Sunday, April 10, 2011

Plant Seeds and Sing Songs

I'm still here.
The world is still out there, getting more fucked up by the day.

Maybe when I'm not playing in the garden I'll have some time to really update this....I live in a school bus now so I can be closer to The Garden.

All this bad news just messes with my head.
I'd rather just mostly avoid media exposure.
I've got my hands full here, making my life a better life.

Reading about no-till agriculture, planting perennial food crops, and dreaming of the time the rain finally stops for the summer and I can go barefoot and swim in the creek.

Good luck y'all. Looks like more and more doo doo in the fan out there.
I'm just gonna enjoy life while I have the opportunity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Red Pill

The longer I'm away from mad mainstream culture, the more horrified I am about what We the Sheeple continue to endure.
That pot looks pretty close to boiling from where I sit, but the frog sits still.


Gotta leave this EMF box alone for a while and reconnect with Faerieland.

Monopoly Money

One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, "There are two wolves fighting inside all of us:

The wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace."

The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, "Which one will win?"

The grandfather replied, "The one we feed."

From a cool new blog I found while searching sheeple images.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This place is a trip.

The Farm has always had an open visitor policy.
It's pretty far out to meet the 300 or so people who come through in a season. They are all unique. Each one learns something here, and we learn something from them.

One thing they have in common is that they are all searching for something.

There do seem to be a few broad categories they fall into though;

The Idealist says "Hi, I just became a vegetarian, and I've decided your lifestyle is perfect for me. I want to be a member and live there forever."
People in this category seem to think we have all the answers, that we are spiritually evolved beyond the ego that Humanity mind-fucks itself with, and that we dance in the flowers with the unicorns all day.
They are typically crushed when they figure out that we work, we do stupid selfish things like all the other humans, and that ultimately they need to take responsibility for creating their own perfect reality. Bummer, man.

I used to fall into this category, and I STILL haven't seen a unicorn. WTF?

The Last Option says "Hi, I just lost my job, my house, my family hates me and I've burned all the rest of my bridges. Can I come live with you?"
These people are desperate. They usually have drug, alcohol, or mental problems (or all of the above) It is hard to get them to leave. Even telling them directly that their visit is over doesn't work well. They find a way to weasel a few more days out of us "I'm waiting for my disability check to be sent here. It's in the mail."
They seem to believe that if they just hang around long enough we'll let them stay.
We're not Nazis, but eventually they get escorted to a new location (kinda like pesky 'coons)

The Privileged have never had to cook anything more complex than a Hot Pocket. They don't understand that Mommy isn't here to pick up after them. They get miffed when expected to sleep on a mattress on the floor *gasp* or ride bitch in a pickup truck, or do any sort of manual labor.
They usually leave kinda pissed after a couple days because we make them wash dishes (using hot water and soap, of all things)and the Farm doesn't stock Hot Pockets.
We don't have a microwave either.

The Wary but Interested generally have their shit together. They know society is fucked up and are tired of it. They are looking for a better way to be. They come with resources and an open mind. They are considerate of others. They gather information and make an educated decision about whether community is right for them. They don't often stay, but it's usually a good thing when they do.

The Drifters usually come unannounced or last minute. They are an eclectic mix of homeless, eco-terrorists, Deadheads, Rainbow Family, hitchhiking weed trimming hippies. A very few of them are total wack-jobs, but they're generally cool, always have interesting stories, are usually very willing to work, and grateful for whatever food and shelter we provide. I have a lot more respect now for homeless hitchhiking gutter punks. Say what you will, but they are resourceful and don't ask for much.
They hang out for a while, then drift off to the next Rainbow gathering/harvest season/music festival.

The Tourists take lots of pictures. They have a passing interest in community, but mostly just wanna see flowers and naked hippies. If asked to work, they stand there and take pictures of us working. Field trips and media articles/documentaries fall into this category too.
They don't usually stay long, but I feel like an exotic zoo animal while they're here.

The Disenchanted Gen-Xers are out there, but I'd like to see more of them. They have skills and a burning hatred for the system that ass-raped them repeatedly and left them for dead. They will work their butts off because they believe so strongly in building a better system. Sometimes they have anger issues, and can be very judgmental. My buddy Demon falls into this category, and so do I. "Zach" just showed up from this category too.
Sometimes they try so hard they burn themselves out. That's what happened to Chef, and is happening to Demon.

