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2nd Round of Chickens

“Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me.” James Dean

We have been country people for 5 years now. When we lived in the city we had lists of all the things we wanted to do once we lived in the county. One of our goals, was to have free range chickens. We went big too, we purchased beautiful chicken houses from the Amish. They are big, and they have room for the chickens to roost, two windows, big door, and a door to collect eggs.

We did everything the books told us to do. We raised them for the first three months in the garage. They had little waterer, and it was changed twice a day. The had a feeder that we filled twice a day, and they had a heating lamp. For the first few months the heating lamp was on all day and night to keep the little chicks warm. By the third month, we unplugged the heating lamp during the day, but turned it on in the evening.

After the third month we kept them in their new homes for two weeks, checking on the them, feeding them, and giving them water. Once their feathers were grown in, we allowed them to go outside their house. During the day, they would stay just outside the door, some of them didn’t even want to leave the house. For the first couple of weeks they would stay close to their house, and not go far from it.

As they grew, they became more bold. Since they were free range, they would go all over the place, but mostly like to be close to our house. Which created a disaster…poo everywhere on the porch. I spent so much time cleaning the front porch, and the back porch. Sometimes, we would even see the chickens way down the hill. This is 42 acres, and they have tiny legs. By evening, all of them would come back home, and get inside their homes.

Then, football season started. We would go to the football games with the kids. They were in high school, so they would hang out with their friends and my husband and I would go for romantic walks downtown holding hands. We would come home, and it was late…we would lock the chicken doors. In the morning we would let the chickens go free. Since we had 100 chickens, it was hard to tell that some were missing. It was only after a few games later we discovered…every time we go to a game, there are fewer chicken.

There was one fox that boldly came right by the house. He had the most beautiful red fur coat, and a black peak on his tail. He was super healthy looking, and just strutting right by the house. I thought to myself, honestly, if he came to the door, knocked and asked me for a chicken, I would give it to him. Anyway, a couple of times there were even coyotes that would stalk the chickens during the day.

We finally lost all of our chickens. They were captured by the foxes and coyotes. If we have raccoons near by, I have never seen one in our area. So, now we are starting all over again. We still have the houses. This time, we are building them a lovely fence to protect them from predators. The eggs that come from farm chickens are just so much better than grocery store eggs. I’m always a little embarrassed when I shamefully have to carry a dozen eggs to the check out. By July, I won’t have to carry eggs to the check out, because we will have our own eggs.

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Be Our Guests…

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Rumi

We had a pretty exciting weekend in Paso Robles. This was Wine Festival weekend, and people from all over the United States come to join our party. Some of our friends came into town from Barrel 33 . Alayna and Manny are the owners of Barrel 33, and they happen to sell our Graffino Wines. The two of them were looking for reservations for a place to stay, but since this is a popular weekend places were booked.

I suggested our little house, but prefaced it with the fact that I had not got the connection for dish tv, and I didn’t even have toiletries in the house yet. Well, since we have an inn and villa here at San Marcos Creek, I could grab toiletries to take to the house for them. I had them follow me to the house, since it is a little tricky to get to the house.

Once there, they could get comfortable and they would have a place for the dogs to run and play. Later in the afternoon, I forgot that our coffee maker stopped working, and I confiscated the coffee maker from our little house. UGH! They had no coffee pot! I texted Alayna to tell her I would drop off the coffee pot, and find some filters for it. I dropped off the coffee pot at the door, and had to find some filters. Later, I found a few filters, so I took them to the door, and stuffed them in the box, along with the scoop. Just as I was about to leave, they pulled up at the house.

The next morning Alayna texted me, and told me that they enjoyed staying at the house. I couldn’t have selected better guests…they did everything you would hope that your relatives would do…everything was super clean, they put laundry in the washer, and made the bed.

When my daughter and I went down to the house to put the laundry in the dryer, she said “I miss them already.” These are the guests that every vacation property owner dreams of, I am just sorry that the house wasn’t 100% finished for them.

The next time you head up to Big Bear, please go in and tell them we said hello. They are the beautiful couple probably working their tails off. 😉

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Eating our Garbage

When my children were younger I wanted to share the cycle of life with them in a real way. I wanted them to be able to see, feel, experience how the circle of life really works. I purchased some worms, (red wigglers), and purchase a box that would allow earthworms to procreate, as well as eat all the garbage that we generated. We would put our shredded papers in the box, coffee grounds, and the filter, apple cores, banana peels, and various other food in our worm box. We had our worm box outside. I have read that some people keep their box in the home. NO! 

When my son was 18 months old, he would take all the daily refuse for the worms to the box. The box did not smell bad, since they eat the bacteria that generates the odor from the food. What does smell is the poo from the worms. Every couple of months we would have to clean out the box, and that wasn’t a fun job. We would separate what was the “black gold” from the garbage, and save the worms. We would then have another generation of worms, and we add the black gold into our garden. We grew some of the biggest pumkins on the block, and then when we were done with Halloween, the worms had their favorite food. Honestly, after having these creatures in our life all these years, I can tell you with confidence that they love mellons, pumkins, etc. 

To this day we still have a worm farm, and we still feed our worms. Some of them are from the same parents we started with more than 18 years ago. 

This is the newest edition, it has layers, after a few months, we take it apart and sort out the gold, and start all ove with new food. This system ensures nothing goes to waste. We dont like waste doing nothing, we want to make the most of it. 

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Baby Goats

“Every mans can tell how many goats or sheep he possesses, but not how many friends.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

The babies are staying in the breezeway until they are bigger. If I put them in the pasture, they can wiggle under the gate. We don’t want that to happen.

