Thursday, August 30, 2018

One Fire At A Time

I have been waiting to do this simple but hard earned post for five weeks now. Five weeks that felt to those of us in Shasta county like five years. Thank you to our heros from all response departments from all over the state , country and world. Thank you for taming one of California's  largest wildfires we are in your debt. There are still more fires burning even a second in our county but for now enlarge if you will the update page and look at the Containment % line and rejoice with us. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Some Days It Is Just Nice To Snuggle Up With Someone You Love

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Poop In The Coop and Other News

I have kept this undercover as the outcome was uncertain. In the beginning there were three eggs. Then apparently Mama Hen went for a food and water break and someone deposited two more eggs. Fool that I was I never marked the original three so I now had to keep them all. Mama Buff Orpington obliged me so we were off to the races. The original plan was if there were three they would be named Snap, Crackle and Pop since they were laid during the Carr fire. In the end there was only one that hatched she is cute , red , takes after Mom and her name is Flame. Flame 
was hatched out on August 20th. It is such fun to have a baby in the barn!

This is the proud Papa the Divine Mr. Paul Newman

Some people host progressive suppers. I have found myself writing a progressive blog post. I am now almost a week after this began. Besides the addition of Flame the wonder chick we have come to the conclusion of the solar up grade. 

Recap about six weeks ago we began having issues when running the generator. We have 12 panels mounted on a stand alone but they each produce 75 amps each. The woman who built our home in 2001 did a great job for what she did when she did it but now here we are 17 years later. We had planned on upgrading but cancer got in the way. So now we realized that it was beyond a desire but a get 'er done item or regret it. So we pulled up our big girl and boy undies and bit the bullet. We added these six panels on the easterly facing side of the solar/pump house. They are 150 310 amp producing each panel . Taking us from 900 amps total to 1800   2,760 amps. If I have my amp production correct . May need to check that with the head solar engineer when he finishes his nap. At any rate we have at least doubled it if not more.  If I find I am wrong and I think I may be since I think it is closer to 2400 amp but not sure why. I will post a correction in the comment section when I know. 

you can see the stand alone in this photo and it is facing almost completely straight up for maximum exposure at that time of the year. Wish I had a better one but it seems I spend my life cut it out of blog photos from that angle. But you get the idea.

I don't have any photos of the original batteries. I spend most of yesterday trying to stay out of Ryan and Jack's way as they swapped out the 15 smaller batteries that needed replacing and inserted the two ginormous batteries you see below.

 These are both separate batteries with multiple cells.  
The photo below shows their home all closed up.

The next photo is all the fun stuff. The fellows and some of the ladies will get a big "charge" out of this one. lol

And the ultimate work horse when the winter weather creeps in and we need a bit of help. It is a propane generator. 

And sharing the room with the batteries and the invertors etc is our pump unit.

Ultimately what we have done is doubled or more than doubled our production and put ourselves in a position that we should not have to run our generator until winter sets in. Of course this not being a perfect world we may find ourselves in a fix of some sort or the other that requires it. But in theory we have enough back up to go several days without running it on days that we get a minimal amount of sun.

And to answer your question that is dancing in your heads yes it was an investment. But our money with lots of 0's in it bought us two batteries with a shelf life of 7 - 10   years for not a lot more than the smaller ones with a replacement life of 5 years. Plus the six new panels and a few technical items on the smaller side like the fan that cools the battery storage area and all the labor to get this done. It will increase the equity in our property for interested parties . No we aren't planning on moving but anything that increases your equity is a good thing.

So we have a new chicklet and a new system. We lived through 6 weeks during a lot of 100 degree plus temps with inversion layers from the Carr fire without a cooler or having "regular" lights at night because we were limping along with the system. We both spent over a week sleeping outside me on the deck Geoffrey on a chase lounge in the front porch area. It was too warm to sleep inside on the bed as without the swamp cooler to blow out the warm air left,even with shutting all the windows before the temperature began it's climb at 8 AM , a warm icky house so why bother? Just camp out. And we survived the stress, strain and worry over and about the fires around us and the potential of becoming part of the equation.

So what else? I posted a bit back about the onset of shingles in Geoffrey's  left optic nerve. We are now 6 weeks out and three appointments once a week with the ophthalmologist. On his last appointment the Dr. was very concerned over the fact that the nerve damage at this point prevents him from blinking . Therefore his eye is very dry and even more excruciatingly painful. So with that said if he still has no blink when he goes in for visit number four this coming week he is intending to schedule an appointment for him to have the lid's of his left eye sutured together for a month to see if that will help resolve the situation. I cannot say enough about how horribly painful this condition is and how many issues from it can become permanent.  I will never negate how painful and potentially complicated any case of shingles can be. However this has to be the mother of all . I am very concerned for his well being and what may become a permanent part of our lives.

I don't like to express my concerns too much publicly as many of you know but please if you should ever have symptoms of a continually on going headache behind one eye that don't match up in the stroke category please get yourself seen asap. Anything with the eyes moves quickly and has the potential to steal your vision. It is nothing to put off or delay . Better to go in and be seen to find nothing serious then to delay. Geoffrey was seen a week after his first symptoms he tends to be prudent and forgive my gender discrimination he is a man and men in general tend to think of all the simple explanations to my knowledge. A delay of a few days can put you behind the eight ball with the optic shingles.

A bit of cheer to end with . Since I am getting a nice amount of milk from Little Trouble I made Feta!

It is currently ready to be put into a brine and left to age to perfection! I am very excited to be back in the home dairy arena .  Tonight I am making a batch of yogurt . I have forgotten how much fun this is and how nice it is to once again have some home made goodness!   

Thanks for taking your time to check in on us at Walnetto Farm and have a wonderful pre Fall weekend!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Does This Count As A Garden Or Not?

These photos were taken the night I brought these two home.
This is a Shady Lady. I have a tomato!

This one is a Celebrity and tada! I have  had a tomato. 

These two were on the get 'em while they last for $2.50 each cash and carry. I had wandered into one of my favorite nurseries on Wednesday. I hadn't meant to but I went past it on my way home and figured what the what let's go! So I did. 

I was on the hunt for a little something to put the perk back in my pear and apple trees. You may remember from a couple post back with all the smoke and particulates in the air those two who were perfectly lovely only a few weeks ago are doing their best modern dance interpretation of "tree in pose of death". Ugh! 

So I walked out of Gold Leaf nursery with a 4 ounce bottle of Superthrive and two bargain tomato plants.  I am usually pretty picky about what I put into my soil and plants but everyone I know at the nursery is nuts about this stuff. I figured that it will go on two trees who went from healthy to half gone in a short amount of time and I have tried everything else . Factor in that both of the trees are in a basin of their own planted at least 4 feet away from anything else. We are safe just in case when I start reading the fine print on the bottle and internet and I slap myself silly for buying it. Basically they are going to die so why not try every thing with in reason? 

This is Agatha Apple. She still has green in her bark but her "hair" looks pretty sad. :-(
and yes I name my plants doesn't everyone?

So back to the tomatoes. I figured since last year I nursed a tomato plant through until November and harvested fruit I may do the same with these two. The most that can happen is I am successful and my green house will have two occupants when the temperatures drop and I will have tomato's. The worse that will happen they won't and I will have bought two very pricey tomato's . But there is also the BLT factor.

I wait all winter for the first BLT of summer with our tomatoes. For the last 6  years that hasn't happened . I either went BLT less or bought a Farmers Market tomato. Now don't get me wrong  but it just isn't the same. There is nothing like plucking a sun kissed  tomato and pairing it with the lettuce,bacon and I also enjoy avocado on occasion . So I took the plunge on Wednesday evening and walked out on the deck lovingly caressed the small but ample and ripe Celebrity plucking her from the vine. 

