The only constant is change.
Here at the abbey, two have left us, two more came quickly to replace them.
The Tuesday and Thursday night ritual of having all the children on the farm and everyone eating outdoors, picnic style (so the children can remain at play until dusk) has abruptly ended as the mid-summer heat descended harshly upon the valley.
It gets to be 107 degrees Fahrenheit most afternoons. How the body acclimates. I remember back to 2008 and my first summer here and how I refused to go out of doors during July or August, ever. Walking the asphalt from the parked car into the Walmart made me nearly faint. Now, I keep a white long-sleeved blouse in my office and a wide-brimmed sun-hat and I lean into that heat some afternoons, taking a quick bike-ride through the canals and pausing only at the shade of the almond groves when the sprinklers are on, blasting a cool mini-breeze in my direction.
The canals are the secret blessing of the central valley farmlands. They snake through the backs of properties and make me feel like I am connecting with walkers and bikers from long-ago eras. The new sisters are far more sporty than the earlier batch. These Sisters are into biking and boating the canals, and swimming in the lakes in the foothills above our valley. Earlier this month, a new intern arrived, shy and quiet, humming softly to herself when she is deep in thought. She was delivered here from Humboldt by her mother, our very own Sister Star. I got a kick out of how her eleven-year old brother hugged her before he left. Long and hard and like a little brother who was truly going to miss the company of his sister.
Sister Quinn has taken charge of the interns for me as I have my hands full with my assistant out dedicating herself to a summer school class she needs before she can apply for med school. I light a candle for her daily. And I confess, I sometimes pray for myself since it’s been a long time since I’ve had to navigate our bill-paying process. I’ve already paid double in two directions and it irritates me to throw money around like there is no end to it. I would fire myself but then there would be no one tending the front office.
A few days after the first intern arrived, the second arrived. She had been in quarantine for two weeks, delaying her arrival to ensure she didn’t have Covid. She is keen to take up the guitar and the piano. I have mixed feelings about sharing my piano, really. I feel that musical instruments are personal and shouldn’t be passed around. But I would be super happy if half the sisters could sit down and play, that would thrill me. You can’t truly have one without the other, so I share. Yesterday the interns went out and bought an electric guitar to add to the collection.
Sister Quinn and I were on a fast-track toward making the best needle-point stitchery projects of our lives, and then, the tea arrived. We now spend two to four hours every evening hand-shredding tea. Because of Covid, there was a run on central valley CBD plant and the only way we could assure having the same blend for a period of time was to order a year’s supply. Now we are obligated to get it shred and packaged and refrigerated so it stays fresh.
Hurricanes in 2018 and 2019 caused the slow delivery of coconut oil, so much so that we considered investing in our own coconut groves. Then in 2020 Covid made slow post a normal thing and we had to change our ways, begin stockpiling bottles, jars, and ingredients.
Two times a year we put away our night-time lap crafts in order to work the plants from dinner time until past dark. It used to be two times a year, that is: when we harvest the indoor grow in the spring and when we harvest the long season outdoor grow in the fall. With the addition of the Hemp Cowboy’s local hemp farming activities, we now have a reliable source of high CBD, low THC flower that requires hand-shredding and that very much feels like a third crop coming in. Now our free moments are given to what feels like a third crop – hand-shredding the tea. This plant we are now using for our salves and our tea is amazing in so many ways. It is amazing to smell; it is amazing to hand-shred* and there is no waste.
*We ship internationally and even shipping whole flower out of state is a risky business because when postal folks and law enforcement see flower, they assume it is psychoactive; they don’t assume it is hemp. We hand-shred to give it a better chance of meeting its destination safely.
We also dilute with lesser quality hemp to meet compliance standards.
What we used to do with the sticks: We threw them away.
It always bugged me to ‘throw away’ any part of the cannabis plant because I know there is medicine in each and every piece and that we as humans just don’t understand what that medicine is precisely.
I began saving and bundling the larger sticks from our crops and using them in sage bundles and found they make great incense. But those are for the bigger sticks, the solid ones, not the little pieces and parts that come from breaking down the bud.
Stick tincture, I wondered.
Anyone working the tea would notice that an awful lot of medicine collects around the crevices of the sticks and coats the tiny small sticks that once were the spines of leaves or once were the stems that held small buds together.
As the interns assembled for evening news, I explained to them excitedly the concept of our new stick tincture and the no-waste plant processing that we invented. “This is the best plant ever because when we are done hand-shredding it for unprocessed tea or for processing it into our salves, we only have these sticks remaining.” I tipped the bowl of sticks so the interns could see the green and gold of the cannabis medicine clinging to the tan-colored sticks. “We always threw them away before, but I had an interest in what we are discarding so I asked Raquel to do a test. She filled a jar with these sticks, covered it with 150 proof grain alcohol, turned it twice a day for two weeks, strained it and wallah, we got two-ounce bottles of tincture with 300 mg of CBD each!”
“That’s 3/5ths the potency of the batches made with plant! Imagine a CBD tincture made from the sticks at ½ the price, then, because it is made from the by-product. It is made from what would have been waste or what would have, in other seasons, been fed to the fires!” I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results of the test and we are running a second batch for testing to see if we get consistent potency before we bring this baby to market. Stick tincture. We like the idea of a no-waste, low-cost alternative for acquiring CBD. We think our followers might like it, too.