:how i spent my summer:

Actually, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know. My summer…my summer was a bit on the horrible end of crazy.

Now, how I ended my summer. That’s worth a read. Here on the Grace Homestead I’d like to introduce you to our two newest members.

Hercules (A.K.A. Herc or Boo Cat), who came to us at four weeks old and in the mouth of our kill-everything dog Cassie. I was shocked when D sent me a text asking be to bring home kitten formula and some litter. This is the only cat Cassie-girl has not tried to kill on sight. He came from our neighbor’s property (the had two stray litters), and due to an injury we figured we would keep him and nurse him back to health. Farms do need a cat after all.

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and Atalanta (A.K.A. ‘Lanta), from the other litter on our neighbor’s property. She’s three weeks younger, and the mom abandoned the whole litter. We took her and the rest went to a neighbor down the street who works with kitten rescue.

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We have also added our flock of chickens back into the homesteading dynamic.

The business of raising orphaned kittens and caring for a flock has given this place a bit of a boost as far as how our days are spent. The garden ended up producing a little bitty zucchini and three giant yellow squash plants. We have so much squash, I don’t even know what to do with it!

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As far as the writing front goes, I am getting back into the swing of things. I did a ton of reading this summer, and it has fired up my juices to get back to my story.

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I’ve got my BuJo all set up to get back into the swing of our regular school year and to make sure I start looking at my work as a writer as my WORK.

:small steps are a big deal:

We planted a graden. Not a big one.

In fact, it is only three vegetables right now. Given how much work this property needs to just get it cleaned up, that is all I can handle right now. We have Swiss chard, yellow squash, and zucchini seedling starting to push up through the soil.

In getting the small area ready for our modest kitchen garden, we decided to go for a permaculture approach, it calls for far less weeding, but there is still weeding.

I was out there pulling the individual weeds that fought their way through the layer of hay we had laid out, and it struck me that such a small thing is such a big deal. One small weed doesn’t seem like a lot, but the fact that I am nipping them in the bud, one by one as they pop up, means I won’t have to deal with the later. I won’t be overwhelmed as the garden grows. I will be able to enjoy coming out here for a few minutes each day to water and tend to my vegetables, and not dreading the amount of work that needs to be done.

Small steps are a big deal.

I’ll leave you with the sunset the other day when we went to take the trash out.

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:family time:

My parents and mother-in-law all came together for a visit this week, so our days have been spent playing board games, weeding the garden, letting them see a bit of the kids homeschooling days, and eating. My mother took one look at me and decided I needed to gain back the weight I lost when we were buying the house. I feel like she is definitely trying to making it happen in the week she is here! LOL.

Really, we have just been here at home most of the time, enjoying the beautiful weather. California has delivered on it’s reputation with sunny days and cool nights. My mother-in-law has also helped identify some of the flowers and trees on the property.

Tiny (blurry!) grapes.
We took my MIL to Santa Cruz to see the Pacific Ocean. The flowers were a riot of color and she absolutely loved it.

 

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:thursday:

Thursdays are always the day I put the most time in behind the wheel. By the time dinner rolls around it’s all I can do get something on the table. This is tonight’s effort, a fry-up. I cannot remember where I learned to make this, but it’s a lifesaver when your too tired to be creative.

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Eggs, breakfast sausages, tomatoes, and kale.

When I called them in from the dinner, my boys came in bearing a sprouted chestnut they found out in the side yard. We have two chestnut trees in front of the house. They are beautiful and big, but I haven’t a clue about what kind of chestnut tree. Chestnuts are not native to California. The American chestnut is actually called the “Redwood of the East” and is native only east of the Mississippi. In trying to figure out if mine are American, Japanese, Chinese, European or a hybrid I’ve become fascinated by these trees.

The day we came to the open house, and first saw what would be our new home, we had to wait for the selling agent to sweep a path from our car to the front porch due to the thick carpet of chestnut burrs all over the ground. The trees are only just now starting to show signs of waking up after their winter sleep. Green is peeking out from the buds here and there.

I’m looking forward to roasting chestnuts for yule at the end of the year. If anyone knows anything about chestnut trees, please help me figure mine out!

