and a good thing, too. you should see my to-do list. it was fierce before the Sunflower River community retreat, but now i have dates booked into March of 2010, and Things To Do through the end of this year for sure. and we haven’t even had the coven retreat yet. woo.

(This entry crossposted from )

The four of us drove down to Truth or Consequences Friday night, to spend the weekend at a hot springs b&b called La Paloma.  i rather liked the place, and i absolutely fell in love with our room, which was a full on upstairs casita, complete with full bath, full kitchen (*well* laid out for being a studio apartment kitchen!), and two double beds.  i would have picked the place up and brought it home to install in the yard if i could.  i didn’t spend as much time inthe hot water as i thought i’d want to.  the mineral waters were fairly intense.  as were we.  we got up saturday morning and launched into a full-day house meeting.  we started with the big conversations: who are we, are we okay with that, where are we going and are we okay with that.  things are overall excellent.  and then moved into Land Use as a whole topic.  well into our second year, we’re getting our energy further back on the property, as far back as the drum jam Green Belt area, which we sorted out a lot of plans for. (short form: drum circle, labyrinth, root cellar, trees).  Jenny broke out a sheaf of graph paper and a batch of markers, and we drew plans upon plans (literally, in my case).  After we ate food and took a break, which featured a soak and a walk downtown for Alan and I, (during which i found some really freaking cool thrift-store boots for five dollars, which i am going to make everyone admire this week, and a darling purple tie dye lace-up faery shirt that i am most certainly going to wear for my next date with Rev), we broke into Project Planning.  specific projects, with timelines and dates.  we opened a bottle of mead with dinner, and we closed the night, a long time later, with The Schedule.  whoa. 

my notes from the First Annual Sunflower River Stewards’ Retreat:

Our Vision Statement: Sunflower River is joyfully creating a sanctuary wherein we embody and promote sustainability, spirituality, adaptability & safety within our selves, community, our land and Gaia.

Joyfully creating, joyfully.

we need to include a tag on our blog for entries that specifically relate to things we have really messed up, how and why we messed them up, how (if) we fixed them, and what hindsight has taught us on the matter, as a resource for other people. 

tasks don’t have to be work

Connection is empowerment.  Connection to chores, farm tasks, garden, animals, group activities, &c.

trade economy & skill economy–self sufficiency is community sufficiency.  self is expanding. one of our goals is to enable others’ skills and practices.

we’re going to set up a couple new email lists–in addition to the Work Party list, you’ll be able to opt in to the Farm Stand list if you want to know what farm produce we have available for sale or barter at a given time.  We’ll also add a special events list for things like Ostara.

Thanks to a spur last week from , we’ve figured out what it means to be a member of Sunflower River, and we sorted out some terminology that works for us right now.  the four of us, myself, , , and , are Stewards.  We’re the decision-makers, who live on the land.  Our WWOOFers, who pass through the farm for a specified amount of time and work with us on farm tasks for room and board, and to whom we attempt to teach some of what we are learning, are Interns.  You, should you choose to so define yourself, are a member.  Members are people who support us in any way that brings them joy.  they’re people who participate in the community of Sunflower River, whether by working with us at work parties, buying farm produce such as eggs, going in with us on a batch of baby chicks, trading garden produce with us, talking us up to their friends, or otherwise choosing to participate in a way that is meaningful to them. 

The rest of my notes consist of things i need to do, or that we need to do, for various projects and events and deadlines, interspersed with memorable quotes.  i bet you don’t actually want me to put my to-do list in here.  don’t worry.  i just emailed it to myself, and it’s a full two pages long.   best note: “this is getting all of our holy crap up front.”

“there’s an enormous amount of reality in this process.”


