Moving into Sunflower House

Alan and I will be moving out of Mulberry House and into Sunflower River House (Sunflower House?) on Sunday, October 14th. Saturday the 13th will be the day to dig up garden plants, shift a bunch of fresh compost down to Sunflower River, get those in the newly-composted ground, and move the chickens. Help is appreciated with garden activities, but urgently requested for Moving Day! We will, of course, provide pizza or similar encouragement, and homebrew.

so, anybody want to help us move? or give us boxes? we are super-organized earth signs who pack everything into labelled boxes first and are easy to move. and we’re in practice, having done this once this year already!

we’re assuming that everything will come back workable from this morning’s inspection (which, when i left at 10:30, had turned up quite a number of minor issues and some things we will have to fix, but no deal-breakers at all, thank goodness–i’m putting more energy into positive completion of the inspection and getting a report back soon with no surprises on it).

and we’re assuming we’ll get financing, but our loan officer has approved applications from us all now, and says everything will go smoothly. we have an insurance quote we can deal with. and today i bought insulation for my yurt. most of it is a ginormous roll of Solar Guard, but some of it, for under the deck (before the solar guard) is cotton batting insulation made out of recycled blue jeans. it’s the thickness of fiberglass insulation, only blue and fuzzy and friendly to work with and breathe near. it’s very nice. we can apparently install it with a stapler. it’s also R-13, so in combination with the R-10 solar guard, it should be extremely helpful under the floor. it’s also relatively inexpensive, as these things go. $20 for 54 square feet–37 cents a square foot. the solar guard is about 29 cents a square foot. and i found a really great supplier here in town: Greg at Selle Supply. friendly, knowledgable, genuinely helpful. he quoted me the price for the solar guard and called it “contractor pricing” and i said, “i’m a member of the general public.” he said, “you planning to install this yourself?” and when i said yes, he replied, “then you’re a contractor.”

we picked the spot for the yurt, and further investigated the status of the existing animal pens. one will work for chickens with merely one more go-round of chicken wire to close the gaps, and maybe some roof patching. one is dry underneath (in spite of yesterday’s rain) but its fence is dilapidated at best and will require some real work before we can put goats in it. the third animal shelter is lying collapsed on one side. scrap material for repairing the other two; the more so since we’re only planning on goats & chickens at the moment. the weeds are taller than me, but not thorny. we saw a very beautiful orb spider in a very large web suspended in some of the weeds.


Tangentially, i’m taking a studio art class this semester, called SouthWest Water. one of my fellow students in that class is an irrigator from Taos county, traditional Spanish guy named Miguel, working on his PhD in Biology now, who is a Permaculture Design teacher and who is deeply invested in and involved with acequia culture. when i explained Sunflower River, he said, “when you close on that land, let me know and we’ll make a time to come by, i’ll do some consulting with you on the permaculture of the place, and how to irrigate it.” he then also talked about the environmental benefit of flood irrigation (the traditional method) over drip irrigation (my preferred method)–which is that flood irrigation, even of a controlled area, preserves wild native plants as well as the plants you are choosing to grow. wild spinaches, the common amaranth that grows everywhere here and is edible (it’s called pigweed), wild mustards, purslane, and so on. he can readily identify many more of those plants than i can, and while i am not certain that we will rely on flood irrigation, i am willing to listen with open ears. the more so since we do appear to have surface water rights— has been talking to the MRGCD ditchrider, and we can siphon for 3 hours whenever the ditch has water in it, and he reccommends that we do so, because it will demonstrate “a history of beneficial use” of irrigation water on the property, which will come in handy when this ditchrider retires and we have a new one to deal with. and also it will be very useful for keeping plants alive, of course. we’ll have to dig out some sunken beds in order to irrigate, because of the height of the land compared to the ditch, and the need to use a siphon to move the water to the gardens, but we were planning on sunken beds anyhow, because they collect and trap rainwater. which is pretty darn vital in these parts.

one of the other aspects of the “how to water” question is that right by the river, the only loss in flood irrigation is evaporation–because excess water soaks straight back into the water table, quite literally. evaporative loss can be considerable on a hot day, however. it’s also deeply traditional and i recognize that this fellow who wants to talk me into it probably has a strong cultural investment in it. so i will listen respectfully and learn what i can, and work out a barter for the permaculture consulation! :) he also might offer a weekend permaculture course at some point, which i would love to take–i haven’t been able to take permaculture design courses becuase they all require two solid weeks of your life, and i just can’t take 2 weeks off work at once. but if i can get it in a couple of weekends at some point, i would love to.


i’m feeling very excited and optimistic about all of this, and also somewhat overwhelmed.

current projects include but are by no means limited to:

-packing for moving
-preparing to move all my perennials again (and planning where to put them)
-restore Mulberry House to the condition its owner thinks its in (that is, undo several projects we’ve done, like increased backyard fencing, chicken-related fencing, and the shade cloth installation out back)
-find new renters for Mulberry House, which is a kick-ass house, by the way
-get rid of some extraneous possessions
-finishing everything left on my yurt (subset of projects: dye yurt, sew walls, sew windows, sew roof seams, install doorknob & deadbolt & hinges, acquire woodstove)
-deal with 3 large bags of apples from Tristan’s trees that had best be done now (on the agenda for tonight)
-as soon as we have the survey, Design Master Plan!

after closing (hopefully Sept 14th):
-remove carpet in house
-get chicken coop/run ready
-build deck for yurt
-replumb house for greywater
-rewire outdoor outlet behind house so it works so we can use it to run electric to the yurt
-set up composting toilet behind house
-set up compost itself
-install water filter (under-sink reverse osmosis already in-hand, thanks to ‘s mad networking skillz; still discussing whole-house options)
-make the barn suitable for projects and storage (subset of projects: remove carpet and air out the place, lay down pallet floor, paint roof white for decreased heat through metal roof, patch small holes in roof, make the doors shut properly so they keep weather out. possible insulation at some point.)
-buy some fruit trees to plant! and figure out exactly where to plant them.

i’m sure there are things i’m not remembering right now.

speaking of extraneous possessions, anybody want to buy a bike? I have a classic Schwinn’s women’s bike for sale, asking $80. 3-speed, good condition, very spiffy bike. too tall for me, but then, i’m shorter than everybody.

(x-posted in )