Second act: Cory Murchy finds joy working with las Golondrinas crops - Albuquerque Journal

Second act: Cory Murchy finds joy working with las Golondrinas crops

It’s 4 a.m. on a weekday.

Cory Murchy wakes up hours before most to get his day started.

He pats around his house, makes his lunch and takes some time for himself.

Santa Fe native and former member of the rock band Minus the Bear Cory Murchy now grows hops at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Just before 7 a.m., he’ll pack up his vehicle and make the commute from Peña Blanca to El Rancho de las Golondrinas, just south of Santa Fe.

The living history museum located on 200 acres in the rural farming valley – it’s not only where Murchy works, it’s his sanctuary.

“It’s a special spot,” Murchy says of las Golondrinas. “It’s a nice alternative to everything Santa Fe has to offer. It keeps you outside and you get to learn.”

“Tree of Life” by Cory Murchy.

The 43-year-old has turned the page on a new chapter in his life.

For nearly 20 years, the Santa Fe High School alum toured the world as the bassist with the rock band Minus the Bear.

In fact, Sept. 14, 2001, was the band’s first show at the Paradox in Seattle. In 2018, the band – featuring Murchy, Jake Snider, Dave Knudson and Alex Rose – decided to call it quits after its sold-out farewell tour.

“I think part of growing together for 20 years, is that you naturally grow apart in certain ways,” he says. “Your social lives start to slow down. Ultimately, I moved away from Seattle three or four months after we played our last show. I was on a trajectory towards the future. Admittedly, I started to pivot before the band broke up. I knew it was coming. Stepping away from the band wasn’t hard. We ended on a high note and it was a great way to say goodbye to all of the fans that supported us for all those years.”

His intention was to move back home to be a full-time artist.

For more than two years, he kept busy with art commissions. In spring, he received a text from his sister telling him about a job at las Golondrinas.

“I think I’d posted a story on my Instagram about my time up in Colorado, moving water around, which was something I’d never done until I got there,” he says. “I just kind of expressed a deep appreciation for that job and fell in love with moving water. Weird, right? (My sister) told me the ranch was hiring and they were looking for an irrigation water guy. Immediately a light went off and I was like, ‘Oh geez, I’ve got to give it a go.’ Just like that, it made sense.”

With his interest piqued, he pursued the idea.

Minus the Bears promotional photo for its farewell tour in 2018. (Courtesy of Chona Kasinger)

“I was kind of eking out a space and making art was really important,” he says. “On the same token, to find this job that took me outside I was used to and put me in the realm of manual labor. It’s been fulfilling in my life. It’s provided me a great outlet through work.”

On any given day, Murchy is driving the utility vehicle around the grounds, making sure crops are safe and growing well. Not to mention, he’s in a battle with the never-ending weeds.

“They are abundant with the rain,” he says with a smile. “I’m happy just to have the moisture keeping everything moving.”

Cory Murchy poses with his paintings titled “Process” left, and “Tree of Life” on the utility vehicle he drives around while working at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

This year, he was also tasked to help grow hops on the site – the first time for the ranch.

“They told us, ‘Ah, don’t worry if they don’t climb,’ ” Murchy continues. ” ‘In the first year, you won’t get anything,’ they told us. We did a harvest already. Because they are perennials, they’ll get bigger and bigger each year.”

Beer Creek Brewery is teaming up with El Rancho de las Golondrinas on a beer using the hops grown on the property.

Tending to the hops, Murchy’s become a fan.

“I’m not even a hops guy,” he say. “But doing this, I’m like, ‘All right. I’m starting to fall in love with this smell and the taste.’ ”

Murchy’s life has found a new purpose, though art and music remain a big part of it.

Cory Murchy designed the cover for the album, “Fair Enough.”

He paints during his down time, though he wants to carve out more time to do so as he’s inspired daily from the natural beauty of the ranch.

Opening in 1972, Golondrinas is dedicated to the heritage and culture of Spanish Colonial New Mexico. Many of the adobe buildings are built on original colonial foundations at the site, some dating from the early 18th century.

“I see deer almost every morning eating the apples,” he says. “How could you not be happy on this property? There’s so much history.”

Minus the Bear is releasing its “Farewell Live LP” on Oct. 29. The album features unreleased live recordings from the band’s 2018 farewell tour.

“It’s a great way to celebrate the last 20 years,” he says. “We always wanted to do a live album and it’s perfect to have our last tour as the live album. On the farewell tour, we were all hitting at 110%. I can’t say we were always hitting that before. It was a tour we were really proud of and I feel fulfilled to have that be our last document.”

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