Hello, All! We’re ashamed to admit it’s been a whole year since our last post… Here we are in 2020, and wow! Just, WOW!! April 2019 seems like a lifetime ago with all that has taken place for us personally and in the big wide world we all share. At this time, we are sending our sincerest heartfelt wishes to everyone for good health and happiness while the planet and all of humanity endures the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure there is plenty more to say here on the topic of global health crisis and the virtues of off-grid living, but we’d like to instead focus on a personal recap as a reflection and, we hope, as a much-needed distraction… So, here goes our year-in-review!
After we returned from our adventures in Ireland, life changed pretty dramatically for us at Sahalee. Namely, we started playing with fire. (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Thinking about the fire risk in our local forests and more closely on our fifteen acres around the yurt deck was terrifying as we headed into the Spring season. We knew we had to make wood clearing an active priority on our property to reduce flammable materials, and we wanted to become better educated about how we as landowners could work more closely with local fire agencies in the event we did have a wildfire start nearby. As it so happened, the opportunity came up for us to take part in a 2-day Prescribed Burn Workshop for Landowners hosted by the Forest Stewards Guild at the enchanting Fort Union Ranch in May. That was the tipping point to a series of unexpected and significant events that will be shared over the course of this post…
Knowing that we want to build a more permanent structure, we were interested to learn more about traditional adobe construction using the materials that we have on-hand. Ben lead the charge after we watched a variety of how-to videos on YouTube.
The first step was to figure out if the native soil had the correct sand/clay composition. All of our samples from the immediate area turned out to be a reasonable mix. Next, Ben built a traditional 14″x20″ form for two bricks. (Full-scale production would require many more forms with 6-8 bricks in each.) Instead of the traditional straw addition to the wet mix, Ben opted to use the plentiful local pine needles and under-tree ‘duff’. Finally dried in the sun for several days, Ben had one very good brick and one that didn’t hold up so well.
The topography of our property is ideal for a sledding park since its all downhill. Over the past four winters, we’ve carved out several chutes between the trees and trialed a variety of sleds and saucers. This past season was the best yet since we had a decent amount of snowfall and found the perfect slippery discs to ride.
Well, we made it back from our overseas adventures in Ireland and have plenty of stories to tell… First and foremost, we are pleased to say that Sahalee was as we left it (minus the snow), which relieved the tremendous amount of anxiety that develops whenever we venture away from the homestead. As for the trip, well, it was. And, we’ll do it again.
days are at their shortest now. Sliding into the Winter Solstice, we
definitely notice how limited our time is under the sunlight.
The dawn stirs us from under the cocoon of covers in the morning with a soft bluish glow through the wedges of the toono, and encourages the start to the day. Seemingly just a short time later, the multicolored late afternoon skies and falling shadows indicate the pending darkness and a brief anxiousness to steel ourselves against the drop in temperature.
led me to reflect on how we’ve adjusted off-the-grid and the rewards
for the sacrifices we’ve made over the past two and a half years to live
where we love.
During our 30-day self-imposed sequestration, we were daydreaming about how we’d cut loose at the end of the month. As it happened during one of our mindless web scrolling sessions, we lucked into finding tickets to see yet another exuberant performance of the incomparable Miss Margo Price on September 7th in Austin. Not just Austin, but Austin City Limits (or ACL Live)!!
Our 17th wedding anniversary was September 5th, and this heel-kickin’ country concert to benefit the Texas Hill Country Conservancy made our celebration plans a no-brainer. When else can we break out the Lucchese‘s? Carey had watched the American all-star lineup cross the ACL stage on PBS for decades as a little girl, and Ben was chomping at the bit for another exceptional live event with one of his favorites bands, not to mention the songwriting joy of Hayes Carll as the opener. Game on!
So, what’s the best way to get to Austin and back? Well, you make a big loop through Texas to include a quick a stop in Mexico.
Most people couldn’t imagine doing dishes in the snow or cooking in the rain. Since we started with bare ground here, we’ve done both. Often. We’re thrilled to say that is no longer the case (for the most part). Two years in the making, we are now settled in to our more permanent arrangement with an efficient compact kitchen inside the yurt, and a full-featured utility sink and storage area within steps on the deck. Read on to see a review of our progress in photos!
Every now and then we run a web search of ‘Sahalee’ to see what pops up. Since starting our blog a couple of years ago and promoting it more over the past year or so, we’ve noticed a much higher frequency of the posh Sahalee Golf Club in Washington. (We’re still not sure if they were feeling squeezed since we came on the web, or coincidentally hired a better marketing firm. haha) While our high desert Sahalee is worlds away from the lush greens of the Evergreen State country club, we admit the inspiration came from their neighborhood.