The farm has our newest member, a girl who came from a pig and vegetable farm in Maine. She even brought us all the flu. And since we are sharing a trailer, I was first to go down, and on my birthday! (I’ve even quarantined myself to protect others) But now we all have the bug in some way or another, and that’s brought us solidarity in a funny way. The hybrid swine flu in her system crossed with whatever dirty, fart filled air she was exposed to in the plane, and then mixed with the apparent sickness that’s going around the lil town we are nestled in, between the mountains converged into a trifecta of illness that each of us also gets to add our own personal spin too. But ironically, it really has bonded us. Disinfectant wipes are everywhere! And rest is upon us. I’ve honestly needed the rest. The 85 plus hours a week has put my brain in lizard mode more than I like, but it’s helped me get paid and purchase my truck, a 2007 ford ranger, 4 cylinder, manual transmission with no electronic bells and whistles. This truck will run forever. The lizard has also helped me start the upgrade process for my new truck, a few minor repairs, along with adding a spray on bed liner and camper shell for my continued travels. With my own vehicle again I’ve been given back a considerable amount of freedom. I’m once again able to travel freely and experience more of what southern Arizona has to offer. I’m also able to go to Tucson more freely as well. So I’ve been lucky enough to spend most weekends in downtown Tucson. After the Friday and Saturday harvest for the Sunday market, me and the farm boss load up our trucks and drive into Tucson that night to avoid waking up at 5am Sunday morning. Joe, my farm boss was born and raised in Tucson, he has many connections and friends in the city, but also maintains a relationship with someone and tries to spend as much time with her as he can. I’ve also met someone. A 25 year old hippy girl with dreads past her ass, large framed glasses, and a half pointer / half pit bull named Mountain Girl. (after one of the Merry Pranksters) She is originally from Boston, so we communicate great! She can handle all my personality edges extremely well, and is even able to throw them back at me, she is not your typically soft hearted, uneducated, dirty hippy. Her name is Lindsay, which is a shared name and constant reminder for one of the great loves of my life. And although I will have to be letting this Lindsay go when my adventure takes me to Yosemite, I probably never should have let go of the first one, but I now realize she was the only girl that I loved enough to let go, and she loved me enough to do that same. I could never forget her, and every memory I hold with her is a great one. But old Lindsay and new Lindsay are completely different. Both amazing and beautiful, but different. I met new Lindsay at a telescope bar on the night David Bowie received his constellation in the sky. She is a total artist, even teaches at a school. Her house is covered with art. She is a flame worker and glass blower and will be the first to tell you she doesn’t make pipes. She travels with her troop to festivals and concerts to put on tutorial shows for glass working, and they display large set pieces with themes and lighting, and it’s all pretty amazing. The troop will be displaying their Space Rabbits at this years Gem & Jam festival. It’s a pretty far out chakra balancing theme meant to amaze and inspire. She did most the glass work for the rabbits, while other members contribute with lighting, back story, and overall entertainment value. I was able to check out the gem show as well, because she is also a vendor for a friend, who was an interesting guy for sure. With a $200,000 ruby as his center piece and gold dipped human drinking skulls for sale, it’s no wonder why he carries a gun, but I guess it’s not that big of a deal, because everyone is strapped in the AZ. But still.. Interesting dude. The Tucson Gem Show is coming to an end, and the festival is almost here. New Lindsay has really helped me, and not just by showing me Tucson. I love her dog too, and miss mine terribly. Mountain Girl gets so excited to see me when I visit, we go on hikes through the mountains and she’s even allowed in most places downtown. I can not thank the 2 of them enough. They have been the best friends and guides I could have hoped for. I stay with them most Saturday nights, before the Sunday market, which is really convenient. I’ve been shown my value again, by a tough, hippy girl from Boston. Some people prey upon your insecurities and exploit you for never knowing your worth. She did the opposite. By essentially telling me how fun and interesting and unique I am. Not just with her words or a smile, but through her eyes, and excepting me simply as I am, with or