Working ever after restorative and regenerative living here at EEC Forest Stewardship. Though the evolving challenges facing humanity continue to mount, there are slow, simple changes each and all can step towards to better living through social capital. Please take a moment to at least watch “Exploring the Issues” chapter I have marked above to get the gist of our most complex social dilemma. The reflections of Susan Krumdieck (especially 15:37) were particularly realistic regarding the slow but continued use of fossil fuels in combination with many other energy resources. Diversity continues to be the key, and food systems are at the top for must implement transition for the immediate survival of humankind. To be sure- New Zealand (the focus of this film), is a small island nation, but a case study for the world. This film was made before COVID-19, so add the pandemic into this timeline.
The landscape of EEC continues into Spring abundance from stinging nettle to red currant blossoms- both of which are edible and offer great nutrition and enough quantity to fill the belly. We’re ever expanding the range of these two crops, as they are early food sources in one of the most challenging times to source wild edible plants when you’d need them most. The fruit trees are just budding out, so no pruning this year for the older stands- just not getting to them on top of the other tasks of the land. A reality check for anyone wishing to implement food production systems- know your limitations. The remaining replanting plans for our orchard are on hold until I finish solidifying irrigation setup and save up enough cash to buy the plants and source from appropriate places like logging road edges. A lot of companion species are available on our existing landscape, but not enough to fully replant the whole orchard. To begin moving towards planting, I have an agenda to plant one tree ring this year as an experiment for irrigation design.
Our flock has reached maximum size, and we’ve got deposits on enough animals right now to reduce flock size by half before summer sets in. This is crucial, as alfalfa prices are through the roof already. Feed costs are the biggest limitations EEC faces with livestock systems. We’ve got productive pasture, but in winter, there must be additional hay set aside for the flock. EEC can produce hay, but not hay and pasture at the same time. We feed east side purchased alfalfa, which we buy 3 tons of each fall. Now, prices are so high, we cannot justify the cost of hay at the price we sell our sheep. It means shrinking our herd and planning to produce on a very small scale for just a few friends and family. Our land can sustain two or three sheep year round- and that’s the future outcome of inflation.
In late April 2022, we were given an opportunity to help a young farmer start his herd. Five good ewes went to start a new flock, and one of the gals has already birthed a new lamb. Benito was thrilled to welcome this new generation into his thriving flock. EEC is thrilled to see good stock animals going to support more small farmsteads.
Literally, in the same moment a new lamb from our Katahdins was gracing the world, I was celebrating my 40th birthday and eating lamb from Snoqualmie Valley at a local restaurant I’ve been hoping to grace the table of with my lamb for many years. Well, that night, after an incredible meal, I handed a letter to the chef, and invited the team for a farm tour. It’s a bucket list dream to raise food at a qualiy I believe to be worthy of such presentation, and this year’s lambs have been beautiful examples of quality grass fed sheep. It’s taken four years with this flock, and ten years of livestock husbandry, but the learning goes on in the quest for local food production.
Nature is a finite resource with the strongest constraints on EEC’s productivity, but outside influences like the economy also play a role in production capability. The third strongest influence is personal time and capability. It’s one of the most crucial inputs, and I’ve loved the lifestyle land offers. You have to put in the time- from cultivation to processing, prepping and designing- all these jobs are my full time obligation- and it’s a lifestyle. I love the intimate relationship to place, tending, learning, and cultivating food, medicine, material, and habitat. It also means working hard, and beyond any 9-5 timeline. You have to be your own boss, have little disposable income, and spend most of your time at home.
During the jump-starting of EEC Forest Stewardship almost ten years ago, lots of others gave time to building, designing, and implementing the basic systems that make up our operations today. There is potential to host more people on the land if needed, and the potential for more food production, mostly in the form of gardens. We’re maxed out on livestock systems now, and plan to keep shrinking numbers over time. At any moment, EEC could grow its scale for the needs of the community. Right now, the demand is low, so it’s just me running the systems. If more people were to want food, the land is ready to accommodate more inputs. But without that added help of hands, this lady is at her max and happy with what’s produced. Our Forest Stewardship program will replant many fields, returning them to forest, which in another twenty years, will be the main “product” at EEC. Not in timber resources, but ecologically stable land keeping water, soil, and air clean for a better quality of life for all. That should be a number one goal in all land, but money still talks loudest, so we’re selling ourselves to capitalism. We can’t eat, breath, or drink money. Still, our reliance on paper or digital currency denotes future complete system failures here on earth.
We’ll continue watching the trees grow, planting more, rotating animals around in rhythmic cycles with the seasons to feed the land, the animals, and ourselves. When food becomes a more valued and prioritized input in the community, we’ll be here ready to expand and enhance with that help. In the mean time, EEC keeps sheep, chickens, people, orchards, cats, dogs, wildlife, and forests thriving together in a regenerative design. Slowly, temperate rainforest canopy returns and the landscape heals. Gratitude for this living change, and the passion to support it. Thanks to all who help, have helped, and will help again to cultivate this goal.