harvest festival, wall project, autumn on the way

here it comes. the air is suddenly cold in the mornings, slightly damp. i can’t stay warm enough at night, and pile on the bedding. a few leaves drift across the patio, a few more each day, though when i look up at the glorious canopy of cottonwood boughs, they are all dark green and shining in the low sunlight.

autumn on the way. i lose something every year in the incoming fall, as summer turns her back and begins to ebb, to release us, as we slide ever so slowly towards the darkness and the long cold.

we celebrate the turning season every year with a big harvest festival. this year, something like 70 people came out over the course of a long afternoon in the shade of the greenbelt, west of our field, to enjoy homemade food, eat pie, make music, play games and enjoy each other’s company.

a few weeks ago, we flood irrigated our field for the first time. we did this rather experimentally, not having lowered the field yet. about half of it flooded before the water ran down the paths to either direction. since then, we have bermed the run-off areas on each side, so next time, more of the water should run where we want it to, to the south, rather than the east & west.

meanwhile, all the amaranth in the world, along with some purslane, goatheads, and sticky gum weed, have sprouted and leapt into growth where we irrigated. this field has never been this green, and from here, it will only get greener!
that dome shape back there is our chicken tractor, mid-field. we are pasturing our meat birds in it on the new growth, which they love.

you can see the path where we’ve recently moved the tractor. we move this thing every night; each day they eat all that greenery down to nothing. fortunately, it comes back.

the sign on the path says, Welcome to Sunflower River.

our Harvest Festival includes a pie contest, which anyone can enter. our friend Sandy Bryan, locally renowed for her amazing pies (and for winning the state fair pie contest many times) graciously judges the contest for us.

everyone gathered aroudn the pies:

Sandy explains the properties of this pie

to a circle of interested onlookers.


meanwhile, a circle of musicians jam together a few feet away among the elm trees, and the sweet lilting melodies wind through the shade to wrap around our hearts.

Beth, of Saddaquah, grooving on kanun (a middle-eastern dulcimer)

Rev, Phrank and Dave join in on drums & dulcimer:

Brian enjoys the music

Phrank and Rev:

Rev & Tristan:

i got to connect with old friends and new, and had several really wonderful conversations. it was altogether a beautiful and rejuvenating day.

this is good also because i spent the entire three days up until the Harvest Fest up to my eyeballs in manual labor. the joys of farm life. first project: cleaning up the mess of last winter’s woodpile, to prepare for laying in this year’s supply. both Alan’s and my yurts are wood-heated, so this issue rises to the top of the importance list every autumn. it may not be more than a month before i need a fire at night to keep my space habitable.

i wish i’d taken a “before” shot of the pile of sticks, scraps, leaves & trash that had built up here over the summer, but i didn’t. so all you get is this nice, tidy end result of 6 hours sorting, moving, organizing and chopping up kindling.
firewood, first step

once that was out of the way, i was free to devote two eight-hour days to throwing earthen plaster at the north wall. we have to reconstruct parts of this wall, and have focused our rencent efforts on finishing the east(front) wall instead, so we let this part sit overly long. this allowed the bags to degrade more than they ever should have, unfortunately. which makes plastering urgent, critical, and difficult. alas for procrastination and overwork. two days later, though, myself, Ryan, and our current intern, Amber, had accomplished this:

and from the other direction,

and a curve hidden in the elms, the nearest to the street:

at the same time, Rev installed our beautiful new talavera address tiles out front on the recently-plastered mailbox. you can see that this plastering process is much farther along. the brown mud on the north wall is just a base coat, to protect the bags from further weather. from there we can sculpt a second layer, or overlay it with more cementacious plaster which gets smoothed with a wooden float to create a look more like this. after the smooth coat goes on, then we apply a layer or three of limewash to protect it from the elements, and the final coat of limewash will have a colorant in it so that the end result of the whole wall is not grey, but a mild warm brown.

for the moment, things are starting to look really nice out there on the road. it’s a gift and a relief, fter the sheer length of this project.

and of course, we couldn’t finish without showing you the baby. did i ever get a proper birth announcement on here? Jenny and Tristan’s boy, Gawain Patrick, was born on July 25th. everybody’s doing well. here he is during house meeting last night:

you also get a gratitous kitty picture. here’s my darling: