Building a Wall

zoom goes the proejct.

this wall building project has been a great example of how it takes the whole community for us to fully manifest our dreams & desires. we are working at a larger scale than we have yet attempted, and it is taking all of our coordination & energy to pull it together.

over the last few weeks, i have coordinated the clearing of the north fence (much firewood cutting & removal, much raking of leaves & making new places to store mulch), and the building of new compost bins that will allow the wall to pass behind them. Rev & I built the bins, and he and I and Alan moved the compost. Those are done now. I met with Ian & Rev to discuss design considerations, and to enable Ian to get lime and begin to slake it so that it is ready when we need it for the earth mixture in the wall. Meanwhile, others focused on keeping other parts of the farm running, and moving forward with other projects, such as the goats we will be getting soon.

Friday I got the greywater work started, with the assistance of one of our interns. saturday i ran out of juice completely and collapsed. yesterday, Jenny & Tristan took over the greywater project. my efforts had resulted in an uneven trench that pointed the right direction, with poor end measurements for the pipe and the new garden that the pipe flows out to. today they got the trench & pipe levelled correctly, so that the water will do what it needs to do (flow downhill) and Tristan masterminded the measurements on the new garden. Thursday, they are going to finish the project, installing the pipe and digging out the rest of the garden.

meanwhile, today I am going to the county zoning & planning office to apply for our permit for the wall. also today, we’ll receive a truckload of sand, for mixing with the earth to make the proper mixture in the wall. also today, Rev will go down and pick up enough four-pronged barbed wire to make the wall go (barbed wire is laid between the layers of the wall, to hold the bags to each other and provide stability). tomorrow, John from up the road will come down with his backhoe to create dirt by digging out the root cellar hole, and will dig up all the stumps in the field while he’s here with a backhoe. we have a call out to our arborist friend Jeremy, to come trim the tree that is going to affect the wall’s progress when we reach it.

this is all just to get ready. the idea is to start the wall next wednesday. everything is lined up now, and moving forward at an astonishing pace. and somehow, we are still moving forward on our other goals; getting ready to get goats, raising up our turkeys & chickens, planting, tending & harvesting a larger-than-ever garden, and forming an experimental CSA relationship with two friends who are willing to take the risk of helping us work the kinks out of our system (and, for that matter, develop any kind of system for farm sales at all and get it off the ground).

whoosh. we’re all variously vacationing this weekend, except Tristan, who gets a solo farm weekend (with the interns, but without the rest of the stewards, to enjoy the place and work & relax at a self-directed pace). Rev and I are headed for three nights and two days of hiking outside of Silver City, including a remote wilderness swimming hole (and the hike to and from—this is the fabled Turkey Creek, a hike i haven’t done in some years, and which i really love) and a day lounging in the Gila hot springs.

It’ll be good to have a restful weekend in a far away place before we come back and plunge ourselves whole into mixing earth and digging a trench for the wall foundation and laying & tamping the earthbags. that’s June in a nutshell, and probably July, too. mix earth, fill bags, lay bags, tamp bags. at some point, we’ll also start plastering the wall, and sculpting on the interior as we do so. Though I suspect that building the actual wall will be less stressful than getting ready to build the wall has been. For one thing, we have lots of dedicated help – we’re hiring the intensely knowledgeable & artistically minded mason Ian to mastermind the project, and Rev will work with him as the project manager, keeping the work moving forward towards completion. We have two interns who are with us through the full month of June, one of whom is dedicated to the project, and the other of whom I hope to convince into a similar sense of dedication. We have our own work to offer on the weekends, and two work parties to bring people down for.

i can’t wait to see it.