And here it is!
This is our farm’s new wheelbarrow, aka the Chief Poop Mover. I am happy to say it was purchased at a local family-run store, not from a big-box store. We do our best to make all our purchases locally.
We’re still getting used to the new wheelbarrow. It’s a heavier and deeper design than our last one so dumping the poo in the Big Pile O’ Poo requires a bit more upper body strength and aim. Oh well. We could all use a little more upper body strength, right??
I would say my life’s mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it. Our farm’s simple mission statement reflects that. A friend of mine from college used to say, ‘Of course I want to take care of the planet. It’s the only one we’ve got.’ It was true then and true now.
The celebration of Earth Day inspires me to continually ask myself, What else can I do to help the Earth?
Spaceship Earth is just a teeny speck of a planet in our giant Universe. In the here and now, and the foreseeable future, it’s probably the only place that we humans can live. And such a beautiful planet our Earth is! Why trash it?
Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
I’m not sure when George Carlin said that, but it continues to hold true today, doesn’t it? So sad that our beautiful living space of planet Earth is slowly being transformed into a huge dumping ground. Sadder still is when humans refuse and then cease to acknowledge that. Waste is an inevitable by-product of life, but please, there’s got to be a better way to keep our planet clean and healthy.
George Carlin’s satire of our popular American song, America the Beautiful, is a reminder to me to do something, everyday, to help regain and retain the health of the Earth, which in turn helps all the living beings that inhabit it.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by just spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air. Fortunately, I get that opportunity daily by just caring for the alpacas’ daily needs and by walking Stella. I’ll probably spend some time in the garden, pulling up debris from last year’s plantings and throwing that into the compost pile. Maybe I’ll do some Sun Salutations in between the raised beds!
How are you all celebrating Earth Day?
Sometimes, a sign says it all.
We strongly believe in the 'Buy Local' movement. Just call us locavores! Locally grown food is by far fresher than any produce found in a grocery store, and therefore much tastier. To me there is nothing tastier than a tomato or apple or fresh herbs that I grew right in my own backyard. And when weather has other plans, I just head for the farmer's market. Luckily here in New Hampshire we have plenty of those, so we can eat local 7 days a week during the gardening season. We also prefer that our alpacas 'eat local' too so we try to buy hay only from local farms as well.
Fall has arrived! With this cooler weather we're all getting back to our knitting and weaving and other fun fiber arts. Locally raised fibers are also a good thing!
(Thank you to our neighbor on South Road / Route 43 for putting up this sign in his hay field. In case you can't read the fuzzy picture, it says 'Do You Like this View? Support your Local Farmers')
Last evening I picked this fabulous assortment of tomatoes ~ roma, celebrity, and cherry. Also in there is one fabulous hot pepper and one fabulous bell pepper. Teamed up with my parsley, fresh salsa for sure! And look at that purple basil! The plant is huge, and along with my other basil plants and flavorful olive oil, I'll be making pesto. Yes, folks, the white-kitchen-trash-bag-tied-to-a-stake trick has successfully kept away the deer this year.
Hope your gardens are yielding you great treasures too.
I happened to be listening to National Public Radio this afternoon, when on the 4:00pm news they stated this:
'The ... oil ... has ... stopped ... leaking.'
Huge sigh, a big smile, and tears of joy!
We’re really late this year planting the garden. Usually I like to have everything planted right after Memorial Day weekend, but this year we’ve moved the garden to the back yard, near the corner of the pasture fencing, and behind the old shed that was here when we bought the property. A garden near the garden shed sounds logical! And now the hose will reach every part of the garden easily, and I can see it from the house. Dan built 4 more 4 X 12 garden boxes, and we’ve moved 3 of the 4 from the old garden in the side yard. The last box has some rogue lettuces and scallions that sprang up on their own (I love when that happens!), my huge garlic chive plant, and my really, really, huge oregano plant. I’m waiting for the lettuces to bolt and the scallions to be ready to be picked, and then I’ll figure out how to best move the oregano plant and then we’ll move that last raised bed. The oregano plant is more like an oregano bush, and I want it to continue to do well.
We filled up the new boxes with compost from the local nursery, and I’ve been busy planting and planting. I’m hoping that because I’ve planted a few weeks late, and during the week of the summer solstice, that the bugs will be few and far between this growing season. Dan put in several stakes around this new garden area, and tied white plastic trash bags to them. This is my neighbor's trick to keep away the deer; hopefully it will work for us too! What a beautiful week we’ve had, these longest days of the year, warm and breezy and perfect for planting.