without her. It’s hard to explain how she became a temporary muse for me, but she does inspire me, basically just by being the beautifully genuine artistic girl wanting to be around me, helping me re-discover another lost piece of myself, and pulling out the best in me. Another friend I have made is Yosemite Bear! He owns the next farm I will be going to in April. We email each other randomly to say hello and check in, he confirms my desires to work on his farm, although he is insistent that we do not work on his farm. Everything is for fun, for art, and for passion, this will be my first communal farm, with an Eco village and genuine since of togetherness. He reminds me of the beautiful things I will see in Yosemite, how the town is alive with music, art, permaculture, healing centers, and how there’s a festival or 3 every weekend once the weather warms. He tells me I’ll understand that I’ve landed in paradise once I arrive. And I so much look forward to officially meeting him and learning what he is able to teach me. I don’t want to get my expectations high, nor do I want to get ahead of myself in Tucson, still the coolest city I’ve ever lived in. But Bear will also be helping me start video blogging on the podcast YouTube page, as well as coming on the Gem City Podcast with me for an interview with Izzy, Bear’s backstory will come to light as my journey continues, and he will most certainly be another interesting, and notable person I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter during my adventure. I hope Yosemite tries as hard to keep me as Tucson does.
It seldom rains in the high desert of Arizona during winter, but the hoop house is my favorite place on the farm when it does. It’s like a giant tent! and a day with rain, can become the most relaxing time on the farm. Because the rain is so rare, it’s truly seen as a gift. Raindrops can make you feel comfort and help clear your mind. As far as the desert applies, the rain benefits the whole eco system. Most of the plants in the desert are built to defend themselves. Harsh brush, needles, thorns, all for protection. Water is life in the desert. And keeping it is self defense. Rodents attack moist roots and live under many growing plants. The farm has a 3 foot deep rock trench to keep them out, but it’s always a battle. Our cat, Johnny Ringo (kitty) did his best to murder as many birds and mice as he could get his claws on, but the struggle is real, even for a cat, and hungry coyotes don’t discriminate. Apart from the sadness shared from loosing a pet, the farm and myself see bright blue gorgeous skies ahead. I have officially bought a new vehicle (thank you insurance) for my continued travels, and have a very exciting homestead in Yosemite awaiting me in April. Until then Southwinds is growing strong, I’m extremely happy to be a part of it, and always will be in some way or another. We have 2 new farmers, a couple who rode their bikes to the farm from Slab City. (Interesting place if you’re into the migratory experience through an artistic nomadic life) and another will be here very soon. Southwinds is back at the Rillito Farmer’s Market after the break and with 65 plus vendors and live entertainment, things are really starting to speed up, which I love. The market even has it’s own pavilion to support expansion and their community, not to mention the Rillito Park historic racetrack, the birthplace of quarter horse racing, opening in February, my birthday month! As well as the largest month long gem and mineral show in the country happening in every hotel, parking lot, convention center, and under massive tents peppered throughout Tucson! Also the Gem & Jam festival, the last weekend of the show, which I will be going to for one of the nights! Tucson is amazing, but so has been my perspective. By maintaining a course, life will be giving back to you. Now that I’m working 85 hours a week, both in farming and steel, my blogs will most likely slow until I find my pace, and time for new adventures. I’m beginning to think a year in a new place working this schedule is completely doable, and desirable, and I totally see myself coming back to Tucson, but the life of a digital nomad has it’s benefits. And traveling while working is a big one. All I need is the Internet to intermittently send and receive drawings and transmittals for projects. Other than that, I’m able to work, and see the world. (Thank you God) It’s good to be writing again. Even if no one reads my blog, it still helps me. Plus I know my grandmother reads, and that’s enough of a reason for me. I’m learning so much about other people, how and why they operate, not trying to understand, rather to simply except. It’s like my moral philosophy now. The sunsets and stars I’m sure helped me find that place, as well as new exciting