Summer Update

Summer Update

Summer is in full swing and so much is happening all at once. Back in the beginning of June our son came home to save money and go to school to become an EMT with aspirations of becoming a paramedic. Our first goal was to get him set up with his own cabin. Our space is WAY too small for yet another living being. Currently, it’s three adults, one young adult, and three finches all trying to live and let live in the rig. It’s cramped for sure!

Our plans always seem to morph when least expected. I’m cool with it though. We stopped construction on the large chicken coop because we needed to turn all our attention to getting Noah in his own place. He was in the last remaining tent for a while, but it’s ready to collapse and with the monsoons upon us it’s currently flooded with water, scorpions, vinegaroons, ants, and other creepies wanting to stay on a nice warm bed. The photo on the right is of a vinegaroon aka whip scorpion. They’re pretty harmless but look badass, right?!

We brought his bed inside and he’s doing his best to deal with the lack of privacy.

Over the last three weeks, Noah and Dom were able to dig the post holes for the foundation, pour the concrete, set the piers, and get the floor framed out on Noah’s cabin. We’re playing it by ear this weekend. One of Noah’s friends died yesterday and we’re waiting to see when the funeral will be.

If the funeral is this weekend, cabin construction will most likely be put off until next weekend. Trying to work on the cabin during the week when they work all day on other construction projects is a recipe for burnout.

A good portion of our land is a steep slope. It feels more like we’re on the side of a mountain! As I’ve pondered where we want to build our house (we’ve thought of many locations) we settled on using the sloped portions instead of regular flat ground. Noah’s cabin is located about 100 feet from where we will be building our home. The slope is the perfect location for a step up kind of home that moves with the steep incline of the landscape.

They started working on the chicken coop before the cabin. Here are a few photos of that process…

Noah getting sand brought over to the site to make soil-crete.

Dom selecting which trees would be used for the chicken coop structure. There are no straight parts of this coop. Everything is wonky and natural.

Setting posts.

Adding welded wire to the outer walls. The walls will be created with a modified straw light clay infill. We’ll get this coop finished. It will only be a matter of time before we have 175 or more chicks peeping in this area!

The cactus blooms were spectacular this year. I love seeing them right before they open.

In the back of the rig is a large cholla cactus. A Curved-Bill Thrasher came and decided to build her nest. We’ve been watching her and can’t wait to see if her babies make it. They are up against some odds with crows and hawks eyeing up the nest just waiting for the mama to leave so they can steal her eggs. She’s been great at protecting them and by the end of this month, we should have three baby thrasher hatchlings.

It’s not the best photo, but there she is sitting on her eggs. I had to take the photo from pretty far away. Any closer and she would have left her nest.

There is a group of trees that we were planning on using to build Simmi’s treehouse. At the beginning of the month one of the main tree trunks that would have been a support for the treehouse snapped and fell down. Simmi was devastated. But as we become more bonded to the land, I have found that they subtly tell us things if we listen carefully. We had intentions of using the tree as the foundation of a treehouse, the tree told us it wasn’t safe and bent down to explain why.

My girl turned 13 at the beginning of June. She’s been enjoying the summer, listening to music, watching tv, and helping out whenever we’ve asked. She’s pretty motivated these days. We told her that after we get our roastery finished she could have a teacup Yorkie, and so she’s been saving her money and helping out to make even more money. Yorkies, Bichons, and Maltese are dogs she’s not allergic to. We’ll start looking for a breeder next spring. She fell in love with one of Dom’s client’s teacup Yorkie and she was smitten.

In the photo, Simmi is prepping horehound for Dom. He’s making a wildcrafted beer that uses a little horehound in place of hops.

This is Princess Bitchslap. Remember how I said trees tend to speak to us as we become more bonded to the land? Well, this girl right here is no different! She is located in the back of the rig near the roastery. Her branches reached all the way down to the ground and you couldn’t see how beautifully wonky she really was. I want her to grow upwards, not to the ground, so I trimmed her lower branches and gave her a bit of a hair cut.

She didn’t appreciate it very much. With every branch I cut off, I was welcomed with a whack to the back of my head, or my butt. At no time was I not in a battle with this tree. If I was taking care of an upper branch, an adjacent branch would whip me in the face. If I was dragging away a large branch, it felt like the branch was hanging on kicking and screaming like she was being murdered. It was like she had claws digging into the earth refusing to leave the spot.

By the time I was finished pruning her, I had twisted my ankle, received multiple facial scratches, my ass was literally kicked and bruised, and my arms were covered in scratches and bruises.

This is why I call her Princess Bitchslap. She’s lively and gave me a run for my money.

I love her. I think she’s warming up to me too.

We decided that even though we’re passed the time when you can plant potatoes, we would take a bash at it anyway! We ordered some of the best potatoes we’ve ever eaten from Wood Prairie Family Farm. We grew their potatoes when we were farming up in Maine. The potatoes I chose are early potatoes so they only take about 90 days to harvest. We’ve built a potato tower made from welded wire to grow them in. They are just starting to come up now. Once it gets too cold, we’ll wrap the tower in heavy clear plastic to extend the season a bit.