Now I have 8 large raised bed boxes, arranged somewhat in a square, with a four foot path going down the middle both ways, sort of like 4 small squares with 2 raised beds in each. I wanted the paths to be wide enough to accommodate the garden cart. The north side of the garden is the side closest to the pasture fence, and Dan will probably build me a long, narrow garden box, and eventually I’ll grow vining veggies there, like sweet peas or maybe pole beans, with some morning glories mixed in. Around my veggie plants I’ve always planted marigolds and petunias, both for bug control as well as color. Bright red tomatoes are great, but we won’t see them until late August!
The little garden shed that is here was surprisingly painted purple (!). It’s in need of some repair, mostly to the roof, but basically serves its purpose. Dan even thinks he may be able to build a small chicken coop right off the back. Fresh eggs!
The best part is that I’m really close to the alpacas now. Coty and Arlo love to graze together at this far end of the pasture. I can see right into the barn and watch the others cushed in front the fan, my ‘vampire’ alpacas that they are on these hot days. I call out to them easily, and they all look up at the sound of my voice. They watch me curiously, as I work in the garden, Stella sleeping in the cool grass under the maple tree nearby.
Like so many of you, the growing disaster of the oil spill in our country’s beautiful Gulf Coast region is continuously on my mind. If you are new to reading my blog (and thank you) and are curious as to what the oil spill has to do with alpacas, please read my prior blog post here. Today, I simply want to vent.
I love our beautiful planet Earth with all its magnificent treasures. In an average human’s lifetime, there would probably never be enough time to see, hear, feel, touch, taste, or otherwise experience all there is on planet Earth. I’ve always felt it is important to appreciate nature and how it intertwines with all life. I’ve always felt it to be very important to take care of the Earth and do all that is possible to keep our planet safe and healthy, which in turn keeps all of us safe and healthy. Why wouldn’t we want to take care of our planet? This is the only place we can live.
The Gulf Coast oil spill is shaping up to be worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There is no shortage of depressing broadcasts and video. I am a happy American, and I do believe in democracy, capitalism, personal wealth, philanthropy, and a free society. I believe that these ideals are worth continually striving for, that they create a better life for all. This disaster is heartbreaking, yes mostly for the residents in the Gulf Coast region, but also for the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants, human and otherwise. WE WILL ALL BE AFFECTED AT SOME POINT.
The blame game is going on now and who is to blame? And is there just one answer? Is it BP, and/or the companies they worked in conjunction with? Is it our elected government and/or its appointees? Is it us, the American citizens, with our insatiable lifestyle? And right now, who is going to clean up the spill? Oil is gushing out daily by the thousands of gallons, ruining more and more of the Gulf Coast region, and spreading out of the region. It seems like everything is working in slow motion while oil is spreading out polluting the ocean at the speed of light.
I think of all this while I quietly take Stella for a walk, plant and weed in the gardens, pick lettuce and herbs for dinner, hang out laundry, skirt fleece, weave and knit, watch Dan work the pastures and build gates and hay bins, and take care of the alpacas. In my lifetime I have tried to only drive fuel-efficient vehicles, car pool, turn off lights, turn down the thermostat, open windows and use fans instead of air conditioning, shut off the water when brushing my teeth, use lukewarm water for washing clothes, hang out my laundry, grow a lot of my own veggies, plant perennials which attract pollinators, garden without pesticides or herbicides, buy organically grown food and products, compost and recycle everything I can, promote solar and wind power and renewal energy, etc. I always wonder if I’m doing enough, or too much, or if it really makes a difference in the big scheme of things, whenever I see a large environmental disaster unfold. I am trying so hard to remain optimistic as well as realistic, and I will continue to do what I’ve done with a better focus, and continue to find new ways to keep our planet safe and healthy.
The best way to clean up the Gulf Coast Oil spill, and to prevent future tragedy, is a positive outlook and a 'we can do it' spirit.
One of my favorite environmental protection groups is the Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org. I’ve always found them to be very effective. Their blog is continually being updated regarding the spill ~ http://switchboard.nrdc.org/gulfspill.php. One of their writers also writes her own blog and has this post on a similar theme as to what I’ve just written today ~ http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/default.asp.
Thank you all for listening.
