Goats, Guests, Garlic and Chaos

Sharon July 24th, 2009

Sorry for the low-content site this week - got back from Pax Christi with a new project in mind, but I’ve not had time to even begin to write it up and organize my thoughts.  What’s keeping me so busy?

Well, I got back to my life on Monday, and Eric was closing down his summer course, which meant a fair bit of time online.  I taught Tuesday, and Tuesday afternoon, we got three new goats, Mina, Jessie and little Bast.  The new goats are sweeties (a two month old nigerian dwarf goat is just a little bigger than a cat, and about the cutest thing that ever walked the earth), and quite wonderful, but they’ve had the usual sorts of trouble adapting to the new place (ie, it isn’t home yet), and Jessie hadn’t been milked much yet, so it is taking them a while to settle in. 

They are wonderful and we’re enjoying ourselves a lot, though.  We’re in the process of drying Maia off, since we might be expecting kids from her (Selene is definitely pregnant, Maia I’m less certain of), so we’ve got really only 2.5 goats in milk right now, but more coming, when Selene kids.  We also had a lovely time with our friends Jamey and Carol, who have tirelessly put up with our constant calls upon them for new information about bits of goat care we haven’t yet experienced.

Wednesday, Eric’s grades were due, and Thursday my mother and step-mother arrived to spend a few days with us.  My step-mother, Sue, is a wonder - she runs about our home fixing things that need it desperately.  Does anyone remember the toilet I swore I was going to replace myself as part of my competence project?  Well, I still intended to, but let’s just say with the composting set up and two other flush toilets in the house, it didn’t really draw our attention.  Right now Susie and my Uncle David are replacing my toilet ;-) - I don’t think I win any prizes for competence.  We’re paying them back in chicken dinners, when we butcher the meat birds.  And after lunch, they are headed up to the barn to work on repairing the old barn, so we can move the chickens up there for the winter, as we will need the space in the barn near the house for the goats.  There’s also some yard saling planned.

They are departing after lunch tomorrow, while my honorary aunt and uncle are arriving - they’ve taken up gardening seriously and are coming to hang out and also get scything lessons, since they are part-owners of a horse stable (despite living on the edge of Spanish Harlem), and have planted millet and oats for the horses.  So they are coming here for some berrying and a chance to cut things down with pointy sharp death-blades ;-) .

 In the midst of all of this, Aaron was forced to withdraw from the AIP book project - he’s got a 40 person CSA in its first season, and the book is just too much for him.  I’m very sympathetic - when it came time for me to write books, I gave up the CSA, knowing I could never do both.  So now I’m going ahead and writing the book solo, which is leading me into all sorts of reconsiderations - we need a new proposal, new plan and new contract.  Oh, and I’m supposed to have proof-read _Independence Days_ gack!

 Oh, and there’s a half-bushel of peaches waiting not-very-patiently for me on the porch, the currants need picking, the giant mutant summer squash are trying to devour the planet and need to be taught a lesson in manners, and there’s a toilet on my front porch, waiting to be turned into a planter (raising the bar in the new “tackiest home decoration” contest, which we were probably winning anyway ;-)   - hey, I can’t throw it out!  Besides, the great thing about 27 acres and agricultural zoning is that you can have a toilet planter ;-).

All of which is a long way of my saying that I’m swamped, and things will probably be quiet through next week, as I attempt to get out from under the big whomping pile of stuff I need to deal with.  

I did want to add that I still have spots in the Adapting In Place Course that begins on August 6 (where did July go, I want to know?).  As I’ve said before, this is by far my favorite of the classes I offer - and the most fascinating.  The goal is to come out of it with a plan for adapting your home (owned, rented, whatever)  to the times that are coming, within your resources.  I have had a number of students say the class is genuinely life changing, and I learn new things with each class.

 The class, like all my courses, is online and asynchronous - that is, you don’t have to be online at any particular time of day or during the week.  Aaron and I put new material up on Thursdays, but otherwise, there’s no particular schedule.  The course will run for six weeks between August 6 and September 10.

Here’s the syllabus - if you are interested in joining the class, please email me at [email protected].  The cost of the class is $180, and we also will consider barter arrangements. 

