2018: Wildfire, Unassisted Homebirth, and the Most Beautiful Garden We’ve Ever Grown. Part 3: October Blessings, Homebirth and Harvest. By Karla Avila
October marks a most sacred time in the annual cycle of the seasons; in full season cannabis, the harvest represents a year-long collaboration with nature in which all of our collective energy poured forth throughout the year culminates in the beauty of each perfectly ripened flower, capturing and preserving the true essence of nature in her finest moment. We don’t take it lightly that we grow spiritual, life giving medicine. It makes a big difference.
The Unassisted Homebirth of Rose
The week that we evacuated, the flowers still had a little time left, but by the time I got back, they were much closer to ripening. (You’ll have to ask Jacob what that week must have been like for him.)
The smoke had mostly blown the opposite direction, by grace we were not in the path of the winds, which had allowed them to hold the line from getting any closer to us, and to contain the fire without it breeching the valley.
If there was a little more CO2 in the air that week I can say it definitely did not negatively affect the flowers. And Jacob was able to put his attention back onto the garden.
It was so hard for me to detach from the garden this year, especially at Harvest Time. But I knew it was important that I center myself around welcoming this new life into the world. The plants also knew. The ladies were so supportive, they were sparkling with joy. There were many beautiful seeds ripening together at that time, human, mammal, plant, medicine, all of it, simultaneously ripening, bringing new life. Jacob has always been such a rock, and he was this year many times a one-man show in the garden and on the homestead. I have to say, he is good with the ladies. And so, everybody thrived.
Rain was imminent, and the week the fire was contained he and a couple friends finished covering the last of the plants just as the first sprinkles of rain hit the ground. This was in the late afternoon. By a little after midnight, Rose would be born. But at this point, I had not even had a hint or sign of labor.
I should perhaps preface the next part by explaining that my first birth took over 50 hours from start to finish; I made it through with the steadfast support of Jacob and our first midwife, Jaime. Inyo was born at home after two long nights of hard work, in the third morning of labor, in the birth tub. Jacob was in the water with me. She floated up into our arms through the water and we caught her together.
And thus, when it came time for Rose to come out I was fully prepared for another multi-day marathon. I was convinced, however, that I could perhaps envision a relaxed, quick birth and it would really happen that way, so I focused on this, but I don’t think I really believed it could work. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.
So in the week leading up to the birth I spent a lot of time in calm and quiet around the house. I stretched, had massages, took frequent walks alone through the gardens and sat meditatively still for long periods of time, honing in on the Om, letting go, allowing myself to be relaxed and open. My appetite had begun to shift from cravings for huge meals with lots of protein to only wanting liquid foods like herbal teas, broths and smoothies, with some serious carbs, like huge bowls of pasta. This was my only clue that labor might be getting close.
That evening we said goodnight to Inyo and she went with my parents for the night, which had become the routine during the birth window. We sat down to a quiet dinner, just the two of us, enjoying the calm sans 5 year old, knowing that soon the house would be filled once more with the unpredictable sounds of a newborn baby.
I began feeling a tightness in my belly and thought, ah, a nice Braxton-Hicks (practice contractions that occur throughout pregnancy). Soon, however, the tightness started to become more of a pulsing, rhythmic wave, sweeping over my body with greater force each time, until 15 minutes later I could no longer comfortably sit and eat my dinner.
I knew I must be starting pre-labor. We called the midwife and decided we should try and get some rest, as we thought it likely we would have a long night, and perhaps another day or two, ahead of us.
Jacob went to the bedroom to take a nap. I lay down on the living room couch and mindfully relaxed, breathing calmly and meditating through each wave of contractions. For about 45 minutes I lay calmly breathing through my contractions until they were unbearable. I remember thinking, how the hell does anyone sleep through this?! (I thought I was still in pre-labor.)
Finally, unable to lay there calmly any longer, I called out for Jacob and ran into the shower. The hot water felt great against my back. Jacob immediately knew from our first birth that those deep, guttural moans and my deliriousness were indications that I was pretty far along. I on the other hand still couldn’t believe in my logical mind that it was happening this quickly. It had only been a little over an hour since the first signs of labor had begun. I remember telling Jacob he was going to have to call the helicopter to come take me to the hospital, as there was no possible way that I could make it through another 50 hours of this. He calmly reminded me that our midwife was on her way, and that everything was going perfectly. He encouragingly said he would do whatever I asked but that we should probably wait for Paula to arrive before heading to the hospital. He was really just trying to buy some time as he suspected that it wouldn’t be long before we would be birthing a baby.
