Kat: wall update. two steps forward, one step back.

i’m looking forward to this saturday’s wall plastering party. at the last one, a couple weeks ago, we made the decision to add portland cement to the earthen plaster mix we’re using on the north wall, with the result that the new mix did not suffer any damage in the ongoing rains we’ve experienced.

we certainly don’t want this much-needed rain to go away, or even to let up. we just want our work to withstand it as it is supposed to.

saturday we are going to tackle the last exposed stretch of new construction. next week, (gods willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say), we have three new interns arriving. they will be able to do the bits of patchwork here and there throughout the whole north wall, where the rains have knocked down last year’s (and some of this year’s) work.

the reason we’re dealing with this many repairs is mainly time. earthen plaster doesn’t happen in a single layer, and the wall is very long. the time it takes us to get a single layer over the bags is substantial, not least because we are doing one or two workdays a month with as many volunteers as we can wrangle — which is sometimes many, and sometimes none. this year, due to an assortment of schedule confluences and the ongoing length of this project, most of our wall days have been just a handful of Sunflower River residents. so that has slowed us down, and we can’t work full-time on it; we have jobs and other responsibilities that prevent us from being able to work full-timeon any one farm project — and this is *far* from the only project going on at the farm! so there’s that. priorities are all over the map, and with good reason.

but the longer the project stretches, the more the rain and sun wear away this base coat of plaster, which is not actually supposed to be the final wall surface. it gets two more coats, then a limewash at the end. between the second and third coat, we’ll add more sculpture to the wall’s interior, as we are doing on the (much more finished) east wall:
(tiger by Eso Robinson & Nina Dubois, art studio MFA students at UNM).

so we’re doing a lot of this kind of patchwork:

and the bit of wall in that photo has bits that need to be redone again, as the weather has gotten at it in just these few weeks. we’re hoping this fall’s interns can help us get all the necessary patchwork filled in with the new cementatious plaster mix.

we got a big rainstorm (3″ in one storm) at the end of July, that did this to the north wall:

this was an area we’d had particular trouble getting plastered last fall. this time, we covered the wall material with chicken wire (most earthbag resources say that this is not necessary, but we are discovering that this is an exaggeration at best; the chicken wire helps a *lot*). then we re-plastered. IMG_5889

that time it stuck, with minimal damage in the less-intense rains that came between work days.

returning to the project a couple weeks later, we used the new mix over that whole end of the wall, with this result:


we got so much done at that work day, that we were able to take time to beautify the apse out front at the day’s end.

that’s right on the corner of our property, and faces Isleta Blvd, so it’s a relief to have it looking so good!

if you’re feeling inspired, or have a need to throw things and would rather do so while also getting soemthing done, come on down to the farm this saturday, or on Sunday, october 6th, for our last two wall parties of 2013! we can use all the help we can get, and the work really is fun (and really is all about throwing mud), and is livened up even more by the good company.

Kat: 2013 Harvest Festival

This past weekend, Sunflower River celebrated our sixth anniversary living together as an intentional community, with our 5th annual Harvest Festival. we have hosted this large outdoor potluck every labor day since our second year.

I didn’t get an actual count this time, but lots of people came:

and had a good time:

and bobbed for apples:
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and enjoyed the ever-popular pie contest:


which our friends Sandy and Debbie judged again this year.
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Harriet presents a winning pie to the audience:

for the second year in a row, our friends from Wildlife Rescue New Mexico came down and did an educational presentation with rescued raptors.

Kristin Madden holding a turkey vulture:

Brian Rassmussen with a red-tailed hawk

barn owl:

we played some music

and some acro-yoga

and some of us had a dirt fight

what do you mean, “not in the eyes”? why not?

a lot of us got to spend time with good friends



and admire Alan’s new haircut
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and swing in the hammock

and enjoy the land.

Harvest Festival, Monday Sept 2nd (yes, Monday. it’s Labor Day.)

Join us for our fifth annual Harvest Festival! Monday, September 2 (Labor Day).

Come down to celebrate the turning of the seasons, enjoy the harvest, and spend a fun afternoon in excellent company at Sunflower River!

Potluck — bring a dish to share!
Pie Contest– Bring a pie! Prizes!
Bobbing for Apples, Horseshoes
Open Acoustic Music Jam — bring your instruments!

