Posted by: anniewarmke | January 7, 2014

Day #4 THANKS FOR NOTHING Month

Day #4 THANKS FOR NOTHING Month            Sunny/Cold

“Just for today I will take five minutes to think about how I can increase the Happiness Factor in my life.”
Chefs Nans & Jay
Mornings at Blue Rock Station are the best, even when there’s no hot water for a proper cup of tea.  Jay and I settle into our rocking chairs to listen to National Public Radio (NPR) on the hand crank radio, and wait for the water to heat.  Both of us seem to find ourselves arguing with different news reports, especially the stock market report.

In fact, it’s the stock market report that got us thinking about creating an annual THANKS FOR NOTHING Month.

Fall 2011…One winter day, as Jay and I were driving along Highway 60 into town, I was once again arguing with the radio about how silly the Stock Market Report seemed to be.  It simply has nothing to do with our everyday lives.  In fact, I would argue, it has nothing to do with anyone’s life.  What difference do the numbers going up and down really make – unless you were one of the incredibly small number that were just about to sell or buy a stock – and then I don’t think you would rely on NPR for your up-to-the-minute information.

“Wouldn’t it be grand if we could hear a Happiness Factor Report on our own community?” one of us said (I don’t recall which one of us had this brilliant idea). “The Happiness Factor in Ohio went up 13 points yesterday because the Cleveland Browns finally won a game…” or something to that effect.  Seems to make more sense than “The Dow Jones fell 45 points on profit taking and fear of the Fed easing on monetary blah, blah, blah.”

I’m sure it was Jay who then suggested that we should try to spend some time living without money.  I instantly wanted to try.

At some point we decided on the month of January for our experiment. January is a slow month for us, with snow and cold winds…a time to “hunker down.”

In October 2011, I included our “THANKS FOR NOTHING” (the name we gave our January time) announcement in our regular Blue Rock Station newsletter to let folks know what we were thinking.  Almost immediately I had a note from Nans Thomassey, one of our former French engineering student interns.  He wanted to participate.

Nans and I had a grand time sharing ideas about how he and his partner Fanny  could live without money, and then he suggested we should include energy in the formula.  He wanted to focus on living with the rhythms of the earth and making sure that the lights would be out at sundown.  That conversation helped us to begin to create a format for the month that was going to “push” each of us to examine many things in our lives…I could never have imagined the outcome.

After our planning session I began to feel a little “pinched” by the thought of not using energy, and that made me realize that I was about to be on an amazing journey that would turn me at least 90 degrees and re-shape a portion of my life.

How was I going to cook?  Do Laundry?  Get to Jeanette’s party (I’d promised the year before that I’d be there)?  And, more importantly, how was Jay going to get by without his daily shower?

Fast forward to January 2014 and THANKS FOR NOTHING Month #3.  It seems like we find new ways to challenge ourselves each January, and 2014 is no exception.  We find now that we look forward to January – an excuse to slow down a bit – take a breath.

And with the frigid weather drifting down from the Arctic, it is strange to find that the electricity might go out – and we will not notice.  There will be no pipes bursting and no plants dying or no mad rush into the harsh winds, bundling pets into the car to go in search of a place where coal burned miles away helps keep us from freezing at night.

It will simply be another night.  Minus 10 degrees outside, 68 degrees inside.  The cats and dogs sleeping in front of the wood stove.  Us humans will be feeling very sleepy by 8 pm because it has been dark for nearly three hours.  We will blow out the kerosene lantern and head to bed, warm under the comforters.  And give thanks for the nothing…that is everything.

Menu
Breakfast:
Fresh fruit with greek yogurt

Lunch:
Fresh baked oat bread (gluten free)
Fried white fish
Salad greens
Peach crisp

Posted by: anniewarmke | January 7, 2014

Day #3 Thanks for Nothing Month

Day #3 THANKS FOR NOTHING Month            Sunny/Frigid

“Just for today I will cross off one thing from my to do list, and think about how good it feels to do nothing about it.”

