Or the Great Skunk Mystery…

By Kristy Athens, author of Process Media’s Get Your Pitchfork On!: The Real Dirt on Country Living

Timing is everything, they say. I scheduled a reading at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, Oregon, partly so that Mike and I could visit our friends Chelsea and Tyler, who live in the nearby Applegate Valley on a parcel they call Humbug Farm. You may know Tyler—he runs Ajna Offensive and has collaborated with Process Media and Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey on a number of projects. Chelsea is the person who originally suggested I submit the GYPO manuscript to Adam to see if he’d want to publish it in his Self-Reliance Series.

Chelsea and Mike met a few years ago during production of the Oregon Public Broadcasting program Time Team. The show that originally brought us all together drove us apart in this case: Chelsea had to report to a shoot in Savannah, Georgia, and Tyler joined her, leaving us alone on Humbug Farm.

We didn’t get there until late Saturday night, after my reading. We took Hwy. 99, which is essentially the back road (a slower but more interesting alternative to I-5). On the drive, Mike and I saw a couple of skunks—one running through a ditch, one road kill on the shoulder—and drove through quite a few clouds of skunk musk.

“Geez, those things are really taking a beating!” we said.

We got to Humbug and settled in with some wine and cheese, enjoying Chelsea and Tyler’s immense book and record collection.

Mike enjoys the Humbug library of mysticism and the occult

Library guardians

The next morning, I leapt from bed with the knowledge that there were FRESH EGGS to be had! One of the things I miss most about our land in the country is raiding the chicken coop in the morning and holding warm eggs to my cheek. Mike had, as per usual, already made coffee, so I grabbed a mug and went out to the coop.

Jacob the cat followed. He loooooves people! I tried to get a photo of him, but he wouldn’t hold still.

Hold still Jacob!

Hold still, Jacob!

Hold still, Jacob!

There. Good kitty

I always try to sweeten the deal for the chickens, since I’m taking their hard-earned eggs. I cut up some apples from the orchard and tossed them in the coop to distract them. Success!

I went inside and cooked up some fresh eggs. Mike picked grapes and apples to go with the eggs.

Kristy enjoys a well-balanced country breakfast

After cleaning up, we went for a walk on a nearby road, into a beautiful autumn breeze. After a while, we smelled ANOTHER dead skunk! What was the deal?? Were Southern Oregon skunks suicidal? We kept walking, past a house that was surrounded by a 10-foot fence, much higher than one would need to keep deer out. The fence didn’t meet the ground, and as we walked past we could see under it—to a half-acre of bright green marijuana plants! Some of that skunk smell hadn’t come from skunks after all.

As fun as it is to be at Humbug Farm, it’s not the same when the hosts are absent. We look forward to our next visit.