore, you can still imagine how this would be received.

Rapid Increases Followed

People who specifically collect and study German mail from this period have a lot to look for and plenty to enjoy.  From January, 1920 to December of 1923, there are twenty-four changes in the domestic letter rate, with the shortest rate period lasted just SIX days.   

The letter below required 75,000 marks to pay for a domestic letter that weighed no more than 20 grams and this rate was effective from September 1 until September 19, 1923.  Nineteen days until the rate was increased again... to 250,000 marks.

The exceptionally short rate periods found the postal service unable to respond with new postage stamp designs for each change.  So, to cover the demand for stamps, they started overprinting existing postage stamps with values reflecting the new postage rates.  

The letter above actually has a 1000 mark stamp that was overprinted with the new 75,000 mark value.  And, of course, with all of the changes, there are likely many examples of incorrect postage that was accepted.  In fact, in August of 1923, the German post offices allowed for cash payment without requiring the use of postage stamps simply because it was difficult to get the stamps to every post office in the country quick enough.

Be a "Millionaire" to Mail a Letter

The rate from October 1 to October 9 of 1923 was actually 2 MILLION marks for a letter weighing no more than 20 grams.  The letter shown below was mailed on October 8.

One of the things we need to remember about all of this is that "two million marks" did not represent the same value that "two million marks" once held.  In late 1923, you could have trainloads of German paper money and it would actually have very little value.  People who were able to had moved towards acquiring physical property that would retain some value.  The PBS essay mentions that many families purchased pianos, even though no one in the family played them - just so they would have something of value for their money.

I was curious if there was a good summary as to who was able to handle hyper-inflation in Germany and who might have struggled.  There is an excellent summary of the most commonly accepted stages of hyperinflation in Germany in this BBC article.  Of interest to me is the following from that page on June 12, 2021.

"Hyperinflation winners:

  • Borrowers, such as businessmen, landowners and those with mortgages, found they were able to pay back their loans easily with worthless money.
  • People on wages were relatively safe, because they renegotiated their wages every day. However, even their wages eventually failed to keep up with prices.
  • Farmers coped well, since their products remained in demand and they received more money for them as prices spiraled.

Hyperinflation losers:

  • People on fixed incomes, like students, pensioners or the sick, found their incomes did not keep up with prices.
  • People with savings and those who had lent money, for example to the government, were the most badly hit as their money became worthless."

As a farmer, I might suggest that farmers may have coped well because they were in a population that is often more willing to accept barter agreements.  But, I am not an economist, so we'll not go there!

Back to "Normal"

In December of 1923, Germany issued a new currency and allowed for an exchange rate of 1 trillion marks for a SINGLE new "Renten-Mark."   The postage rate was reset at 10 pfennig (in the new currency) and the hyperinflation period was over.

But, before this blog is over, I thought I would share one more.

A favorite item in my own collection has an Iowa connection.  This letter was mailed on April 23, 1923 to Muscatine at the cost of 300 marks.  This rate was effective from March until the end of June.  I would not be horribly surprised to learn that this may have been yet another German businessperson investing in the US dollar and abandoning the German mark. 

And... there you are!  A journey to Germany in the early 1920s - all without leaving your seat (unless you like to read and walk at the same time?).


Thank you for joining me for this week's Postal History Sunday!  I am always happy to receive questions, suggestions and corrections if you have them.  If there is something you would like to me talk about in a future PHS, please let me know and I'll see if I can find the time and brainspace to make it happen.

Have a great remainder of the weekend and a wonderful week to come!

Want to Learn More?

The small booklet by Gerhard Binder titled The Postal Rates in Germany from 1906 to 1923: The High Inflation 1923 is a wonderful resource that helped me to get the basic knowledge I needed for German postal history at that time.  

If you enjoy postal history and want to see what a person might do if this was a topic they wanted to focus on, you can look at Extraordinary Frankings from the German Inflation: 1919-1923 by Charles L Williams.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Not An Ill Wind?

Now that we have had hot, dry weather for several days in a row (and believe me, Tammy and I are beginning to "feel" the hot dry weather), let me remind you that on May 29th, we had a frost at the farm.

