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

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 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 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 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


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.


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

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

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 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 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.


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

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 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

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.

Progressing to Purpose

Life needs to have a little oomph in it. Life filled with meaning and love and peace of mind. My life this past week seems to encapsulate a life pretty close to these broad, catchall words. Blue Rock Station has created such a beautiful and harmonious lifestyle 20180626_1308413that just leaves me pretty damn happy at the end of the day. Starting with how time is used in a productive, intentional way around here. I’ve never had a dull moment; the quieter moments are sometimes even more radiant than the adrenaline kicks.   Picking for the perfect elderflower blossoms, I get lost in the rhythmic cycle, only returning to reality when the occasional goat jumps and rattles the fence (they must conduct a thorough investigation).  My hands seem to be fulfilling a purpose, stimulating the side of me that gets neglected much too often. Mud oozes through my fingers as I’m mixing and maneuvering cob and recycled materials for the barn wall. The blood rushes to my head as I am hanging vertically upside-down in a wall cavity, getting a crash course in plumbing. Pounding tires, planting gardens, repairing fences, cutting slate, sawing wood, and uh chasing a peacock are just a few of my most recent endeavors. Even something that might be labeled a chore flows naturally and brings rewards. Scrubbing the vibrantly red algae from a water trough, the gradual restoration of the silver walls brings forth a meditative pleasure to an afternoon task. This rewarding lifestyle is surrounded by a community of inspired and intentional people. Sharing meals, exchanging stories, collaborating on projects, the people at Blue Rock Station radiate 20180621_1209362authenticity, which is lacking in a great portion of society. It’s a way of living that creates a sense of identity and self-worth. Material goods and the lifestyles being encouraged by our modern society do not give us these values. People are becoming less happy and lost
in the muck of advertising and meaning-deprived lives. The signs are showing us that progress maybe isn’t quite what we made it out to be. The push for ever-expanding growth has created a gaping hole in society and in us. Progress needs to be reframed with the intent of creating a more fulfilling, intentional, healthy, and localized society. A society more concerned with fostering 20180627_192327harmonious connections between all of nature’s intricacies, helping our lives to strive towards being wholesome.   As I’m sitting on my porch gazing out into the forest, my little whip-poor-will buddy is chirping away, the hot tea is settling into my belly, and the day is sinking into my bones, I think I’ve found what real progress can be. Progress with the power to actually leave someone happy at the end of the day.

Crack Technology

Something new has invaded Blue Rock Station.

For years we have welcomed interns into our home/business/life.  The experience has been wonderful for us and we hope a great learning experience for the interns.  We work hard during the day, and typically the evenings are filled with conversation, music and staring out over the hills and letting the mind rest.  Often the interns sit outside and write letters to friends and relatives.  Actual pen and paper letters.

But in the past few years this idyllic scene has changed a bit.  The interns have brought with them a mental parasite;  a rectangle that consumes their attention, their conversation, their ability to think clearly.  The rectangle has gobbled up resources, time and joy.

As I write this, I am listening to NPR.  They are telling a story of how high school kids have been asked to give up their phones for a day.  Twenty-four entire hours without the rectangle.  You would have thought their entire family had been killed in a plane crash or they were being asked to walk a dozen miles barefoot across broken glass.

We have tried to limit interns access to the phone here at Blue Rock Station.  But like addicts everywhere, they need their fix and when unwatched, are shooting up with Facebook and Instagram.  We turn off the broadband receiver – and suddenly there are errands that must be run at places with free wi-fi.

I am not sure what solution lies undiscovered.  I just know this addiction to crack technology is damaging and widespread.  I see students on college campuses walking in groups – but they are not together.  They are each focused on their rectangle as they walk in front of cars – oblivious the the world around them and their “friends” in the “real” world.

Why wait for the zombie apocalypse?  It is already here.