I better watch that one. It'll be fine. "Relax and have fun" is at the top of my 'to do' list.

Visitors of any type are often scheduled to work in the Garden, since that is one of the few supervised areas that always has work to do. Trial by pitchfork is a decent way to test their mettle, but I gotta watch 'em pretty close, and give very specific instructions. (Twist the cucumber and gently pull at a 90 degree angle to the vine...don't just PULL)
Sometimes it's wildly amusing to watch homeless anarchists have conversations with momma's boys fresh out of the basement.
Sometimes visitors have amazing insights about society in general and the human condition.

Sometimes I need to confirm the identity of a lemon for them.
But at least they leave the farm with the ability to correctly identify citrus.

Always I learn again that I am very judgmental (and often anti-social). I'm working on that.

Oh humanity.
You're such a beautiful mess.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gardening Season Kicks Off

*The "Back 40" Beds*

Now that I have (with help)mostly managed to get about 50 fruit trees pruned (they were neglected for about 3 years after a drunken chainsaw pruning incident !:-0) it's nearly time to start planting veggies.
Of all the planning going on last month, the most interesting and important (to me) was Garden Planning.
We had good record keeping from 2005-2009 to consult, which helped a lot.

Each year we keep a Garden Journal to record what we grew, how much inputs cost {soil, hose parts, organic fertilizer}, how much labor per day, what was done when, how much we harvested.....etc. We also make a Garden Map to keep track of where everything was planted.

2010 was a fucked up garden year at the Farm. In Oct. 2009, the previous Garden manager of 10 years(who I will henceforth refer to as "Soil Sister") was in a terrible car accident and barely survived. She was severely brain damaged, the doctors almost amputated her arm, and she was in hospice because they didn't expect her to survive her coma.
Either true love or Faeries brought her back from the brink, but that incident left The Garden without an experienced manager. The People did what they could, but between inexperience, power struggles, and the fact it didn't quit raining until the middle of June, The Garden was in sorry shape when I arrived shortly before summer at the beginning of June.
My learning curve was pretty steep.
I had some collaboration but little direction from Dready, the interim Garden manager.
She left just before harvest time, and suddenly I was effectively in charge of the garden.

Now, I have lots of experience with container grown ornamental plants, but less with field grown organic veggies. It was a scramble, but we still had a relatively successful year in spite of the fact that our Garden interns mostly bailed.
Well, they didn't leave the farm, but (wet)Dream and Jealous were having relationship problems, so she didn't want to be in The Garden with him
(which left me in the Garden with him....heh...)
And "Alkie" had a baby, which really interferes with laboring in the Garden.

So my labor force for working an acre and a half of garden consisted of Dream, myself, Dready for part of the season, and random visitors who may or may not have touched a shovel before.

We're in a lot better shape this year. Soil Sister has healed a lot (she had to re-learn how to talk) and she remembers stuff about the garden when she is doing garden stuff. She is a great resource, and we have a pretty good relationship. We both deeply love The Garden, and I think we'll make a good team.

Dream is staying at the Farm, and excited about the upcoming season.

Jealous and I decided it was stupid to fight over a man when we both had so many other important things to worry about, so we have a pretty good relationship now, and she's a strong sister who's been very supportive.

I s'pose I should find a nicer name for her.
Let's call her "Flowers" since she's in charge of the flower beds now.

We've also had some new additions. "Treesitter" is a long term visitor (ex-stonemason) who busts ass helping out at the farm, and wants to work in the garden. He has lots of experience growing garlic, and likes hard physical labor.

Sheesh. Enough with the personal background you say! Where is the nitty-gritty?
Here is the garden plan for 2011;

We have a blank map of the garden that we make copies of for planning. This is really helpful with crop rotation. We can study the maps from previous years to avoid planting tomatoes in the same place, or to grow peas after a heavy feeder like corn, or to figure out where to squeeze in an extra cover crop of fava beans, crimson clover, or buckwheat.
The garden is big enough that we can have a five year rotation for most crops, which is pretty good.

