Tiny Forest Hermitage

Tiny Farm. Boundless Compassion.

   May 23

Summer “Rains” Retreat

Tiny Forest Hermitage will be closing for solitary retreat from June 1 to October 27. During this time we will not be open to additional sales beyond our current commitments.

Khanti's doeling, Maia (illusion)

Khanti’s doeling, Maia (illusion)

Khanti freshened with a single, very large doeling who had to be pulled. Both mother and daughter are fine. As a first freshener Khanti is learning the milking routine and is very uncooperative. I’m giving her the opportunity to settle on her own but am considering letting her go. I do not want to force milking on my milk crew. This means there is only one doe providing milk presently, which means there is no milk or yogurt available.

There have been numerous setbacks this year, this one only being the latest. the good news is that it has helped define what I am capable of and what is beyond my abilities. In turn this has helped solidify the plans for a hermitage that provides genuine opportunities to practice meditation for liberation.

   May 04

Raw Milk, Yogurt and Meditation

Dear Friends.

Soon it will be two years since I disrobed as a bhikhuni and returned to lay life as a monastic hybrid. Hasn’t been a walk in the park after I gave away all of my possessions but the dust has been clearing for months now and I see that delusion is just as prevalent in robes as it is in the world outside of robes. It is delusion that keeps us in the grip of old habits even as we speak about letting go…. this conversation is older than the wind and it has been usurped and distorted by everybody already. Enough now.

I’ve returned to a smaller farm in Tennessee to raise a herd of dairy goats compassionately and to establish a meditation hermitage like no other. Tiny Forest Hermitage focuses on three products: raw milk, yogurt and meditation. Starting over is always difficult and this story is no different. What is different is that I am not starting over with the same insanity. What I learned and experienced in Asia is with me and this is what I wish to share with you. Tiny Forest Hermitage is a refuge for animals and a refuge for the soul-weary, bringing together the facets of our lives that have been torn and trashed by greed and hatred: inner health and well-being, environmental health, animal welfare and the path to liberation (which is as open and accessible today as it was when the Buddha walked this Earth).

I need your help right now. This farm is entirely paid for but in order to bring forth a meditation hermitage that is truly a meditation hermitage, there is still work to be done. To begin with a survey to find land corners, a bit of clearing for a fence line and fencing are needed to ensure the safety for our guests and goats in this rustic setting.

It is my wish that Tiny Forest Hermitage will be able to provide space for those who are earnestly seeking meditation instruction from a qualified practitioner. For those who are seeking to set upon the Path and refuse to follow along anymore, and those who have already found other ways lacking and ceaseless talk to be utter nonsense.

Someday there will be kutis here amid a micro-scale raw milk dairy that raises animals not just sustainably for a local market but also compassionately, bringing the Path into alignment on a practical level in our lives. Tiny Forest Hermitage will provide a wholistic opportunity for practice in a way unavailable anywhere else. Placing equanimity and compassion first, joy and selfless love will naturally follow. It is a realistic goal for one lifetime, not a legend from times gone by.

This link will take you to a crowdfunding campaign that will help support our direction and work. Please help support this unique uprising. If you can donate please help. If you can share this email with others who can donate and /or share please help. The rewards are too great and too necessary to continue allowing delusion a driver’s seat.


Marcia Pimentel

   Apr 29

First in a New Photo Series

“Gardening with Tiny Forest Hermitage”

This week: How to start egg plants.DSCN0803

   Apr 16

Sustaining Atapi Sustainably

Sustainability is often in my thoughts but lately arising from my homestead landscape, tiny pieces of the puzzling picture are irritating me.

Atapi has been very sick. She had been going down hill for a month, slowly at first. Two days in a row I expected to find her dead in the morning. The reasons are complex and have been difficult to see, especially given most of the knowledge I have about goats is informed by my own experience, or the experience of others, in many different situations but not in this particular situation. All winter long I fed the Tiny Forest herd a fermented alfalfa product that is harvested and packaged in Texas: Chaffhaye. I traveled 75 minutes each way to buy the 50 pound bags at over $16.00 each. Together the herd and Suki went through a bag a week. There is no waste with it. They all did so well. When winter ended, I didn’t go for more. It is not in my feed budget – nor was it ever my intention – to feed year round. By this time Atapi had freshened and she was eating quite a bit of commercial goat feed. This photo shows Atapi when her kids were one week old.


