There was a time when you could get an acre of land for the price of a good axe

Did you know that less than 100 years ago, in the United States of America, an enterprising man or woman could purchase an acre of land for about the price of a good axe — which was $4.50.

Our modern relationships with money, price, and value are unbelievably different than the ones our grandparents had. Shockingly different.

“… For this acre Charlie paid Norm $3, at a time when a good axe was worth $4.50.”  (Scott and Helen Nearing, Living the Good Life, Schocken Books Inc., 1970, p. 23)

Cover of the book titled "The Good Life" by Scott and Helen Nearing
The Good Life, by Scott and Helen Nearing


Olives grow very well in the northern California foothills.  Pictured here are some freshly picked, ripe, Mission olives.

We process these olives whole, and use them in Greek-style salads during the summer – tomato, cucumber, Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper, feta cheese, and olives.  We eat these salads nearly every day once our tomatoes and cucumbers are producing.

To process the olives, we alternate them in a salt brine/fresh water bath cycle over a period of weeks to leach out the oleuropein and then pickle them in a solution of vinegar, olive oil, lemon, oregano and other herbs.  We use cherry-pitters to remove the olive pits before canning them.  The process we use is relatively simple and easy.  However, there are many ways to process olives.  An fairly comprehensive guide from UC-Davis is linked below for reference.

handful of ripe olives extended over white 5 gallon bucket full of freshly picked olives
Freshly picked, ripe olives


Update 03-04-2018 … after sitting, submerged, in the brine water (yes, a nice, mothering mold will typically grow on the surface of the water), the olives have received their first rinsing and will sit submerged in the clean water now for a while.



Winter mornings

Winter mornings are used for cooking and reading.

This morning, a flourless, chocolate cake is baking in the oven.

A fire burns in the central fire pit.

And we are reading, thinking about, and discussing “Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People? – Humanity has 30 years to find out” in “The Atlantic”, March 2018.


Snow-covered granite stone with hole in center -- the stone is a native american acorn flour grinding stone
Acorn flour grinding stone

Living in a valley

Some people live on a mountaintop.  Some on the side of a hill.  Some in a city.  Some on the street.  Some are nomads.  When I was in high school, I imagined living in the ocean.

Today, we live in a valley.

Valleys are fertile, moist and cool, with high horizons, long mornings and nights, and only a little time to see the moon ride the sky.  Grand sunsets and sunrises don’t visit here, but the light they cast does.  Valleys have a long dimension to them, things come in on one end and leave on the other.  They cut place into two parts, that side, and this side.

Interesting to wonder how place shapes life, and life resonates with place …

We can climb the hill behind us to the upper pasture, to look around and over the valley, to change perspective.  But it is easier to grow things in the valley.

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