Shii Koeii Community & Farm

Quality Food & Justice for All

Simplicity * Sustainability * Spirituality * Social Justice

Serving the Shii Koeii (Huerfano) River Valley, and Planet Earth, since 2008 
Spring Fire Update
 July 2018

Dear Loved Ones,

We hope this letter finds you all happy, healthy, safe and well.

We have been evacuated from Shii Koeii. The land and buildings are under threat from the Spring Fire, a 94,000 acre wildfire bearing down on her from the south.

As you know, we usually only raise funds once a year from our community to combine with what we earn at the farmers' markets in order to run Shii Koeii. Unfortunately, we need your help again this year. We need to raise, conservatively, $5,715 to help cover fire-related expenses, outlined below.

We would be deeply grateful for any financial donations you can make at this time to help Shii Koeii. Our Paypal account address is [email protected] You can also mail donations to us at Shii Koeii, 2224 CR 541, Gardner, CO 81040. We can pick up our mail, for now, on Hwy 69. If things get worse, we can pick it up at the Walsenburg post office.

Shii Koeii's humans are safe and sound thanks to the generosity of Mark's mom Marilyn. Kaitlyn is sleeping in the guest room, Mark and Val are sleeping on the living room floor. Maureen is visiting family, and will join Kaitlyn in the guest room, if necessary, upon her return. Phil Collins, Maureen and Kaitlyn's cat, came with us, and he and Marilyn's cat, Carl, are trying to figure out how to live together peaceably. We tried our best to evacuate Raul, but he was having none of it. He's a very smart kitty though, knows how to hunt and find water, so we know he'll be okay. The goats are safe at the Trinidad County Fairgrounds. They're traumatized, of course, but we drive down to see them twice a day to give them fresh water, hay and grain, scratches, pets and encouragement. We take them out of their stalls to get sunshine as much as can.

We are overwhelmed by the incredible support and kindness we have received in all this. We feel bathed in love, and it is what is keeping us going.

The fire started Wednesday . On Friday we were put on pre-evacuation. Val was in LA, writing and dog sitting for dear friends, Wendy and Jack. As soon we went to pre-evac, Wendy and Jack's regular dog sitter, Josh, stepped into the breach so Val could come home (and gave Val home-baked cookies for the journey). Sam, Val's sister, drove her to the train. Brian and Tim immediately bought Val a new plane ticket to come home early and drove her to the airport. Cassandra picked Val up at the airport. Within 30 hours of going to pre-evac Val was back home.

Within one minute of our putting a request on Facebook for help evacuating the goats, our neighbor Sarah Jardis had forwarded our request to our neighbor Myra Trujillo, and Myra wrote that she was on her way to Shii Koeii with her truck and trailer.

Within one minute. I'm not exaggerating.

Because of the evacuations of most of the areas around La Veta and Gardner, there was no Gardner Market last week, and there will be no La Veta Market and no Gardner Market this week. As you know, the farm is our livelihood. With no markets, we have no income.

At the moment our structures are still standing, but without the ability to water our gardens, we may lose our entire crop/growing season.

We're not sure for how long this will continue, but once the markets are operational again, we expect them to take a big hit in attendance because tourism will be down. We expect to see approximately a 50% decrease in income from the markets.

Because the goats have been evacuated to the Las Animas County Fairgrounds in Trinidad, we must travel back and forth to Trinidad twice a day every day to take care of them. That costs at least $25 in gas per day. We have to drive back and forth to Pueblo to get hay. We have to drive back and forth to Gardner from Walsenburg to get mail.

Unfortunately, both vehicles broke down yesterday. We actually work very hard to keep farm vehicles in good working order; this was just a case of normal things that fall apart doing so with incredibly bad timing. Dora-the-Ford-Explorer needs a new fuel pump, and Sassy needs a new alternator. We did have money in the 2018 budget for car maintenance, both regular and emergency, but we weren't expecting to have a bill for $1,000 the day after being evacuated from our home, with no La Veta or Gardner markets on the horizon.

Because we cannot pasture the goats, we need to purchase hay for them, which—between the drought and the fire—is being sold at a premium.

There have been, and will continue to be, other unforeseen expenses related to being an evacuee.

Conservatively, we estimate that the loss in farm income combined with these unforeseen expenses will cost Shii Koeii an additional $5,715 above and beyond the budget we sent you in our January newsletter. We can provide our detailed estimate if you would like to see it.

We are deeply grateful to report that we have already received $780 dollars in donations as well as the kindnesses mentioned above. Thank you so very much to Brian Perko & Tim Minear, Jennifer Schneider, David Hooper, Cyn Hudson, Jonah Page, Margie Duthie, Megan Davis, and KT Ockels & Lionel Derenoncourt.

Thank you for giving what you can to support Shii Koeii during this difficult time. Please either

Give directly through Paypal to Mark's email address: [email protected] If you give directly this way, rather than through the button on our website, Paypal doesn't take a cut.
Send us a check. We are still able to receive mail addressed to Shii Koeii at 2224 CR 541, Gardner, CO 81040.
If you need a tax deduction, please make out your check to the “Huerfano Community Corporation,” and send it to Shii Koeii.

There are at least 3 other agencies serving our community during this crisis who need and deserve your support. Whether you are able to give to Shii Koeii at this time or not, we encourage you, please, to consider donating to them. They are
The Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District (aka the Gardner Volunteer Fire Department):
The La Veta Fire Protection District (aka the La Veta Fire Department):
The Spring Fire Relief Fund, started and administered by members of the affected community:

We came here ten years ago looking for community, and it has never been more abundantly clear to us that we have found it. And that community includes every single one of you.

For those of you also living in Huerfano and Costilla Counties, we hold your families, your animals, and your homes in our prayers for protection from the Spring Fire.

For the land,

Val, Mark and Kaitlyn