Notes From Windward

Notes from Windward

Year 7 Number 4 (1995)

Spring weater arrives;
and there's lots going on

JOYCE: Spring brings a renewed energy and sense of awareness and purpose with it. We've started our annual spring grounds and housekeeping, and will certainly be doing more. One of the problems with having a dozen people living rather independent lives here is that a lot of chores aren't anyone's responsibility. Both the barn and kitchen routines have to be scheduled, but that's about as organized as things get around Windward. Everything else usually starts with someone deciding it needs doing, and energizing others to help. Actually, that's pretty easy since all we care about getting things done around the place. Stuff just seems to pile up during the winter, and it'll take a few days, some elbow grease and muscle, and a few dump runs to get the place looking its best.

     Spring also gets us outside, walking the old logging roads and through the woods. That often brings a startling visual reminder of why we choose to live here. Although winter can be beautiful, we focus on indoor activities, and it's easy to forget the beauty of our land. These last few weeks, I've been enjoying the tiny white, pink and orchid wildflowers that bloom among the grasses, and the gentle budding of our oak trees. The air is filled with the fragrance of flowers and new plant growth. As each day gets longer, we're finding more and more things we want to do this year. It'll be fun to watch what happens and who will make it so.

     Today Cindy and Tamara were working in the garden so I asked for a rundown of what to expect. Half-dozen types of lettuce, radishes, garlic, several herbs, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet snow peas, green beans and lots of flowers - for their first crop!

WALT: The development of a sustainable community can be an inwardly focused affair in which a group of people endeavor to turn their hearts and minds away from the outside world. While that's tempting, and all too often that process forms the initial impetus for building an alternative social construct, the problem is that it's an approach that's doomed from the start. Unless a group, any group, finds ways to link itself in some mutually compatible manner with the larger society within which it finds itself, the situation isn't sustainable for very long.

     One way that Windward serves the community in which it's located is by functioning as the fiscal agent for the Klickitat County Mobilization Against Substance Abuse. In a county as small as Klickitat, federally recognized non-profits are few and far between, and it was fair for Windward to put in a shift as fiscal agent. With the profound cutbacks in social services that is part of the legacy of last November's elections, the CMASA program, best case, is going to be severely cut back, and if the funding for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program is rescinded as it appears it will be, the program will cease to exist altogether.

     While serving as fiscal agent and interim coordinator for the program has been a good deal more work than we bargained for when we took on the responsibility, it has offered us a chance to meet some interesting people, and to learn a lot more about the minutia of how government programs work. While our primary concern at Windward is the development of our physical systems, our organizational systems are important too, and in the long run, no less necessary. Working for the State of Washington has both required and facilitated our getting better at the paperwork. As an organization grows, it continually has to readjust and reform its structure, something which is as risky and stressful as it is necessary.

CINDY: Spring - it's wonderful. The nights are still cool, but the days are warming up to T-shirt weather. It's time to start working in the garden again.

     This year we're working on building terraces in the garden. A rock wall had been stacked against the lower fence last year, and the things I planted in the area closest to the wall last spring grew well. Terracing helps keep the water in the ground around the plants instead of running off and eroding the slope. Conserving moisture is important during the dry summer months.

     Joel is helping me lay out and level small areas at a time. One of the first things we did was remove the rocks from the lower fence and lay railroad tie pieces (ends) down as the base to stack rocks on to rebuild the lower wall. Then we started digging, leveling and raking to get the terraced area ready for planting. We're planning on four levels of terracing with four sections in each level and four rows in each section. Tamara helped me level and plant the first section, and now I'm working on the second level.

JOYCE: I'm particularly fond of asparagus, and I've always prepared the asparagus by snapping off the end at the "tough" line. It's a simple and effective method of getting rid of the stringy part, but you lose about 1/3 of each stalk. I recently ordered a dish of beef and asparagus at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and was surprised to discover that they'd used much more of each stalk than I usually do. That was pretty easy to figure out because of the width of each stalk and its pale, green-white tinge. But they'd cut the stalks in the French manner, at a steep angle, with each piece being about a quarter- to a half-inch thick. Stir-fried, the outer ring was crisp, the inner section was tender, and it made for a very pleasing texture effect. I wanted to pass on an observation that will save money, and give you more asparagus on your plate.

WALT: As part of my work with CMASA I recently attended a conference in nearby Vancouver, WA, and one of the speakers talked about Community Choices 2010, a program that the City of Vancouver is using to look at where they want to be in the year 2010. As part of that process, they've sketched out eight points which they're using as goals and guidelines. As I listened, I was struck by how relevant these big city concepts are to a community as small as Windward.

     1) Community is worth struggling to achieve. I like this point, first of all because it's true, but also because it makes the subtle point that community is created, that it's not just a spontaneous effect. All too often, when community works, people tend to take it for granted.

     2) Every individual has value. Again, that's a pretty thought that most people would agree with most of the time, but in fact, that's not how society at large works. A lot of the people who are in transition, who are looking for community, are people who don't have value in society at large. The process of finding a way to amplify and liberate that value, lies at the heart of what Windward is trying to do.

