Birthin’ Them Babies and vegan snacks for college kids

January News from Blue Rock Station:

We’re smack dab in the middle of “Thanks for Nothing Season” and we seem to barely have time to breathe.   Not exactly going according to plan.  The idea is to take a break from consumption during the winter months – which should (at least it has in the past) also include a bit of quiet time.  I’m not complaining though because it’s all pretty darn interesting.

It’s apparent that we’ve figured out how to avoid taking a break the entire year.  We have managed to save big projects for that time of year when (we tell ourselves) we will “have a bit of time to focus on them.”  So we have saved things like webinars, the writing of books, course development, podcasts and the like for cold weather.  Plus there’s no lack of interesting friends stopping by for a visit –  now that the tours and other events are waiting on warmer weather. We’re not going to pass up quality time with friends, that’s for sure.

Personally I think some of this frenzy is that we are in a transition phase with our work.  We’ve experienced this before when we moved from holding week-long straw bale builds to focusing on other aspects of sustainable living.   Now we seem to be transitioning from teaching and talking in front of people to spending more time in the even more remote virtual world.  This evolution gives us an opportunity to reach a lot more folks plus capture some of the ideas and concepts into a form that may last more than just a brief conversation.

The goats are contributing as much chaos as possible to the season. This morning when I went up to do chores before heading off to town for errands (I haven’t left the farm in over a week), Pinkie showed me she was in early labor.   She’s a bit early according to my calendar of birthing dates, so she apparently decided it was time to mess up my plans and focus me on birthing prep instead.  So I canceled the trip to town and spent an hour or so preparing for her labor – which promptly stopped as soon as I was ready.  And so it goes with goats. 

Where you can find us for solar training:

Join us for an Overview of Solar (for people interested in learning more or earning CEUs for their professional licensing) January 25th in Marietta, OH. The next week-long solar installer certification class is March 18-22 in Marietta Ohio.   Register at www.bluerockstation.com

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes.  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

January

  • January week days: Join Annie and Carie Starr of Cherokee Valley Bison Ranch for Coffee & Talk: Ask the Woman Experts 7:30 am.  Contact Annie for how to access the podcasts that feature farm women, market managers, and how to find the right piece of land.
  • January 25th:  Introduction to Solar Electric – Great for architects, homeowners, business owners – Marietta, OH
  • January 26th:   Free School: Nurturing the Activist in Me: Join Annie Warmke and Melissa Ayotte (1 pm to 4 pm) to  discover some of the basics of how to use some of that energy generated by today’s news to make changes in your everyday life, or the life in your family and community. Free School registration is required by contacting Annie Warmke.   Only six spaces available for this hands-on fun afternoon.

February

  • February 8th – 10th: Level II Solar Designer Class roll out – open to only six students (must have attended Level 1 class), Greencastle IN.  Contact us if you are interested.  This is a beta class with a special price for attendees.
  • February 16th: Free School: The Accidental Activist – learn how to take what you know and turn it into a way to make changes in your neighborhood or community.

March

  • March 6th: Farm Animal Concern Trust (FACT) webinar online 2 pm – 3 pm EST. Annie shares Setting the Course for making a living with your farm or homestead.
  • March 9th: Cheesemaking with Annie 1 pm to 4 pm
  • March 11th – 15thSmall Wind Installation Certification  five-day class, Zane State College, Zanesville, OH
  • March 16th: Goat College 1 to 5 pm
  • March 18th – 22nd:  Solar Electric Installer Certification class, Marietta, OH
  • March 24th: Join Annie in Columbus OH at the Garden Coach Homestead for a Healthy Fast Food afternoon; 1 pm to 4 pm.
  • March 30th: Build Your Own Solar Generator – Architects, engineers and more. Marietta OH

The Critters:

The goats definitely hate all of this snow – me too. We are all (the herd and I) ready for spring, and winter’s just begun. This is “kidding” week with five of our six dairy goats due to deliver healthy babies. Pinkie is definitely in labor as I write this, but she’s still chewing her cud and particular about how I touch her rear end (both signs she is not yet in full labor), so the real work hasn’t begun in earnest just yet.

