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  • Ken Ilgunas

Headed West

After five months at Acorn Abbey, I’m once again headed west, this time to Denver, Colorado. I have a magazine assignment later this month in the Rockies, and my good friend Josh and his fiancee have welcomed me into their home, where I’ll stay through June and parts of July.

It’s unusual how unusual a place like Acorn Abbey is. It’s so quiet and peaceful and secluded that–after a while–it just begins to feel normal. It’s normal how you never see other people or cars. It’s normal how you eat food you’ve planted. It’s normal how you live without high blood pressure, sickness, smelly traffic, and the horrid cacophony of civilization. It’s normal that you’re happy. It becomes so normal that you feel that you’ll always have these things and feel these things wherever you go. But that, of course, is not always the case. The truth is, a place like this is truly abnormal. And it should be daily revered as such lest you’ll forget and leave it and do something stupid.

I’ve spent the last five months finishing up my book. (It’s in my editor’s hands right now. We’re expecting a May 2013 release date–I know, that sounds like a really long time.) And I’ve been gardening and developing the place, namely with an ambitious irrigation project that has been operational for the last month or so.

Here is the finished product:

To the left, under the kitty litter box, is an electrical pump. An extension cord connects it to the house. Water is pumped from this creek several hundred feet up into a water canister. To the right is the concrete dam, supported by boulders.
This holds 275 gallons of creek water. When we want to irrigate the garden, all we have to do is pull that purple lever. The water shoots down into the blue hose, which runs underground, and then into drip irrigation line in the garden.
This is just 1/3 of the garden. We've had lettuce almost every day for the past month. (The lettuce is bright green leafs in the middle. Off to the right are two varieties of beets, of which we harvested a good 20 lbs.)
View of the garden from the top of the chicken coop.

Here are some onions and broccoli ready to be eaten.
Adolescent peaches in the wild.
Adolescent apples.
The climbing roses are beginning to really climb the fence.
I've trained the chickens to climb atop of me.
Now I do work with them on top of me. I treat them as half-girlfriend, half-daughter, so my relationship with them is complicated, needless to say.
Sister Helen, with Sister Evangeline in the background.
Sister Josephine to the left, scratching an itch. Sister Fanny to the right. Both of them are having a shade break in the coop.

Day lilies blooming.
My new stone walkway with rose trellis.
Acorn Abbey

The van is cleaned out and ready for its first big-time road trip. It’ll be a 1,000 mile drive, starting with a stop at the Great Smoky Mountains, where I’ll hike the 71 mile section of the Appalachian Trail.

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