Goats, Garbage, Gardening …and Life

Friday July 25, 2014

We have been surprised that the goats are very restless at night. During the day they are calm and happy as can be, enjoying browsing on the variety of brush, greater freedom and occasional visits from Katywil neighbors. But at night we hear them restless in the back of the pickup, some times all night long. As I write this I can hear them kicking and moving around. They seem to be pacing, and have difficulty settling down. Sunday night we were lying in bed in the camper, and we heard an odd animal noise.   It was not quite a howl, and not a hoot. In the morning we asked Bill if he heard it: Coyotes! No wonder the goats are wrestles at night. We think that the goats have been aware of the coyotes a lot longer than us! The array of wildlife here is pretty neat. Last week Paul was leaving Nancy and Haynes’s house heading for home in the dark. He almost tripped over a porcupine. We need to do a better job of remembering our flashlights at night. When there is no moon out the depth of the darkness out here is impressive. Equally impressive is the night sky.

I’ve been thinking a lot about garbage lately. There is no garbage pick up service out here! Our neighbors take their garbage and recycling to town once a week and pay $2 per bag of garbage at drop off. Recycling is free. At first I thought this was both expensive and inconvenient. In Santa Rosa we paid $60/quarter for garbage, recycling and yard waste pick up. That is $20/month, or $5/week. The amount of garbage we had is about the same, 1 bag. So, in actual fact $2/bag is cheaper, with no charge for recycling. Everyone has compost piles here, so there is no need for yard waste service. Inconvenient? Yes, it is. But, the inconvenience is a great motivator to look for any and all possible ways to minimize garbage. The grocery store we shop at is a co-op with a huge bulk section, and bringing your own containers is encouraged to cut down on packaging waste. We recycle even more contentiously than before, and repurpose as much as possible. All this has a significant impact on keeping the garbage down, and minimizing the number of trips to the dump near Shelburne Falls. Maybe we can get it down to 1 bag of garbage every 2 weeks. All this amounts to a net positive for the environment.

The Katywil community property spans 112 acres. 80% is densely wooded forest set aside as conservation land. The houses are cluster in one area and span over a lovely south facing slope, in some of my earlier postings I included some photos of the beautiful view of the valley from these slopes. Our trailer is currently located at the top end of the slopes. Our lot where our house is to be built is in the lower half. The community garden is located all the way at the bottom of the slope by the river. To give some idea of area, it takes me about 10 minutes to walk from the trailer at the top end to the community garden at the bottom end (and probably 15 minutes to walk all the way back up to the top!). On this walk, chances are good that I’ll get distracted and into conversation with one of our friendly neighbors. Distraction happens a lot! It is not uncommon for one of us to run a quick 5 minute errand, only to return 1 hour later due to some “distraction”. Since the property is so large, it isn’t very practical to go looking for said “lost” family member. Walkie Talkies to the rescue! One for each member of the familyJ Leave the house, take your walkie talkie or else risk the dissolution of family harmony! My mother-in-law gifted a set of walkie talkies to us for the road trip. They have become essential daily equipment here at Katywil. Family harmony has been restored, now we can keep track of one another. Thank you Alicia!

Our house will be built on Lot #14. Our neighbors are Ed and Emma. Ed and Emma are also avid gardeners, regular hikers, former goat owners and enthusiastic swing dancers. We think there will be no shortage of conversation topics with our new neighbors! The community garden is located below Ed and Emma’s house. Ed and Emma themselves have a delightful garden. Here is the view of the backyard from their porch.

View from Ed & Emma's back porch
View from Ed & Emma’s back porch

The community garden is beyond Ed and Emma’s garden. The beautiful stone retaining wall and gazebo was built by Katywil neighbor Justin. Justin is a stonemason, and all the stones in the retaining wall and gazebo came from the Katywil property. He and his wife Katie also have a brewery (StoneMan Brewary) and run a beer CSA (www.growbeer.com). Their beer is excellent and very popular in these parts! Paul is already a loyal fan.



