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, assistance 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 https://bluerockstation.wordpress.com/.
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 www.bluerockstation.com
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 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