If you like amusement park rides, this should suit you just fine.

I just happened to take a peak at our solar production for recent weeks and look what I found.

Now that I think about it, the day after the frost was a very bright day with beautiful blue skies.  But, I have to admit that Tammy and I weren't thinking so much about that.  Instead, we were trying to figure out how to get the covers off of the plants, get those covers dried off, rolled up and put away.  

In fact, I don't think either of us was feeling terribly happy on May 29th.  Some days, you just don't have it in you to appreciate good things.  

That's why it still pays to keep your "observer glasses" on so you can allow yourself a chance to reframe what felt like a bad day and maybe add a silver lining to those black clouds (hard to do on such a clear day.)

The surprising thing about the 29th is that there must have been a little cloud or two that ran between the sun and our solar panels a couple of times.  But we still produced 99.3 kWh of electricity.  

Why is that a surprise to me?  Well, according to our records, that's the best production of electricity from our panels in one day... ever.

So, they say it is truly an ill wind if it blows nobody any good.  It must not have been that much of an ill wind, because even though it caused us some problems (like terminating our cucumber crop), it still gifted us with this.

Here's to silver linings on clear days!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Which Side?

A week or so ago someone pushed me on an issue and wanted to know "exactly what side I was on."  

Apparently, they do not know me all that well.

The moment you imply that I should stand in opposition of good people that I happen to know are not in agreement with you is the moment I find myself wondering if I need to put some distance between us.  It does not matter if my thoughts actually align with you with respect to whatever issue you have brought up.  After all, it turns out that some of the things I think and believe line up with people I happen to get along with as well as people I don't get along with all that well.  

That's part of why I resurrected the "Carrotman" creation (thanks again Sam!).  I am not particularly fond of carrots.  Ok.  I grow them and harvest them and even clean them.  But, I will not eat them (yes, I have tried).  I mean... I could have stood completely on principle and determined that I would not grow carrots on the farm ever...

But, I overcame my differences enough and there are, in fact, a few carrots in one of our fields right now.  They need weeding, but they look pretty good so far.

So, am I "pro-carrot" or "anti-carrot?"  Which side am I on?

Well, Tammy actually likes to snack on carrots and I like her a lot.  Does that make me a "pro-carrot" individual?  However, I honed a skill to remove all of the little orange carrot squares from my mixed vegetables so I could eat the rest of the veggies without a single carrot touching my lips.  So, I must be part of the "anti-carrot" crowd?

It may sound like I am not taking the actual subject seriously.  But, I actually am.  The idea of being for or against carrots is actually more complex than either/or.  I can be pleased to pull out a nice sized "Bugs Bunny" carrot out of the ground and not want to see it on my plate in any form.  On the other hand, I can take pleasure in the fact that Tammy (or numerous other people) will happily enjoy carrots I grow.

And you actually think a more serious topic should be simplified down to just "for or against?"

You've got to be kidding me.  Really?  

Let me be blunt.  This is how relationships come to an end.  This is how we tear down good things that have been built.  This is how wars are started.  

Stop pushing the narrative that your side is "good" while everyone else who is not on your side is "bad."  You aren't making change, you are creating conflict.  Conflict usually hurts those who can help themselves the least.  We are better than that.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


We've said this for a few years now, but the iris flowers on the farm are a shadow of what they once were.  And yet, we still manage to be charmed by many of our old friends each year.  Perhaps this is the year we'll get to giving them the attention they so richly deserve.  But, even if we can't manage it, we know that some of our most dedicated stalwarts will return next year and the one after.  

That's not a bad thing to take comfort in.

One of my all time favorites (Olympiad) made an appearance again this year.  With the frost coming (and then the hot dry winds) we knew the flowers would be short lived at the farm.  So, we picked most of the stalks we could and brought them inside before we could take a good picture of them.  As a result, I am relying on a picture from a year or so ago.

This turned out to be a good move because most of the stalks that remained outdoors had a pretty rough time of it.

The camera seems to make Olympiad appear a little more purple than my eyes see it in natural light.  But, that doesn't really matter.  I appreciate the subtle infusion of purple/blue into the white and take pleasure in seeing the little "caterpiller" (aka the "beard" on "Bearded Iris") with its progression from blue to yellow.

