Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wolf Creek, CO

The Wolf Creek Ski Area is in southern Colorado and claims to get the most annual snowfall of any ski area in the state. After this picture was taken I proceeded to get myself repeatedly stuck and unstuck in the deep powder just trying to get down the mountain. It was exhausting. It was also exhilarating to float over land like it was water. This picture shows us hiking along a ridge, away from the chairlift to get to where the untouched, gnarly pow-pow was. It was totally righteous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Baby Chickens!

Fifty-two baby chickens arrived on the farm last week. At least I think it is 52. They are hard to count, it's because they are so damn cute. Here's the thing, 25 of them are destined for the freezer, in a plastic bag. It's a grim fate. Buying the extra meat birds was Kelle's idea. She is very much a carnivore and has no problem killing twenty-five chickens. True, I did slaughter one of my very own chickens for Thanksgiving dinner, but I'm not so excited about twenty-five. Or raising them specifically for that destiny. Not that I disagree with the practice, I'm all about local food, especially meat, and it doesn't get any more local than your backyard, but these chickens grow up in my basement as tiny little peepers. I have to take care of them and make sure their buttholes don't clog up with poop (it happens to baby chicks a lot and will kill them). And when one of the babies is sick and isn't gonna make it and Kelle feels bad for it and wants to put it out of its misery, who's job is it to off the cute little baby chicken? Evan's job. Good thing there are so many and I can't name them all.
When I say they "arrived on the farm" I mean they were shipped here in a little cardboard box. This inevitably leads to a couple of the chick getting squashed on the way and having a much diminished chance of surviving. This time I was able to save a couple of them though. The unfortunate ones on the bottom of the pile end up with their legs spread pointing straight out in opposite directions. With the help of the internet I learned that if you tie their legs together with yarn it helps them stand up straight. I did this and it actually worked. Out of the five that had trouble standing, four are doing good. The one that wasn't, is no more. Someday I will raise all my own chickens from eggs, then I won't have to order them from a hatchery 250 miles away.

thank you

Today, as I revisited my blog for another post, I noticed that I had three hidden comments about my last post. I guess I clicked some button in the settings that made it so I have to approve my comments before they are posted. I didn't even realize I did it, and so I now have just read the most recent ones. I've changed it back so now I will see when someone comments. Thank you, to the ones who posted, for the advice and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

don't forget, writing is therapeutic

Last month it seemed like every week I had something new to write about on my blog. I was often feeling inspired. I've been reminded that a few people enjoy reading what I write, and it's not that I have forgotten about this blog thing, I just haven't been feeling as inspired this month. My posts in December were mostly external topics, but lately I've been thinking mostly about myself. Until now I hadn't really thought about trying to type what's going on in my head. Today I was reminded by someone who knows me well that writing can be very therapeutic for me. So today I'll try to articulate what my mind has been brooding on for a while now.

I live where I work. I work where I live. I don't want to separate my work life from my personal life. That is a decision that I have made that has very specific reasons behind it but that has also been the source of some confusion for me. At the end of the summer when I was deciding what to do with myself, to stay in Nu Mex or continue on, being able to live here on the farm was a big factor in my decision to stay. Why is living here so important to me? When I step out my front door every morning I only have to walk 25 yards and I'm at work. I don't like to make that distinction between work time and play time though. Sometimes I "work" on the weekends. I have to take care of my chickens everyday. If I had to drive to this farm everyday that would defeat the whole purpose. I'm here to learn a different way of life than the one I grew up with and the one that I thought I wanted as a high school and college student. To learn how to live for myself, to work for myself, to be as self sufficient as possible. My parents taught me all these things as a young boy but now I am relearning them in the context of specific skill sets associated with a small, diverse farm. As this farm exists today it is far from a sustainable system but at least I am learning something about what it takes to create that. It takes a lot of hard work. Dedication to what most people consider degrading work. Spending hours on my hands and knees pulling weeds. Cleaning up after a bunch of dirty chickens that shit where ever they feel like it. Shovelling dirt. Spreading mulch. Manual labor all day long. Of course, all farmers know that the manual labor is only one side of it and the difference between a good harvest and a great harvest is understanding all the processes that go on under their feet.

But why bother with these dirt jobs when I can get my food elsewhere with little or no work. The human race now has endless technology which allows us extract a miracle energy source out of the ground called fossil fuels. And our society runs on it. Mass produced, processed, packaged food is easy and cheap. It exists because of fossil fuels. The fertilizers that go into the ground, the fuel that runs the huge commercial farm equipment, the fuel that ships that food all over the country, the plastic that the food is packaged in, the fuel that powers my car and takes me to the grocery store. We take this miracle energy source for granted. Food has become a globally marketable product, and the food industry is one focused on profit, not on providing healthy food for the people of the earth.