Back for a second year! we’ll have a Raptor Presentation from Wildlife Rescue New Mexico! http://www.wrinm.org/

Bring your friends and family for this all-ages celebration of the year, the harvest, the cycles of the seasons, of friendship and family and the beauty of the world.

for directions, please message yarrow at sunflowerriver dot org. comments left here will come to my attention eventually, but in a less timely manner; email is best! thanks!

Plaster & Sculpture Party, this Sunday!

Come get dirty with us!

Plaster party Sunday, August 25th, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Some of the plaster got knocked down by that amazing rain a couple weeks ago — like, a third of the plaster on the north side of the wall– so we have some re-mudding to do (now with extra lime for extra staying power!), and then a base-coat to apply on the north side of the newly-finished bit of wall.

This work consists of mixing up a special mud recipe, and throwing it at the wall. It’s a ton of fun, and you’ll learn a lot about earthen plastering.

We’re also ready to add some more bas-relief plaster sculpture on the east wall. We’re interested in all sorts of plant, animal, and natural-world related artwork — if you’d like to get in on this, come on down!

A hearty vegetarian lunch will magically appear around 2pm. We’ll send all volunteers home with farm goods.

Come on down and get muddy!

Kat: wall update, and less-than-feral cats.

we’re done rebuilding the wall! this has been a long time coming. we had a crew of four interns here for a month this summer, and while they were here, they put in a course of wall every day, until they got it done! it feels amazing to walk out my door and feel the physical presence of that solid boundary right there.

we also got it about 1/4 plastered last weekend. we’ll pick up with plastering as soon as we have a few more interns again — most of our last crew have headed off to various new adventures.

finished! and the plastering well begun.


the sunflowers Rev built, now complete with morning glories:


and today’s gratuitous cute kitty post: look how much progress i’m making on domesticating Furdre! now that she’s discovered that being petted feels good, she’s making up for lost years of touch. everytime i step outside, that cat is right there twining around my ankles — or whacking them if i fail to obey her demands. hah.



Kat: Mahazda Demolition: Done!

first off, here’s the full set of photographs from the Mahazda demolition project. When the rennovation is complete, I’ll do a before-during-after set of each room.

by mid-April, we were all set to finish everything up, but it was just too much to get done in one day with the group that was able to be there. so that workday ended with both substantial progress, and substantial disappointment. with the big Beltane festival coming up, which we were coordinating, we wanted to be able to wrap this stage of the project up before leaving down for the festival. so we pushed things around in the calendar to free up the Sunday before Beltane, and implored our friends to come help. it turns out we have spectacularly awesome friends; three people came out to put in a full afternoon’s work with us, and with three of us also able to jump in, we got the last of everything done!

now we are in the process of negotiating with the contractor about specific details of the rennovation. this will be a very thorough rennovation: new electric, plumbing, insulation, heating/cooling systems, floors. a large kitchen, two bathrooms, new windows and doors. we will do the kitchen cabinetry and the finish work (trim, cabinets, painting) ourselves, to save costs and put our own hands into the work.

we’d like to put in radiant heat, and wrap the house with strawbales for the most effective insulation (and sound-proofing!). initial estimates for the latter come in higher than we like, but it seems like there ought to be a way to do a strawbale wrap for less. if anybody has any leads on that, please let me know! of course we can do some of the work ourselves, but that also slows the project down, possibly substantially, because of the way we have to schedule ourselves; it’s the group process thing. that is one of the options we’re looking at. but you know, if one of our readers has a cousin who is a contractor who has done strawbale wraps on existing structures before, or something, do *please* drop me a note! yarrow at sunflowerriver dot org. thanks!

Kat: and suddenly, it’s almost June

the spring slips away, just like that: it is Summertime. my favorite season. i am made for the desert heat, the solid caress of sun on bare skin, bare feet in the soil, the rich blue skies and long warm evenings.

we can barely keep up with the garden.


this weekend, i took time to finally trellis the honeysuckle up front, which was entwined with the spirea. both of them will do better now, and we like the look of the trellis.

