Mother Nature is

doing the wild dance. She’s thrashing about. She’s shaking and hot.

Advertisements

Tree Erotica

IMG_0647.JPG

By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved

 

Automation Schmautomation

Why is it that we think that automated is always better? I’ve asked myself this question the many times I’ve been stuck on a bus or in a building whose air conditioning wasn’t working, but the windows couldn’t open. Or when I’ve been stuck in the infuriating labyrinth of an automated phone menu that doesn’t have an option to talk to a real person. Or when I’ve finally made it to an administrative office to take care of some business, but they can’t help me because the computers are down. Aaaaaarrrrrgh!!!

My grandpa, who was a math, physics, and astronomy teacher and great believer in the liberating power of science and scientific reasononing, used to bemoan the loss of our ability to do simple mathematical calculations because of first, the calculator, and then, the computer. He was especially dismayed by digital cash registers. To him, it was clear that the electricity in any given place was bound to go out from time to time. “And then what will people do if they can’t even count back change?” (Not to mention being unable to open the register in the first place.)

It seems that every time there is news of a new system of automation, it’s heralded as great news. Self-driving cars, housecleaning robots, drone package delivery, and more recently automated corner stores. I really don’t get it. In my case, every time I hear of a new system of automation replacing a human interaction, a human job, a human function, I feel only what I can name as a touch of dread, foreboding, tragedy — a little death. I’m also impressed by the great amount of faith that people seem to have in machines and technology though, again and again, we see them fail in the face of unexpected natural disasters, human error or malice, mechanical/technical malfunction. All one need do is think nuclear —  Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima — and it seems clear to me that in putting our faith in these technologies we are being supremely foolish and playing with fire.

To be continued …

By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved

 

Some Quiet Corners

The alpaca farm was very old — I believe that parts of it dated back to the 1700s. J and P were still in the beginning stages of renovating it. There was the sense that it had been well worn in in its day.

IMG_7115-2.JPG

 

IMG_7114-2.JPG

 

IMG_7113_3.JPG

 

IMG_7172-2.JPG

By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved

 

Early Evening

IMG_7018-2
Alpaca – Southern France
By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved

 

Leaving the Alpaca Farm 5

A Little Background

I would say J was in her early to mid 60s, and P in his late 50s. J was originally from an island country where French was her native language. P was from a northern English-speaking country. Before moving to France to establish the alpaca farm, they’d been living in the northern English-speaking country for about 27 years, where they had 3 grown children and some grandchildren. Apparently, their family and friends thought they were nuts to leave their lives in the northern English-speaking country behind — they owned a house, had a steady income and health insurance, and could retire and progress into old age with the comfort of knowing that loved ones were nearby should they be in need. And though they had some rudimentary alpaca-raising and farming experience and knowledge, neither had run a well-sized farm before. The family tried hard to dissuade them, but J’s passion for alpacas and farming had grown, and I think that P, too, had a longing to be in the countryside doing work that was closer to the earth. So they sold their home, packed up, loaded the alpacas into whatever vehicles are used for transporting alpacas, and moved to France.

There are two cardinal rules in permaculture that S (on the beautifully, lovingly, and neurotically run farm in Italy) made sure I learned: 1. Your most important domain should be closest to your living quarters, and the others should progress outward in order of importance. In addition, movement between the domains should be fluid; and 2. Everything you do and everything you “use” should have at least two applications/uses (e.g., you give the ducks water, and when the water becomes dirty, that water will now be used to water a nearby plant, which in turn is serving to block the wind and protect the crops, which are grown for food, but whose roots can be composted, etc.).

My first day at the alpaca farm, I saw that J and P were blowing it royally with regard to Cardinal Rule #1. The farm was much too large for two newbie farmers (at a mature age) to manage, and the important domains were scattered about and expanding. Also, moving from one domain to another was ridiculously cumbersome. The gates and latches didn’t work, so you were always fiddling with some length of string that had to be unknotted and knotted again, or a set of interlocking fences that would fall over or get stuck in the mud, and meanwhile the goat had slipped out behind you, so now you couldn’t go feed the alpacas because you had to run after the goat and maybe the alpaca food had fallen off the post where it had been precariously placed to take off your gloves and deal with the knotted latch and now you were afraid the dominant alpaca would come eat all the food that had fallen and … ay!

Well, live and learn, right? Yes, and I actually admired J and P’s decision to follow their hearts and passion, BUT there is a difference between giving up everything and becoming a farmer in your 20s or 30s and doing it in your 50s or 60s. Not to say you shouldn’t do it, but I’d say certain things need to be considered in an honest and conscious way. Such as one’s health.

To be continued …

By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved

 

Where we are

IMG_1292.jpg
Saturday Morning (Downtown)
By Nicole Barens                                                                                                                                                                                                   ©2017 All rights reserved