Would you like to learn more about the parts of an iris flower?  One easy to view site that does this is here.

I know some people like a more striking color combination.  And, I appreciate those as well.  But, this is an iris that I like to inspect up close - because there is so many subtle moments of beauty in a single bloom, that it can captivate me for quite a while.

Speaking of captivating.  I watched while Tammy was captivated by and trying to nab a picture of a Red Spotted Purple that had taken a liking to being inside some of our buildings the last couple of days.  It was sitting on a feed sack and she was waiting for it to open its wings and show off the bright blue colors on the top side.

This particular butterfly was camera-shy and didn't open its wings long enough for her to catch it.

But, a year or two ago, I managed to get one to sit on my finger while I took multiple shots of it.  Let's just say that it also did not want to sit still for the camera, opening and closing its wings often.  

There were MANY digital photos in that batch that I deleted, and these were among the best.

I'll take it as a positive that we got a shot of both the underside and the .. um... overside?  of the wings.  It was also a positive when this butterfly took off to investigate the rest of its world after consenting to this photo shoot.

Like Olympiad, who shows up every year with a stalk or two of flowers, we are usually treated to a Red Spotted Purple or two each year at the farm.  Unlike other "admiral" butterflies (such as the Red Admiral), we don't see them in great numbers.  But, when we do, they usually hang around the farm house and the outbuildings.  Almost as if they find us just as interesting as we find them.

I know that it can be hard to take a moment to watch a butterfly or observe a beautiful flower - but I encourage you to give yourself permission to do just that today.  I wish you the best as you try to fulfill this quest!

 Have a good day everyone!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Streaming Whatever Comes Up

Sometimes, you feel like there are things to share, but you don't feel like coming up with a theme or a thesis or.. whatever it is that sometimes hangs blog posts together.  So, today, we're just going to do the Genuine Faux Farm streaming service where you get whatever comes up at the moment as Rob's fingers hit the keyboard.  

This could be interesting....

 Or maybe disturbing, confusing or some other sort of "ing." 

So, just over a week ago, we had some cold weather that resulted in a frost at the farm.  This was particularly disturbing after we were celebrating some significant progress in our farm tasks in the prior week and a half.  

The problem with frost damage to crops is that you can't always fully assess the damage until a couple of days after the event.  Now that we're over a week out, the damage is clear.  The cucumbers did NOT fare at all well.  It looks like 75% of the crop is done.  We did have a few trays of back-up plants and we put them in already.  However, we have resorted to reseeding more trays in hopes that we can still run a long enough season to get the seed production we hoped to have for Seed Savers. 

This is actually a 'double whammy' because the cucumbers were a key part of our PFI research project for the year.  Well, we'll make things work, but it won't be what we wanted - that's for certain.

On the other hand, the snow peas are VERY happy right now.  They are glad we covered them and we pulled in 12+ pounds of snow peas on Sunday alone!  Hurray for the snow peas!

Sunday was a fairly busy farm day too.  The "Middle Earth" plot got a thorough cultivation pass with wheel hoes AND our newest named farm cultivation tool, "Millard."  More forthcoming about Millard in future posts.  We got drip lines down after cultivation and even finished putting in the rest of the butternut squash.  We also worked up the field just south of Valhalla and got irrigation going there.

You know, we really should come up with a better name for that field.  

Actually, we have.  More than once.  But, the names just don't seem to stick.  That's the trick with naming things on the farm.  The name can be clever and even entertaining.  But, if it doesn't stick...  it... um... doesn't stick.  I'm not really sure what else to say about that.

Moving on!

We are officially in THAT time of year.

You know.  The time of year where you have to let birds out pretty darned early in the day and they don't want to go in until pretty darned late in the day.  

It's also the time of year where we have to move the building for our two flocks of broilers every other day.  To be honest, it's not a horribly difficult task when the two of us work together.  But, it does eat up some time.  And, it is among the things that can kind of wear on you sometimes.  

"Hey, tomorrow is a bird moving day again."

"Oh... yay?"

