Thursday, September 20, 2012

The tarantulas are traveling...fall is here.

Tarantula crossing our driveway.

Interesting week . The tarantulas are out on their walk abouts. On the highway down to our land last week, I counted fourteen of the little guys crossing the road. Yesterday there were ten in the road and one in our driveway. Lucky for me this guy presented a photo op that could not be passed up, especially since last week, when I was trolling for tarantulas along the highway (after having seen 14), driving at about 15 mph, I didn't find a single one to stop and take a picture of. They are not as big as I expected. The ones we had in Fremont County, Colorado were larger and more varied in coloring. The female that lived next to our path to the barn was beautiful, and huge! And a little intimidating.

Also this week there have been beautiful birds...migrating maybe. Crazy colors. When I first saw these guys, I thought, wow, they look like the African Masked Weaver I made for my Safariarte piece. What would those birds be doing here?

Recycled wood, yard staple--African Masked Weaver

On further inspection, they are just opposite of the Masked Weaver, and I think they are really Yellow Headed Blackbirds.

Blackbirds with yellow heads and breasts.
Yellow Headed Blackbirds

Still, they are very pretty and took my breath away as they added color to the desert landscape.

It is fall in the desert. There is no denying it any longer. It frosts nearly every night now and there was snow on the mountains one evening after a rain. We tried to cover the plants, and saved them one night, only to be caught off guard the next night when the weather forecast did not call for a frost. We lost most everything. We planted too late here anyway, I think. There are still some peppers under a row cover that may survive a little longer, but overall our gardening experience has been less than we had hoped this year. We got onions, garlic, potatoes, some lettuce, radishes, and there are still carrots in the ground. The peas went to seed too fast, so we saved them for seed for next year. Richard still has hopes on getting a few fall crops in.

Surprisingly (or not really), when you spend so much time out in the desert, you begin to notice the subtle changes in color as the seasons change. The sage is blooming. The Chamisa is a bright yellow in some places and gone to seed to create a creamy yellow in other places. There is bright, white Winter Fat, Purple Astors, Brown -eyed Susans, other varieties of yellow flowers, plus the sage green of the sage not blooming, and other plants gone to seed. Most of this colorful loveliness is next to the roadsides where the plants get the most water from rain runoff. So as we head to our E-ship down our long and dusty dirt road, the eyes are drawn to the color along side the road. It is amazing and inspirational. The colors of the desert in bloom in the fall cannot be beat. I am in love with this place and I am in love with the palette presented to me daily as a go about my mundane chores. I will try to get a photo before the colors fade into winter.

We haven't gotten out to our land as much as we would like due to financial constraints. Gas is expensive and we still have bills to pay before we can buy more supplies. Richard did a canning class last weekend, which was a great success, and we are hoping to have another one at the end of the month. Also another chicken processing class is coming up this weekend. I hope more people sign up for the classes. You'd think with all of the instability in the economy, people would be more interested in learning the homestead basics.

We did finally get the gravel out of the trailer and into the cistern down at our place. Richard sloped it down to the drain. The next step is to cement the floor of the cistern and of course keep adding more bag courses.

Gravel in the cistern.

We also dug out the foundation trench for one of our "cabins" which in reality will end up being a small home...not tiny, but I like to call it that. It should come in around 600 sq feet with a 20 x 26 foot footprint. It also will have an upstairs.

Staking out the tiny house.
Tiny house foundation trench...done in about 7 hours. 

There is always something to do, it seems, and still nothing gets done a fast as we would like. I wish we could be out on the land so we could get more done. But we have to have a house to live in first. And so much still to do for the coming winter. Maybe we can get enough people into the classes to buy our hay for the llamas or refill our propane tank, since Richard's job is not paying much these days.