Earthship in Winter
The sun was bright all day – such a gift on a bitterly cold day.  The house was warm even though we let the wood stove get down to only hot coals.  The beauty of a home that uses thermal mass coupled with passive solar for the basis of heating is that sunshine bumps up the warmth inside.

We spent the day with an Amish farmer and one of the “English” he works with – his goal in coming to us for consulting was to learn more about our building methods so he can utilize some of our ideas in a new retail shop he wants to build for his poultry business, plus he and his English partner want to create new Websites for their businesses.

They were looking for marketing advice, and we had a grand day of sharing ideas and “pushing the envelope” with how to use the Internet more efficiently.  After six hours we had shared stories, laughed more then we

in an “ordinary” business meeting, eaten a simple meal warmed on the wood stove while we met, and given both of them a push forward with their own ideas.  This is our idea of doing business – making friends, giving everything we have to the moment, and then staying in touch to see how it all unfolds.  I believe this is the new business model for our culture.

Ralphie is mesmerized by the morning fire.

During evening chores a young guy I had talked to about re-homing the chickens I’d taken in from Capital City Animal Shelter drove up at the barn to “adopt” one of the beautiful roosters that I’d decided were too healthy to butcher.  He was worried about how to introduce the rooster to his small flock of hens.  We discussed how a new rooster with hens wasn’t a problem – all he needed to do was put the rooster in with the flock after dark, and the next morning all of them will be excited and happy to get acquainted.  It doesn’t work so smoothly when introducing a new hen, and that’s what he was worried about.

When I returned to the house Jay was waiting with the oil lamp lit on the kitchen table.  It’s really nice to open the door and see the glow from the lamp.  The US weather service says sun down is at 5:15 PM in this part of Ohio so we abide by that if we’re using the computer – turning it off like clockwork…No technology whether powered by renewable energy or not after dark.

The evening was spent returning fun phone calls to friends.  Sometimes I feel like I have forgotten the art of talking on the phone for fun, but last night those women on the other end of “the line” reminded me of how much joy comes from reconnecting with just our voices.During evening chores a young guy I had talked to about re-homing the chickens I’d taken in from Capital City Animal Shelter drove up at the barn to “adopt” one of the beautiful roosters that I’d decided were too healthy to butcher.  He was worried about how to introduce the rooster to his small flock of hens.  We discussed how a new rooster with hens wasn’t a problem – all he needed to do was put the rooster in with the flock after dark, and the next morning all of them will be excited and happy to get acquainted.  It doesn’t work so smoothly when introducing a new hen, and that’s what he was worried about.might have in an “ordinary” business meeting, eaten a simple meal warmed on the wood stove while we met, and given both of them a push forward with their own ideas.  This is our idea of doing business – making friends, giving everything we have to the moment, and then staying in touch to see how it all unfolds.  I believe this is the new business model for our culture.

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When I returned to the house Jay was waiting with the oil lamp lit on the kitchen table.  It’s really nice to open the door and see the glow from the lamp.  The US weather service says sun down is at 5:15 PM in this part of Ohio so we abide by that if we’re using the computer – turning it off like clockwork…No technology whether powered by renewable energy or not after dark.

The rest of the evening was spent eating stew warmed on the wood stove, and watching a DVD on the charged laptop.  Bedtime is usually around 9:30 PM but we watched the film longer then usual.  The living room was warm and I was working up my courage to get into bed under the cold covers in the cold bedroom.

Menu

Breakfast:  Fresh fruit with yogurt

Lunch:
Left over butternut squash/potato soup
Rye bread with butter
Fresh hot pepper raw milk goat cheese

Posted by: anniewarmke | January 3, 2014

Day #2 THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH

Day #2     THANKS FOR NOTHING Month                               Sunny/Frigid

“Just for today I will touch the arm of every person I speak to face-to-face.  This one act has the power to create a connection between us.”
????????????????????? Mornings during THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH are a challenge during these beginning days of the month.  Each year we forget how much thought goes into the process of having hot water.  And hot water is the first thing needed in the morning, and nearly the last thing required in the evening.

