A visitor

My friend Nick Fox visited in September, and he’s written about it here.

I’ve known Nick about eight years, since we both attended writing school at Warren Wilson. Somehow, of the hundreds of memorable people I met at WW, Nick burrowed himself into a particular place in my heart. Meeting him again after, what, six years since we graduated (only that long?), I saw why.

Nick is the guy who would station himself next to the registration table during arrival day at Warren Wilson and personally see to it that every new student felt welcome and supported. He’s a true extravert, and he’s also truly humble — genuinely hail-fellow-well-met. You feel that he engages you because he wants to know you (not because he wants you to know him). He lives from the heart, and writes from it, too.
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This might not look particularly lush, but the photo doesn’t do it justice. For this land it’s astonishingly so. I actually became disoriented at one point when I was walking from one side to the other, because the grass has grown so high and it makes the contours appear different. It’s benefitted from the fact that the rancher has rotated his cattle off the land – which has been the case for around a year now.

And this is the site of the teensy strawbale – there’ll be a shady patio between the house and the juniper:



I’m planning a 9×15-foot (o.d., approx.) load-bearing structure, precompressed with straps, with a concreteless cinder-bag foundation, a sleeping loft, and a tiny greenhouse attached to the south side. Stay tuned.


I’m back on the land, and so happy to be. The weather is warm in the afternoons (mid 90s) – I lie down on the floor in the yurpee, the only place that’s comfortable – but it’s cool in the mornings, windless and peaceful. Some afternoons cloud up, and sometimes there’s rain. In fact, it took me three days to drive in last week, because an inch of rain had fallen in one storm. It rained three days in a row. This is El Nino, and it’s made the whole region greener than I’ve ever seen it.

After spending a day at the Canelo Project (Bill & Athena Steen) earlier this summer, I’m super excited to build a teensy straw house – just one small room, with a loft – a solid shelter where I can work (edit and write), and space to unpack some of my things that have been stored under tarps for the past year. Building it will also give me practice with the skills of building with straw.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing. Dark Mountain 8, which is soon to appear, will include a little essay I wrote about building the yurpee, and I’ve written a short profile of Peter Bigfoot as “pioneer urban farmer” that I’m told will appear in Greg Peterson/Urban Farm‘s August newsletter.

I’m also writing online, and intend to do more so as my internet access allows. I’m going to focus this here blog on the natural building and permaculture work that I do at Somewhere. I’m posting items of another nature, such as little essays and book reviews, at tozeweaver.net – Toze Weaver being the name I’ve chosen to write under. (Weaver is my mother’s maiden name; Toze is a longer story.)

I’m having some tech trouble here at the St. Johns Public Library (I think they’ve blocked Dropbox!), but will post pictures, and further details, when I log on at the end of the week.

Update & 2015 plans

I haven’t posted since last summer – about time for an update, for the five or six people who follow this blog! Hello!

I’m writing from Texas, where I’m staying with my mother for the winter – sheltering while also helping her during recovery from her shoulder surgery last month. I need a place to be for the winter; she needs someone to cook, help her dress, and run errands. I’ll be here till mid-April, probably.

2014 recap: In the spring/summer I built my little yurpee and experimented with using an olla to create a fertility cell. After that, I had very little time at Somewhere. In late August I went to New Mexico for two months, then came back in October and again in November, briefly. I made some small improvements to the yurpee and, ever optimistic, sowed seeds in the orchard basin: buckwheat, pinto beans, yarrow, clover. Also, in a trench that runs from the road to the basin, wild roses (hips gathered in the Pecos). And a couple of peach pits!

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yurpee raising

I’m back on the land, with materials – and muscles, I hope – to raise my yurpee!

I was away the entire month of June, visiting family in Texas and building the yurpee’s parts down at Peter Bigfoot’s place.

The yurpee in embryo – back in November.

After transporting the panels to here, I finished sewing the canvas roof at another friend’s place, and then picked up additional materials on the trip up here.

Now all is in readiness, and if the weather cooperates sufficiently, I’ll have a roof over my head by this weekend.

The site.

I’ll post the story with pictures as it progresses.

But what is a yurpee, you ask?

Watch and see!

Sunchoke sprout

Picture worth a thousand words:

I’m back, after a month away. There’s been no rain, but the olla seems to be working! I left it on a drip from a barrel that had about 15 gallons in it.

(BTW, the black pipe there is just for show – nonfunctional. It was superseded by garden hose, which feeds into the olla.)

See the little visitor? (It’s a pinacate beetle.) And there is scat next to the mulch, as well (off screen), and some of the mulch looks like it’s been moved. If the olla is attracting wildlife, I like that, too.

However, as it looks as though something might be eating the shoots, I might decide to put a little fence around it.

I’m here for about a week this time, planning improvements to the watering system, rebuilding the shower (which toppled while I was away), and installing the experimental water harvester I’ve mentioned before. Perhaps also I’ll build a work table, a sturdy and well anchored one that won’t fly away in 60-mph winds.

Then back to Reevis to construct my yurpee. The wood’s all cut, and I started the carpentry last week, but because I’m learning carpentry in the process, it’s slow going. Hope to have it in place up here before the summer rains begin.