It probably has more to do with how life on the farm works.  We both get it into our heads that we'll get X, Y and Z done "first thing" tomorrow.  Then, we realize it is a "bird moving" day.  

Never mind.  You have to move the birds first.  And maybe then you can get on that list of ten things you wanted to do "first thing" tomorrow.  Alas for us!

Hey, I told you I wasn't sure if I could hold a theme here and I certainly did not promise a logical flow or progression.  That's why I am showing you this picture.  It's the field(s) that is (are) south of Valhalla.  We need a name for them that sticks with us.  Thoughts?

I was just looking at the photos I have for this year and the last shots I took were right after the frost.  I really need to get out and take some new ones.  After all, things on the farm can change rapidly in June.  What is alarming to me is how green things look above and how much brown is beginning to show with our dry weather.  Hot, dry air with lots of wind tends to dry things out - and I guess that's what we're going to contend with for a while now.  

It's tough on crops like peas and lettuce and it can be hard on seedlings.  We'll just do what we can and move on from there.

Speaking of which - maybe I've amused everyone enough for one day?  If I have - excellent!  If I haven't... well, go look at this blog post and see if it is more amusing.  

See?  I've got you covered.  Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Detours - Postal History Sunday

Welcome to this week's edition of Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog!

It is hot, sunny, and windy on the farm today - making it a perfect day for us to cultivate in the morning.  Cultivation tends to lift weeds up, exposing their roots to the elements.  A hot dry day is perfect for rapidly ending a weed's viability.  Imagine your worries and troubles are a field of weeds.  Now, drive that cultivator out there and lift those weedy problems out of the soil so they can whither and fade away. 

I bet you were wondering how I was going to get that one to work.  I know I was!

Now that we've taken care of our worries, let's learn something new and have a little fun.


Today we're going to transport ourselves back to the mid 1860s.  For those who have enjoyed a few Postal History Sundays, you might not be surprised by the time period because that's the area of postal history I am most familiar with.  This time, I want to look at mailing something from the United States to the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.  What choices would you and I have for sending a letter to Italy?

Letter Rates 1863-66 - US to Italy
Mail Service
Rate Unit
French 21 cents
1/4 ounce
Prussia to north Italy
40 cents
1/2 ounce
Prussia to Sicily
47 cents
1/2 ounce
Prussia to Messina
38 cents
1/2 ounce
Prussia to Naples
28 cents
1/2 ounce
British Open Mail
21 or 5 cents *
1/2 ounce
Bremen or Hamburg to Sardinia   
23 cents
1/2 ounce
Bremen or Hamburg to Sicily/Naples 
22 cents
1/2 ounce
Bremen or Hamburg to Modena/Parma  
25 cents
1/2 ounce
Bremen or Hamburg to Tuscany  
28 cents
1/2 ounce

* British Open Mail rates did not pay for all of the mail service.  The recipient would have to pay for mail services from Britain to the destination in Italy.

To summarize.  If you wanted to mail something to the Kingdom of Italy, you could choose between sending it via France, Prussia, Britain, Bremen or Hamburg.  Each cost a different amount of postage.  In some cases, it actually mattered WHERE in Italy you were sending an item.  To make it even more difficult, some routes were tied to particular shipping companies that crossed the Atlantic Ocean.  You might get a better postage rate, but there could be a significant delay if you didn't hit that shipping schedule properly.

And... I even simplified the options available to you a little just to keep it ...easy to understand?

Ok, let's just say you had lots of options and variables to consider.  It wouldn't be a surprise if you were confused by it all.  What often amazes me is that the foreign mail clerks were often able to make decisions for the best routing of mail when conditions warranted a change and despite the complexities most of the mail appears to have been handled without error.

Let's Send a Letter to Tuscany in 1863

Here is a letter that was mailed in New Brighton, Pennsylvania on August 20, 1863.  Thirty cents of postage have been applied to the letter and it was accepted as fully paid.  Exactly which rate was this person trying to pay?  I don't see a 30 cent rate anywhere in that table!

The letter is addressed to Florence, which is in Tuscany (north Italy).  We can eliminate the Prussian rate because it was higher than 30 cents.  

