experiential adventures learning about sustainability, balance and love.

Flying solo at Mori no ie!

All the family’s have gone home. All the other wwoofers have gone. Now even Masa has gone to Kawasaki for 5 days to take an exam! This leaves only Rie and myself to take care of things here! and Rie has a 7 month old and a 3 year old to take care of, a full time job! Masa has handed over the fort! It makes me feel really good that he trusts me enough to let me take care of things. I’ll be leaving shortly after he returns and I told him I really wanted to work hard on some special projects for Mori no ie. So I’ve also just built a new compost bin by myself! Tanoshi katta! [It was fun!] First I’ll discuss my daily chores.

After breakfast, lovingly prepared by Rie, it is time to feed the animals! First I bring the compost out for the chickens. Depending on how much (or how little) compost there is I also feed them chicken feed and rice bran. The rice bran is free! There are two rice mill kiosks in Kashimo. I have never seen these before, but they are self-service mills for turning your brown rice into white rice. The rice bran (brown part of brown rice) is separated and comes out in a separate little phone booth-sized room. Anyone can then take this bran and use it as they please. Though apparently not many people take advantage of this because Masa has huge sacks of this stuff for feeding the animals. Here is a video of me feeding the chickens that only my friends and family will find interesting, haha.:

I also check the chicken’s water and see if there are any eggs at this time.
After the chickens are fed I go get Buddah from his sleeping place, which is a baby crib filled with hay. It’s a touching sight to see that little pink piggy nestled inside the baby crib, haha. This is in an enclosed area where it doesn’t get as cold at night. Buddha eats some special piggy food, a scoop of the before mentioned free rice bran and a selection of wild edible herbs picked fresh from the fields each morning by yours truly. I pick a few handfuls of clover, some wild beans, and some yomogi!

Buddhaaaa.
Buddha has black eye lids which make him look like he’s wearing eye shadow. Totemo Kawaii! [totally cute!]

After this it’s time to feed Gon. A beautiful and disciplined Japanese Kai ken. Kai’s are hunting dogs and can take down a wild boar or deer. Masa gave me instructions to be very firm with him and a list of commands in Japanese.
Gon is starving, but he can not eat untill I give him the command. Good dog.
Gon is starving in this photo. He’s been barking for his food for a while. I tell him “MATTE!” [wait!] before I set his food down, and he sits and looks me in the eyes.. waiting for the command to eat. I wait 10 or 15 seconds just to let him know i’m boss, maybe I shout “MATTE!” a few more times… and then “YOSH!” [you can do it!] and he digs in.

Last but not least I feed the fish!
Lots of fishys in the pond.
And another quasi-interesting video:

Now for the compost bin! I used recycled lumber Masa gets for super cheap at a local lumber mill. These are the outside sections of logs, the insides are cut into nice flat straight pieces of lumber. These rough outsides are tossed out or sold to “crazy” people like Masa. I love surviving off the delicious waste of other people, ex: dumpster diving, free boxes, freecycle, etc. It’s a great way to subvert consumer culture. No one is creating advertisements to get you to take free things from the garbage. A friend of mine, Holly, sent me “The Scavenger’s Manifesto” not long ago, here’s the link, it’s a really fun read:

  • http://www.alternet.org/environment/132736/the_scavenger%27s_manifesto%3A_why_dumpster_diving_can_save_you_from_going_off_the_deep_end/
  • OK, so the compost bin. STEP 1 – SAKE AND SALT FOR THE GODS (and some for me):
    Rie, Kanta and Yuta blessing the ground of a new project.
    We say a prayer (mine was something like “May the organic matter inserted into this holy place burst forth with microbial life! May the compost flow’eth like whiskey in Ireland and give new energy to the soil and the plants that shall call’eth this soil home!”) and sprinkle salt and sake for the gods. Japanese gods love sake. And so do I.

    STEP 2 – POST’O’RIFIC:
    Checking for squareness. Marking post location with (invisible) sticks.
    Checking for square. aka, making sure I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re using a giant wooden Japanese hammer to smash wood into the ground. When I’m retired (never) I just want to smash things with a giant wooden hammer all day. I can sell workout videos to other retired people and we can meet up on weekends to compare hammers, swap smashing stories, and have smashing contests.. oh and drink sake ’till we’re smashed.
    Posts upp and atom. (simpsons?)
    OK, they’re pretty darn square.

    STEP 3 – I HOPE YOU LIKE SLOTS AS MUCH AS I DO!:
    Sliding slots salute!
    The front and back need to be adjustable for height. If the boards can’t slide in and out then everything would have been for nothing! So I do this step before the sides. I don’t care about the sides, who cares about sides? no one.

    STEP 4 – IT’S TIME TO CARE ABOUT THE SIDES!:
    Sides together now!
    Prettiest picture of a compost bin under construction in Japan I’ve seen in a while. (Jigajisan!) Space between the side boards allows air into the compost. All that microbial life needs to breathe ya know. Also, no air = stinky(er) compost.

    STEP 5 – IT’S TIME TO BE JIGAJISAN[proud of yourself] AND JUMP INSIDE THE BOX FOR PHOTO FUN!:
    Now thats what I call a boxy-compost-heaper-majigger.
    OWARIMASHTA! [finished, past tense] I added 2 posts to the sides because the boards I used were a bit thin and I didn’t want them to break under the weight of all that delicious compost. (BUILT TO LAST!)

    The box is scary! kowaii! clompostaphobia.
    CLOMPOSTRAPHOBIA [fear of being compost (just accept it man, we all turn back into the compost from whence we came one day)] Bonus!: Large wooden hammer in the background!

    The slot! extra board to tighten things up.. in the slot.
    Close up of the really high-tech slot design. That extra piece of thin wood makes things a little tighter. I should work for Boeing.

    Ridiculous FYI: All day while building this I kept getting “We built this city! We built this city on Rock and Roll!” stuck in my head. I don’t know where it was coming from.

    If you’re not completely sick of compost bins at this point you can see more photos of this compost bin in action on my flickr account! Click the link on the right!

    I always seem to write these at 11pm when I’m ridiculously tired… my sense of humor is really skewed at this point. apologies… but don’t expect things to change or anything, hohoho hahaha. ohh. man.

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    3 responses

    1. Mari

      Hi, This is Mari, I’m Japanese and live in Taiwan.

      I came from Masa-san’s blog and found your blog, it’s so interesting!
      Last summer I visited ‘Mori-no-ie’ since I met with Masa-san & Rie-san when I worked in Shalomhutte. Am so glad to hear that you lived in the attic since we cleaned it last summer. It’s amazing, I’ve been thinking how the attic can be used for? It was like an empty box with huge potential… I just want to hear your opinion who you felt with the space…^^

      I’m now in Taiwan for my job but miss life in Japan especially on organic farms and life in nature. (am originally from Suwa, srrounding by mountains…) Thanks for posting, it made me warm and I enjoyed your articles a lot.

      All the best and enjoy your stay in Japan!

      May 16, 2009 at 6:10 am

    2. tia

      your chicken video did not work. sadness.

      May 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm

      • malleabis

        It should work now! for you Tia!

        May 29, 2009 at 1:07 pm

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