There was one moment where I realized I had to trust in the wisdom of my body and let it guide me.
I felt a strong instinct to get out of the shower and go to the bedroom. With some difficulty Jacob helped me dry off in the midst of a crazy, super intense contraction during which I crawled on the bathroom floor on my hands and knees moaning in deep pain. Suddenly I had an undeniable urge to bear down. It had only been a couple of hours since labor had begun, and our midwife had not yet arrived. I asked Jacob to check my cervix. I felt the extreme excitement in his voice as he felt the baby’s head and proclaimed, “the baby’s RIGHT HERE, Karla!”
I had the sudden urge to bear down and hopped up onto the bed. My water finally broke and I felt a rush of wetness. It scared me, I didn’t know what it was and thought I was bleeding. I cried out, “WHAT is happening right now?!?” Jacob promptly reassured me that it was just my water breaking.
Ok, I thought. I know what to do. As the next wave of contractions pushed through me, I pushed with it, and the baby’s head began to crown. I calmly pushed out her head, and in the next contraction, her body slipped right out. Jacob caught her. He sucked the mucus from her nose and mouth. She cried out and we both looked at each other in complete amazement and relief. He handed her to me and I put her to my breast. She latched right away. We wrapped her in a blanket and held her and each other closely.
A few minutes later, with the umbilical chord still attached, I felt the instinct that it was time to birth the placenta. I’m not sure how I knew this, as there wasn’t an obvious contraction or sensation of any particular kind. My placenta came out easily. It was roughly the size of a large dinner plate, and very heavy, heavier than the baby! I remember thinking, "Wow!, so that’s what a Hyampom Homegrown Biodynamic Placenta looks like!" Jacob picked it up and put it in a bowl alongside me and the baby. We were still in shock and also completely mesmerized.
The oxytocin had kicked in strong and we felt super alert and super blissed out. But it still had not yet occurred to us to check if the baby was a boy or a girl. This funnily happened with our first birth, too. Just goes to show that gender is really such a detail in the grand event of birthing a life into the world. We didn’t find out she was a girl until a few minutes later, when our doula arrived and asked if it was a boy or a girl. Soon our midwife arrived and exclaimed, “Hurray!, you got to do it just the two of you, just like you wanted!”
“Weird,” I thought, “I don’t remember saying that’s what we wanted”…but in the end, it was probably the most incredible experience that we have had together as a couple.
And so that is how we welcomed Rose Mary into this world, in about 2 hours, at home, just the two of us.
We also wouldn’t know her name until the day after she was born. But once she came out we both had that name come to us, separately. Jacob was the first one to mention it to me. As soon as he said it out loud, we both knew that was definitely it, and so she was aptly and lovingly named after two of our grandmothers, and our two most favorite flowers.
Less than a week later, it was Harvest Time. For four years we had worked nonstop on regenerating the soil of this land, and 2018 culminated in the most beautiful garden we’ve ever grown.
The ecosystem in our garden and throughout our land is rich in biodiversity and vital in harmonious life energy. Brix levels are soaring. Everything is bursting with flavor and more delicious than ever. We have learned to see the gnomes and fairies.
Our companion crops of onions, garlic, potatoes, and winter squash yielded enough for our own food supply for the entire year, and a small surplus. And the cannabis seems to be both potent to the degree of psychedelic, and next level spiritually enlightening.
Looking back at this last year, the important things in life really came into perspective. The ongoing saga with our industry aside, we are truly blessed, and I am grateful for the way of life we lead.
As we prepare to hold steadfast the course and survive the hardship ahead, we are also renewed in our strength of conviction that, in our intentions, we hold true to some greater values, and that many very amazing people are beginning to come together over something much, much bigger than any of us.
We were called to the land, to relearn the skills that our grandparents knew but that weren’t a part of our formal educations, which prepares us for a very different reality than the one we are living. And perhaps it would be much to our grandparents’ dismay that we’ve chosen to go back to the life of a small farmer after everything they did and all the sacrifices they made to ensure we would have other options in life. But even they would surely be filled with joy to see how happy we are, and how much we love what we do. Having the opportunity to steward a piece of land, grow all of our food and medicine for ourselves and others, is an incredible life. Nature provides. We live a much higher quality of life and health than otherwise would be possible, regardless of education or economic status.