Ralphie is mesmerized by the morning fire.

The wood stove in the living room is the only active source of heat for our home, an “Earthship” designed by the architect Michael Reynolds.  The home is constructed with rammed-earth tires, cans, bottles and lots of other re-purposed items.  Because the basic premise of the home is to use the concept of thermal mass for heating and cooling, the house naturally never falls below 55 degrees F, even with no heat source.

The only sources of hot water include a large old-fashioned enamel water kettle, and a small modern metal tea pot which are heated on of the top of the wood stove.  This hot water is used for washing dishes, filling up the solar shower bag that’s used for an evening shower, and, most importantly, for hot tea and coffee.  It takes a bit of planning to not run out of hot water, and that’s where our month of no electricity and money gets off to a rocky start.

For example:  Unless someone gets up in the night to put wood into the stove, in the morning the water in the tea kettles is only lukewarm.  The room is still plenty warm, and the stove is still hot, but the tea kettles loose their heat rather quickly.  Since Jay loves his morning cup of coffee, and I crave a proper cup of morning tea, this causes us to huddle around the stove, waiting for the smaller tea kettle to begin to “sing” that it’s finally hot enough.

After the first night, I’ve decided that if I wake up, no matter how much I hate to get up, I’m going to refill the wood stove.  Last night I did wake, and I tried telling myself that it didn’t matter, we could wait for our tea.  But then I remembered that there would be people joining us for a consulting visit and we would not have the luxury of hanging out until we’re good and ready to begin the day.

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With my head lamp shining brightly, I wandered down the hallway like a coal miner and filled up the stove.  Unlike a coal miner, I had the added hazard of avoiding stepping on any of the cats that sleep wherever they find a bit of warmth.  Then back to bed, to dream of warmer days.

Last year I tried hoarding hot water by filling up insulated water carafes.  It didn’t really work.  Lukewarm water just doesn’t make a great cup of coffee or tea.

I’d love to hear an idea or two about how I might keep the water hot enough over night to have a nice hot cup of tea, and not have to wait around for 30 minutes to get the day in high gear.  I’m considering putting some clay bricks on top of the stove (slight thermal mass) and putting the tea kettle on top.  My hope is that the bricks will hold more heat then the top of the stove.

The saga of how to keep the water hot over night continues.  I hope to hear from folks about possible solutions.

Menu
Breakfast:
Fresh fruit with yogurt

Lunch:
Left over butternut squash/potato soup
Rye bread with butter
Fresh hot pepper raw milk goat cheese

Posted by: anniewarmke | January 3, 2014

THANKS FOR NOTHING Month Day #1

Day #1 THANKS FOR NOTHING Month           Snowing

Tom & Annie preparing for Yule

Tom & Annie preparing for Yule

“Thoughtfulness takes practice.  Just for today I will be thoughtful in my approach to those around me.”

This past year we have tried to make it a time of spiritual renewal, and my hope for the new year definitely includes more opportunities for growing spiritual connections and restful fun.

The beginning of a new year should allow time to rest and review the year.  For us at Blue Rock Station, it is also the beginning of THANKS FOR NOTHING month.  Each year we try to challenge ourselves with an entire month where we spend no money, and avoid using energy.  This is our third year of this practice – and we find ourselves looking forward to the pause, rather than feeling challenged by it.

Each year we try to push just a bit harder, so rather than creating a menu for the month (and going shopping that last week of December), we decided to use what was already on hand – and clean the freezer instead of shopping.  Normally the 31-day menu would be in place well-ahead of January 1st, and all the food stored.  This year, however, we’re eating completely out of the freezers and larder.  The only thing we purchased was a stash of cheese for Jay (he hates my goat cheese), and some fresh fruit to go with the bounty of fall apples still in the larder.