This time of the year, for me anyway, is exciting and stressful.  Waiting for the labor to begin, making sure everybody survives and thrives along the way – it’s a full time job.  It’s also a marvel to think that in a matter of minutes, one of those beautiful does is simply standing in the stall, looking me in the face, and then a new life appears calling to its mama.  It struggles to its feet and tries to find the milk that doe has miraculously produced.  And it begins again.  Breathing, eating, resting, play – birth again and then, if we’re all lucky, a long time until death.   I hold that vision all day long, and when I wake up at night.  I worry, sometimes cry, and always rejoice along each step.

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

I’d forgotten how much people love peanut butter until I had 15 young men from Zane State College here for afternoon tea and to talk about solar energy. The tea box containing a variety of teas and a giant hot water urn was waiting for them when they arrived.  I toasted a variety of different breads on the blazing wood stove. Then I set out the giant peanut butter container along with some small dishes of honey, raisins, homemade granola, sliced bananas, diced apple (tossed in lemon juice and drained) and roasted sugared pecans.   Not a single crumb was left behind – all this from guys who turned their noses up at the idea of a vegan snack.

Bon Appetite!


Words that Guided:

Just for today, tell two people something you like about them.   As I like to say, “Kindness costs nothing.”


Kindest Regards, Annie

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Podcasts arrive and we Visualize Whirled Peas – the News from Blue Rock Station

At Blue Rock Station we think about sustainable living every single day. In the mornings Jay and I sit by the warm wood stove and talk about the world’s slow walk towards sustainable living, and this year we decided to take those talks to another level by creating a series of podcasts and soon-to-arrive webinars. This is our way of beginning a conversation with all of you – asking you to join us in our walk towards a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

To look at a preview of what Blue Rock Station’s new on-line home looks like visit us at http://www.bluerockstation.com.  And, there’s a special video message from us to you. It’s all just waiting for you to listen, learn and join with us in a new way of living.

Plus, you can join Carie Starr and me online every January weekday morning (except New Year’s Day) for a 7:30 am Coffee & Talk: Ask the Woman Expert – 30 minutes of insights into simple solutions for farm challenges, interviews with other women in agriculture and an occasional big laugh. To sign up, send a note with your email address to annie@bluerockstation.com.   #womengrowohio  #bluerockstation #ilovegoats #goatsatbluerockstation

IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!

While many of you will already be finished with your shopping, some of you may need a sustainable gift idea. Get in touch with us to put together a personalized gift – here are just a few ideas:

  • A special tour of Blue Rock Station
  • The Business of Goat Herding (Hot off the press)
  • A cheese making weekend (or consulting, personal cooking class or eBooks on goat health or business)
  • A scholarship for a solar installer class

You can learn more about how to create your holiday gift, or daily life at Blue Rock Station by visiting us at http://www.bluerockstation.com

 

Where you can find us for solar training:

The January class at Zane State College is pretty much sold out, but plenty of spaces available in our next class in March in Marietta, OH.  For more information on this class, visit our new “sister” site at http://www.solarpvtraining.com.

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes.  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

January

  • January 2nd: Annie and Carie Starr – 7:30 am Coffee & Talk: Ask a Woman Expert online with Women Grow Ohio Online
  • January 5th: Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm
  • January 6th: Fast Food Cooking Class noon to 3 pm (only six slots available) (no charge but you will be asked to bring some ingredients for one of the three soups, two salads or omelettes) Sign up with Annie at annie@bluerockstation.com.
  • January 7th – 11th:   Solar Installer certification class, Zane State College, Zanesville OH
  • January 25th:  Introduction to Solar Electric – Great for architects, homeowners, business owners – Marietta, OH
  • January 26th:   Free School: Nurturing the Activist in Me: Join Annie Warmke and Melissa Ayotte (1 pm to 4 pm) to  discover some of the basics of how to use some of that energy generated by today’s news to make changes in your everyday life, or the life in your family and community. Free School registration is required by contacting Annie Warmke.   Only six spaces available for this hands-on fun afternoon.

