Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunrise on Thanksgiving Day 2014


The sunrise and sunset at the house has been amazing lately. Here is a time lapse of the sunrise on Thanksgiving Day 2014.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Strawberry Plants are in - November 23, 2014


I am so excited! The nursery that I shop at in Burson, Rising Sun, finally got in the strawberry plants I have been waiting to plant. 

(I built the bed for them a little while ago.. see this post for details on how I built it with reclaimed wood. Strawberry Bed Project)

The strawberry bed is 2 feet wide by 8 feet long... so I bought 20 plants from them and laid them out like this below;

| _____________________________Seascape  (10 plants)__________________________________________|
|                                                                       Furrow in the middle                                                                          |
| __________________Albion ( 5 plants) __________________Cascade (5 plants)_______________________| 
The weather was cold and rainy but I didn't care because rain makes me happy! Here are the steps to take to plant the strawberries:

This is what they look like when you buy them, all roots..
The plants aren't very attractive when you go to but them, they are just a stalk and a bunch of roots. But this is the most economical way of buying them with all 20 plants costing me just $7. If you consider what the cost of organic strawberries are in the store, this is a good thing to plant if you only have a little room and need to decide on what is best. They do well containers so you can even put them on your patio!
First I pulled back the straw that has been protecting the bed since I filled it up. Then I made 2 long hills on the outside of the bed with a furrow in the middle.
Building the hills

Laying out the plants
You plant these up on a hill because they really hate to be wet...
Seascape row is done - spacing out the back row

All the plants are in and ready to go
After planting them in their 2 rows, I added some organic fertilizer, laid out the watering tube and then covered them up with the straw.
Cute rows with the watering tube and organic fertilizer - grow babies grow!

Covering the plants with straw

Bed is covered in straw again to help protect them
The covering with the straw does a couple of things, it prevents a really hard rain from tearing up the dirt, and it gives a little insulation to the plants at night to keep them a little warmer. Right now we have a few warms days coming so they should get growing and be able to hold on until spring. Crossing my fingers!!
The garlic and onions are doing good as well.. the rain we are getting is just a blessing!
Garlic growing well!

Onions are not as strong as I would like to see - hopefully a few days of warm weather will get them established before the frost hits.
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday! I am going to go to see my parents in Madera along with the rest of the family... should be fun!


Friday, November 21, 2014

With rain comes the fog...

Just 1 picture - we finally are getting enough rain to produce fog in the valley. My house is just above the "fog line" and this morning it was really a great site... so just one picture for this post.

Fog in the valley as seen from my deck

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Annual Turkey in a Barrel Dinner - Nov 15, 2014


Banner over main street

It's that time of year again, when the Mokelumne Hill historical society hosts the Turkey in a Barrel dinner. It is a huge deal in this little town and sells out every year even at $20 a ticket with about 300 people showing up. What is a turkey in a barrel? Well you take a big metal drum and build a fire in the bottom and when the coals are just right you hang 2 or 3 birds from the top and seal it up. It cooks in a couple of hours and it tastes wonderful! They pack into the city hall that the historical community fund helped restore a couple of years back, and go hog wild over the food!
They actually auction off 1/2 turkeys after dinner and I bought one!

One nice thing they do every year is that if you are a resident of Mokehill and over the age of 80, you get your dinner for free. They start the dinner with all the "elders" going first and it takes them a while to get through that part of it! If you are over 80 and home-bound, they will bring you a dinner that night to your house. Just a  nice touch that everyone accepts as normal but when you work in the city, and see no such community spirit, it is a nice change of pace.
Packing them in - this is about 15 mins before it started and they have people sitting in the basement that you can't see here.

Golden Hills Table - our neighbor is a past-president of the group that hosts it and still a big part of the community
After dinner there are 3 big things that happen - one is dessert which is once again baked by the community. My table was mainly folks over the age of 65 and you would think they would all be watching their diets.. but stay out of their way when the dessert trays start coming around! They were grabbing 2 or 3 each.. cookies and cake and cupcakes! One neighbor has such a sweet tooth that he downed 3 things including one that he made!