*looking west from Apple Ring toward "Shorty" and "Fatty" Beds*

The next step is to figure how many row-feet of each crop:
(8 beds of broccoli X 70' X 2 rows per bed = 1120 row-feet)
how many plants we need
(broccoli are spaced at 18", so 1120 divided by 1.5 = 746 plants)
how many seeds to start
(assuming 95% germination and 5% loss we want to plant 10% more than we need=820)
how many seeds to order
(if there are 300 seeds per gram and a "packet" is 4 grams or 1200 seeds)
that should do it.

Some additional figuring for the rest of the crops and we can put a spring seed order together; onions, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, peas, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and beets. The order arrived Thursday of last week.

Starting next week we will be washing pots and planting seeds in cell trays. We are using "Black Gold" organic seed starting soil mix. I'd like to mix our own but...all in good time. Our greenhouse has a wood stove, and we will take turns sleeping out there to keep it above 50 degrees.

*Garlic growing in the Rainbow Bed with the greenhouse in the background*

Yay! Plants make me happy. Especially tasty plants.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Get Your Evolution On

I know we came here to get our good times on,
Hold the whole world in our hand and greet the dawn with open arms.
So make a contribution if you have been amused

But before we depart my brothers and sisters I have some heavy news.

Oh how it breaks my heart this photograph.

Several in the ministry practice some fuzzy math.

And some of us wear the robes of the righteous
Are a little more next of kin
To the Sleestak, the wicked one who makes a meal of our sins.

Ain’t no telling how much longer but we will never be moved.
Ain’t no telling how much longer but we will never be moved.

Woe be the architect of our city, cruel leveler, the hillock strangler.

Bold pusher of the cold bone index
Through the knotted bowels of the old alleyways.
Read the future a false haruspex.
Recall how he coaxed us out of the green plains.
All of us, dumb eyed at the sheer number. So long ago it does not matter.

Woe be architect in his slumber, for the Watcher never sleeps.

And on that day there will be rejoicing and dancing in the streets.

Ain’t no telling how much longer but we will never be moved.
Ain’t no telling how much longer but we will never be moved.

Get your evolution on.

Good St. Charles Darwin wrote his gospel down

So keep your eyes turned to the sky and your ears down to the ground.

Get your evolution on.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hydraulic Ram Pump

One of the things I've been doing is researching grid-down options.
I find good plans for DIY projects and print them out so I have a hard copy.

One project of the food preservation team is building a large solar dehydrator.
This one relies on radiant heat more than convective heat, and is supposed to be more effective in cooler climates (like Oregon).
We probably have enough random crap laying around that I can mostly build it out of salvaged materials. If I can figure a way to have it do triple duty as a cold frame in early spring, and a thermosyphon hot water heater/food dehydrator in summer, that would be SWEET. The details are still percolating through my subconscious.

I also had the opportunity today to visit Chef at his new diggs, and check out the hydraulic ram pump that supplies his water.

Not much to it. A seep from the hillside fills plastic 50 gal drum, which runs through 1" HDPE pipe to the the ram pump sitting about 15 feet below the drum. The ram pump sounds like a heartbeat, using the power of the water to pump 150 feet vertically to a 1300 gallon poly tank just above the house.

Here's Chef in front of the makeshift dam and the intake barrel;

No electricity required.

Supposedly the pump at Chef's house costs about $180.00. I did some digging around and found this information.

Build it yourself for about $60, not counting the intake/outlet pipe or poly tank.
Some cash found its way to me yesterday, so whenever I can get to town I'm gonna pick up parts for this baby.
Once I win the Powerball jackpot tonight, I'll be able to afford a 1450 gal. poly tank and the 600 feet or so of HDPE pipe to hook this sucker up and pump irrigation water from the Big Creek to the garden.

Planning and Pruning

These guys like to hang out in my front yard about 8am.....

Sorry I disappeared for a while there.
I didn't get hauled off by USDA jackbooted thugs or attacked by the black helicopters.

I've been busy.

January is planning season at the farm, so I've been having lots of meetings.
The Farm is (loosely) organized into committees (teams) who are responsible for the various duties in that area.
This is a great idea, but we have more teams than members, which seems to be somewhat demoralizing for The People.

Each team meets and plans projects for the year, and comes up with a labor budget, and a costs/income budget.

I am on the Garden team, Autos team, Livestock team, Pet team, Food Preservation team, Long Term Planning team, Correspondence Team, and often act as a consultant to some other teams (like Orchard, Firewood, Forestry, Flowers and Herbs).