I’d like to think that all of our ancestors would be proud of what we’ve accomplished on this land in the last four years, and what we have achieved on the larger journey of our lives together over the last dozen years. We have completely transformed ourselves in that time, and by relearning how to live this way, we have learned how to heal and nourish ourselves and the land, to reintegrate ourselves as humans into a balanced, natural ecosystem of which we are a part, and truly begin to live sustainably. Better yet, Regeneratively. And so begins Year 5 at Flowerdaze Farm.
Karla Avila, Flowerdaze Farm
2018: Wildfire, Unassisted Homebirth, and the Most Beautiful Garden We’ve Ever Grown. Part 2: Wildfire. By Karla Avila
Part 2: Wildfire
While I knew that having a child due in the late summer meant planning a homebirth in the middle of fire season, I did not imagine the chances very likely that a wildfire would strike so close to home just as I hit my birth window.
It was the very day I entered into my due date birth window that the Kerlin Fire broke out just a couple miles up the watershed and only one ridge over from our home. Strong winds pushed it from just a few to nearly 1000 acres overnight. A mandatory evacuation forced me to leave, bringing the animals, our musical instruments, our genetics, and our 5 year old with me to the nearby ranch of a generous friend, who also happened to be my doula. Jacob stayed home to continue doing fire protection. The fire was a safe distance away and for the last couple days, it had been helicopter after helicopter drawing water from our neighbor’s pond. The locals had stayed up 24-7 holding and strengthening the line. It was every chainsaw, every man, and every machine for miles, by their own accord, compelled to the front lines. When you live this far out it’s pretty much the Wild West. We don’t wait for help to arrive.
We formulated a back-up plan, which involved Jacob stealthily hiking across the river if need be, to come birth the child with me and then be able to get back across the mandatory evacuation line. (Once you leave, you aren’t allowed back, which would leave nobody there to defend our home from wildfire.)
And so, for one week we all waited in suspense of what the winds would do, and whether the baby would come in the midst of it.
I am so grateful to our friends who helped us care for the animals and Inyo and gave us all a peaceful and lovely home that week. And though I was mostly feeling optimistic and healthy, it was definitely stressful to experience. I imagine that the baby somehow knew that it wasn’t quite time yet. My due date came and went, and I knew that I was still not having signs of early labor.
We were blessed. The fire was contained, the mandatory evacuation was lifted, and a week later, we were bringing everything and everyone back home.
The house was a huge mess. Literally everything we owned was spread out across the entire living room floor, but that allowed me the chance to nest and deep clean before putting everything away. It had to be done ASAP if I didn’t want to have to squat down and birth literally in the middle of all our stuff, so, giant belly and all, I immediately buckled down to cleaning. Jacob and our dear friend and doula extraordinaire helped us load and unload the instruments and heavier boxes. The animals all had been in a very nice and peaceful environment and so thankfully there was very little drama involved for them other than a short trailer ride, and they were settling back in without too much trouble.
And so life became normal again. We were so happy to be together, to have made it through unscathed.
2018: Wildfire, Unassisted Homebirth, and the Most Beautiful Garden We’ve Ever Grown. Part 1. A Look at the California Cannabis Industry through the Eyes of a Small Farmer. By Karla Avila
Many things came full circle in 2018. It has been a year of blood, sweat and tears, and alongside facing the difficult challenges of being a small farm, have been some of our greatest triumphs and most precious and beautiful life moments…
…In any day and age, but definitely being a small cannabis (and food) farm in California in the brave new world of legal rec weed…
I am so exhausted by the overly complex (to an idiotic degree) regulations that govern the production of cannabis in California.
As the saga of the rec market continues we have found ourselves trapped in a system designed for capitalist ventures, a commodity market of constant flux, crash and very little boom, reliant upon endless investment capital and volume of production, creating surplus and continuingly lowering prices to the farmer regardless of quality.
