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. 


Look What Two Months Can Do!

This was taken on May 31st this year…

This photo was taken on July 25th. On May 31st, only the Armenian cucumbers were planted…no sunflowers, beans, or bush cucumbers. On May 31st there were no fig trees or Western sand cherry, and the globe artichokes were only tiny little things. Two months is all it takes to change the landscape.

May 28th 2011, the sunflowers and zucchini are the only things planted…

Two months later, sunflowers are totally head heavy, summer squash puts out copious amounts of fruit, snow peas are growing strong, honeydew melon vines are about to take over the back and the grey zucchini is coming to maturity and producing very big tasty fruit.

May 23rd, Noah helped me plant all the peppers that grace the walking path…

July 29th and some of the peppers are starting to ripen. Noah will be home on Sunday, so he will be able to harvest some of the first peppers when they are ripe. Next spring in place of the peppers and beans growing along the walking path, will be gooseberry, indigo and golden currants. I’ll be starting these berry bushes from seed this winter.

We’re also excited because soon our new shipment of baby trees will be arriving. We have seven Western Soapberry trees, three white Russian mulberry trees, and five wild honey locust trees! All of them will be planted in the chicken pasture. They are just little seedlings, so they will need to hang out with the Paulownia trees for a while.

Soapberry trees actually produce soap that can be used in laundry, to wash your hair and also anything else that needs to be cleaned. How awesome is that? We will be growing our very own soap! I first saw a soapberry tree at a nursery in Albuquerque and the flowers on it were intoxicating to the bees. Bees can not stay away from this tree’s blossoms. I thought to myself, “this is a keeper tree! great for the bees” and I also thought it was a winged sumac tree. So I started to search for winged sumac trees to no avail! I went back to the nursery and asked if they would be getting any more winged sumac trees and that is when the guy working there told me that it was actually a soapberry tree! I asked if they had any seedlings, nope! Just the full grown trees growing gracefully in the nursery. So the search online began and I found a company that actually does have some Western soapberry trees. These are not the soapberry trees from Asia, these trees are native to Texas, New Mexico and other southwestern states.

Here are a few photos of a winged sumac and a soapberry tree to see how similar they are:

My Weeping Hose Made Me Weep

Yesterday was a busy day with Paulownia trees seedlings coming, installing weeper hoses and attempting to get everything done.
I was cleaning the duck pen and temp duck house, Dom was connecting all the hoses together.

I was exhausted yesterday.

I must say that it was actually a thrilling experience to get up and turn on the weepers! It meant that I could weed, start to work on burying the hoses and tend to the ducklings.

Everything was going great until I stretched the wrong way while burying the lines and pulled my back out. My back was in so much pain I kept dosing off while Simmi was watching Shrek today.

After putting her in for a nap, I went to lay down myself, which didn’t help much. My weeping hoses made me weep today as I laid there in pain. I’m hoping tomorrow to get the last bit of weeper lines buried.

I also have been waking up at night worried about our mulberry trees. I find it particularly disturbing that I could sleep through bombs going off, drama in the family, my husband’s alarm going off at the ungodly hour of 3:00am but nothing will jolt me from a sleep faster than worrying about plants and trees.

What the hell is wrong with me? LOL I’m just so worried about these trees. I went through the same thing for each tree and plant that has been planted. Sometimes my sleep is so disturbed I just lay there because impulse would send me right outside to check on them…thank god it is really dark in the middle of the night and my flash light doesn’t have batteries!

Here are a few photos I took this afternoon in an effort to free myself from the guilt of not doing more today due to my back hurting…okay its not work but its something right?

Three days after being planted, the mulberry trees have gone into shock. Not surprising with a lot of its root system missing and bark missing from a good portion of the trunk. This is the tree that has been keeping me up at night.

The smaller mulberry tree is having the same shock issues. I’m glad the bark on this tree is in tact.


In the foreground is our pomegranate which made a glorious coming back and is now starting to flower again. In the beginning I had a love hate relationship with this pomm.

