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Windt im Wald
A Wind in the Woods
Geauga County, Northeast Ohio
since 1995


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As young adults in the 1970s, we went through a phase of being self-sufficient. The world seemed flawed, flimsy, and facetious as everyone flocked to retail stores to buy new clothes and furniture and to throw out everything that was not the “flavor of the day.” I sewed clothes for the kids and me, mostly out of inexpensive fabric remnants and worn-out jeans. Larger pieces of fabrics, sometimes given to us without cost, became curtains, pillow cases, chair covers, and tablecloths. Because It was exhilarating and economical to find new uses for discarded, tired things, Tom and I refinished old  furniture hand-me-downs and even built ourselves a harpsichord when the kids were asleep on Saturday nights. Our favorite companion while engaging in our inventive recycling was a

Diane feeding paper into the Chipper/Shredder

radio program called Saturday Night, largely composed of folk-song favorites, on Cleveland, Ohio, radio station WCLV. It was probably on one of these Saturday-night broadcasts in the 1970s that we first heard Randy Sparks and The New Christy Minstrels chant, “Green, green, the grass is green, they say, on the far-side of the hill.” Unknown to us at the time, the New Christy Minstrils had been around since the 1960s. The message in the song beckoned to us as daring in its idealism about individualism and self-reliance. We have attached a video  of the group that we just discovered from the 1960s only recently.

On our little city lot, we grew pumpkins on the roof of our garage and harvested all of them by cutting them down with a machete-type knife in northeast Ohio snowstorms that often graced us in mid-October. Those pumpkins became pie, pickles, and puree’. Then there were the baby hybrid poplar trees (a tree that can reach 90 feet in six years and be grown as a row crop on fallow farmland) we planted in an early effort to avert gasoline shortages and to develop an alternate fuel. We even made our own beer and wine out of fruits and vegetables that were less than perfect, even dumped on the highway as a result of transport mishaps on the way to market. At 2 AM on Sunday mornings, after bi-

Diane loading shredded paper into horse stall

weekly production of beer and wine for home-consumption, when we walked out of our back door on to our little 50x 200 foot city yard, the smell of hops wafted through the entire neighborhood. Although it all felt counter-culture and heady,  mostly it was exhilarating and refreshing to know that we, just the two of us, could make an enormous difference with our energy, creativity, and desire to make unwanted, unpopular, and unloved “things” new and useful again. Looking back on those times now, we realize that we were always recyclers to the core. The memories of those times remind us of the spirit of can-do and cooperation which motivated us in every project we undertook.

And then came the 1990s. The old concerns about conservation, innovation, and recycling were gone—gone with the wind, so to speak. Even we were contaminated as we forgot about the old desire to recycle  and the need to save and to be saved. The kids were grown-up and properly-educated, and we had two well-paying jobs that allowed US the luxury of shopping on demand for what we wanted, not what we needed. It was a liberating  time for awhile. Then the “good” life started feeling stale and unfulfilling.

Diane loading shredded paper into horse stall

In 1994 we recognized that we were straying from our original values, and we longed for a return to simplicity by “buying the farm.” We did the next best thing by “rescuing” 17 acres of bare land intended to be part of a homeowners’ association and planning the farm from the bottom up. One of the biggest joys of that project was saving all of the trees cut-down by the clearing process for walnut, beech, and oak floors. We even cut a century-old black walnut tree that graced our former property and turned it into the flooring and wainscoting in our new dining room. What lovely souvenirs these trees were of their pristine surroundings. The culminating experience for us was that by 1998 we both abandoned our “day jobs” to live off our savings and our 17-acre horse farm. We had re-learned how to simplify our needs, to work harder physically, and to go to bed each night dead tired. We slept like logs and never looked back on the material comfort that had allowed us to buy “things” to clothe our backs and to populate our dwelling..

Fast forward to the 21st century, global warming, carbon footprints, and limited resources in a global economy. One of our biggest current challenges has become the need to acquire inexpensive bedding for horse stalls…Sawdust for horse stalls, like fertilizer, has become frighteningly scarce as well as prohibitively expensive as a side-effect of the construction/financial debacle since 2006. Suddenly, the old desire to be creative and cost-cutting has brought a new sparkle to our eyes. Suddenly, this desire is no longer counter-culture, but a component of any survival plan if the United States is to be a viable entity in 2025 or 2050. Now it is not enough to lower the thermostat and wear a sweater, as once recommended by President Richard Nixon before his political disgrace. Now the survival of the entire planet may depend on recycling, reducing the carbon footprint, using renewable energy, combating global warming, and keeping the earth green. Green is now as patriotic as Victory Gardens, giving up meat and butter, and using government food coupons in the name of winning World War II.

Administrative Office of the Geauga County Public Library

About one year ago we started becoming alarmed at the cost of supplies for maintaining our farm and became aware of numerous family-owned animal-agriculture ventures that were having difficulties staying in existence.  We started contacting school systems and recycling places to see how we might obtain a free or reasonably-priced supply of alternative stall bedding.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts, we happily found the  Administrative Office of the Geauga County Public Library on Ravenwood Drive in Munson, Ohio, and Nanette Wilson.  Thanks to the eagerness of Nanette and her staff to supply us with trash bags filled with 

Nanette Wilson and Tom with bag of shredded paper

shredded paper discards, we are thrilled and delighted to have a cost-effective supply of stall bedding. These "shreddings", formerly destine for a landfill, are a wonderful source of clean, dry bedding for our twelve beloved Arabian and Half-Arabian horses, ranging in age from several months to twenty-plus years. We are absolutely convinced that the use of biodegradable bedding like shredded paper from  advertising fliers, newspapers and telephone books, and autumn's dried leaves gives value to “things” that are tired, old, out-dated, and yes, unloved.

Recently, we also acquired a wood chipper  as a result of an idea that our son Brian gave us.  The wood chipper is able to convert unwanted newspapers, phone books, and selected cardboard into soft, fluffy paper "bedding" that is biodegradable and absorbent, and we are grateful for supplies of recyclable paper that friends and family have supplied us. As bedding, these recyclables. like the shreddings from the Geauga County Library, break down rapidly and help turn our manure into the finest grade fertilizer to produce our own wonderful,  organically-produced garden-fresh food. without the need for pesticides or preservatives.

As we reflect on the state of Windt im Wald, we see all too clearly that thirty-plus years have passed in the blinking of an eye since we were driven by creativity and need to recycle to survive in a  wasteful world .nd. We are delighted to have returned to those early roots and to try to make the world a better place by recycling. To our friends, like Nanette Wilson and the Geauga County Public Library, goes our most sincere gratitude for working with us to keep our own little corner of the planet green and to restore the sparkle of inventiveness and innovation to our lives.

We’re off on another fun-filled adventure and grateful for the opportunity!

Many thanks, Nanette, and the Geauga County Public Library. We love you dearly

Diane and Tom
Windt im Wald Farm, Auburn Township, Ohio
October 2008

Need more information? Call 440-996-0110

Map to our farm

Serving Solon, Aurora, Chagrin Falls, Bainbridge, Russell, Newbury, Chesterland, Chardon, Burton, Mantua, Twinsburg, Streetsboro, Hudson and  surrounding areas