we’re starting a flock.
it’s been an eventful spring so far. the second hexayurt collapsed a week before the Equinox festival — a combination of weather, wear, and too long between maintenance days. so we spent a work party taking that apart and getting the site cleared up, what with having several dozen people over for Ostara the next weekend.
meanwhile, Jenny & Tristan have gotten all the irrigation up and running and the spring crops planted. we’re earlier than last year, but so is Spring — it’s been in the 60s-70s consistently for weeks now, and while i’m sure it will freeze again, i’m equally sure it’s time to plant the spring crops, and then some. and the summer starts are up and sprouting in the seed greenhouse, thinking about putting out their second sets of leaves. just like that!
Alan, Rev and I spent a day getting the aquaponics system up and running for the spring, and recalibrated so that instead of the water washing the seed away, the water level is just under the gravel level in the grow beds, so hopefully the seeds will sprout and we will have greens from the AP system this year. i planted spinach, kale, lettuce, and a bunch of pollinator-friendly flowering herbs, which i hope to start in the AP system and then move out into various other gardens around the property, while re-seeding the greens as we eat them.
forsythia and nectarine are in bloom, as are daffodils (almost done, really), hyacinths, and plum. the apricots have already bloomed and gotten frost bit, of course.
and this post would not be complete without this perfect photo. the peacock was thinking about whether or not he ought to be bothered by the cat. the cat was utterly unbothered by the peacock, and sauntered past him, to dive up into this tree — and discover that the tree is not really large enough to support a large cat. thus, the scene:
i love it that Elliott is just watching Tybalt, as if to say, “kitty, you’re doing it wrong. you forgot how to cat.”
Thanks to a generous gift from Britta, we made there to be a fireplace in the great room! it looks as if it were original to the house, but it was built (in the course of a week) from scratch.
building a real live library is phenomenally satisfying. every time i walk into the house i start playing in that delicious pile of books.
i am woefully behind on posting here. we finished the kiva fireplace! it’s pretty dang awesome! Also, the kitchen cabinetry and the oven arrived, and we got the gas hooked up, so the kitchen is finally complete.
Also, it snowed.
the long quiet of winter
bird after bird after bird
passes through my hands.
all the long day in the cool autumn sun,
laughing, teaching, sharing
the work of killing,
the work of bringing food
from the living.
the bucket black with old blood,
filling red with new.
feathers by the handful.
leaves falling all day in long cascades
themselves dry feathers from a cloudless sky.
in the morning, crows, and then cranes.
in the evening, cranes, and then quiet.
entrails red on the ground,
left carefully out for coyotes.
in my heart, an uneasy silence.
the good work i’ve been given, in fullness.
and the hollow of the missing, the lost, the dead.
all the birds dispatched to their tables,
the long quiet of winter descends.
This weekend, we built a sweat lodge, for use in the winter solstice ceremony (and potentially other ceremonies, of course).
then we selected fifteen strong young elm trees, as slender and long as we could find, and stripped them down to become the poles for the frame. normally, this would be done with willow, but we are working from a principle of site-specificity. our property includes many thousands of elm trees that require some management, and no willow at all. so we used elm. it worked out very well.
we fastened the bent poles to each other with wire. we used wire again because it was what was already available on hand, and also because elm is very strong, and somewhat resistant to being bent, and we wanted a fastener that would hold it firmly in place without supervision while it dries into its new shape.
the full set of photos is here:
i suppose i haven’t done a fall photo post yet. a lot of fall photographs are up on our flickr page, if you’d like to see some pretty leaves and grapevines.
i’m behind on taking pictures of Mahazda, for a couple reasons. one is that we’re both half moved in, and also waiting for the keva fireplace in the livingroom to be finished. i’ve got process pics of that, but want to be able to show the whole thing — it’ll be another week.
and by “we’re half moved in,” I mean that Jenny and Gawain are moved into the new house, but we’re still working on the kitchen, the office, and the common areas, so the space isn’t quite functioning as a community gathering space in the way we want it to. It will when the kitchen is fully moved over, but that’ll be a couple weeks while we finish installing cabinetry and appliances. And finish that fireplace in the livingroom, too. Alan and I are remaining in our yurts, Tristan in the Cottage, and Rev and Billy at Caer Aisling. While all of these are community spaces in different ways, Mahazda will be the common gathering place, for meetings, parties, events, etc. The Cottage front room will become a library later this winter (not that it’s very far from being one right now).
the other reason i’m behind on photography is that this is a season of change, in more ways than the house. Alan has been thinking for a year and more that he might need to move to the San Francisco Bay area for career reasons, and the time for this has finally come. So a couple of weeks ago, we packed up a rental car and drove out to Mountain View together, where we got Alan settled into a room at Tortuga Intentional Community. And a week later, he’s starting a job at Electric Cloud. Pow, just like that.