To make a long story shorter, I'll just tell you!  The sender was attempting to send this item via the Hamburg mail service, so the postage rate would have been 28 cents per 1/2 ounce to get to Tuscany.  BUT, for some reason, this item was sent via the French mail service at the 21 cent rate per 1/4 ounce.

So, the question is - how do I know all of that?

Two pieces of evidence seem to indicate that the person mailing this expected this letter to go via Hamburg.  The first is the 30 cents in postage (a convenience overpay of 2 cents).  The second are the words "via Hamburg steamer" at the bottom left corner.

This letter did, in fact, leave New York's harbor on the Hamburg Line's Saxonia.  But, for some reason, the foreign mail clerk decided that the letter should go via the French mails (as indicated by the New York marking with the "12" cent credit to France).  This is further confirmed red French marking in the center of the envelope and the boxed marking in red that has "PD" in it (also French).

This is interesting because the Hamburg steamer carried mailbags that were meant to go to and through France AND these steamers carried mailbags for letters sent via England as well as mailbags to go to Hamburg.  Each Hamburg steamer would make a quick stop at Southampton (England) and drop off mail that could go to or through France or England.  Since this was in a mailbag to go via France - it was dropped off there on September 3, rather than staying with the ship when it arrived at Hamburg on September 5.

The next question is why?  Why did the New York foreign mail clerk make this decision to send a letter to Tuscany, Italy via France?  

The short answer is that I cannot be certain.  What we need to understand is that the foreign mail clerks were often aware of potential mail delays and would often override the expected route when two conditions were met:

  1. the postage would also cover an alternate route.
  2. they knew the alternate route would get the mail to the destination more reliably and/or faster.

It is possible that they had learned that letters via Hamburg were typically slower to Tuscany than those going through France.  Maybe there was some sort of transportation issue on the route via Hamburg.  Perhaps the foreign mail clerk had a brother working in the French postal system and he wanted to support him?  

I can't say what the reason was, but I'll keep my eyes and ears open in case the reason becomes apparent someday.

How about a letter to Naples in 1866?

Below is a folded letter on blue paper that was sent from the United States to Naples in southern Italy.  Even though the Neapolitan area had been a part of the Kingdom of Italy for a few years, postal rates in some cases still treated this as a separate entity.

The letter went through the New York foreign mail office and was slated to leave via the North German Lloyd ship called America on July 21.  It would stop at Southampton on July 31 and go on to Bremen on August 2.

The scrawl in black ink at the top of the envelope reads "via Hamburg or Bremen."  Clearly, the intention was to send this item via one of those mail services at the 22 cent rate per 1/2 ounce.  Like the first letter, it left on a steamship that was going to one of those two cities (Bremen this time).  But, like the last letter, it was also off-loaded at Southampton and sent via the French mails and their 21 cent per 1/4 ounce rate.


There was this little thing that is often referred to as the Seven Weeks War (Austro-Prussian War) going on.  Technically, the final battle of that war was July 24.  But, at the point this letter was mailed, the postal clerk knew that the route from Hamburg or Bremen to anyplace in Italy was going to be uncertain.  So, they re-routed this letter via France.

The map above shows the troop movement and conflict locations for the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 (you can click on the map to see a larger version).  If you look towards the north, you can find both the cities of Bremen and Hamburg.  The typical routes for mail from those cities would often go via Switzerland.  But, with the conflict, pretty much any route from either of these cities was uncertain, even if both cities were receiving mail ships with no interference.

And there you have it.  One letter that was diverted from what was likely it intended route for no specific reason I have been able to determine and another that had a VERY good reason to be sent on a different route.  Perhaps, one day I will find evidence that shows me the logic for the first routing change.  When I do, you'll probably read it here on a new Postal History Sunday post!


Thank you again for joining me as I share something I enjoy and we all take the opportunity to, perhaps, learn something new.  

If you would like to learn more, or if you wonder what resources I use as I research postal history artifacts, here is one such item:

"United States Letter Rates to Foreign Destinations 1847 to GPU" by Charles J. Starnes, the Revised 1989 edition published by Leonard H. Hartmann.

