Yesterday, you spent almost 4 hours in the rain, shoveling horse shit. Really, wheelbarrows full of the stuff. Shoveling it up from the stable, then hauling it across the property to scoop it yet again into the flower beds that line the perimeter of the property. Amazing that three wheelbarrows full of shit didn’t cover the top of more than a single bed. You learned that horse shit is superior manure for fertilizer, and that it is relatively benign. The horses eat all the green grass, and the nitrogen within, and then that nitrogen goes straight back into the soil of the flower bed. Now, one thing Marlene was clear to explain was the differences in quality of the two types of shit you would shovel that day. The first type came from the stable, and was mixed with sawdust (basically hamster shavings). That sawdust actually takes years to break down, and it draws more nitrogen from the manure than is given to the plant bed. On the other hand, the manure that is gathered straight form the pasture should be deposited directly into the other flower beds–the ones currently yielding herbs and flowers, as that will fast-promote their growth. So there you were, rain dumping down in the field, nodding affirmatively at the donkey, the pony, and the German shepherd–with a dust pan and a serving spoon, scooping little chocolaty nuggets of shit in the pan and tossing them to the wheelbarrow in tow.
Here are some things you learned today:
1. You are officially over any shit aversion you may have had, and accept that stepping in shit is just going to be a way of life around here.
2. Those shiny chocolaty dumplings were produced by a pony, and thank god it has not yet become a horse.
3. The animals don’t eat where they shit, so all of the piles can be found in patches of tall grass, which makes fetching them feel much like a treasure hunt.
4. Those patches of grass, fertilized by the manure, grow especially dense, this makes the process of poop extraction all the more difficult.
As you have a bad back, and a bad knee as well, for much of the day you were caught in a debate between bending and crouching for the shit.
Other things you did tpday… You once boasted an uncanny talent for finding drugs within 3 days of arriving at a new location. Not only did you discover their 23-year-old son’s baggy of weed, you leaned that shrooms grow abundantly in this area. After just a 5 minute walk in the woods above the house, you found a small patch of them, even though the season is still too early (all the rain is contributing to early shroom production). You wondered what the hell you would do with them up here, all by yourself. Maybe you’ll get a little value out of them at Knackanstackan later this month?
Yoga with Marlene is a bit of a trip. Your first yoga experience with her as an instructor–or, as she would say, a ‘facilitator’–was crazy. People coughing, straining, burping, laughing… it was all very loud. Unfocused, in a traditional sense. But, after each asana, she would bring the group back together again for a long moment of meditation, where each person was to assess how his body was responding the the practice.
Yesterday was downright hilarious. As you wre holding poses, Marlene just starts chanting ”Squueze the walls of the vagina. Squeeze the walls of the vagina. Squeeze them. Squeeze the vagina. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Keep squeezing! Tight vaginas!” …and so on. Of course, you were positioned next to the one bloke in the class. You weren’t sure how he was handling each woman’s individual vaginal breakthrough: ”Oh! I feel it toward the back wall now!” It was a cacophony of women giggling and straining their vaginas. The best part was when Marlene had the group all lay passively on their backs, over a bolster, with legs bent and splayed apart. She said, ”Squeeze the walls of your vagina. I can tell if you aren’t squeezing.” So you were aware that Marlene would be coming down your row, inspecting your nether regions, deciding if you were properly contracting your kegels. ”Maria, you’re not squeezing!” she said for the whole class to hear. You replied rather indignantly, ”Then what on earth AM I squeezing?!” She said it was the wrong part. I don’t know gynecologists who can eyeball a garbed vagina that well.
Rain finally let up a bit, allowing you to get some good hours of work outdoors–weeding, stone wall building, digging. There are a tremendous amount of projects going on. You can do what you like, mix and match. Just chip away at it all. On the 9th, three French Wwoofers will be joining the household. That will be nice. You will be ale to tell them what to do. Senior Wwoofer! Hopefully you will build up your French as well.
Last night was very cool. Marlene’s daughter Jane is building a house right down the road, so you got to check out the latest eco-technology while the house is still under construction. The walls are made out of clay blocks that fit together like Legos. Minimal cement is required, easy to cut and alter On the roof, there is a solar panel which generates heat. That heat it then kept in a reserve under the concrete ground floor. the shingles are all black, which keeps the house nice and toasty. There is no need for insulation around the exterior walls, since the clay is so thick and holds heat well. The only insulation you saw was below the roof, and they used hemp (what a miracle plant) and sheep’s wool.
On another plot by the cemetery, they had bought up this 300-year-old thatch-roofed house. The chimney was absolutely huge, splaying out like and umbrella indoors, covering the whole kitchen area, so that all the cooking smoke would eventually filter up and out. But, due to the enormous amount of surface area on the walls of this smoke trap, it keeps the house fairly warm. Apparently it is just 1 of 5 of these remaining in all of Ireland.
At the end of the night, you at yourself sick on Marlene’s apricot cake, homemade bread, and potato salad. You started reading this enormous book on permaculture. Hope to knock of a chapter a day. You can see a lot of this book’s guidance reflected in Marlene’s farm already.