since i work for a university, i get ten days off for winter break every year, starting next wednesday. my break plans are all farm-work related—barn organization with , going downtown and clearing up our acequia rights, also with , hopefully-maybe getting those improvised, recycled-part gutters onto the pump house for rainwater catchment, getting a truckload of compost for my perennials/ herb garden (the “moon,” that is, labrys, bed next to the yurt, which currently consists of a really pretty gaping hole in the ground), mixing said compost with soil and filling the perennials bed so it can cure for a couple months before i start planting in March.

The Seed Saver’s Exchange catalog is out. it’s luscious. it’s winter garden porn. Take this: “Vigorous plants with coarse heavy vines and large leaves. … Good quality, pale orange thick sweet flesh is fine textured, juicy, highly flavored and aromatic. Tender skin, handle with care.” it’s a muskmelon. no, really. so is this: “Smooth round melons mature to a creamy grayish-yellow with green stripes. Sweet, juicy salmon flesh. Typically the size of a grapefruit and weighs about 2 lbs, perfect for two people….heavenly fragrance when ripe.” so far, i’ve made it through the Onions. Potatoes & Peppers are next. I hope to make an order for spring seeds soon. I also hope the Native Seeds/SEARCH catalog arrives soon. Alan and I stopped at their store while we were in Tucson for the Tour de Tucson last month— it is a gorgeous little place! all handmade native-plant crafts. and, of course, seeds. they’re a great resource. i got some devil’s claw seeds there, which turn out to be edible as well as reminding me of home. :)

Our friends at Ironwood Farm had their house/land/farmstead featured in Su Casa magazine; the article just came out online today. These are the folks who have lent us their time and expertise on almost every topic as we get ourselves set up in farming, from coming over with their tractor to till up our garden, to loaning irrigation supplies until ours came in, to extensive conversations & experience-based reccomendations on composting toilets, solar power, solar well pumps, local companies, turkeys, livestock, irrigation, garden varieties, and just about everything else. Chris tilled our garden a couple weeks ago; we have a batch of apricot mead ready to bottle from mash that Jenny had left over one time when we came by; last year’s (and next year’s) plum mead was made from their fruit; we canned tomatoes we harvested from their abundance. Alan delighted Jenny by getting her a canning funnel for her birthday this summer; we’ve traded mead for produce, and we’ve helped them set up fencing and plaster strawbale walls. Kit and I have a workday coming up sometime soon here with them, in exchange for the tractor work. We’ll probably be helping Chris put up his ambitiously-huge aquaculture hoop greenhouse; that’s his major winter project this year. Chris is thinking to move into farm mentorship and farmwork full time this coming year, with a possible business doing residential solar power installation. They are enormously community-focused, and their place is a dream come true. It’s a lot like where we aspire to be in ten years, in terms of the house, gardens, solar power, sustainability. The interrelationship of everything on the farm to everything else on the farm; the farm ecosystem. They’ve got more & different livestock than we plan to have, and we’ve got plans that they don’t, like the ritual ground, dance ground & labyrinth. But we’re working in parallel, aiming for a wealth of goals that they have already acheived.

Their house is incredibly beautiful, and there are some great photos of it with the article. Note the recycled-pallet-wood ceiling, interior compressed adobe brick walls, wide windowsills for lounging on, and mosiac kitchen floor. The photographer has talent; he makes their kitchen look large! It’s a one-butt kitchen, as small as ours, though it does have a separate pantry. and of course, it’s very pretty. :) it’s almost all recycled materials and home-made everything. it’s a lot of what i aspire to.