     3) Community builds on individual responsibility. One perennial problem we struggle with involves finding ways to enable people new to Windward to grasp the need for everyone here to take responsibility for Windward, its growth and its scope. People come here wanting to take advantage of the resources and options that Windward provides, which is okay, but in time the point gradually sinks in that Windward is really only the people who make it up and that each person counts. When a new person finally grasps the synergistic process and the importance of their role in it, they either decide to push on looking for a free ride somewhere else, or they take up a part of the burden and accelerate the process.

     4) No one is an island. This isn't as much of a problem here as it might be in the city, since in a group small enough that you can know each and every member, no one is really disconnected from the larger social dynamic, even when they sometimes would like to be. For us, the challenge is the reverse, i.e., the need to insure that each person here is able to retain a sufficient degree of psychological separation from the group.

     5) Everyone has a right to feel safe. This point is a real problem since while on the surface it's an attractive concept, in practice it opens up a can of worms. A right is a just claim against others, and even when there is general agreement on which slate of rights a given group will acknowledge, there always remains the sticky issue of just who's going to enforce those rights. Rights don't exist independent of context, and are always coexistent with responsibilities. If you're expecting others to come to your defense, but aren't willing to come to the defense of others, then you're looking for a free ride. A sense of security is a very precious thing, but it doesn't come without a price. We may all want to feel safe, but we're not all willing to embrace the discipline and limitations necessary.

     While city folk might be primarily concerned with the threats that come from living in a dense urban environment, the threats we deal with here in the woods aren't susceptible to social proscriptions. Arguably, the primary threat to Windward's residents comes from the threat of fire, and whether that fire is started by a lightning bolt or an overloaded extension cord, it can wipe us out. When dealing with natural threats such as forest fires or floods, you'd better not delude yourself into ever thinking that you're safe. Regardless of what we think or want, nature always votes last and plays for keeps.

      6) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Again, that's a great truism, but it's also a bit like advertising. There's an old rule that half of all the money you spend on advertising is wasted, it's just that it's very hard to know which half. The amount of attention that you can lavish on a given aspect of a complex system has to bear some relationship to the impact of a local failure on the system at large. Time and money are always limited, and while prevention is a good investment, it's still necessary to invest wisely.

      One way we do this is to over-build our systems. When the building inspector required a six-inch retaining wall on our earth-sheltered dining hall, we went with an eight-inch wall instead. We're novices at much of what we do here, so a bit more concrete, and a little humility, are always in order.

     7) Efficiently coping with change will make the community stronger. This is sort of backwards with us since we're working to solidly ground ourselves in those aspects of reality that endure over time. Many of us aren't fans of change and value a sense of continuity in our lives. Does that make us stronger as a group?

     The change that is a challenge to us has to do with the changes that Windward as an organization is undergoing. Unless we had been able to create an organizational structure that worked, Windward wouldn't have lasted as long as it has, but as it grows, various aspects of that structure become out-dated and inappropriate. In '88, we averaged five people on site while today we're averaging a dozen. What worked for five isn't very likely to work for fifteen. While it's vital to hold on steadfastly to the essentials, it's also vital that we hold on to the flexibility to grow and change. How we cope with that dilemma will determine whether or not we build a strong community, or crack under the weight of our success. Many a person who's struggled up the ladder of success has found out to their regret that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

     8) Diversity leads to opportunity and strength. Amen to that. No matter what the future holds in store, there's sure to be a whole raft of surprises, and there's no telling what solution will be the one that holds the promise of getting us through the challenges that lie ahead. The systems that our lives depend upon are complex, and not just more complex than we understand them to be, they're more complex than we can understand. The consumer-oriented system that constitutes modern life is ruthlessly focused on efficiency at the expense of diversity; perhaps Windward's most important long-term function will be to serve as a sheltered enclave for diversity.

GLEN: I arrived at Windward early October 1994.

      I see that arrival, and my six months here, as the end of a decade of eclipse and beginning of a long period of reconstruction. The eclipse began in 1985 when, all at once: I was fired from a $100,000 a year job with a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch because I am queer (and no legal protections for gays existed in Texas at that time)

     I was forced to get my family (my partner Jerome) out of the country because US Immigration regulations still defined all non-citizen homosexuals as psychopaths. I had met him while I was working in Johannesburg several years before. We decided to live in the United States because the apartheid government classified him "coloured". Jerome died of AIDS in Canada in 1989

     A substantial lawsuit in which I was co-plaintiff with Merrill Lynch failed to be brought to trial in a timely fashion, thus wrecking what remained of my financial standing. That, in turn, wrecked my prospects for emigration to Canada.

     The eclipse was not total. During that period I earned an armload of national awards as editor of Mensa's newsletter for Seattle in 1989. I then went on to serve as president of that Mensa chapter for most of two terms 1990-1993. It was through this Mensa involvement that I met Walt and learned of Windward.

     Most of the eclipse decade, however, I spent driving a cab, hitting the bottle, and waiting to get sick. By October 1994, I had depleted most of a small inheritance from my mother's recent death and was facing an accumulation of legal hassles from a decade of neglect.

      Yet all indicators (CD4, T-cells, etc.) suggested that I would be one of the many long term healthy HIV survivors. Hence the need now to rebuild what I can from the ashes.