Don't get get me wrong, I think this is an awesome way to organize about 50 people, especially if you have strong crew leaders organizing each team's activities. That would likely be very effective. In some communities the "team leader" (or whatever you want to call it) is elected by The People for 6 month terms, which seems fair.

But having 23 budget meetings when you only have about 17 active participants, eats up lots of valuable time that could be spent actually DOING something to take care of responsibilities on the farm. It's also difficult to motivate hippies to fill out paperwork.

However, identifying goals is great. A lot more good things are likely to get done if we know what outcome we desire, and can work together as a group to manifest that vision. Spending time with people planning our collective future is a fantastic community building activity.

I've been busier 'cause we lost some people, too.

Billy Bob (good ole' boy firewood intern) and Loopy (female "guest" taken in as a favor to a neighbor) went MIA for a week, and eventually we heard thru the grapevine that they went to Cally. No great loss, except of 2 warm bodies and one strong back.

Chef and K the photographer leaving is a great loss. They're moving up-valley a ways to a ramshackle cabin off the grid. It will be a good experience for them, and holds learning opportunities for me, but together they 'held down the fort' at the Farm for a while.
I've taken over K's correspondence responsibilities (the farm gets lots of visitors) and since Chef did the bulk order for the Farm and store, and facilitated weekly scheduling meetings, (among other things) I've taken that on as well.

In fact, I sorta had a panic attack for a while when I realized how much of a power vacuum arose with Chef and K leaving.

Nobody else was stepping up, and I realized....

I care more about this place, about this idea WORKING, than I've ever cared about anything in my life.

So I'm stepping up.

I don't want to be a leader. But I guess the best kind of leader to have is one who doesn't want it.

All of this added responsibility has resulted in me carrying a clipboard around with "to do" list and weekly planner. I try to explain to people that the clipboard doesn't mean I'm important or anything; it just means I have a lot to remember and a lack of short term memory.

Anyhoo, in between planning and organizing, I've been pruning the orchard, working in the garden, cooking dinner once a week, and helping with "Friday Night Dinner" at our cafe.


So I apologize again for neglecting the blog. It's easy to get sucked into this reality, and forget about all y'all out there in consensus reality/internet land.

This shit is just so REAL.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


A couple days ago the farm got a call from someone at the USDA.

They wanted to know how many goats we had.

How many kids born?
How many deaths?
Raised for milk or meat?
How many breeding females?

Non-violent communication is all well and good when dealing with groups or individuals face to face, but when some faceless corpgov entity comes snooping around my food, I've just got one thing to say;


My food is MY business.
Too bad I didn't take that phone call.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Surf That Wave

The basic principle of surfing is to gain a little momentum just before being hit with a lot of momentum.
When you are already flowing with the direction things are headed, potentially destructive change becomes a powerful and useful force.

That is the underlying thought behind what I am trying to accomplish here.
It is abundantly clear to me that our current 'business as usual' model has a very limited life expectancy, for the simple reason that a society based on consumption will consume itself.

I see a huge transition ahead for us. How well we survive it will depend on how well we "learn to surf".

Learning how to live as a tribe, learning how to produce our own food and energy locally without depleting our resources, and creating new local economies are critical skills we need to figure out fast if we don't want to be pounded into oblivion by the massive wave coming at us.

When the current economy fails to meet the needs of the people it is supposed to serve, alternative economies will arise to meet those needs.
So here are some tips on starting your own underground economy;

1. Identify your needs.
Look for ways to meet them that do not involve the almighty dollar changing hands.

2. Focus on being a producer, rather than a consumer.

3. Know your neighbors.
What do they have that you need? What do you have that they need?
Can you trade skills for your needs? Do you produce anything you can trade?

4. Pay it forward.
Help a neighbor in need. Cultivate useful relationships.
Network and identify ways to meet community needs.

5. Resources are everywhere. Practice seeing them.
Where most people see a trashy junked car, I see a new generator, a new chimney top, plumbing repair parts, a solar dehydrator or cooker...the list goes on. Use your imagination, and procure the tools you need to work with those resources.

6. Don't overlook government programs as a resource.
They might not be around for long, but while they are you can use them to gain capital to increase your efficiency or trade for your needs. I paid into this system my whole life, so I may as well try to get something out of it before the whole thing takes a shit.