The scent was pure ambrosia that only to be found in the garden in August. While slicing it the aroma drifted upwards and I was transported to summers before when the children were little's and  Geoffrey would pay them a penny a piece for each squashy fat tomato worm they retrieved and stomped. Then I gingerly spread the sour dough bread (lightly toasted) with mayonnaise , oh the indulgence!   Smoshed some avocado on the mayo, placed the slices of tomato on the avocado, placed the slices of bacon gently on the the tomato slices , topping them with red lettuce and lastly the other slice of bread.I then sliced up the middle and plated with some kettle chips . Those are another infrequent indulgence but darn it a girl needs to have fun! 

Then I found myself in a quandary of semantics. Can I honestly say that I had a delicious   BLT with a summer tomato from my garden?  Is possession really 9/10 of the law? Or am I just a lying opportunist who bought her way to gardening rights by being in the right place at the right time?  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

This And That

 Had some appointments and errands in Redding today. Coming down the hill from blue sky and sun. A large layer of smoke covers the valley floor today.  

Let the healing begin. In the hallway at the Chiropractors office.

An encouraging article at the optometrist office while cruising the local paper waiting for appointment time.  

The sky on Wednesday night. So nice to see our moon as it begins it dance this week between the planets.

First Naked Lady to bloom in the late summer blooming. 

Love all the emotions that are shared in this.   

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Normal Is A Setting On A Washing Machine

A person has to love Mt. Shasta and all her glory. 

I don't think that this the view I would get today with the Carr fire still with us but hopeful that perhaps it will happen soon. It is finally getting better daily at our place up the mountain. We got stars two nights in a row and I have hopes of watching the moon dance in between multiple planets in the next few nights if that holds. 

And if I had a camera with me when I went to the barn today chances are good this is what we would see. Sherman really enjoys his daily multiple naps as does his partner in guarding Yarrow. In fact he just about has it down to a science. When you are up often at night strongly suggesting that the bad guys "just keep moving" it frees up days for a good nap with one eye open.

Of course the goats aren't far behind in perfecting the art of lounging. They too seem to have made a life style of it. And KC here is no exception


I remember these. Cookies that is baking that is. I haven't turned on my over since mid June. Just got too darn hot. I am so looking forward to Fall weather when I can taste a fresh loaf of home baked sourdough it has been too long. One thing this long hiatus has taught me. Certainly setting up a savings envelope for a solar oven like Leigh at
has. Next summer if it goes well I won't be without my homemade goodies. 

Speaking of homemade. Now that I have a small but steady supply from Little Trouble of milk I will be whipping up some mozzarella. I may make some cherve and some buttermilk too. Home produced dairy products just make me go wild . 


Mostly because then I get homemade pizza. Wonder what you get with a solar oven?

Maybe there will be more of this in the future too. We would welcome a cold, wet and snow filled winter . 

And even though the decision is out. After the cold seasonal winter we just might be welcoming Spring with some of these.

One just never knows what can happen when things get back to normal. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Oh Look I Made A Mini Post

I cannot get a photo of it because it is on a freeway overpass as are many many many signs of gratitude for everyone from first responders to fire fighters from far and wide. But of them all for the folks who made survival possible since July 23rd this one is my favorite. Had to share I was in town today and noted it again. Done in multi colored ribbon on the cyclone safety fence a grateful very clever person left this message. 


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Blue Skies, Hat Fire And Carr The Bear Cub

Stay with me on this multifaceted post.  Yes that is blue skies taken yesterday afternoon and enjoy it when you can cause as of now it is smokey skies again. And we had stars last night in the weeks since the Carr fire began I remember seeing stars on only three nights. There may have been more that I saw but forgot when I spent my nights sleeping on the deck because of the issues with our off grid solar unit. 

