Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bees, Beets and Alpacas

Linda and I arrived in Norman, OK on Wednesday afternoon and got settled in at our site. Our friends, Bobbie and Jim decided to stop and spend an evening with us before moving down the road to New Mexico. They set up in the site next to us and we had a good time catching up with them. Our friends Dave and Susie Smeal, who live here in Norman, came out to the campground after Susie got off work and we all had supper together. It was really windy and cold outside so we all got together inside Bobbie and Jim's 5th wheel to hang out. At 8:30 we broke up the party cause it had been a long day and Thursday was a work day for us. The next morning Bobbie and Jim got on the road, after Linda made them breakfast, and we headed off to work.

Linda and I have 10 more parks to do and then we are taking a 6 month leave of absence from AGS. I have applied for an internship at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice in Indiana and I got it ! I'm really excited about it because it combines all sorts of things that I am interested to learn more about. For those who don't know me, I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania and as a youngster I had a produce stand where I sold fresh veggies and fruit that came from our garden. Before going on the road, I was the food service director at Pennsylvania College of Technology for 18 years and there I worked with a local farmer co-op to bring grass fed beef and milk products to the dining halls, as well as created a composting program with the grounds dept and worked with a local bio-diesel company to collect the waste oil from our fryers to turn it into fuel. I have strong ties to our food systems and am very concerned with where it is headed and the ingredients that are going into our food. That is why I'm so thrilled to find a place that cares about this as much as I do so we can learn from each other. They are excited to "pick my brain" on the initiatives that I had at the college.

Here is a little info, from Wikipedia about what the White Violet Center does:

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is a non-profit eco-justice education center focusing on organic agriculture, spiritual ecology and social advocacy. Founded in 1996 by Sister of Providence Ann Sullivan, the center is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. The center grew out of the Roman Catholic women religious congregation's commitment to eco-spirituality and sustainability.[1]

The center maintains a herd of alpacas, 343 acres (1.39 km2) of state-certified organic farmland, bees, a berry patch, a farmers' market, classified forest and orchards.[2] White Violet Center hosts field trips, workshops and film series to educate both children and adults. The center has hosted a variety of speakers including cosmologist Brian Swimme, beekeeper G√ľnther Hauk, author Judy Cannato and essayist Scott Russel Sanders.

White Violet Center is considered an "engaged project" by the Yale University Forum on Religion and Ecology.[3] It is also featured in Sarah McFarland Taylor's 2007 book Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology.[4]


They run a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, which means that people can buy into the program and then each week,  during the growing season, they get an assortment of vegetables for their personal use. Here is an example of what folks got on their May16th pick-up last year. They run a summer and fall program. I will be an intern in the garden area but will get time with the bees, alpacas and other areas too. I want to learn it all ! Anything they can show me, I'm happy to learn about.

I will live in a dorm type of setting, have a private bedroom and shared bath and laundry areas. Although this is an organization run by Roman Catholic nuns, they seem really cool and I haven't had the sense that there are heavy overtones of religion. It's all about spiritual ecology, which is where my heart is and care for the Earth. Two of the hardest things will be that Linda will take the rig, car and Boomer and go back east to see family and stay there during this time. The other thing will be dealing with that dreaded "S" word during winter and cold temps. I haven't been in really cold weather since we left to go on the road in 2007 so I'm pretty sure my blood is pretty thin and I will need to bundle up way more than most people till I get used to it. When we finish up our jobs in Wyoming on August 10, we will make our way to Indiana, where Linda will drop me off. She will hang out in a campground for a night or two till I see if I've forgotten to pack anything that I really need for six months. That's the sweet thing about living in an RV...anywhere you go, you have everything you need with you cause it's everything you own !

P3240029 So in the coming months you'll see me talk about making plans for this new adventure, woven (no pun intended) into talk about where we are and what we're currently doing. Hope it won't get too confusing. Just think about all the cool things I can blog about when I get to the farm ! Speaking of the farm, last Sunday Linda and I went to an alpaca farm that was in Medina, TX to visit the owners there and learn more about alpacas. It was really neat. They had 43 alpacas and in another week they were due to be sheared. Their fiber is soooo dense...Leigh and Chuck showed us how thick it is on a couple of them. Once they are sheared they look so skinny cause the fiber fills them out so much. Each alpaca can produce 4-8# P3240031 of fiber each year. The fiber from different areas on their body is used for different things. Leigh has made all sorts of things from the fiber and has it for sale in her shop. It's so soft but really warm for as light is it is. It was funny to watch the alpacas interact with each other and with the farm dog, Luke, who guards them from predators. Luke comes and goes through all of their pastures but a couple of the alpacas get a little attitude with him when he comes onto their turf. They like to chase after him and make him go back out his little escape hatch in the corner of the fence. When the alpacas get a little sassy with each other, they'll spit at each other. Not something you want to get in the middle of cause if comes from deep in their stomach and is pretty nasty smelling stuff. We had a great time talking and learning about alpacas. During my internship this fall, I'll get to card and spin the alpaca fiber they have from their 40 alpacas. A new skill to master ! Hopefully I'll be better at that than I am with crocheting. My mom and grandmother tried to teach me how to crochet but I couldn't get the hang of it. Maybe it was because I had creeks to explore and my bike to ride and no patience for sitting inside with yarn on my lap. Who knows...maybe it's not too late for me to learn. We're excited for the new adventure ahead !


Dave and Susie said...

Wow, what a great opportunity. Can't wait to hear all about it.

Movable Book Lady said...

How exciting! Have a wonderful time. Tell Linda B to call me if she rolls through my area.

Vicki Moore said...

A new adventure...sounds great...just exactly where in Indiana are you going to be?