Saturday, August 17, 2013


Is this a dragon I see? 

GULF FRITILLARY, Agraulis vanillae
Big eye and scarey teeth?










There are little miracles taking place all the time. This is one I got to see first hand, just emerged from the cocoon.  While I was watering and checking the potted plants, the light winged angel disappeared. This species feeds on passionflower vine. Two years ago I purchased a potted vine, lush and in full growth with blooms. Since then it has been constant food for caterpillars. It keeps making leaves and vines but they get eaten as soon as they grow. This feller must have come along with the plant and found a safe place to mature.

My aspiration is to plant many passionflower vines here at the farm.

Daily life is getting easier, mostly because of the comforts of indoor plumbing - don't ever take your flushing toilet for granted! Yesterday our internet dilemma was solved, too. Streaming rate of 86K now up to 5Meg; you KNOW what that means-- FOOTBALL.

Coming home from a busy day at the clinic is perfectly pleasant. The trees, the breeze, and wild critters are soothing. It's cooler here than the neighborhood we lived in. Less asphalt, no surrounding buildings to block the flow of prevailing breezes, and more tree cover. Even in the 90's it's nice enough to sit outside and have a cool drink, without feeling like it's a sauna and sweltering. Our kitty Koa is now enjoying short periods outside exploring on his own, he's getting bolder.

Settlement planning

Soon it will be cool enough to do some serious work: putting up a garden fence, making raised beds, and building a chicken coop. I read a wonderful book,  Free Range Chicken Gardens. It covers all the basics and more, great tips and pointers, and beautiful photographs. I've been stumped for weeks about how to arrange the garden and chicken run. Her footprint plan gave me several key ideas that solved the problem in just half a day of drawing and running posts and string. Maybe a new Pinterest board needs creating today ;-).

It looks like gardening will be easy here. We brought the wood and soil from one of the raised beds at the rental and shoved 4 rosemary plants, which I had started from cuttings, into it along with  rooted stems and cuttings from a pitiful potted volunteer cherry tomato that the deer stripped. They are thriving, as are two volunteer gourds,  a volunteer yard long bean that's making beans (harvest ratio is I get one, the ants get two); and several amaranth volunteers. Oh, also plenty of peppermint that hitch-hiked on the rosemary roots. So basically it's a garden we didn't even have to plant.
The deer are not shy about coming up to the house itself to nibble on purslane that I set in the ground and the potted plants too. This evening there was a young female about 25 feet in front of the front door and she just looked in surprise when I opened the door. She bolted when I said hello, rejoined her group and they all took off. Every day we see newly made hoof prints. First up on the drawing board is a deer and chicken predator proof fence! 

July was surprisingly wet, with over three inches in our little vale. Not enough to runoff and replenish the aquifer, but the flora and fauna have benefited, and we have a 55 gallon barrel of it stored. Thursday we got another tenth of an inch and collected about 20 gallons of roof runoff in our assorted plastic waste cans and crocks pots.

And best news of all: Kindra, John, Todd and the ClaySandStraw babies came over yesterday to mark the exact footprint of the guest house on the ground, decided on where to put the grey and black water lines out, and the septic system. We are waiting for the engineer plans and can then request bids for the stem wall foundation. Two feet thick cob walls that are 9 feet high is a lot of weight, even on top of solid bedrock, so the foundation is a critical piece. If all goes well, we will have cob going up in October. Isn't that amazing! Soon we might have a ClaySandStraw Projects page on FaceBook, so we can communicate about window features, doors, and other stuff to make decisions about.

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