Crimson Clover and a Little Dog, Too!

David and I got a quick respite for two days to see my mom, dad and sister (first time we’ve seen them in two years). Here’s my sister’s dog playing in crimson clover. Thankfully, what you don’t see is the poor dog had nearly 50 ticks on it after that romp — as did Dalane and David. Missouri has ticks and chiggers in abundance. We did not bring any back with us, thank you.

The Water Situation

Everyone who follows us here knows last Fall’s fire destroyed our source of irrigation water. We are tackling that on three fronts: 1) rebuilding the aqueduct, 2) adding additional storage and a well on the ranch, and 3) getting by on rainfall.

The last of these fronts, rainfall, has kept the creek running since November, but is dwindling rapidly and will likely be inadequate for most irrigation in about ten days or less. This is when our water needs go critical again. Critical means additional sources are needed.

We are about $20,000 dollars and 500 hours into rebuilding the aqueduct. There’s probably another 500 hours of labor needed, and we are going to attempt to re-use and patch many areas that need new pipe because of funding issues. That may or may not work. Here’s our latest post about the aqueduct repair on Facebook:

Here on the ranch, we are still working on additional storage and drilling a second well, but we’ve had very little time for that as we are focused on the aqueduct. The 12,000 gallon steel tank we purchased last year needs some TLC (had about 50 holes to patch-weld and still needs paint and to be placed and plumbed). We are hoping to get the well drilled in May sometime. It is already too dry to trench power to the new well so we will likely power it with a generator until we can hopefully trench power next year.

Water needs are going critical very early this year because this is California’s third driest season on record. Fire weather watches are already going, tomorrow through Tuesday being especially dangerous already.

Celebrating Friends, Survival, and Aging Gracefully

The first party at Two Bucks Ranch in almost two years

It was too cool for the pool, but a glorious afternoon for local friends to come together in joy and celebration after so much isolation and challenge.

Loved this day and the people near. Blessings. Thank you. And many more not pictured in our hearts.

A special thank you to David for making it happen.

Familiar Refrain

… just like last year: “It’s all about water”

Every day in April has been dedicated to water — watering the ranch before the creek runs dry; trying to set up extra water storage; rebuilding the aqueduct.

Today, a sand-blaster came to blast rust and old paint off the 12,000 gallon steel tank we got last Fall so we can weld and paint it to fix some holes before we can use it. That was a reprieve from using picks and shovels on the side of the mountain to create a new pipe bed for the aqueduct in the steepest terrain that was previously cross by the trestles (so wonderfully built last Spring and burned in September).

Here are some pictures and video from those projects.

Sandblasting the inside of the tank. Two hours to do 1/8th of the inside. Visibility zero.

For comparison, the trestle being rebuilt with steel looked like this before the fire:

Off in the Oleanders …

In California, there’s a saying … “He’s off in the oleanders again!” That’s sort of like saying “he’s off in the weeds again”. If one drives down a divided highway in California, the median is often a hedge of oleander bushes. They are extremely drought tolerant. And if one is absent-minded or a bit off, then one may find oneself in the oleanders.

David and Neil have been off in the oleanders this week. (Be kind in the comments, please!)

Previous owners of the ranch planted a long hedge of oleanders along the highway to reduce visibility and noise. The row is several hundred feet long on the north side of the ranch road frontage. There are eighty (80) plants. They haven’t been properly trimmed in decades. They are encroaching on the highway and are a fire hazard in their current, overgrown state.

So far, we are about half-finished with this chore and David has hauled 2 tons of prunings to the green waste facility. Oleanders are extremely toxic and we can’t re-use them here.

  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • A truck and dump trailer loaded with brush and covered with a tarp.

Pruning these things is hard work and time-consuming! No landscape company or arborist was willing to do it, so we are stuck with it. (Most all available arborists are busy clearing Berry Creek after the fire). It takes about a day to cut, haul, cut some more, stuff into a trailer and haul away 15 plants-worth of prunings. We are “almost” half-done.

Oleanders do bloom — white, pink, red, purple — but the blossoms are also poisonous so they are useless for insects and birds (actually, deadly, but they avoid them). We would never have planted them, but now that they are here, they have a useful utility. We would rather have a hedge of azaleas, but they consume too much water.