This hitch was a long but fun one. A lot of time spent on the road but boy, was it worth it!
Day 1 was spent touring the CSA Farm with the lovely Jawbone, Owens, and Golden Valley Crews. We learned little bits about how to farm sustainably and about how farms work, from planting to harvesting to packing. We got to try our hands at picking some pretty chamomile ﬂowers and thin some nectarine trees. Some of us got to show off our Spanish speaking skills and some of us took some cool pictures of the wildﬂowers we’ve been (im)patiently waiting for. This amazing day was ended with a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant, which was much appreciated. No dinner or dish chores! Woot!
This fun, fact ﬁlled day was only surpassed by the Audubon Nature Festival and a tour of Keith Axelson’s off the grid home. Not only were we able to do some restoration work on an entirely different landscape, we were able to dunk our feet in the cool waters of the Kern River Preserve. Refreshing! And much appreciated after 7 months in the desert. There were many bird walks throughout the festival, and we got to see some orphan baby barn owls be fed. After the festival, we drove on down to Keith’s place and saw, immediately after arrival, a mating ritual between two kestrels. Scandalous! Keith’s property was a beautiful riparian area, a sight for sore eyes, ﬁlled with singing birds, buzzing hummingbirds, curious bobcat tracks, and one very healthy Saki, his cat. A nice lazy day hike and a tour of Keith’s home, followed by an account of his experience in the war, we sadly had to drive back to Ridgecrest, in order to start another day of work.
The Environmental Education topic for the hitch was Zoo ethics (borrowed from Jawbone’s Em. P). We had an interesting discussion where we explored each of the arguments made by Pro-Zoo and Anti-Zoo sides. Do animals have a lower or higher quality of living in zoos? Is it a valid excuse to have endangered animals in zoos for the purpose of keeping their species alive, in hopes of re-introducing them into the wild? Are the conservation efforts and funds of big zoos helping the world? How so? Is each zoo different, and therefore should be considered separately, instead of being praised or condemned on a whole, based on general stereotypes that are given? This discussion was complimented by an afternoon trip to the Feline Conservation Center.
Hitch 13 wasn’t all fun and games. Our crew kicked butt and worked through the last polygon in the Rands. YAAAAYY!!!! In just 2 full and 4 partial days, we managed to restore 6 incursions, put up 2 hard barriers (sounds easier than it actually was… solid rock, I tell you), and monitored over 2 polygons of future incursions! All this hard work was rewarded by an ice cream surprise by our wonderful project leader Jon. Cheers to the Rands Crew 2011-2012! Going out with a bang!