Back in March of 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska and dumped approximately 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the sea of this pristine and remote location. The incomprehensible, devastating damage done to the sea life, shoreline, and local communities and economies was insurmountable and continues until this day. Exxon has denied responsibility continually and has appealed every verdict regarding this issue. At the time, the environmental activist in me joined the millions of others as we all went into full activist mode, writing letters, calling elected officials, signing petitions, donating money to cleanup efforts through environmental organizations, and my personal favorite: mailing little baggies of oil to Exxon’s headquarters. The legal wrangling has spanned 20 years, and so has my complete refusal to buy gasoline from an Exxon station. I choose to run out of gas first. One of the saddest outcomes of this tragedy is the fact that our legal system has done literally next to nothing to get the spill really cleaned up properly, nor to compensate and assist the communities that were affected. And to top it off, hardly anything has been done to switch our country over to clean, safe energy.
Here it is now, 21 years later, and another devastating oil spill is happening in our beautiful Gulf Coast waters. I cannot believe that once again I will be working in some capacity to clean up yet another major oil spill. This time, an explosion occurred on April 20th at a deep sea oil rig owned by BP. As well as major environmental devastation again, many lives were lost due to the explosion. I pray for those families. It is now 19 days later and oil is still gushing out. BP is denying responsibility and says they’re not accountable. Supposedly our government is doing ‘all it can.’ Is it? When will this leak stop and who will clean it up? And what does all this have to do with alpacas?
Alpacas are ‘green,’ very green. Their fiber can literally absorb oil and allow clean water to pass through! As history does tend to repeat itself, it will be we concerned citizens that initiate clean up efforts before the ‘officials’ step in. The alpaca forums are already buzzing about a group that has been mobilizing. Alpaca farms are banding together to mail alpaca thirds and unused alpaca fiber to collection sites. Booms are being made with alpaca fiber stuffed into nylons as well as felted alpaca mats. Once the oil is absorbed, oyster mushrooms are applied to break up the oiled booms and mats, and then earthworms finish up the job, turning a harmful substance into glorious dirt. Please visit this wonderful organization’s website, www.matteroftrust.org to learn all the details of this ingenious oil spill clean up method. And fellow alpaca farmers, send in your unused fiber! Recycle those empty grain bags!
If we citizens don’t take action to take care of our environment, who will? And where would we all live?
Here I am, all these years, writing letter after letter to my elected officials, begging them to think of the environment first and pass appropriate legislation. Who would've thought my love for animals and natural fibers, being outside, and gardening organically, would have brought me to a place in my life where I'm raising livestock that is not only ‘light on the earth’ but also is instrumental in cleaning up an environmental disaster. What a feeling!
Today is Mother’s Day. Hi Mom! And while we’re all thanking our Moms please, please remember to do something thankful for everyone’s ~ human, animal, bird, fish and sea creature, reptile, insect, and plant ~ mom, Mother Earth.
Jenna Woginrich blogs on the Mother Earth News as the Happy Homesteader. She recently posted a fabulous entry she entitled ‘Yearning to be a Farmer.’ Many readers have commented that her term ‘Barnheart’ will be this year’s ‘locavore.’ I’d have to agree. I am relieved to hear that many people share my affliction. If you have a chance you can read her blog post here and on her personal blog site here.
Barnheart is essentially the heartfelt, intense longing for the outdoors, of growing our own food, building our own shelters, and raising our own livestock for food and clothing. It’s our longing for self-sufficiency and breathing fresh air while we live our conventional lives, working in our windowless, stuffy office cubicles. It’s that calling we feel while discussing average percentages and quarterly reports with co-workers. That longing for a quiet and peaceful life based on simplicity and nature is what wakes people with Barnheart up at night.
I have had Barnheart all my life and now it has a name! I grew up in suburbia with its developments, soccer games, traffic lights with congestion and honking, and strip malls. On paper my hometown had a wonderful school system and safe neighborhoods. During and after college I continued to live in suburbia for years. But I longed for large open fields of lush grasses and wildflowers. I longed for large expanses of land that beckoned to be hiked in solitude from crowds. I longed for that smell of fresh air. I longed for hearing nothing but birds singing and the wind rustling grass and leaves. I longed for that life where joy is found in pulling up that first unperfect carrot grown from the soil you created and rainwater, baking bread from grain you grew, upon finding that first egg in your coop in the springtime, vases filled with flowering weeds, attending to animals in an old barn, and running your hands through freshly sheared wool. I longed for wearing wool from animals I raise and care for. I longed for working my land, for having dirty hands and knees and unbrushed hair and for that to be my fashion statement. I longed for starry nights that can be seen from my porch, my land, my homestead.
I longed so much and for so long and now joy is here with my little farm. The longing never really goes away, yet with each step forward one’s smile becomes wider. For all of you with Barnheart too, may you find your joy soon and may that joy bring you peace.
My name is Mona and I have Barnheart.