It’s a cold day in OH when we post podcasts…

It happened!  We have a new format at www.bluerockstation.com that will hopefully take us one step further into cyber-Wonderland.

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Lately we’ve been hearing from people at our tours and workshops that they like our podcasts, and some of those kind folks have also heard us live on WGRN (Fridays at 11:30 am) or WOUB radio (Wednesdays at 9:00 am).   It’s fun to hear folks quote some of the crazy things we say (actually, that Jay says) around here.

On another note, I confess that I have begun my annual rant against the weather. It’s 20+ degrees colder then normal this month, and the wind is relentless. Maybe I’m just tired from working hard to get ready for the cold weather and birthing goats, but it already feels oppressive and I find myself dreaming of the beach… and feeling slightly resentful when I see photos of old friends in Florida in shorts, shamelessly sweating in January.

You can learn more about daily life at Blue Rock Station, listen to podcasts and view photos by visiting the Blue Rock Station blog at https://bluerockstation.wordpress.com/.

 

Upcoming Workshops at Blue Rock Station:

Check out some of our other upcoming classes on solar installation, goat college, cheese making and 10 Ways to Make Thrive Your Mantra…www.bluerockstation.com  Please register early because all of our events have limited space.

 

The Critters:

The hen in the chicken tractor, Isabella, and her biddies are on strike.  At dusk, I patiently hauled the hen and six biddies (almost the size of their mother now) down to the chicken chalet while they screamed their fool heads off.  The next day, Isabella had trekked all the way back to the purple chicken tractor and she and her clan moved back in. This went on for a couple of days and each night she stood patiently, waiting for me to open the door of the tractor.

I am tempted to shut her in the permanent chicken run with Petunia, the peafowl, forcing her to get used to not going back to where I don’t want her to be (chickens thrive on double negatives).  The life of a farmer is one constant puzzle where half of the pieces are covered in manure.   I will let you know how this one turns out.  Ultimately I will win.  When?…is the question.

Food, the Heart of Sustainability:

Soup weather is here,  and about time.  Thank goodness cooking is super easy at this time of year.   Soak four cups of dried garbanzo beans (or open three cans from the store).   I use home grown canned tomato sauce, but a large jar from the store works fine as well.  I boil enough rice noodles for two meals for three people, and while the water is heating I fill a separate sauce pan with the cooked beans, sauce, a small amount of vegan chorizo and another small home-canned jar of spicy salsa.

On top of this mix I add some oregano and salt to taste.  Boiling rice noodles takes no talent.  Simply boil water, dump in the noodles once there is a rolling boil, turn off the heat and stir.  At this point I take scissors and cut up the noodles so they are easy to handle and eat. Drain the noodles and add the bean sauce for a thick garbanzo pasta dish that will get the blood pumping and warm everybody up on a cold night. Bon Appetite!
Words that Guided:

Just for today I will not listen to the news.  As Jay says when I ask what’s happening in the world, “Bin Laden’s still dead, Trump’s still the president, and somebody shot somebody.”  I can do without that in my brain for 24 hours.
Kindest Regards, Annie


Blue Rock Station, 1190 Virginia Ridge, Philo, OH 43771     *  (740) 674-4300

http://www.bluerockstation.com     *   @bluerockstation.com  #bluerockstation

 

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Because Buffalo Gals are Forever

The News This Week                                                                                             February 8, 2019

I am the farmer mug

 

The photo might seem like just an ordinary cup. Heaven knows I’ve been given dozens of them over the years. The only cup gift that touched me more then this one was one I never received.

Jay had been in Australia on business and brought me a handwritten note of how he had walked around Melbourne looking for just the right gift for my birthday. He realized after searching a few shops that there wasn’t anything I needed or wanted. Then he noticed a woman asking for money outside of the last shop he visited. It occurred to him that he could give her what he intended to spend on my gift, and that somehow that would be my gift as well. Even just remembering that note with Jay standing in front of me waiting for my reaction brings tears to my eyes.

So the cup in the photo represents something as powerful. It is about a deep friendship that has required a great deal of time, and effort and risks. It represents a connection between two women who have shared a too common female history, yet we do not share a generation. It’s about fun, and social justice, and being clever…and so much more. It’s about taking time to look each other in the eye and share ideas, no matter how crazy they seemed at the moment. And it’s about holding hands and choosing to walk our path together because together we are far braver, smarter and more aware of life then if we walked separately.

Every morning I will drink tea from this cup, and it will remind me that the quietest person in the room is the one I want to hear from. It will hold tea, but represent living a life of thriving and taking risks. And it will remind me of a day, in a meeting, at a time when I needed to hear it, that a story was told that made me realize I will never walk alone again because Buffalo Gals are forever.

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

Posting is Easy

Some great photos of our summer tomato adventures and more

Sunbelly Farm

It’s been waaaaay tooooo long since we’ve posted something that it’s become a mind monster. What’s that? I just made it up. I think it means that the thought of updating the website gets more and more intimidating and overwhelming the longer I wait to do it. I shall slay that mind monster with an easy post about tomatoes. Many of our days at Blue Rock Station have involved picking, washing, processing, cooking, and canning tomatoes. Here is the proof.

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IMG_0431.JPG We made sauce, salsa, tomato jam, and ketchup. The tomato jam and ketchup are life-changing. We were told it was so, we made them and tried them, and IT IS SO. If ever you find yourself with a lot of tomatoes, one day of freedom, and the desire to change for the better, make this recipe.

Blue cheese and tomato jam on a local, grass-fed, organic beef burger (thanks…

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Here Comes The Sun

There’s anticipation in the air and it’s not because fall weather makes me nervous that it will frost and finish off the garden. Actually there should be a giant drum role because when we created the first 10 year plan for Blue Rock Station in 1996 we put renewable energy (I barely understood this term) at the end of the goals because it wasn’t an efficient use of money or resources in those days). BUT…In three weeks we will install the solar array that will provide most of the power we will need for the entire farm.

The system we’ve designed is going to be installed in three segments – one the first week of October, and then we’ll add another array in a year, and then, if we need it, another array in 2016. This approach allows us to practice more conservation and also to learn more how we use energy, and how not to go hog wild since it is technically free.

Jay likes to say that when solar energy is readily available (and cheap) people will go crazy using it – “like a bunch of fraternity boys at a party with free booze”. I don’t want to think about energy as “free” because it is not. Many resources (some that are very limited) go in to making the solar array system. Rare minerals are required to create solar panels and those minerals are growing more and more scarce. That’s the reason that the US (and other countries) are exporting used electronics to China – little children are used to extract these rare minerals so they can be re-used. The rare minerals have some very serious side effects when touched by humans. I will leave you to figure out why this isn’t good.

My hope is that this new way of generating electricity will provide us with ways to “think” more honestly about how we live on this land, and how we can learn more about ourselves in our quest to not take away from the future.