Struck by Lightning
Lovarchist Farming Chronicles

40th Anniversary and The Forest Dies and Electricity Success and Farm Craft Retreat


Tom, Xels & Dennis watch as the goats leave the farm--fare-thee-well!

During our final HIV/AIDS retreat for the Spring/Summer a couple came by to buy our intact caprine (Ricardocito) and his brother Nilzug & their friend Snowden. The farm is going broke due to animal expenses, taxes, and insufficient property insurance, but more importantly, we don't have a goatherd to keep watch over goats as they eat starthistle. The weathers & the buck will be able to eat immature bushy wild blackberries (as one of the amenities) in their new location of Douglass Flat, CA. For this we are grateful, and of course we'll miss the daily SHORT walks among our starthistle meadow. So the remaining goats here at Earth Abides Catholic Worker Farm will be able to munch away at our starthistle. We still have Onya & her daughters, as the vegans say: "reproductive slaves", and we are still hosting the boys Billy-Bungle & Jimmy-Jungle until their people (Butte Fire survivors) rebuild the fencing on their property to resume hosting those kids.
Tom & Kelley pay their respects to Ricardocito, Nilzug, Snow an hour before they left the Farm (PHOTOS BY JEWNBUG)

But what's going on with all these cats? Anyone who knows our friendly neighborhood Pegasus knows that a Pegasus is a friend to cats. June has been a month of INTENSE emotions with the migration of multiple animals. we were aware that our 16-year old feline was ailing (and soon to die) during our retreat when we said goodbye to goats. We didn't realize we'd say goodbye to Hatchet so soon! Hatchet has been with Pegasus & Unicorn since Albuquerque's Trinity House. She was born at the St. Michael's area near Navajo Nation Headquarters in 2000. She was euthanized on Tuesday June 21st 2016. She had a good life in Gallup, Silver City, Albuquerque, and three buildings here at Earth Abides in Calaveras County.

The "demon-tiger-princess" still appreciated her forehead being petted--even on her last day with the Chearcus.

Hatchet started going blind in May, 2016, and couldn't control her bowels anymore, and she passed easily with the lethal injection at Arnold, CA. Almost immediately the neighbors PREMATURELY trapped two cats in their feral colony, which we needed to take in to our old barn to prepare it for the upcoming Barn Dance. We weren't planning to capture the first two of twenty-two until the following week! So we held on to the two feral kitties for seven days, and trapped two others to get them spayed and neutered too. Hatchet has an illustrious history. She started out as "Shandiin" in Navajo-land, but moved to Trinity House in order to help put an end to the nuclear age. That's why she took on the name "Hatchet." Along the way, she lured our first Guests into Trinity House, and convinced Unicorn to marry me. So Hatchet was our mature "Tinkerbell," but there's no need to clap your hands into the TV to get her to come back to life...she had a good one, and Unicorn (a.k.a. "Wendy") and I (a.k.a. "Peter Pan") are having a good one too, thanx to God & all the good critters God sends into our lives.

As always--Hatchet/Tinkerbell loved to climb to high places!

But as soon as the two feral felines moved onto Earth Abides Land Trust, another beloved feline community member (Noir) disappeared! He's still missing. I dreamed that the skunks are keeping him hostage until all the cats of the feral colony are spayed and neutered. The Montesanos raised Noir in Sonora, until he begged to become a Farm kitty, so Tom eventually took care of Noir, keeping him inside overnight as much as possible, so that predators couldn't eat him. In summary, first we euthanized Hatchet/Shandiin/Tinkerbell, then new wild kitties took up residence at the barn, then Noir disappeared, and MORE feral cats were caught in order to create LESS suffering at the feral cat colony of Armstrong Rd.

Here's Tom with Noir in 2015 at the Farm.

How Do We Find A Balance Without Propane?

You might know that we take turns making lunch for each other at the Catholic Worker Farm. It's good to have the entire community share a meal each day (and have private meals in private dwellings daily too!). When the first generation/founders retired, they had installed electricity and propane at multiple locations, and it was a good balance whereby the solar-battery system did not get overused and did it's main job of pumping water into our tanks. That's still a major purpose for solar power here. Now with our higher-capacity brand-spankin' new solar system powering 4 dwellings (including fridges for 24 hours/day, water heaters in 3 locations and cooking implements in four locations), the solar-electric continues to power our water pump at 3,000 Watts (peak).