Gardening is a bit different here, and we have much to learn. This week Judy ventured into the community garden and tilled, amended and planted two small beds. All of the households here at Katywil keep their own individual kitchen gardens where they grow herbs and shorter term vegetables, but in addition to that the community garden is where longer term vegetables are grown to be shared by the community. Currently it spans an area of about 1 acre. Academically I have always known that “if you don’t till and take care of it, the forest will take it back”. However it have never been so apparent as it is here now. If an area if not maintained, weed and brush will take it over. In California this happened to some small extend, but here it is rapid and real. We think this is partly due to the frequent summer rain and also party due to the loamy soil which allows roots to penetrate easily. It is amazing how everything in life is such a mixed bag of good and not so good. We get a lot of wonderful summer rain here, which is great for growing crops. But with the rain comes a lot of bugs, nats, “no-see-ums”, mosquitos…which is not so good. But there is so much rain that there is no need to irrigate and install maintenance requiring expensive drip systems, which is great. But there is so much rain, that if you don’t keep up with it, the prolific rate of weed growth can consume the soil fast, which is not so good. But, the soil is soft and loamy, which makes the weeding task easy, which is great. The growing season is short (compared to California) which is not so great. But growing conditions are ideal in the short growing season, and the bounty is exceptionally tasty and prolific, which is great……and so forth.


Paul has taken to practicing his horn outside, barefoot. Why? Because he can …and secretly he likes the way the sound projects down the valley. He is preparing for some upcoming auditions, hopefully the Katywil homeowners don’t mind the brass sound floating down the valley!

Handsom barefooted horn playing husband practicing
Handsom barefooted horn playing husband practicing

We were saddened to learn about the very recent passing of Paul’s good horn playing buddy, Ben Robinson. Our hearts and prayers go out to his dear wife Susan. Paul and Ben shared a close horn friendship for the past 10 years. Paul will be returning to Sonoma County for Ben’s memorial service, he will be in Santa Rosa August 15-20. He is staying with his sister and her family, and looking forward to also seeing all our friends. He is also trying to figure out a way to bring some of Justin’s Stoneman beer with him for sampling as well!

For those of you asking about the conclusion of my bite story, the bite was indeed a tick bite. My labwork results came back yesterday. I have tested positive for lyme disease. I am dutifully finishing out my course of antibiotics. In most cases this takes care of it. However the doctor has advised me to be aware of the symptoms of lyme disease and to contact a specialist if any of these symptoms arise. Lyme disease is caused by spirochetal bacteria passed on by the tick, and in some cases the antibiotic does not take care of all of the spirochetal throughout the body. Just something for me to be aware of.


  1. Cindy said:

    I love your detailed descriptions of each new experience in your adventure or ongoing journey towards settlement. I pray that the antibiotics is clearly enough to rid your body of the lyme disease. Lord, that is a nasty (but usually curable) condition to go through. Awesome about the universal health coverage there.

    How has the pizza cooking in the earthen oven been? Yum! Double yum from Brian about the micro-brews there. Is that going to be another “hobby” for Paul; brewing beer?

    I am busily trying to clean up and re-organize our home as school for Iris, me and our exchange student (Chloe) starts in about three weeks. I need prayers for preparation on several levels. It must be nice to not have to worry about Monique’s uniforms this fall. I may get ambitious and sew a new layer on her skirts to extend the life of her polo dresses, as well as add pockets to whichever skorts I can. Mind you, I’m learning from a couple of other moms how to sew. Iris is interested in crocheting and sewing, but I believe she is a bit young to get the coordination and dexterity needed. In fact, I need to learn with her. That’s been fun this summer. Enjoy the rest of East Coast summer!

    August 1, 2014
    • jhadley said:

      I have started to think about homeschooling Monique, so we will see how that goes. I an thankful and grateful to have the guidance of one of the moms in our community. Summer has flown by way to fast.

      August 5, 2014

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