Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
It's been warming up, although still below normal by at least 10 degrees, so the other morning, Alder and I went for a walk-he wanted to show me what he had found.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Yesterday Alder and I went for a walk since it was "long pants chill" til about 11am (strange weather lately!) and we found that there is year-round water in the creek just above us-to the East. There's even one place that looks likea wallow. A HOG wallow.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Yesterday was my first outing to meet with the Cherokee Culture, Language and History group in Oakland. It's a group that is supported by the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and I had met some of the folks at a Cherokee picnic back in May who told me about this meeting. They meet at the Intertribal Friendship House near Lake Merritt. It's a pretty cool place with a garden out front that includes corn, squash, sweet grass and ceremonial tobacco.
Oakland is a long way to go, but for one thing, learning the culture and language and history of my ancestors means an incredible amount to
me, as does the fact that these
folks don't consider me some pesky white woman, they consider me a child of the Nation. And just the opportunity to converse with others is very valuable in learning the language. You can only read and write so much.
The other thing is that Alder and I made good use of the rest of the day in the city, shopping for things that we love but can't find within a 100 mile radius of our new home, like Indian (other kind) curried lime pickles, powdered Indian tea, and strange Vietnamese fish.
It was well worth the visit, getting to meet other like-minded Cherokee folk in CA (there are a LOT of them!) but the traffic, even on a Sunday, was enough to wear me out by mid-afternoon.
We have-after some trial and error-decided that it's better (at least for us) to live in the peace and quiet of a very rural setting, with no distractions, and visit the city once in a while, rather than live in a city with all it's time, money and energy distractions, and visit the peace and quiet once in a while like a lot of people do. Which reminds me I want to blog at some point about permies living yes, on degraded land, but what about degraded social or economic areas....
I realize now after 7 years of living very rurally and without a (or much of a) job, that the rest of America is entirely too STRESSED!! No wonder everyone is so unhealthy!
Yes, it was a long drive. Can't say I'll want to do it more than once a month, BUT, that's plenty I think. Enough to keep us in social fun, curry paste and strange meat anyway.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Yesterday I changed out the broken faucet in our new (to us!) 1976 mobile home we have just moved into in remote Tehama County, California. Yes, it really needed replacing….the handle was falling off because the metal seat of it was cracked. This is a good question to ask early in a project...does it need to be done at all. Remember the option not to. So we had obtained a new faucet kit at Home Depot, including all normally necessary components, so I thought it would be an easy, hour long project.
Almost nothing in a sustainable system, especially one attempting a light budget and a light footrpint, is easy or hasty!!
First check...no water shutoffs under the sink. I could have crawled up into the dark space under the mobile with the mice and perhaps snakes to see if there were shutoffs there, but instead opted to fill a few buckets for the interim and shut off the whole place at the well.
Second check….no easy disconnects, but rather archaic copper pipes with corroded fittings. Fortunately these were the same size as the flexible plastic hoses on the new faucet kit. So I immediately thought outside the box, as I’ve learned from years of homesteading….cut the copper and splice it, somehow, to the plastic (while also cutting off it’s brand new, high detail ends). A few hose clamps and the right size hose ought to do it.
Big lesson one….and a reiteration of why California has some catching me up and impressing me to do to replace Georgia….every permaculture homestead, especially a rural one, needs a junkyard. I kept a very organized one in Georgia. And in that junkyard was a basket of old dead faucets with their hoses and fittings and all.
As well as a pile of various size scrap garden hoses, which I found useful for many things...even for hinges. I spend six months sorting this stuff, making the judgment call as to what was worth putting into a $4K POD to haul across the country, and giving away or trashing the rest. Unfortunately the dead faucets and scrap hoses didn’t make the grade.
Lesson number two is tweaked from a gem of an old book I have, “Camping and Woodcraft” by Horace Kephart. It deserves praise from many aspects, and I’d recommend it for any permie or homesteader’s library, but the part I was thinking of was where it applauded the creativity of those who made it out,. survived, or succeeded not with full preparations and tool kit in place, but when these have been lost or confused by the events of life.
We had just moved. All my tools are in disarray, and the space they are stored in so infested with mice and their offal that we fear to spend a lot of time in it for fear of hanta virus. Almost no “junkyard materials”. So the challenge was to use what I have to get what I want.
