November 2014

Harvest time at Cloud Acre in Norwood

By Art Goodtimes

MACINTOSH … When Betzi Hitz and I first moved into Cloud Acre, we couldn’t help ourselves in planting trees. Not all of them died, although our success rate wasn’t particularly encouraging. Still, the three dwarf Macintosh apple trees we chose have grown far taller than the term dwarf would imply. One of them has been the brute of the trio – biggest, the largest producer, ripening first. This year the other two, which have always been stunted, finally had bushels of apples on display, though it took several weeks more for them to ripen (after some light frosts) … Macs are tart (the way I like apples), crunchy and great keepers.

HARVESTING SPUDS … Had a pretty good market crop of Survival Reds this year. Hope to be selling them at the Farmer’s Market next spring. They seem well adapted to most Wright’s Mesa summer conditions, which can vary widely -- drought, downpour, heat & hail … I’ve dropped a lot of marginal varieties that I’d been growing for 25 years or so. They never thrived in the short season, variable conditions. Now I’m down to about half of the 59 kinds of potatoes I had going at Cloud Acre for a while there. Currently I try to grow a minimum of four mounds for each of the experimentals. This year the McHugh Blues did quite well. Gorio’s White, Dawn, Apple Red and Purple Peruvian were respectable.

INDIAN CORN … My previous experience with corn was disappointing. What few actually made it to big-cob-&-ripe-kernel stage got eaten by raccoons (who also massacred my chickens one year) … But a friend encouraged me to try a new variety of Indian corn that had been selected for our mountain conditions called “Painted Lady”. He helped plant a whole field in this new corn variety, and almost all of it came up gang-busters. Beautiful rust reds, butter yellows, grays and blacks – the ears are a thanksgiving dinner display must. And convenient seed saver capsules for next year … I love them. And like potatoes and apples, Indian corn is an excellent survival food – as the seeds can be ground into flour. It’s the new native member of my alternative crop trio.


Poet at 70

felt that
up and coming

sure now
down and going

— Doc Dachtler
Nevada City, Calif.

WEEKLY QUOTA… “It was cooperation, then, whether in the form of monogamous pairs, nuclear families or tribes, that enabled humans to succeed when all our fossil ancestors and cousins went extinct. In fact, cooperation may be the greatest skill we have acquired during the past two million years – one that enabled our young genus to survive through periods of environmental change and stress and one that may well determine our geologically young species’ future.” -Blake Edgar, “Powers of Two” in the Scientific American (Sept. 2014 Special Evolution Issue)

BAD COLUMBUS … As a Bontempi at birth, I’ve long taken offense that the mercenary Genoan fortune-hunter who sailed for the Spanish crown to find a shortcut trade route to Japan -- and stumbled onto the New World instead, where he slaughtered whole islands of native peoples -- would become an Italian-American hero. That’s how it was in my family, where my dad Vincenzo was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. Growing up, I learned there was even an American holiday named for Christopher, which started in Colorado in 1905 as a state holiday and was adopted in 1934 as a federal one … But reading the actual history & cruelties of the Columbus legacy in the Americas and performing in a San Francisco play about Columbus written by my poet/ publisher friend John Curl, I was successful as a Green commissioner in convincing San Miguel County to change the holiday’s name to Indigenous Peoples Day back in the ‘90s … Minneapolis and Berkeley have also made that change. And now, just recently, Seattle has joined suit … Like sports teams using pejorative “mascot” names or the tax-exempt NFL tolerating abusive behavior in its players, it’s time we exposed these pockets of hidden sexism and racism.

CHURCH ROCK … The August issue of the Four Corners Free Press of Cortez featured an article by John C. Hopkins about the catastrophic Homestake Mine tailings-pond disaster that sent 1,000 tons of toxic waste and 93 million gallons of radioactive water into the Rio Puerco watershed and contaminated large swathes of the Navajo Nation. It’s the 35th anniversary about this disaster that was not widely reported on back in 1979 … I wrote my first story about it for Scott Brown’s Telluride Times and a rewrite to the competing San Juan Examiner run by Carol Ward. It’s how I began my journalism career. The first stories were freebies. Soon I was freelancing, and before long I had a cub reporter job with the Times … And the rest is history, as they say … Actually, I got to reprise my role as town historical columnist -- after my 1986 to 2000 run in local papers of “Mining the Gold” – with an Art in the Archives talk for the Telluride Historical Museum this past week. I found the oldest paper I’d ever seen from Telluride – Vol. 1, #45 of the Curry/Painter San Miguel Journal and got to riff and ruminate on all the tidbits of history in this rare gem.

F.E. CURRY … This unpleasant fellow was one of the items that came up in my history talk. His big brother John hauled the first press into Silverton over Snowy Pass. What became the Silverton Standard & Miner – Colorado’s oldest, continuously operating newspaper … John went on to found several more papers in Rico, Dolores and Cortez … Eddie found sinecure in Charles Painter’s anti-union shop, working as hack editor, towing the Pro-Mineowners’ line during the Telluride Labor Troubles of the early 1900s … So it’s no surprise the spurious “legend” of Coonskin got romanticized into local lore under F.E.’s lax editorial eye, as recently reported in a Telluride paper. The same eye that ignored the Peabody fabrications “leaked” to the press to discredit Vincent St. John and the local Western Federation of Miners … Fiction is always easier to sell than uncomfortable facts.

VOTING RIGHTS … Quarterly I get the Colorado Justice Report, a newsletter for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition – a network of organizations, faith communities, and individuals working to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado ( This year they led the opposition to HH14-1114, a bill that would have radically altered earned time and increased the length of stay for people in prison. It also teamed up with the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute to lobby for a new section in successful HB14-1355, a law to increase funding to reduce recidivism. It requires the Dept. of Corrections to develop a grant program to fund communitybased programs that can help people released from prison. Colorado has been spending over $1 billion for its correction programs, and not one dime has gone to supporting the network of community-based non-profits that provide support services for former inmates, such as housing, employment, mentoring, etc. We should thank them for that … But here’s what I found most intriguing in their latest Report. Every state has different regs regarding the ability of those with a criminal record to vote. In Colorado, you can vote 1) if you have a criminal conviction and have served your time, including probation; 2) if you are a pre-trial detainee in jail; 3) if you are on probation for a misdemeanor or felony; or 4) if you’re currently serving a sentence in jail for a misdemeanor … You can’t vote, 1) if you are incarcerated for a felony in a prison or a jail; 2) if you are on parole or federal probation following release from incarceration; 3) if you are a transition client in a community corrections facility or inmate status; or 4) if you are a residential diversion client sentenced for a felony to a community corrections facility … For any other situation, they recommend you call your county clerk.

Art Goodtimes is a fifth-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.