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Kim Bethel runs her Fiber Mill

Local resident Kim Bethel is a very busy person these days with her new business started this year, Down Home Hand Spun Fibers. Kim has a Belfast mini fiber mill housed in a converted carport and she processes animal fleece into ‘roving’, a cleaned, carded and wound natural product that can then be spun into yarn and even dyed. She also raises Angora and Pygora goats that provide fleece for the mill.

Located between Auberry and North Fork near the San Joaquin River, Kim and her husband Brother Boy Bethel or Bro have been creating a ‘Circle of Love’ on 40 acres of fertile bottom land not far from the Smalley Cove area of the river. ‘Circle of Love’ is what Kim means when she says that ‘it all works together’ about their life and their business. When one walks into their welcoming dining room surrounded by French doors that face the creek and the expansive screened-in porch, a sense is felt that Kim and Bro value the land they are on and the bounty that can be had with some hard work. The shelves are lined with their canned goods including glistening jars of golden pears and rich red roasted tomatoes with hunks of roasted garlic. On the table are three kinds of goat cheese that she encourages visitors to spread on halved black mission figs while she serves manzanita cider.

A visit out back to the huge garden is breathtaking as one discovers the four foot wide rows of purple basil, marigolds, calendulas, zinnias, lavender, black eyed Susans and other plants she uses for natural dyes for her yarn. Bro has built her an outdoor dye kitchen with wooden floor, propane stove, cement sink and old canning kettles hanging overhead ready for use to turn the creamy white or tan yarn beautiful colors. It takes four gallons of flower heads or leaves to dye four lbs. or skeins of yarn. The other side of the garden has a large strawberry patch, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables for the kitchen table. The ‘circle’ starts when she feeds her goats leftover vegetable scraps and dye plants. They in turn provide rich manure that she puts on her garden. The garden is very healthy with the biggest and greenest plants ever seen. The fleece she gets from her goats, provide her a living. She has many grateful customers that purchase the roving and spin it and then create hand made sweaters, hats, shawls, socks, rugs, etc.

The business also takes in fleece from customers to clean and make into roving. Her well organized workshop tracks a customer’s fleece from washing through the different components of the mill, whatever is needed by the order, and then back to the customer. Her website, Downhomehandspunfibers.com has all the information, photos of the operation, the story of their homestead and order forms you would need to get started.

Kim and Bro have found where they need to be and what they were meant to do. They feel lucky to have been so fortunate. The land they are on used to belong to Bro’s uncle, then it was sold to some local folks that lived there for many years, and now it belongs to Kim and Bro. Kim said she remembers an old timer told her once, ‘Back in the old days, we didn’t have a lot, but what we had was good’. Kim says that’s how she feels about their life and that she loves everything about it. She loves the gardening, the goats, the spinning and most of all she loves the process of taking something from the beginning and working with it all the way to the end product. That love shows in the yarn she sells, it is soft, glowing with color and lovely. Kim will have a booth at the Twentieth Annual Harvest Arts & Peace Festival to be held at Intermountain Nursery on Oct. 13th & 14th. For more information, please contact the nursery at 855-3113 or visit the website at Intermountainnursery.com.



WADABA plays drums at festival

Mamady ‘Wadaba’ Kourouma is a renowned local musician who lives with his wife, Keio Ogawa, in Three Rivers, California.  Wadabe means ‘The Great Panther’, a nickname he was given because of his powerful ‘wild-cat-screaming’ sound on the djembe drum. Born into a blacksmith family of traditional Malinke drummers and raised in the village of Oroko near Kouroussa, Guinea, he learned from the age of 8 all of his people’s traditional drum music and dances as passed down from his ancestors.  In Wadaba’s culture, the songs and drum rhythms archive the people’s history and can be hundreds of years old. By the age of 10, he began soloing and by his teen years, had achieved the status as a lead soloist of his village. In 1993 he became an apprentice of the legendary djembe master Famoudou Konate.  He honed his skills as a drummer under the tutelage of Konate and also learned how to build drums. Since then he has toured in Germany, Japan and the US, teaching and performing with other djembe masters and with his own group, Annye Ben. Wadaba was a 2008 International Music Awards finalist for Best World Music Album with his Sabari CD. He has recorded other CD’s as well and presently teaches drumming, builds drums and performs throughout the world.

In 2001, Wadaba and Keio were headed to his home village to record his first solo CD when they learned that the village had burned down. They created the ‘Oroko Fund’ to raise awareness and money to help rebuild the village. Through the fund, they are able to send school and medical supplies, clothing, food and new drums as well as other necessities to the village. Recently, a second clean well was drilled in the village with Oroko Fund funds.

Keio Ogawa, Wadaba’s wife, is a performer and teacher in her own right, having studied drumming and world percussion for over 30 years. She has performed around the world and founded the Traditional West African Drum Ensemble and the Drum Dance Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making traditions of drum and dance available to the community and to local schools. She teaches drumming and traditional dance and focuses on authentic technique, history and lore about the instruments she uses. She will be leading traditional dance lessons during the second half of Wadaba’s performance at the Twentieth Annual Harvest Arts & Peace Festival at Intermountain Nursery on Saturday, October 13th at 1pm. The festival runs the entire weekend, Saturday, October 13th from 10am – 5pm and Sunday, October 14th from 10am – 4pm.  For more information, please contact the nursery at 855-3113 or check out the web site at Intermountainnursery.com.

Intermountain Nursery 30443 N. Auberry Rd. Prather, CA 93651-9600

559-855-3113     Fax: 559-855-8809