Atapi was a first freshener this year and it turned out she is a strong producer. She started to lose condition as her lactation increased. When I read about feeding amounts of grain for a strong producer like Atapi, I was startled to learn that up to 3 pounds of grain was recommended! I thought that was too much for a goat but I obediently increased her grain. She started to eat less of it, not more, and she continued to lose weight and condition. No amount of tweaking or adding supplements helped her. The more I tweaked her nutrition, the skinnier she became. She refused anything new including sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets (the whole herd refused them). I purchased different types of hay including packaged alfalfa and an oat, alfalfa, timothy blend they have liked before. She refused them. Then she started to scour and the loss of condition and weight accelerated. She went from a body score of 6 on freshening to a body score of 1.5 in eight weeks. Next thing I knew I was trying to help her with B complex, kaopectate, probiotics, a calcium drench, herbal dewormers and copper. Nothing helped her. She took a turn for the worse on Easter weekend and I thought she would die before Monday. On Monday she had no warmth in her mouth. Her breathing was shallow. She had stopped ruminating. I couldn’t hear her gut moving. On Tuesday morning I took the cart with me when I went to feed them. I thought I would find her dead. Imagine my surprise when I found her standing and looking at me. I took her to Dr. Bell. He couldn’t find anything to account for the scouring or her emaciated condition. This is Atapi, at her lowest point.


She was hydrated he told me, much to my surprise. Her rumen was still working. She had no parasites or coccidia ( I knew that already). Her temperature was normal but she had a cough. We were sent home with a B-12 injection, an antibiotic, which she would not take and a steroid to give her energy. The steroid was injected in the muscle and for this reason, I could give it to her. She would no longer accept me drenching her and I didn’t blame her. She resisted it so fiercely that some of the drench she was given was aspirated into her lungs, hence the raspy coughing. A week after visiting Dr. Bell, she had exhausted her reserves. She was a walking shriveled skeleton and I saw death in her eyes. Yet still, she had milk for her buckling even though she was living on air, not ruminating, not eating and with persistent watery scours.


Everyday I cut down branches of different trees and took them to her. Sometimes she would sniff and take a nibble. Sometimes she would sniff and refuse. I gave up giving her any medicines because I honestly felt horrible doing it. It was obvious that she resisted firmly. The administration of medicines and maybe the medicines themselves bothered her and aggravated her condition.

On a visit to H and H Dairy in Saltillo, I told Joe Hehe about Atapi. He gave me a bale of his farm grown alfalfa and a good chunk of an alfalfa hay he had purchased with 20% protein. The kindness and generosity of H and H Dairy was a balm on my tired mind. When I got home I offered Atapi a fistful of Joe’s farm grown alfalfa and to my surprise she took it. She took a whole mouthful and chewed and chewed but she was so weak she couldn’t chew enough. She swallowed some and the rest fell out of her mouth. I offered her the leaves of the 20% alfalfa and she took it. She could chew it and swallow. Fast forward two days and she was ruminating again though still scouring. I kept to my promise and did not do anything for the scours which was mucousy and almost clear that day. The next day her scouring was yellow and thicker.

Atapi is not yet out of the woods. (edited: Atapi is now much better) She has lost her reserves but she is defecating normally. No more scours. Everyday, she gets a little stronger. I add molasses to 4 cups of warm water each morning and she slurps down the whole thing without coaxing. She now walks out to the wooded area of her pasture with me – she had stayed in the loafing shed all this time. I lower the branches that are too high for her to take on her own. She is eating with more gusto. Both of her kids (she has 2 kids but a very strong preference for her buckling) get a small drink of milk when they seek her out. She refused grain the entire time she was sick. The herd, in general, was refusing grain. This meant something to me.

Here I sit at the fork of sustainability and the carrying capacity of the land and the symbiosis of the land and the herd. Thinking about this is helpful for planning but experience is the teacher. I looked for hay all winter and encountered a couple of problems. The first problem is more of an annoyance, a 50 bale load of sericea hay that was promised to me was sold out from under me. Secondly, the goats refused even premium horse quality Bermuda hay that was offered before spring. I was removing it from the hay rack and leaving it for bedding. They wouldn’t touch it. I think at least toward some of the hay I offered, they were just being picky. I couldn’t find a steady supply of the same hay and had to keep switching. But often enough they were just being picky because they could, because they were otherwise getting Chaffhaye and commercial goat feed. That story has ended.

I currently have three large bales of locally-grown mixed grass hay that is lovely. Suki loves it. The kids love it too and Atapi and Khanti have no excuse. For their nutritional well-being however they are also getting the 20% alfalfa hay that was referred to me by Joe Hehe and by Megan Huls Patrick. I picked up an 860 pound square bale that I’ve no way to take off of my trailer. It sits covered on the utility trailer. I switched to Purina Dairy Special to supplement their lactation. Atapi has started to eat a little grain and while I prefer not to feed it, there is no way to support her lactation without it. However my does receive only 1 pound of grain per day, not 3 pounds 2x a day that is recommended. To our benefit the woods are greening and their favorite food, the natural scape in their pasture is increasing. I hope to have the second pasture fenced by the end of April. Suki, my Jersey heifer, and the herd will spend summer in the new pasture and return to the present pasture in fall. It is too early to think about next winter but I have a valuable lesson to help me plan.