This book is still recognized as the best resource for anyone seeking to find U.S. foreign destination postage rates during the 1847 to 1875 period.  The tables take some getting used to and it becomes easier to use as you learn more about postal history for that period.

If it weren't for the efforts of people like Charles Starnes, it is entirely likely I would not have found this hobby to be as enjoyable as it is for me.  So, thank you to the late Mr. Starnes and all others who have gone before me and shared the knowledge they have uncovered.

Have a great remainder of your weekend and a fine week.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Seven Years

I was trying to find a particular photo and I came across a picture of our farm from 2013.  It shows the view from the edge of the fields we call the "Eastfarthing" looking back towards our house.  The road is at the left, the old barn and the pasture that runs to the East of that barn is to the right.  The photo is from the end of April, so the grass is green, but the trees aren't really leafing out much.

As I looked at it, I couldn't help but notice how different things are now.

2013 (above)

 2020 (above)

 The 2020 photo is from a similar location.  I can tell you I was a little bit closer and a bit further to the South (left).  And, this photo is from mid-May, so there are flowers and more leaves.

There are some differences that make me a bit sad (the two larger ash trees have died - for example) and other changes that make me happy (look how much the spruces have grown and how much more taller greenery there is).  Some of the change is intentional (what nice siding we have now!) and some of it is not (hmmm.  we've let a bunch of trees take hold near where the old barn was).

But, overall, I like what I see.  There is more cover instead of a flat lawn with minimal habitat or breaks in the flat ground.  I will admit that some of it is not taking shape the way I would like it to take shape, but it feels more natural overall.  If I were a bird, or a butterfly, or a frog... I might like this place more now than I would have in 2013.

Of course, we can't let ourselves give the 2020 picture too much credit because it WAS taken later in the season.  But, you can see a bit more willingness to let things be... appropriately wild in places.  Again, some of this is by choice and some is because that's just how things have landed as we traverse time at the Genuine Faux Farm.

Since it is a living farm, it will be interesting to see how this picture changes in the next few years.  I hope I like the overall feel then even more than what I see now.  I know we'll do what we can to make that happen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Feeling Comfrey

We have noticed that the bumblebee populations in our area have been in decline for the past then years or so.  Even with all of our efforts to try to support their populations at the Genuine Faux Farm, we haven't been seeing them as much as we have in the past.

That doesn't mean we have given up and it doesn't mean we don't keep trying to do things to support those populations on our farm.  And sometimes, we do something that turns out to be a bigger "win" than we anticipated.

A couple of years ago, we picked up a few comfrey plants and, not being exactly certain where their "permanent" home was going to be, we planted them in a corner of Valhalla, our larger high tunnel.  The idea was to transplant them out eventually to the spots we wanted them to go.  Wherever that ended up being.

But, that first year, things got busy...  You know how that goes.  And the second year, the plants flowered like crazy and we noticed the bumblebees loved them.  Suddenly, the area around Valhalla was a favorite location for these fascinating pollinators.  

I liked that.  And, frankly, the plants were getting pretty big.  Transplanting might not have been an option at that point anyway.

This year, Valhalla is in its other position, so the comfrey are outside for the year.  When you walk by that area on any sunny day, you can hear a buzz coming from that cluster of plants - a sound we welcome.  

When I first noticed the sound of happy pollinators, I expected to see several types of them.  But, upon closer inspection, there were just A LOT of bumblebees in there.  

All I can say is - "I am a fan."  Maybe we should find a way to add more comfrey to the farm? 


Would you like to learn more about comfrey?  I suggest this read from the Amisfield Walled Garden.  Or, if you want more focus on the benefits of comfrey in the garden, try this article from Wisconsin Pollinators.

This link to the hort pages at the University of Purdue features work done at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin - Madison.  Comfrey has been considered an alternative cash crop until recently, when research showed that consumption of comfrey may not be an entirely healthy option.

If you like a bit more research, there have been studies that look at the visits of pollinators (specifically bumblebees) to comfrey flowers.

See, we can learn something new together even if it's not Postal History Sunday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Roots of Resilience

My thoughts are often a product of my current experiences - which should be a surprise to no one.  Of course the things we are going through in our lives right now will have a strong bearing on what we allow our brain to spend time on.

