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Paul Wheaton talks with Alexia Allen in Woodinville, WA. Alexia works with the WIlderness Awareness School, and lives on Hawthorn Farm. Paul starts with commenting on Alexia’s lionhead rabbit. Alexia was in Paul’s Respectful Chicken Harvest video. Alexia was making lichen dyed yarn. Alexia is motivated by gratitude. She is asked a question about eating weeds and herbs. She says, “I’m not going to grow spinach when I have lambsquarters coming up.” She also has an herb garden. She also enjoys chickweed, dandelion, and sow thistle in the spring. She was vegetarian for a long time, but then decided to kill her own meat. The chickens are good for her pastures, and she enjoys eating well. Her biggest priorities are awareness and time–giving the things in her life quality attention. For her land, Alexia feels that “human attention is a nutrient, just in terms of what flourishes.” She has learned life lessons from killing chickens–it is an intimate process. She has learned that when not stressed, crudely handled, or mistreated, animals are not afraid of death. She then asked herself, “do I need to be afraid of it?” She has gained bravery and courage from this. She figures that if she’s not afraid to die, why should she be afraid to…speak up to city council? or take on a project? It has helped her to appreciate life more. She then brings up the value of morbid humor, and the point of letting go of vertebrate bias–treating everything respectfully. Another question is: has she noticed any plant associations in her polycultures? She is constantly experimenting, and suggests that you make well-informed, intuitive guesses, and “ask the plants.” Some things that have worked have been sunflowers and beans, and greens medleys. Another question: how much acreage does she have and how much food does it supply? Paul mentions Norris Tomlinson’s experiment on measuring calories. She likes to eat something she grew everyday. She wants to gradually increase the proportion of things that come from her land, such as beeswax candles, and managing her woodlot for heating. She hasn’t focused on the food as much, but she has more in the last 3 years (she’s been there 8 years). She has 2.8 acres, Chickens, lambs, horses, and a rich diversity of plant life. 10-25 % of her food over the year comes from the farm. She lives her life in a very relaxed and casual way, keeping natural cycles. She doesn’t irrigate if she can help it. Alexia’s recipe for finances allows her to have fun and be free every day. She has no bedroom of her own, and sleeps wherever she wants to, often outside. She has a 3 bedroom house, 2200 sq ft with a mortgage, on the edge of suburbia. She has rented out all the rooms, and her housemates are very willing to help out. Paul mentions the Early Retirement Extreme. Alexia feels most at home outside, and still gets to live in a family situation. One meal out of 10 she might eat by herself. Paul asks Alexia about her community style–consensus? boundaries? She needs communication. She wants to create a mellow and productive household, and is often the “glue,” or the “den mother.” Paul mentions the awesome sense of community at the Bullock Brothers Farm. Alexia finds a key ingredient in facilitating a healthy community be that everyone cultivates their relationship with nature. Paul mentions the value of doing things out of desire more than obligation. Paul shares his 540 meals story. Alexia puts in a plug for the Kamana Naturalist Training program, which has gotten her outside and observing. She finds great contentment in a more whole-body, sensory experience rather than thinking too much.
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