The 2nd big thing that happens after dinner is the raffle drawing for the 25 plus items that they have been donated to the dinner. People pay $1 for a ticket and wow, some of these folks bought 20, 40 or 100 tickets! One lady won 3 things and 1 table won about 5 things - I didn't win anything but thankfully 1 person at our table won a gift certificate to the ravioli shop in Jackson. 
Raffle guy... not sure his name but he knows everyone
Finally, it is time for the auction. What is also a very funny tradition to me is that there is a rum cake that is in the auction and it goes for at least $200, last night it was $275. I guess it is a tradition because it was the first thing that the auction started with a couple of years ago and it is made by this lady who was there wearing a faux cheetah print jacket! I bid on a painting but decided to drop out at $200, but did buy the 1/2 turkey to take home.
The high bid was for a radio that was from the 1930's. It was a floor model made of walnut and maple wood. It was from a building there in town and it actually worked but needed a tube or something.. not my style but it went for $450.

This is small town life and I like it but you have to be prepared to be out there and talking to people, which isn't always my style. They want to know everything about you and of course the question I get asked is, have you moved up yet? I have lived here for 5 years but will not be considered a resident until I move in full-time I guess. I really enjoy this place and hope that it will stay small but still continue to grow, which seems like a contradiction I know.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Onions are in! Nov 9, 2014


The onion starts finally came into the nursery that I go to in the tiny town of Burson, Rising Sun Nursery. (Onion starts are seedlings that have been "started" from seed and then picked and sold. Onions can be grown from seed, small bulblets or starts but I find starts to be the best value for the money and easiest to grow.)Last year I planted some not knowing what they would do and even with the drought they did well. So this year instead of just red onions I am also planting a sweet yellow onion, and of course, garlic.

50 red and 50 white - tiny onion starts

Laying them out in rows- last year they were too crowded so I am giving them more space this year.

One bed done with mostly red onions

Garlic has sprouted - I planted that a couple of weeks ago

2 big beds of garlic and onions!

Hopefully with the amended soil and some rain... please rain... I will have a good crop to post pictures of in May 2015!
In my greenhouse and aquaponic system, I am going to see if the tomato that sprouted will survive and thrive during the winter. It hasn't gotten to freezing yet and hopefully I can get the full roof on before it does and seal up the house. It would be so awesome to keep growing things through the winter! The kale is up and growing good but it is a winter vegetable so it likes the colder weather.

Tomato baby - crossing my fingers it keeps on growing
 Finally - I want to leave you with a picture of why I love coming here. This was taken on 10/31/14 after the rain storm went through...amazing colors...
Just love the clouds and the colors!

Monday, November 3, 2014

I sold all my honey!

Honey Jars

Leo gave me 2 gallons of honey and I made 12 pint jars from it and was able to sell it all to people at work in one day!

That is the most money I have made from this house so far! I can't quit my day job but at least I know it is possible.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Casey's Page


If you have been reading this blog at all, you know I had a dog that was with me for 13 years and was always by my side. Casey was euthanized on June 7th, 2014 in my living room with me holding her head and petting. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life but there was no way I was going to miss the end of her life and leave her scared and alone. The last 5 months have been hard and memories of her up here at the house crop up everywhere... so I put together a page of her pictures on the blog and a short story that I wrote about one of the "sneak-attack" memories that happened shortly after her death.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Aquaponic Summary - End of the Season


It is daylight savings time and it finally rained! Which means with the cold weather I needed to figure out what do with the greenhouse and aquaponic system for the winter.The greenhouse needs a roof and I can't do that by myself so for now, I have put a couple of blue tarps on it and now have a true "redneck" greenhouse. 
Ripped Roof - see the blue tarp next to it?

For the aquaponic system I have decided to keep it going through the winter but reduced it some. Instead of 3 grow beds which was fine during the summer, I have gone down to 2 beds. The  goldfish don't eat as much when the water cools down this much so I can't support that many plants. 
2 grow beds instead of 3 
I do still have tomatoes and bell peppers growing from the summer, and kale and lettuce for cool season plants. (The lettuce did terrible during the heat of the summer!) I will see if I can keep the greenhouse warm enough to keep everything alive and the fish eating and pooping.
Bell Pepper

Tomato still hanging in there!

Baby Kale
One big disappointment is the solar system because the inverter is making strange shrieking noises.I have disconnected it and have gone back to electricity from the house. I really want to make the solar work so next season I need to find someone to help me with that.
I have planted garlic and a couple of onions in the raised bed and will be planting a whole bed of onions when they come into the nursery.
Garlic and yellow onions

I am praying for lots of rain this year so that I can have a full garden again. It wasn't much fun this year having to buy veggies like zucchini at that store! 

Here is the video of the aquaponic system running with only 2 beds and it seems to be doing good. Of course I wish I had catfish but I will start that again in the spring.