Friday, January 30, 2015

when i wake

i lie awake and stare out at the stars
hanging in bare oak bows
like a string of christmas lights
clear and twinkling and beautiful.
and i might have missed it
if i'd been asleep.
but instead i lie awake staring at stars
and wondering about sleep.
wondering where it is that we go
and how it is that we return.
and hoping,
if i drift off again,
i'll still find you next to me when i wake.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

greenhouse (siding and trim)

staal has been working on the outside of the greenhouse---putting up siding and trim to get everything sealed and looking spiffy.

here are a couple of shots taken before the siding and trim went up...

staal has put up T-111 siding (he pre-painted it the color of the house) below all of the glazing, around the doors, and at the corners...

caulk and z-bar will keep rain from getting behind the siding.

he cut pieces of redwood to trim around the glazing with channels on the back side of each piece to fit over the slightly raised sections of framing that run between the glass panels---this will allow the outer edges of the back side of each piece of trim to sit flush against the glazing.

the result is a well-sealed and beautiful exterior...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

wildflower seeds

i plant wildflower seeds along the garden fence
and daydream about how they will look
all dressed up in their spring blossoms
calling to the birds and bees and butterflies.
i stop a moment to take in the late afternoon light
our happy little house bathed in the rosy glow.
smoke begins to trail from the chimney
and i know you are inside tending the fire.
chickens scratch around in the yard
and from the coop a hen announces a newly laid egg.
this is a place of love and warmth and abundance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

relocating leeks

last summer our neighbor gave us some of his extra leek seedlings---it was late in the season and they were a bit stunted from being held in a flat so long so they didn't grow much over the summer.  they're looking pretty good now.  i recently read a blog post by larry hodgson about growing leeks as perennials (because they are) instead of replanting every year as is commonly done and i was inspired to give it a try.  today i dug most of the leeks out of the kitchen garden and gave them some more space in the orchard garden in an unoccupied section of the perennial onions bed.

we'll see how they do.

Monday, January 19, 2015

ham detector

as with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, it is important to perform a routine test of one's ham detection unit...

...seems to be functioning properly.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

pink lady

long after all the other fruit trees have let their leaves go our pink lady apple stands laughing at nature's attempt at winter---and she sure is dressed up pretty...


Friday, January 16, 2015

compost update

things are heating up...

from 46 degrees to 106 degrees in about 48 hrs

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


got the kitchen garden debris along with some chicken bedding and fresh green weeds into a  new compost pile this afternoon...

a heap as high as a farm dog's ears

we'll see how hot i can get this thing.

start temp about 46 degrees---brrrrr!

getting the garden ready for 2015

we've been having a mock spring---mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 60s during the day---it makes working in the garden quite pleasant.  i've spent the last few days getting the dead bean vines, sunflower stalks, oak leaves, etc. cleared out of the kitchen garden to let more light in to veggies in the raised beds.

here's a before picture:

i hauled out 4 wheelbarrows full of dead vegetation.  i took it out to the area in the orchard garden where i do the composting and over the next couple of days i'll get it started cooking so it will be ready to feed the new plantings.

it's looking much brighter out there now.

the lettuces and other plants are happy for the extra light.

it's been really nice working outside but there are also less physical tasks to take care of so when i can make myself sit i've been going through my seed collection and planning out this year's planting calendar.  
my resolution for this year is to be better organized and keep better garden records.  we shall see.

a strong cup of coffee and a good assistant help with the planning process

i'm still hoping to be able to get some more chickens at some point this year.  happy for the hens we've got and enjoying some lovely eggs.

i've had to resegregate the australorps from my little cornish hen.  i think it's been good for her to have some company but her new coop mates are a bit overbearing and make better company from the other side of a fence.  

it's been mild out but molting in january still seems like a bad idea

i put up a division inside the chicken tractor and set it up to open into the adjoining run.  so when the birds are confined they can see and hear each other but don't have physical access to each other.  they seem to do alright free ranging together though.

the only access to the inside of the chicken tractor are four small doors (one at each end and one in the center of each side).  the doors are something like 15" wide and slightly more than that high---this is when being small pays off---i had to crawl inside through one of the doors to put up the divider.  it was nice and cozy in there---if i was a chicken i think i'd be pretty happy.

time to get back to my plotting and scheming.  or maybe i'll go and get the compost fired up first---i hear the sunshine calling my name.

Monday, January 12, 2015

anniversary outing

took a little drive yesterday afternoon---wound up a little ways out hites cove rd.  hazy day but still some great views.

up on a mountain in the middle of nowhere (almost) with this handsome guy...

