Friday, April 28, 2023

My thoughts on AI & the Coyote Cafe..

There’s a scene in the movie AI (2001) where the robot boy eats spinach at the dinner table when he’s not supposed to. It’s haunting and I’m reminded of it lately as I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about AI and technology (short list below). I remember watching that movie 20 years ago and crying so hard throughout it. What is it to be human - to be ‘real’ as the robot boy in the film so desperately wishes for. 

With the exponentially fast rise of ChatGPT and the proliferation of AI generated texts in what seems like weeks, days, seconds, we suddenly live in a world where the origins of the written word is subject to suspicion. I imagine a dystopian future (or present?!) where we scavenge and hunt around on the internet and our inboxes trying to decipher real texts from computer generated ones. 

I think about parallels in the physical world. We already live in cities, towns and virtual marketplaces where generic 3rd wave (are we on 4th now?) coffee shops and businesses are generated with capital shrouded in VC mystery. These businesses are stiff and sanitized - and safe in every way. They are powered by data and algorithms that know our desires and whims and cater concisely to them. (I was traveling through the new Moynihan station this spring and was simultaneously delighted and horrified by the offerings there.)

I imagine this will play out in some future where some of us are also hunting for real food, real businesses… the dirty vegetarian restaurant of my college days, the grimy punk coffee shops, etc. I want things to be so good and so weird and so I give you coyote cafe every Sunday. You never know what you’re going to get, it’s not sanitized and you don’t really have to pay for it. The future I want to live in!

The Coyote Cafe is back May 14th serving farm lunches for donation. Open Sundays from 12-4 with tours held at 2pm in Esperance, NY.

RSVPs aren’t required but ! they do help our kitchen staff & harvesting crew plan for the best lunch possible. Let us know if you plan on coming - we can’t wait to feed you!

my AI shortlist:

God, Human, Animal, Machine

Machines Like Me

Strange Days 

Friday, April 21, 2023

the great mother


Motherhood is risky business. 

I was reminded of this when we lost a ewe earlier this week after an impossible birthing scenario - this sheep was just too small to pass her large lamb. Six hours in, after valiant efforts by Claire, Zoe, Mark and some very experienced birthing witches in our farming community, we put her down and also lost her lamb. This marks our 9th year of lambing our flock of Icelandic sheep, and this is the worst blow yet.

But so it goes in farming. We are reminded - every year without fail - that new life and death are bedfellows not to be untangled. The dangerous and exhilarating feeling of immanence is one I’ve gotten more accustomed to. How lucky to be at the mercy of the great Mother’s plan, and what relief to relinquish control to her.

On the timely subject of mothers; I’ve been lucky to have had many mothers (of course, one stands out) and I identify as a mother myself, though not with biological children of my own. Beyond the physical risk of bearing offspring, what truly risky business to be so attached and committed to anything or anyone. How we think about motherhood (care-taking, commitment, sacrifice, dare I say it - the divine feminine) is changing in strange and amazing ways amidst a post-human convergence; the crossroads where we come to practice responsibility for all people, species and environments with great reverence. 

I want a world focused on affirmative care, a world with so many people practicing motherhood. It’s hard work; we need sharp insight, deep energy reserves, focused collaboration, and an ability to fiercely imagine and build the worlds we want our offspring to inhabit. And we must not be shy in the face of great risk…

Friday, April 14, 2023

all I ever wanted


Years ago I had a therapist who described the Saipua team as a ‘family that I could control.’ Ironically now my childhood family lives here or visits regularly. My dad, almost 80, motored down to the lower campus yesterday in the farm’s ATV on his way to cut firewood, shouting a handful of orders to Zoe and I. Deference is a fine skill to possess. We see it in the sheep/dog relations regularly.

The youngest Ryhanen, my nephew Finn - almost 9, comes mid-summer. I’m counting the days till we can run amok around the farm, racing BMX bikes in the driveway, designating areas of the farm as ‘sacrificial snake pits’, and acting weird together.

Can the chaos of certain childhood experiences be soothed by the simulation of control as an adult? I’m not invested enough in my old narratives (or that type of therapy) to investigate any further. However I do believe in cracking the nut of our deepest desires and to that end, let me tell you about the state of our communal refrigerator…

I’m lucky to know many amazing chefs. Flowers and food are natural bedfellows, in that they share many of the same attributes and strifes associated with hospitality, the events industry and classism in general. These chef friends have shaped the food program at Worlds End by cooking here before we even had a kitchen, talking to me late night about refrigerator rubrics, and answering the phone when I was elbow deep in pastry dough emergencies. You know who you are….

There is so much that goes into communal living (communal anything) … the leadership, accountability, exhaustive communication and general participation … amongst the current iteration of live bodies, but also that which has been accumulated through the history of those who have come before.

Tonight, tired and uninterested in scratching my own dinner together at the farmhouse, I opened the big fridge to find all sorts of beautifully labeled cooked grains, soaked beans, defrosted pestos from last summer’s high season, leftover salads, aioli, sourdough and homemade pickles. I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend years ago about my dream to have all of the best foods on hand in a communal fridge so that anyone at any time could throw together a delicious meal in minutes - no matter how hard the day on the farm was, you could rest in the promise of a stocked fridge when you came up for air.

There are so many moments when this farm is hard but more moments when it is so quietly, ecstatically good that I can hardly believe it’s real.

I can’t wait to feed you all!!!!

Friday, April 7, 2023

off and running


It’s week one of settling in together and it’s going great, with more structure and resources (almost enough!) than ever before, plus the hard-won lessons of years past. Jess Green (the weaving teacher who comes in May) was the person who really got me thinking about the power of failure - to see it as part of the iterative process of world-building and the fabric of relational work in general. The other side of connection is conflict (we don’t get one without the other) and I am reminded often how much I have learned from conflict in this project over the years.

Amidst the organization happening here, there is so much dust. Boots and dogs bring it inside as mud and it gets ground down underfoot, shaken off with pond water, dried, and pulverized. Once begun, cleaning the floor seems quaint; a bad idea, abandoned. 

I finally got the female guardian dog Nola spayed. Afterward, she spent a restful but resentful week in the farmhouse on the floor. We took her back to Donnie and her sheep yesterday and the melodrama of the reunion was the first of many this week that we failed to film for (now starting production for June launch). Needless to say, twas not a dry eye in the barn. 

We are, thus far, light on the lambs here (who else can say that?) and sleeping through the night without barn checks. I am, for the first time in my 10 years of shepherding, not worried about lambing which feels like real progress for me - perhaps the slightest sidestep toward accepting the unknown. It helps to be buoyed by Claire and Zoe, two women who have farmed here with me for years and who I trust with my life. 

I am reading a new book; God, Human, Animal, Machine by Meghan O’Gieblyn which is good if you’re interested in a readable memoir-style intelligent pondering of AI and the replacement of religion with technology and science. I am still working my way through Rosi Braidotti’s Posthuman Feminism. And at random, I pulled from my bookshelf this week Kathy Acker’s Great Expectations which I have not read since college. Re-reading passages of it this morning reminds me of the feral self inside systems of domination. I will get into this more maybe next week.

It’s a full-on whirlwind on the farm; so intense and so fun. We’re going to keep pulling you into the happenings here on IG and soon on the Saipua TV channel. Thank you for all your soap, linen, and bathrobe orders - they make the engine run!