Our horses in the snow

January 11th, 2017

Wally, Cleo and Madison are messing around during the Jan. 7 snowstorm.


January 9th, 2017

Celsius hier …

Read the rest of this entry »

Winter morning

January 8th, 2017

Today at Sunrise it was 13 °F (-10 °C) after we got about 4 inches (12cm) of snow and sleet yesterday. And tomorrow morning is predicted to be even colder.


January 1st, 2017

(Auf Deutsch hier)  Most of 2016 unfolded more or less quietly for us with some new beginnings, changed expectations and gradual growth and adjustments. Laura settled into a new job, Julia’s journey took some unforeseen twists and turns, Jacob is just growth all around :-) and I experimented a bit with changing my diet and life habits and bought a “new” car. At the end of the year, we were also touched by the resilience and courage of some good friends who were dealt some really intense challenges by life.

Over the last few months, the daughter of a good friend has been going through cancer treatment and so Barbara has been traveling a lot to be with her daughter’s family. So while she is away, we have been taking care of her dog. It’s not much, but it’s one thing they don’t have to worry about.

Everett Copeland

Last week, we saw an entire community of colleagues, friends and neighbors rally around the family of our good friends Bill and Ashley when their 5-year-old son died in a freak-accident the Monday after Christmas. Friends and family organized a meal train and a go-fund-me campaign to make sure to take care of their food and financial needs in this difficult time. At the memorial service on Friday, the community came together to honor Everett’s memory and to embrace and support his parents, his sisters and the entire family. As we go through our daily lives, it is so easy to ignore just how quickly lives can be turned inside out by tragedy, and this was a painful wake-up call to not take anything for granted.

In April, Laura started working for the Life Skills Foundation, a local non-profit that provides services to youth aging out of t he foster care system. She is in charge of development and fundraising, and she loves it. It’s a tough mission and a challenging job, but the team is very tight-knit and a good fit for her. Otherwise, the horses have kept her really busy, especially our old gelding Wally, who had serious hoof trouble and required daily treatments for weeks and weeks.

Christmas Eve

In the spring, Julia did am internship at Step Up – another local non-profit. Step Up provides employment readiness workshops for folks who have trouble finding jobs because they have a criminal record or they have been unemployed for a long time. At the end of the summer, she headed back to D.C. to start over at American University. But once she arrived on campus, her health problems resurfaced and it became clear that this was not going to be a good route for her to take right now. So we decided to bring her back home and re-focus on helping her improve her health and general outlook So she spent the fall helping Laura take care of the horses and working on small projects.

Jacob is now a Junior at DSA High School (11th grade) and he is really into computer gaming and he takes an advanced game design class at school. He also took his driver’s ed class this fall and got his learner’s permit. So now we have to practice driving with him for a year, so he can get his license. Over the summer, he spent several weeks with John and Vikki in New Hampshire at their new home. Julia joined him for a week and then the two flew home together, since he is still too young to fly unaccompanied. He is now 6 feet tall and he got a razor for Christmas :-)

As for myself, I ended 2015 recovering from pericarditis and acid reflux problems. While recovering from my illness I started experimenting with my diet and ended up changing my diet to a low-carb high-fat diet. I cut out all potatoes, pasta and most rice and I eat lots of eggs (free-range from the neighbor), nuts and avocados. I am not real dogmatic about it, either, so small amounts of sugar, some bread and liquid carbs :-) are still on the menu. Yet, I managed to really improve my acid reflux problems and lose 25 pounds since 2015. At my last physical in December, my blood panel looked really good and I feel healthier than in a long time. In addition, I have been meditating regularly in order improve my stress management and mental health.

In April, I was rear-ended in my 1991 Mercedes on Guess Rd. I was not hurt and the damage to the car was not bad, so I took the insurance payout and bought another, very similar Mercedes: a white 1992 300D. The car is in great shape and Julia now drives the black Mercedes.

Sienna, the dog, Sidney, the emu and Snoopy the goat

Our menagerie has increased yet a bit and continues to be a major part of our life. In June, Mel, the emu joined the gang. It has been an interesting challenge to 1) keep her in the enclosure and 2) to get her acquainted with the male emus. We were really counting on finally getting some emu eggs with a female in the mix, but so far no luck, even though we’re halfway through mating season and she has been hanging out with Darwin in her enclosure. Apropos “mating” … in the spring we tried to have Cleo covered by this nice fella, Apache, but that also did not work out so well. At least Cleo seems to have enjoyed her time with Apache :-)

Sienna has been staying with us on and off since August, whenever Barbara and Gail have to travel. She is a good dog and she loves to chase a laser pointer or a flash light beam at night.

Azi, the catOur newest addition is Azi the kitten. Laura brought her home after she found her basically living behind a dumpster at work – where she was probably born last spring. We had her spayed, vaccinated and checked out by the vet and now she has become a very energetic part of the family.


All the best to all of you for a great 2017!