It is a quantity over quality scenario without much room for anything quality, particularly for those rare gems of us growing quality in nature. It is not intended for a small, fair trade, artisanal family business to easily succeed in this, (or any modern-day) scenario. The writers of the law (Prop 64 that voters must have thought was a simple happy end to prohibition) were obviously well aware, and they meant it, for they are corporate financiers after all. This isn’t their first rodeo.
But a capitalist venture is the same in any industry no matter the product. And we feel very strongly that cannabis should be treated as much more than a commodity. However, these are the same people who made food a commodity, who made water a commodity, who privatized all the land on earth and made every natural resource on the planet and necessary element of sustaining life a commodity to be bought and sold for profit, not for value, at the expense of the earth, and all peoples enslaved in the system’s undervalued labor force. How can we be surprised?
While the price to the consumer on the retail shelf is still as high as ever, (if it’s not illegal anymore, and farmers are making less than ever, how is it more expensive than it used to be to the consumer?), the outdoor farmer is having to fight tooth and nail to earn even the smallest fraction of that cost back to the farm. And then, up to 25-30% of what the farmer makes is going directly to, (you guessed it, there were always middle men), it’s the new middle man, the government, who inserted themselves multiple times while simultaneously inserting middle men as a requirement of the law between farmers and retailers and consumers.
And that is if a farm can even get on the shelves, especially as their own label. There are many brands vying for very limited shelf space across the state, and many of those brands also capitalize on the market surplus, overly saturated with boof, grown in mediocrity at best in large volume, branded in fancy packaging and green-washed with false marketing, causing small farmers to have to compete with wholesale prices so low that we risk the inability to offer ourselves a fair, livable wage, or, alternatively, sell at below labor value to a corporation which in turn must capitalize on that farmer in order to survive.
Jumping through a million regulatory hoops is hardly worth that.
So what the hell are we doing? Who knows. We don’t even know. We just know that we feel compelled to fight this David and Goliath battle. Perhaps we do it for the sake of the plant itself. Or perhaps because we feel the plight of small farmers everywhere worldwide and that makes us want to keep fighting, to demand a seat at the table regardless. Ultimately, our motivation and our intention are based on much more than economics or capitalism.
Why shouldn’t we have a connoisseur market that isn’t exclusively grown indoors? There are many people out there who love weed the way some people love wine. There is such a thing as Cannabis Terroir, but people will never get to experience it, or actual “top shelf” outdoor, which most people still believe doesn’t exist, if they aren’t given the option. It is what I would want as a consumer, and so in the bittersweet early days of the end of prohibition, we soldier on, holding true to our vision and prepared to endure for the long haul.
The time has come to explore a new dimension of experience in cannabis. What connoisseurs have come to expect from a top shelf indoor flower can now be found under the sun in native soil, grown in complete harmony with nature, reflecting the distinctive flavors, characteristics and true Terroir of the land and the region in which it is grown.
Located in one of the most special cannabis appellations and premier micro-regions for cannabis cultivation in the world, Flowerdaze Farm is dedicated to upholding a standard of quality, purity, and artistry that is first and foremost about making art, in humble collaboration with Nature, and pursuing what is so much more than a passion, it is our way of life;
The Way of The Flower—the ancient spiritual art form of nobly and mindfully preserving the very essence of Nature in its finest moment.
We hold true in our practice to the lessons that the plant teaches, and it shows. We use no commercial pesticides or fertilizers, and everything that goes into producing our flowers is made on the farm from the land, by our own hands, from start to finish.
Our small batch, specialty flowers are meticulously tended and holistically cultivated to full season under the sun in native living soil, harvested in single batches at the very moment the resin is most ripe, impeccably preserved, and cured to perfection.
The outcome is a true top shelf flower that has the beauty, complexity and elegance of premium quality, and the perfect combination of the most natural, pure, multidimensional and spiritually elevating medicinal experience you can buy. The real reason why we insist on doing it this way? Because we love it. Is it worth it? Absolutely. We would have it no other way. And the best part about it? We can share it with the world.
Flowerdaze Farm is the regenerative farm of a slightly reclusive, enigmatic family of renegade backwoods award-winning artisans. This Emerald Triangle family farm specializes in artisanal medicine, producing small batch, one-of-a-kind, connoisseur, full season cannabis flower, handcrafted from start to finish and reflecting the distinctive flavors, characteristics and true Terroir of the land in one of the most special cannabis appellations and premier micro-regions for cannabis cultivation in the world.