What a day! The work party started with a bang today when our new friend Colin (whom i met on the Sustainable Abq yahoogroup) came over with his wife Tanya and almost-three-year-old Madeleine for a farm tour, and then stayed to work for a couple hours. That was fun. By the time we had all worked our way back up front, other folks were showing up. brought Rhiannon, so there was another small person for Madeleine to play with. they helped dig, and rake. with Thistle over at Tristan’s place, recovering from being spayed last week (she’s vigorously healthy; we’re required to keep her indoors and prevent her from jumping and running—uh huh, you heard that right—for a week and some until she’s all healed up, or wildly stir-crazy, or has broken all the china, or something)–anyhow, with Thistle away, we had all the gates open and the birds completely loose all day, which was very nice. a look forward into what that will be like when the dog is fully trained and trustworthy around birds and to not run into traffic (!) and we can leave all the gates open all day while we work in and out and among. the barnyard is much less of an obstacle with open gates.

Wendeleh put in a surprise appearance, to my delight, and Beth came with Dee & Ezra, and Mona arrived a bit later, followed by Apple. Jenny, Colin, Tanya and crew dug up a matched set of those big 8×6 fence posts from the old horse corral (the eventually-goat-pen) and moved them, fence and all, straight over to pre-dug holes on the north side, where the whole shebang is now the new, expanded west wall of the chicken run. we’re adding 250 square feet to the henyard, so we can start some broiler hens (the Murray McMurray “Frypan Special,” for instance) sometime soonish. That’s as far as that project got, but that’s the only part of the project that can’t be done by one or two people–i think we had eight folks moving the posts & fencing all together. The rest of it we can wrap up over the next few weeks—putting in a 4×4 in the final corner, fencing & covering the whole thing with chicken wire, and removing the current west wall of the chicken run (which is a partial wall, as it’s attached to the shelter) and moving it so that it becomes the final panel in the new west wall. one whole day for two people, or less time for more. :) so moving and planting those big posts was a *major* step forward on this project.

meanwhile, i led a team of women raking leaves away from stumps in the ritual grounds and enjoying each other’s company. for a stump grinder, you have to have a couple feet of cleared space around every stump you plan to grind, so we did the prep for getting a piece of heavy machinery back in there. Ezra dug the soil away around all the stumps on the west end; the north end remains undone, but will most likely take Kit an afternoon whenever he feels in the mood for it. i sorted a full wheelbarrow of stove-length wood out of that leaf mulch while we worked; a week’s worth of fires. The ritual ground is really starting to come together. you can see clearly what it will look like when we’re finished, now. while this was going on, Tristan & Kit sorted Old-Barn wood into Reusable and Firewood, put the Reusable pile in a better location, and loaded all the firewood up in the truck, for Alan to drive to the wayback and make a new pile. Some stuff augmented the existing pile by the driveway, but mostly we moved it all out of sight. hopefully we’ll get as far as chopping it and moving it into a nice tidy pile up front sometime in the next year. They also moved the various bits of the playhouse that were here and there, and took all the tipi poles back to their new location–the proposed site of the tipi, between the acequia and the pasture field.

after an incredibly tasty lunch of Jenny’s potato-carrot-green onion-cheese pancakes, & beans with corn, and Alan’s special anarchist oatmeal cookies (nom. those are always a hit, including among the house), Wendeleh, Beth and i made a serious dent in the coyote fencing pile, which we are moving off of the roots of the cherry tree out back and into a new, semi-permanent location–the location this pile should inhabit until we transform it into an actual fence this summer. we got about half of it moved; not what i’d hoped for, but enough that i’m no longer worried about that cherry tree getting enough daylight. Mona ran the chipper that whole time, and chipped up more than half of the pile that has been across from the compost–the To Be Chipped pile that’s been there the longest. Wendeleh and Mona and I broke up one of the piles of Soon To Be Firewood that were near there, and moved it all to the real firewood pile. Later, Alan & Kit sorted, tidied and moved all of the other nearby firewood piles, so that we are down to ONLY the remains of the To Be Chipped pile right there, which is pretty amazing. that area looked like a junkyard this morning. Now it is tidy and wide open, with only one remaining junk pile–the “foundation”, as it were, of the Old Barn. the rotting pile of old chipboard that had underlain the barn, i mean. but now it’s possible to get *at* the pile, for pulling out the remaining wood and then shovelling it all into the truck for a quick run down to the dump. the transformation out back of the yurt is stunning. that area has been accumulating piles of all kinds of things for quite some time, and now without those piles, it looks so *nice*.

Apple pruned elm trees all morning, tidying up all of the elms that will remain living around the ritual ground (they have lovely clean lines now! and are newly entirely free of poky eye-level sticks) and taking photos of everything, which i’m sure i’ll post here next week some time. :) yay for our official work party photographer! after lunch, she moved into pruning the thicket on the south side, which rapidly became removing all the old wire from the thicket, rather than pruning. On the plus side, we know what happened to the south fence now. you know, that fence that’s simply not there, from the acequia for about one-neighbor’s-yard length up? it’s in those trees. or it was, until this afternoon. now it’s in the squirreliest pile of five kinds of tangled old rusted up wire you ever saw, about ten feet away from the trees, in the pasture. apple and i worked on untangling it from the brush, cutting it away from several small trees that had grown up through it (but in which the wire was not embedded), and then focusing on one large central multi-trunked elm, which had grown around the wire in a complex maze of treebark and rust. “fence pasta!” Alan exclaimed, upon seeing it. once we got other people back there, they added their persuasions–and those of the bolt cutter–to the challenge, and by sundown, the entire mess was free of the trees. we didn’t clear the small ritual area, but we did get ALL that wire out of there, making further attention and love in that clearing possible and desirable.

Lots moved forward, today. lots of areas that hadn’t gotten enough love lately got a bunch. Lots of great people and good conversations through the day. lots of fun.

i am so deeply grateful to this community. to all the folks who come out to help out, talk, hang out, have a good time. as Wendelah put it, “doing real, honest work in the sunshine.”

that sunshine is made of your love. and our love, and gratitude. thank you.