Read the rest of this entry »

Farm Projects

December 28th, 2016

Last week, I finished the expansion and remodel of the hay storage shed. I rebuilt the floor and doubled the storage area, so we can now store two 900-pound hay bales. I can use a come-along to ratchet up the floor on the right side, so the second bale flips into place when the front bale is gone. I then purchase a new bale, drop it onto the gravel pad  and simply roll it into the back of the shed until it’s time to flip it into place. These 2 bales are 4 weeks worth in forage for our 3 horses. (Deutsch)


This week, I am working on renovating our horse shelter in the pasture. Today, I replaced the weathered OSB particle board on the outside with plywood, which I hope I can get around to painting on Friday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ich bin ein Berliner

December 20th, 2016

Stay strong, Berlin. Stay crazy.



November 29th, 2016

Oh, America.

Seriously?! trump Mr. Cheetoface Tinyhands gets to move into the White House? OK, so maybe the other option was not all that appealing, either … the Wall-Street-pandering, email-deleting Mrs. Pinchface. So this is it, now – right? It’s all over. The Endoftheworldasweknowit.

If you are considering packing your bags and moving to Canada – wait! I have a better idea: move to a swing state. If you want to help prevent a two-term Trump administration, move to sunny Florida or North Carolina, heck, even Ohio or Michigan would be better options, if you insist on going ice-fishing. While it’s still pretty unclear what the Trump administration actually means for the American people, besides an endless, weird Twitter storm from the commander-in-chief, I think it’s important to keep this in mind:

  1. most voters did NOT vote for Trump
  2. most Trump voters are NOT racist, misogynist bigots
  3. Trump is not (yet) Emperor of America … he will just be the President

The scariest thing about the Trump administration is the unpredictability of Cheetoface himself. Yet, quite predictably, he has been backpedalling on some of his more outrageous campaign promises, and instead of “draining the swamp” that is the federal government, he started assigning many “swamp creatures” to key posts in his cabinet. Eventually, I think this is going to look like any other Republican administration: easy on the rich, big on screwing the middle class and devastating for our poor planet. And perhaps with a more intense side order of incompetence and scandal. It will suck, but I think we’ll survive.

Personally, my biggest fear is that Americans will start seeing themselves as “pro-Trump” vs. “anti-Trump” without recognizing that there are actually many commonalities across both camps. Donald J. Trump is nothing if not a divisive figure. Any disagreement is a personal affront to him. And the media are not helping by painting him practically as the “antichrist” when his is really just a scam artist with very small hands.

But I think America can overcome these divisions and find a common basis for moving forward. There is a widespread desire for renewal and change among American voters. Both the Sanders campaign and the Trump campaign tapped into that desire. Yet, both the Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign ended up running very negative campaigns that made fear a main motivation for their supporters. But in the end, that divisiveness and fear-mongering is not very inspiring, especially not to the young voters.

My hope is that once we see the common desire for a political renewal in this country, we can set aside some of the political differences and maybe tackle the big challenge that is electoral reform. Even though there is so much attention focused on the election of the President, the much bigger problem is actually the Congress, where decades of gerrymandering has created mostly safe seats with little or no competition. It is there, more than at the presidential election, where democracy is slipping away in this country. Redistricting based on current population numbers and by an independent body is a critical and monumental task if this country’s democracy is to stay vibrant and relevant. It is absurd that in most states, the state legislature draws the election districts, which means basically that the party that has the majority in the legislature get to protect that majority by essentially selecting the voters. No wonder that of all 435 congressional districts only 49 were competitive in the last election.

Maybe the Trump presidency will be the motivator to finally get more Americans to re-engage and take their political destiny away from the entrenched special interests and into their own hands. The Sanders campaign was a glimpse of that possibility. Let’s hope they can keep their momentum going.


October 31st, 2016


Julia’s elaborate, home-made Halloween costume this year: a Kelpie (mystical Scottish shape-shifting waterhorse)

N.C. State Fair 2016

October 30th, 2016

Last weekend, we took the whole crew to the State Fair in Raleigh. It had been a few years since we last went and it was a gorgeous fall Saturday, so we had no excuses. It did turn out to be one of the busiest days at the State Fair ever, but we spent most of the time in the agricultural exhibits, away from the huge crows.


We watched the live stock competitions … the Jersey cattle (above), Nubian goats and horse competitions. We also saw the various prize vegetables, like gourds, pumpkins, etc.


I had a long chat with the compost folks about my black soldier fly larvae, and how to best harvest the pupae. And I had a nice chat about oaks with Hans, who is a ranger at the N.C. Forest Service.


Trump vs Clinton – Wahldebatte Schwäbisch

October 18th, 2016

Diese Grassdackel schwätzet ein Blech daher! Da fällt mir nix mehr dazu ei. Aber Spässle muss scho sei. Maultasche, gell!

Vergesst Zonen-Gaby nicht!

October 3rd, 2016

Farm chores

September 25th, 2016

Last weekend, I got some shit done. This is the “mother of all compost piles” … 25 wheelbarrows of manure with 100 gallons of glycerin from my biodiesel production. The pile in the back is the biggest one I have yet built. The one in the front will be ready in the spring.

compost fall 2016

I also cleaned out the horse shelter and dropped a yard of dry screenings in it and topped it off with some shavings.

shelter cleanup fall 2016

All in a day’s work :)


Emu Mel likes her head scratched

September 15th, 2016

Our female emu Mel likes her head scratched like the next bird. She has been with us now for a while and she has settled in pretty nicely.

