Ruminants and Ruminations

Reflections from Kara Kahl…

 

Friday the clouds moved in and loomed dark, but nonthreatening over the forested hills and crop covered valley below the house, that grew exponentially more golden with each day we were there. The day was cool and pensive, like a first definitive day of fall should be. We were all tired from our 13+ hours of laboring the previous day and so the collective agreement on minimal tasks and the making of chili to answer the chill in the air seemed more than appropriate. Compulsory, even. We enjoyed music and a meal, and somewhat lazily tended to the business of evening. I found myself feeling gratitude at being safely tucked away in this place with these people as the first hints of colder seasons appeared and reminded me that these cozy notions of home and comfort will be few and far between for us as we continue to travel for the next few months.

Speaking of cozy homes, we cleaned and expanded the kid pen on Saturday. During this time, the two young brother bucks were free to scamper about the middle of the barn and generally make the process delightfully difficult by repeatedly demanding our attention and chewing on our shirts. Their shenanigans and the sweet nuzzles I got from some of the does as we went about giving them new hay in the morning and afternoon helped solidify the growing feeling that I am more than slightly in love with goats.

By no means do I think that we are destined to be any kind of large scale farmers, but this journey has helped us see firsthand what it takes to sustain yourself and what options we find most appealing in terms of animals and vegetables to raise. There are still questions to be answered and much to learn to help us determine outcomes as far as a settling location and housing solution. But seeing people living this life in so many different and equally valuable ways gives me hope that what we are doing is very much worthwhile and that we will ultimately succeed in making our vision reality.

As we have ticked off the miles and minutes of this fantastic journey, I am ceaselessly amazed at how far our expectations have been surpassed at every turn. At each place, we’ve gained far more knowledge and a sense of kinship than I ever thought we would.

Our last full day at Kara Kahl, Doug instructed us in making mozzarella from goat’s milk, which we later used it in a collaborative meal we shared on the deck overlooking the valley in the setting sun and indulging in some whey cheesy puns (Doug is a kindred goofball, it turns out). We also made yogurt and wine during our stay. In each of these processes there were the added benefits of camaraderie, cooperation, sharing of knowledge, and using our collective knowledge to create something both edible and nutritionally valuable from scratch. For me, there has been nothing so enlightening and empowering in this lifetime as the ongoing discovery of real food making. What better way to celebrate the fact that you are alive and exceed your own expectations for yourself than to provide completely for your own nourishment and share in that miraculous process with like minded, goodhearted folks?

Talking of hearts, I couldn’t return to the barn yesterday before our departure for fear mine would break a little bit. In just four full days, I had already grown quite attached to the goats, from the riotously rambunctious kids all the way up to big, stinky bucks, and the two Great Pyrenees dogs charged with their guarding, Gus and Ned, and the brother cats, Joe and Steve, who wandered all about the farm greeting us as they saw fit in the way of all self-respecting felines. No, when I saw one of the juvenile bucks heading off to his new home, my eyes filled with tears that had been threatening since my waking and I knew I couldn’t go down to say goodbye without turning into a blubbering mess.

Because of the beauty and homeyness of this place, because of the way it reflects all the way around, just on a larger scale, the kind of home and farm Lance and I would like to build upon the completion of our journey, and because of the love and attention with which all of it was built and is maintained, and the way it was shared so openly with us, it was harder for me to leave Kara Kahl than any other place we have been since closing the door on our own home for the last time before we set off. It is these precious, vulnerable moments, and all the awe and aw and aha moments in between that make me so eternally grateful for saying yes to this life and this vision of what down the road looks like, that make me incapable of doing anything sometimes but thanking, emphatically and repeatedly, my partner, the universe, and all of those cheering us on. Forever. It will never be enough. But thank you all again.

 

Life affirmed,

DJ

 

Me Gus Nibbles

Gus, me and one of the two Alpine buck brother kids I called Nibbles. He’s the smaller of the two and kind of my favorite. πŸ™‚

 

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