Monday, March 31, 2014

Found some more pics to share.

Here are some photos that I never posted but should definitely be on the blog. Went for a walk with the WWOOFers and dogs, and also a couple of jumping on the trampoline with Joel while he was here. Makes you feel like a kid!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

San Fran Recap, Update

Hello all. Sorry for the delay in posting.

Went to San Francisco with my buddy Joel. He came to visit me from Michigan, and I returned to SF with him to sightsee before he got back to MI. Joel, Ariana, and I walked and walked around the city. We walked the 7 miles through Golden Gate Park, and then up the western coast of the peninsula toward the bridge. We almost got there, but time was short, so we got back to the hostel. Joel and I had plans to go dancing or somesuch that night, but decided against it, after wandering around some 10 miles of the city. We got breakfast at that greasy spoon that I posted about previously.

Then I went to catch a bus back to Ukiah. I waited and waited, for 25-30 minutes, and then ducked into a coffee shop in order to make alternate plans. That's when I saw my bus drive by, some 10 minutes later. Being resilient, and having friends still in the city, I was not dismayed, though, and geared myself up for another day (and night) in the city. I walked through Chinatown, spent some serious time in the Castro, and went back to the hostel to meet up with Joel. Again, we planned on going out on the town, but in the end, watched High Maintenance, one of our favorite shows. I did catch the right bus home on Sunday morning, and was home by evening to get back to the daily grind.

Shortly thereafter, Janet, our new Irish friend and most recent WWOOFer arrived. She's delightful, eager to work, and has entertaining turns of phrase. In fact, I've got to get back to working with brian and her, so I'll cut this short.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Goats are my life.

Blackjack's first of apple blooms. Dogs rule my doings, too. Here's Lucy riding safe. And a picture of Applebloom from My Little Ponies cause that's where my mind went. I briefly felt a fatherly aspiration that Blackjack and Applebloom would someday meet in a cartoon world and end up living happily ever after.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Greasy breakfast in San Fran

Two whole days in San Francisco and there are weeks worth of things yet to see. My phone died on out 10 mile hike through the city, visiting parks and sightseeing. I can post pics once I retrieve them from my friends who did have functional cameras. For now, rest assured that there is simple, affordable breakfast tucked away for those willing to do a little wandering.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Montgomery Woods: "Even that dog looked high"

Wish my camera was better on my phone for moments like this. Joel came to visit me for a bit, and we decided to go on a day hike in Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. These groves of redwoods are majestic, stretching hundreds of feet into the sky. The main trail skirts a swampy area where a little stream disappeared into the porous forest floor. Photos can't do justice to the experience of being in these woods. Standing next to trees this old and massive makes you feel small a similar way to looking at the night sky. Only, looking at the night sky is a lot like looking at a picture of the night sky, and being in that forest was so incredibly different from looking at pictures of the redwood forests.

Later, when we came home, I talked with our friend Brian about wanting to buy land and settle down somewhere. I had to confess that I was not hopeful for this area of Northern California. I worry that the place will be mostly desert in 20 years, and if I want to invest my energy in a stretch of land, I want it to have a water-secure future.

But who knows? Maybe we will get our act together and start caring about the environment. Maybe I should't be worried about climate change, and I should stick my head back in the sand. That said, though, a future without stands of old-growth forests like this is certainly a bleak one. Hope we can get off the path to wilderness destruction sooner rather than later!

Solar Living Institute

Saturday morning, we went over to the Solar Living Institute, and helped guide a group of students through the process of building a solar car from a kit, and got a tour of the place ourselves. Brian, the other intern here at Salt Hollow had been an intern at the Solar Living Institute just before coming here, so he helped the students learn a bit about natural building as well. It was great to get a primer on the kinds of building projects that we'll hopefully get a chance to do this summer. We have discussed building a wall and bench out of cob. Cob is a combination of clay, sand, and straw, and is a nice solid building material. We even got to see the shower house that they build a few years ago out of cob (see pictures). The one big drawback to cob is that you have to keep it out of the water, otherwise it can erode over time. Brian is really excited about hybrid adobe, which you apply like a skin on the cob structures, and makes them waterproof. (Hybrid adobe is a combination of cement and clay.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Getting Active

Took the big dog for a 5 mile run today. Took a couple pics to share with you too!


