The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Weekend in Asheville

Oyster mushroom bagWe had an astounding three day weekend in Asheville, meeting great friends (hi, Everett and Missy!), exploring established forest gardens (thank you, Alice and Dudley!), and learning about mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms (and a few other things) at the Organic Grower's School.  I'll regale you with our gleanings over the next few days, once my brain makes sense of all of that new information.

As we drove home, we looked down over the hill...and saw our creek spreading out across the whole valley.  I've never been able to see our creek from that road before, so I knew we were in for a hard walk home.  We followed Mark's path across the fallen tree (me crawling to protect the electronics I wasn't willing to leave in the car), then walked up the floodplain as dusk fell.

Two thirds of the way home, we discovered the flaw in our plan --- the alligator swamp was flooded just like the creek, and we either had to climb up and around the slippery hillside or push our way through the cold water.  The former option is the slower, drier way, but we opted to strip from the waist down and just plug on through.  That water was cold on our bare legs, but soon we were home to a fire in the wood stove and a couple of lap cats.  Quite a difference between our farm and the big city, but I have to admit that I like it better here...even during frigid floods.

With our chicken waterer in the coop, we didn't have to worry about finding a farm-sitter while we were away.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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That's pretty hardcore guys. We were flooded too when we got home, but luckily the water was below the bridge so we didn't have to strip down and swamp it. I wonder how many of the people in your class this weekend have ever had to wade through above-the-knee water in 30 degree, rainy weather.

Bear Grylls called: He wants to send you his camera crew:

Comment by Everett Mon Mar 7 09:42:42 2011

I know --- we really fell down on the job by not providing photos of our adventure. I guess when the going gets really tough, we do finally forget the camera.

I'm glad your homecoming was less wet than ours! Missy shouldn't drop that kid in the flooded creek until after he's born. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Mar 7 11:46:36 2011

Why not keep an inflatable boat in the car, with a pump?

Alternatively, you should check out what is causing the insufficient drainage. It there is a blockage that can be removed without causing extreme erosion downstream...

Do you have access to state or county survey maps of your property? That might yield interesting information.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Mar 7 12:53:37 2011

We actually have kayaks that we could take across in a pinch. But when the creek is up high, it's raging, and a boat is a bad idea. It would be far too easy to get swept downstream.

The creek goes down into a sinkhole about half a mile past our property, and the entrance to the sinkhole is only so big. When the water's going faster down the creek than it can go into the sinkhole, it backs up into the valley. We don't own the sinkhole, but even if we did, I don't think I'd mess with it. Floods are a good dose of natural fertility to the floodplain.

The truth is, though, that I like our floods. :-) When Shannon was here, he installed the beginnings of a zipline, but we haven't finished it up yet, mostly because I just like letting the weather dictate sometimes.

Comment by anna Mon Mar 7 13:00:06 2011

Take a zip-line, fix it to a boat or raft, and you've got a cable ferry.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Mar 7 13:52:59 2011
We actually discussed a system just like that last time it flooded. Of course, you have to commit to setting it up before the flood... :-) And if we go work down there during non-flood times, I suspect we'll work on the zipline instead.
Comment by anna Mon Mar 7 16:30:44 2011

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