Category Archives: visiting

surrounded by fields ‘o’ nuts

For the past two weeks, Gabriel and I have been surrounded by serious abundance. Hoards of tomatoes, armies of squash, herds of green beans, squadrons of pears, battalions of apples and, most especially, flocks of friends. It’s hard to believe the season is almost over. We’ve been over the stove pickling, processing and drying. We’ve been out in the fields harvesting and putting our beds to sleep with the sun dipping low earlier and earlier each night. This is what happens at this time of year but what makes this time particularly magical for us is all of our friends and family who have been getting dirty, sticky and silly with us. Deja, Josh, Zach, Mara, David, Joe, Christopher, Shiva and Joshua – you have been our abundance!

Here’s a reflection from Joshua – a friend of mine from elementary school who just left to head back to the Bay Area:

It’s my last day on the farm
Woke up with strange dreams
I lay awake with visions of the past year swirling in my head
I’m not home,
it’s better that way,
i’m on the farm for one last day
Hip-Hop-Hurray

There’re few people I’ve known for as many years as friend Serah Mead
She works the land of Oregon Country Farm with her Milwaukee Man,
known as Gabe or Friendly Ears

Good music was to be had the moment we came in a week ago
Magnificent P dropped me and Marz off and even though he was headed to
Barter Fair,
there was a little part of him that wanted to stay

It’s one thing to be plopped down on a 21 acre field o’ nuts, but it’s
a completely different story
when the people running the hoes are quality, choice individuals

Cousin Deja was in town from Chicago
“all my co-workers are jealous of me right now” she would say,
she was staying for 3 weeks

Its an interesting phenomenon, young folks wanting to go pick tomatoes
or crush apples for the cider press as good wholesome ways to work
outdoors and reconnect to where
our food comes from, instead of being locked up in the city, at least
for the whole year

The Farm is blessed in more ways than one, owned by Rod and Sara Feilder patrons
of Brownsville, Oregon

One of my favorite moments of the week was around the fire spinning ‘yarns’
with Rod and extended company of the band Magpie, three young gents
wielding stringed instruments that could be heard earlier in the year
when they played a show in the hazelnut orchard

Sacred stories under the stars,
this is what country living is about, evening times without a TV are
just some young folks,
one old man, surrounded by fields of fruits and nuts
glorious

before I left for Oregon I stopped by my old support group in San Francisco,
which I helped facilitate for 8 years in my rise becoming a
mental health educator and performing artist

I asked a young guy point blank who seemed to be looking for
direction: “if you could do anything with your life, and money
wasn’t an issue what would it be?”

He leaned back in his chair, “be outdoors, work with my hands and live
off the fat of the land”
“sounds like a ticket to go up north and try out some farming ” I said,
“yeah” he said, “what more do you need?”

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week II: bird word from J Gotti

Ed Fella is showing me new moods and styles and intriguing ways of communicating visually.

A thing within a thing within a thing just like Harry Nilsson would have had it.

inspirational hike up to an inspiration view packed with inspirational conversations whew! That was it!

Dear soon to be hand-made/ man-made deities, thank you for Cascade hikes and Ed fella and Geoff McFetridge and Voodou. Thank you for making rosemary so oddly intensive to illustrate and thank you thank you for acrylics and allowing me to use them like a cognizant young artist instead of a drooling, bumbling excuse for a Neanderthal…and grant me patience thou deities of my subconcious!

with sweet sweet niesen crack love,
THE WHITE HARE

p.s. there is a magpie record cover and a far out mantle piece portrait a’comin’ so stay tuned!

Everybody wants to be a (Brassica) Rapa

On Sunday evening, Andrew from nearby Open Oak Farm paid us a visit and brought an F-150 full of full grown Sutherland Kale, a unique flat-leaved green kale from Sutherland, in northern Scotland.  It is a true heirloom Scotch kale that is nearly extinct, sourced from a very Scottish sounding fellow named Angus Simmonds who researched kales at the University of Edinburgh in the 50’s.

