It’s Started …

The color, that is.

The first tree to start changing is a maple in our lower pasture. It starts just a little, at the very top. It drops a few ‘hints’ to make sure we are paying attention.

There are a few late-season blooming things around the house … mums, some roses, the last of the zinnias and Russian sage. (Though, if I follow Home Depot’s example, renaming paint color called Russian olive to Mountain Olive, maybe I should call it ‘Mountain Sage’). 🤣

Oh, I mentioned water chores in the previous post … a few nights ago (actually, 4:00 a.m.), I heard water start spraying loudly outside and the dogs barking. I immediately knew the irrigation system had sprung a leak. I rushed outside to swing by the pump house to confirm my suspicion. Yep. There’s the pump running with almost a fire-hose amount of water spraying all over the place. I continued on to the shop and switched the circuit breaker, and went back to bed. After morning chores, I took a look at the problem. Wow! Something I’d never seen before (pictured below).

The pressurized pvc side of the pump was totally distorted … it had been blown up like a balloon! Turns out, the pressure switch on the pump was bad and it failed to turn off early that morning and kept pumping, pumping, pumping. Must have gotten a little warm along with the explosive pressure. Fortunately, at this time, I don’t think anything else was damaged (like the bladder in the pressure tank or other fittings). Makes me think now that I should probably put a relief valve into the irrigation system’s pressure line.

Later, after replacing the pipe (this time with steel) and the pressure switch, I told David … you know, it would be totally impossible to run this place without all the experience and abilities we’ve accumulated over the years. Many thanks to our parents and former ag teachers/employers. I know there’s Youtube now, but fortunately, we don’t have to take the time to go there, most of the time.

With all that said, I decided to try out a home warranty program this year because there are a lot of things that break and need fixing. We are a few months into it and I have the first call in: one of the garage door openers no longer opens the door in cold weather. (Yes, I know there are adjustments, and I’ve made them. I’ve ensured the door manually opens smoothly and easily. I know the garage door opener is ancient and needs to be replaced). Let’s see what kind of adventure the home warranty service takes us on.

Wow, I sure wandered off from first Fall colors starting. It is hard to stop and admire things … maybe that’s why the tree drops a beautiful leaf in my path during morning animal chores. I stuck two of the leaves in the little vent holes of my tattered Tractor Supply baseball hat. A little later, David saw me and the leaves fluttering like wings and asked if I thought I was Hermes. 🤣

Sayonara Summer!

… and here’s to a fabulous Fall.

We are certainly enjoying clear skies and temperate climate this year! After five years of the opposite, it is such a relief.

It’s been a long time since summer felt “normal”. We know that hasn’t been the case in many other places and we hope things improve in those locations.

Once again, things have been so busy that much we could post is unposted — so many things, but most recently, (other than food) things related to water or firewood. Remember, what is before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. What is after enlightenment? Chopping wood and carrying water! Here’s more on that if you hadn’t heard that before (Enlightenment: 3 Meanings of Chop Wood, Carry Water ).

While we are enjoying our enlightenment … David added another 3 quarts of dried tomatoes to this-year’s stache to make 2 gallons of dried tomatoes in 2023.

We are still giving away flats of tomatoes, but the season will soon wind down. We’ve had 45-degree nights recently.

Three quart jars with colorful, dried tomatoes
Quarts of dried tomatoes ready for storage

Remember the White Bread Post a Month Ago?

Here’s the link if you want to see the picture a month ago (Store-Bought Food … How Long WILL it Last?).

One month since that post, no change. The bread looks the same as it did in June. It still has not been refrigerated. So we are coming up on three months … no mold, no change in the bread at all!

Recently, there’s been a bit of news about ultra-processed foods and emulsifiers … apparently increasingly linked to cancer, type-II diabetes, digestive issues and cardio-vascular diseases. (Emulsifiers are important ingredients in commercially produced white bread and pastries sold in stores).

I’m starting to wonder if the bread experiment on our counter will just eventually petrify. Maybe I should get another loaf to have a pair of bookends?

Whatever it is, and however toxic it may be … it has certainly increased our appreciation for all the fresh, non-processed food we enjoy here!

That thing we keep watching on the counter just ‘aint right!

Future Raisins

We have an Excaliber dehydrator. Works great and it has been reliable. We’ve had it for over fifteen years. This week, it’s drying grapes to make raisins: seedless champagne grapes (top five shelves); seedless Venus grapes (bottom four shelves). Venus vines were originally bred at the University of Arkansas. Had never tasted them before this week, when we were invited to pick some. Amazing flavor — a mix of concord and muscat. I’ll have to check back on the champagne grape variety … also incredibly tasty.

Cider Time

Every year is different.

