Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shed of Holding reorg.

Some years back, we acquired a potting shed. it has enough space in it to be a number of things other than a potting shed, so for a while we were calling it the Shed of Holding. (also, we’re a bunch of geeks, in case you didn’t notice.)

The Shed of Holding is located conveniently near our community house, Mahazda, so while we were doing the renovation, we stashed materials and supplies in there so they were handy for projects. That worked okay for a while, but then entropy set in.

It’s looked more or less like this for a while:
looking east

looking west

so we decided that Outbuilding Clean Up is a priority for us this winter. Last sunday, we tackled it. We took everything out of the shed, and swept.

Then we started making executive decisions about what went back into the shed, what went into other outbuildings (and what problems that might cause there), and what to get rid of. At the end of the day, we had moved one raft of things to the Pump House (and a corresponding raft of things from the Pump House to the Cottage kitchen, where Rev obligingly spent the next day retrofitting a shelf for them), another raft of things into the Barn (which, surprisingly, was actually slightly improved thereby, in spite of our expectations to the contrary… it’s possible the barn was alreayd in such bad shape, nothing could have made it *worse* so it simply had to get better!) a stack of things set aside to be friend-cycled*, and everything else tidily organized within.

looking east:

looking west:

storage:

potting shed being an effective potting shed:

so very satisfying!

*like recycling, but to your friends. still available: 4 solar dehydrator frames, a kid’s bike suitable for a 5+ year old size kid, and an outdoor portable playpen. message me if you’re local and interested! i’ve also posted them on facebook. also for sale: a Hammer brand punching bag. good condition, unused by us. $50 obo. and a pressure tank for a well, in great condition (it came with the house, and wasn’t the right thing for our plumbing situation post-remodel; works great) $35 obo.

a highly productive warm winter

We have been having the warmest winter in many years, here. There were still flies alive in mid-December (fortunately, a hard freeze after that finally killed them all off), and the garden didn’t even slow down until late November. Combined with this, the farm has been blessed by truly spectacular interns all winter, with the end result that a lot of outdoor projects, and some indoor ones, are getting done.

for instance, our turkey coop experienced a number of problematic failures this summer during the rainy season. The coop became very lake-like in the rain, and we had a water-system failure that led to having to use trough watering — always a messy, unsanitary arrangement when it comes to poultry. What with it all, though we mucked as often as possible, with the frequent rains, it was also a mess for months.

So we discussed remodelling it — raising the level of the ground to something above the level of the barnyard, so that it would shed water. Installing a completely new watering system, to avoid having to use troughs, but still get enough water to the birds (which the bucket nipple-waterer system wasn’t doing). Changing the door configuration between the carport-end of the coop and the old corral end.

We thought this might take until the 2017 baby turkeys were big enough to move into the coop — that would be the deadline. mid-May. instead, it has all been finished in the last month!

Raised floor:
See how there’s a step up from the barnyard now, and it slopes away from the barnyard toward the open space to the north?

detail on the slope:

including brand-new turkey playground, also much needed, as the old one had collapsed. this photo also shows the new door between the carport-coop and the old coop, doubled in size so that when we are using the whole space as one pen, the birds better understand it as a opening.

and — our interns Sam & Flora, who completed this entire remodel, used a line-level to gently slope the newly-raised ground to the north — and then they lowered the ground north of the coop, so that it slopes back into the pit that was already there! so if this works, runoff from heavy rains this summer will all slough away from the turkey coop, enabling much faster drying times, and preventing the lake effect.

slope:

They also built a new, sturdier, roosting system out of old cottonwood branches:

meanwhile, Rev installed and tested a new watering system:

We’re planning to use a similar system in the brooders this year, so that the baby birds get started on this type of watering system from day one. I have high hopes for the overall dryness and cleanliness that could result if this works!

