An Upbeat Update from the Quail Springs Valley

Quail Springs The Land 10 Comments

By Brenton Kelly

As we move through the midsummer moons of 2015, evidence is everywhere that Quail Springs is flourishing by more than just a handful of evaluations. We continue to experience some significant additions to and retained earnings from all sectors within the Natural Capital base of Quail Springs. A brief report follows with what can only be the most significant transactions.

Last week’s unseasonable monsoonal rain dropped 1.25 inches in two events in two days, in our little 10 square mile watershed. That brings our seasonal total rainfall to over 10 inches. Bakersfield has seen half that much and Santa Barbara not much more.

The intense downpour produced a Full Bank Flow flood that deposited a judicious amount of sediment throughout the valley and on down to the thirsty Cuyama River. These mountains are on their incremental march to the ocean and a very healthy stride took place here this last weekend. Across the landscape, one sees the evidence of stability in the dynamic equation between erosion and deposition. Channel widening, bank storage, and gradient stabilization are just some of the emergent benefits of a midsummer high-water storm event. Such is the exciting content of our upcoming Regenerative Water Harvesting & Land Restoration Training (October 7 – 11).

As the watery wall of chocolatey, rocky, chunky milkshake flowed protestingly down slope, it rearranged and buried an enormous quantity of organic material from up slope. We can call that “broadacre hugelkultur”, adding water-holding fungal food under and inside the developing flood plain. Only high water can do that much free earth works.


The resilience of the farm’s water catchment plumbing facility was put to a frothy test during the flood. Fortunately, we were back online within a week with only a small box of new fittings and a bunch of burlap sand bags.


A week without collecting water was no sweat because our water tank storage was full with more than 10,000 gallons held in reserve for just such emergencies. Not to mention that this July has been such a cool and comfy 70 degrees (and obviously somewhat cloudy).


A mid-season garden evaluation is best measured not only by the abundant daily harvests, but by the volume of organic material available as inputs for the growth of fertile soils. Quail Springs Farm is approaching its yearly onsite production goal of 100 cubic meters of high-quality handmade compost.

The new cold storage facility is finally suitably cold enough for the abundant larder from the land. This year’s hearty garlic harvest will keep pungently fresh for the whole year. The freezers are stocked in our new roomy pantry with safe storage for all provisions. Surplus dairy, after all the milk, yogurt, buttermilk and soft cheese needs are met, is going into our new cheese cave as aged & cultured hard cheeses.

As the food forest plantings age past their first five years of growth, they are returning an abundance of goods and services. The Black Locust and Poplars are constantly being pruned and pollarded to be cycled through as goat feed, producing both high-volume milk and high-quality dry wood for year-round cooking fuel and this winter’s house heat.

This spring our bees performed a rare form of compounded return. We had the opportunity to catch and re-hive our one queen when she swarmed, and then we divided the old, now queenless colony into two top-bar hive boxes so they could produce two new healthy queens all by their magical little selves. Did you catch that bee math? From one healthy hive going into last winter we now have three healthy hives filling their homes with the golden foragings of this year’s moisture fueled blooms.


This weekend’s Farm Tour was wonderfully attended with over 50 folks of a broad range of ages and backgrounds. The wave of mounting perceptions around Permaculture was refreshingly clear with the questions and interests shared in the comfortable setting of our now shaded farm tour.  The evidence is represented in the diversity and relevancy of our course offerings for the remainder of this year, as seen in our crowded Program Calendar.

I only hope that this report on the positive transactions of various Quail Springs balance accounts brings you an elevated sense of wellbeing for the wondrousness of this world, if not just for our resilient little project in the desert.

Comments 10

  1. Another Way

    We know we’ve killed millions
    who worked in air poisoned
    by smoky machines
    that sucked life to give life.

    We agreed to pay the price,
    got used to it,
    so we could have more bloody spoils.
    We forgot there is another way.

    We have not yet had enough.
    Now we make more poison–
    deadly, silent, sneaky plastics
    that dazzle us while they
    stab us in the back.
    We have not yet remembered
    there is another way.

    We can find that way in certain places
    where we can still savor a deep breath.
    Certain beaches, mountains, forests, deserts—
    land slightly tainted but resilient,
    teaching us how to live.
    We have much to learn
    from places like Quail Springs.

  2. I am pleased to hear of the successes that you have shared with us about this years activities. It is inspiring and engaging to hear of your work since 2007 with my first introduction. Thank you for the work you have done and the teaching that led to the enrichment of so many people, young and older alike. I look forward to hearing more about it and to enroll into more useful classes.

  3. Thank you Brenton for that very visual description. I have wanted to get your perspective on this summers buffeting or buffet… And this sated my appetite wonderfully. I hope to see you all soon. I am still stuck deep in the muck of Texas.

  4. Well done indeed! love to hear about what is happening over there — and to see that flow of sand/silt/earth flowing down valley is a gem — have always wondered just what that wold look like! I remember walking and seeing the effects after the last big flood.
    Thanks much!

  5. What a beautiful article Brenton! I miss you all, and I send heaps of blessings and love your way from Hanoi, Vietnam, where I prepare to enter China and travel through Mongolia, Russia and eastern Europe to my destination in Germany 🙂

  6. Pingback: Quail Springs Permaculture | Food Forests Forever

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