Week 1  - How to evaluate what you have.  We’re going to concentrate on figuring out what the major concerns are for your place and your community.  We’ll talk about your region and its climate, culture and resources, your house itself, your community and neighborhood - the challenges you forsee and maybe ones you haven’t thought about yet, and your personal circumstances - how much money, time and energy you have to deal with it.  How does the definition of home change when we do this?  We’ll also talk about when adapting in place is not an option, or when you should consider relocating, and what your options are if you do need to leave or move.

Week 2 -  This week  will focus on your house itself - we’ll talk primarily about low energy infrastructure for heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, washing, etc…  About costs and options and choices for both private homes and for communities.  We will also cover some renewable, especially low cost options.

Week 3 - We’re going to go into the walls of your building and into other mysterious home infrastructure- water, plumbing and toileting, insulation, keeping warm and cool and all the other things that your shelter does or could do for you.   We’ll also talk a bit about what’s in your soil and on your property (this won’t get heavy emphasis in this class since we teach a whole class, garden design, on just this subject).

Week 4  We’ll focus on Family Issues - Sharing resources with both immediate and extended family (and chosen family), dealing with people who aren’t on board, Building collective infrastructure, cannibalizing what you have, dealing with the brother-in-law on the couch, helping kids adapt, disability, aging, college

Week 5  - We’ll talk about Finances, money, employment, making do, getting along on a shoestring, thrift, subsistence labor, starting cottage industries and businesses and community economics.  This is also when we’ll talk about transportation of all sorts. We’ll also begin discussing building a set of plans - 1 year, 5 year - to adapt to different scenarios.

Week 6 - We’ll talk about Community at every level, about how to build it, what to bring to it, how to get your neighbors to help, even if they are weird. How to get along with them even if you are weird ;-) , about models and ideas for bringing resilience and community to every level from the neighborhood to the state.  We’ll also talk about security, dealing with unrest or violence, and try and get those plans finished.

I hope some of you will consider joining us for the class - it is both fascinating and fun. 

As for the blog, I have tons of things I can’t wait to write about and expose to the useful scrutiny, advice and thought of my readership, but I’m afraid you’re stuck bearing with me for a week or so while I put it all together.   Thanks for your patience,


18 Responses to “Goats, Guests, Garlic and Chaos”

  1. Cathyon 24 Jul 2023 at 1:07 pm

    So what do you do with all that spare time? LOL Enjoy your company and don’t worry about us!

  2. Lynneon 24 Jul 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Sharon, listen to me. You can throw out that toilet on the front porch. You can. It’s ok.


    I’m currently reading “Depletion and Abundance” and just read your description of a typical day in November. And even then I was wondering how in the world you got all that done in one day.

    Good luck.

  3. Abbieon 24 Jul 2023 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve always loved toilet planters. However, my favorite bathroom repurpose will always be cast iron tubs for water in the cow pasture.

    I’d love to take your AIP class, but with the start up of school in September, I don’t think I could focus the time and attention I would want on it.

  4. ctdaffodilon 24 Jul 2023 at 2:47 pm

    Be sure that you put some really birght flowers in the toilet.

    The only productive thing I’ve done is update my facebook account, pick purple greenbeanns (my new favorite) and make hummus. Well I did hurt my back vacuming so I’m resting it with ice and a light beer - How decadent!

  5. Laura in So Calon 24 Jul 2023 at 2:48 pm

    I have a friend who used to live out in the boonies. Behind her house, she had an entire toilet garden with many toilets of various shapes, sizes, and color each containing various plants. Her husband was a contractor and would bring home the ones taken out of houses. Our favorite was a urinal attached to a tree with a small barrel cactus growing out of it. :-)

    Laura in So Cal

  6. Susan in NJon 24 Jul 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Okay, somewhere I saw or saw a picture of a toilet bowl planter that was actually nowhere near tacky. While I filed the thought in the “interesting things” corner of my brain, I didn’t file the image so I have no recollection of what made it untacky . . . maybe brightly colored flowers or maybe it was a brightly colored toilet (turquoise)?

    Coming up for air myself having just finished a major project and stopped by before turning the computer off for the weekend and going home to relax, clean and plant things. Wow, I used clean and relax together — I must be working too hard.