Points up a difference between an urban and a rural site too. Where we last thought to settle, (Cave Junction, OR), we were on the edge of a small, rural, isolated and therefore somewhat self-sufficient town. I could have gotten on a bike and gone to one or both of two hardware stores and had my pick of faucet parts, hoses, hose clamps, or whatever. I could have ridden back again later in the day if I forgot something! I’m reminded of the last time we tried, futilely , to live in town ( in Asheville NC). Where are we supposed to put our food? There’s no pantry in this house!...we thought….and then it dawned on us….we were attempting to live in a small house in a town in America after all. What pantry. Your pantry is the grocery store uptown. You’re not supposed to store a winter’s worth, much less a year’s worth, of anything in your house, least of all food!!
So here in CA, it’s a half hour drive to town to the nearest place we could get faucet parts, wire, hoses of any dimension, anything. And you sure wouldn’t want to have forgotten anything and have to go back later that day!! Don’t want to do that. Hard to get to the really good tools, and minimum junkyard resources ready to hand. What to do?
I catch a glimpse of our hose level, taped to two yardsticks, that we’ve used in a couple of permaculture classes. That hose looks just right! And the level can spare six inches of it. Cool! Next problem...no hose clamps small enough. No problem, I’ve used wire ties many times….using a pittance worth of wire to achieve what would otherwise cost a 50 cent hose clamp. ( I learned about this wire tie in a 1996 workshop about working with bamboo….it’s a way to do bamboo joinery without splitting the bamboo, but it works great on hoses too!) But darn, no wire...just aluminum electric fence wire ( which I made sure to bring, since electric fence is THE solution to critters getting into the poultry at night!….and, especially baited at intervals with peanut butter on aluminum foil tags, is a good solution for deer, too!). Aluminum wire isn’t strong enough for wire ties. But then, looking to the trash for my salvation, I spied a length of stout electric wire in the pile hastily swept together in the new “barn” of insulation, mouse manure, and other assorted, what I call “hopeless trash” (trash for which there is no imaginable use)….lesson...whether there is an imaginable use depends on how desperate or committed you are. I stripped one end of it and obtained five lengths of stout copper wire, and with these, I spliced the plastic hoses of the new faucet to the copper pipes of the old one, using two pieces of our hose-level hose!
ON goes the water, and….there’s a slight drip….since the new plastic hoses are, after all, plastic, and the wire ties didn’t bind tightly enough. So there comes to the rescue the fall-back…..bicycle inner tube to the rescue! If you don’t know this, know it now….don’t let any inner tube get away if you see it. It can patch just about any leak. Cut into thin strips, and then wind around again and again, tightly wrapping it in overlapping courses. Do it with the water on, so it drips through, and just keep wrapping till the dripping stops, tie off, and you’re done! I have fixed a high-pressure steam line to a four-kettle pressure canner this way once….the leak was at an elbow in a place so hard to reach it would have meant taking apart the shed the boiler was in. Little strip of inner tube, wound around again and again….solved it….and lasted for as many more years as that boiler was in service. (NOTE---If you use this for outdoor uses, such as for garden hoses---works good for pitchfork punctures, for instance….follow the innertube with a course of duct tape to keep the sun off. Sun is the rubber’s enemy and it will break it down in a few weeks otherwise. The plastic duct tape will go a year or two before needing replacement)
So there’s the kitchen faucet at Udan West….thanks to a hacksaw, a couple of pieces of hose, five copper wire ties stripped from an electric cord, and a couple of pieces of bike innertube!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I wanted to explain how we came up with a name for our new place, and what the symbolism in the logo is about.
We closed on the new “farm” a week or so ago, and we took the first load of stuff down from OR, spent two nights, cleaning up and basically camping while we unloaded the Uhaul.
A farm, a home, a place, in my opinion NEEDS a name! It makes it more of a living entity.
When Alder and I first started seeing each other-which entailed me coming down to the farm he was on every weekend-one of the things we did was read together. I’ve always loved doing this, and he had a great love of Ursula LeGuin. I wanted to know about the things he was passionate about, so we read quite a lot of her stories.
The one we both like the most (well, one of two) is a short story called “Another Story, OR the Fisherman of the Inland Sea”, which is set on a continuously inhabited (for 3,000 years) family “farmhold” named Udan.
So when we started our own permaculture homestead in GA, that was undoubtedly our choice for it’s name.
It’s been a good name, but now we are in CA, and we have to ponder, was Udan us, or did Udan stay in GA…
When we started talking about the new place we knew we wanted to name it, and our minds immediately went to Ursula LeGuin for our inspiration.
Our other favorite book is “Always Coming Home”, arguably Ursula’s epic novel, of an indigenous people that inhabit CA many years in the future.
I love the cover of this book, because it always looked like “Home” to me-where I came from...those rolling, voluptuous, velvety hills where I grew up-the land that comforted and shaped my soul.