February

  • February 8th – 10th: Level II Solar Designer Class roll out – open to only six students (must have attended Level 1 class), Greencastle IN
  • February 15th: Roll out of new BRS online video training – cheese making, solar installation, and more. Check the BRS closer to the date for more details.
  • February 16th; Healthy Fast Food noon to 3 pm Free School (no charge for this vegan class but you will be asked to bring some ingredients for one of the three soups, two salads or the dessert) Sign up with Annie at annie@bluerockstation.com.

March

  • March 6th: Farm Animal Concern Trust (FACT) webinar online 2 pm – 3 pm EST. Annie shares Setting the Course for making a living with your farm or homestead.
  • March 9th: Cheesemaking with Annie 1 pm to 4 pm
  • March 11th – 15thSmall Wind Installation Certification  five-day class, Zane State College, Zanesville, OH
  • March 16th: Goat College 1 to 5 pm
  • March 18th – 22nd:  Solar Electric Installer Certification class, Marietta, OH
  • March 30th: Build Your Own Solar Generator – Architects, engineers and more. Marietta OH

The Critters:

All of the goats, like a lot of humans I know, have recently caught a cold.

I feel like I’m the playground monitor each morning, wiping runny noses after I have fed them their “snack.”  Each day I check them, evaluating snotty noses, coughs (loose or constant) and more.   They get kelp, Vitalerbs, Herbiotic, garlic, and chewable vitamin C.

So far it seems like we’re winning, but now my big concern is “Will I get their cold?”  This catching cold thing might work both ways.   This morning I told them that I can’t get sick for two more weeks.  I just have too much to do.  And as usual, they just stared at me. No sympathy.  Can you imagine?

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

I truly hate freezer vegetables.  But I’ve finally found a way to eat them, and make them taste really delicious.   First, I saute them (zucchini, eggplant, squash, green beans etc.) in sesame oil, with garlic and whatever else I like – onions might be good.   Next add some spice – I like curry, cayenne, salt, pepper, gram masala or whatever tastes good to you.

When the veggies are cooked through, but not too done, I add some pressed and chopped extra firm tofu. When that’s heated through, I scoop everything into the Nutri-Bullet, add a little rice or coconut milk and give it a whirl. When it’s finished, I could take it to the next level by adding some nuts, but either way it is extra delicious spooned over rice pasta, noodles, or eaten with naan or tortillas (used as as a scoop).

Bon Appetite!

Words that Guided:

Just for today I am going to imagine world peace. Now there’s a thought worth contemplating isn’t it?

Happy New Year from all of us at Blue Rock Station,  Annie, Jay

Cadeau, Sophie, Reenie, Dharma, Ralphie, Nikki, Shiela, the goats, chickens, Petunia Pea Fowl and all of the BRS wild life send the same good wishes

Kindest Regards, Annie

Pregnant Goats Hiding From Hunters – News from Blue Rock Station

December News from Blue Rock Station:

It’s time for our annual vacation from consumption; “Thanks for Nothing” season.   On December 1st we began our sixth year of spending four months on a holiday from consumption.  No shopping for anything. Watch for our end of December newsletter video with news about BRS.

For now the holiday presents are waiting to be wrapped, and the calendar is full of appointments for filming the new workshop videos. The plans for Yule are almost finished, and the Christmas popper supplies are ready to be assembled. I haven’t decided how I will decorate this year – I’m more interested in creating some new dried flower/weed decorations and perhaps adding to the Yule party photo booth costumes by making some fake reindeer antlers.

The goats are getting ready for January – a month that will be filled with healthy kids coming into this world.  If you’d like to join me for some goat midwife lessons tell your loved ones to purchase that for you for a holiday gift.  We’re anxious for milking season to begin again, so we can finish the cheese making video workshop webinar.

Business trips to speak at conferences, and consulting to help new farmers form their plans for putting together a way to make a living are all on the agenda. The holiday spirit is upon us with decorations, parties and gifts.  And each year we think the winter months will be slow and peaceful.  My how we delude ourselves.

IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!