It went into shock, dropped leaves, had me up at night worried it wouldn’t make it, and I thought it was because I was watering it too much that it was dying. Turns out I wasn’t watering it enough! It has new growth, flowers coming and is a vibrant green again. I kept saying to myself, “I’m gonna do it my way, and if I kill it, I kill it!” The reason I was saying that was because everything I read online about pomegranates said NOT to water or fertilize. I’ve done both…every other day it gets watered, and I also fertilize it with duck water poop. Does it look dead to you?

Ugly Betty we love you darling! The way you look after the little ones is amazing. You have the patience of a saint my dear. I don’t know if I could handle two little chicks chasing after me all day, pecking at my eyes, knocking over my food, stealing my sleep, and charging me like a bull.

You are a great single mother at the ripe age of five weeks old! Even though you are really ugly right now, we’d love you just the same if you stayed this way. Fortunately you will grow to be a beautiful black sex link, and you will once again be called Betty Complex….here is what you will look like when you get older:

You will be queen of the courtyard! You and your two illegitimate chicks will enjoy the courtyard even though you’ll have to duck and weave around the likes of Simone. Yes she throws little pieces of paper at you, but its only because she loves to see you run and scurry. As I said before, you have the patience of a saint. Dare I say even more patience than most humans.

On another note (I know I’m all over the place today with my writing), the tall fescue forage seed, white clover and yellow clover finally all arrived.

I’ll be treating the grass and clover seeds with the following, which I copy and pasted from the website Fungi Perfecti…even though they didn’t pay me for this plug, I’m giving it. I rarely give links, but I believe whole heartedly in these products:

MycoGrow™ For Lawns
MycoGrow™ For Lawns contains spores of 4 different species of endomycorrhizal fungi, plus additional beneficial organisms for control of lawn-disease-related pathogens. Recommended application rate for lawns is 1.5–2 pounds per 1000 square feet. Can be applied during lawn installation or aeration. Sold in one pound increments.
Note: this product cannot be shipped to Hawaii.

Contains concentrated spore mass of the following:
Endomycorrhizal fungi Glomus intraradices, Glomus mosseae, Glomus aggregatum, Glomus etunicatum
Trichoderma Trichoderma harzianum, Trichoderma konigii
Other Ingredients Kelp, humic and fulvic acids, vitamins, and amino acids

This is also from Paul Stamets site (He’s one of my hero’s!)

The term mycorrhizal comes from the Greek words mykes, meaning fungus, and rhiza, meaning root. Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that have developed a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the root systems of living plants, from garden vegetables all the way up to the trees of the Old Growth forests. Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling’s root structure, supporting the plant’s own ability to utilize water and nutrients in the soil. This relationship encourages healthy, vigorous growth—naturally.

Comparison of Plants
Local Puget Sound organic farmer John Moss performed an experiment with his crop of onions, treating one bed with MycoGrow™ to see how it would compare to his other beds. The results were impressive!

Fungi Perfecti’s MycoGrow™ products are designed for everyone from the home gardener/landscaper to the professional forestry manager, promoting faster growth, speeding transplant recovery and reducing the need for fertilizers and other additives. A number of different formulations are available, for all methods of plant cultivation.

(Please note: the mushroom species in our MycoGrow™ mycorrhizal fungus products have been selected for their speed of growth and maximum potential benefit to plants; they are neither gourmet nor medicinal mushrooms. While these species are not toxic or dangerous in any way, they are nonetheless not intended for human consumption.)

Our MycoGrow™ products contain mushroom species that are approved for use throughout the continental United States and Canada. However, our customers in Hawaii should be aware that they are not permitted in the state of Hawaii. We encourage all international customers to check their countries’ import regulations prior to ordering.

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

Fig Tree Planting

Armenian cucumber.

Pepper plants after being watered with duck poop soup. The leaves turned a very dark shade of green.

Magpies turned three weeks old on Wed.

This next one is a flash back when they first arrived…its so trippie: