Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where in the world have we been and where are we now???

So, it seems that we have been gone for a long time now, with few blog posts.  And so it seems, it is true-we have been away continuing to learn, explore, meet new people places and continue our dream of helping to spread permaculture across the landscapes and learning from practitioners.  In the journey from October through mid November, we also had the desire to find a place to relocate to.  This place we were seeking had many must haves (mountains, water, creativity, yummy restaurants, progressive people and politics, close to family and friends and of course the almighty Grand Canyon) and some deal breakers (closed mindedness, lack of water, people packing heat, militarized populous i.e. Border Patrol, ICE, checkpoints twenty miles beyond the border, and a place where freedoms are taken away).  We have chosen our place and are excited to share it with you, as we have some amazing plans and ideas.  Follow this posting and you will find out where we went and where we have decided to settle.  

On October 6th-8th Laura went to the Melissa Garden in http://www.themelissagarden.com/classes.html in Healdsburg, California to take a biodynamic beekeeping class called "Bees, living between Heaven and Earth."  It was a weekend of understanding the ness of bees and configuring that energy into a "bee sensitive" beekeeping practice.  From that weekend, it became very apparent that keeping bees is not really a decision that the beekeeper makes.  Rather it is a decision that the bee colony makes.  They make the decision in nature as to where they swarm and create a home for themselves and the ever respected Queen.  This class emphasized the importance of honoring and respecting these natural cycles.  Melissa Gardens is a honeybee sanctuary, so the gardens are filled with flowers and plants that are attractants to bees.  Part of the class spoke about what to plant and where to try to bring the bees to  a safe and beautiful home.  From that experience, I (Laura) got completely excited to begin trying to bring some honey bees to us.  How amazing would it be to have bees to help us in the gardens and for us to provide a home that they are safe from pesticides, herbicides and other harmful chemicals.  I got a Golden Mean beehive and will be putting it out to be inhabited as soon as spring rolls around. 
And then I returned to McNeal and we left on our amazing southwestern exploration to look for a new home. 

 Our first stop began on October 16 at an erosion control workshop at the Double Circle Ranch outside of Merinci, Arizona.  http://doublecircleranch.com/ranch-programs-and-events/october-2011-erosion-control-workshop-a-big-success/  Craig Sponholz of Dryland Solutions, Inc. taught us how to use earthworks to help with erosion control, re-establishing regional water tables and earth building.It was a thoroughly educational weekend, with tons of amazing volunteers.  We absolutely encourage you to check out the dates for future workshops-we surely will be.  As you can see from the pictures below and the link above we created a Zuni Bowl and Rock Mulch Rundown that was at least 50 feet long buy 10 feet wide, to prevent future erosion of a stock tank on forest service land. It was amazing and truly a work of art and community! From there we drove to Silver City, New Mexico spent the night and drove on to the Gila Hot Springs.  We had heard so much about the hot springs from our dear friends, the Suby's that it was a must see.  We had a wonderful afternoon setting up camp and sitting in a hot springs surrounded by a beautiful canyon.  It was lovely and soothed our sour muscles from the workshop at Double Circle Ranch.  

Silver City was a potential place for us to settle in, it has water, progressive politics, artsy, and beautiful- but the community size was a bit small.  We were looking for a bit larger with more activities and art.  Silver City is a fabulous outdoorsy town-but we knew that there would be a place that fulfilled all of our needs.  So we continued on.

We left the following morning, after having seen an entire family of Javelinas and a beautiful drive through mountains to get to the next potential: Farmington, New Mexico.  It was a long and often tedious drive and when we got to Farmington we got a hotel room and went to sleep.  In the morning we woke and immediately found that Farmington was not our home either; too much oil industry.  But it does have three rivers converging which would fulfill the water requirement.  We left in a heartbeat to Durango-which is only a mere 45 minutes away.

When we got to Durango both of us were really excited.  It is a small city with many rivers, alternative lifestyles and politics along with amazing food, art, tons of outdoors activities and a very well supported farmer's market.  We decided to set up shop and settle for a few days.  Night number one-we ate sushi for the first time in many many months.  The following day we went on a hike and saw bear scat and the true size of the area.  That evening we ate Nepali food.  The next day we went to a Dr. Suess musical (A Suessical) and swam in the Rec center which has a killer lazy river and an amazing waterslide.  That Saturday we wandered around the fantastic Farmer's Market.  We were amazed at the diversity and the shear number of farmers selling their goods.  It was wonderful to see so many people in a bank parking lot selling and buying such lucious food and beautiful soaps, jewelry, clothing etc.  Total awe.  And we found ourselves satisfied with not a single person packing heat.  That was nice.  We liked that.  A lot.  