Going a month without money requires a bit of advance planning.  For some reason, the animals on the farm don’t share our commitment to the spiritual growth that comes from doing without.  So on Tuesday I decided to pre-pay for some chicken feed at the hardware store in Duncan Falls, just in case I ran out before the end of the month.  The grain storage bins only hold four 50 lb. bags and those chickens are eating like frat boys at an all-you-can eat buffet.  The hay guy, who is also prepaid, will probably need to bring 50 bales before the end of the month – it’s going to be bitter cold so the goats and llamas are going to need extra feed to keep warm.

We should have taken a before photo because it didn't look anything like this before we started cleaning.

We should have taken a before photo because it didn’t look anything like this before we started cleaning.

After chores, our neighbor from a nearby ridge, Tom Winland, came by to visit.  Jay and I were in the midst of cleaning out the freezer and sorting everything according to categories – cheese, milk (saved for when they are dried up while I’m in France), meat, fruit, leftovers and miscellaneous.  Tom sat and watched, drinking a cup of hot tea made from water heated on the wood stove.

I decided I am going to keep a little notebook of what’s in the freezers, so we can cross off or add to the list.  That way I’ll have some idea of what’s available.  I was surprised at how much grated goat cheese we had.  There was also quite a bit of frozen basil pesto.  I kept telling Jay that he could tell the things that I like to eat by how much of it was stashed in the freezer.

We were so inspired by the clean and organized freezer, and possibly by Tom’s story telling, that we decided to clean the frig.  Jay’s hope was that we might throw out some of the many jars that take up quite a bit of space.  I’m not sure what he wanted to put in the place of these jars, as what is there is what we get – at least for the next 30 days.  We only discovered two science experiments – plastic containers filled with mold.  The rest were unlabeled containers of jelly, jam, pesto, and fruit syrups for waffles.

After lots of sorting, making lists, and scrubbing the frig shelves, we were pretty pleased with our afternoon of visiting and the clean refrigerator.  Thank goodness the bitter cold is coming or we might have been tempted to move on to bigger and more cluttered items.

Even though there were only two spoonsful of Whit's Frozen Yogurt Jay saved the treat for evening.

Even though there were only two spoonsful of Whit’s Frozen Yogurt Jay saved the treat for evening.

Instead we spent the rest of the afternoon working with Tom to plan February’s maple syrup project.  Tom wants to tap a few trees to gather sap so his family and ours will have some maple syrup for 2014.  It’s an exchange of our resources for his labor.  We love sweetening desserts with the delicious flavor of maple syrup, and using it as waffle syrup.  Plus it’s fun to have projects that involve people who will show up with good stories, and bring their good mood on a cold day.

The clean refrigerator, and Tom’s visit are a reminder that 2014 is going to be full of spiritual abundance, and loads of restful fun.  Happy New Year to all, and we hope you’ll join us during this month of living simply.

Menu for today:
Breakfast – Jay had cream of wheat and I had gluten-free waffles, real butter and raw honey plus a banana

Late-afternoon meal – pizza with toppings (we each like something different) and fresh green salad.  The crust is pre-baked.  Jay will have pepperoni and cheese and I will have goat cheese, olives and basil.  The dogs will have whatever falls on the floor.

Posted by: anniewarmke | October 7, 2012

Sunday was cold…

Sunday was cold.  Instead of really working in any committed capacity after morning chores, we went for a little hike in the woods.  We gathered up some limbs to use as fence posts and we marked a bunch of sugar maples with the hopes of tapping a few of them for syrup.  Tapping and making syrup will be more of an exploratory exercise than an actual focused venture I’m sure.

Anyway, the leaves are changing and the walnuts and buckeyes are dropping.  We gathered up an entire plastic grocery bag of buckeyes from a somewhat dry creek-bed.  Annie said we could make a pretty penny selling those babies at the auction but I elected to attempt to eat them instead.

Apparently their tannin levels naturally border on poisonous so we are soaking them to steep out the tannins.  Once they’re ready, well score their shells and roast them.  I hope they’re delicious.  We had a Chinese Chestnut tree in the back yard of the house I grew up at and those nuts were delicious so maybe the buckeyes won’t be far off, being in the same family and all.