friends, and downtown Tucson. But A beautifully unique women gave me the spark to commit to my dream. And hopefully I helped her in some way I’ll never know. The meta ethics of life can be questioned, but never answered, because life is beautiful, and unknown, which is why it’s beautiful. Hiking through rocks and waterfalls and cliff edges surrounded by giant cactuses and mountains certainly gives you perspective as well, but sometimes I miss the types of trees I’m use to, even with snow on them, I’m thankful for the friends I maintain contact with who remind me of how cold it is in Ohio during winter! And I miss them too obviously. This trail I’m on has become something more. I’ve always been someone who works hard for the goal, but this is the goal, I’m living it. I don’t know how I did it, it certainly wasn’t easy, but I’m living my goal. (Thank you God)
After I murdered the elk I had plenty to deal with as far as insurance. My vehicle was a total loss and I had a considerably expensive ER visit. Although during the crash while in the ambulance they cleaned and dressed my injury, and I refused a ride to any medical center. It was not until the day after thanksgiving that I went to the ER to make sure nothing was broken. This was a costly reassurance, but I was able to continue my journey with this knowledge of my health. My newest cousin was willing to take me halfway to Tucson to meet my newest farm boss, which made things easier while dealing with my recent situation. Lately I’ve been dealing with multiple claims and agents, both medical and vehicular. All things considered, the agents have been treating me great and are incredibly understanding of my situation with all its complexities. The 2 agents (the first, from a separate company, the second, from my insurance company) they sent to look at my car both told me they were surprised that I was unharmed, then shared their own horror story of the accidents that they had worked on. I was very very fortunate to be alive. I’m currently at Southwinds Farm, just southeast of Tucson Arizona, in the San Pedro Valley. Southwinds is an 8 acre micro farm. They are currently growing a variety of vegetables for sale in farmers’ markets in the nearby Tucson metropolitan area, as well as supplying CSA shareholders, and to a few restaurants. Activities at the farm include bed preparation, planting, cultivating and harvesting of vegetables, along with washing and packing for the market/CSA deliveries, as well as various infrastructure projects such as fencing, drainage management, irrigation system development, and greenhouse construction. I’ve been on the farm for almost 4 weeks now, it’s less than a week away from Christmas, and we have been working so much that I haven’t had time to do much anything else. With me also dealing with the insurance people, I’ve just been playing catch up. Things with them are coming to a close, and the farm is in upgrade/recharge mode for the next 2 weeks during the holidays. I have so many things in Tucson yet to experience. I love working the markets, the city is beautiful and filthy with trails and social activities. I was recently at the 4th Ave Street Fair and had way to much fun! We stayed at The Hotel Congress, a historic building in downtown Tucson built in 1919. They have a premier music venue and tap room inside the hotel, along with a restaurant and outside patio. I have been to Tombstone. (Ehh..) and Bisbee. Bisbee was great! Such a unique place, filled with artists and weirdos. I loved it. We supply to a restaurant in Bisbee, and we know a few merchants that work the markets along side us, like Soap & Sundry (bisbeesoapandsundry.com) who have been more than happy to help me take care of my new growing beard. I have not shaved it since I left, and apparently it needs oil, making me more like the tin man than ever before. But we aren’t in Kansas, and I found my heart. As I settle back into my routine I’m reminded to be thankful for my life. The high desert is breathtaking both day and night. My options are endless, loosing my car freed me in ways I could not have imagined. Although Tucson will be my home for at least the next several month. I will soon begin working at LA Fitness again to help compensate the loss of my vehicle. Tucson has 8 of them and technically I’m still an employee. So after a long day on the farm, I’ll be able to leave, teach a few classes, hit the sauna, and enjoy a nice long hot shower! This opportunity will also allow me to network for the farm and met new people. Tucson is 1 of 9 cities in America with a gold status for cyclist, and I’ve already met a couple pros that visit the market, which happens to be right next to a major bike path, sharing a parking lot with a Thoroughbred race track. Be careful Tucson.. You may get to keep me.