Dumplings and New Digs

Summary of new living/working situation:

We pulled into Ridgewood Ranch, and were greeted by two beautiful, strong and hippie women in their late twenties. They are our project managers for the next two and a half months. We walked up to them, and up to what we would soon find out to be our new house.

Greeted by an adorable puppy and big lovey dog. They stayed in our front yard all day, running up to us whenever we walked out the door.

The house is absolutely adorable. We have a big living room with three couches, a dining room table and kitchen. We have two bookcases full of organic farming and cooking books from all over the world (they host interns from around the world here for organic farming practices). There are seven of us on the bottom floor, and three on the top floor, which you have to go outside to access. They have a little chamber pot upstairs! We have two bathrooms on the main floor. Our team leader is in the duplex half right next door to us.

The house is hippie and old and beautiful and a wonderful lived in feeling. We have a neighbor next door, our only neighbor in sight, who is a 70 year old man with a eclectic garden next to our house with wood carvings and intricate decorations all over.

The doors to our house are open all day, because it’s 60 degrees out and sunny. And it’s good to air out a house. The dogs run up and down our front patio- and our back patio is a dream. We have couches out back, and a big luxury chair for drinking your morning coffee in and watching the sunrise.

We are in the middle of the mountains here- nothing else in sight. We are in the valley- and the mountains rise immediately above us on all sides.

We are a block away from the horse ranch for kids with disabilities, where we will be volunteering on weekends. They horses are right there for you to reach out and pet, and they live among the apple orchards which we will begin pruning next week.

There are cats roaming the organic garden across the street from us, and about a block down the opposite way of the horses there is a huge structure which contains fuel alcohol. Apparently the community has been really progressive in sustainability practices since it began in the 40s due to protests against the war. About 200 people left their homes and moved out here to be away from the mainland US. They have kept their pacifistic values and their passion for social justice.

We are going to learn more about it- but the Grange Farm School is a radical farmer’s movement from way back when- but it is still an active and progressive thing today! We have much to learn, and our project manager wants to take us to all of these farmers’ functions and get togethers so that we learn more about the farming community, and they get to share what they know with us. In February there is a farmers’ guild event, and we are attending. All the guilds in the area will be there. I didn’t know there was still such thing as guilds.

Jess and I are roommates. I am sleeping on the cot. I knew I would be sleeping on the cot. Sometimes I am just too damn nice. Talking to mom last night and saying how this experience this year will be good for me to learn patience, and not always getting my way. But then my mom reminded me that I really need to learn to speak up still- and so I’m looking at my learning plan for the year with new eyes now. I want to make myself a priority in a balanced way, instead of always putting others first.

Because who puts me first, you know? Everyone else is busy looking out for them, and I feel like a dick challenging them on that. But do I ever just look out for me? I need to either not feel like a dick challenging others when they are selfish, or else I need to be a little more selfish myself.

Not selfish, just getting what you need. I can’t think of a better word right now, I’m very tired and out of it.

So much so much so much.

I remembered how passionate I am about food politics, and am so excited to get to be around so many people who not only know about it- but live it.

We started talking about it all today- but I will write more about it when I have more time, and when I begin to get a better understanding at large of everything that’s going on. Because they have a lot of knowledge here, and they are just bursting to share it.

We had a beautiful community dinner with the intentional community that lives here, and everyone else who works on the property or is somehow involved in the projects here is welcome to come. The people we are working for are not part of the intentional community officially- but they have a deal with the community where they are allowed to host these farming schools here- and do all these wonderful education research and events, and in return they donate the food they grow to the committee. Who then cooks it up for dinner and serves it to whoever wants to join.

We will be helping to clean up after dinner, but really we never have to make dinner again during the week while we are here.

A dream.

Had vegetarian chicken and dumpling soup tonight. And baked squash. And salad and pear cobbler.

We ate at the community hall right by the old Seabiscuit ranch. It’s about a 10 minute walk in the pitch black dark. On the way we passed their swimming pool from way back when, which apparently Shirley Temple swam in. The owner of Seabiscuit had tons of celebrities visit this ranch, it was a huge resort hotspot for celebrities back in the day.

It was almost too much to take in today.

Everyone was so friendly. We are expected to integrate into the community, and get to know people.

The way that dinner works, each family has their own table in the dining hall, except on Thursdays. That’s when they pull all the tables together and we all eat communally. But today we sat at the big table for newcomers- as we meet people and become more involved in the community then we can go sit with other families.

I was really surprised to see so many young people today. So many hippies. And so much talk about weed already by our project managers. Some interesting statistics: 60% of the people that live in this county are involved in the weed industry. A lot of farmers grow weed to supplement their meager earnings, especially when they have to get organic certifications, etc.

And another thing: our project manager told us the main produce around here is weed and wine. And she didn’t go much into her views- but she does think it’s a waste of water for luxury goods. She believes we should be spending our money and water producing real food for people to eat, not recreational goods.

I’m going to bed.

On my cot.

Our front door doesn’t lock.

We don’t actually have any locks out here. Or window shades. I am sitting in the living room right in front of a window typing right now. In the spotlight. In the middle of the mountains.

We do get wildlife through there they said, but nothing to worry about. Whatever that means.

Good night.

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