Sunday, January 22, 2012

Visit to Pioneer Cemetery - Double Springs CA

You can thank the rainy weather and my sore back for pushing me to do something outside the house this weekend. I finally stopped at the pioneer cemetery that is just before the turn-off to my house. The official state website says this about the place;

NO. 271 PIONEER CEMETERY - This pioneer cemetery was said to have been established in 1851. Most of the graves are unmarked - stones appeared over only three of them in 1936. This cemetery is located almost opposite where the town of North Branch originally stood, before the site was mined for gold.
Location:  On State Hwy 12 (P.M. 176), 0.7 mi W of junction with State Hwy 49, 1.8 mi W of San Andreas
The people buried here were in unmarked graves in the Poverty Gulch Cemetery with only a few having headstones. They were moved because Lake Comanche was being built and the water was going to cover them up. The condition is pretty shocking though....

I didn't know cattle could close gates, they are pretty talented cows!


Headstone is worn out

Died at 27 in 1851- He had a huge statue so I don't think he was a poor one.
This headstone had 4 people on it.

Very sad just pieces of the marble left

gate to the cemetery

Plaque explaining why it is where it is now.
I find it sad that these people who must have had incredibly hard lives mining gold or working as farmers now are interred in this cemetery that is so run-down. Most of the graves are unmarked so I don't know how many people are buried there. It is kind of creepy walking around and knowing you are probably on someone's grave and you can't tell. I looked like a crazy person I am sure.. walking around talking to them and apologizing for the condition of the place. It just felt disrespectful.


Sunday Jan 22nd, 2012 - Apple Trees and RAIN!

We finally got some rain this weekend! Everyone is excited because it is the first measurable rain since about Thanksgiving.. one of the driest winters in over a 100 years.
I am also excited because my orange trees are almost ripe... still a ting of tart to them. They had a rough winter with it being so cold and not much rain so the crop is probably not going to be the best that it could be. My not being there is an issue as well. When it gets below freezing you are supposed to water well and try and keep the trees warm.. but mine just have to survive on their own. Here are some pictures:
Del Oro Grapefruit - So sour it makes you sweat one of my friends says.. and that is a good thing.

Orange on tree
2 Test Oranges - one from each tree

See that thick rind? That is from the cold. They are juicy and just need a bit more time to finish sweetening up

My tough little bush is getting ready to bloom, still no idea what it is.

And the other big garden news is that my apple trees finally made it in.. thankfully I had dug out their holes back on New Years Day and with the rain, I was able to get them in the ground pretty easily. They are not pretty but I am just in love with them!
This is the nursery in Burson where I buy my plants.

All 3 trees - not much to look at now.
My Arkansas Black tree in the ground - bare root are the cheapest and easiest to plant.

Western Mountain Bluebird
The bluebirds are back in huge numbers and it made my day hanging out in the yard with them. They are pretty bold for a songbird and will let you get within 20 feet. The zoom on my camera is not working so great anymore, so hopefully you can see him.  I want to get one of those new Nikon J1 cameras but they are a lot of money! I  have never taken so many pictures in my life as I have at this house. There is something every day I want to take a picture of and remember later.
A funny story about the apples happened on Friday- A dear friend of mine at work wanted advice about buying an apple tree, it was something like "you grow a lot of plants don't you?" question. Her mom has been wanting a Fuji apple tree for a long time and she was going to go get one for her this week. I tried to explain that since she lives in San Francisco, I am not sure they get enough hours of cold weather to chill the apple tree. She didn't know they needed the cold weather to set fruit. I gave her the name of a good nursery in San Jose and told her to go talk to them. "Tell them you need a low chill time, self-fruitful tree" was my advice. Then she said her mom would only buy the tree if she could taste the apples to see if they were good. I am busting my sides laughing right now as I explained that apple trees are mainly sold bare-root style, so they all look like twigs. And they will take 2 years or more before they start bearing a lot of apples... Her mother is so inpatient she throws out orchids after they bloom because she won't wait for the 6 months or so to have them re-bloom. My best advice to her was to get a dwarf, patio orange or lemon tree instead and buy her apples from the farmer's market. They are in fruit now and they are easy to care for... we will see what happens. I am always amazed at people who didn't grow up gardening like I did. I have very early memories of planting seeds in pots and my dad throwing them out because he thought they were weeds!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sat Jan 14th, 2012 - Moraga

Hi All

I am not up at the hill house today.. and I haven't been for 3 weeks due to other commitments like getting my hair cut. Nick and I are going up next weekend and will plant the apple trees I ordered. One is the traditional Granny Smith and the other is a heirloom called Arkansas Black. This apple has a peel that is so dark it is almost black and the inside is just snowy white. It is very tasty! 
Arkansas Black Apple Pic from

I have been working on the holes and drip irrigation up there to get it ready and I must have done more than I should have since I have been in pain for a couple of weeks. I finally went to the doctor and she said I have sciatica or a pinched nerve in my back. I get to go to physical therapy and take lots of aleve, yippee. I was thinking that I must be old now, because only old people get sciatica right?