I'm still trying to work on my art, when I can. Have a new  website , connected to some print on demand thing. The cool thing is people can buy prints pretty inexpensively, and if they want an original, they can contact me directly. Check it out. Buy some art. Feed the homestead.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another entertaining week in magical Taos

This past week we went to the Blue Moon/labyrinth/Regeneration ceremonies at the New Buffalo Center. We took the back road across the mesa and down into the gorge and crossed at the John Dunn Bridge by the hot springs. It is pretty down there. I haven't been down there for like eight years or so. The Hondo Valley seemed incredibly green. More so than I remembered when we used to live there.

View of the gorge and Rio Grande from John Dunn Bridge road.

New Buffalo is wonderful. It's very green with gardens full of growing vegetables. I guess Bob, our host, took corn directly from the garden and then the ears went into a boiling pot of water on the kitchen stove. Wish I could have tasted that fresh from the garden corn on the cob. Richard and I were fasting, so we did not partake in the wonderful  food that everyone brought for the potluck. We took gluten and dairy free zuchini bread, which Richard made, and the kids loved.

Turns out our children were the only kids there, until much later when another boy arrived, and so they became the center of the ceremony honoring the youth in our community. We walked the labyrinth with the little ones. The labyrinth was quite large and located in the field below the Barn, or formally the house Richard and I started building ten years ago and gave away seven years ago. (Long, sad story, fraught with emotion.)

My son visiting with the Crystal Skull. Barn house in the background.

One of the most exciting things...well, there were many, was the arrival and presentation of the crystal skull that some kind man brought. Being an anthropologist, I was interested in this very old and rock like petrified item. It looked like the skull of an ancient woman, which the man claimed it was. It also looked like a rock, which it also was, being thousands and thousands of years old. Very interesting. It certainly lent an air of mystery and awe to the event.

The sun set in an amazing show of color as the big, old, full moon rose in the east at the same time. Pretty incredible. The kids were pretty good, considering the ceremony was much longer than we can really expect them to sit still and be focused. They didn't do anything too strange, and I never even alerted our host and former neighbor Bob about my daughter's autistic condition.

The most fun was back in the remodeled community room at New Buffalo, where we had a drum circle. It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the drum parties are in this town. There was a harpist, the man who does the maintenance on the Earthship we live in, and guitarists, and everyone else was just free styling it on the drums. Wonderful. The kids loved it, picking out different instruments from the basket on the shelf behind our built in bench.

Drum circle and music at New Buffalo.

New Buffalo used to be a hippy commune in the 1960's. The movie Easy Rider has a commune scene in it based on New Buffalo, although the setting was staged in California for the movie. The first time we lived in Taos, we bought a small piece of land and the old commune dairy barn from the original owners, who were still there at the time. We turned the barn into a house...a much too large house we couldn't really afford, and so it eventually was sold off to the current owners. Bob bought New Buffalo around the same time and has since turned it into a thriving, community based learning and sharing center.

So our Blue Moon celebration was interesting with the fasting, the old emotions welling up over seeing the barn after so many years, the crystal skull, the kids being the honorees, and the time and place all coming together to create a magical evening. Thank you Bob.

This week, I also got to sit in the gallery where the Arte de Descartes XII show is being held. All of the artists were supposed to volunteer some time to help manage the hours of the gallery during the show. I spent my four hours studying the art, making tiny house plans for one of our cabins, and occasionally talking to potential customers.

That's my recycled wood art piece: Safariarte.

Out on the land Richard got the window put in the pallet shed and put on a door from the stack of glass doors and windows we took out there. We have been moving these glass panels around with us, hoping to build something with them. It looks like we will use them in our house. We also cleared some more sage in the location where our 20 x 20' house/cabin will be.

Pallet shed with window and door.

Richard held his chicken processing class this past Saturday, which was a success for the two folks who came. He plans on doing another in a few weeks to eliminate the many roosters we have in our flock.

Processing chickens.

Also next weekend (September 15), Richard is holding a canning class our here at the Earthship. Hope to see lots of people at this one. Food security is so important as the craziness in our world continues. If you are in  and around the area and want to come, please contact me in the comments. Also, anyone interested in the art, contact me. I will pay for half of shipping if anyone wants to hang this piece in their kid's room.