While many of you will already be finished with your shopping, some of you may need a sustainable gift idea. Get in touch with us to put together a personalized gift that can include:

  • A special tour of Blue Rock Station
  • Two days of goat midwife lessons
  • Tours for the entire family
  • High tea at the Overlook
  • A cheese making weekend (or consulting, personal cooking class or eBooks on goat health or business)
  • A day at BRS for goat kidding season (Jan. 17 to 25th)

  • A scholarship for a solar installer class
  • A day of living life at BRS with chores, lunch prep and a fun activity (to be decided together)
  • Or create your own with tiny house weekends, Earthship 101 planning days, and much more. All gifts will include a post card of either the BRS animals or buildings (you choose) and we can send a hand written note or you can use one of the post cards to describe the gift you’re giving. Let us know your budget and we will be happy to find a way for you and your loved ones to connect with us.

You can learn more about how to create your holiday gift, or daily life at Blue Rock Station by visiting the Blue Rock Station blog at https://bluerockstation.wordpress.com/.

Where you can find us for solar training:

There are still a couple of slots for the January class at Zane State College in January in Zanesville OH.   If you need a place to stay during the class, please be in touch with us for recommendations, or perhaps we will have a sleeping cabin available. You can register at www.bluerockstation.com

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes.  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

December

  • December 1st:   Release of the book The Business of Goats by Annie Warmke and Carie Starr

  • December 12th: Join Annie and Carie at the PA Women in Agriculture Network Women Growing Justice Conference at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Gibsonia PA .
  • December 15th:   Release of the new Blue Rock Station podcast series

January

  • January 1st:   Release of the book Solar Installation and Design Level II
  • January 5th: Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm
  • January 7th – 11th:   Solar Installer certification class, Zane State College, Zanesville OH
  • January 26th:   Free School: Nurturing the Activist in Me: Join Annie Warmke and Melissa Ayotte (1 pm to 4 pm) to  discover some of the basics of how to use some of that energy generated by today’s news to make changes in your everyday life, or the life in your family and community. Free School registration is required by contacting Annie Warmke.   Only six spaces available for this hands-on fun afternoon.

The Critters:

The goats definitely hate all of this rainy weather. Each morning they remain in their nighttime resting places, waiting for me to appear and magically bring sunshine. To top it off, it’s deer hunting season, complete with loud noises coming from the holler and the woods. Tomorrow I plan to keep the goats shut in the barn yard.  Although I don’t look forward to the giant load of soil-producing manure I will be faced with the next day, I don’t want to take a chance on some inattentive hunter deciding that one of them is a deer. The hunters this morning kept pulling off of the road and watching the goats in the pasture.   Makes me wonder if they really know what a deer looks like.    After seeing the parade of pickup trucks on the road, I decided not to take any chances for the rest of the week.

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

This past month I’ve been busy working on creating a cheese making video.  This got me thinking about how to preserve cheese. Let’s say someone gifts you a big chunk of cheese, or your favorite kind of cheese is on special at your local market, or you have the good luck to buy up a bunch of cheese ends at the meat/cheese counter.  I like to slice the cheese into small bite-size pieces and place them into a clean jar.  I add balsamic or apple cider vinegar or olive oil with garlic cloves and tighten the lid.  After about a week, the cheese chunks will be infused with a delightful winter flavor and ready to use as salad toppings, scalloped potato flavoring or – well, use your imagination. If the cheese stays covered with the liquid, it will last in the refrigerator nearly forever. Bon Appetite!

Words that Guided:

Just for today I will tell myself that I am sorry for not loving myself enough, and then think about one way I could do better.

Kindest Regards, Annie

Goodbye to Helen and Lily

November News from Blue Rock Station:

Pigs. They are a surprising joy in my life here at Blue Rock Station. Over the past decade we’ve had the company, Charlotte & Wilbur sleepingassistance and friendship of 10 intelligent hard working pigs that brought laughter – and taught me many things.

Dealing with an animal – eventually a very large animal – that has the intelligence of a five-year-old human, has given me many opportunities to use my counseling degree.  I’ve taught them their names, how to respond to different calls, and to gently work with me as I walk with them.  They also learned to let me know when something was wrong, directing me to the problem.

Did you know that pigs can sing?  They sing a song that tells me to hurry up with the feed.  They have another higher pitch song when I’m taking too long. When I call them, they answer with a special grunt to let me know they’re on their way.

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They also know how to cuss. The other day Lily rolled her morning pumpkin straight down the hill.  She tried to stop it before it rolled under the electric fence wire and into the forest – but no such luck.  I knew exactly when it passed under the fence because she squealed out several clear sounds that sounded more like a trucker in bumper-to-bumper traffic than gentle Lily.