Going for a bath in the pond with the horses

August 24th, 2016

A few weeks ago, we took Cleo and Madison to the neighbor’s property for a dip in the pond. Cleo loves swimming, but Madison was a bit skeptical at first. We convinced her eventually, though, and then she loved swimming, too.

Vor ein paar Wochen sind wir mit den Pferden auf dem Nachbargrundstück im Teich baden gagangen. Cleo mag das sehr gerne, aber für Madison war das ganz neu, und sie war skeptisch. Mit ein bischen Überzeugungarbeit von uns ging sie dann aber doch rein und fand das doch ganz lustig.

Goat vs emu

July 16th, 2016

Sidney the emu and Snoopy the goat are having a bit of an argument in the pasture.
Unser Emu Sidney und Snoopy die Ziege hatten neulich einen kleinen Streit.

Our new emu Mel

June 21st, 2016

This is Mel, our new emu.

Mel ist unser neuester Emu.

Mel the emu

She is still very young, maybe 2 1/2 years old. We got her from a friend in Seagrove, NC. They took her in when they found her wandering their neighborhood. Now she is settling in with the boys – Sidney and Darwin – in our pasture. For now she has her own enclosure, because she needs to learn that this is her home now. Also, the boys are not too thrilled about sharing territory with her, yet. We hope that they will figure this out during breeding season in the fall.

Last week, Mel had an adventure, when she got out and roamed our neighbor’s yards for a few hours, but luckily she did not go far. She ended up in the yard of a neighbor who has just moved in a few days prior. They were really good sports about it, too. But have you ever tried to herd an emu? Ridiculous! I ended up having to grab the bird and carry the almost 50-pound bird back to the pasture!

Doughman 2016

May 30th, 2016

Doughman 8\

Saturday, Team 11foot8 knocked it out of the ballpark at the Doughman 8 here in Durham, with a 4th place in the annual quadrathlon and fundraising event.

Doughman 8Bill Copeland, Craig Young, Gordon Keeler and yours truly were on the team. Gordon Keeler started out with spaghetti and broccoli rabe & Italian sausage from Boot and then ran 3 miles. He then handed the spoon to Craig Young, who ate spicy barbecue jack fruit arepas from Luna and then biked 10 miles, handing the spoon to Bill Copeland, who ate Motorco’s Chana Masala and ran 2 miles, and then handed the spoon to me. I ate a mini chicken salad brioche from Saladelia and a mini gougeres with cream cheese, goat cheese & jalapeños (like a little croissant with stuffing) from Mad Hatter and then I ran a mile and then splashed around in a kiddy pool a bit before heading to the dessert table for the final course.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cleo and Apache – part 2

May 9th, 2016

View post on imgur.com

Last Saturday, we picked up our mare Cleo from her “vacation” with her stallion Apache. The two of them had been “getting it on” for most of the week while she was in heat. Saturday she was at the end of her cycle, so it was time for them to part ways. Now we have to wait a few weeks to see if the stallion’s efforts were successful and if Cleo is pregnent.

Samstag brachten wir unsere Stute Cleo nach Hause, nachdem sie 2 Wochen mit ihrem Hengst Apache verbracht hat. Die beiden hatten eine gute Zeit zusammen, insbesondere letzte Woche, als die Stute rossig war. Samstag war die Rosse dann vorbei und es war Zeit sich zu verabschieden. In etwa 3 Wochen werden wir dann herausfinden ob all die Mühe des Hengstes erfolgreich war und Cleo trächtig ist.

Support the 11foot8 Doughman Team

May 5th, 2016

For the 4th year in a row, 11foot8 is sponsoring a team at this month’s Doughman race, the world’s premier quadrathlon. The race combines competitive eating, running, biking and watersports into an epic battle of will power and athleticism. The race is also a fundraiser for Durham’s educational community garden SEEDS. Once we raise $1000, our team will get a 5-Min head start. DONATE HERE:

More about the Doughman at http://www.doughman.org

Read the rest of this entry »

Copperhead migration season

May 4th, 2016

dead copperhead

Every spring, I find a copperhead snake near the house or the hay storage and have to kill the animal. This one was under our deck, and I had a shovel handy, so its demise was quick. I hate to do this, but a bite from a copperhead is not trivial and I am not going to take the chance that the poisonous snake will set up shop in places we regularly run around in shorts and sandals.

In the spring, the snakes migrate from their winter quarters to their summer hunting grounds. We have mice in and around the house and the hay shed, and there are all kinds of hiding places. So the snakes would be in great shape, but sooner or later I will run into them, and if I am not careful and step on one, I will get bitten. and that is a definite trip to the hospital. Relocating is an even greater risk than just letting them hang out. We did that once, and never again. Too dangerous. So, sorry snakey, but if I catch you near the house, I will have to kill you. When I run into them in the woods, no problem – you don’t bother me and I don’t bother you. They really are gorgeous animals and they help keep the rodent population in check. So seeing them out in the woods is great.