Who We Are
Sunflower River is a small sustainable spiritual intentional community in the Rio Grande Valley. We are four full-time Stewards (land owners). We have one child, three cats, a dog, a small herd of goats, and a fluctuating number of chickens, turkeys, and peacocks. If you are interested in being a part of our community, please consider interning with us (see the Internship information linked below). This is the best way to get to know us and see what it is we’re doing in a hands-on way. We are a small, close-knit community, best described as an intentional family, and while we are open to the idea of new members, we are not actively seeking members.
Kat is a poet, artist, and queer polyamorous ecofeminist pagan. Her ideal life includes living in this intentional community, gardening, reading a lot, laughing with friends, enjoying the ceremonies of daily living, and seeing the stars at night. She reads voraciously and is largely responsible for the household’s little book problem. She lives in a yurt that she helped build. Kat has been involved in efforts to build a better world through the combination of pagan intentional community efforts and organic gardening since 2001. She’s a Taurus, Aries moon, Virgo rising. Kat’s poetry can be found (and purchased!) here.
Jenny always had a desire to be a homesteader, so was very excited to help create Sunflower River. Over the course of becoming a farmer, she has spent many hours developing her skills at carpentry, hole digging, butchering, troubleshooting, canning, heavy thing-carrying, and generally becoming in sync with the cycles of the year. Now she’s introduced a child into the farm, which brings a vast amount of new skills to learn. She was working in biomedical research until her maternity leave. Since then, she has become a full time parent, farmer, and homeschooler.
Tristan is a steward, farmer, nurse, father and witch, the order of importance depending on the moment. Tristan explores each of these as both art and science. As a steward of Sunflower River Tristan has a special interest in the workings of the community as a whole with a particular focus on the consensus decision making process. Living in community as a chosen family is the reason Tristan is part of this project.
Rev joined Sunflower River in 2008. In a previous life, he was a contractor, so he holds the title of House Carpenter for the farm. He is responsible for a great deal of the beautiful construction and remodelling infrastructure that we have accomplished. He continually finds his life enriched by living in community. Outside of the farm, Rev is a musician and artist, who performs on didgeridoo and percussion. You can listen to some pieces from his CD on Reverbnation, or hear some recent work on Soundcloud
Billy is a supportive Sunflower Riparian, a nearby set of hands when the Stewards are otherwise occupied. He loves having the opportunity to play “farmer” and occasionally get his hands dirty while avoiding the more laborious elements of farm life. He lives at Caer Aisling, a house just ½ mile away from Sunflower River, where he takes great care and pride in maintaining the large labyrinth. The labyrinth poses an existential challenge to Billy, as it is a project that can never be finished; always a reminder to live in the journey. He and his pug, Gaspar, spend most of the year in Brownsville, TX, where they teach and study sociology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
We host an ever-revolving crew of interns. They stay here for anything from a week to six months, to learn about organic farming (and sometimes also to learn about community living, or paganism), and do a work-trade for room and board while they are at Sunflower River. We host interns through the WWOOF program. If you are interested in applying for our internship program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a detailed cover letter discussing your experience & interests. Please also be aware that our calendar nearly always runs 2-4 months ahead, and we cannot accomodate last-minute requests.
In photo: Yulia, Spring 2011
In photo: Andie and Thistle, Fall 2010
Tybalt is both an absolute love bug, and an absolute brat. He moved to Sunflower River in February 2013, and found himself right at home and owning the place within a day. There is very little he won’t sleep on. He’s quick to cuddle, purr, and head-butt everybody, and always accepts affection. He also insists on staying out late, waking up early, and getting into everything. His favorite question is “are you gonna eat that?”