Alan is not leaving me, nor is he leaving Sunflower River; he’s very much still my partner, and a Steward of this community. He’s just a long-distance partner, and an off-site Steward, for as long as he needs to be in the Bay. This job is a very good career opportunity for him, and moves many objectives forward. So all in all, while it’s a really huge change for all of us, it’s one that we support his making, and will weather together.
And meanwhile, I’ll be flying back and forth to San Francisco more often. That just doesn’t suck. ;-)
first off, here’s the whole photoset in one shot.
So, Jenny and I had been talking about making a penny-tile floor. For those of you who maybe don’t hang out on Pinterest, that means using pennies to tile a floor. it’s cheaper than regular tile (running about $1.44/square foot, vs upwards of $3 for most tile), but of course, since each penny is a tile, it’s more work.
and here’s the process in order.
then we experienced several setbacks, including shining a batch of pennies ourselves, laying another foot or so of floor, and then having it tarnish over the next two days. that whole section had to be pulled up and redone. we ceased attempting to shine pennies, and instead took them back to the bank and traded them in for new batches, which we then sorted.
we’re all very pleased with the final product. our contractor, Bryan, called it “an award-winning bathroom.” it’s already so very worth it.
it’s so easy to get so far behind, here. we’ve been running to keep up with ourselves all summer, with the remodel project on top of just running the daily operations of the farm (garden, poultry, interns, events), and as summer begins to drop into fall, we’re still running to stay ahead of all those fronts.
Mahazda is so incredibly close to being finished! we’re hoping that this year’s Thanksgiving gathering will be our housewarming. Jenny and Tristan have been working themselves ragged getting various projects in Mahazda done, and all of us have been pitching in as much as we can. there are so very many pieces to a functioning house. all that’s left at this point is the kitchen cabinetry (Rev is working on that as I write this!) and tiling the west bathroom, which has Jenny and Tristan working hard. at some point we’ll do baseboards & shelving and some built-in furniture type things, but those are all kind of optional and later. we’ll move in before that.
so as usual, my photos are kind of out-of-date. what with all the running, and events, and working, and the most intense fall semester i’ve had in several years.
so here’s some shots of further work in the house, as of a couple weeks ago. and it’s moving *fast* right now! with any luck i’ll manage to take more pics this weekend, but don’t hold your breath for another post next week; i’m still slammed at work and barely keeping track of my to-do list.
Jenny masterminded this super-cool bathroom floor. before you ask, yes, of course it was a lot of work. but just look at it! we get to live with that forever now. and that’s not work at all. it’s pleasure.
the penny floor will get its own full photo-post in a moment.
the dishwasher goes next to the sink, the range top goes into the counter there, the cupboards all get painted a matching deep blue, and the oven/microwave/etc stack goes to the right of the range, fridge to the right of that. i think. we’ll be moving the fridge in on sunday, which will no doubt clarify the layout in my mind!
This coming Monday, September 1st, is the Sunflower River 6th Annual Harvest Festival.
that means it marks our Seven-Year anniversary as a community!
come on down to the farm and enjoy the sunshine and excellent company, from 1-6pm. we’ll have bobbing for apples, a game of horseshoes, a potluck (please label your ingredients and be aware of food sensitivities! many people are sensitive to wheat, nuts, meat, and other ingredients!), and as always, the ever-popular pie contest! bake your best pie recipe — or try a new one — or bake a pie for the first time ever — and bring it down to enter in the contest! our friend Sandy Bryan will judge the pies at 2pm.
later in the afternoon, we’ll have an open music jam; bring your instruments!
hope to see you there!
The Stewards of Sunflower River
(if you need directions, please email yarrow at sunflowerriver dot org!)