Anactoria, enjoying some afternoon shade:

our newest crop: butterscotch brats. er, cats. (hard to tell the difference, with that one.)

the pond is waking up, and has recently experienced some renovations, which Alan will write about in another entry.

the garden is all fractals.
clary sage:



we’ll get to eat artichokes direct from the garden this year!

the garden critters are as abundant as the greens. insects proliferate, in spite of the poultry grazing on them. here is a mother wolf spider, helping take care of the bug problem by producing a zillion more wolf spiders for us.

squash coming in beneath some volunteer tobacco, which we let grow to discourage grasshoppers, and provide some tobacco for ceremonial uses

mystery flowers:

we let some dill go to seed last year. best decision ever! now we are overrun with delicous dill!

Kat: April in the Garden

A quick photo update, while I run around madly getting everything together for Beltane.

bridal spirea, among my favorite flowering shrubs:



these really are this vivid. they smell like vanilla, too.

greens upon greens


possibly the best photo of lettuce i’ve ever taken.

and no photo update is complete without a kitty. here’s Tybalt, blending in, and heading straight for the camera, predictably.

also, bonus. Aerialist nom-noms. these little guys roam the house and steal things. adorably. now they are learning how to fly on the ceiling fan cords.


Kat: i love it when i wake up in the morning and it’s spring.

the irises are already blooming. i didn’t manage to take photos this morning, so as usual, my photo post will be a week behind the actual season. we got a little bit of rain yesterday, thank goodness, so this morning the baby greens in their long sprawling rows gleamed against the dark soil of the garden, in the grey light of a cloudy sky.

overnight, it seems, the cottonwoods have leafed.

my view in the mornings:


my yurt in the sunshine and gleaming tree leaf

note the long wires extending from both yurts: tie-downs so we don’t blow away in the wind of the rather firm New Mexico spring.

in another sure sign of spring, the Mahazda demolition project is Almost Done. We are within a work party (possibly two, but hopefully one really productive day) of being ready to turn this project over to the contractor. So close!

the floors are up:

the kitchen counters are out:

the ceilings are down:

the back yard has filled with the resulting scrap lumber (much of which is reusable):

and now we just need to clean all the debris out of the garage

and attend to some details like placing outlets, and pulling the remainder of the old, dangerous electrical system (aka, the tentacle monster) out of the ceilings.

i just like this photo because it’s kind of surreal.

Kat: this is why i think we are genuises.

particularly as a group, rather than as individuals. this same group genius, the spirit of the group’s generative power, is what created that floor plan for the Mahazda house that we are so excited to manifest and live in.

so, at Retreat last month, we changed the way we do House Meeting. it’s still every wednesday night, but now we do a planning meeting once a month, and a play meeting the rest of the time, where we get together to spend social time together. each meeting, one person is responsible for setting the activity that we will all do together, and this responsibility rotates among the five of us. last week Kat had us look for the Pan-Starrs Coment (didn’t see it) and then we watched a movie that some friends of mine produced (Ember Days).

last week at house meeting, after some general catching up, Jenny had us play a creative writing game. everybody tosses out some letters, and then we have a few minutes to each write phrases (that more or less make sense and hang together as an English phrase) where each word starts with the selected letters, in order.

so this is what happened.



travelling rice lady demands money

the real llama didn’t matter

topical relationships leave different metaphors

today red licorice didn’t matter

to really love demands mushies

this religion likes dead men

the real leader died monday

try relaxation. labor demands muscles.

true righteous love does miracles

the red lamp dropped madly

teach respect, laugh during meetings

terrible revelations left David morose

to rest longer dismays me

the random l-cache destroys memory

to reach laughter, distrust motion

testicles reach large diameter macerated

trainers rarely let dogs meander

t-rex loves damian monroe

the regent laughed, danced madly

they risk loving drama more

that rascal lost dillan’s mummy

top right/left does matter

tiny reflections linger, mirror diamonds

trees ripen less during menstruation

totally radical loafers didn’t materialize

truly rare lenses damage music

i think what we got out of this, besides a great deal of entertainment, was a vivid depiction of how our five different ways of being original, being ourselves in the world, interlace into a whole that is more interesting, more integrated, and considerably more creative than any one part. one more joy of living in community.

comments are candy. if you liked these, i’ll put the rest up. we did two more rounds with different letters.