I have decided which faucet that I am going to install here in Moraga, and now I need to get a sink to install with it. I have to find one with 3 holes, heavy gauge stainless, drop-in style,  with 2 bowls where one is smaller than the other one. Easy right? Nope.. I will go to my favorite stores later today (HD, LOWES) and see what they have in stock. The online resources have not been good, with 3 of the 4 things I need but not all. I am trying to mimic my current sink configuration so that I don't have to move all of the plumbing which is what the hardest part of these projects. People see the "perfect" sink and don't realize that under the sink are all these things like garbage disposals and drains for the dishwasher. Moving those things takes a long time and lots of trips to the hardware store for just the right pipe length etc.

It is the New Year again... and I am wondering what your goals are for 2012? I have a few in my head with the main one being getting this Moraga house ready to sell. Yep... I said it. I am planning on selling the house in Moraga this year. The financial strain of these 2 houses is getting to be too hard on me, as well as the time it takes to maintain 2 houses. My idea is that when I get this sold, I would rent a place for awhile and that would help with my maintenance issues. When the time is right I would be able to move to mokehill full time and not have to worry about a house here. Nick has one more year here before he leaves for college so I think the timing is good. 
My only hope is that the housing market continues to stabilize and go back up.. my neighborhood has not been affected as much as other places because so many people want to live here. It has the best schools and a great environment with lots of open space, wildlife and nice people. If I can get at least what I paid for it, I would be happy.

Another plan for this year is to turn this blog into a full fledged website where I can start selling the produce and other things from the farm when I get it going... been thinking about website names and I think I will go with:
What do you think? Post a comment if you have a suggestion... 


Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year - 2012

Welcome to 2012! 
Can you believe it is 2012 already? I remember when it was turning the year 2000, and everyone was sure that the world was going to collapse because computers wouldn't be able to understand "00" as a year and they would all shut down... turns out the only thing that happened that year was the start of the tech bubble popping.... ah memories.

Since my job is centered around sales quarters, I never know what my New Year's Eve is going to look like and I have never made any plans. This year was the same... I checked email in the morning on Saturday and everything seemed fine so I took off for the house. Poor Nick had to work New Years day at the golf course, so he stayed behind. But he did go to SF to watch the fireworks with his friends and they had a great time.

Not much going on at the house right now in terms of work. (Too cold in the morning and it gets dark early!)  I am still going to every fruit tree and removing weeds and checking the drip emitters to see if they are clogged, which is most of them.  Getting prepared to plant the new apple trees I ordered when they come in mid- January. It is scary how dry everything is right now, especially after the last 2 years of just torrential rain. We really need some rain and snow or it is going to be a tough summer. Here are some shots of the property of things that I thought were nice.
Afternoon Light over the valley


my trees against the bigger trees

  And not sure what made this in the field but thought it was worth showing you....

This is my Shitake mushroom log that I started this summer, it really isn't doing anything yet. Hopefully it will start showing signs of fungus!

And of course, my old lady Casey laying down watching me work. She is having a hard time with the stairs and allergies when she is up there, but she really does love it. You can see it when we arrive and she gets out and runs around sniffing and other things.... 

I hate to leave you with this news but I need to share with you a sad thing that has happened. My neighbors came over yesterday, the ones that own the dairy goats that I feed carrots to when I am there. On NYE, dogs got into the goat area and killed 6 of their goats... they are completely distraught especially since they have raised those goats since they were babies. I am pretty upset too... I have posted pictures of them many times on this blog and they definitely add fun to my time up there with their different personalities.
A lot of people don't know this but farm livestock is killed more by domestic dogs than any wild animal... but people are afraid of a lone grey wolf crossing the border into California. My philosophy is that wild animals will kill to survive, but these dogs killed for fun... they haven't been caught and probably won't be either. It was a jarring and upsetting end to the weekend, that and the Raiders blowing it again... hope the week goes better.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones~ I hope 2012 is fabulous!