Lindsay and I cooked lunch, which was leftover potato soup and grilled cheese.  Lindsay was also stuffing peppers with goat cheese and baking them in the toaster oven.  When I then turned on the electric teapot we blew a breaker, only we did not know we blew the breaker for some time.  I stood there, cutting butter and cheese, preparing for the next round, and eventually thought, “Man, these grilled cheese sure are taking forever,” after which, I deduced the problem… five more minutes later.  Idiot. Oh well.

After that I wandered around looking for various things for an art project I’m slowly working on and a solar space heater I haven’t started at all.  After balancing across some fallen trees in the woods, traveling between barns, I crossed paths with Annie on my journey and helped her finish harvesting some amaranth for the goats as it started to rain.

We had some tea and I went off to take the coldest solar shower to date.  Somehow even though I could tell this was the coldest shower, I could also tell that I handled it better than that which previously held the record.  It might have helped that it wasn’t 11pm and windy and that the sun came out while I was in there.  After showering I started some laundry and then took some pictures of my new sleeping quarters… The Happy Nest!
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Aaron has moved out of The Happy Nest and into The Dogwood Chalet and I have moved out of The Bunkhouse and into the Happy Nest.  It’s a re-purposed stock garden shed that was going to be thrown away that was renovated into a living space.  It’s got a bunk bed and a desk and that’s pretty much it.  Under the barn wood walls is some straw insulation that will hopefully make this little home a comfortable place to winter… especially with a tiny space heater in there—mm, toasty.

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Posted by: anniewarmke | October 1, 2012

Well, it’s be…

Well, it’s been a while since I (Andrew) have written.  In addition to a weekend build, another workshop, visitors, volunteers, parties, a new intern, and general exhaustion, I’ve been busy with the Llama Lounge.  We’ve completed both bottle walls, a lengthy and time-intensive process, and attached a gate, reused of course.  I’m currently painting the wood, which is the bane of my existence, second only to writing the blog.  I’m trying my best not to paint the slate but I am.  I’m also painting my hair.
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The good news is we’ve busted out the instruments.  I now have access to a guitar, keyboard, and violin.  I’m not good but I like to play.  The “bad” news with the keyboard is that it is not 88 keys and thus pieces like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata are out of play.  I hope to “fiddle” around with the violin the most, as I know how to play that instrument the least.  This may be difficult because quarters are tight in the Earthship so bad violin-ing would be heard easily, quickly reaching madness-driving decibels.  Perhaps I’ll steal it away when I move into the Happy Nest for the winter.

The Happy Nest is where Aaron currently resides, but once he finishes the Dogwood Chalet, he’ll move into there.  Mandy, a repeat volunteer, has been showing up to help since her participation in the weekend straw-bale build.  This place is addictive, people, and we have proof!  Today they’ll be lime plastering the vaulted ceiling which will be quite messy over head and eventually under foot.

More positive proof of Blue Rock Station addiction is the addition of intern #3, Lindsay.
Coincidently, she and I are from the same part of Ohio.  And interestingly, she is somehow or another related to June Carter-Cash.  She will mainly be helping out with cooking, but she has already done more with slate here than me.  I’m hoping to convince her to share the blog responsibilities with me, especially because I have, of late, poorly kept up with them.

Well, it’s off to chores and the Llama Lounge.  I want to try to finish it today because we have another build this weekend with the ETHOS engineers from University of Dayton, which means if I don’t, I won’t be able to work on it again until Monday. So, here I go!

(Brief explanation of blog as bane: take this particular entry for example: I tried for an hour to post this on Friday to no avail.  Nothing would load on either wordpress or facebook. Nothing would copy or paste.  This happens often enough to discourage anyone, mainly me, from attempting in the first place.)

Posted by: anniewarmke | September 18, 2012

Thursday and Fr…

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Thursday and Friday in Athens, OH, Annie and I attended Waste to Wealth: “Building Rural Assets Through Resource Recovery,” a summit organized by the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative dedicated to finding solutions for all things recycling in our region. When Annie asked if I wanted to attend, I had assumed there would be around twenty people total from various city councils from two or three Ohio counties.  Well, in addition to those people, as the conference unfolded, I was overwhelmed by attending Ohio state senators and reps, CEOs and government officials from other states, and chairpersons of various federal boards from D.C.  I was certainly the smallest fish in the “waste stream” (industry jargon).

Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Thursday’s keynote speaker delivered an inspiring account of successful ventures across the nation achieving zero waste goals.  He praised the Austin, TX waste plan as the template all other cities hoping to achieve zero waste should adopt and adapt.  As he generally explained our current waste issues and potential solutions he lobbied for extended producer responsibility meaning that companies should be accountable for all of the waste they produce.  To prevent millions of pounds of material from entering the waste stream, Neil also petitioned for a bottle bill to demand the use of refillable containers, professing that the real, lasting solution to waste was to not generate any in the first place.  he continued to suggest reuse as the solution to recycling and I was very much encouraged by this notion, especially as that success would make obsolete the jobs of many in attendance, or at least force an adaptation to a changing market.

Pam Curry, Center for Economic Options Executive Director, inspiringly spoke about deconstruction as an option for harvesting valuable materials.  She and her constituents are working hard to make deconstruction a viable and valuable part of our economy.  I spoke to her after her plenary panel asking if she knew of the hundreds of foreclosed properties in the Columbus and Zanesville area about to be demolished and if she knew of a way to salvage the building materials rather than throw them away.  She was receptive to the idea, suggesting one of her colleagues probably knew about it, but went on to share the difficulties of bringing deconstruction to fruition. She explained that, locally and across the nation, entrepreneurs are not convinced of the value of this pursuit.  It was more discouraging to hear that the Chinese are convinced to the point of sending workers to the US to deconstruct buildings and ship the material to China.

I also spoke with Kyle O’Keefe, Rural Action coordinator of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative about communication difficulties related to creating a network to connect commodity sources to producers.  There are probably resources available that producers simply don’t know about because of a lack of media infrastructure to support the information in addition to ignorance about the worth of those commodities.  Additionally, broadband is currently extremely limited in Appalachia Ohio.  It was encouraging to hear that our regions State Rep is working on a broadband solution and that Rural Action sees the importance and value of a kind of social network for waste-based commodities.

Friday’s final plenary panel hammered home that localization and treating clean waste as commodities were the best steps toward zero waste.  There is no such thing as a pile of worthless trash.  We have commodities that have worth, from paper and glass to food scraps and yard waste.  We are a resource, either individually or collectively as a city, business, or other entity, and if we connect with, or create, local producers who need our commodities then we become an outlet for sales that will not only get rid of our “waste” but create a profit and jobs for our local communities.

All in all, I had a great time at Waste to Wealth and felt very lucky to have been in attendance.  I was excited and encouraged by everyone’s interest in being accountable for the future, a cleaner planet, and a better life.

Posted by: anniewarmke | September 11, 2012

THE LLAMA LOUNGE

Thursday I began work on the Llama Lounge.  I brought Guilliame with me so that he wouldn’t feel lonely and so he would have an entire field to eat if he wanted.  As I began to cut up the earth with the mattock, he was more interested in what I was doing than roaming the vast expanse now available to him.  When his young mind wandered so did he off into the field.

Eventually, when his mind wandered again, he remembered he came here with someone and returned to beg for my attention.  I complied for a while but then returned to work and he’d returned to the field and the cycle continued throughout the day.  Despite these pleasant interruptions, I finished digging the footers for two walls and a shallow trench for water run-off along three sides.
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Friday I poured the concrete into Thursday’s dugouts.  I had hoped to pour everything but it ended up taking much longer, and using more concrete, than anticipated.  We had purchased more cement the night before but did not unload it from the car.  Of course then we forgot about it and the car was gone most of today.  Luckily the downtime between not having more concrete and the car returning was minimal.

