Notes from Windward: #61

The Summer Update

Summer construction underway
Summer's cranking right along here at Windward, and it's "suddenly" past time for sending out an update on our progress, so I'll pour a cup, grab the keyboard and fill you in.

Mostly, it's dry. Really dry. Last winter was our second dry winter in a row, with even less rain than the year before, so this summer we're focusing on ways to expand and conserve our water resources as we await the rain that's due in the fall. Our county seat has been on mandatory water restrictions since April, so if the rains don't come, Klickitat county is really going to be really dry by next year.

While it's a hassle to haul water from the dug well for the animals and the garden, that's just a chore and the sort of thing an intentional community in the woods takes for granted. The truly scarry thing is the heightened potential for forest fires. We'll be holding our breath for the next few months.

These days there are fifteen people on-site, so even our over-sized picnic table is getting crowded when everyone's home for lunch. With that many hands helping out, there's lots of things getting done as folks take advantage of the dry summer weather to attend to various projects.

For example, Gina is just about finished fixing up and painting her quarters, and Holly is redoing the roof on the camper she uses at work in the winter. Bob1 is finishing up the foundation piers that level and support his storage container combination workshop, while Bill is pulling the heavy-duty V-8 engine out of the school bus so that it can be used to power up the old dump truck for winter use as a snow plow.

Fern just got back from a vacation trip to California, and I'm away most weekends marketing my medieval coins. Cindy and Tamara are visiting folks back east, and, on a less happy note, Heather is getting ready for more back surgery.

Our biggest team project these days is the new dining hall. Two-thirds of the roof joists are up, and yesterday we poured the first of the internal floor slabs, and added concrete to four other locations, for a total of 6.5 cubic yards. Concrete pours are "barn raising" sorts of occasions as everyone turns out, grabs a shovel or trowel and gets to participate in one of those events which quite visibly moves the project forward. While the work of building the physical community goes on all the time, it's very exciting to see the impact of six and a half yards of concrete improvements :-)

Brad's doing a great job on the roof, and Roy's gotten good at tying rebar. Since the concrete company charges a hundred dollars just to show up out here, we pour as much as we can at a time.

The other big project that a visitor would notice involves lots of excavation underway as another septic system is going in near Heather, and the dining hall is getting a massive second drain field to handle the water from dish washing, and the grey water from the washing machine and shower that will be built in. Since the dining hall is designed to support 21 full-time residents (the number set out in our conditional use permit), it's a big drainfield.

While there's a good deal of "over kill" in the health department's specification, that's fine with us since marginal systems tend to prove to be real headaches over time. Building in extra capacity at the "get go" is a lot cheaper than trying to expand a system you've outgrown later on.

The animals are fine, except that thus summer the ducks have become unwilling participants in a game of "Survivor" hosted by a large owl who's decided that Windward is the next best thing to Safeway.

We wouldn't mind so much if the owl had a taste for our surplus drakes, but recently we've lost some of our valued hens. We accept a certain degree of predation as sort of a "nature tax," but this particular owl seems to be determined to keep this up until all the ducks have been consumed. The answer seems to be the construction of some kind of night coop for the ducks, which is yet another item on a "to do" list that quite long already.

This week we're celebrating Fern's 86th birthday. Windward celebrates birthdays by having a feast at which the guest of honor picks the menu, a tradition which makes for some excellent and quite varied meals as each person shares the foods that are special and personal to them. With the increase in the number of folks on site, we're to the point where we're having a birthday feast every few weeks.

We've always enjoyed great home cooking, but nowadays, with so many birthday dinners happening along side traditional holiday feasts like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Windward holidays like our Anniversary Feast (Sept 28th), gathering at noon for the community meal is a real treat.

Well, that's pretty much the latest news. In short, we've got a really good crew and lots of worthwhile projects under way. Things are good. We could really use some rain, but at this point, we'll just have to hope for a wet October and a snowy winter. In the meantime, we'll fill the wood shed, tend the potatoes and work on dealing with that pesky owl.

with best wishes from Windward,