Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm not going to have a vegetable garden

So I've finally said the words.

No vegetable garden here. Probably ever.

Which, if I'm being honest, I knew when we bought the place.

Despite my wild out loud fantasies of tractoring and row crop growing and getting goats for the manure-making (and obviously face cuddling), I knew.

Because this place is on a seriously not fucking around slope and the only sunny space I have that's flat is right annoyingly out at the front of our property where we have to have space to deal with the solar panels and for, say, the corralling of 402 goats during their 5 annual days of glory eating the poison oak.

I can have a vegetable garden or I can have a goat corral for five days of the year. I went goats. Doy. 
As though there are people that DON'T want this on their property.
Also deer.

Deer, cottontails, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, skunks, opossum, rats, field mice...there are a lot of creatures here that love to eat/make a nest of/fuck up a vegetable garden.

Dudes - even the succulents I planted in a pot on the top level of my deck within five feet of Jada The Predator's jaws weren't safe. Something fucking ate them, too.

Sidenote: Name that movie. Hint: That is not a complete quote.

So yeah, despite whatever delusions I may have vaguely entertained when we bought the place of the vegetable garden I *might* have *one day* once we don't need that flat spot for necessary maintenance activities of our main power source and the hungry naughty wildlife has left their native habitat of our property because they decide they want their kids going to the good schools in Los Altos rather than this bumpkin shit (honestly, I have no idea of school systems. I don't have kids. But you get it.) - maybe then.

But until then, no.

And that's totally 100% OK.

Seriously. I'm fine with it.


California natives and an essentially untouched 5 acre oak woodland that has almost every Sunset Zone 16 exposure imaginable.

Ok, go.

Like full sun, part sun, part shade, shade, deep shade, dry shade, wet weather creeks, slope, flat, well draining, clay, sand, under oaks, fog drip line, east/west/north/south facing whatever - all the exposures and conditions.

The same Zone 16 that Sunset deems "one of Northern California’s finest horticultural climates."

And the same house where the previous residents decided to plant vinca and let it run amok in the front and then never did a shitting thing about the poison oak choking out the Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia for my plant nerds! Woo!) in the back and then put in a bunch of tragically tight-spaced non-native water hungry Poplars and surrounded it all, including the oaks, with drip and sprinkler irrigation.

For the win.


But to bring it back. To make it right, plant-wise. That's the fun now.

So, sorry tomatoes, but our field grower is perfectly excellent at growing tangy rich dry farmed Early Girls and drunkeningly luscious heirloom cantaloupe and more frilly perfect dill than I ever knew even existed in a single crop anywhere. And I grow basil and cucumbers year round, so we have that and all the other shit that comes off the farm. So no one needs a vegetable garden then, too.

Instead, I'm growing lupines, Lupinus arboreus now.
These are some native annual lupines which are different but still awesome and they will stay.

They're there. In the dug out ruts in the side of the slope there. Promise.
And buckwheat, Erigonum grande rubescens

Obviously California poppies, Eschscholzia california

And Matijla poppies, Romneya coulteri

Next spring, this thing is going to be huge and gorgeous. Swear it.
And Bush Anenome, Carpenteria californica
Ok, kinda cheating here since this is one from our old house. But I still love this plant and I'm having LOTS here. 
And Flannel Bush, Fremontodendron
This was before the deer dined on it. It looks OK now and next spring BETTER and then in a few years UH-MAY-ZING.
And California Lilac, Ceanothus

Do you like the high contrast photo that I took at midday after I discovered the deer had gone to work on my new Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter'? I don't. It's a shit photo and those deer are jerks but next spring I bet the "after" photo will look incredible.
And Mock Orange, Philadelphus lewisii