Alder and I started pouring over “Always Coming Home” last week, thinking that the name for our new farm MUST come from this book. But nothing really struck us. “Just give it some time”, he said.
Then a couple of days ago, we had a colorful encounter that inspired us. The dog was barking and I went out to see a peacock in the neighbor’s yard! My mouth dropped open! So pretty! I figured the elderly neighbor lady must have gotten a peacock, but the more I thought about it, I figured that probably wasn’t the case, so I ascertained that it was not hers, and it was most likely wild.
In the meantime, I had been reading about our friend Liam, who died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and his re-drawing of the Seal of Atlanta to include a Sun and fruit tree. Ever the optimist and catalyst for change, he made the grey phoenix into a “green” phoenix.
I have a special place in my heart, because of a vision I had, for phoenixes. I think of the Cherokee (part of my heritage) phoenix as red, my personal bird is turquoise-and came to symbolize the direction my spiritual life would take, so the image of a green phoenix sounded very cool!
Visions of a colorful pet for the farm and a “green phoenix” danced in my head as we spent some time trying to catch the bird. Chasing a bird through dense underbrush (mostly posion oak) is not easy, but when it drew us into the blackberries and then FLEW away, we said goodbye to our dream of a free, LOUD alarm clock!
I came back to the house and looked up “Peacock Medicine” as in the lessons that an animal passing into our lives has to teach us. Peacock is a symbol of watchfulness (his “eyes” on his tail feathers) and in Christianity, a symbol of resurrection. It also teaches us with it’s laugh-like cry to laugh with life! Chasing a peacock unsuccessfully through the brush is certainly a case for laughing at one’s self, and as I made lunch, I thought about peacocks, and Liam and phoenixes and resurrection, and chasing peacocks and laughing. Liam is still not far from my thoughts, and the one thing that I think if immediately when I think of him, is JOY and laughter-yes, I think Liam would have thought Alder chasing a peacock was funny.
As I cooked an idea came to me...Udan farm, our beloved permaculture homestead could BE reborn in California! Why NOT name the new farm the same as the old farm, and continue all the good that we did there-continue the permaculture ethics and community, teaching, etc….it felt very right.
So I passed it by Alder and it felt right to him too. I told him I had been thinking about Liam helping us plant persimmons and figs on Udan, and phoenixes, and being re-born (wondering where Liam is now, and where he’s going) and how it all wove together into the idea that Udan should stay with us.
Being the graphics geek, and having a rare (at the moment) day to goof off, I set about making our new “logo”…. I can see it as a carved and painted wooden sign at the gate of our new farm.
I started with a pecan tree, one that was part of an ad for the first Permaculture Design Course at Koinonia (Alder’s home for 10 years and coincidentally the PDC where Liam was a student). I changed that pecan tree into an olive tree, to symbolize where we are going and what Alder hopes to plant. The two fallen leaves are our permie friends that we have lost in the last 2 years, Liam, and Frank Cook. They symbolize something of the circle, of life and death, that is part of every farm.
The artichoke is also a symbol of our future food. Even before we closed on the house, the previous owner gave us permission to take artichokes that may be growing there, so we had a dinner several weeks back that included food off our new land! How cool that the land is feeding us before we even move onto it! The artichoke in the logo is one of the ones we ate, turned into a graphic. It looks mighty like a lotus, which is also a symbol of rebirth.
The red line at the bottom is symbolic of the land, our grounding foundation, red for both the land that we left, and the land we are going to-which is in the “Red Bank” district-so named because of the color of the soil showing along the banks of the creek. The red also stands for my Cherokee and Alder’s Mauntauk heritage.
The phoenix has so many meaning held within it. My Cherokee heritage, my vision and newfound Spiritual path (hence also the 7 drops of water coming off the bird, as if he were coming up out of water), Udan’s rebirth, Alder’s rebirth, and even Liam and his green phoenix.
And the spiral on the bird is a pattern in Permaculture, was the G in “Georgia Permaculture” and was part of the peach logo for the Altanta PDC that never happened.
As for the word wudeligv, which is Cherokee for West, we didn’t just want to name the place “Udan Farm” again-there needed to be some distinction, and with me ever ready these days to practice my Cherokee language skills it seemed like a nice 2nd part to the name. Udan West.
So that’s the story behind our new “logo”. And the picture behind the blog is the new place we call home.
Home. Owenvsv (oh weh nuh suh) in Cherokee. The place where we will grow food, make friends, sit and watch the grass grow, maybe play with some great-nieces in a few years and laugh. And I hope there’s a LOT of laughter, and joy.