Oh the life of a Blue Rock Station intern
Some great photos of our summer tomato adventures and more
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.
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.
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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.
News from Blue Rock Station: http://www.bluerockstation.com
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.
Upcoming Workshops from Blue Rock Station:
The complete schedule for 2014 is now posted at www.bluerockstation.com:
- 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 Workshop – Columbus, Ohio (SOLD OUT)
- June 21st – Goat College: Hoof trimming, basic cheese making, and natural goat health
- July 5th – Earthship 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 19th – Earthship and Sustainable Farm Tour (Please RSVP early, all tours this year have sold out prior to the tour date)
- July 19th – July 20th –River Stone Mosaics (Walkways and Patios) Weekend Workshop
- July 21st – July 25th – Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) Certification Workshop – Cleveland, 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 – https://www.facebook.com/BlueRockStationFarm) OR follow Annie Warmke’s blog at www.motherearthnews.com (Homesteading and Livestock).
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
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.”
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.
Fresh fruit with greek yogurt
Fresh baked oat bread (gluten free)
Fried white fish