Thursday, February 27, 2014

Circle of Life and Death

It's an odd feeling, being so involved with the life of the farm. I woke up this morning with alfalfa littering the floor of my room, a pile of dirty goat bedding, and a sneaking suspicion that a certain fuzzy black critter needed to be fed. Later, I had fed the rest of the family, tended to their whims, and connected with the other animals. A couple hours later, and we were skinning the baby goat that we lost, and scooping out her brains to tan her hide. Sounds gruesome, and in a way it is, but it gives me a sense of pride that we are using and celebrating all the parts of the system. I've got one hand nurturing life into a goat, and another holding the skinning knife. And I enjoy being so deep in this farm that I find myself fading into my environment. Closer and closer to hive-mind, working as a group. Deep and meaningful partnerships become the means to eat, the moments of heartbreak and celebration.

Much ado

Long day getting some work done. My day surrounded this baby goat, Blackjack, from beginning to end. I'm really bonding with this little guy. When he was newborn, we called him pranamayama because he didn't eat a lot and still seemed perky. Well, now he can't get enough milk. One more night indoors and he may be ready to live with mom again, though we will have to bottle feed him...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Found BlackJack cold and waning this morning. Milked Licorice for the first time to relieve some pressure, and Blackjack took it all by bottle. Interesting process, the milking: brushing, cleaning the teats, fending off unwieldy kicks at you and your milking bowl... Worth it, though to see blackjack bounce back like he has. I'm watching him tonight on account of I have the kid-friendliest room. I expect that there will be some midnight requests for food from this little tyke, so I had better hit the hay.


It's hard for me to think of myself as a creator. I'm often so caught up in just taking it all in, that I forget to be a part of the growth I see around me. In the past, creating, I have looked to words and even numbers to validate my work. But farming feels like creating as part of a big team. We are all working together to make something: me, the microbes, the animals, the other people, the elements. Together we cultivate a space that is simple and fruitful, a place that even bees and blackberries want to call home.

This place is so abundant. It even gave me some accidental art. I might have to tweak out over this hippy hunk of wood that looks like a lady from both sides. I found her while picking up prunings from last year.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby goats!

Woke yesterday morning to Michaela's exclamation: "Baby goats!" Licorice had four kids during the night and stood dumb, wondering what all the fuss was about. One little one, who we named BlackJack Pranayama, didn't look like he was gonna make it. He was pretty chilly, but when he got a good cuddle, he bloomed. Two other kids, girls, are growing strong. We named them Daphne Pangaea and Anise Loba. They both have their dad's brown patches. The fourth one flew under the radar until this afternoon when we found her in a sorry state. Couldn't figure out for sure, but it looked like she either had been stepped on or was seizing. We stopped the suffering she was in, and remembered the exchange that birth and death are part of. We will take Luna's black and white coat before we bury her tomorrow, to continue to honor her.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Catching up

My, have I been the recluse! Sorry for the absence.

Things really picked up once the final WWOOFer , Ariana, got here. She's from Vermont, and proud of it, too; she came baring a pint of maple syrup that we promptly powered through. So we're all settling into a schedule of chores, filling in gaps, and eliminating overlap. Each day now starts off between 8 and 8:30 for breakfast, cleanup, and then daily projects. Where I used to feed the animals first thing in the morning, the other WWOOFers have an easier time, seeing as their sleeping quarters are right by the barn.

Peter always has an ongoing list of stuff to do outside. Today, he mentioned that there is some wood that needs to turn into kindling. We discovered a trickle of ants in the kitchen so we are being proactive about that, too. Finished up the soap making project, too, and put everything back in its proper place. In the last week, we have taken down a pool, retrieved another truckload of sheep manure, layed gravel for a trailer/office, built a cob ramp to keep the goats in their sleeping quarters, mulched a path, and organized the potting/greenhouse area. We've had two bonfires, planted three beds, and are on to another four beds today.

Jini came home with her new dog, Ruby around the last time I posted a blog, and there has definitely been an upset in the canine apple cart. Lucy, the other pooch, thought she was queen of the castle, but Ruby, younger and about four times Lucy's size, has finally shown who is in charge. The dogs had a scuffle that Lucy is still recovering from. I'm just glad they figured out who was on top.

Valentines day found us hosting a little get together with music, guest, and love-laden foods. Two soups, vegan chocolate cheesecake, and BBQ ribs. Next day, we planted the starts for our garden that should get in the ground today.

Oh! I had my first visitor here, too. Ryan came up from Southern California to visit friends in the SF area, and made time to stop up here and check out my gig. He agrees that it is a good one, and I hope to see him and our mutual friend Chris up here around Mid-March. So much happening around here, that I wonder what the place will be like only a month from now.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Garden Day, Aquaponics, and Sourdough Success

Lots of fun work done today. Fixed up the potting shelter and moved some compost from our friend Jean's sheep. Spread on a few beds and double dug the compost in. Meanwhile, Michaela and Jini worked to process the Yucan roots into pickled versions of themselves, as well as packing some whole and dirty in a bucket with newspaper so they will keep while we take our time eating the pickled ones.
They also prepped the pumpkin for our vegan pumpkin chocolate pie for Valentines day. We're having quite the soiree tomorrow, and desert just may be the most important part.

