Life in the Valley

I am still on my quest to live a cash-free existence. But it is not going as planned. I am still working to pay down my loans (coming due each month to the tune of $200) and need money to help keep the family in food and house. I have managed, in my 5 or 6 months here, to greatly expand my social network, to the point that, if I so desired, feed myself without the need for money. Plenty of farmers with plenty of work in this verdant Valley to support a few work-for-fooders. 

With a recent collaborator, Jay, I’ve managed to get involved in several garden spaces around Guinda, and the greens are blowin’ up! Jay keeps a garden behind a friend’s house and is a prolific tender, yielding several bags of greens, radishes, carrots and more each time we go to work the small holding. Another space he has available is slowing becoming what we’ve termed, The Hideaway, which will ultimately be a model for stewarding a tropical microclimate in this usually dry Valley. There we are practicing what we have started to call Biodesic Agricology (a mouthful of portmanteaulic syllables, to be sure, and one to be described in a future post). There, also, he keeps his chickens, and we’ve been trying to allow Mack to gain familiarity with them. 

Me and Mack on a hill at Frost Ranch

Me and Mack

For Mack, my dog, is an avid chicken-chaser. For him, a chicken is a chew toy that makes noise, runs away, and eventually falls silent and limp. Not a good tendency in this Valley of free-range chicken farmers. Research I’ve done does not bode well for dogs who chase chickens. My father had to put down more than a couple of his own dogs when they started killing the neighbors chickens. While people in the States would not be likely to suggest such an end for Mack, the point is clear. NO CHICKEN CHASING. Through a meandering system of desensitization, punishment, and alternate stimulation for his hunting instincts, I hope to ultimately teach Mack that chickens just aren’t worth the trouble. If it doesn’t work, well, he’ll be a leash-dog when out and about.   

Mack is a cross-breed that looks like a mutt. He came to me from the East, by way of Spreadwing Farm and his previous human, Brie. His veterinary paperwork calls him a Malamute, but really, he’s a mix of Wire-Haired Pointer and Husky. He’s tall and lanky with giant feet. He’s mostly black but has a gold goatee and a white chest. He likes to chase sticks and chew them to tiny bits, so I’m thinking maybe he can be put to work mulching my property — however slowly.  People love him, and he has a similar temperament as I — capable of great energy one moment, contentedly curled on the hardwood floor the next. He loves puppies and babies, but could do without the daily harassment of the resident 7 year old (who’s awesome too, in his own way).

Mack keeps me warm at night in the van where I sleep, nestled amongst the down comforter and thick-spun cotton blankets that cover my bed. The Beaver Den is what I call my little house on the edge of the field and it has come along. It needs a new roof to replace the hastily placed (but surprisingly spry) first incarnation. I tend to bump my head on the rough shapes of oak limbs stretched from my van to my walls, and it creaks and leaks when it’s storming hard. But it has held up well these past months, especially considering the plastic baling-twine used to tie it down.

I continue in my plan to make of my corner a lush and verdant paradise, a glade amongst the grey pines and blue oaks, which come sprouting up from my garden beds to eventually fill in the canopy. I progress in my designs for a sunken bed ideal for this climate, integrating passive irrigation, water storage, and nutrient cycling into the next version, hand built from start to end. If you’re following my Facebook page, you may have seen the new bed in a photo or three. 

There is so much going on, so many plans to be brought to fruition, such a community growing that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to leave this place. 




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