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The kids want to plant it. 

Have a lovely night everyone.

 

:getting dirty:

Thank goodness for California’s long growing season. I am just starting to set up my vegetable garden. The area set up for the kitchen garden is quite a generous size, but I just do not have it in me to go big right from the get-go.

As I have said before, there is just too much to do.

So, we are going to go this year with a no-til or no-dig garden. It was Doug’s idea. He found a blog on permaculture gardening, and we figured why not give it a try.

The weekend after the move, we took a bale of hay we found in the little hay loft, moved it to the garden and covered the area we were going to plant. Then we let it sit.

The theory is to cover the ground with straw or cardboard. Then build rows or mounds of soil on top of the straw, and then plant. The straw suppresses the weeds and as the plants grow the roots dig down through the straw and anchor themselves. This is supposed to keep the soil from becoming weaker (especially season after season) from disturbing the soil’s ecology.

This morning we started building the rows  and mounds where we will plant.

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It won’t be the prettiest garden in the world, but I’m so happy to have it!

I am by no means an experienced gardener. I was raised in the suburbs, and my mom always hired someone to do the yard work. My experience consists of a small garden in Georgia, some five gallon buckets I used to grow pole beans and tomatoes on my balcony when we first moved to Cali, and helping my much more experienced neighbor plant a big (for me) garden which produced beautifully that year.

It was a glorious way to start the morning!

Then the rest of my day consisted of chauffeuring the kids to their activities…and knitting while I wait.

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Working on my Rikke hat. We are getting a cold snap next week, and I am so looking forward to a last bit of cold before the heat of summer hits.

:saturday list making:

Hello, dear readers!

Today was a day of making lists and seeing just how much work has to be done around here. Doug and I walked the property, taking turns pointing out to each other the buds and new leaves on trees and grapevines, wondering where this irrigation line runs to, and whether that section of fence will be easy to repair. It is almost overwhelming when we look at it. Then we take a deep breath and grin at each other like loons.

There is nowhere else we would rather be than looking a years worth of work.

One of the things on my list is to go see what the library has on growing grapes. I’ve grown a vegetable garden before, but wine grapes are totally different. Thankfully, I just need to let the vintner who tends the vines do his job, and then I get to enjoy the fruit of his labor, as it were. People have asked me why I don’t make him pay be, but to have a knowledgeable vintner tend the vines and then give me cases of wine as payment is more than a fair deal. Heaven knows if I had to do it, these vines would be in a sorry stated and there would be no wine! However, I do think I need to educate myself on what grows on my land.

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List, list, lists! Today was trying to get it all down on paper. And, yeah, that’s my trust Lamy. It’s ruined me for all other pens. 

Today I also met a neighbor. I have to say, I have never lived anywhere where the people actually came out to meet you. We have met five neighbors on our road so far, and most of them went out of their way to come welcome us. Despite the fact that we are so close to the city, it really is rural living here. I just love it.

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The gorgeous Cali sky through the budding branches of one of the big chestnut trees. 

Now we are going to watch a movie together. I hope your Saturday has been as lovely as mine!

Good night. 🙂

:scotch broom:

Oh, my! This stuff is a menace. And. It. Is. Everywhere.

Every day, I try to get out there with a pair of gloves and I just pull, pull, pull. They have to be pulled out by the roots or they come back. The worst ones are the ones that grow from the cut stumps that were not pulled. Some of those I can’t get out at all.

I am loving doing it though. The day was sunny and warm, the breeze cool. When I pulled the root of the plant out, I could smell the damp earth. Sometimes even tasting the scent in my mouth when I breathed in.

Sun on my skin. My muscles working hard.

I found myself using “deadlift form” when I pulled the big ones out. Flat back, shoulders straight, pushing through my heals. Tomorrow morning my hamstrings are going to feel this.

It’s going to feel good.

Functional movement at its finest.

This side of the vineyard had some damage during the Loma Fire in 2016. The fire department actually worked hard to save this property, but trees still came down on the fence and some of the vine posts got pulled down. 

I’ve managed to work my way down the fence. I’m only about half-way, but the recent rain and humidity makes the soil have more give. Hopefully I can get the majority before it all dries out.