JOYCE: The topic of communication came up recently when I was talking to two visitors, and I related a story that happened when I first moved to Windward. Cindy and I were standing to one side watching the men tackle a labor-intensive task; we couldn't really help, but had an interest in watching what was being done. I said something to her about one of the men - one of those laughing asides that isn't meant to be a serious observation, but one that you don't expect to be repeated. Not more than a minute or so later, Cindy called out the teasing statement I'd made and everyone laughed. I was embarrassed.

     That was when I knew things were different here. The women don't stand around and talk about the men (or the men about the women) and the group isn't divided into a war between the sexes. Sure, sometimes we gossip, and sometimes we say things we really don't want repeated. But we have to be prepared that they might be, because as a group we place a high value on accurately communicating concerns and perspectives, especially when it's a serious issue... This hearkens back to our second Windward rule: "Say what you mean, and mean what you say." This process tends to make you work on communication, to be precise, and to listen. I think those are good skills in any situation and especially important in a community.

WALT: There's an old country expression that goes, "Root, hog, or die." This year we've been working with pigs a good deal, and that saying has been on my mind lately. Windward is located in a sprawling oak forest. While we have pockets of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, it's the ancient oaks that really give our land its character. Some of these trees are hundreds of years old and look like exotic bonsai trees grown to suit some giant's whimsy.

      One result is that Windward generates a lot of acorns, and while they are consumable as acorn flour (assuming that you first go through a series of steps to leach out their tannic acid); the traditional way to turn acorns into food is through the use of free-ranging hogs. The characteristic flavor of Virginian hams comes from the process of fattening them on fall acorns right before slaughter. This use of trees to feed livestock is a key part of permaculture, with the mulberry being another important resource for pork production.

     One of the Chinese names for pigs translates to "the golden hooves". In their quest for things to eat, they use their hooves and snout to rummage through the undergrowth to get everything edible out there. This last winter, we've intentionally allowed the pigs to work their way through the undergrowth and they've done a remarkable job of "roto-tilling" the ground. We'll be very interested in seeing how the forest reacts to the cultivation. At the very least, we're expecting an improvement in the amount of moisture that makes its way into the ground, and in the ability of the ground to hold on to that moisture.

JOYCE: This spring brings old friends back to Windward and finds another about to leave. Long-term readers of the Notes will remember Ian, who joined us last year and then returned to the East Coast to care for his father when his mother passed away last October. We're pleased that Ian will be returning April 10, and Fern, who's been part of Windward for many years, spent the winter in Las Vegas and is expected to return some time in May. Welcome home, Ian and Fern!

     Glen writes about his leave-taking in this issue and we'll all miss him. Lisa visited for a few weeks earlier this year and hoped to make the move from Pennsylvania with her young daughter. Family and custody issues got in the way and she won't be joining us after all. We all hope she'll be able to visit later this year.

WALT: Last fall we purchased three small European hogs to go with the Asian hogs that we've been studying. Now that the Asians have lost their "investment" cachet (for a while there pot-bellied pigs were being touted as investment opportunities), they're a glut in the market at the animal auctions around here.

     We're working with the pot-bellies because they offer some advantages over the larger, more aggressive European hogs (the sort of pigs we're used to seeing). The modern [...] hog is a remarkable economic [...] grow to a butcher weight of 300 pounds in short order. If you keep feeding them, they'll keep growing and gaining in strength at the same time they're growing in weight. The sort of pen that can contain a thousand pounds of angry hog isn't something you just wire up out of cattle panels and baling wire. While we can build whatever it takes to do the job, a pen of that sort isn't mobile, and that gets you into the problem of manure disposal. Keeping a 600 lb. sow in one place is okay if you'll keep the pen clean, but we seem to have a hard time finding someone who wants to take on that project.

      The smaller Asian pigs don't get much larger than a hundred pounds, a size that is more easily contained in portable pens. The only problem we're seeing is that so far the Asians are lousy mothers. Sows in general aren't known for their maternal competency, but our Asians seem to be worse than most. It's entirely possible that the sows we're working with are clumsy and incompetent; still, we're seeing what we can do to help them do better. We've also crossed our Asian sows with our larger European boar (it was actually his idea), and we're curious as to how the cross works out.

     One of the ways that we celebrate our sense of community at Windward is through gathering together for holiday feasts. As time goes by, we're expanding our range of cooking options, and one of the things we're looking forward to trying is ground roasting a pig in the Hawaiian manner. While we're working on developing the technique, it makes sense to work with the smaller animals.

      One of our concerns involves making sure that any pork we raise and eat is fully-cooked. Home butchering involves exposing the meat to contamination in ways that don't happen in commercial slaughterhouses (just as it also allows you to make sure that your meat isn't tainted with antibiotics and preservatives), so it's good practice to make sure home-grown meat is fully-cooked. In the case of pork, it's even more important since pigs and humans share so many diseases and parasites.

     One of the ways that new viruses come about has to do with the fact that pigs are susceptible to both human and avian viruses. When a viral particle enters a cell, it takes over the genetic mechanism of that cell to reproduce itself. If a human and an avian viral particle enter a cell simultaneously, there's no telling what the hijacked cell will produce. If the scrambled virus turns out to be viable, then you may have a new strain of flu on your hands, and it's the Asian practice of keeping pigs and ducks in rice paddies fertilized with human waste which gives rise to diseases such as the Hong Kong flu.