Last few days have been busy tending to the animals while my human cohabitators took a little break in the woods. Forgot how much work they all are when you are not sharing chores! Everybody needs to be walked, fed, milked, scratched, and/or kept from killing each other. We had a good time, but I am happy to have some human company again. Bonus for the day is that I could sleep in a little bit on account of not working at the soup kitchen on the 2nd Monday of the month. I'm relaxing with the goats right now. These guys really know how to chill.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Haiku competition in Ukiah. Deadline on March 22!

A web connects them,
The pear and the olive trees.
I sway among friends.

Heavenly, the dew
droplets fading into fog.
Lights in the night sky;

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Precocious" Lactation and Salty, Foul Goat Milk

We only had one goat kid this year. But our other goat, Honeypot, started spontaneously lactating about the time Licorice had her kids. Honeypot had been dried off last winter, in hopes that she would get pregnant by the buck that was here for breeding. But even though she didn't get pregnant, she's lactating, so we are milking her. She doesn't produce more than a pint a day, and for the past week, we have only been milking her once daily. We're hoping that her milk improves over time, and with more milking. But I tasted her milk this morning, and am still finding it tastes salty, slightly foul, and super thick. And her udders don't show signs (swelling, abnormal heat, etc.) of mastitis.

I've done a little research about spontaneous lactation, and read somewhere online that it can be caused by pretty much anything that influences the doe's endocrine system: the presence of a buck, a false pregnancy, or, perhaps in this case, maybe, the pregnancy of a sister-doe?

Whatever the case, looks like from this thread that if a doe is lactating, and she doesn't have mastitis, it's safe to milk her. I'm also reading here that "it must be stressed that drying off the spontaneously lactating doe is not an easy task, and requires a management and treatment plan if to be successful." Lastly, this post on a homesteading forum said that it could be that we should milk three times a day and the taste issue may clear up. That said, though, the aforementioned post is referring to a goat that had not yet lactated before.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Haiku on a rainy day

Glass, still. A mirror
Jumps up with joy rejoining
a drop of itself.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Yesterday, we got out the door a little late to the sheep shearing. Actually, the sheep weren't sheared completely; they were just "Skirted," which just means that the dirty/wet wool from around their eyes and bums were sheared off. The shearer was cool too, and it was fun that the whole shearing family came. The oldest of the three girls was a whiz at herding the sheep into their holding pen. The sheep looked funny in their smocks, protecting the bulk of their wool from dirt. Once we got through the first 12 sheep, taking their jackets off their hind legs, skirting, and everyone bundled up again, we broke for lunch. Jean, our hostess, and owner of the two dozen sheep, had prepared quite a spread. She's an amazingly productive person for 99 years old. And she makes some award winning fiber out of those precious puffs of wool on her sheep.

For lunch we had good company, too. Matt, the shearer, Rebeccah, his partner, and their three girls, Jean, Jean's son and his wife, and three Salt Hollow WWOOFers. Matt and I talked sourdough and njira, a sourdough flatbread from Ethiopia made from Teff flour. I'm curious if the sourdough culture will work in Teff flour, too. Whatever the case, yesterday had two different loaves of GF sourdough, with positive results.

Somewhere in the middle of shearing the second dozen sheep, I got a call from a new friend, Jonah. Through my own miscommunication, he was at Salt Hollow, petting the goats, and waiting until we got done. When we got back, we all worked on Jini's stage effects for her Raging Grannies Singing Group performance coming up next week (more on this to follow).

Today, I've got another loaf of sourdough rising, and one on deck. I'm increasing the amount of Amaranth flour in the mix with each loaf.
Already today, too, we had our goats "debudded," a process when their horns are cauterized before they begin to grow through the skin. The process is painful to watch, but apparently it is necessary to avoid all sorts of mishaps with rowdy goats and pointy horns.
It's a rainy one here at Salt Hollow, so we'll see what we can get done this afternoon.
Oh, and a rainbow.