The possibility of losing Atapi to a nutritionally-related complex of causes is a sustainability issue. Purchasing commercial feed or a packaged product, even a very good one like Chaffhaye, was never my intention when I set out to create a sustainable forest farm. The intention was to allow the land to heal and to begin to carry a small herd of animals in symbiotic relationships with each other and with the land. The land is not there yet; still much work to be done. Neither is the fencing. Yet there are already animals here and so hay is necessary year round. But to depend entirely on one or two products for their health and maintenance is a disaster in the making. Winter of course is a challenge even in Tennessee but we have three seasons here that provide a ruminant buffet when the herd numbers and fencing are poised for rotational grazing.

I don’t think Atapi would have made it had this happened in winter or if she did not have such a strong bond to her buckling. Fortunately for her, her kids and Hannah and me (because we are all in this together) she had a strong support network to match her strong resilience. I have seen how the best intentions can still lead to catastrophe, how good products that work very well can still be unsustainable, how hands on experience is the teacher and guide, and how the Earth evolved for her creatures is still the best way for her creatures. Mother knows best. I’m sticking with that.

   Mar 29

Cabrito Ready for Summer Solstice

Custom orders for cabrito (young goat) being accepted. 40 – 60 pounds x $3.00/lb. live weight. The USDA processor is $55.00 additional which includes cut and wrap.

These kids were born on a local dairy and have been raised together on whole milk. No antibiotics, no growth hormones, pasture-raised in a group setting: never through a sale barn, no disbudding, no tattoos, no ear tags, no castration, no branding ever.

They are also available for adoption at above rate (minus USDA processing fee). Buck goats do not make good pets but they can be neutered by a veterinarian, if you would like to adopt one as a cart wether or garden companion. They will have horns. Any animal at Tiny Forest is available for adoption at anytime for an adoption fee that equals market price.

Cabrito will be ready on June 21st, 2015. Whole or half orders taken by email or phone. Pick up in Olive Hill, TN or at Tiny Forest. Please give 2 -3 weeks notice of pick up. That is the time required by the processor so they can be first that morning.

   Mar 22

Spring is nonGMO


I have been a firm believer that genetically-modified organisms (GMO) have a positive and beneficial use in humanitarian efforts. What I have been seeing and reading however are more about the evils of large greedy corporations usurping farmland and spreading invasive organisms in our fields (Monsanto Company Genetically-Engineered Wheat Litigation, MDL No. 2473). We know very little about the consequences of GMO on our natural scapes and despite this lack of knowledge we are becoming a GMO nation. Many groups are calling for labeling in the U.S., many countries have banned U.S. GMO harvests and many of us in the U.S. are left awash in a sea of misinformation so that we adhere to one side or the other of the debate without any solid factual evidence to support our allegiance.

Though it may be more prudent to call for a boycott until science proves safety for certain, a boycott is not realistic. There are billions of dollars invested in our GMO agriculture and it will be the farmer who is worst hit. Externalities however lack person commitment. Using our own gauge of health, our own investigations and our own intuitive wisdom, we can come up with our own path to food and wellness. In other words, my sense tells me to stay away from what makes me sick, regardless of whether it grows is this harsh soil or not. Sustainability is not defined by yield but by a whole approach toward wellness of the soil and the body. It is a sense also of natural well-beingness, not harming the waters or the native life in any way.

Safety testing will have to be actuality based rather than computer-based: detailed laboratory testing and field testing on each GM organism. One series of tests on one organism can’t be taken for general safety of all, as seen with the Soft Wheat settlement cited above. Some of the original GM corn hybrids, which have been in use for decades, have probably met the criteria for safety already.

For some things we have to take the slow road.

Last year my vegetable garden was all nonGMO and no plant lived to fruit in this harsh soil. My neighbor Frank says nothing grows here. Erosion has left this gravelly clay soil on the sloping shores of the Tennessee River, acidic and nutrient starved. The peach, pear and plum trees have had a very hard time. I’ve lost half of the fruit trees planted. The ones still alive are flowering right now. They were treated with copper last week, to prevent a black mildew that nearly wiped them all out last year.


This soil, which is representative of natural circumstances (sloping, near a major waterway, clay and gravel) with some human intervention (paved road, water lines at roadside, utility poles and utility work and construction) is a good example of soil which needs to be replenished and healed. This takes time. In a year and a half, the front fields and the soil surrounding the house have improved considerably. I mowed the fields of blackberry bramble and broom grass to let the sun shine on the soil. With composting hay and straw turned by the hens, and manure directly and indirectly applied, the soil has improved a little. It has a neutral ph in some areas now and it is more absorbent of rain, which would run right off forming rivulets and gullies, at first. It takes time and though I would like to grow my own foods here, I am not starving because the land is not ready. This is not the case in some countries facing massive soil erosion either through their own negligence and abuse or through climate change.

