The last few weeks we’ve been in the high-noon of a brief and delightful summer. Work both on and off site has kept us busy — sorry for any delayed or lacking correspondance! We have been gradually (and not very successfully) trying to keep up with the vigorous burst of early succession regrowth in our new field. Our abundant prickly friends have done an excellent job covering the bare soil, but the soft grasses are moving in too, and with some delicate slashing we hope to continue to nudge our ecology towards meadow rather than forest dynamics while the nut trees are still young. Maintaining a meadow will help keep small rodent populations down with pressure from raptor predation above, hopefully minimizing damage to the young roots and trunks by hungry mice later this winter. On the other hand, the brambles are serving to deter local deer from walking through and finding any succulent new growth in our field. Raspberries, blackberries, and other brambles often blanket the ground of newly emerging forests by sheltering the young trees and allowing them to regrow rapidly until the brambles are eventually shaded out; in this case, we just need to keep them from sheltering all the stump sprouts and seedlings we already removed so we can create a truly productive nutwood!
–A few quick updates:
We have a new brother-in-law and a beautiful new nephew, all in the space of three weeks. Many congratulations to sister momma, new dadda, grandma, and the rest of the family!
Papa bear was laid to rest as ashes into soil and river, bringing us many moments of fond memory and helping us to continue to see the life we have in death.
A visit to a good friend manifested 6 flats of vegetables and herbs that needed quick transplanting – good thing we dug a half mile of raised garden beds this spring! They may not be the most pampered vegetables in the world but so far we have leeks, kale, cabbage, fennel, celery, peppers, and eggplant filling in some of the space in-between trees, shrubs, and herbs. Why not?
We finally had our well drilled on site, a pre-requisite for pulling future building and occupancy permits. Very rattling experience, literally! Make sure you have ear muffs if you ever need to drill through 280′ of earth and rock. We are still looking at options for well pumps and are likely going to put in a Bison hand pump for now. Yay for off-grid living!
Our third round of conversations with engineer Chris Vreeland and architectural drafter Shaun Batho went exceedingly well with another even more-refined set of drawings and a fun spreadsheet of numbers calculating the (super efficient) heat load of our future house, the amount of Btus made and lost through each month of the year, the size of the solar thermal array we will need, and the ideal capacity of our thermal tank. We are working with an excellent team and it is incredible to see the house develop from sketches and playdough to CAD drawings and technical specs!
Today has brought the rains we’ve all been missing the last several scorching days. But, the trees are continuing to do swimingly well atop their mulched berms, reaching into deep soil and staying happy and moist. We are so so fortunate to have the water we do. It is the mead of life.