The Cool Farm on the Block: a thanksgiving update, consumer culture, & gratuitous puppy post

Sharon Astyk, speaking for me this past Friday in her journal, Causobon’s Book:

I don’t have a lot of patience with consumer culture today. … Maybe because I don’t necessarily want to be a member of the same species of people who trample folks to death to get first shot at the discount tvs. … Most of the most desirable black friday items were electronics, high tech gadgets designed to make your tv picture bigger, let you get your internet messages in the airport toilet, let you pretend to ski without actually getting any real exercise or allow you to make calls from right next to someone’s ear. That is, all the stuff that has led to a world of people who don’t really know what to do with each other. We spent Thursday reconnecting with family, and on Friday, we went to express our love by making sure we don’t have to do that again until next year. … The economy is a game of musical chairs, and the chairs are disappearing. When the music stops for each of us, and our chair is gone, for a time we will rely primarily on the resources we’ve built up now. Those of us left holding the big screen tvs and the designer handbags will have them – or whatever their resale value is. And those who have ties – biological or chosen – will have those. The truth is that our consumer culture needs us to be isolated, fragmented, alone, empty – or advertising wouldn’t work, the nonsensical reasoning that we have to have this year’s big thing wouldn’t work. The primary project of consumer culture is to drive us apart, to make sure we do not share, we do not combine resources, or even consult on how ridiculous the things we are being told are. And it has worked magnificently. The music is hectic, the chairs are disappearing, we’re going faster and faster. And pretty soon it stops. What will you have when it just…STOPS?

We are lucky to have each other, to have community and friends and people who want to share resources, and with whom we want to share resources. we are building skills and knowledge and community, and that is going to get us through.

Our new intern through WWOOF is here, Kit. He’s young, friendly, motivated by a powerful work ethic and desire to learn “everything about sustainable living.” He’s going to be with us at least a month, and if things continue as well through the month as they have gone this week, quite possibly longer. In the week that he’s been here, i’ve received two more contacts through wwoof, from people looking for a place to intern during late Dec/ January, respectively. I’m going to have to tell them that we’re full up for now and to check back in the summer, but i wish we had room for them all! Yet another function the community building can be asked to assume; if one or more of us is living in it, then we’ll have another spare room to put interns up in.

Kit has been involved in everything since his arrival on Tuesday, and he appears to have enjoyed at least most of it. The other night, after coming back from a day hike with Jaime, I asked Kit how his day had been, and he said, “Great! Every day has been a good day since I got here! I didn’t think that was possible.” i hope that stays true. i think it speaks to his motivation to learn and his interest in what we’re doing, as much as it does to the friendly, relaxed, if somewhat chaotic environment of our house. i think we are collectively finding that we’re all a good fit. he has almost finished digging out the perennials bed (aka the “moon garden” because it is a half-moon, or more accurately a half-labrys, shape), in addition to helping with thanksgiving cooking and house prep, helping paint Alan’s room on Friday, helping Alan dig stumps and muck rabbit hutches yesterday, and learning and then performing the morning and evening animal chores whenever the opportunity arises, as well as wearing out the dog at least once, and letting the hens range & monitoring them today. Jaime and Tristan conspired to get him studying, while he’s here, from our reasonably extensive library. Now he’s reading John Jeavon’s How to Grow More Vegetables for fun. :) He appears to be interested in pretty much everything, and has been encouraged to sample liberally from the bookshelves.

apparently, either Wwoof is way more popular than i thought, or we are the cool farm on the block, because i’ve got two more internship request emails in my inbox. we don’t have more room, but i’m going to suggest either that they contact Ironwood Farms (pending a response from Ironwood on that score–we don’t know that they have room, just that there’s a possibility, since they always have at least as much work as we do) or that they check back in with us in spring, or both.

first, the entire weekend in one photo:

Thursday, we filled our house as full as it can be with friends–from south to north:

and north to south:

Debbie was pretty sure she was looking away in both of those photos, so i got one just of her & Steve (well, and Padrig, but he’s looking away):

we filled the kitchen with food, filled one plate with a bite from each dish and a small offering of mead, spoke a prayer, sang a pretty darn good rendition of the pagan version of the chorus of Harvest Home, and then made everybody get up in shifts to go into the kitchen and get food, since the kitchen comfortably holds about five well-behaved people and we had about 25 people.

before which, had too much fun carving the turkey:

and after which, everybody watched as Jenny, Billy & Meggie gave Tristan an iPhone for Unspecified Winter Holiday:

When all were sated, we hustled everybody into clearing tables, moving chairs, and then folding & moving tables so that we could have a party in the room without a giant dividing line of tables. Here’s aforementioned new intern Kit, getting started clearing tables:

and Rhiannon “helping” move chairs:

in her princess party dress, which she put on with great attention-getting.

and her papa and Sara, talking with me as the night wore on:

The project du jour for Friday was painting Alan’s room–aesthetic rather than sustainability related, this time. In theory, we were going to do this last year. then the next theory was that we’d get it all done on friday. saturday afternoon, we finished all of it.

however, it does happen to be gorgeous:

note the trim, which was selected to match the grout and the red tiles.

the wood frames around the window are our new and improved window-plastic-hanging technology, designed and executed by in collaboration with . we have acquired some serious heavy-duty plastic for the windows (vinyl, actually), which does a very fine job of keeping winter on the outside. the frame-and-velcro system enables us to put up and take down the plastic at will, as for instance when the livingroom reached nearly 80° on Thanksgiving because we put 25 people in it. also the spring & fall transitions from & to the plastic will go much smoother than the annual fighting-with-the-cheap-window-plastic tradition that we are all cheerfully going to do without for the rest of our lives. the plastic is not up in this photo, as the paint was wet and therefore the windows were open for ventilation. it’s up now. of course, all the stuff is back in the room now, too (note that i did not photograph the livingroom during that 30 hour project, which had the contents of Alan’s room in it for the duration).

Sunday, and i got out to Embudito canyon for an afternoon hike. we took the dog on what i suspect was her longest walk to date–about four miles round trip–two uphill, and two down again.

taking a break:

moments later:

ruffled by wind (it was pretty dang windy out):

box elder in the canyon bottom:

and the view from the trailhead, looking up at the cell-phone-tower-bedecked Sandia Crest:

yes, that’s snow. and, as put it, a good look at New Mexico weather–bright sunlight where the photographer is standing, with a dark storm blowing in over the crest, and snow on top. it’s hazy mostly because the wind was relentless.

perfect classic photo of our Great Pyrennees, courtesy of :

Puppy at the end of the hike:

and, because you simply cannot have a gratuitous puppy post without a gratuitous kitty, at least not around here, here is one of the many loves of my life:

it’s a good life.