Last year, no apples, and lots of watermelon, so we made watermelon cider. This year, loads of apples, and no watermelon. Also, lots of pears.

So, today, we put the historical crusher into service again and processed 10-5 gallon buckets of apples and 4 buckets of pears to yield 14 gallons of apple cider and 5 gallons of pear cider.

After the apples and pears are crushed and pressed, we put the remainder into the compost pile. This is what was left after crushing and pressing:

We’ve barely made a dent in the apple crop. We also put four boxes of apples into cold storage for eating over the next few months.

We were pretty excited about our wine grape crop this year, too … however, the game camera is showing a circus parade of foxes, raccoons and skunks decimating that crop. We are contemplating camping out in the vineyard with a dog some night soon!

A Visit with Mom and Dad

September starts out with guests from Missouri.

It was a damp, cool, early-Fall day in California — really nice with all kinds of fragrances that the rain released from plants and soil.

Yesterday, I put a little platform on the tractor and drove mom and dad around the ranch for a little tour. They got to see parts of it they hadn’t seen before. The tour ended by the garden where mom convinced Lucy to consent to petting in trade for a sniff at a cabbage leaf and dad coaxed her close with an ear of sweet corn.

Later, Alton and Joey joined us for lunch on the pool deck … quiche, melon, tomato salad(s), and peach cobbler with homemade ice-cream. Alton also brought a beautiful bouquet for the table.

Later in the evening, cards came out for the traditional family game: Pinochle. Historically, I think we’ve thought of Mom being a more conservative bidder … but she’s on a hot streak! TBC.

  • three people on a tractor
  • two people on a tractor on a steep hill
  • a lady holding a cabbage leaf and petting a cow while a man looks on
  • A man feeding a cow an ear of sweet corn
  • A bouquet of red, yellow and orange flowers of all textures and sizes
  • a deck of Pinochle cards and a score sheet with the results of four games.

Late Summer: Bounty, Family, WWOOFers

So much goodness going on. Just a sampling:

… if you don’t recall what WWOOFing is, here is the link to this wonderful program: Live and Learn on Organic Farms – WWOOF USA.

If you are local and need a flat of tomatoes for sauce or canning let us know and we’ll find a time for you to come by and get some!

Store-Bought Food … How Long WILL it Last?

I usually highlight our wonderful variety of healthy food.

Not this time.

Some visitors in June bought a loaf of white bread from the store for a breakfast casserole. The unused portion of the loaf has been sitting on the counter since then.

Now it is an object of morbid curiosity. How long will this thing last?

Not a hint of mold or decay in almost two months – never refrigerated.

In other news:

  1. A lot of visitors this year. Half who have flown have developed COVID after being here for a few days. All those who have driven have not. Hmm.
  2. The onion harvest was astounding. I’ll get pictures of the “onion wall” eventually.
  3. David is picking gallons of tomatoes a day.
  4. Even though my watermelons failed and gophers have been hammering the other melons, we are getting a few melons/honeydew.
  5. We are still working on house repainting. Almost finished replacing rotten siding.
  6. Firewood is still ungathered.
  7. Rain is coming next week.
  8. It has been really hot this week … but nothing compared to what Texans are getting.
  9. Our water aqueduct had a hit-and-run/vandal. Crashed something over a bank onto a metal pipe section … crushed pipe, caused leak, then excavated dirt over the ditch to drive heavy equipment across to retrieve whatever they crashed. The vandals pulled the “Berry Creek Water Users – do not excavate” sign up and threw it in the water. Highway Patrol and Sheriff both said “nothing we can do.”

A Shout Out to Another Cheesemaker Named David

Above: One of the few, remaining blocks of the award-winning Rogue River Blue cheese.

The man that made this cheese and operated Rogue Creamery for over 20 years, David Gremmels, has retired. He ran an amazing, 100-cow dairy, a great company, and produced amazing cheeses in those years. We are happy to know that in retirement he plans to continue experimenting with new and fascinating cheeses! We haven’t seen the last of David’s masterful cheesemaking.

Below: David and his partner, Steve, at Two Bucks Ranch this past weekend

Congratulations David and much success in your lives’ new chapter, David and Steve.

The Result of Our Dedication …

… is served up daily

The meal in this picture, like most meals here, was almost exclusively grown and produced here. Sweet corn, New York steak, egg-battered okra fritter, skillet-brazed squash with basil, cucumber/jalapeño salad, Caprese salad (tomato, basil, mozzarella), butter and wine. This was followed by homemade ice cream with fresh peaches, drizzled with Amaretto.

The only thing not produced here was the Amaretto. The only thing not grown here were the grapes from which we made the wine. This year, if all goes well, it’s looking like we will produce enough grapes here to make this year’s wine.

This is why we do what we do.

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