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Sage

“If the way of the sage is true, that we are all dreaming our world into being, then it has to apply not only to our private, personal universe but to the world at large.”

Alberto Villoldo

When I go out to feed the animals everyday the aroma of sage hangs in the air. It is that smell that lured us back every weekend to find the right property when we were on our search for the piece of property that would be our dream destination.

Honesty, there are those days that I want to just throw up my hands and surrender, but the smell of sage reminds me…”you knew this was going to be tough, so you got to just hang in there.”  Ironically, the sage plant is the only thing growing when all the other grass is dead. It is the thing that perceivers, and emits a fragrance that is intoxicating to me. It is my signal to keep moving forward, keep my head up, and everything will work out the way it is supposed to work.

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Shoes for a Day

I get that people think that owning a winery and having a farm is so romantic. It is also a lot of work, every single day…no holidays. The animals have to have food and water everyday, so no getting sick and just staying in bed. You have to get your ass up out of bed and feed and water everyone. So, when the kids go back to school, I go back to having several jobs everyday.

My day starts in my moccasins, and you may be able to see that I have hay inside my shoes. One thing I have learned about hay, it’s like sand in many ways, it ends up in areas that you wouldn’t expect. I don’t like to go barefoot, I never have. I put my moccasins on first thing in the morning. I have to have my coffee, read my paper on my iPad and discuss what is going to happen for the day with my husband. He usually leaves a little earlier than I do. I have the pleasure of taking care of all the animals.

Next up, my cowboy boots. When I first moved to the county, I was one of those people that said “I’m not going to wear cowboy boots and become some cliche.” Well, guess what? I do wear them, and they are really comfortable. I really mean it, they are comfortable enough to wear all day. In fact there have been days that I do wear them all day. They are great for gong through the tall grass, just in case there are some snakes. The boots are not going to stop a rattlesnake, but I would have a better chance of survival with these on instead of my other shoes. Plus, there are hills and the hay doesn’t easily get inside the boots, unlike my moccasins.

My Gucci loafers are the most comfortable shoes I own, and some days I have to stand all day long. Pouring wine at events or going to conferences these are my preferred shoes. I have pumps, but I have learned the hard way that wearing pumps at a winery is tiring. If you have to go to another winery, you may have to cross a huge area of all rocks and gravel or even dirt. I just play it safe now and wear some comfortable loafers.

When I get back home, I take off my loafers and get right back into my old moccasins. Ive had these things for years, and until they are worn out on the bottom, I have not plans to replace them.

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Office Space

“Your soul – that inner quiet space – is yours to consult. It will always guid you in the right direction.” Wayne Dyer

This is my place where I go to get away from it all, and hear myself think. I enjoy a little alone time, and time to write with no interruptions. A little time to contemplate or read a book. IMG_9736

Antique items and art abound in my personal space. My super comfy chair, and my huge renaissance desk are where I pay the bills and get stuff done. I can even have visitors that can talk to me while I am at my desk, or they can visit in a more intimate spot.

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My reception area has chairs, and a love seat where my visitors can sit and talk. I wanted to make sure I had plants that could clean the air and make my little area alive.

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This is my little space that makes me happy! I love the days I’m in there working, but I also love it when my husband comes to get me, when he thinks I’ve been here too long.

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Another Set of Twins

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really seperate the sheep from the goats.” Sue Grafton

Starbright had the last set of twins for the season. This is the first time we have ever had goats so late in the season. One male and one female. The male has coloring like his mother, and our little female has coloring like her father. We named the little male Goofy, and the female is Belle. Since we have named all of our goats after Disney characters.

Belle is the little brown one all alone, and Goofy is going up to his mom, Starbright. Starbright is not loving to Belle, so she has to be fed by a bottle. We have to milk Starbright to feed Belle. We bottle fed the triplets earlier this year, and gave them formula, but they were just so damn small. The other goats that were getting their mothers milk were almost three times larger than the formula goats. It’s an experiment that we don’t want to repeat.

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Come and Go

“Every oak started out as a couple of nuts who stood their ground” Henry David Thoreau

It’s always sad for us when we loose a tree. One of our oak trees that stood beside the house had to be cut down, and sawed to pieces. The ground squirrels made too many homes under the tree, and she became weak. She became so weak that one of her limbs just came crashing down on the sidewalk. Thank God, no one was around the house at the time. I came home to find the limb was just dead inside. We had someone come out to take a look at her, and tell us if she had a chance of survival.

The damage had already been done the tree was dead all the way though to the trunk. The best thing we could do is cut her down, and saw her to pieces. We did just that, and now the logs are still sitting on the farm.

I want to rent a chipper, put everything we can in there, and utilize the chips in the chicken houses. The chickens can use it as fluff material, then our old tree will become compost, eventually ending up fertilizing something on the farm…making her life come full circle, giving life to others organisms on the farm. IMG_9625

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Working…

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

So, I haven’t been able to write in so long because we have 9 baby goats. Four of the babies were not able to nurse from their mothers, so we had to bottle feed them. Getting up extra early to make baby bottles, and venturing out to feed each one. We hold each one in our lap, and give them a bottle. This occurs first thing in the morning, afternoon, evening, and at nightfall. As they have grown we can cut back, and now they are all at one whole bottle per day. We do a half feeding in the morning, and one at night.

Now, I start to get my life back to being close to normal. We still have one more pregnant goat. Her sister gave birth to a beautiful black female. We hope that the sister will give birth to another female, but we will have to wait for a few more days before we find out what she is carrying.

We also have to run the winery, and plan a few weddings. Not weddings of our own, but people that want to get married at the winery.

Our son is about to graduate from high school, and our daughter will graduate next year. So many things happening…we are growing in so many directions. Here are some photos of our baby goats.

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