This means our 6,000 Watt system, when pumping water during the middle of the day (auf Deutsch das ist "Mittag"), can only handle one household making lunch (a.k.a. "Mittag-Essen" or "mid-day-eating") 7 days/week. The individual homes can make breakfast at staggered hours so that all the cooking implements do not go on simultaneously (with laundry machines, water heaters, etc. consuming relatively huge amounts of solar-battery power), and dinner at staggered daylight hours, so we end up not needing to share more than one meal per day with the whole community here on the land. One such day last week (when the cat-capers began) it was our new community member Kelley Kolberg's turn, so she made a spectacular meal of potato salad and burrito fixings. Those pressure cookers can heat beans completely in less than an hour on the induction-burner, unlike the old-fashioned way of hot-plates and hours of cooking. Our next step is mastering solar-box cooking, and maybe someday we'll go high-tech with biogas (via onsite methane-digesters). And Catherine's House (for the HIV retreats) will continue into the foreseeable future using propane (a future where the world will eventually run low on propane). Throughout the year we can get 20% to 40% of our diet from the land-base here at the land trust, when we do a good job of putting food up (canning/freezing/drying) and have a bountiful harvest.

Kelley did an AWESOME job creating Mittagessen in the passive solar building called "Pace Domi" or "peace house".

First we made corn-husk dolls and turned wool into felt, then we wax-coated farm candles with wildflowers.

Now that we've celebrated the Summer Solstice (a.k.a. Midsummer) we had great fun with our first Texture, Spirit, Soul: Fabric event. Hopefully this July 2nd event will begin a series of workshops and training sessions for the post-nuclear and post-industrial age. And, yes, injuries are always possible, particularly when needle felting our alpaca wool:

Are the Forests Here Really Dying? What Kind of Life Do We Make?

It's been a bit of heaven having the Schmidts join us since mid-June, with the presence of young children, the things they've taught us, and the gifts they've given to the farm! Alas, they are only able to commit to about 2 months for the entire year 2016, with no intent to commit to 3 entire decades of service to this geographical spot and watershed. We're always happy to have them. At first we'd hoped they were God's answer to our 4-year old prayer--young adults committing to multiple decades to the oldest California Catholic Worker Farm--a primary method for keeping the CW tradition alive and well for the 200-year plan here. But then the Butte Fire altered our local environment, and now the dying forests further mar this bioregion. The pine bark beetle and drought are the contemporary curses (working hand-in-hand with wildfires) to the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills this year. (66 million dead trees in 6 years, and counting...) As the Miwok song goes, "Who can say, who can know, where my days go?" Will we reach 100% mortality for the pine trees? If so, the watersheds here will be amazingly different, with habitat for humans and others totally changed. Will we enjoy the new environment?

This is a view from the driveway in front of our 40-year old recycled Farm House. CLICK FOR UPDATES.

Here at Earth Abides we can see the tree mortality moving swiftly. At the time of our first celebration of the 40th Anniversary year for this farm, about a dozen trees were dead near the original Farm House (f.k.a. "Common Building"). The blight has spread in less than 6 weeks to claim the lives of at least 46 trees (counted July 2nd) on the border of our property and the neighbors. We've been praying for a swift end to the violent nuclear age in human society, but instead we see the potential end to these forests pushing in around us at Earth Abides. And yet, the earth will abide!

When evergreens lose their green--it will never come back. This is the view from the path between Catherine's & Pace Domi.

We'll publicize this in our newsletter, but the dramatic full-color photos here on-line won't be as vivid in our black-and-white paper newsletter. We have used recycled paper for the newsletter, but with the green rush (cannabis) in our county, maybe we should switch to hemp paper! Global climate change marches on, and the humans will adapt, as always.

This is the zoomed-out view of the image from above, with our meadow goat-shack (former well-pump house) in the lover right corner.

We cut down 7 dead trees during our first week of this campaign to remove fuel from potential forest-fires near the Farm House. So by the end of July 2015 that's seven dead trees no longer standing.