Thursday, September 12, 2013


After a few wonderful weeks I realized there was one particular reason why this place wouldn't work out.  A personality conflict, minor but enough to ruin the experience.  I moved back to the SF Bay Area and have spent the last two years rattling around there and working as a developer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Farm Details

The farm is actually quite small, excepting the forest and some pasture for the ponies. The main house has a kitchen, dining room, and living room, and three modest but beautiful bedrooms.

Next door to the house is the garden, about twenty beds in the French Raised Bed Intensive style with drip irrigation and some seedling tables. Right now we have lettuce, chard, kale, raspberries, peas, beans, tons of garlic, cucumbers, tomatillos, grapes (not yet with grapes but the bunches are there as little tiny green nubs) sage, basil, oregano, mint ALL OVER the place (it's growing wild and doing really well, there are "stands"? "groves"? patches of it as large as tennis courts) and a lot of other stuff that I don't even know what it is.


There are boatloads of roses, and about ten apple trees (in addition to the apple orchard across the way, where the ponies stay, that has a bunch more) and just down the hill is the walnut orchard, and something I think is a giant fig tree, but I keep forgetting to ask about that.

Also, there are some potatoes. Y'know, just growing here and there.

There's more stuff than that but I think you get the picture.

Oh! Five chickens! They lay eggs, and everything you've heard about country fresh eggs is true and then some! These yolks define orange. They are eye-popping, practically electric. Nora-san you were right! So delicious.

So, that's all up at the farm house. My cabin is down around the way, about a block and a half in city distance terms. The other cabins (except for the partially converted historic apple shed, which is close by the house) are also a ways away.

The place is completely off-grid. Electricity comes from solar panels and a micro-hydro turbine, water from a spring, and the internet comes in over a satellite uplink on the roof. There is also a propane system that feeds a stove and the water heater (which is normally off. If you want a hot shower you have to light the pilot light and wait for the burner to heat the water, about half an hour.)

Heat in the winter comes from a wood stove in the dining room, in the summer it's too dry and the risk of fire is too great, plus it's generally already a bit hot. This is California after all.

(I have got a whole blog post on lock about wood stoves and the absolutely ridiculous practice of burning trees in them. It is absurd. A rocket stove isn't so bad: it corrects most of the deficiencies of the conventional designs except for the main, i.e. wood consumption. But IMHO the real win is home-grown alcohol fuel and stoves that use it.)

Anyhoo, it's getting dark soon and I like to be snug in my cabin before then, so T.T.F.N. my friends! Love you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


When I got here it was raining, and it kept raining for four days.  It was raining the day I came to visit too, and I started to suspect that it somehow just always rained here or something, but now the sun has come out and it's glorious.

Apparently all the birds and bugs were waiting on the rain to stop to do their thing.  The first day of sun saw an explosion of life, bugs flying everywhere. I think there is a bug for every plant at least, and maybe for every leaf. I've seen four species of bee alone! There are wasps by the dozen, cruising the eaves for likely nest-building spots. One wall has a wasp nest for each beam.

There are about fifteen kinds of fly, including the kind that tries to look like a bee, and cicadas and lacewings, and there are about a million ladybugs of all descriptions flying around and feasting on about a billion aphids infesting some beans in the garden.

Lest you think it's all bugs, I've seen at least a dozen different bird species, and heard more. One night I swear I heard an owl! They do say "Who?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Farm and Life On It

I've been here a week now and it's high time to write about what it's like.

First, there's so much life! I've seen frogs, toads, newts, a snake, a lizard, birds and more birds, a bat, ...and that's just the critters who aren't plants, bugs, or fungi! There are an extraordinary number of flowers of dozens of species. Pretty much every square inch is growing.

The farm proper consists of a main house and several out buildings on the tip-top of a little promontory overlooking a forested canyon. There is a chicken coop, a shed for tools and the solar electric system, an historic apple drying shed that is being converted to a cabin, and, of course, an outhouse (although the main house has a working bathroom and septic system.)

There's a primitive road below the main farm that leads down into the canyon and ends up at a clearing with a lovely little one-room cabin, which is where I'm staying. I basically have "my own" forest! There are redwoods (my favorite) as well as Douglas fir and oak trees, and dozens and dozens of other plants. I've counted three kinds of ferns, including a species that grows taller than me (I'm 6'3".)

The canyon is beautiful but very very steep, and there are huge erosion gullies leftover from clueless logging (done about fifty years ago.)  The creek that should be running along the forest floor is now stuck down in a gully that reaches a depth of ten to twenty feet and averages about fifteen feet wide.  I'll take some photos soon.  It actually looks really beautiful and dramatic, like the proverbial facial scar of the master swordsman, but knowing what I do about erosion it can only be considered tragic.  I'm making the repair of these gullies my first priority.

I need to do some research first to be sure I'm doing the right thing(s), but I imagine that drawing the water out of the creek bed and into swales and level spillways as high up in the canyon as I can will be the main task, followed by carefully filling in the gullies with whatever will slow down the water (and not be itself washed away by a heavy rain.)  This should also get the creek flowing year round; it currently dries up in the summer.

I got a chance to see erosion in action. It rained for the first four days I was here and on the third day it rained hard enough to cause the creek to rise and start scouring. The water looked exactly like a cafe latté, light tan (the color of the clay soil it was washing away) and fully opaque.  Whoosh! There goes more of your earth right down to the ocean only fifteen miles away. Bye bye!  See you next several million years from now.

The trees are doing a valiant job of repairing the valley but there has to be some way I can help!

More soon, I promise!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Phileas Fogg, Caterpillar Aeronaut

I saw a flying caterpillar yesterday!

I was walking through the forest when a little bitty caterpillar wafted past my face, obviously hanging from a strand of silk too fine to be seen. I expected that he was just swinging by, like Tarzan, on a strand attached to a tree branch or something and that he would presently swing back. But no! He kept going and even gained altitude as I watched.

The strand of silk the caterpillar was hanging from was "attached" to the air itself, and this tiny aeronaut was sailing into the heavens with all the dignity and aplomb of Phileas Fogg himself, off to circumnavigate the world in his eighty days.

Hats off to you, O intrepid wyrm! Sail the skies like a hero.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Unbelievable Greatness

Well, I'm here.  I can't really believe it but it keeps on not being a dream. I am essentially "done". I am as done as I've ever been in my life.

I'll try to explain.

I don't need much to be happy. A modest shelter, a little food, and occasional company of good-hearted people, that's about all I really need. Now, at this point, I have those, and I have them in a way that will more-or-less keep happening forever.  Everything around me that supports my life is directly dependent on Nature: the Sun, the rain, plants and animals, Earth and air.  I am "stitched in" to the fabric of Nature, the warp and weft of the sentient flows of life.

That means, as far as the anxieties of urban living, the struggle to "earn a living" and make ends meet, I am free! Done forever! Never again to fear.

Of course I still have to make a bit of money to pay for things, but that is hardly a burden. I should be able to pay my way using only about five to ten hours a week (the computer work I do pays well) leaving the rest of my time free to do...  anything, nothing, everything! Weeee!

I'm done.

(And with the extra money I make I can sponsor other people who want to make the transition to a harmonious natural lifestyle, rolling forward my own good fortune to benefit others and the Earth! Hooray!!)

Love you!