I did not bring Guilliame to help today, as he was sure to step into the wet concrete.  I had to corral the llamas out of the field as well for the same reason.  At one point, they escaped their little enclosure and Aaron and I had to herd them back inside.  I finished pouring the wall footer we needed for Saturday’s Build (and adjoining drainage culvert not crucial for Saturday.)
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Saturday, Diane arrived.  She was the sole person enlisted in today’s build.  It was raining and I was not looking forward to working in it.  But soon the rain stopped and we began to construct a bottle wall on top of Friday’s footer.  The bottles act as bricks and a sand-clay-cement mixture (6-3-2) acts as the mortar. We built three layers and then had to stop to let it set, so we turned our attention to the two existing walls.  One of the two was ready for lime plaster so we mixed up a batch (three parts sifted sand to one part lime). Like me, Diane seemed to find the application meditative and before I knew it we were done.
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So we could cob beneath it, from the remaining wall, Jay had been removing the slate, which was there as a feature in previous-intern Nans’ design (the Llama Lounge is made to resemble a llama’s head).  Months ago, strong winds had blown off the slate in several places, and it was decided that cobbing the wall might make for less wind under the slate.  Also, the llamas had broken through the wall on the other side and ate some of the straw.  The hole which had been repaired before, needed repaired again, so I cobbed that while Diane cobbed the “slate” side.   Then we were done for the day.  Diane said she had a great time and that she’d be back for next week’s straw-bale weekend workshop.

Sunday, I built another level of the bottle wall and cobbed some more of the slate wall.  But then I wanted to spend some time with Guilliame who I could hear crying at the barn.  I’m pretty sure he knows his name and my voice because when I call out, his cry changes from one of utter despair to “I’m still really sad but I really hope that’s who I think it is.” And then, when he sees me, he has no need to cry anymore and smiles a great goat smile.
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We climbed the rocks in the field and went into the woods.  I walked along the trails the other goats had made and he followed right along behind me.  (Why can’t Tomas be as good of a follower?  I’m pretty sure Tomas is mad at me—jealous I’ve been spending more time with Guilliame.)  We made a big loop and it began to rain a little, but we climbed the rocks in the field again anyway and then I returned him to his stall.
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Tomorrow I think I’ll try going for a walk with Tomas and Guilliame.  I think Tomas will still be too much of a kid and quit early on, or make such a fuss as to not even begin.  Either way it will be fun.

Posted by: anniewarmke | September 8, 2012

It’s 9AM. Do you know where your kids are? No I don’t.

Wednesday started off with a bang… followed immediately by a second bang.  
The first involved my head.  I’m six feet tall… the door to the goat kids’ stall is five.  I know this for two reasons.  First, on account of my dual information-gathering eyes and interpreting and memorizing brain, I can tell quite readily it is a short door, having dealt with short doors before.  Secondly, this wasn’t the first time I hit my head on it.  Why then haven’t I learned? Kid stampede.

Each morning I enter the kids’ stall to muck it out, anywhere from three to six kids try to run out.  They cannot run out because if their mother has yet to be milked, they’ll drink it all.  Today was no different.  In my attempt to keep the kids in the stall, I hit my head on the door jam… which hurt… a lot.

Second bang.

Shovel and rake in hand, I had tried to use the tools to block the kids from escaping.  Once I hit my head, the combined ricochet and body recoil, fueled by immediate pain, frustration, and anger, jettisoned my face into the handle of the shovel with the force of the asteroid that carved out the Yucatan.  However, my crater already existed—my left eye.

I was done.  The kids were out.  I didn’t care.  I threw the tools.  I didn’t care.  I dropped to the urine soaked ground.  I didn’t care.  My eye was black or so I thought.  Luckily the bone just above my eye took the brunt of the shovel.  My eye lid bled slightly and turned pink and purple anyway if not black.  Once I remembered who I was and didn’t feel like punching everything in mono-sight, I returned to mucking out the kids stall.
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Later, Jay and I took a walk over to the Llama Lounge to discuss what repairs and additions needed done to complete it.  To make the building more useful year-round, we are adding two walls that will ascend half the height of the roof.  It will be warmer for the animals, having a little more shelter from the wind, and we can use some of the space for storage.  We’ll start the Llama Lounge bottle wall during a workshop on Saturday.