Rev also installed the new laundry lines, a farm-scale construction behind our community house. These lines should hold 4-5 loads of laundry at a time!
Later this year, I hope to paint the header bar with some kind of artfully interesting and attractive design.

in the process of remodelling the coop, Sam and Flora moved a huge amount of clay and sand out of the Mahazda front yard, so the driveway finally looks like an actual entry way:

The previous intern, Dan, got us caught up on a couple year’s worth of chopping firewood:

Ana and Flora got the (very, very messy) greenhouse completely cleaned out and prepped for spring:

and then yesterday the whole crew teamed up to bring five truckloads of horse manure from our friend Kendra’s riding stable, into the garden. it’s tmie for a major garden reset — details to come later this winter, after our upcoming retreat.

and, because we have to have at least one cute animal picture in these photo updates, here are some of our laying hens enjoying the aquaponics system on a balmy January afternoon.

and here’s Tristan’s new dog, Cora, posing for the camera.

autumn, outside the garden

20161022_182210

it’s autumning out in other ways, though, even if the garden is refusing to slow down for the season. the grandfather cottonwood is an enormous burst of golden energy, brilliant, dominating the horizon with his glow.
20161022_142409

sunflowers have been blooming everywhere.
20161022_143719

and other autumn flowers as well, such as these purple asters on the ditch bank.
20161022_143830

and these beautiful seed poofs from the indian hemp plants:
20161022_144511

not to mention our very own actual red-leafed maple tree:
20161022_143033

*

meanwhile, we finished plastering the main wall:
20160917_174745

and then we plastered the secret outdoor privy wall, tucked into a niche. it is made of plywood, and looked a bit out of place as such. we will do the last coat of plaster on it this saturday.
20161022_134638

we had to take out the cottonwood on the east side of the property, as it was both dying and leaning in a way that endangered the wall, the gas meter, and nearby cars. Here’s Gawain being King Tree on the stump: 20160927_182309

one consequence of this was a giant pile of wood chips, left (at my request) by the arborists who took the tree out. it solved a timing issue for us with the fire circle: instead of having to rent a chipper and chip up a bunch of our stick pile out back (still on the eventually-list, but now no longer as urgent) in order to mulch the fire circle, we simply moved that mulch pile back from the remains of our tree. the fire circle looks and feels amazing with this protective coat of woodchips, helping it stay soft and free from weeds. when we intend to do a dance event, we’ll rake the mulch out of the way, and the put it back after, and the mulch will keep the ground from becoming a weedy hardpan the rest of the year.
20161022_142957

also in the area, our interns are coming up with creative season-extension devices for camping in (an admittedly warm) November, like this cozy strawbale arrangement:
20161022_144729

and the sunsets just keep getting better as the season advances.
20160915_191810

autumn in the garden

We haven’t had a frost yet, and here it is the first of November. I think we have to call it fall, for the colours, but it doesn’t really feel like fall until the garden actually slows down, which will take a frost.

We grew a lot of these:
received_1099768860092224

20160923_124004

and I reorganized the cottage kitchen to create a drying and storage rack for them. I think this is the best solution we’ve had yet for winter squash storage.
20161021_153642

the tomatoes have been yielding pounds of fruit every week. it was desperate enough for a while that we were hard pressed to keep up, in spite of selling them, giving them away, and multiple canning and dehydrating batches every day. now that the temperatures have come down a little, the yield is mellowing out, but it’s far from over. We have an entire pantry full of canned tomato sauce, tomato pickles, dried tomatoes, you name it. Now we’re drying tomato leather to use as tomato paste in sauce recipes later on.
20160928_073845

at least the corn, which actually didn’t do very well this year, is done and down.
20160923_123835

not that i’m complaining about the abundance. i’m just ready for it all to fold in and let us rest a bit as the winter comes in. which it sounds like it’s not going to do much of this year: predictions are for drier & warmer than average weather all winter.

and i’d love enough of a hard freeze to kill off all of these guys:
20160917_174838

before they can decimate yet another year’s worth of plants. at least it wasn’t as bad this year as last year. they hit us hard in the spring, but we had put down several pounds of NoloBait, and this paid off over the summer. we’ll do it again next spring.

Harvest Festival

Hope to see you all at the Harvest Festival on Monday!

yes that’s Monday — it’s labor day! 1-6pm at Sunflower River

Pie contest! bring a pie! sweet or savory, any kind. judging promptly at 2pm. glass or pyrex (clear) pans preferred for the judging.

Potluck! bring a dish to share!

Farm Tours!

Music! bring instruments and your dancing self!

Bobbing for Apples!

Horseshoes!

Kid friendly — but please leave your dogs at home!