Community "free markets" are being organized as a way to exchange goods, cultivate a gift economy, re-purpose useful items that would otherwise go to landfills, and network with neighbors.

Some progressive towns are going so far as to come up with their own local currency, called "scrip" which is accepted by most independent local businesses. Using scrip helps support the local economy since it changes hands among residents and small business, and discourages shopping at chain stores which drain local economies by sending capital to "corporate".
From the "local currencies" page at The E.F. Schumacher Society Website;
The local and decentralized banking systems of a hundred and fifty years ago had the advantage of diversity. The failure of a local bank-even a New York bank-was still a local failure, and its costs were internalized. But today we are facing the failure of an entire system. Consider the billions of tax dollars spent by the national deposit insurance system to bail out the Savings and Loan industry. And recall that billions were added to the national debt in order to bail out large banks when developing countries defaulted on their loans. These systemic failures are bound to occur if local economic control of banking customs and money supply is compromised by centralization and sacrificed to serve the heedless demands of growth.

Underground economies already exist wherever something is illegal. I'm not saying you should cook meth for a living, but I have observed a vast migrant workforce that hitchhikes up and down Hwy. 101 in the PNW following harvest season with their own tiny scissors to trim the best kind bud the US has to offer. Regional hardware stores realize this and stock up on small pointy trim tools and turkey roaster bags just before harvest season. Look for ways to take advantage of existing underground economies, or organize your own.

Lots of us don't have jobs anymore, so we should have plenty of time to do something useful.

Underground Economy

After much thought and meditation on my recent challenging situation, I realized that most of what I do, and much of what makes me who I am (in an egoic sense) arises from never feeling safe.
I can find/grow/butcher my own food, I can build shelter, I can invent and assemble contraptions to meet my needs. I have made it my business to learn these things because I know I can never count on anyone to take care of me.
When I went ballistic over my sex life being thwarted, it was because I was trying to protect an experience that afforded me a few moments of illusory security.

After a few days I realized how ridiculous it was to expend so much energy to protect an illusion, and decided to get busy protecting something that gives me a very practical feeling of security; this land and community.

This decision was partly catalyzed by the announcement that my friend K and her partner, Chef, are leaving the community. Both K and Chef are highly functional people who fulfilled many critical responsibilities here on the farm.

A couple days after their announcement, it began to sink into my brain. I started to see how much there was to do, and how I would have to take the lead if I wanted it to get done. I thought about the world out there falling to bits, and realized I might be the only thing between chaos and sanity.
All that fear, that unsafe feeling, that knowing that it was ultimately up to me to protect what I care about, came rushing in.
I was shaking, and felt like I was watching myself from a point outside my body.
The only times I've felt that way before is in severe grief or severe adrenalin rush.
My whole being was screaming;

One of the big questions I had in exploring egalitarian community is the fairly obvious fact that we are not all created equal.
There are leaders among us and there are followers. There are self-starters and there are slackers.
Each of us is a unique individual with characteristics that fall somewhere on a spectrum of human experience on many, many different levels.
So how can we be equal?
How do we distribute responsibility fairly?
How do we ensure that that the leaders and self starters don't take on too much and burn themselves out while the slackers coast along in pipe dreams of rainbows and unicorns?

I wish I had the answer.

But I do know that this is the best thing I've ever found.
I am happier than I've ever been, and even in times of stress I am thrilled to realize that my life no longer consists of fading into a gray haze of wage slavery, mind controlling media, and poisonous subsidized food.

So hell yes I'm gonna fight to protect this.

Any way I can.

Even if I have to suddenly take on a management role (ugh).
Even if I have to make little(slacker)girls cry, or tell our founder and matriarch that she needs to release financial control because the farm is slowly going broke while she is slowly going crazy.
Even if I have to start an underground economy here because MommaHen just can't bring herself to hand over the checkbook to someone with a little fiscal responsibility.

The People support me in this. The financial situation is the main reason people leave this community. Everyone agrees something needs to happen, but everyone is too scared to make it happen. And they are too grateful to MommaHen for manifesting this place 40 years ago to tell it like it is to her face.

Am I scared and grateful?

Hell yes.

Has that ever stopped me before?

Hell NO.

There's a big storm coming. We don't have time to waste.

I love my People and I love my Land.

I will do what I need to do to protect this security.