And Woolly Blue Curls, Trichostema lanatum

And Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus

This guy was supposed to be Mimulus bifidus 'White', but Annie's played a wee joke on me before sending me what I ordered so DAMNITALLTOHELLNOTREALLY I have a few of these Mimulus aurantiacus 'Cherry' in and amongst the 'Pt Molate' and the Mimulus bifidus 'White'. Worse things have happened, I assure you. 
And Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
I have an absolutely inappropriate love affair with this plant. I'm planting it everywhere. It's going to be glorious. If not a little showy.
This is one of the plantings. Of, I think five now. I swear this will look good one day. Probably.
And Giant Chain Fern, Woodwardia fimbriata

And what I thought was Western Sword Fern, Polystichum munitum, but on reflection is I'm not sure. Thoughts, my plant people? I'm going to check my plant tags.
It is impossibly green here in the spring.
And Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris

And Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa

And Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana

And Penstemon

And Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
Yeah. She needs time.
To start with anyway.

And maybe one day, when we've cleared enough of the poison oak from the beautiful hillside to put in our little trail, I'll get to go out into the wild (but in a way where I don't meet a tragic end in an abandoned bus) to plant even more because I'M DRUNK WITH THE POWER OF FIVE WHOLE ACRES OF ZONE 16 OAK WOODLAND WOO!

So yeah, no vegetable garden probably, but, like, I'm fine with it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The new bermudagrass

Remember when I was all, "BERMUDAGRASS CAN GO FUCK ITSELF", or whatever?

Because it was the worst/the devil's landscape material/etc?

You may remember. I remember. But now I laugh when I remember how much I loathed the Bermudagrass because...

Poison oak.


People, I'm not saying that I'd take 5 acres of Bermudagrass over the poison oak, but what I am saying is FUCK THAT SHIT and also, our perspectives toward yard work have changed.

Specifically, we are extra not fucking around.

The days of maybe I'll wear flip flops while I do some light gardening are way over.

You know - coveralls speckled with filth are basically the same.

The days where I yard work myself to a near stroke only a few times a year when the vegetable garden goes in/comes out are super over.

Every weekend, folks. Be jealous.

The days where going out to do yard work does not involve a pre-treatment, hooded Tyvek suit, elbow length gloves, full face coverage and an invasively thorough Technu post-treatment hosing off are over, too.

Strange that the gloves are what makes this scary.

These are the salad days for sure.

But - we are making just the tiniest bit of progress with the 5 acres of Bubba-eating poison oak, so there's that.


And, while Bubba happens to be violently OFFENSIVELY allergic to poison oak, I happen to not be allergic apparently at all.

Though I'm sure that now I say that, I'll die of poison oak inhalation or something stupid.

And I think you know that this was finally the moment we were all waiting for - GOATS.

Let me allow that to sink in.



And not because I somehow convincingly demanded it or looked extra pathetic or made some censor-worthy offers to Bubba - oh no.


Because of the almost dying twice of poison oak since we moved here less than a year ago.

But yeah - GOATS CAME.

And not just, like, one or two goats. NO, PEOPLE - 402 GOATS WERE AT OUR HOUSE.

And, for a few minutes on our road, and then for 5 munchy munchy days of blissful oak, grass and POISON OAK eating they were on our property doing their adorable, insatiable, bottomless-bellied bests.

I said, "This is the greatest thing I've ever seen" approximately 100 times. Every minute.

Because COME ON...

I mean, before was all:

And then after 5 days of endless goat attention, it was all:

And during I was all:

It was all.

Anyway - yeah. Poison oak is basically our lives and, as a result, we've gotten REAL.

After they took the goats away (it was a sad day), we armed ourselves with The Poison Oak Station.

So, yes, this is a repurposed repurposed tool cabinet that some kid made (unsupervised, I'm thinking) in shop class that Bubba bought and cut up and welded back together to be the FrankenSmoker and then cut up again and then here we are.

Now it's, luxuriously I might add, lined with cardboard and filled with everything we need to almost hopefully probably if we're really careful not get poison oak while we use the Not Fucking Around tools to, basically, go to battle.

I mean, what even is this thing?

Brush ax. Kaiser blade. Sling blade. Take your pick.

