We can tell the seasons have changed because of the birds populating our land. We wake up every morning to the sound of hummingbirds buzzing through the air to land on the feeders hanging from the juniper trees by the house. Black-headed grosbeaks and western tanagers have been showing up in flocks. And our baby chicks are entering that awkward adolescent pullet phase. We finally moved them from the living room to a coop Jeff built outside, and everyone is much happier with that arrangement.
Jeff’s been spending a lot of time in the garden and it looks great. He planted beans, corn, squash, carrots, onions, beets, potatoes, peas, flowers and cover crops, as well as inoculating logs with shiitake and oyster mushrooms. We have to haul all our water, which presents some challenges for gardening. Jeff has constructed a simple watering system to help the garden flourish. The cistern we build this summer for rain catchment will make gardening (and life in general) a lot easier.
I’ve been keeping busy with music, both solo and with my band Muddy Mountain Orchestra. I’m also going to be working on a natural plaster crew in town.
[voice change _ jeff here]
As some of you may have heard, the southwest region is in the third year of severe drought. Mountain snowpacks in the region measure in the 30% of average range. We did finally get one significant rain event last week, almost 1.25 inches in a two hour shower, though because the soils are so dry – almost hydrophobic – much of it just runs off the surface and barely soaks in. If our cistern was in place, we may have captured several hundred gallons, but a lot of the surface run-off did get to the pond area we dug out last year.
I have also been doing a bit of truck mechanics. What passes for auto mechanics around here is a sorry state of affairs. While it is not my intention or necessarily interest, I have been almost forced into a place of being our local mechanic. I have learned a lot about keeping vehicles running and general small-engine repairs – trucks, chainsaws, tillers, motorbikes – and have even become somewhat skilled at carburetor adjustments.
We’ve managed to get a few things done in the house. We finished the ceiling in the kitchen area and are working on some window trim. We have a new front door. Kate is gearing up for some finish plaster upstairs.
Kate has also been indulging herself of all things horse and enjoying all the learning she’s been engaged in. She is pretty excited about someday being able to have her own horse here, I think the dogs and chickens are all pretty excited about that, too .. and Rusty.