Afterward, we zipped off to Ukiah High School to get a tour of their Aquaponics project. They have three rows of tanks, one big one on the bottom, and two staggered, smaller tanks suspended above that. Water flows constantly between the three levels. The fish live in the bottom, and provide most of the nutrients by eating the plant waste, and the plants use the nutrients from the water to grow amazing vegetables. The plants are susoended in a fliating foam with cocao mulch, and their roots soak up nutrients in the water they share with prawns in the upper tanks, and Steelhead or Bass in the lower tank. The solid waste settles in a catchment basin, and goes to the bio-digester, which catches the methane gas from the break-down. The gas powers a water heater that pumps warm water underneath the tanks to keep them warm in winter. Then, the digested sludge is finally fed to worms.

We could have been beat after a day like that, but we came home to delicious Gluten-free pasta, and my first crack at GF Sourdough. It was soo good. I missed real bread, but I think we made something that is close enough to actually call bread. I have another batch in the oven, and another one on the rise. Toast! How I've missed you!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Old grape

This beautiful specimen is just one of thousands of vines that are growing all over this valley. Mendocino county is home to so very many vineyards.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Long time, no post.

Lots going on lately! Our other intern, Brian showed up, and we promptly got to work on some projects. He's cleaning out the barn, and making it into sort of an artists workshop. And adjacent to the barn, we're constructing a new goat enclosure around the legs of the solar array. I like working with Peter, and I'm learning a lot. We've also had help from a "friend of the family," Chris, who is as knowledgeable about natural building as he is about South American struggles.  The goats are excited to be in the new enclosure, as they had been allowed over there before the solar construction; they are rather curious about what's been going on in their old turf. We're also excited that this is getting done so the goats have their own, familiar shelter for kidding. We think maybe Licorice, the black and white beauty pictured here, has 4ish kids in her, so she wants a cozy place to rest. All this rain has everyone antsy out there, including the chickens. They want to roam about, but I don't trust them in the rain. Plus, I don't want to have to go herd them out of the garden and back into the coop in the rain either.
Also learned how to brew Jun and Kombucha from Jini as she prepared some of the best meals yet. 

Seafood is definitely on the menu this month, because we're expecting that maybe there will be a lot of radioactivity hitting this coast from the Fukushima disaster three years ago. Lots of rumblings about that issue here in NorCal, but I must admit that I hadn't heard a lot about that until arriving here. Past couple nights we have had snapper, and then crab and we're savoring every last morsel.

Last night, we went to the Mendocino Environmental Council's radio station/headquarters for one of the DJ's birthday party/potluck. We brought a vegetable tray that included Yuccan root and a chipotle hummus, and plenty of chicken wings with Salt Hollow Fig Barbeque sauce. I made some new friends there, too. It was nice to branch out a bit, seeing as I already feel so at home here on Road B.

That's all for now; those goats don't feed themselves!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cookin' S'more

Got to work at Plow Shares today, where we made spaghetti and sauteed vegetables and garlic bread in mass quantities. Spent the afternoon with Jini making kraut, and kale chips, and then DINNER.
Mind you, I'm just the side-kick here, and Jini calls the shots, but I have really enjoyed these cooking projects. I learned how to make cinderella Pumpkin* stuffed with turkey sausage, brown rice, onions, etc., and topped with cilantro punpkin seed pesto and ghee. Had it with a salad greens, cabbage, steamed cauliflower*, chard, and carrots and a dessert of cranberry Norwegian fruit soup with dried fruit*, topped with Kiwi Juice and bitters. Delightful meal to make and eat.

A long day of cooking, but I'm finding that the kitchen is my favorite place. It  could also be that that is where I feel the most at home. I imagine I will really enjoy doing whatever it is that I might do here :D

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rained In

Today, the rain has us doing more indoor domestic work. Jini and I are going to organize the library and cook up some foods that need processing. I've also got plans to do some paper processing regarding taxes, a job application to the local food co-op, and other miscellaneous tasks. I'm feeling like I am in the swing of things already, and connected with the community. Warm fuzzies!

Getting Grafted

Today we went to the county Scion Exchange, where residents brought cuttings from their favorite productive plants. Seeds too. Cool events and speakers. Small farmer market, a rain dance, chicken mole lunch option (though we had packed in lots of food for lunch). To top it all off, I met some more Salt Hollow family, including a former WWOOFer. I was feeling like part of that family by the time we arrived home, when Brett told me that the room was free for me. I made the room my own, and breathed easy, feeling thankful to have the earth reach up to offer deep roots wherever I turn.