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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apple Tree Grafting

Step 3: Cut the scion wood
I wrote up a little basic instruction for apple tree grafting as shown to me by my friend, Geoff, a stand up guy who braved a near-miss highway accident, cranky kids, and bad weather to teach me (and my boy, H) to graft and help plant twenty-six trees — his mission: to spread the apple love. I share it with you over here at flickr. Note: This photo essay is told from the novice perspective. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Why is it that playdates are rarely as creative and carefree as the one we had last weekend? *This* is what I thought it would be like to have kids and kid friends. We've only reached this lovely, harmonious place a few times — really, I can't even remember the last time. Is it an age thing? Are they finally old enough? Is it a micro-managed childhood thing? Should we be throwing them outside and locking them out to work it out on their own? Do I just have a difficult child, or two, or is it the company they choose? If I had time, I'd think and write more about this. Maybe it's the fact that play time has been reduced to playdates. What are your thoughts?

More photos over at flickr.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Owls in the Family

If I were a witch my familiar would be an owl. In my life I've been lucky enough to find three owls (two Barn Owls and one Burrowing Owl) who all needed a little helping hand — the last one was last night in our hallway. I think it flew down the chimney. It was a Harry Potter-ish kind of night. I caught him in an alcove, now to be renamed the owl-cove.

Feathers of a different sort — a Dora Snow Princess dress from Santa — as requested. Here he is as an owl many moons ago.

And, if you ever get a chance you should read Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt. I hope my next owl encounter is a fledgling that needs a good home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things are pretty Spiffy

Every kid needs a kid, especially a bottle-fed one in the house.

I'm starting to feel like I'm living the movie Babe, except there's a vacant mobile home cropped out of my frame.

Add sheep midwife to my resume.

The lamb was accepted by the mama after I brought her back up the hill. She'd rolled down a few tumbles right after being born, still in the amniotic sac. That's her twin brother in the foreground.

We've acquired twenty eight animals in three weeks! I know what you're thinking, "Rookies." Well, I wouldn't say we were totally Green Acres — I mean, we do own a feed store, which makes us a little less green don't you think? I bet you didn't know that little tidbit.

Here are the recent additions:
6 Ewes (two pregnant)
7 Lambs
4 Lambs born at our house
9 Laying hens
1 Rooster
1 Bottle-fed goat named Spiffy-Lu

Things are Spiffy at the Ranch.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Little House-ish

We were gifted six ewes and seven lambs the day after Christmas. It's a co-parenting sort of thing because our friend's grazing land wasn't exactly coyote-proof. We're working on some serious fencing at our ranch. For now we have them close to the house with a view of them from our bedroom window. I'm already smitten — We got to see one set of twins be born. Amazing.

The sheep are a Suffolk/Hampshire cross, I think, with some Mexican hair sheep thrown in.

Totally brightening my day yesterday was this gifted wood stove, as well as the time spent with a good friend. The stove lived its working life in a log cabin in Twain Harte, just recently retired to my living room until I find a place to hook it up. Thank you, Matthew!


Friday, November 27, 2009

It's in his blood

A certain someone turned seven this week.wrangler

He had a ranch-themed party for eighty! I think over sixty showed up. There were at least twenty five cars -- and some horses, of course. Here he is on maybe his fourth horse ride of his life.

It's in his blood.


Some of our old family photos of folk with horses.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Stuff I'm Up To

Mushroom hunting
Sigh. I don't get enough days out in the woods, but did manage to score all these within a ten minute local jaunt. Today brought us no mushrooms, but we did meet some beekeepers who also love the funghi -- a promising contact for bee questions. I'm hoping to start some hives this spring.

Did some real canning this year, a hobby that has been on hold while having small children. I always shoot for as many quarts of tomatoes as possible. I think I got somewhere around 17, not nearly enough. Varietal chile salsas were a first for me. I worked without a recipe and they turned out great. I fire roasted red jalapenos, as well as a red Padrons, added some vinegar and garlic -- heavenly, or maybe it's hellish. Since my husband likes the hot stuff, I also made a fermented chile pickle with ground mustard seed, cayenne, and ginger from this Madhur Jaffrey's book. This pickle inspires me to want to make more fermented foods.

Thinking about sheep
My friends over at Mariquita Farm are downsizing their livestock and we may be the proud new owners of seven ewes and a ram soon, like this week!

Photo Essaying
over at Mariquita during my two hours a week of kid-free time. It's close to preschool and Julia and I like to cook, talk, and get some farm chores done together. We did pumpkins into puree and roasted peppers over an outdoor fire.

Omnivore's Dilemma. It puts all my feelings about food and agriculture into words. I know I'm late reading it, but for all the other stragglers out there, Go Forth and Read!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My First Mohawk

Happy Halloween y'all. My first mohawk (lice-inspired, at age 41 — woot!) reminds me of this funny thing from The Onion. We did his and her mohawks for the grownups. And because the kids got buzzes I made this for the little guy. I think of you guys a lot. XO, Michelle