There are places on Earth facing formidable challenges to their local food supplies and for these places, humanitarian GMOs could mean the difference between health or starvation. I am not so naive as to think that no beneficial GMO has been developed but not pursued because it is not a money-maker. Staple crops such as bananas, rice and potatoes that can grow in nutrient challenged soils or survive monsoon floods in poor countries can be life-giving to many. For this reason I am not anti GMO. But my garden this year will remain nonGMO and as I am able to, I will be switching all of the residents here to nonGMO foods.

   Mar 09

Winning the Battle, Losing the War: A Spiritual Perspective

In the comment section someone replied about not sharing this otherwise wonderful post due to the mention of just one political leader and then mentions another political leader…. A good example of not understanding, not looking inward at our own biased frame -working. The Buddha said that a mighty river moved a massive amount of water silently while a creek made a noisy mess with just a little volume of water.The wise speak little, the fool speaks a lot.

Winning the Battle, Losing the War: A Spiritual Perspective.

   Mar 02

Tiny Forest is Now Pick TN Approved!


The “Pick Tennessee Products” (PTP) is a Tennessee Department of Agriculture program helping consumers identify and choose high quality agricultural products produced and processed in Tennessee

I’m so happy and honored to show off this label. Tennessee rocks for the tiny farmer :)

   Mar 01

Peeling Eggs Meditation

Farm fresh eggs come with a caveat, they are hard to peel. The easiest way to have hard-boiled eggs that are not shredded or mashed (unless you want them that way) is to leave them in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before boiling. Eggs that are safely refrigerated can last fresh 4 weeks or more. If you want deviled eggs the day they were laid however, there is a technique to avoid shredded and mashed hard-boiled eggs.

1) Boil water sufficient to cover the eggs in a pot they can move around in. For one dozen that would be 2 quarts of water in a 4 quart pot.
2) Once the water is at a rolling boil, place the eggs gently on the bottom of the pan with a slotted spoon. Be careful to avoid dropping them in to the water or letting them hit the bottom of the pan hard enough to crack.
3) Continue boiling for 15 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and drain water (which will be scalding so please, please, please be careful with it).
5 Fill pot with very cold tap water. If your tap water comes out lukewarm add ice to it to make it very cold.
6) Leave the eggs in the cold water until the heat is withdrawn from them. The water should be room temperature or only slightly warm.
7) Break egg and peel. The egg should be neither warm nor cool. It should be comfortable for your hands to peel.
8) Be there as you peel.
9) If you drift away to the future, come back to peeling the egg.
10) If you drift away to the past, come back to peeling the egg.
11) If irritation arises, come back to peeling the egg.
12) Whatever arises, let it go and just peel the egg without any internal speaking.
13) This is your food and your nourishment. It came by way of healthy hens doing what they love to do. It came by a way of a beautiful roo. There is a cycle nourishing everything: mind actions, physical actions and verbal actions too.
14) There is a membrane that protects the egg and it can be tough to break but not impossible.

Easy. Of course not all eggs cooperate. Out of the dozen fresh eggs collected today, one looks rough and two wouldn’t release the yolk when I sliced them to make deviled eggs. I ate those :)

Commercial eggs in the U.S. are washed and therefore must be refrigerated. I don’t wash the eggs from my hens. I keep their bedding clean and dry when possible and the eggs are clean when collected. Even though the eggs are still protected and can be safely stored at room temperature, I refrigerate them.

There will be a small circle visible on the yolk when you crack open a fresh egg. It is similar to a bull’s eye. This shows the egg is fertile and under proper conditions would have developed and hatched. My hens go broody and build nests and hatch chicks. Last year a Buff Orpington hen hatched 18 chicks and raised each one of them until they were 7 weeks old at which time she was emaciated and needed to recover so she sent her chicks packing. One day she pecked at them all and fussed and a couple of days later they all went their separate ways.

It is important for me that a good rooster be present in a flock of hens though I don’t believe in old folk tales about flocks of hens without a roo. Hens do fine without a rooster. I think it is important as someone who can theoretically have a rooster, to have one… allowing this small gesture to a rooster. Most male chicks hatched in hatcheries are killed. The roos hatched here have shorter lives than the hens. I do not cull hens from the flock. They are here until they die. Roosters can’t be self-sustaining that way. Tiny Forest eggs are all fertile and if you have a mind to, you can also incubate them.

The hatch rate for the hens is very high but once eggs are refrigerated, and transported, the rate decreases. If you would like eggs specifically for hatching, please let me know. I gather them and store them differently for hatching. I keep a barnyard assortment and eggs will be mixed egg laying breeds.

   Feb 26

In my pockets right now…

bits of timothy, alfalfa, oats, and bits of straw ….

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