Remember we are a working farm; paths are narrow and uneven, and if it rains, things get very muddy. Please dress appropriately.

see you Monday!

Last of the Wall Days

We’re about to finish building the very last piece of our epic Earthbag Wall — which one of my neighbors refers to as the Great Wall of Los Padillas, we’ve been working on it so long!

the last construction day will be this Saturday, August 13th, from 10-6. come on down! this is your last chance to learn or participate in this satisfying and environmentally friendly construction method at Sunflower River — and we could really use and would greatly appreciate more help for the work day!

we’ll have plaster days, to put 3 coats of stucco on the wall, starting after the Harvest Festival.

if you need directions, email me at yarrow@sunflowerriver.org.

hope to see you saturday!

20160731_171428

Harvest Festival!

You are invited to the Sunflower River Harvest Festival

Sunflower River is turning nine years old! Help us celebrate by coming to our Harvest Festival!

Monday, Sept 5th (Labor Day), 1-6pm.

Potluck
Pie-Baking Contest
Music
Games
Farm tours

Mark your calendars and invite your friends!
Plan to bring a potluck dish, musical instruments, and your most celebratory self!

We’ll send another announcement as the date gets closer. If you need directions, email me at yarrow@sunflowerriver.org. Carpooling is encouraged.

See you there!

Kat, Jenny, Tristan, Rev, Alan & Gawain
Sunflower River

spring! and, um, summer. ish.

i have so much to update! spring is charging along at full force, as are the preparations for the summer solstice festival.

the garden is growing beautifully again this spring:
20160509_185147< /img>

20160430_191513

20160514_192011

and so are the grasshoppers:
20160514_183458

After the ravages the grasshoppers visited upon us last year, we were not thrilled to begin seeing thousands of them this year. So we have put down many pounds of organic, grasshopper-specific pesticide called NoloBait. The grasshoppers eat it, and it makes them sterile, so each successive generation is much smaller than the previous one. This should slow down the rate at which they eat every living thing on our farm.

Elliott’s cute, but he just can’t keep up. He spends too much time eating the bok choy, and admiring himself in reflective surfaces such as the french doors, and blue cars. Blue cars are his favorite.
20160514_191206

20160509_185245

The field, now in its second year of growing cover crops (wheat and clover) to crowd out the sunflowers and such, is looking pretty spectacular. We decided not to run any chickens on it this year, which will give the plants more of a chance to get established.
20160509_190105

and for the first time, the flood irrigation in the green belt area can fully surround all our little water-starved orchard trees! This has been a long time coming, and has involved many kinds of miscommunications and setbacks, which probably deserves a full post that I don’t have time to write. In any case, I was thrilled to watch the honeysuckle apple tree get four inches deep in water when we flooded last weekend.
20160515_172823

With Summer LongDance moving to Sunflower River, dance ground/ fire circle infrastructure is a major project this month. We made good headway on shaping the space last weekend.

20160515_131556

20160515_172928

Though there’s plenty more work to do — if you’re interested in getting in on that, join us on June 4th or 12th for our work parties!

Meanwhile, the tree that fell over last spring is growing new trees from itself:
20160505_115903

20160510_193529

It’ll be ready to fall on another car in about 50 years.

and here’s this month’s gratuitous kitty pic: Tybalt inside the wall.
cat in wall./></p>
					</div><!-- .entry-content -->
		
		<footer class= This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

around the farm

signs of spring:
20160228_145536

one of our new projects this year, is that Jenny is starting a kid’s homeschool/ farm group. they have their own garden bed, to work in from start to finish — all the way from soil to harvest!
20160228_145316

rain-chain
20160228_145155

last year, we selected our annual laying flock from a breed of hens (Black Australorps) that are known for not slowing down over winter. and sure enough, they did not slow down this winter!
20160228_145056

a barred rock hen, asking me why exactly i’m not letting her out to tear up and eat the tender shoots of fresh spring greens just beginning to come up in all the gardens
20160228_145027

turkey tom
20160228_145016

ice monsters in the aquaponics tanks are becoming infrequent, as the nights and days both warm into spring
20160226_085850

the apricots are blooming.

and the kitties, of course, enjoying all this lovely sunshine.
20160228_164901