We call it the Dothraki Death Blade because - I mean you can see why. It's kind of like a scythe crossed with a giant machete and bolted onto an ax handle.

And it FUCKING WORKS. For chopping shit back anyway. That's its main purpose. And we have a lot of chopping shit back to do. So, that's one tool we can't do without.

Then there's the super long tree saw with the hookey-loo that can snag the poison oak vines BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY ARE VINING and drag their oily asses out of the beautiful coast live oak trees and into the trailer BOOM. And then saw down the big fat trunks choking the shit out of the trees.

Except don't tell Bubba I called it a hookey-loo. I think he takes offense to the goofball names I apply to all his manly stuff.

And then there's the chainsaw to which Bubba has pledged his eternal soul.

Now, to be clear, we do not use the chainsaw on poison oak - that'd be crazy and would just spray noxious poison oak bits and blobs every old where. But we are also limbing up the trees and cutting up fallen limbs every other foot fall as we creep ever closer to the center of this property, so the chainsaw is a must.

And the trailer. He's a good boy.

And you may not think of it as a super Not Fucking Around Tool - but the rake is in there, too. The ratty old one that the former owners left behind. He can pull great wads of filthy poison oak down around your ankles in no time at all.

Makes me itchy just thinking about it. And I don't even get poison oak! Or do I...?

So yeah - that's what we're doing instead of training for races, brewing beer, crafting a thing, growing a vegetable garden or basking our buns in Hawaii.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

You should probably just ignore me

So, let's rest assured that I've not lost my incredible delusion.

When we were moving, I was making absurd declarations left and fucking right. 

"I'm going to shut the gate and hide forever."

Or, "Imma get drunk with the neighbors and eat their beautiful cake off the plate with my hands because I'm terribly behaved."

"I'm going to make your lunches, Bubba, because your day is going to be very long thanks to this new shiite commute." 

Translation: "I'll do it, like twice, and then melt down the special lunch container in the dishwasher and then sort of put it on the back burner for a while. BUT I'LL GET BACK TO IT. Swear."

"I'm going to wait until I've done the whole landscape design before I put in a single plant."

Crazier words have never been spoken.

But I'll just quick pull these dead ferns out and that's it. I'll stop after that.
The fucking place looks haunted.
So much mental vomiting

Fuck it. I couldn't take it. SO I PLANTED 6 SALVIAS SO WHAT?!
For the sake of Money Chicken

Then some leftover bark mulch happened that was a mistake.
Then some pumpkins came home with me from work because they're EVERYWHERE at work and it's impossible to keep them from just falling in the truck.
Marauding bastards 

Just...for days

Aren't the white ones the coolest? I think they are. Even though Halloween has passed and now all anyone can talk about is fucking Christmas.

Isn't this echeveria awesome looking?

Let's never speak of the holidays again. Or the fact that this door is positively shrieking for a succulent wreath.

Also, I may have some Mimulus en route in 4" pots.

And I may be kicking off of work early on a coming Friday to get some native iris rhizomes to restart my wild meadow.


I'm totally going to get a whole landscape design together before I plant anything else.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eventually my eyes will stop watering.

I really thought I'd have more glamorous shit to report from our New Life In The Country, as it's been called, but who the hell knows why I thought there would be glamour in the country.

Mostly we just have skunks.

Hey buddy! NO THANK YOU.


Remember how I got so over our old house projects before that I never wanted to hear the word, "kitchen", again? Or garage. Or bathroom. Or porch. Or fireplace. Or bar.

Because of the all-consumingness of those projects? Because we were spending all of our waking hours discussing the ins and outs and details and plans for those projects? Those projects that were going to result in a remodeled kitchen, a garage with electricity, a bathroom without a time machine shower,  a not-collapsing porch, a push button fireplace and an effing BAR?


And then to get a fabulous new BAR instead of...just not skunk smell.

Yeah. So, we're there with the skunks.

These sick bastards went to absolute town on our house one week before we moved in.