GLEN: "Klank, klank" came the mid-morning tap on my trailer door. "All hands to Fort Suey, fifteen minutes, tying up the pigs to sell at auction" said Walt. (Fort Suey is the solid, rather grand looking circular enclosure of stacked railroad ties reinforced with steel rode that we built for use as a pig pen).

     We passed several buckets of the most seductive kind of pig feed to Bob2, Joel and Walt ("The Gladiators") inside the stockade with the two full-grown European pigs. The Gladiators poured the feed into the troughs. While the pigs were gurgling and gulping with voracious delight, the Gladiators gently slipped ropes around each pig's legs and torso. (Roping around the neck cannot be done with pigs since pigs have no necks).

     The ropes were drawn and tightened, and the fun began. Squealing with horror, seething with rattle-throated rage at the capture, the sow rolled over repeatedly and sought to run around the pen. Whenever she came close to the crowd stationed at intervals around the perimeter, they would shriek and wave sticks at the sow to scare her toward the center. When at last the ropes had been doubled and tightened on the sow, two Gladiators yanked her into the enclosed back of the old Chevy pickup and closed the doors behind her.

     One Gladiator had held the boar at bay while the sow was snatched. But when all three combined to secure him, the boar executed a brilliant shake and roll maneuver, freeing him from the rope before it was doubled. Then the boar crashed over the wooden gate and ran to the freedom of the surrounding woods. "Houdini, goddamned Houdini", fretted the crowd.

JOEL: I got a shop! I can't believe it. I remember the first time I snuck into my dad's workbench when I was seven. All those neat tools and materials. Everything was kind of mysterious and grown-up. I remember banging my thumb while making a sop-box style car. It hurt like hell but I couldn't let my parents know. I remember learning the difference between slotted and phillips-head screws and how a hand planer made those strange slivers. These weren't profound realizations, but for a child of seven the thrill of discovering how tools work was an exciting revelation.

     From that first day in Dad's shop, I envisioned my own shop where my only limitations are tools, materials and imagination. Up to now this was not meant to be. I never stopped creating; I drew, then pastelled; then prisma-colored; then wood block, silk screen and intaglio printing; airbrushing; photography; videotaping. And I have been engraving statue lamps from acrylic for the last year. But through all these pursuits I had to set up and tear down each sitting or use other facilities.

     Now I have my own shop and finally, I am only limited in what I create by my tools, my materials, and my imagination. Look out world.

[Walt: Each person has a different vision of what they've come to Windward to find, and while Joel's first priorities have to do with his daughter's welfare, his interests have been in following his combination of art and craft work. He has real artistic talent which he's expressing in carvings done in plexiglass. When lighted from below, they have a remarkably lifelike, multi-dimensional effect.

     Kathleen's mother fell and broke her back in January, so she and Bob3 are having to spend most of their time in Seattle caring for her. They had a 20' travel trailer that Kathleen was using at one time for a workshop but aren't going to be using anymore, so we worked out a deal for it and brought it over for Joel to use as his studio/workshop.

APRIL: Today is the last day of Spring Break. School starts again tomorrow. My Dad and I had a lot of fun. We worked in the barn a lot. A kid thinks I'm her mom. I call her Squeaky. Ava's baby died. We are going to the Hood River Park today. I spent two nights at Heather's and had a lot of fun. I hope some other children come to live here.

WALT: Long-term readers of the Notes know that March is a special month around here because of the Pine Grove auction. Pine Grove is an orcharding community just south of and overlooking Hood River and they support their volunteer fire department by donating all sorts of things which are then auctioned off the first weekend in March.

     The offerings cover more than an acre and it takes them all day to go through it all even though at one point they have four separate auctions going simultaneously. One of the problems is that at times you have to choose whether you're going to be paying attention to the appliances or the implements.

     While there were lots of interesting things, three things followed me home. The first was a set of squirrel cage fans, the larger of which was about two feet across. We haven't fully closed in the barn; since it's a modified greenhouse, there's a problem with it overheating in the summer. The squirrel cage fans will enable us to vent the barn during hot summer afternoons.

     The second was a pallet full of bee-keeping gear that included a centrifuge, a piece of equipment that looks like a cross between a garbage can and a hand-cranked ice cream machine. The bees deposit their honey in a honeycomb. Each little cell is then capped over and the bees go on to the next cell. If you harvest the entire comb, both wax and honey, then the bees have to start over from scratch. If instead you scrape off the caps, put the comb in the centrifuge and spin the honey out of the combs, you can then replace them and save the bees a lot of effort, effort that they can then put into producing more honey.

     The last notable item was a hot tar trailer. It wasn't what I had in mind when I headed out that morning (I was secretly hoping for a really big shredder, the sort you see being used by tree people). Each summer we work on our roofs, and each winter we deal with leaks. While we seem to have fewer leaks each year, still it's a patch and worry sort of approach. Having a hot tar trailer will allow us to mop hot tar on the roof and then lay down rolled roofing, a solution that should solve the leak problem once and for all.

