Friday, February 28, 2014

what we've been up to

the weather has been lovely the last few weeks and we've been extra busy lately.  working hard but having a great time with it---it's really just play for us.  i keep my camera with me most of the time so i've got lots of pictures to share.  here's what we've been up to...

took a trip to the big city (merced) and got a few goodies so staal wouldn't have to worry about being bored for a while.  below is staal with a couple dual glazed windows for the kitchen, a dual glazed, 10-light door for the side entry that leads to the kitchen garden, and a couple of screen doors---we ended up getting some rain gutter too.

the man can shop

the new door is bigger than the old door so staal had to open up the wall to make room.

he also had to relocate an exterior light and cut out a section of roof (from the "master bedroom"/soon-to-be-greenhouse) that was overhanging the doorway and interfering with getting things trimmed properly.

it was a big job but he did some very nice work with it.  it turned out beautifully and it's a great improvement over what was there before. 

here's the before: 

and after (also shows the new screen door):

with the new door put in staal has moved on to some wiring in the garage.  he's got a lot of woodworking equipment in there but the garage is underwired for lighting and powering everything.  we're also going to be getting a water storage tank and there will be some electrical changes needed for that too.

in his spare time he clears brush and cleans the dead wood out of the oak trees.  there's enough dead wood out there on our 6 to keep us in firewood just about forever.

so what have i been doing?  digging, mostly.  i've been doing some work in the kitchen garden---digging and lining beds to keep gophers out, adding some new beds for some perennial vegetables, and building raised beds under the bamboo trellises i built last summer.  it's coming along nicely.

i put in a new bed along the fence on the east side of the garden.  the picture below shows the excavated bed lined with aviary wire to keep out burrowing critters.  after i put in the wire i filled the bottom of the bed with oak logs, branches, and leaves---this is a sort of an adaptation of a permaculture technique called hugelkultur, which is basically a type of raised bed made from piling soil on top of wood.  the wood rots slowly and provides nutrients to the garden for many years and also helps conserve moisture. 

here is the same bed shown after i framed and partially filled it with a mix of soil and horse manure.

i'm using the same system with all of the beds in the kitchen garden.  the pictures below show about where i am with things currently.

i've gotten a few things planted though there isn't much to be seen yet---mostly underground stuff---potatoes, sunchokes, asparagus.  

below is a wire cage i put together for growing potatoes.  as the plants grow upward more soil is piled around them---the tubers form above the seed potato---it's a good space saver.

pre-sprouted (chitted) yukon gold taters

potato greens pushing their way up a couple weeks after planting

got a few seeds started...

left is my seed collection and right soil blocks in a flat

and this is how they looked yesterday afternoon:

an assortment of asian greens

we've been eating well from previous sowings of greens and lettuces and taking advantage of some of the edible "weeds" growing with them.  the last time i weeded i noticed miner's lettuce and chickweed starting to come in so i left them to grow---nature plants them for me and they're delicious in salads.

'freckles' leaf lettuce

a beautiful meal including a salad made from homegrown greens and foraged miner's lettuce and chickweed

zane has also been busy keeping us on task and making sure we never take things too seriously.

fun patrol

on watch while i dig

zane as alarm clock

well, back at it...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the storm

clouds gather,
sky darkens,
winds blow cold,
as rain begins to fall.
take refuge little bird,
be still,
sit quietly,
sheltered in branches.
let the storm rage,
as storms must,
and forget not the warmth and brightness of the sun,
nor the sweetness of your own song.

Friday, February 21, 2014

happy bacon day!

it must be bacon day.  the bacon fairy came this morning.  he took the form of  a delightful and handsome man who brought me bacon and coffee in bed.  it's a pretty good way to start the day---i highly recommend you all try it sometime.
i've been doing lots of work in the garden---digging and building raised beds so it's important for me to keep my bacon reserves up.  

me, in groggy bewilderment and awe, on my first bacon day

have i mentioned that zane also enjoys bacon?

zane expends a lot of energy supervising me during the day so it's important he gets enough bacon to be able to carry out his duties.

with my bacon and coffee reserves topped off all that's left is my daily butter requirement to meet before i'm back outside at the shovel.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

pass the baby

staal and i finally made it down to chowchilla to meet the twins.  we had a nice time at caleb and amber's house playing pass the baby.  most of the shots i got are pretty blurry but here they are anyway...

liam napping while i held him

liam napping while his granna holds him

kierin holding kinsley, kealie, and amber giving liam some lunch

kinsley napping in her granna's lap

the brothers---logan and liam

uncle fred and aunt melina

caleb, the proud, if not exhausted, papa and his new son

Friday, February 14, 2014

love came

love came to me one april day,
as if on sparrow's wings,
singing in spring's dawn,
waking me from solitude's wintery slumber,
and it sings still,
love's sweet birdsong,
and everyday the sun shines,
everywhere the world is in bloom,
and everyday, my love, i wake into the golden light of your smile,
and the blue sky of your eyes,
another beautiful spring day,
to share with you

Sunday, February 9, 2014

glorious greens

got a great harvest of greens this morning---our first substantial pile of leaves since we moved up here.   staal and i both love greens and we have access to some pretty good organic greens at the health food store and market in mariposa but you just can't beat homegrown.  it's been fun experimenting with new gardens---a lot of work starting over and getting things established on our 6 but i'm loving it.  i'm interested to see what i can get going this year---pretty exciting stuff for me.

 pac choi, lacinato kale, and red russian kale

joi choi, my favorite variety of pac choi

mizuna, a very mild japanese mustard

red mizuna

today's haul---beautiful and delicious

Saturday, February 1, 2014


staal put up some signs out front today---one is our new reflective house number sign and the other is a sign that i carved in a piece of slate tile.  i made it when we were still living at the ranch in my little room and looking for a place of our own.  staal framed it in wood that was taken off the outside of  the mill office and hung it on the front gate.  he did a beautiful job with it.

a nice collaboration

because the neighbors gotta know who they're dealin' with