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September 20, 2012: Alys’s Ark

It was sort of a joke, at first, and as well a metaphorical comparison, that is that our place is an ark. When we acquired Jenna, our second dog, I said that the water was at the gunnels. And when we acquired Hrimmi, our fifth horse, I said that the ark was listing from side-to-side. But I’ve learned that behind every joke is a half-truth. We laugh at jokes, so half-truths make us nervous.

I’m now thinking that metaphor be damned, we very well may need to build an ark. It’s still raining here. The ground is saturated and water is running in streams (Pete calls them bars) down the roads and trails. The area creeks, full, are muddy brown and rushing wildly, making a loud din as the water churns through the culverts.

On the home front, things really aren’t that bad-- yet. We won’t experience power outages because we’re off the grid. We also live in the foothills of the Talkeetna Range as opposed to a flood plain, so we have not been flooded out. Others have not been so lucky. Over in the Butte, the houses on the riverbanks are being washed away by the floodwaters.

I’m feeling, dare I say it, smug. I’m inside. Earlier, I made soup, mainly from our home-grown vegetables. I got a fire

going in the woodstove. It’s so quiet at our end of the world that I can hear the rain patter on the roof.

This morning I fed the animals and cleaned their pens. Siggi is enjoying having his own stall space. Pete went out to check on everyone at 6 a.m. and came back and said that he was lying in Hrimmi’s sawdust bed. The others are vying for shelter space – the three horses are having to weigh between chasing one another out of the two shelters versus staying in those shelters. They’re now being more deliberate about their choices.

Cleanup is really fast now that I have the fish hauler and rubber mats. It’s also easier on my back and wrists. I don’t know how I ever got by without this thing. I was spending far too much time lugging stuff from one place to another. I’ve moved the upper compost base of operations to the lower compost area. I have a nice pile in the lower area – it’s mainly composed of garden greens, goat poop, and goat and chicken bedding, in the lower area. When we get our tractor, which will be in a few weeks, we’ll move this pile into the first station. I will celebrate, maybe buying champagne for the big event, for it heralds a new era in composting history.

But, I ought not to be lulled into complacency. No, no, for the water is continuing to pour out of the sky at an unprecedented rate. It’s, of course, always good to be thinking ahead. And so, my question is, how will I manage manure if my loading the animals (and us) onto an ark? I mean, WWND? What Would Noah Do? I can’t imagine it, his having to deal with 40 days of animal waste. I’m sure he didn’t toss it all overboard, for he was a very environmentally conscious guy.

The birds could fly off and poop out over the water, but the Hippos, elephants, and polar bears could not. Noah’s wife – she was the one who came up with the system. He was too busy building and figuring out stabling logistics. So, in the spirit of Noah and Noah’s wife (what was her name? Beatrice? Amelia? Naomi? Sarah? Constance? Mrs. Noah? ) Pete will build the ark and figure out stabling logistics. And I will figure out how to deal with the excreta of three dogs, two humans, three goats, two chickens, and five horses.

The human and dog part is going to be easy. I’ll get a composting toilet. The dog, chicken, goat, and horse part will be more difficult. I’ll designate the aft deck as the manure storage area, because it sounds good. Aft deck. Is an aft deck a poop deck? It would work well if it is, because the two terms can then be used interchangeably. I’m all for linguistic convenience.

I have worms; rather, I have a worm farm, so this will speed up microbial breakdown. I’ll also make sure (of course) to incorporate rotting straw, hay, and sawdust into the mix. I will shortly go and gather up garden greens, so that I have the right carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus ratio.

The beauty of my set up is that I’ll have compost on hand when the waters subside. I’ll then apply it to the severely depleted soil. And too, I’ll begin land composting anew.

Next: 285. 09/21/12: Update