Sprayed the garage. Sprayed the guest house. Sprayed the deck.

Our eyes are watering, but still - COCKTAILS ON THE DECK. MUST HAVE IT. NEED THOSE ONION GOGGLES. Also, please enjoy our ski fencing while the deck railing is finished. 

I'll just say that moving day was fragrant. Eye-wateringly so.


So yeah - all the glamorous fun projects like tearing out miles of heinous carpet, redoing a tragically tiled kitchen, setting up a media room or staking out my new garden has taken an abrupt backseat.


See...glamour. It's my life.

Thankfully, we now have A Skunk Guy.

We have traps set and they're baited with hard boiled eggs (I almost vomit a lot) and they're sitting out waiting to catch us the grand prize of a funking skunk.

That will probably spray again when The Skunk Guy comes to take him away.


At least we got the garbage disposal fixed on the home buyer's warranty!

Oh, not glamorous either.

Ceiling fan spins now?

OK, also boring.

New propane tank!

Snore, I know.

But the stairs! We had the hilarious contractor built us some awesome stairs! And they're pretty!

You'll have to do.

And he had his painter do the painting part and OH MY GOD LOOK A THE PAINTER GUY'S DOG:

I'm sure you realize that I cuddle raped the absolute pants off of this dog.

And then we've had some good looking sunsets.

Nicely done, Country.
And twilight turkey hunting.

And Jada's kinda in heaven.

Plus, we're managing.

Beer is why country dog walks are superior to suburban dog walks.

So fuck the glamour.

We have skunks, sunsets, stairs, turkeys, a happy dog and beer.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I ate my body weight in pretzels. And parsley, basil, dill, radishes, lettuce, cabbage, chives and arugula.

So, I went to Germany to look at some farms.

And look I did. A LOT.

My eyeballs are tired from all the lettuce looking.

And cute displays of herb looking.

If you don't look at this and squeal then I just don't understand you.

I mean, who DOESN'T want to look at and sample a half dozen types of dill?

Or talk to plant breeders about the latest in hedgerow design?

Or watch the corn wave around in the breeze?

This girl does, that's for sure.

Plus parsley. I tasted a lot of parsleys. Parslies? Whatever you know what I mean.

And eat pretzels.

So many pretzels. I ate them all.

And see the latest basil varieties.

I smelled, tasted and cuddled all of these basils. IT'S MY JOB OK.

And I work VERY hard.

I had to pinch this basil's cheeks because come on. CUTEST.

And, bless the friggen Germans - the straight lines and organization. Best ever.

Probably I will have to make this at home.

And eat pretzels.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner pretzels. Plus pastries. Plus YAY.

And see way more arugula than necessary.

Yeah. I don't grow arugula, but apparently a LOT of people do. There was much talk about it. 

And eat pretzels.

Which gave me a chance to eat more pretzels. 

And drink beer.

And mushrooms and carpaccio.

And look at squash towers.

"WOW! The Germans are so efficient that they've figured out how to grow squash vertically!" - The hilarious Bubba

For work.

Lamborghini tractors. Because Germans do not fuck around with farming.

My greenhouse manager and I - working VERY HARD.

Market research. At the market. VERY WORKY.
The shoppers in the store didn't really know what to make of a dozen growers poking around the living herbs section taking pictures and smelling and modeling with all the plants.

This was very cool - a package of herbs for a specific type of herb sauce that they make all over Germany ("green sauce"). We all marveled at it in the store. 
And then BECAUSE WE WERE WORKING VERY HARD, we went to the growers who produce this special "Green sauce" herb package to see how they do it.

And check out how the Europeans pack out their herbs. 

SO COOL - Cut bunched dill shipped in watered pallets.

Hehe - cute chives

And the very first chance I had, there was currywurst. 

Don't you call it hot dogs.
So yeah, Germany. Farms. Vegetables. Herbs. Beers. Pretzels. Clean boots. Cool people.



See y'all in a week or so. When I will be "not even that tan".