Helen and Lily have been with me for a year now.  During that time I saved Helen’s life, learned how to make suppositories for pigs and insert them (don’t ask), plus what a pig looks and acts like when they’re in pain.  With them I developed a certain courage to try new solutions to health issues, and to take matters into my own hands.  In the past I would have turned things over to a veterinarian, usually with limited (or bad) results.   I shared every day with them in some form or fashion, and even when it was miserably cold,  I found myself happy to have them call back to me when I announced feeding time with a high pitched “bon jour”.

In exchange for daily feed and health care, they have rooted out the parasite egg table in some of the pastures, cleaned up more of the pond, and cleared the forest floor in front of the Earthship.  But more importantly, they have given me pleasure with their singing, arguing and beauty.

Tomorrow they will go to pig heaven. This is a sad reality on a farm.  While I love and adore them – they are not pets.   They are large, lumbering livestock and they have reached their maximum healthy weight.  Without intending to, they could cause me or someone else physical harm.  They will have no job over the long winter months, and in the spring we must make room for new piglets.  This is the way of things.

 

This part of farm life makes me question myself constantly.   I am sorry to admit to myself that these are animals that were born to be butchered.  They came to us from another farm where I am sure they would have been treated kindly, but not loved nearly so well.  I do not eat meat.  But meat is eaten.  Life and death are very real on a farm.  Helen and Lily were bred and born so that one day they would find their way to someone’s table.  I have tried to make the time in between comfortable, happy, healthy and safe.  I know that is never enough but it is the way it is.

You can learn more about the pigs at Blue Rock Station and view photos by visiting the Blue Rock Station blog at https://bluerockstation.wordpress.com/.

Where you can find us for solar training:

There are still a couple of slots for the November class at Rural Action in Athens OH  OR at Zane State College in January in Zanesville OH.   You can register at www.bluerockstation.com

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes.  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

November

  • November 3rd – 4th: Earthship 101: The basics of Earthship building and living plus stay over in a strawbale cabin  (SOLD OUT)
  • November 5th – 9th: Solar Installer Certification Workshop – Rural Action, Athens, OH
  • November 10th Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm

December

  • December 1st:   Release of the book The Business of Goats by Annie Warmke and Carie Starr
  • December 15th:   Release of the new Blue Rock Station webinar series

January

  • January 1st:   Release of the book Solar Installation and Design Level II
  • January 5th: Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm
  • January 8th – 11th:   Solar Installer certification class, Zane State College, Zanesville OH
  • January 19th:   The Activist in Me: learning how to respond in today’s world; Free School registration is required by contacting Annie Warmke.   Only six spaces available for this hands-on fun afternoon.

The Critters:

The weather, with all the rain and cold, has been hard on the critters. The goats, one-by-one, caught a cold that a visitor brought in early October.  As the days wore on, they fell like dominoes,  greeting me in the morning with runny noses and coughs.   Out came the Vitamin C chewables and lots of minerals with an immune booster tonic.  Trisha still has her cough, but everyone but me seems to be adjusting to global weirding – for the moment anyway.

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Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

Delicious easy broth.  For lunch I baked some butternut squash and while it cooked, I picked some celery stalks and parsley for a broth.  We had some tangerines and kumquats left over from the Dia de los Muertos free school class, so I added them  and saved the tangerine peeling for future recipes that ask for zest.  A little salt and pepper were added to the mix and after about 20 minutes I added some peeled potatoes that I later mashed to thicken the broth for the squash.  I plan to save some of the broth in small zip lock bags so I have a starter for the next time I want butternut squash soup.  After the squash was baked, I peeled it and placed it in the broth to finish it off, and fished out the celery, parsley & citric bits.  Then, along with some tofu and coconut milk plus a dash of cayenne and curry powder, I pureed it in the blender.  Quick and easy delicious soup that practically made itself. Bon Appetite!
Words that Guided:

Just for today I will think about where my food came from and what that means – from the seed or animal all the way to the plate in front of me.
Kindest Regards, Annie

Visit us on the Airwaves

We are having a grand time creating podcasts.  Actually Jay was rather reluctant but once he did a couple of them with me, he was sold.  You can hear the podcasts at http://www.bluerockstation.com or listen on the radio at WOUB AM Studio B (When the Biomass Hits the Wind Turbine Show), and WGRN (Arriving at Blue Rock Station).  We’re having fun with Chris Luers as our producer (Barking Frog Media) putting together the audio shows about life as we see it.  Stay tuned for more including online webinars plus two new books.

