Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ghost hive

neither staal nor i had seen any springtime honey bee activity around the hive in the north wall of the mill office so we decided to have a closer look.  staal pulled nails and removed the board where the hive entry was and then peeled back the tar paper.  the hive was abandoned.  it was kind of eerie.  ghostly quiet and still and empty where it used to be literally buzzing with life.

it was quite beautiful too---honeycomb is one of those amazing things that's hard to get your head around---a natural wonder.

there were a couple of dead bees still clinging to the comb.

ghost bee

there are a lot of honey bees (as well as many native bees)  buzzing around the gardens so maybe the mill office colony just decided they were due for some new digs and are still in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

clark's sphinx and the orange tips

i let the weeds grow up
and the radishes go to seed
it wasn't forgetfulness
or neglect.
today the sphinx moth and the orange tips
had something to eat on a sunny afternoon
and there were delightful and dainty wingbeats in the world.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

my morning

did an inventory of squash, melon, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds in preparation for sowing today (in the greenhouse). 

seeds, seeds, seeds

Sunday, March 22, 2015

another tank

staal found us a barely used and reasonably priced 1500 gallon water storage tank.  this morning we took a little drive out to ponderosa basin to pick it up.

loading up in ponderosa basin

an excited staal, happy to be home with the new tank

not sure exactly how we'll put it to use but between the two of us we'll figure out something clever.  i'd like to see the thing full of rain water collected from our roof---we always get more roof runoff than we can capture in the barrels under the downspouts.  it would be great supplemental water for the gardens and i'd feel better having 1500 gallons of water we don't have to pull out of the wells.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

my new pet

had a lovely outing at the nursery yesterday.  staal bought me a beautiful little sage plant---it's so woolly and soft it's almost more like an animal than a plant.

silver sage

Thursday, March 19, 2015

potato planting

a couple of days ago i cut up my seed potatoes in preparation for planting.  they were nicely calloused today so i stuck them in the ground.

preparing 'german butterball' seed potatoes

i had enough seed to plant two 4'x8' beds with 2 trenches per bed and a partial third bed which already had some greens in it so i sneaked the taters in around them. 

soil analysis for the orchard garden called for rock phosphate, a natural rock dust that supplies calcium and phosphorus to the soil (the whitish dust in the pictures)---i've been amending as i go this spring.

once i got all the spuds situated in the trenches (eyes/sprouts up) i covered them with a few inches of soil and a little straw.

dreaming of mashed potatoes.


there's a certain amount of uncertainty
that comes with waking.
the little death of sleep brings forth
the birth of a new day
and a person i wasn't quite yesterday.
and the day is also filled
with endless births and deaths.
how could i be the person i was when i woke
after an afternoon spent
listening to the lessons of the sun and the soil
and the doves and bumblebees
and the glossy new leaves of the pear trees?

Sunday, March 15, 2015


the warm and lengthening days are fueling some amazing growth in the gardens---everything green and lush and abundant.  birds and bees (honey bees and many native bees) and butterflies abound.  i've found myself feeling overwhelmed (in a good way) on many occasions lately---i look at the gardens and i am amazed at how productive they have become in such a short time, my brain is on fire with so many ideas for incorporating new plants and new ways of growing---there don't seem to be any limitations to what can be done here and i'm excited by all the possibilities.  sometimes it all seems to be happening so quickly and i just want to slow down and really experience everything.  i'm learning a lot and having a lot of fun.  it's definitely feeling like spring and i feel like a new bud ready to burst into leaf---it's powerful stuff.