Furdre was a formerly feral cat who lived the first several years of her life in Mahazda house garage. Her name, Furdre echoed the Greek Phaedra, meaning Bright. She was a chocolate point Siamese. We caught her for the Humane Society’s trap-neuter-release program in 2011, after the kittens from her latest litter mostly vanished. Kat seduced her with kibble and the promise of soft things to sleep on during the summer of 2013, and she became a somewhat jumpy but fully domestic cat, making up for lost time on the lovin’s. Furdre passed away, rather suddenly but quite gently, of kidney disease in May 2018, after five years of very happy, loving, contented life as a domestic cat living in the yurt with her devoted human Kat.
Thistle was our Great Pyrenees, a working dog whose job is to protect the livestock from predators. She was a very sweet, sociable dog who loved bellyrubs. Thistle passed away in late October, Fall 2014. She was apparently struck by a car while roaming near Isleta Blvd. She is buried in the small ritual ground with Lucille and Tattersall, and is much missed.
Arrow joined the farm in 2020, after a very careful selection and adoption process to ensure he would be safe with poultry, cats, children, and the general activity level around here. He’s a full-size dog on pint-size legs, who always looks very serious while being very goofy. We all agree he’s the best farm dog we’ve had in many years.
We keep approximately 25-30 laying hens at any given time, and we raise meat chickens in batches of 25, usually 2-3 batches per year. For layers, we are presently keeping Barred Rocks, Americaunas, a few silver-laced Wyandottes, and Buff Orpingtons. For meat birds, we raise Rainbow Rangers. Our meat birds live in chicken tractors on pasture, and are moved to fresh pasture every night. The layers live in a large coop in the barnyard, and are allowed to roam free during days when someone is around to keep an eye on them. We sell farm-fresh eggs locally for $5/dozen; if you are interested, please contact email@example.com.
As of summer of 2019, we finally are starting our own herd of goats! We have three adult Nigerian Dwarf goats, Dulcinea, Calli (Calico), and Rose. As of March 2021, we also have five bouncing baby goats! They are Coriander, Salt, Pepper, Alli & Liam. Dulcinea & Rose are milk goats, and Calli is everybody’s auntie. We are planning to keep the doelings (Coriander & Alli), which will increase our permanent herd to five. We are delighted to have them on the farm.
We raise 40 cage free Thanksgiving turkeys each year. They are responsive, humorous birds, who prefer to be all together in a flock, and who will fly up to the highest branches of the cottonwoods, or the roof of the barn, when they have play days outside the coop. If you are interested in purchasing a Sunflower River turkey this fall, please sign up for our Turkeys email list on the Contact Us form on this website. Thank you!
In Summer 2014, we adopted a peacock. His previous owner was unable to keep him because the neighbor was so upset that Elliott (the peacock) kept preening himself in her plate glass bathroom window. Rather than spend eternity trying to convince the the neighbor that the bird was not actually spying on her but was just vain (what with being a peacock), the owner elected to rehome him, and called Wildlife Rescue NM. They don’t usually rescue barnyard fowl, but we have friends who work there, and they called us. We adore Elliott. He’s sweet and somewhat coy and quiet, and eats grasshoppers. A couple years later, we acquired four girlfriends for him, and then over the last couple years, two young friends, Edward & Ezra, have mysteriously appeared as well. The peafowl are free-range most of the year, except when the garden is young. They have a lamentable tendency to eat newly-sprouted greens. These days, Elliott and the boys have their own Instagram account, at @occasionalpeacock, where you can admire their splendid plumage and wacky personalities.
In Spring 2012, we got our first beehive! And promptly lost them to a very cold winter. We’ve tried a couple times since then, and lost bees to swarming and to mites. We’re presently beeless, but planning on restarting the bee experiment in the next few years. Once this experiment proves successful, we’ll expand to several hives.
This cottonwood tree is estimated by an arborist friend to be between 150 – 200 years old. It grew from a wild seed when the Rio Grande was still a deep, wild, braided river, lacing over these floodplains in irregular and changing patterns from year to year. The tree is a spirit of this land, whom we are honored to share our lives with. Our main ritual ground is located beneath the spreading arms of the great tree. read more…