I love how the animals and insects that choose to be here find ways of complementing the landscape. If this dragonfly never moved, I wouldn’t have even seen him! His clear wings are amazing.

In the garden, we have radishes, cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, carrots, arugula, snow peas, beans, mint, basil, dill, and cucumbers growing. Well, maybe not cucumbers! Something came and ate them all. But we did get a bunch of mystery squash come up! The one in the photo above showed up and won’t stop growing. I had to remove this particular one because it was right in the way of the sprinkler. However, we have about four other mystery squash plants coming. I never planted them so we’ll see what they are as they set fruit.

Green beans and mint. They don’t seem to mind each other.

Basil, borage, cilantro, and radishes. Also some weeds and grasses all growing together. I took this photo last week, and it’s just about time for me to do the first pruning of the basil. I have about three different kinds of basil coming up. I’ll be harvesting and drying it today.

It’s hard to believe that in just a few short months this tiny fig tree will be at least four feet tall and wide. It took a while to figure out where the little Chicago figs would be planted. Plants, as I’m discovering have a will and spirit all their own. And if we are patient, they might just reveal to us where they want to be planted. It’s a cooperative act…a trust between two living beings.

I didn’t use to think that way. I just thought plants were plants, without an agenda or will of its own. But I was wrong.

I posed the question in my mind while picturing the figs in my mind, “Where do you want to be planted?” and of course I didn’t get any kind of real answer in an auditory way and didn’t think I would get any answer at all. But I felt this pressing to get them into the ground.

The next morning while waking up a picture came into my mind of where and HOW they wanted to be planted. It felt right too.

They are planted in a ten-foot diameter basin. Small stones covering the base going out, and eventually larger stones as we reach the perimeter. Each fig is to be planted in this way.

I told Dom that the figs explained how they wanted to be planted, thinking he was going to laugh at me. But he didn’t. He smiled wildly and said, “Did you know that if we plant the trees with the stones that way it will create a paramagnetic field that will create fertility in the soil?!” How did he know that? He had just finished reading a book about rock dusts and cosmic energy.

I haven’t read the book. I don’t think the figs read the book either, but to me, that was a confirmation that they know how they want to be planted.

In the same area where the figs are growing, rue will be planted. Behind the figs is a trench where we planted tomatoes last year. That area we populated with asparagus crowns this past spring, but the ground squirrels decided it was like a buffet for them. Every crown was gone! So in its place, behind the trench against the fence, I’ll be planting apricot foxglove, milkweed, and hollyhocks. In the trench itself, cardoon will be planted.

Dom built some wooden flats for me and I’ll be starting all the new perennial flowers and plants today.

This morning in the garden, lots of things are growing. Volunteers like squash and sunflowers, grasses, and weeds. With all the delicate cilantro still coming up, I won’t be pulling the grasses out. They can all grow happily together. Our compost is so jampacked full of goodies that there’s more than enough to go around. This morning I got more radishes and basil harvested.

I’m not sure what squash decided to show up here, but I’ll take it! I guess we’ll see once her fruit shows up what kind of squash she is.

The rain has been glorious and very much appreciated. We went through a blazing hot spell where the average daily temperature for around two weeks was 104 degrees. That’s unusual for this area. Once the monsoon arrived, our temperatures went back to their normal 80 degree days with the highs sometimes in the 90’s. We’re almost to the end of July already but this is when we get our rains so it’s one of the most anticipated times of the year.

The rest of this month I’ll be dreading my hair, getting a new septum piercing, and possibly a chin tattoo. Yep, I’m going full-on feral. I’ve been wanting to get a chin line done for about a year now. I ordered my new septum ring from Norway and it should be here in a few weeks. I am trying to honor my authentic self, and at times that becomes drowned out by my own inner voice saying, “What?! Are you nuts? Why would you want to do that?” They’re passing thoughts that have been a part of my life for as long as I’ve known myself. “What?” That one is the word most used by my inner dialogue, even though I already know the answer.

I’ve spent so much time not paying attention to the things I want for myself that I nearly lost the sound of my own soul crying out. In January 2020 I started seriously listening and doing some very intense soul work, to heal the deeper parts of myself that I allowed to become damaged. We can always blame others, but I’ve found that I’m responsible for how my soul is treated, and because I’ve allowed past abuses to take place, I alone can make it right within me.

So I listen careful to her; my inner beautiful soul’s voice. I respond with gentleness and protection making sure she is always heard and always loved by me. It has become my greatest accomplishment within myself.

Things are changing. I’m glad to see the old fade away and the new get embraced with passion and excitement. Life is so damn good!

That’s about all I have to report for this month. If you’d like to follow me daily I post regularly on Instagram. Click here to follow. 


Our First Potato Sprout

This morning the first of our potato sprouts peeked through the soil and straw to stretch towards the sun. This was the only sprout I found so far. The no dig potatoes were planted on June 25th…to see how we planted our taters click here.

