Friday, June 10, 2011

The Farm and Life On It

I've been here a week now and it's high time to write about what it's like.

First, there's so much life! I've seen frogs, toads, newts, a snake, a lizard, birds and more birds, a bat, ...and that's just the critters who aren't plants, bugs, or fungi! There are an extraordinary number of flowers of dozens of species. Pretty much every square inch is growing.

The farm proper consists of a main house and several out buildings on the tip-top of a little promontory overlooking a forested canyon. There is a chicken coop, a shed for tools and the solar electric system, an historic apple drying shed that is being converted to a cabin, and, of course, an outhouse (although the main house has a working bathroom and septic system.)

There's a primitive road below the main farm that leads down into the canyon and ends up at a clearing with a lovely little one-room cabin, which is where I'm staying. I basically have "my own" forest! There are redwoods (my favorite) as well as Douglas fir and oak trees, and dozens and dozens of other plants. I've counted three kinds of ferns, including a species that grows taller than me (I'm 6'3".)

The canyon is beautiful but very very steep, and there are huge erosion gullies leftover from clueless logging (done about fifty years ago.)  The creek that should be running along the forest floor is now stuck down in a gully that reaches a depth of ten to twenty feet and averages about fifteen feet wide.  I'll take some photos soon.  It actually looks really beautiful and dramatic, like the proverbial facial scar of the master swordsman, but knowing what I do about erosion it can only be considered tragic.  I'm making the repair of these gullies my first priority.

I need to do some research first to be sure I'm doing the right thing(s), but I imagine that drawing the water out of the creek bed and into swales and level spillways as high up in the canyon as I can will be the main task, followed by carefully filling in the gullies with whatever will slow down the water (and not be itself washed away by a heavy rain.)  This should also get the creek flowing year round; it currently dries up in the summer.

I got a chance to see erosion in action. It rained for the first four days I was here and on the third day it rained hard enough to cause the creek to rise and start scouring. The water looked exactly like a cafe latté, light tan (the color of the clay soil it was washing away) and fully opaque.  Whoosh! There goes more of your earth right down to the ocean only fifteen miles away. Bye bye!  See you next several million years from now.

The trees are doing a valiant job of repairing the valley but there has to be some way I can help!

More soon, I promise!

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