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.


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

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

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 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 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 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.


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.


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…

View original post 5 more words

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.

June Celebrations Fail to Keep the Raccoons at Bay – the News from Blue Rock Station

News from Blue Rock Station:

Now that spring is finally here and the summer interns have arrived (Melanie Newell) has left a huge hole in our hearts with her departure in May) we’re in full swing with work schedules, gardening, trying to complete the solar installation study guide, and fall planning.  Some days it feels like I’m on a treadmill with the long days of beautiful sunshine.  All of that light makes my brain think I need to work from dusk to dawn, and with so many strawberries to put up, and new goat kids (and all of those weeds), I feel I might begin to long for winter (I’m not serious, don’t worry).

June is a time of celebration here at Blue Rock Station.  This year marks 33 years since Jay and I have been together.  It surely doesn’t seem that long ago.  When we got married, I  worried that we wouldn’t have enough years together.  I was 29 and had significant health issues.   I worried that we wouldn’t have a long time together.   As I tell him from time-to-time, our life together will never be long enough.  It has been over three decades of travel, children (ours and temporary ones), economic prosperity, going broke, loss, gain and learning.   I wouldn’t want to trade one day of it for anything.  ferry at Doverwaiting to get married

Upcoming Workshops from Blue Rock Station:

The complete schedule for 2014 is now posted at


  • June 14th – Father’s Day Earthship and Sustainable Farm Tour (SOLD OUT)
  • June 14th – June 15th – Designing, Building and Maintaining Living Roofs Weekend (SOLD OUT)
  • June 16th – June 20th – Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) Certification WorkshopColumbus, Ohio (SOLD OUT) 
  • June 21st – Goat College: Hoof trimming, basic cheese making, and natural goat health


  • July 5thEarthship and Sustainable Farm Tour (Please RSVP early, all tours this year have sold out prior to the tour date)
  • July 5th- July 6th –  Earth Plastering Weekend Workshop
  • July 8th – City Folks Farm Shop talk by Annie on Sustainable Business Practices, Columbus OH
  • July 19thEarthship and Sustainable Farm Tour (Please RSVP early, all tours this year have sold out prior to the tour date)
  • July 19th – July 20thRiver Stone Mosaics (Walkways and Patios) Weekend Workshop
  • July 21st – July 25th – Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) Certification WorkshopCleveland, Ohio (several slots are still available but sign up early to avoid disappointment)

You can also join us online at Facebook (Blue Rock Station Green Living Center – OR follow Annie Warmke’s blog at (Homesteading and Livestock).

The Critters:

So far my new animal protection psychology program is working.  It is, however about to be severely tested.  For the past year or so I’ve been “working with” the predators that make their home at or near Blue Rock Station.  I cope by keeping the chickens safely tucked inside their coop and enclosed run, letting them out to roam only every second  or third day.  I vary the time of their release, in an attempt to confuse the predators.   Yesterday they were out all day, but the day before they were only out for about an hour.   All of this takes some thought and planning, but in the evening when I conduct the chicken census – the numbers are holding fast.  So I suspect it has been worth the effort.

For the past two nights a critter that acts a lot like a raccoon has been pushing and pulling at the chicken wire of the run outside the coop.  The chickens are tucked safely inside the Chicken Chalet at night so, for now, all that’s happening is that the little demon is sniffing around.  Last year a raccoon actually dug out the clay/can wall of the chalet and killed two hens. T o be on the safe side, we’re in the process of building a new bottle wall (this time with concrete) where the coon has been sneaking in.  I’ll keep you posted.

Words that Guided:

Just for today, the world is at peace.

Kindest Regards, Annie