We’ve had at least six inches of rain here in the last year, and now the desert is by far the greenest and life-full we’ve seen it in our seven-plus years living here. Exciting, energizing!

Says Stephanie: “We’ve had so many first-time-ever wildflowers at the farm this year. Pictured above is a Desert Evening Primrose (Oenothera primaveris), so soft and wilted after blooming like a champion throughout last night.”

Some random updates from all over:

* Stephanie saw a cloud of Monarch butterflies at the Sunever Farms garden Monday morning. She thinks it could be because of the butterfly attractors — globe mallow, winterfat — that she’s planted, as well as the native milkweed that is popping up.

* An Audobon Society couple were our guests recently at our Sunever Prefab Homesteader Cabin. Birds they spotted:

Black Throated Sparrow
Le Conte’s Thrasher
Cactus Wren
House Finch
House Sparrow
Ladder Backed Woodpecker
Eurasian Collared Dove
Ana’s Hummingbird

And they saw an adult desert tortoise, our first encounter of the season.

* We’ve started planting seeds for our spring/summer vegetable garden. This week we planted the following, sourced, from Native Seeds Search:

– Grey Zucchini Squash
– Texas Early Grano Onion
– Tarahumara Squash
– Chimayo Melon

* There’s been good news on the anti-stupid development front. From last week’s local newspaper Hi-Desert Star:

The NextEra corporation is stopping, at least for now, construction of the solar farm planned in the old Roy Williams airport, a company official confirmed this week.

“We are not proceeding with immediate construction of the project,” Steven Stengel, a representative of NextEra, said.

Joshua Basin Water District General Manager Curt Sauer first announced the company’s turnaround at a board meeting on Wednesday.

Sauer said the project manager mentioned the hold on the project about three weeks ago.

“They decided that they will not pursue this project anymore at this time,” Sauer said in a phone interview. “They may decide to pursue it later, though,” he added.

The project, a utility-scale solar farm 2.3 miles from Joshua Tree National Park, has been under fire from some Joshua Tree residents for more than a year.

After the San Bernardino County Planning Commission approved a permit application from NextEra, a group of residents appealed the decision to the county board of supervisors.

The supervisors upheld the permit on Aug. 16, 2016.

Afterward, a group of locals and environmental groups sued the county and the corporation, saying standards for environmental protections had not been followed. David Fick, a Joshua Tree resident involved in the lawsuit, said litigation is ongoing with NextEra and its subsidiary, Joshua Tree Solar Farm LLC.

A lawsuit was also filed against the county by the SoCal Environmental Justice Alliance over the project, Fick said in August. …

* We were featured in Sunset Magazine (PDF).

* Stephanie was featured in the Sunday New York Times (link).

* And Jay is very psyched indeed to be author Erik Davis’s guest on his long-running livestreamed internet radio show, “Expanding Mind,” tomorrow (Thursday, March 23, 2017) 11am PDT. The show will be archived after it airs so you can listen at your convenience. Stream/download the show from the Progressive Radio Network archive here:

More to come…

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First snake of the season. Very small, maybe 15 inches…? The animal was in creosote shade, just outside a burrow, near a water pipe here in “our” yard. Very still, barely moved when I tossed a leaf near her. I have since checked with the region’s snake experts and they have concluded that this is a JUVENILE GOPHER SNAKE. We’ve seen an adult gopher snake here many times — perhaps this is offspring.

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Instagram by Rohini Walker.

Local legend Roger Smith leading last Sunday’s desert homestead garden/farm workshop for our Stewards of the Coyote Valley group.

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First bloom on this Joshua tree since we moved into this house in January, 2012…

Big bud on second Joshua tree at our house, neither of which has bloomed in at least five years…

Two-year-old “Eve’s Pride” peach tree is blossoming already…

Two-year-old peach tree is blossoming already. #desertlife #joshuatree @jthomesteader @suneverfarms

A post shared by Jay Babcock (@jaywbabcock) on

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Red winter wheat garden, grown in composted soil under some leftover Agribon floating row cover, no watering. Grew in very thick and strong, photo doesn’t quite do it justice. The cover kept birds from eating the wheat seed, mice and rabbits from eating the growing stalks, protected the plants and soil from high winds, and kept the soil moist. Perfect for desert farming, just like Roger Smith said. This Sunday, Roger will be leading a workshop for Coyote Valley Stewards at his home on running a kitchen garden in the desert. If you’re interested in attending, let Jay know.

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Shoot. 60-mile wind blew down my yurt greenhouse. Yeah it was meant to be temporary but still, bad timing as we’re below zero most nights. Got all my little babies inside the house til Feb. I say: 2016 be gone! #happynewyear

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Here is Stephanie’s plan for the in-progress ‘food oasis’ at our ‘Sunever Farms’ property.


Read more at:

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“Become a Preservation Partner by donating $100 or more. As a special thanks, we will send you a Steidl reproduction copy of NOAH PURIFOY: HIGH DESERT, a three-volume catalog Noah Purifoy himself fabricated with photographs and writings in a 3-ring notebook in 1997. At that time, he wrote this introduction…

This book is divided into three separate parts: The photographs, the photographic chronology and the text. The advantages of this format is to give the viewer at least three options. You can proceed chronologically from the beginning of the book to the end, thereby grasping the artist’s full intent to inform, entertain and intrigue. Or you may casually thumb through the book spotting only those details that give meaning to each piece. Or you may flip the pages rapidly just to get a bird’s eye view of the content. Or perhaps, you may discover some aspects of the book that we overlooked altogether. Nevertheless no matter what option a viewer chooses to take, it is our desire that each of you get so close to the piece that you see the smoke from its breath as it comes alive.

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To protect the desert we love, we gave to the Mojave Desert Land Trust’s #Protect62 Campaign today.

Matching funds will double your donation — today only. Help keep the native Joshua Tree forests intact along Hwy 62!

Join us by donating here:

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What’s happening here is foolish and heartbreaking


What the San Bernardino County government is doing to Joshua Tree is a disgrace — foolishly marring what should be the County’s crown jewel.

The National Park’s attendance has soared in the last two years, and our area’s profile continues to rise (fwiw) with a steady stream of national media profiles — New York Times, National Geographic, GQ, countless fashion shoots, etc. — with more to come.

Yet the County is working to diminish Joshua Tree, piece by piece.

First, they approved a Dollar General store. Then, they approved two large fenced industrial solar fields in sight of the Park. Now, they’ve approved a developer’s plan (“Alta Mira”) to bulldoze wilderness to put in gated, high-density housing.

Since Joshua Tree is unincorporated, our village has zero power over these decisions. So, we file lawsuits, which we fund out of our small community’s pockets. What’s happening here is heartbreaking.

Please help out, if you can…

STOP ALTA MIRA — gofundme

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