Friday, March 13, 2015


we prune blackberries together in the afternoon
the scent of sun-warmed pine needles on the air
the smell of childhood camping trips
a taste of wilderness
the delicious fantasy of living amongst the pines
lost to the world
and haven't we done it, love,
haven't we gotten ourselves lost here
lost in love
lost to the world
lost to everything but each other
in these pine mountains?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

chicken tractor wheels and morning chores

yesterday staal put wheels on the chicken tractor (mobile, bottomless chicken coop)---it's much easier for one person to move now.  he tried bicycle wheels at first but they didn't work so he ended up putting on some small wheels which work quite well and give the tractor just enough ground clearance to move easily but still keep the frame low enough that the chickens can't get under and out while the tractor is being moved.  he set the wheels on levers---push the levers down, insert the pins, and the wheels engage and the lift the frame off the ground making it ready to move.  once it's moved to the new location, pull the pins and the frame lowers back to the ground, keeping the chickens safely contained---it's pretty slick...

the bicycle wheels looked pretty cool but the long shafts they needed for attachment had too much wobble and weren't quite strong enough to handle the load.  so staal switched them for some small wheels that could be attached much closer and tighter...

so this morning i went out to move the chicken tractor, feed the chickens, and remove a couple of the fiberglass panels that i'd put on the chicken tractor for winter insulation.  got one panel unscrewed and looked up as zane was taking off towards a strange dog that had wandered over.  i went over to them and tried to keep zane calm enough not to start a fight---he did just fine.  i put zane in the greenhouse and went to find a rope so i could catch the stray.  he was some kind of pit mix, quite friendly, wearing a collar but no tags.  as soon as i got the rope tied on to his collar i noticed a car driving slowly past the house so i trotted down to the road with the dog to see if they were looking for him.  the car had passed by the time we got down to the gate but i waited a minute and it came back our way, slowed and stopped.  turned out to be a neighbor a few addresses down---she was thankful i'd found her dog (i was thankful she came and got him).
i let zane back out and we finished getting the chickens set up for the day.

 we both ended up a little soggy but it was a nice morning anyway.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015


after that big downpour we had a couple weeks ago and the flooding it caused around the outside of the greenhouse and east side of the house it became clear a little drainage correction was in order---so staal grabbed his level and a shovel (and a rototiller) and got busy.  the man put in a lot of work...

using the tiller to break up the problem areas and make the earth moving easier

north side of the greenhouse

after tilling he sloped the ground away from the house,excavated around the foundation where necessary, and put in a brick and gravel border so there wouldn't be soil contact with the exterior of the building.
looking from the southeast corner of the greenhouse toward the east side of the house

east side of the house

he made a nice landing outside the east door of the greenhouse by recycling a small concrete slab that was formerly the seat for the pressure tank before he moved it into the garage when he was putting in the 2500 gal water storage tank. 

small but heavy---probably a few hundred pounds so he used the handy crane he made for his flat bed to transport it from where it was up at the garage.  sorry to say i didn't get any shots of the actual transport in progress---he's sneaky sometimes.   i did get a couple decent shots of the crane though...

the south door of the greenhouse got a lovely brick landing.  
*we bought the bricks from a contractor having a yard sale who said they came from an old building in town that had recently burned.
beautiful bricks from historic mariposa

  i think he was having fun.

  he did a beautiful job...


 i'm gonna say it again---he's amazing!  sometimes i'm pretty sure he's some kind of super hero...

super staal aka homestud

*a post post note:
as i was putting this post together it started raining pretty hard and i'm happy to report that staal's efforts paid off and things are looking good on the drainage front.

rhythm and arrhythmia

i wake to the steady rhythm of rain
falling on the roof
light and tinny
then burgling and gurgling
along the length of the gutter
into the downspout
and finally splashing melodically
into the rain barrel
imitating some happy, hillside creek
and all of it soothing
and reassuring
like the rise and fall of your chest
pressed against me in bed
and the in-out of your breath
soft and warm on my cheek
like the beating of a heart
lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub
and these rhythms are sometimes mistaken
for constancy
but my own heart reminds me
of the unpredictability
and transitory nature of this life
with its
lub-dub, lub-dub,...lu......bDUB
that third, muddy, fishtail beat
like the determined beauty of the salmon
swimming his fierce and fleeting swim

*note/reminder to family--i was diagnosed with an arrhythmia years ago (technically called PVC in trigeminy) it's pretty common and not harmful---but it acts up once in a while when it needs to tell me something.