Recording these shows with Jay has been quite informative.  First of all, it’s clear that he makes me laugh more often then I realized.  Yes, he is funny, but on the air he is extra humorous.

Secondly I realize that lots of the things we’re doing in our life together would be interesting to me even if it wasn’t us talking about preserving food, solar energy, and safe travel…

You’ll find more information in those podcasts then you could ever imagine.  I hope you’ll listen to one or two, and let us know what you think.

The Critters:
The new peacock and his hen arrived with great fanfare. The chickens were immediately intimidated by the long peacock tail and huddled together as I carried him down through the field to the hen house.  Over time though they all figured out how to live together, and then a raccoon tore through two layers of wire to brutally kill Mr. Peabody.  In a short time we had all grown to admire and respect his grandeur and abilities.  Penelope, his mate was at a loss without him, but she continued her daily supervision of Laura Nein’s 4th grade class chicks, and still went on her own into the hen house at night.  She’s happy to report that a new Mr. Peabody and his mate, Petunia appeared suddenly this week and while I am still grieving for the grandest peacock ever, it seems like life is moving forward (in peafowl land anyway).

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:
I love potatoes… but doesn’t everybody?  One of my favorite ways to fix them this time of year is to boil them, drain and then add some course salt with pepper.  Newly dug potatoes are best for this recipe, which is often requested by returning interns.  You can’t go wrong with this easy combination.  Bon Appetite!

Words that Guided:
Just for today I will honor my own ability to make smart decisions in life…just to prove it I’m going to make a list of them.

Kindest Regards, Annie

Rebuffed Chickens and the Business of Goat Herding

September News from Blue Rock Station:

Every morning the hen, Isabella and her chicks, who live in the tiny purple chicken tractor near our bedroom window – touch my heart.  As Isabella waits to see if I will bring her some greens, her chicks rest on her back and next to her, reminding me (as if I need reminded) that everybody needs a mama.

There have been lots of young chicks, and by this I mean young people of all sexes, in our lives this summer.   Our two interns were a constant joy to share our lives with as they learned, and taught.  We also had an abundance of young people visit for field trips and tours.  They’re about to be in charge of the world – and it makes me feel confident that we’re going to be just fine.

This autumn promises to be busy as we role our the new solar installer webinars online, and prepare to publish The Business of Goat Herding book.  The Level II Solar Design and Installation book is waiting for me to finish the last edits so it can be a part of our new product line.  Check out our podcasts or register for one of our fall classes (University of Dayton Solar Installer in October and Rural Action Athens Solar Installer in November) on our website.

The news might be full of gloom and doom, but opportunity abounds.  So turn off your TV or radio (or news feed) and join us soon either in person for a tour or consult, or online to share in a great community of people who have an agenda that will keep the earth (and our souls) alive.  Stay tuned for opportunities to become a member of Blue Rock Station and enjoy our podcasts, webinars and Ask the Expert.  More to come…

Where you can find us for solar training:
There are still a couple of slots for the October class at the University of Dayton, Dayton OH  OR at Rural Action, Athens, OH. You can register at www.bluerockstation.com.

750-watt inverter working happily after the connection was fixed. Now on lighter “office duty.”

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes.  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

September

  • September 29th-30thTiny House Weekend wrap up for winter…pound some tires, plaster a little and get her ready for the long sleep.