As of 7 AM today the Carr fire checked in at 186,416 acres with 55% containment. There is also a lot ouuing and aweing over little Miss Carr a black bear cub read about her here

The new kid on the block is the Hat fire. It is about one and one half hours up the mountain to the NE of us. It was started (I use that term as right now the scuttlebutt is lite intentionally ) on Thursday late afternoon and is currently per Cal Fire info of 7AM today 1,900 acres and 25% contained. 

I am feeling rather like the bologna in a sandwich but the bread is fire. If you want to keep up with the stats or are interested in the monster that is burning in Lake and Mendocino counties go to 
this site is update at least 3 times a day and has reliable info on all California fires including referral to fires that are not considered Cal Fire incidents. 

Ok fire stuff over for today. On Thursday I took a much needed off the property to the hamlet of Mineral.,_California
A fiber friend has a designated camping spot up there all summer . She spends 5 days a week there and the weekend at the house on the valley floor. A great get away from the heat retreat. So she invited some of the ladies up for a fiber day in forest. The photos below were taken on my drive up. Intentions were honorable to take photos of the gathering but did I? Oh heck no found myself so into spinning , visiting and just relaxing (can we say "breath") I never got a one.

The road to mineral. The smoke you see is headed to Nevada's Great Basin. Apparently it has proceeded to as far away as Michigan today per a FB contact. 
Lane Valley Road a short cut from my place to the fiber day.

This chimney on Lane Valley Road is all that is left of an old homestead perhaps. The left side of the chimney has a very wide substantial opening that leads one to think it was in the kitchen of a large ranch house and was used for cooking and heating. Or perhaps in the main room and used for both. 

As everywhere in the mountains and foothills of Shasta and Tehama counties there are cattle.
This ample Black Angus bull and the Hereford blue with the very to standard horn set (they have been tipped at the ends for cowdog and cowboy safety. Also for less damage to be done in a "boy fight " ) and the cute curly do on his forehead were both hanging out grazing with the boys. They were also eyeballing the heifers across the street. ;-)

Caught this guy fueling up in Redding on Monday . Got a much needed giggle from it as it seems we could get our Crepes & Fries plus fuel if need be. There was a pickup attached further forward.

The first three of the new , larger solar panels are in place before I left to run errands yesterday.

When I returned about 5 hours later this is what I found. Much to my delight! However we still have to have the industrial size batteries arrive get these panels on the system all the wiring is now in place. The older panels on the stand alone are all tested out in good working order so we have 12 smaller panels 75 amps each and these six which are the new are  150 amps each which will give us a total of 2500 amps in the end. I am hopeful we will be back on line by the end of next week at the latest. It will be wonderful to have the cooler and lights up and running. We have been very conservative with the unit since it began showing its needs by slowing down the generator. So we haven't had conventional living after sundown. And when this all comes together  our generator use will be relegated to the back seat so to speak which is what the original plan was when we moved here.

The tree that was standing behind the generator pump house until the additions were added. So in another year or two, as it was a live healthy tree but had to go for the sun angle, we have more heat for the winter.

As if that weren't enough excitement we had this. Check out that left(right in photo) eye that was the loser in the fight. It is even worse today. Geoffrey managed to get a shingles infection in his optic nerve. It is nothing to be toyed with as everything from blindness to annoying stuff such as debilitating pain are on the list. So he has been down for the count since Wednesday when he finally agreed to a visit to our O.D. who marched him directly to the ophthalmologist office for appropriate care.   He is sleeping almost constantly and is very painful still. He is on AB's and eye drops with a follow up appointment next week. The fun never ends at Walnetto Farm!

Let us make this post a bit longer shall we? I got this cute tote in the mail yesterday from my sister.
The back and the photo below splain Lucy. And I am going to keep my eye out to see if they do a repeat performance for this year. As this is a cause I can get behind.

Almost forgot. This cute canister is what the adorable tote was stashed in. Just love it and my dog cookie jar desperately needed replacing. I am feeling so loved with all the unexpected goodies!  

Well I hope you have made it to the conclusion. I will end until it is over and the fat lady sings "Please pray for California " and hope to see you next time!