      Hot tar is useful for a variety of other things. For example, we can take a dead chest freezer, mop tar on the outside and then bury it - instant mini root cellar. While we have one storage cabin that's kept above freezing with a thermostat that's set to 40 degrees F, there's only so much room. A buried chest would be perfect for root crops or apples, and storage is our limiting factor on food storage at this point.

     There were other interesting things, but money is tight and those were the only things that really couldn't be passed up. Auctions are an important resource for us, and I fully expect that Pine Grove will always be the best around.

CINDY: We burn the horn buds on the kids to prevent the horns from growing. Horns can be a danger to humans and other goats, and since most of the kids will be sold at auction, it's also a sound marketing strategy to increase their worth by removing their horn buds. We haven't had many problems with our horned goats, but it makes a difference in the sales price and gives each kid [Kathy: gives each kid what?]

[Walt: It also makes it more likely that someone will buy a particular doe kid with the expectation of raising it up for use as a milker since the disbudding is a very visible sign that the kid came from a herd that paid attention to such details. One of the hard realities of being a herd master is that two-thirds of the herd has to go each and every year, or else the herd will expand to the point where they’ll overwhelm your resources. Still, just because some kid doesn't make the cut, it doesn't mean that they don't deserve they best chance we can offer them to find another home. Sending them off into the world with horn buds removed gives them an advantage over the other kids going through the sale since novice goat keepers are often too intimidated by the process to want to do it themselves.]

      When the kids are four or five days old, their horn buds start getting big enough to burn. Some kids will start to develop their horn buds a few days earlier, and some don't develop as fast and can be burned as late as two weeks of age. You don't want to wait too long, or the horn bud attaches to the skull and starts to develop into a horn.

      The best method we've used is to heat a 3/4" diameter iron tube to cherry red with an oxygen/acetylene torch and quickly score a circle around the bud. This takes only a few seconds but if it isn't done right, the horn can still grow. When it was time to burn the first set, we discovered the oxygen tank was empty, so we tried using propane to heat the iron. It took a long time to heat the tube, and we weren't sure we got it hot enough. Some worked and some didn't, and as a result, a few of the kids will have scars and some will have horns. After we got the oxygen tank filled and started using the acetylene torch, the process has been going much faster and much better.

     The process involves something more akin to branding than burning. The skin surrounding the bud is cauterized to the point where the blood supply to the bud is shut off, and if you only get a portion of the access to the blood closed, then the open part will grow to produce what's called a scur.

     On buck kids you cauterize a second set of circles just to the rear and to the inside of the horn buds. This kills the scent glands that create the famous smell that many people associate with a buck in heat. While cauterizing those glands won't render a buck in heat into something you'd want to hang out with, it really does help a lot.]

JOYCE: When two visitors visited recently, the topic of relative worth of men and women in conjunction with Windward came up. That may sound like an odd topic, but we encourage people who are interested in joining Windward to ask any- and every-thing, and it's a subject we do kick around periodically. We're concerned first and foremost with the personal merit of individuals, their sense of responsibility, and whether or not they're team players. We can teach people a lot of things, but there are some basic tenets that need to be there early on. Playing catch-up is a tough game, but not impossible, and if someone is willing, so are we. Of course, we'd prefer to like everyone who comes here, but we can usually find some common ground with most people. The key lies in finding a way to form an authentic relationship that works for them and us.

     The gender issue is usually of lesser importance. Obviously, we want both men and women at Windward, and sometimes we have a bit more of one than the other, but it isn't usually a problem. Gender does become an issue when someone uses sex to define who they are; then we have to take another look at that person. If it's a woman, she may have unresolved familial issues that affect her self-esteem, and if it's a man, he may assume he has the right to expect a sexual relationship. We don't acknowledge the concept that any person at Windward has "rights" over anyone else and we strongly believe in personal autonomy. Everyone here is responsible for developing any relationships they desire, but no one has the right to expect something just because they want it - whether it's a relationship or anything else.

     That's one reason we take a deep breath and explain things when someone refers to us as a commune. Windward isn't a place where everyone gets everything they "need" (whose definition of need should we use?) regardless of what they put into the community. However, it does seem to work out that once someone proves they're worthy of respect, it generally follows that they do get what they need. Windward's concept of community does mean watching out and caring about each other, and working together to try to achieve all our goals.

CINDY: Cappuccino is very popular these days, and just so you won't think life at Windward is completely outside the mainstream of modern life, I've come up with my own version - Cindy's Capricino. Visit the barn any morning about seven, and I'll give you a demonstration. Here's the recipe: fill a mug about half-full with strong, hot brewed coffee. Take the cup over to the milking stanchion, lean down and put the other hand around the doe's teat. Squeeze just right and squirt the milk directly from the teat into the coffee. The milk comes out warm and foams right up. It couldn't be any fresher or any better.

WALT: I've commented before on the beauty of this special part of the Northwest; today I was delighted to get a glimpse of something that was as beautiful as it was unexpected. Windward is located some twelve hundred feet above the Klickitat River, which flows through a canyon deep and narrow enough that we're often able to look down on little pieces of cloud that seem to be hiding down along the river.