...can't beat it.  i love you, staal.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

i'll make sandwiches (for staal, on our anniversary, 1/11/15)

you're more curious than i, love
i can't say i care much about seeing
what the world is like
a thousand years from now.
at least, not alone.
but, if you're going to be there
sailing around on the sea
that was once the san joaquin valley
then i think i would like to join you.
i'll make sandwiches.

Friday, January 9, 2015

parking lot picnic

had a nice afternoon out with my two favorite guys...

partying outside the health food store

lucky for me, zane prefers sandwiches and chips over bananas---that and he'd already helped me finish a chicken breast so i  was no longer of much use to him in the snacks department.

question and answer

all my life i have been wishing.
and by wishing i mean the pure prayers a child makes.
wishing to know
who will save me from myself?
this one thing we all need.
and love can bring it
in all its mysterious manifestations.
and loss can bring it
in all its raw and honest declarations.
life, the universe, is always listening
always answering.
and it was with loss that i began to hear,
to see,
to open to the answer.
and it was in this opening,
in the countless fractures of the heart,
that the universe answered.
and a man answered
and i, myself, answered.
and the heart goes on breaking and opening,
asking and answering,
in its own ever-brightening faith.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

chicken delivery

a few days ago we lost a hen (leaving us with only one)---possibly to a coyote.  i often let the birds out of their run in the afternoon so they can forage for bugs and other goodies.  i was in and out that afternoon (mostly out) but didn't hear or see a thing.  when it came time to close up the birds for the night i found one very anxious hen pacing on the roost and after looking around a bit i found some feathers strewn around on the ground near the mill office. 
i didn't want our remaining hen to be lonely so i asked the friedlands if they could spare a hen for a companion.  they generously agreed and yesterday fred drove up with two lovely black australorp hens.  they're hens i raised from day old chicks when i was living at the ranch (the australorp hens and my dark cornish hen actually shared a brooder when they were chicks) so it's kind of neat to be reunited with them. 

i kept the birds in separate runs for a couple hours so they could get reacquainted and i could make sure everyone was going to get along.

getting reacquainted

enjoying a "welcome to the neighborhood" snack

about an hour or so before sunset i let the australorps into the other run with the cornish and the three of them did quite well together.  the australorps were a little hesitant about going into the tractor to roost for the night so staal and i quietly guided them in when it was time for bed.  it'll probably take a little time for everyone to adjust but i think it will work out well for all.

hopefully some time this year i'll be able to get some chicks to raise for layers and maybe some for meat.  we'll see how it goes.  for now i'm very happy to have the hens we've got.  thank you, friedlands!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

potting succulents and bench additions

pretty cold out today but nice and sunny.  when the cold air started getting to me this afternoon but i hadn't gotten enough sunshine i headed for the greenhouse.  i had fun repotting some succulents and as i worked i made a few additions to my bench to make things handier.

i like the interesting forms of succulents.  i also like that they're easy to take care of and easy to propagate. 

succulents in the crassula family lose their leaves pretty easily if bumped---once those leaves hit the soil they start sprouting roots and become new plants (see below).

others, like agaves and aloes, grow offshoots from their bases (pups) complete with their own roots---all you have to do is cut them from the mother plant.

an aloe with a healthy litter of pups

a cluster of pups

pups separated from the cluster pictured above

as i was working and the ergonomics became clearer.  i hung a bucket of potting soil within easy reach...

and put up some hooks for often-used tools.

it was nice and warm in the greenhouse today and working in there was a pleasure.  i'm not the only one who has been enjoying it...

jack already has a favorite spot on a shelf

a nap in the sunshine

i'm hoping to get tools and supplies organized within the next couple weeks so i'll be ready to get to work starting seeds for the spring.  it's exciting stuff.


yesterday we got our little christmas tree in the ground---just off the front drive in a nice sunny spot where we can see it from the front yard.

it's a beautiful little tree.  i hope it'll be happy here.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

hello, 2015

2014 was an amazing year and i can't believe how quickly it passed.  staal and i put in a lot of work (most of it felt more like play to me) over the last year and our little homestead is shaping up quite nicely.  in addition to the little things we do every day to make this place more comfortable and more functional we had some major projects in 2014...

the 2500 gallon water storage tank

the hand pump for the shallow well

the raised beds in the kitchen garden

the deer fence 

fruit trees

more fruit trees

the greenhouse

it was a bountiful year in the garden.

and wonderful fun with these guys...

couldn't imagine making it all a reality without a certain blue-eyed someone.  so grateful for the hard work, love, and companionship of my beautiful husband.

a very happy new year to all!