Friday, August 18, 2006

Serenity (Los Osos, California)

I've dropped off the face of the planet.

At least it feels that way. After 5 days wrapping up projects and such in LA, Perro Grande and I have come up to The Ranch. We don't have a name for it yet. Not really. At one time, I called it Rancho Kuma because it's in Los Osos (The Bears.) The story is that when white explorers first came here, they were able to survive the winters eating the bears. I guess they're all eaten up now, because the only bear that's here is the statue at the entrance to town. A sad, and sadly all too familiar, tale.

The ranch is in a serene valley, a few miles from the town of Los Osos. The hills around us protect this area from wind, the colder coastal weather, the hotter inland weather. In other words, the climate here is just about perfect! It's not the hundreds (thousands?) of acres we started looking for, but the 40-odd acres is keeping us maxed out.

Every day is all new for a city-bred girl like me, but I am rising to the physical challenges! ("She's only 90 pounds but she's like an ant -- she can lift twice her weight!") And believe me, EVERYTHING is physical around here. This is not a suburban home. You don't put your yard clippings in a roll-away garbage bin once a week. You get your truck, fill it up, ride it to the edge of your property and fling the truckload. There is no end to battling weeds, so you pick your battles: "The lawn around the house will be weed-free!"

You learn to look forward to the egg one of the four hens will lay every other day or so -- because you've never tasted a store-egg as sweet or as tasty -- until a mysterious wild thing kills the only layer, leaving you with 3 free-loaders.

You take a ladder to the roof to see if you can battle the mice that seem to be thriving in the rafters, only to find out that they are not mice at all, but bats! Yes, BATS! And you love bats because they'll keep the insects down, but you can't have them in your attic stinking the place up, so you pound on the roof, driving out a few, wait for dusk when they go out hunting and cram in some rolled up chicken wire so they can't get back in. Hoping all the time that all of them are gone, that there aren't baby bats left in the attic.

You anticipate the flock of wild turkeys that roost in the big oak in the middle of what we call "Treasure Island," a rocky mound next to the main house. There are 16 of them. Two huge toms that look menacingly at you if you get too close. They do not fear humans at all. They should fear me. I'm going to go online to see how you kill and dress a turkey.

You stop by the lower orchard (there are 3, none of them named yet -- we call them "back" "front" and "lower") to pick up a few apples. There are so many. One of the trees was so overloaded with fruit that a branch broke. S, who lives in the converted barn on our property, has 2 horses. The larger, brown one will eat apples from my hand, gooing it up with chomped up apple juice. The smaller, blonde one is more aloof. She's a bit bitchy and bossy and will never stoop to eating from my hand, but if you toss her an apple, she'll gladly munch, too.

We missed nectarine and peach season, which is a huge bummer because the nectarines and peaches here are out of this world! But we are into plum season and I'll be making some plum jam soon. Maybe when it's not laundry day -- we have no washing machine here and so far, I've been washing everything by hand.

I feel like a pioneer. Days go by without much human contact. I have absolutely no social life here. Even sitting at my laptop, like I'm doing now, seems like an unaffordable luxury when there is so much that needs to be done. If you don't see a new entry for a while, you can be sure I am still hard at work...

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