In the past few weeks I have been thinking long and hard about what it means to be resilient.  And, more specifically, what it means for me to be resilient - and what it means for me to support resilience in myself and others.  Certainly not a new topic for me, but given the context of a recent surgery, the process of recovery, and the amazing support from the various communities in which Tammy and I have connections, it has come back into prominence.

linocut created by Simone Adler - shown with permission 

Sense of Belonging Builds Resilience

One unlooked-for kindness was received on the day I returned home from the hospital.  But, before I tell you about that - let me give you some context.  

I have been a part of the PAN (Pesticide Action Network) community since last April with my job as Communications Associate.  I knew these were good people when I joined and I am happy to work with them.  I have worked at other places in the past and have also found plenty of good people, though there have been varying levels of quality if I were to describe the overall workplace community environment.

In short, my past experiences did not prepare me for what arrived in the mail on the day I came home from the hospital.  A packet was mailed from the PAN workplace community that included photos of pets - showing me how to relax and recover.  Photos of clouds, snow on mountains, gentle waves, and gardens.  Each with kind words encouraging me to do what I needed to do to heal.  This packet was appreciated very much.

Among the images shared in this packet was a linocut by Simone Adler, which is shown above.  I was already considering what makes us resilient and I was already thinking about the role communities play.  And, there I was staring at this piece of artwork.  

My work community, our families, our community of close friends, the farm community we've created over time, the school community Tammy is a part of, and the various other organization-based communities we are a part of all stood up to remind us that....

We belong.

Not only do we belong, but they value our membership in the community.  That's a good way to encourage both of us to persevere and be strong.  It is, in my mind, one of the ways communities build resilience.

Strong Communities Grow from Respect and Tolerance

Over time, I've learned that being part of a strong community has a great deal to do with the respect I show to others and the tolerance I exhibit for any difference from my own preferences and background.  I do not believe that a community is strong if everyone has the same characteristics, the same strengths and weaknesses, or the same likes and dislikes.   A diverse community (in all senses of the word "diverse") is one that encourages resilience because each of us can bring our strengths and knowledge forward to lift up another person's weakness or help them to learn something new.

And, when I just happen to be the person who is in need, I can lean on those who are feeling stronger or are in a better place at that moment.  If we were all the same, we would all struggle at the same time and no one would be able to help.  If we were all the same, we would not know how to help because we would all be strong at the same time.

Perhaps some people might wonder at my choice of the word "tolerance" because we have all known a person who has shown tolerance... but not respect.  But, I do choose that word and its pairing with "respect" deliberately.  Why?  Because I think respect and tolerance can lead to acceptance and growth, without necessarily giving up the things that make each person who they are. 

Bending, Not Breaking

Each member of a strong community has a responsibility to bend a little bit to make room for other members of that community.  This lends itself to resilience of both the whole and the individuals that make up that whole.  

Sometimes, we bend by going out of our way to help when someone is recovering from a surgery and can't manage all of the farm work.

Sometimes, we bend by accepting help graciously when we would rather be the ones doing the helping.

Sometimes, we bend by moving outside of our comfort zone of what we know and understand so we can show respect for another member of the community as they share what is important to them or about them.

Sometimes, we bend by realizing that our opinions and our beliefs may not work for someone else - and that doesn't make them any less valuable or any less worthy of our kindness, love, acceptance, and respect.

I liken the development of strong and resilient communities, populated with strong and resilient members, to the process of "hardening off" seedling plants.  Our young seedlings are initially protected from the winds, the heavy rains, and the wide temperature swings.  As they mature, we must expose them to all of the elements - toughening them up so they can thrive on our farm.  The process of hardening off encourages the growth of a strong root system - the basis of a healthy plant.

Perhaps, initially, we protect our fledgling communities and our children (and maybe ourselves when we enter a new group) from difficulties early on, just to get a start.  Then we need to increase exposure to the elements of the world, and in doing so we make ourselves, and our communities, stronger by bending in the wind, bowing as the rain pours down, and leaning on each other when things get tough.  These trials encourage the growth of roots that will lead our communities to thrive and the strength of our communities will permit the roots of resilience to grow.