Its been almost a month since we planted and hopefully they will all start to sprout now. We should be getting more weeper hoses soon, so that should take care of watering the potato patch. As of now I water it each morning but always fear I’m not giving it enough. I know that all the mushrooms we have blasting through the straw is a good indication that there is plenty of water being delivered, but sometimes I’m not so sure. I know that before we installed the weeper hoses around other parts of the garden, I think the plants were just kind of tolerating my presence.  I think I was giving them just enough water to stay alive, but now, the weepers deliver a constant drip for an hour to each plant. I can’t say that I ever stood in one place for an hour watering anything. At most, only a half hour is spent putting water in a newly prepared hole that is awaiting a tree or shrub planting.

Mushrooms blowing holes through the straw in the potato patch

Two weeks ago the mulberry trees were transplanted onto our property from a neighbor, click here to see the post, and the large mulberry tree is holding on for dear life. It still has juicy leaves and actually just started to form new buds. I think and hope it will make it! The odds were against these trees for several reasons…first, its always best to transplant or move an established tree in the winter during its dormancy, second, most of the roots system was removed from both trees, third, the large mulberry tree had a very large gash in the trunk where more than 1/2 of the bark came off. The tree is still holding on though. The smaller mulberry tree doesn’t have any juicy leaves at all, but I’m still holding my breath for it. Here is the smaller mulberry tree:

Desert Bird of Paradise is doing well and in bloom. I planted it in the courtyard to replace the apricot tree that never made it.

How many drakes do we have? Do you see Ferdinand? He is the one with the white spot on his head and the curled tail…but what do I see? Two more of what looks like the beginning of drake hood. So far, upon listening very carefully to their call sounds, I’ve counted five drakes so far, yet only three are starting to become more evident as they develop the curl in their tail. The females are getting VERY LOUD, and the males seem to have that soft hush to their voices. When we are sure of the sex, we’ll start naming more of them.

Poor Ugly Betty, all cooped up with her illegitimate children. LOL

365 Days of Planting: Days 57-78

I’m trying to play catch up with my 365 Days of Planting. I don’t plant every single day right now, but as soon as the weeping hoses are installed I will get back to planting everyday. Right now the watering schedule takes up about 2 hours of my morning, which is the prime time to really plant or do any manual labor. It gets super hot out and with no rain in sight, it may turn out to be a scorcher this summer, with very little relief.
Anyway, here is a follow up of everything that has been planted since June 14th:

  • Sweet potato slips (they didn’t take…all died)
  • A very large patch of potatoes
  • Black seeded Simpson lettuce
  • Lolla Rossa lettuce
  • Red salad bowl
  • Royal Oak leaf
  • Giant Caesar
  • Grand Rapids lettuce
  • Prize leaf lettuce
  • Two Black Star watermelon
  • Two Butternut Squash
  • Six Sand cherry bushes
  • Seven Fig trees
  • Two- Three leaf Sumac shrubs
  • Two- Fern bush
  • More Mammoth sunflowers
  • Petunias
  • Desert Red Bird of Paradise
  • Two Mulberry Trees

Our Paulownia trees shipped out yesterday and should arrive I think tomorrow or Friday. We’ll be planting them next week. Also, our neighbor we get all our horse manure from is digging up his mulberry trees and asked if we wanted them…we said HELL YEAH! I love mulberries.

Our property is really starting to morph into something completely new. I love it. I can’t wait till everything starts to mature and take on a life of its own.

The ducklings turned one month old today. We officially have only one duckling named. When my daughter Hannah was visiting for brunch this past Sunday, she caught the little guy in the photo to the left and started laughing as he/she peeped really loud in protest to being picked up. As she was laughing she said “I think this one’s name should be Frankie!” I asked her, “What if its a girl?” Hannah’s reply to this was “Well that is even more funny then!” So whether Frankie turns out to be a drake or a duck, the name shall stay.

Frankie will actually be a part of our breeding stock.

The ducklings are all getting so big and they are losing their peeping sounds. They are starting to quack and it just sounds so cute.

In about two weeks they will go through a transformation of sorts where they molt their baby feathers to make way for their adult feathers. That should be a treat right? We’ll have feathers everywhere and they will look like true ugly ducklings at that stage.

Betty Complex is going through a similar transformation and instead of looking like “Betty Complex” she is looking more like “Ugly Betty!” LOL

No Dig Potatoes

I usually don’t do more than one post a day, but there have been exceptions to that…this being one of those times. We sheet mulched and planted potatoes today.
The process is quite simple…

  1. Lay out manure on the ground and wet well.
  2. Lay cardboard on top of manure and water well.
  3. Add well aged compost to the top of the cardboard.
  4. Put seed potatoes in place on top of the compost.
  5. Cover potatoes with lots of straw.
  6. Add a layer of compost on top of the straw.
  7. Add some blood and bone meal
  8. Water well
  9. Add another layer of straw and repeat the process a few more times.
  10. After the potatoes start coming up, add more layers of straw and POOF! Potato heaven.

Here are photos of our process:

Awesome! The only thing I have left to do is to lace the straw down. I’ve had to do that for all the straw that I’ve laid around my veggies. The wind is so strong here that it will blow all the straw away for sure. I am taking a chance today in not lacing it up, but tomorrow will be the dead line for securing the straw.