     Today there's a frontal system going through that's giving us brief rain showers followed by bright sunshine. I needed some special cinderblocks to finish the stand for the outdoor masonry oven that we're building, and ran into The Dalles to pick them up. As I turned back into our gorge (as opposed to The Gorge), I was startled and delighted to see a rainbow hovering over the river. There wasn't any sense of an arch, but rather this rainbow was shaped like a technicolor dam reaching from one side of the canyon to the other.

      As I enjoyed the beauty of the sight, I remembered the old legend about there being a pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, knowing that Windward lay at the end of this particular rainbow, I didn't doubt it for a moment.

TAMARA: Spring is here again. The goats are having babies, the creek is running and it's April. On the 1st, we were going to slaughter a pig. But it seems we got fooled. The pig ran away just as we were about to shoot it, and it didn't come back in time for us to slaughter that day.

      I am helping Mom in the garden. We are making one of the corners a flower garden with a rock wall around it. All of the flowers are going to be layered down according to height. If you are looking for a flower for edging your garden, I suggest the scarlet runner bean. I am looking forward to seeing them bloom.

[Walt: I wouldn't be surprised if you're figuring that I edited Tamara's piece, but I promise that what you've just read is exactly how I received it. Her language skills are really coming along.]

CINDY: We're into our fourth wave of the season. Starry was the first this year to give birth, on February 2. Our first major group of does kidded over a two-week period from the 14th to the 23rd of February, bringing the total to 12 kids. The second major group of 12 kids was born on the 25th. Bob and Joel took care of that group while Walt and I were giving a talk on frozen dairy goat products at the Northwest Dairy Goat Conference in Clackamas, OR. Over the next two weeks, 14 more were born, and last week started the fourth wave with 15 more. As of the 4th of April, the kid count is up to 53. [Walt: the weather has a lot to do with this. Given the impact of the jet stream on our weather, we're continually swinging from above to below whatever the normal temperature is for a given season of the year. One thing we almost never have is stable weather. When it's hot, the does have no interest in breeding, but as soon as a cold snap comes along, they get into the mood very quickly, so the spurts of birthing in the spring actually reflect cold fronts that came through the previous fall.]

     The funny thing about this last set of kids is that it's becoming more and more difficult to tell them apart. There are seven beige/gold/white kids and two black/white ones that look almost alike. Almost all the kids are nursing on their mothers and growing really fast. We'll probably wait to sell most of them until late summer to give them a chance to browse the woods. By the time they're out foraging, they'll be weaned, so we'll have lots of milk and cheese.

WALT: The tasks of spring are underway. One of the first things that needs to be done for the garden involves repairing the fencing that protects the garden. Growing the makings of a summer salad in the midst of our four-legged friends reminds one of the saying about a snowflake's chance. One of the riotous events of our fall season is when we finally open up the gate and let them in to slake their appetites. It must be very hard on them to have to stand outside that fence all summer long to watch and smell as those tasty veggies grow.       For us, the garden is more of a research project than a production unit. Given the wealth of production and the wastage inherent in the modern distribution system, we have access to vastly more vegetables than we have the capacity to process and store, so most of our efforts in that direction are going into finding better ways to process and store food, rather than to produce it.

     Still, we're conscious of the need to look to the future, and to do things now that will bear fruit in the future. One of the cornerstones of sustainable agriculture and living involves the development of silvaculture (the intentional growing of trees) resources. Since this region produces mind-boggling amounts of fruit (the world's largest Anjou orchard is about 20 miles away, and last fall we were offered five acres of apples that the owner didn't have interest in picking), we're concentrating our fruit-tree interests on varieties that complement those that are locally grown. For example, last year we planted a sour cherry tree (a Montmorency cherry) that will give us good pie cherries, since we can already acquire all the sweet cherries we can use.

     The Montmorency cherry took root nicely, but we bought it as a ball root tree instead of the bare root trees that we've worked with before. Our soil is clayish and hasn't been worked in a long time, so it lacks good water retention capacity. Our dry season is long enough that it seems to have posed an insurmountable obstacle for the bare root trees. Our plan this year is to try more bare root trees, with this difference. We're going to try planting them in five-gallon containers in the garden and holding them there for a year to build their roots before transplanting them into final sites.

     One of the "great" projects that we have on our list involves fencing Windward's perimeter, which runs to almost two miles at this point. Only when we can control the grazing of the range cattle will we be able to start the process of revitalizing our land. It's one of the oddities of this sort of enterprise that intensive, controlled grazing will revitalize a piece of land while light, irregular grazing will almost totally degrade its productivity. We've got some 600 fenceposts on hand and plan to start the long and arduous task late this summer.

JOYCE: Windward's "season" has begun, and a myriad of things will be happening simultaneously as people hear or read about us and visit with an eye toward possibly joining. Meanwhile, our evolution as a Living History Center continues, with several Society for Creative Anachronism events already scheduled, plus one event for St. Hildegard (our school for period studies). This year we're trying something new, a four week focus period where people will come and stay at Windward for four weeks. Summer Session '95 will start with the 10-day Festival of St. Hildegard on June 16 and continue on for another three weeks. We're restricting this first year's Session to 5-10 people and "gently" advertising in a few suburban areas. The text for the Summer Session is printed in this issue of the Notes, and we'd be especially pleased if our subscribers or their friends attended. What a great way to get to know more about Windward!