    I wish my handy relatives would visit . . . for controlled short periods of time in which they do handy things that I want done.

  7. DiEllaon 24 Jul 2023 at 3:59 pm

    We had to have some remodeling done in our bathroom because our floor was falling in. We replaced the old toilet with a new water efficient one. The guy doing the remodel put the old toilet in the driveway. Our neighbors had just put their house on the market, so when Amy saw a toilet sitting in the driveway for all the world to see she ask what we were doing with the it. As straight faced as I’ve ever been I told her we were turning it into a planter.

  8. Christinaon 24 Jul 2023 at 5:30 pm

    There was no garlic in this post - did you throw that in just for flavoring? ;-)

  9. Sharonon 24 Jul 2023 at 6:26 pm

    Oh, yeah, I forgot the garlic. I meant to add that the garlic needs harvesting. Duh ;-) .

    Sharon, who wants a toilet garden now ;-) .

  10. Dwigon 24 Jul 2023 at 10:16 pm

    Your Week 6 struck a chord with me; it relates to a project of my own (that’s going all too slowly). If you can find a bit of time, I’d love to hear your reactions to it: http://dwigki.wikispaces.com/On+Community

    As a teaser, here’s the core idea: “A major theme in the series is exploring what factors contribute to making communities strong and robust in the ways that increase their viability. (Also, I’m claiming that these factors will be helpful to communities even in more benign circumstances.) Note that I’m not claiming that “communities are the solution” to these challenges. I think that there may be many local solutions, rather than a single global one, and that many factors will play a role in them. Still, I claim that there are factors that will be common to successful communities, and that it’s worth discovering and elucidating them, both for theoretical and practical reasons.”

  11. Susanon 25 Jul 2023 at 1:19 pm

    For anyone sitting on the fence about taking the AIP class jump over to the ‘I’m doing it’ side. It’s well worth it. I didn’t put the energy and care into it that some did, but it really made me thing — hard — about stuff. I still worry, but at least now I worry knowing what our assets and liabilities are rather than vague worry I can’t do anything about.

  12. Dave Riddell (pathways) 's status on Sunday, 26-Jul-09 11:27:42 UTC - Identi.caon 26 Jul 2023 at 6:27 am

    [...] http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/24/goats-guests-garlic-and-chaos/ [...]

  13. Judyon 26 Jul 2023 at 10:13 am

    Just want to second Susan’s feelings about the AIP class — it is life changing. No matter where you are on your preparedness scale, or how much you put into it, you’ll come out with so much more. I’m still going back to the class posts, a year later, and using information I wasn’t ready for at the time.

  14. Shiraon 26 Jul 2023 at 10:15 am

    AIP sounds great but I’m still working off the incomplete the I got in Disaster Preparedness at the community college. Hmm, an incomplete would mean that I am… not prepared for a disaster, eh?

    Perhaps Sharon will be able to run AIP again in the winter. While she is trying to write a book solo. For those of us hit with a tsunami of gardening and preserving in August, the winter might actually be do-able.

    Shira in Bellingham, WA

  15. sealanderon 26 Jul 2023 at 3:29 pm

    I know someone who converted a toilet into a goldfish pond. However, that led to an unfortunate incident when they held a rather drunken party………;)

  16. Gailon 27 Jul 2023 at 7:37 am

    In my community the Resource store actually wanted old toilets. Contract with the city to grind them up for road base.

  17. RudolfCon 27 Jul 2023 at 1:07 pm

    One solution to an unwanted toilet (if you’re not wedded to the planter idea): one toilet, several children, several hammers. The result: white stone for a garden path. The biggest problem is having them keep at it after the novelty wears off…

  18. Claireon 27 Jul 2023 at 1:23 pm

    My neighbor, the one I help with her garden, has a toilet planter in her front yard, in deep suburbia in the most populous county in Missouri. It doesn’t look bad, either. But I have no sense of garden design for prettiness at all. You need only look at my front yard to know this.

    Soon my DH and I will be replacing our toilet; we will be tiling the bathroom floor and we have a used 1.6 gallon toilet to replace the current 3.5 gallon once the tiling project is completed. Maybe my neighbor’s planter would like company …

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