The food industry is just one example of our dependence on oil. I'm not going to claim to be an expert on this but I feel strongly, and I know some of the people who might read this would agree that our over consumption of fossil fuels is drastically changing the planet that we live on. I don't need a scientist or Al Gore to tell me that global warming is real. I see it with my own eyes. I understand how an internal combustion engine works and I know that we have developed technology which allows us to extract natural resources from the ground at a rate that far exceeds mother natures capacity to replenish them. We extract fossil fuels, use them, change them, and release them into the atmosphere. This energy source, which took millions of years to create, is disappearing in the relative blink of an eye. But we lack the foresight to look forward into the future. Go 100, 200, 300 years into the future and look back on the age of fossil fuels. What will people think of the way we have abused the planet? Planet earth is a living, breathing organism, just like me. It is home to trillions of living, breathing organisms the same way my body is home to a community of organisms. I can't see them and mostly am not aware of their presence but I know they are there. I can't live without them and they can't live without me. The planet provides us with countless, mostly unseen, functions which enable life on this planet to exist. It is an ever changing and evolving organism. It's not a big, static rock hurdling through space. As we use fossil fuels we are changing the composition of the planet and changing the way it functions. Global warming. I see this as a huge problem and I don't think the answer lies in alternative energy sources. The answer lies in reducing our consumption and changing our lifestyles. Alternative energy sources are an essential part of reducing our dependence on oil but none of them can ever come close to replacing fossil fuels. None of them can provide such cheap energy that comes in such a convenient form. So we must reduce our consumption.

I want to reduce my consumption. I want to learn how to live a lifestyle where I can use a very small amount of fossil fuels. And so I have made the choice to live where I work. For now. I try not to take for granted how lucky I am. To get this chance to focus on myself and not have to worry about money, or food, or getting shot at or blown up. I ask myself, "if I had grown up a poor farm boy would I still have such a romantic view of organic farming?" If I had grown up without everything I wanted and needed, without TV and nintendo and computers, would I still have such a skeptical view of corporate America? Would I still be working hard at living a more sustainable lifestyle? Or would I be working hard at getting a well paying job so that I could have children one day and put them through college without them worrying about paying tuition, the same way my parents did for me?

It's hard to change your lifestyle. I've become accustomed to certain things. I love to eat tuna fish. Where does most tuna in a can come from? Thailand. I want to go snowboarding on the weekends. That requires driving at least a couple of hours each way. Sometimes I feel guilty about not having a social life, like I'm not living to the fullest. People seem to be puzzled when they see someone my age living alone on a farm spending more of my leisure time alone with my chickens then with a girlfriend. This is what I've been struggling with for the past month. Should I sacrifice my ideals to make myself happy in the short term or is waiting for something more really worth it? Is there something more? I've always been very patient. Am I being too patient and wasting my youth acting like an old man? Do I think about this stuff way too much?

Maybe I'm just being stubborn but I think I have to stick with it. Right now I am physically and mentally healthier than I have ever been before. I have found that the best way for me to get my exercise is by having a job that keeps me constantly active. I never want to have an office job. I can't work on my mind for one part of the day and then my body for a another part. I could rarely do it successfully as a student. I need to be using both all day long.

I think the hardest part is going to be keeping up with my ideals after I leave this posh farm job. I want to go back to school and I'm gonna have to put a lot of work into finding the right place for me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hovenweep National Monument

This weekend I had a wonderful adventure visiting my friend Miranda in Utah/Colorado. She works/lives at Hovenweep National Monument which is on the border of Utah and Colorado. Hovenweep is the site of some very mysterious 900 year old ruins. At one point they were home to the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians who currently inhabit this region. I've been to Chaco Canyon which is a larger site with much larger and more extensive ruins but visiting Hovenweep was a memorable experience. The ruins are scattered around a small canyon, seemingly miles from anything or anywhere that a human would want to live. The most mysterious thing about these ruins is the actual placement of the buildings. Many of the buildings sit directly on the canyon edge with doorways that open into nothing but air and a 30 foot drop. There are also ruins, like the one in the picture below, which are perched a top huge boulders and look like natural extensions of the rock. Granted, it's known that the ancient pueblo Indians built their homes with defense in mind but there is something more behind the placement of the ancient buildings at Hovenweep. The construction was completed around 1230c.e. but researchers believe the site was abandoned less than one generation later. One theory is that the people that lived there used up all the local resources and were forced to leave. Juniper trees grow to be very old but there isn't one within ten miles of Hovenweep that is older than the ruins. The people there had to put so much energy into the construction of the buildings that when they were done there was nothing left to sustain them in their everyday lives. Maybe they were a little bit vain and built on top of boulders and the edges of a canyon to show off. Nine hundred years from now people will probably look at the houses we live in and the cars we drive and think the same thing. We build and buy with little regard to the resources we consume. Mostly we think about the way things look.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Happy birthday mom! The chickens and I send our good thoughts. Me more than them, I have more thoughts in general I think. Hope your day is wonderful.


and the chickens