     Last year, we built two strongholds out of railroad ties. While they make for dramatic fighting, they also serve as open-air classrooms. This year, we've started work on a 16X16 foot outdoor chessboard (using more railroad ties; Walt, Jeff and I brought home more than 1,500 of them last fall), and Joel will be carving the playing pieces out of tree trunks with his chainsaw. Slices of tree trunks will serve for playing checkers, but another option is to use people as playing pieces! Work has also started on an outdoor oven large enough to bake 32 loaves of bread at one time!

WALT: Joyce's comment about the outdoor oven needs a bit of elaboration. Rather than actually just getting underway, a significant amount of work was done on the oven a couple of years back but like a lot of the work we've done, it's the kind of work that doesn't show. A large masonry oven needs a substantial foundation and slab, and so there's 1.8 cubic yards of concrete underground and the only sign of it was the short lengths of rebar that protruded above ground.

     I had intended to have the oven built for last year's Festival, but first one thing and then another and it didn't happen. Well, this year we're determined to have at least two new attractions online by the middle of June: the chessboard and the oven. Joel is working steadily on the former while Mike and I are making progress on the latter.

     After the foundation and the base slab, the next step was to build the table. It's shaped like a three-sided box five feet on a side and four cinderblocks high, topped by a six-inch thick concrete table. The primary purpose of the cinderblocks is to act as permanent forms since once they're in place, they're filled with concrete and rebar. Once all that's done, it'll be left to cure for a week and then actual work on the oven will commence.

     The oven is the sort that was used throughout the Middle Ages, and, in many parts of the world, is still in use today. It's a strange affair and not intuitively obvious in how it functions, but I'll give it a short try. The trick is that you build a fire in the oven instead of below it as most people imagine you'd do. As the fire gets going, you keep shoving it toward the back of the oven until you have a steady fire burning at the very back of the oven.

     The actual oven capacity is shaped like a ceramic jug that's only accessible through the front opening. There's a gap in the table at the mouth of the oven that brings in fresh air and a flue above the gap that the smoke can escape from, so the setting up of the draft is a bit tricky, but once it's burning it actually works pretty well. As the exhaust gases pass along the roof of the oven from the fire in the back to the flue in the front, the heat is transferred from the smoke to the bricks. You're probably realizing that there's a good deal of smoke involved and that the oven gets rather sooty as it starts to heat up, but what's nifty is that this sort of oven is "self-cleaning". While it does get sooty early on, as the temperature climbs the oven reaches a point where the soot starts to burn away; that's one of the ways that you know that you're getting near to cooking temperature.

     One of the traditional ways that you judge the temperature of the oven is by tossing in a leaf and watching how, and how fast, it burns up. The hotter the oven, the faster the immolation. While we'll use that method, since it's both traditional and dramatic, I'm also planning to install a thermo-couple as insurance. It's going to take a while to complete (not much surprise there), but we should be able to do some baking at this year's Festival.

GLEN: "Pastorale Amongst the Goats" here at Windward is not the best course for me over the long term, despite the intellectual stimulation and tremendous emotional support I have enjoyed here. I should underline that my gay perspective has not been treated with mere tolerance; rather, it has been valued by everyone here as an opportunity to learn first hand about a range of human experience usually excluded from public discussion.

      Mid-April I will undergo a month of inpatient treatment for chemical dependency issues, followed by three months in an urban halfway house environment. I quit drinking several months ago, but recognize that alone, in an urban setting, faced with the really daunting task of legal clearing up and finding a way to earn a living. I would be sorely tempted to slide permanently into the bottle, etc... Moreover, chemical dependency programs in Washington have a good reputation for supporting their participants in rebuilding efforts.

     Windward has provided space and peace for me to recognize practical options and accept real limitations on a future career path. Regardless of high IQ and Ivy/Wharton/master's business degrees, a single white male over 40, gay and HIV+, must accept that he has poor chances for a place in the commercial economy. As such, my reconstruction plan calls for nursing school aimed at service to terminal AIDS patients. In addition to altruistic considerations, nursing is a steady, bureaucratically protected, middle-income occupation I can rely on for as long as I remain healthy. It also provides freedom for significant part-time efforts for the lesbigay community, focusing particularly on the gay press.

     I have been asked how I think other lesbian or gay people might fit into the Windward environment. I believe committed couples or parent and child arrangements would work best if planning for long-term residency. Electronic communications (and even snail mail) can of course go far in keeping us in touch. But I think urban concentration is a necessary part of gay life at this stage in our process of self awareness; for recognition and acceptance by the majority culture from which we were so long excluded.

WALT: People often confuse us with Ponderosa Village, another intentional community that's located about 20 miles to the east of us. Ponderosa is a 1,000 acre development conceived and created by Larry and Meg Letterman, with notable effort by Meg's brother Bill. It was their efforts that brought this area of the country to our attention in the first place, and at first we seriously considered locating Windward as part of Ponderosa.

     Their association is much looser than what we're trying to create since their land is divided up into five-acre parcels which are then sold to new arrivals. While they still work together to maintain the roads and deal with other community problems, for the most part each resident pursues their own dream independently from the larger picture. In a sense, Windward works like that too, in that each person here has a personal vision of what they want to create, but the difference lies in how we approach the process of community formation. Windward leans toward the commune end of the scale while Ponderosa leans toward the real estate development end. Which style is right for an individual depends on the individual, and when we've felt that the Ponderosa approach was better for someone, we've never hesitated to recommend that they check out Ponderosa. While we have a lot in common, we're different enough that a person who'd be right for one probably wouldn't prosper at the other.