The rest of my day involved making salsa with Annie.  We had a million tomatoes and peppers that need used up so we began to cut them all up.  I was on pepper duty and eventually I must have cut a few hot peppers because my hands began to burn badly.  I was paranoid I would somehow touch the cut above my eye.  We processed everything including some onion and garlic but as we neared the end and peered into our salsa cauldron it was clear we had more peppers than tomatoes.

So we’ll finish the salsa when we get more tomatoes and tomorrow I start the prep work on the Llama lounge.

Posted by: anniewarmke | September 7, 2012

Heaven, I’m in Heaven

Tuesday, we drove to Athens to pick up Guilliame (pronounced “Gee Um”), the spring-born buck.  When he was brought from the field he was unkempt and downtrodden, pissed on by his peers, quite literally, smelling of musk, timid and scared.  He probably suspected we were there to kill him.  Why would he have hope or trust when he had for so long seen himself as worthless?
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As we put on his new collar and lead, he resisted fully his presumed fate, fighting as we pulled him to the car. But then like the Lion having reached the Emerald City, he was brushed and petted, his hooves were trimmed, and he was given a dose of Annie’s special Bach Remedy mix to give him confidence for his long ride to his new home.  Almost immediately he accepted his fate, even if it was death, as being not so bad after all.

We picked him up and put him in the back of the Rav4 which was fenced and lined with plastic and began the drive home.  He never actually laid down or slept but stood, bouncing against the walls as we traversed the rolling Appalachian hills of southeast Ohio.  He must have been confused the whole time thinking, “These people sure are making a day out of killing me, but this is the best I’ve felt in years so I’ll stay awake for it and see how it all plays out.”

After two hours, four pees, and one poop, we arrived home.  Annie decided to keep Guilliame in a different field, separated from the rest of the goats where three of the llamas were kept so that the breeding didn’t start before we were ready.  At first he seemed to think this was the end of his road, but as we lifted him out of the car, set him on firm ground, and began to groom and pet him again he thought, “Alright, you got me. Where are the cameras?  Is that llama a camera? Hey, there is grass here too…munch, munch.”  I fed him some morning glory, which he devoured with great vigor, that was growing on the nearby plastic-bottle green house and made sure he had water Then we let him be.

It wasn’t long before he was crying incessantly.  We could hear him at the house.  He had Stockholm-syndrome withdrawal, missing the familiar cruelty of his old life.  He was also simply alone.  He knew there were other goats around somewhere but he was alone.  So I went to console him.  

I brought Tomas over in his harness to introduce them and to try to lift Guilliame’s spirits.  Tomas however was not interested.  Being the kid that he is, he was more excited to be in a new place and was running around eating things.  Then he heard his mother call from the other field and began to call back in a panic.  So I hooked him back up and we ran home together.  I returned Tomas to the herd and then I returned to Guilliame.  By now it had begun to rain.  

I walked Guilliame into the Llama Lounge to escape the weather.  It’s only a two-sided shelter and the wind was blowing through as the rain fell harder.  By this time the little guy was wet so he tucked himself against a wall beside the big box storage crate and began to weave back and forth in his attempt to sleep standing up.  Eventually he pressed his head against the box and began to nod off.  He looked miserable.

Annie and I couldn’t stand to see him look so sad, sleepy, wet, and cold, so we decided to clear a stall for him in the goat barn where he would be warmer and close enough to the herd to not feel alone.  We waited for the rain to subside enough to make a run for it.  I carried him to the barn, and upon setting him down, could tell he was much happier.  I dried him off as Annie freshened his water and hay.  Then the rain let up and we let him out to meet the ladies.

He was concerned all day that he was going to die.  Now, he was sure he had died and gone to heaven.  As the girls lined up against the fence, he took on the stance of a prince and declared, “I humbly accept the responsibility of the arduous and mighty task set before me for the betterment of goats everywhere… when do we start?”

“Not today Guilliame.” I said and returned him to his stall.

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