Having gotten a solid twelve hour house-meeting out of our systems on saturday, and accomplished our full agenda of things to discuss, we spent Sunday in leisure.  after breakfast, we decided that there wasn’t much reason to linger in T or C, so we loaded up and headed north.  We stopped at the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge, and from here on out, i can show you our day in photos.  this is where the majority of the Sandhill Cranes live over the winter. some 400,000 birds nest there every winter, while more go on to Mexico and points south.  some stay in our area, too.  they all left about two weeks ago–we were outside the day they started whirling and circling and clamouring altogether, and flew north.  they really do take off all at once.  the visitor center staff confirmed that the cranes had left the bosque 10 days before.  there were still a few hundred cranes left in the refuge, as well as several thousand ducks, cormorants, egrets, coots, geese, snow geese, bald eagles, osprey, hawks, and songbirds. 

Sandhill Crane taking off:

Turtle:

Turtles on a stick:

helpful informational materials:

the surreal image quality has to do with the extreme amounts of digital zoom getting me anywhere near the actual bird.

an Osprey circled around us off and on all afternoon, but wheeled away every time i pointed a camera at him.  this was as good as it got:

Snow Goose:

and Snow Geese:

snoozing Canada Geese:

a lot of the Bosque looks like this:

it’s awfully nice.

driving away: a truculent mule deer:

we got home to see that the newly-planted daikons have sprouted, and everything in the greenhouse is really getting going–peas are 2-3″ tall, chard, beets, onions, leeks, spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli & lettuce are all off to a strong start, potatoes are up in a mulch bin, kale is ready to thin (nom). my task for this saturday’s work party is setting up the support for the peas and starting the drip system set-up.  i’m going to get as much of the drip system laid out as i humanly can, on periodic shut-off valves so that i can have only a portion of it active at a given time, and can turn it on sequentially as we plant beds, thereby dodging some of the additional labor through the summer of continuing to install more drip system every time we add plants. i’m sure we’ll have to keep doing that, but i can start with the predictable parts right now and save some time and energy down the road, when both of those look really tight.

In the Greenhouse:

radishes, almost ready for transplant out to the cold frames:

potatoes, from a volunteer who sprouted in ‘s kitchen:

nomKale:

Amish Snap Peas!!!

of the 100 that i planted, very nearly all of them are up, and most are about this big.

you just can’t have too many peas.

and the Beets, off to a strong start:

in the garden, the apricot trees are budding:

and out back, the apples, peaches, and cherries are likewise budding.  here’s a peach:

i was so busy taking a photo of my cat that i missed my opportunity to photograph five sandhill cranes flying overhead–they’re on their way, but not all of them have left yet. 

so here’s the cat, revved up for something:

and since i can’t post a giant pile of photos without one gratuitous puppy photo:
here’s a dog who would really like to play more (though we tried to wear her out, throwing her ball for a long time–she’s finally learned to fetch, when she feels like it).  she looks stationary in the pic but she’s mid-motion in reality.

and since i was wandering around the barnyard with a camera, some chickens:

that’s a black star and a barred rock, respectively. 

a few of the girls in their newly-expanded west wing of the coop:

two breeds are represented there–a black star, a barred rock and another black star –with that gold neck, you can see why we thought some of them were aracaunas.

most chicken photos come out full of chicken-butt:

/end of photo post

in other news, we’ve got the work party on saturday. then sunday is more garden work; planting the peas if they’re ready, otherwise going through the seed-drawer and figuring out what else i can start now. carrots outdoors, almost certainly. some herbs. Alan and Tristan installed our AC pump this morning, and it’s up and fully functional, so saturday’s drip system install should, with any luck, go smoothly.

we’re going to have a new well drilled; the guy from county environmental dept, who issues the permits, is going to call to schedule the on-site inspection this week. i hope he actually comes out this week, too. we buried the greywater drains so you completely can’t even tell they’re there.  just an innocent little herb garden.  we’re going to totally redo the back one, but we went ahead and hid it, too, since we’re not redoing it tomorrow. once we have the permit, we can call the drilling company back and schedule our well drilling. that day, i will stay home to be there for it! then we’ll have to plumb from the new well back to the house plumbing, and sink the new submersible solar pump, and then we’ll be good. hopefully forever.  by the end of spring–in fact, hopefully by the end of March–we will have a permanent reliable source of water.