Andrew and Gabriel talkin' 'bout kale.

Anyway, we have a partnership going by which we are fostering these biennial beauties on our land until they go to seed in June.  A worthy cause in the fight to save heirloom varieties and combat the ever-growing and powerful influence of GMOs in the valley.  It was a great activity for both Serah and Gabriel to work with Andrew (a wealth of knowledge, holy crap) and our new roommate Fumi after what was an exhausting weekend of work, with a great Poetry Slam in Eugene sandwiched in there.

Serah diggin' up some dirt. Our soil in front of the house is decidedly "clayy," pronounced: clay-ie. Clayy but real good. Later we plan on putting different varieties of quinoa in that plot.

Andrew and fumi diggin' and plantnin.'

We also busted out some beds against the south side of our house and sowed radish (confetti mix), beets (dark red, candy striped, golden, and albino), and spinach (viroflay GIANT).  It sure feels good to see things coming together outside of the greenhouse.

Our beautiful 100 year old pear tree in the early evening.

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katy brandenburg, reporting live from Oregon Country Farm

As the Oregon Country Farm’s first non-parental visitor, I wanted to offer others a peek (through outside eyes) at the green and soggy wonder that is this place. For a desert dweller visiting Oregon in April, it’s like turning back the clock a bit on spring; “almost here,” whereas Moab seems to be already on the verge of summer.

I knew Serah and Gabriel in their former life as young, social Moabites actively involved in a bustling community. I was curious to see how they would settle into a more spartan life as modern-day “homesteaders.”

Although only 40 minutes from Eugene, (a college town with a “hippy” reputation,) their farm first appeared to me as an island — a beautiful oasis anchored by a giant white house… in the middle of nowhere. Add to that persistent rain, elderly neighbors and a regular evening ritual of shelling walnuts, and you may wonder as I incredulously did, “Don’t you guys get BORED?”

The historic farm home resembles a Quaker meeting house

Serah’s reaction was equally surprised, as though boredom had never crossed her mind. It was already full of dreams, ideas… and a to-do list a mile long.

“We’re so busy,” she said. “There are so many things we want to start, it feels like we’re already behind.”

Tree planting, brush raking, logo designing and chicken acquiring are just a few items on that list. Oh yeah, and starting the ArtFarm.

A sculpture made by Rod, the owner. I see a futuristic sea lion.

In short, the two fearless campesinos want to open their home to artists of all kinds: visual, performance, musical, culinary, etc. Creative people who would do residencies at the farm and make projects that benefit both themselves as artists and the farm as a whole. (I personally hope to alight here next winter and mosaic everything in sight!)

And when these artists pause from their creative endeavors, they will don muck boots and help dig holes. Which is where I found myself Thursday morning, in a pair of fabulous padded overalls, sloshing through the flooded hazelnut orchard to help Gabriel plant trees.

The moss here alone is worth a thousand words.

We went to lunch at the Historic Brownsville Saloon (complete with ghosts), where they have Rogue chocolate stout on draught and a sandwich called “the heart attack” – the Hog Heaven burger, plus a fried egg. Don’t ask.

I wish I could say more about Living Rock Studios, a quirky local attraction constructed entirely of one man’s lifelong rock collection. But that would consume many more words, and requires photos to do it justice. An oddball side stop not to be missed.

succulents in the greenhouse

While two days is not nearly long enough to be swept into the rhythm of farm life, I found myself being lulled by its charms – and excusing its shortcomings. (The constant damp chill and mud everywhere.) This too shall pass, they promise.

Like the tightly furled buds on the apple and pear trees, and the tiny veggie starts in the greenhouse, ideas for the ArtFarm will blossom as the enthusiasm spreads. I find myself leaving more optimistic than I came, with visions of succulents and mosaic gardens dancing in my head. Thank you, farmers Gabe and Serah, for bringing that community spark with you along the Oregon Trail. Happy homesteading.

cherry tree

back of house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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