We visited Cindy Dvergsten at Arriola Sunshine Farms http://www.arriolasunshinefarm.com/ in Cortez who is a holistic management practitioner.  She and her husband practice holistic management on their five acre farm with their fowl, 40 sheep, donkey.  It is wonderful to see true thought and management of such a small parcel with all of the animals healthy and thriving.  She spoke to us about scale which has been such a huge theme for us this year and reflected on her own abilities and what she can no longer do on her own as she gets older.  Cindy and her site are a true educational resource.

James Ranch http://www.jamesranch.net/ was also of interest to us, as they hosted a CARLY apprentice http://quiviracoalition.org/Capacity_Building___Mentorship/CARLY_Ranch_Apprentice_Program_/  and we had heard so much about them as we were CARLY apprentices as well at Tornrose Farm in McNeal.  Wow!  Holy smokes!  What a fabulous operation they have.  The apprentice, Jo, had learned to the dairy process; cheese making and bovine care.   Their demonstration of managing scale by breaking down each component of the ranch into individual business components such as dairy, meat, garden, fowl and eggs was beyond impressive.  Once again scale had obviously been dealt with and had been organized in a way that was digestible and doable as well as resilient.  

We left from there and went to Telluride to spend the night at long lost friend's house surrounded by the amazing Uncompahgre mountains. I had remembered that Robyn Wilson, a totally inspirational woman who I had hired to proceed me as the Northern Arizona Peace Corps recruiter and her equally beautiful husband Ryan had moved to the area.  When we arrived to Durango I looked them up through and we met after seven years.   We were relished with like minded conversation, political awareness and lots of laughter.  They are both permaculturists and practice in the Telluride area.  Nice, eh?!

Paonia was on our list and at that point we had made up our minds as to where we were going to settle, but due to having heard so much about this town we had to stop, check it out and meet up with our friend Jaclyn.  Well, Timothy took a wrong turn and we missed the downtown area...just like that in a blink of an eye downtown was in the distance.  Such a cute mountain town with amazing progressive people, politics and lots of organic gardening, permaculture and alternative economies.  Super cute town!  Jaclyn brought around and showed us the site where she is currently living and practicing permaculture.  Impressive indeed.

And that closed our journey as we headed back home.  Of course we visited our beautiful friends in Flagstaff (we love you!) and our moms in Phoenix and Tucson (we love you too!) and made our way back to the farm where we finished packing to move to......

Yes, it stole our hearts.  It has everything we drempt of and more.  Sounds totally corny but is absolutely true.  We loved being able to hike within minutes of being downtown, we loved the progressive agriculture and the town's strong support for the farmers, the art, the entertainment, being able to be at the top of the watershed and just getting gobs and gobs of snow and the amazing possibility of starting our own site in years to come.  

We returned to the farm, packed and said goodbye to the animals and the land where we spent the previous year as our teachers.   It was tearful at times realizing that we wouldn't be back and the lessons we learned were ridiculously valuable and completely life changing.  

Before we left we went to the Quivira Coaltion Conference http://www.quiviracoalition.org/ in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we met motivated new agrarians trying and even doing what we so desire to do as well.  It was amazing to see people of all ages wanting to be a part of the food chain change along with being kinder to mother earth.  Such amazing inspirational people, thought provoking workshops which we were so proud to be a part of.  Thank you all for being part of this movement.  

And then we went to Timothy's parents home in Truth or Consequences for the night.  We got fed like kings and queens, caught up since the last time we visited and smiled a lot.  Beautiful people this Bonnie and Gene Prow.  We love you!

Phoenix was our next stop for a weekend Doula (DONA) training course, which was amazing.  I am currently working towards my Doula certification-which is so exciting...I can't even believe I am in the process of doing something I have always wanted to do my whole life.  When I was introducing myself, I said how when I was little I wanted to be an obstetrician and had currently  been working as a farmer, and the teacher stated that there is a book called the "Obstetrician and the Farmer," they totally go hand in hand!  

And then we went back to McNeal, packed the truck and left on our journey north to our current location.  We have had many ideas in the past few weeks as to what is next permaculturally and we are really excited to let time pass and to see if these ideas come to fruition.  We know that this is something we are and will always be doing and just want to make it more concrete in our lives and in our locales.  We of course would love to eventually find land to begin our own educational site and that may be. 

In the meantime, we are loving our small cozy home in Hesperus, Colorado with the lovely La Plata running through the years with a small greenhouse on an acre and a half.  Enjoy and keep coming back to us!  We love you....a lot!! 


  1. I'm LOVING the new place and I cannot wait to visit. Let's hope for less albino scorpions lurking in wait for me, because we all know that my number of visits is inversely proportional to the number of albino scorpions in the guest room.

    I love you guys and super excited for you and this new adventure!

  2. WOW !! Sounds amazing!Good luck :) Ana
    Ps . Miss seeing you and the eggs !

  3. What a year it has been for you. thanks for posting your experiences, I look forward to hearing more as you make your "permaculture" in the Durango area.