     Over the last few years, one of Ponderosa's residents, Tobiah Israel, has been developing Ponderosa's educational dimension under the name of the Institute for Sustainability, and this year he's gotten together an impressive list of offerings. I believe that one of the ways that Klickitat County can grow is as an educational center for a range of sustainable technologies, and I'm pleased to see Tobiah doing such good work in that direction.

      Ponderosa Village was a real friend to Windward as it was going through the long and tedious process of moving up from Nevada and getting itself established on its own land. We'll always be grateful to Larry, Meg and Bill, and are very pleased that Ponderosa is accomplishing so much of its vision.

LETTERS: Now that we're on the Internet, we're starting to get questions from that venue. I haven't reached a personal conclusion as to how I feel about this route of communication since it seems to be inherently biased toward the superficial and transient, but maybe I'm just getting old.

     One of our new subscribers, Marc from La Jolla, CA, wrote: Just got my first newsletter and I must say the experience of reading it is just as maddening as this correspondence is rewarding. For someone like myself, joining episode 7 in progress, a summary of the plotline would be very helpful. Perhaps a special issue, sent to new subscribers, containing a statement of Windward's purpose and goals, and its accomplishments to date. Annual revisions should be frequent enough. It's more than mildly irritating to read people expressing deep satisfaction over progress toward an unspecified goal!

     On second thought, the format of the newsletter does tacitly convey something of your orientation. You've essentially set yourself up as a human engineer, more interested in human resources than in physical infrastructure. Humans summarize their personal, range-of-the-moment attainments, but there are no project leaders talking about progress toward more distant, shared goals.

     Marc raises an important point, and we're giving some thought toward preparing what's known in the world of computer bulletin boards as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). When someone joins a discussion forum, they have all sorts of entry level questions that, while important to them, only cover ground that everyone else has already been over many times. The FAQ is usually maintained in a library file and is recommended as a resource to enable new people to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

     It seems reasonable that some sort of FAQ for Windward would be a good idea. Even a two-page sheet that could be sent out to everyone making an inquiry would be worthwhile. The only downside I can see is that since Windward is so multi-faceted, it's easy to get the impression that one dimension of what we're doing expresses the whole program. Windward is going in a number of directions simultaneously and much of my work as "leader" involves trying to see that those different aspects don't get into conflict with each other.

     Another worry I have is that since the activities of this organization are determined by 1) the membership (everyone here is a volunteer and volunteers are notoriously stubborn at moving in directions they don't really want to go), and 2) the opportunities that are presenting themselves at some point in time; it's hard to say what we'll be doing a year from now. Many of the specifics of the tack we'll take will depend on which way the social winds are blowing. Right now, the wind of change out of Washington, DC is reaching gale proportions, and it's going to have a whole range of effects, some intended but most unintended.

     How will those changes affect us, affect you, Dear Reader, and what will be the best way for us to proceed? Only time will tell. Our name comes from the unique way that our organization can change direction as it sails against the prevailing winds; what we lack in power and resources, we try to make up for in flexibility and diversity.

     Laying out a Plan that says that such-and-such is the route we intend to take to reach our goal, sets in place a predisposition toward following that declared route even though a better one might show up. Someone once complained that it's impossible to win an argument with me because if someone offers a better plan, I immediately drop my plan and take theirs. I've never understood that criticism, because my goal is to get on with the task at hand, not to play some game of intellectual dominance. If there's a better way, then let's grab it and go, 'cause life's a timed event and the clock is running.

     The other problem is that our short term goals are prioritized and progress has to be weighed accordingly. The first priority involves our financial security; i.e., the mortgage, phone and power bills have to be paid and the kitchen has to be stocked with food, something which outsiders and new people almost universally take for granted.

     The second priority involves Windward's political security, i.e., the quality of our relationship with the society in which we're located. A group that turns inward and disregards the importance of being a good neighbor to the larger community will soon find all sorts of roadblocks thrown in the way of its growth. Many are the groups who've gone on about their business only to learn that the county in which they're located won't allow them to build the buildings they want and conduct the activities they'd like. Building an intentional community is a very hard thing to do; if your local community is against you, it becomes almost impossible.

     The tangible things that most people seem to be interested in come into play as level three priorities, and it's the progress that we're making on these amenities that most people want to judge us by, and when a first or second level priority task takes up the resources and time, then the other stuff has to wait.

     I can appreciate that it isn't intuitively obvious to someone new at Windward just why building an outdoor chessboard has a greater priority rating than building a laundry room, but it does. Windward has to provide service to the world at large if it's going to grow and prosper. Wile Windward isn't a business; it still has to be of service to the world at large in order to ... people interested in learning about the past. By working to keep the old skills alive, we're performing a positive good and bringing in some income to boot. A certain degree of understanding can come about from dispassionate study, but it will never compare with the authentic understanding that can only come from getting directly and intimately involved. That's what Windward does best.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 65