Wednesday, April 17, 2013

gophers kidnapped julia child

double ugh
triple ugh

a couple of weeks ago, we planted 61 gorgeous tomato plants...all in a row, perfectly spaced, bordered by marigolds. it took hours.

2 days later we noticed that rabbits had nibbled on the leaves of a few, and 2 plants had disappeared completely

i drove to town, picked up supplies and fashioned a secondary fence to protect the plants

6 more plants disappeared....and fresh gopher mounds appeared in their place
we planted gopher bombs, traps and ran water in the tunnels...and went to bed
the next day, all looked good

3 days later...
julia child was gone
a special tomato that i can only imagine would have been colorful and plump
a real vivor
 we will never know
a gopher kidnapped julia child and michael pollan and 40 other tomato plants

this is what the tomato patch looked like when it was all said and done

no ransom notes, just holes, mounds of dirt & tipped name plates--where julia, michael, cherokee and others once stood

rather than feed another generation of gophers, we pulled the plants, and are starting again.  we transferred the plants to larger pots as a transitional step.  it was slightly heartbreaking, as they were  rooting really well, and had begun to sprout roots from the deeply planted stalks.  i gave them a good feeding and mixed up a delicious soil (1 part dirt: 1 part organic potting soil: 1 part compost) and crossed my fingers

the plants we saved are doing very well...and should produce a nice healthy crop of tomatoes

we will plant again. in gopher safe-raised beds

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Beware of Dog

we have a lot of predators in the country
but we are most concerned about the coyotes feeding on our livestock (when we bring in the sheep and goats) and on our fowl.  i am not afraid to admit that i am also deeply concerned about our household pets.  we have small dogs that i don't let out of my sight for even one minute, particularly at dawn or dusk.  i want our dogs to be able to roam around the property without worrying that they will be hauled off by a predator, but without changing our fencing along the entire 60 acres, it isn't possible.
we need to get a guard dog. one that is bred to protect its surroundings and the livestock that it lives with. 
mike has been researching dogs for almost a year now, and had put out feelers to breeders near and far.  several months ago, our friend in malibu (who has an anatolian) told us of her friend that had a pregnant female.  mike quickly made contact, and we got on the "list" for a pup.  good news is, they are local to los angeles, so interacting and meeting the pups at an early age, will allow us to make an informed choice about the pup we will eventually take home.  many times, with the more rare breeds, you have to rely on internet photos and video to assess the personality of a dog.

pups were born about 4 weeks ago to nella and bear...both large anatolians, with great dispositions.  this is a good sign.  
yesterday we went to see the pups, and make an initial decision on which one we wanted to bring home to our (ever increasing) family

mike was pretty set on getting a male.  the males are obviously a lot larger than the females, and he feels we need that size and strength for the protection we are looking for.  i, of course, prefer female dogs, both for personality and for lack of those, modesty be damned, dangly bits (it is the repressed catholic school girl in me, i'm sure)

i consider myself a strong woman.  if i were a union leader (which i would never be, but that is for another day), you wouldn't want to sit across the negotiation table with me.  give me a cause and i will be norma rae. seriously, pardon the pun, but i can be a real pit bull when it comes to standing firm and staying the course. but put 8 adorable puppies in my path, and decisions as simple as which to pick up first become destabilizing. 
it would be ridiculous to take them all
i mean
i don't even really like dogs
at least that is what i thought about myself 8 years ago
before Dharma and WD sashayed into my life

i now get sad when i think of them passing on
we got Scout not too long ago

and forget it
she is such a great dog
sweet and obedient
but still a frisky puppy who thinks a 6 am pounce is more fun than a roller coaster
to open my eyes and see that darling sprite staring me down, head cocked as if to say "are you gonna sleep the day away?" makes pre-dawn rising bearable

so maybe i'm not such a dog hater after-all
i'm just particular to adorable, well trained dogs with personality
which of course
all of ours are
what we were looking for in the pups we visited yesterday

immediately, one pup stood out
naturally, it was a female
while the rest of the pups hung back and were not too interested in having us around,
she sauntered right up to the window and was checking out the "haps".  she had my vote for pick of the litter.
but we are looking for a boy, must remember, we are looking for a boy....
there are 5 males to choose from, each with his own coloring and disposition.  out of the 5, three stood out as a potential match.  
i have a difficult time choosing between the three. i find them all adorable and they are all pretty mellow.  none seemed to be whining, and all were comfortable being held.  they are still quite young, so that may change.
we have narrowed our "pool" from eight to four
"little girl"
"old man"

plan is, we will go back in a couple of weeks and see how their personalities have changed, and make our final decision.
because of the relationship mike has established
we get first dibs on the litter

mike has proved himself pretty good about picking dogs.  because he does all of the training, it is important that he feels comfortable with our choice.  so, i will leave it mostly up to him. i say mostly because last night we made a decision

because of the size of our property, and the fact that this type of dog (anatolian shepherd) is an exclusively outside and working dog--not a lap dog, not inside because of the rain, not fetch me the morning paper, but a real working ranch dog; whose purpose is to fend off predators and roam the perimeter until dinner time, he needs a friend
or a sister
so i get my girl
who was once going to be named sundance (and the male butch cassidy)
a night's rest gave naming a second chance
i'm thinking maybe 
tough when she has to be, but tender when she can, with a great set of lungs...
we'll see
i don't want to get ahead of myself
we have yet to pick out a male
they are all in the running
4 more is too many

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trailcam Compilation

I put this on Facebook some time ago but it never made it to the blog so here is a pretty cool little summary of the critters hanging out on the back side of the ranch caught by our trailcam.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


you would not believe
the variety of raspberries
to be had

so many to choose from
in both fruit and time of fruiting

we pretty much have it covered
raspberries all summer long
when one stops fruiting..
..another shall begin

they reside on the corner of the garden
furthest from the blackberries
cross-pollination is avoided
we are not Knotts

Monday, April 8, 2013

a dog and her paintbrush

scout loves to play. she would play all day and night if we let her...sometimes she does, even with a scolding...her 2am squeaky toy symphony is not endearing in the least. 
but this
a mid-afternoon
game of solitaire with a paint brush
is simply

tomato plants

our tomato plants had been living at our pasadena condo for some time, and we have finally transported and transplanted them at the ranch.  61 tomato plants and a bundle of marigolds (to keep pests away) and fingers crossed that we will have plenty of fruit to enjoy this summer.  i dream of tomatoes thickly sliced, drenched in olive oil, sea salt and oregano layered on crispy italian  bread. come the heat of july, they will be a daily staple.