Anima Sanctuary Spring Updates from Elka (Loba!)

by Loba Hardin on May 3rd, 2014
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Hello Friends from Elka – formerly Loba!

A number of you have written for updates from me about our homestead life and I sure meant to, there has just been so much living to do!  And all of us here caught a stubborn flu that has only now started clearing up.  I feel like I’m only now waking up again, to a world of adventures and tasks and music and color!


Elka and Paeonia at Anima Sanctuary

Elka and Paeonia at Anima Sanctuary

Springtime at the Anima Sanctuary is busting out in gloriousness all over! Even with hardly any rains yet to speak of,  there has still been enough moisture for this amazing procession of miracles: there are nettles to eat, brilliant red barrel cactus flowers, giant yucca flower stalks shooting up every single day. The stalks are the streaked purple of an artichoke’s center before they open fully into their shining ivory-flowered beauty, gracing the land with their magnificence.

There have been some Spring-like new beginnings for me personally, too.  Many years after discovering that I’m much more like an elk than a wolf, and still being an “elk named Loba”, I was overcome by the silliness of it.  As most of you know, the Spanish name Loba means “she wolf” and grew out of my love for the Caroline Estes book “Women Who Run With The Wolves”.  I finally decided it was time to fully embody my true self, character and nature, which means taking on a name that truly represents who I am, how I feel and how I tend to act.  A name change may seem difficult for everyone who knows me or who has read my articles in SageWoman and Plant Healer magazines over these many years, but my dear family has agreed to calling me the more appropriate “Elka” from now on, and I hope you will be able to, too!  My only regret is no longer being able to title my upcoming cookbook “Loba’s Loving Kitchen”… looking for a new name for it now.

I’m not sure if I reported last time, that our friend and supporter Marcus had brought me a 12 volt (runs off the solar batteries) water pump, so that for the first time ever I can move rain water we catch into a storage tank without back-hurting buckets.  He installed a propane freezer and solar powered fridge that have made my life, meal planning and food storage so much easier!  And there has been lots less food wastage than the decades when I had only ice chests and ice carried in all the way from town or even packed down the mountain on our backs when the river flooded.

Spring foods celebration at the Sanctuary!

Spring foods celebration at the Sanctuary!

It’s Spring Cleaning time here in the canyon, something that takes many forms!  We’ve been cleaning out the sheds, moving out lots of things for the thrift stores and dump, clearing lots of brush and wood and dead grasses that are dangerous kindling each scary fire season. Fire season is officially here in the Southwest, with over 30 wildfires already hitting the region, and we’re in the midst of preparing for it.

Adding clay to cracks in our horno oven, Anima Sanctuary.

Adding clay to cracks in our horno oven, Anima Sanctuary.

Our wonderful helpers, Paeonia and Sean from Boise, Idaho, spent a solid three months here doing tons of work clearing to help us get ready, as well as lots of other cleaning, organizing and maintenance work while they were here, helping with kitchen chores and prep, and sewing on our antique treadle machine whenever we could make time. Wolf’s sweet daughter Rain also came for 6 weeks to help out with all our efforts and spend some quality time with him.

Rain helping with cinnamon rolls at Anima.

Rain helping with cinnamon rolls at Anima.

We were all so grateful for their important assistance, and so glad that everyone seemed to enjoy each others’ company so much! I was also grateful for all the hours of enjoyable work, as well as some very special downtime, that we all got to spend together! It was also great to see folks gaining inspiration and learning from the books in the lodges, cooking enthusiastically, making music, sharing stories and jokes and helping each other whenever there was a need! It’s very satisfying to walk around and notice all the improvements.

Cheery Paeonia with grasses removed in time for wildfire season in the S.W.

Cheery Paeonia with grasses removed in time for wildfire season in the S.W.

Our homestead helpers come as part of the international WWOOF organic farm network, mostly young folks excited for real life experience on the land, eager to learn new skills from woodstove cooking to building maintenance.  They’re often a lot of help, and grateful for the time in a riverside cabin is a forested New Mexico wilderness.  They make it possible for us to give more focus to the projects to affect the world, from our books and events to teaching.

Sean extending the rain gutter on our outdoor kitchen.

Sean extending the rain gutter on our outdoor kitchen.

In time, however, I think we are going to need to offer a long term or even lifetime home to a person or couple with the skills needed to tend this place, as it can be hard to teach everything needed to a series of folks who will leave after month or two.  I plan to write a description of this position in the next month, and I will post it then for you to kindly forward to the kinds of folks who may be interested.

Besides Wolf’s other new books, including “The Enchanted Healer, he’s also created two others for different audiences.  “Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle” will be released next month, a collection of the alternately humorous, historical, sentimental, attitude filled, and sometimes politically incorrect tales originally written for our backwoods neighbors and now being made available to the general public.  Then in June he will publish his latest book for those interested in Western history, entitled “Lawmen of The Old West Unmasked.”  Unmasked, because he exposes so called heroes like Wyatt Earp as the scoundrels they really were, while telling the stories of less known sheriffs who were true “Peace Officers”, men taking risks to guard the peace and freedoms of the West’s wild hearted citizens.  As always, he works in his points about the importance of liberty, honor, self reliance, and a love for the land.  These titles don’t exactly fit in the Plant Healer bookstore, even though we consider there to be plenty of deeper cross-over… so Kiva will soon be launching an Old West Scribe website where these and other related books by Wolf can be ordered.

Rain's Mustard Spiral.

Rain’s Mustard Spiral.

We look forward to another full year of inspiring and helping people, from our special sanctuary “seven river crossings from the nearest road.”  Nothing could be more satisfying than continuing to give to the world, while giving to ourselves this life close to the elements and full of spirit.

To all of you, old friends and new acquaintances, may your Spring and Summer be blessed.  No matter where you live, county or city, please don’t forget to get out and admire all the new buds and bees, butterflies and flowers!

Love, Elka

Categories: Announcements & Updates


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  • Susan B.

    Such a beautiful name…Elka!!! <3 <3

    Love hearing about the projects going on at Anima, and very much looking forward to reading Wolf's books when they come out. I am an Old West buff myself (been interested in that time period and history since I was an adolescent), so reading Wolf's perspective on it all will be wonderful! Love to all of you! :-)

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