October

  • October 4th – 8th – Solar Installer Level 1 Certification Class, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH
  • October 11th: John McIntire Library – Annie will be giving a talk on “Stories of a Woman Who Learned to Thrive – Growing through and beyond the #MeToo Experiences” 6:30 pm. Free of charge.
  • October 13th Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm
  • October 20thFREE SCHOOL: Join Eduardo Sandavol for the second annual Day of the Dead workshop. Learn the real history of the celebration, make some authentic food, and help set up the official Day of the Dead alter.
  • October 27th BRS Goat College afternoon…Rural Action sponsored (part of the SARE grant series).  Register early to avoid disappointment.
  • October 27thSolar Generator Workshop – at Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta, OH

November

  • November 3rd – 4th: Earthship 101: The basics of Earthship building and living plus stay over in a strawbale cabin
  • November 5th – 9th: Solar Installer Certification Workshop – Rural Action, Athens, OH
  • November 10th Open House Tour 1 pm to 3 pm
  • November 17th:   Learn to be an Activist in today’s world – BRS Free School – register by emailing annie@bluerockstation.com

The Critters:  

Henry (pronounced “on ree”) is quite a wonder.  While still a young chick, he decided he wanted to live at the barn.  Each morning he greets me at the chicken chalet gate, so he can walk with me to the milk room. Patiently he waits while I muck out the barn yard, and then he jumps onto the feed bin with a cute little coo, asking for food. I can point my finger to anything and he comes to see what is of interest. And, now he’s been practicing his crowing. Hoping to impress the ladies, who he just discovered this week.  As the parade of hens came under the chalet gate, Henry’s world has turned upside down.  Unfortunately he hasn’t figured out he has to dance to win their approval, so when he runs after them they turn and fight as if they’re roosters.  He’s had his heart broken, and perhaps his ego damaged, each morning.  He walks with me back to the milk room with his head bowed.

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

There are still lots of delicious tomatoes available at farms and markets. Pack them into cool jars, add a little salt and place them in boiling water for about 40 minutes.   It’s that easy. Or make up a big batch of sliced/diced tomatoes of various colors, add salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme) and enjoy as a salad.  But save enough for later in the week to put on top of a baked potato, a bean salad, or coleslaw.   Bon Appetite!

Words that Guided:

Just for today I will speak the truth in the kindest way possible, but I will speak the truth about something that’s needed to be said.

Kindest Regards, Annie

Food and Its Story

A swift, refreshing breeze drifts up and over the ridgeline and brings a euphoria of relief to my sunned face.  My fingers run through my hair, stiff from the accumulation of dried sweat, gained from a morning of rewarding labor.  The last of this day’s lunch spread has joined the table.  Food tells a lot about a person, and in this case, it can bring illumination to a connection of intentional living arrangements.

Naturally, my eyes fixate first on the vibrant array of food placed so seductively before me.   In one bowl, sliced potatoes, zucchini, and squash are coated in an aromatic blend of cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper.  In its neighboring dish, peaches, blueberries, pears, and apples coalesce to form a gorgeous fruit salad.

The first story within the food is the food itself.  The BRS homestead has created a system which is not reliant on the mainstream global food market, which most people shop within.  Food is grown on the property or obtained from the local farmers food auction, for a substantially smaller price than normal grocery stores.  In addition, the homestead has canned, frozen, and stored a supply of food which is readily available for a meal and can be relied upon when seasonal food is not abundant, such as in colder months.

Also within the food, is the water used to cook with and to drink for the meal.  The homestead has designed a rainwater collection system to provide for all of its water needs.  The rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in a large cistern, and then purified for daily use.

Energy is needed to make a meal as well.  The homestead’s energy is supplied by a moderately sized solar array.  These elements of BRS eliminate the need to be reliant on large-scale systems, which we have no control over.  It reduces the capacity for a toxic, soul-sucking emotion to emanate, fear.  A word that seems to gain momentum, fueled by the media, and radiated into all of our souls.

A country that idealizes freedom and independence is caught in a wave of insecurity.  This insecurity can lead to hateful fear upon others; blaming things such as immigration for the feelings radiating within.  Immigrants, the people that mostly make up the migrant farm workers in this country, supporting the food system most people are ever reliant upon, end up receiving the blame.

This fear does not need to be exhausted endlessly down these channels which cannot be controlled.  Things that we do have power over can boost our confidence and self-reliance.  Growing a garden, creating a simple water harvesting system, sharing meaningful stories, eating a local meal, enjoying the company of others, or taking any other little step to grow some peace of mind for ourselves allowing us step away from the mass hysteria and put together our attainable pieces of happiness.