I had been an intern at Blue Rock Station (BRS) for four weeks in the summer of 2022, that was my first experience living here and learning what it meant to be sustainable in more ways than one. After enjoying most of those four weeks (I was a bit miserable due to not realizing that what I thought were bug bites all over my body, was actually poison ivy), I knew that I had built relationships with Annie Warmke and fellow interns that would last longer than I had initially anticipated, and so here I am yet again to learn all I can and help Annie with her plans during my time here from the beginning of February to early May. 

I arrived at BRS on Sunday, Feb. 5th when both Annie and her husband Jay were in Marietta. The drive from Columbus to Philo that day felt especially long, I think after not being there for so long I was a bit anxious and nervous about going back, especially to that way of living after relaxing quite a bit over Christmas break and all through January. My parents came along with me to say their goodbyes at BRS and to see me settle in to the Happy Nest, the cabin I chose for my stay.

We were all pleased with how comfy it looked and specifically the presence of a space heater to keep me warm during these cold nights. I eventually said my goodbyes to my parents and finally reunited with all the animals I had missed so much. Their three dogs, Sophie, Norman, and Franki were all waiting to be let out and a few of their cats, Reanie and Nikki were sleeping in the living room when I entered.

Since I had a few hours before Annie would get back from Marietta, I just spent most of that time reintroducing myself to all the animals, the dogs, the cats, and the lovely goats up at the barn. And as you can see, I was back to my habit of taking mostly goat pictures. (First picture is of Tillie and her daughter Titah huddled up together, and the second is of Emmy Lou surrounded by poop that I later swept up).

At around 6:00 PM or so Annie finally returned while I was doing chores (goat stuff) and it was so nice to see her again and reunite after months. Since the day was slowing down, after finishing up chores it was mostly spent just catching up, chatting, feeding the dogs, having our evening snack and heading to bed. 

During my time at BRS back in 2022, Annie had told me that when she first saw me walking down the lane on my first ever day here, I had this big smile on my face when I saw her and that she thought “she’s come home.” Whenever she told me that I would just think back to how nervous I actually was on that first day. But this time around, I actually felt that sense of home for myself when I arrived on Sunday and saw all the animals again and reunited with Annie. Though this lifestyle is very different from back home in Columbus, there is a sense of comfort and ease when I come here and can escape the busyness of city life. 

BRS – Day 1 (first whole day)

Monday, Feb. 6th, 2023

I woke up around 7:30 in order to get dressed and get ready for chores at 8:00 AM. I did my usual job of sweeping up the goat poop and since the female goats are pregnant right now, Annie told me about some things that naturally occur when they are pregnant, including dangling mucus and mucus plugs to stop bacteria from getting inside and how the babies drop lower and closer to the birth canal in preparation for delivery in the next week or so. We got back to the house at around 10:00 AM and Annie gave me a walkthrough of our agenda for the months I will be here. She then gave me a sketchbook/journal notebook to start documenting my experiences and feelings each day not only for this blog but also to help me kind of decompress and review the events of each day here. She also gave me some top priority books to read relating to the work we’ll be doing, which involves food forests and gardening both here at BRS and at their place in Marietta which will be more of an urban forest garden. I’m currently a student at OSU and am taking a gap semester to be here until May so we also talked about my plans for next semester and beyond, possibly switching my major from biology to zoology and what work can come from that. It’s a lot to think about and I often don’t want to think about it but both Annie and my brother are keen to help me figure out some things during this time. As you will probably see throughout these posts, I am a huge animal lover and that’s why I usually lean more towards wanting to work with them instead of people. I hope that during my time here I can focus on my future more than I have in the past and not try to escape the topic because it is something that I need to figure out to get my act together. Sure is stressful though. Anyway, after chatting for a bit we went to the grocery store to get a few things and to my surprise we were actually able to bring Sophie and Franki with us in the truck. When I had left BRS last year, Franki barely let me touch her and it was a grand achievement then when she finally walked into the living room, so seeing her climb up into the truck was just so great. I’m proud of you Franki! After returning, I made lunch while Annie was on a call, we had potatoes with veggie burger patties and salad. It wasn’t the prettiest thing but it was actually pretty tasty. So then I sort of just chilled in my room for awhile and as it got closer to chores time I got ready to go out again and headed to the house. Before going up to the barn I got to learn a new skill once again, we pulled a bunch of nails from some wood that Annie brought back from Marietta and she instructed me on using leverage to get just about any nail out. After doing that for awhile and setting up the wood near the garage, we did chores and got back to the house to eat the evening snack (yogurt and fruit) and watch an episode of “Tudor Monastery Farm” where they live as farmers did during the Tudor period. It was quite interesting since they show so much in just one episode, this one included making butter, cleaning the laundry by beating it and renovating floors with limestone. Luckily there are more shows with the same people living like people from different periods so that will be our nightly entertainment for awhile. And finally around 9:30 PM it was time for bed and I slept nice and warm. 

It’s a drastic change from how I had been living the past two months, basically doing nothing at home except relaxing but in many ways its a welcome change because I have things to think about (future-wise) and many more things to learn. 

Dalia Fabb-Soto

My 2023 Internship at Blue Rock Station