farming, Happiness Project, Throwback Thursday, vacation rental

Terreni D’ Oro

“You can’t have the family farm without the family.” Gilbert K. Charleston

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We have a little farm with a vacation rental on our property. We came down to San Luis Obispo to allow our children live a cleaner life in the country. Once we found the farm land that we were dreaming about we decided to work on building it the way we wanted. The children had ideas of what they wanted to accomplish and what they were willing to do, and of course what kind of animals would end up being a part of the farm. We all agreed that we would not have any pigs. As much as all of us love the taste of bacon and prosciutto, I just don’t like their evil wailing. EEK! Not a fan! I don’t mind some great pork shoulder wrapped in herbs and bacon though, or the taste of prosciutto and some cantaloupe on the side. Yum, I love the salty and sweet after taste of the cantaloupe. The two are really a great pairing…Oh crap, I really got a little sidetracked.

Anyway, I have a real fear of birds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of a beautiful songbird, or the screech of red tail hawks, but the seagulls…NO! Maybe that is precisely where I obtained this fear. It really is not as bad these days in contrast to the early days of collecting our chickens.

So, being the ever concerned husband that he is, my husband asked me “How the hell are we going to have chickens when you’re afraid of birds.” I reassured him that I had a plan. What is the plan, Kimberly? He asked of me. Well, I believe that if I am exposed to them at an early age I won’t be as frightened of them. I told him, and he replied with “Seems plausible.”

We purchased all the materials that the books told us to buy. We got stainless steel feeding troughs, warming lamps, and small feeding tubes and water tubes. We also purchased the wood shavings that don’t contain any pesticides or chemicals. We ordered chicken houses from Amish builders, so when the chicks got older they would have a little home. We were all set for purchasing our chickens.

Have you seen how damn cute chicks are? Well, we were super weak! Every time we would visit a hatchery we would buy more chicks. I would come home with 6, and then my husband would come home with 10. This went on until we ended up with 100 chickens. All the chickens grew up to be healthy and happy. They would run around all 42 acres of the farm. I wasn’t crazy about having poo on the front porch or the back porch, but I really did love seeing them run. It’s pretty funny that they look like tyrannosaurs rex in tiny size. Then, the dances that the roosters perform. The Bantam roosters were the best little dancers. They would hold one wing stretched out, and go around in a circle. Then, they would outstretch the other wing and move in the other direction. They would even do a step forward, and two steps back dance, it was really elegant. As I would watch them I would image our ancestors may have learned some of the dances from the chickens. It’s not too far fetched…more than likely we learned from observation…termites had great structures underground that kept themselves cool, even in hot places. The pulse and heart beat of our mother was there precursor for percussion instruments. The song birds were inspirational in learning to whistle, and make calls. I could just watch them all day. They’re so clever and hysterical.

Each one of our chickens had a name. Some of my fondest ones were “Vanilla Ice”. He was an all black rooster with white crown feathers. We had another rooster that was a really slow walker, and so many of the hens seems to love him. His feathers were an iridescent black. The plumage on his chest were all white feathers. We named him “Godfather”. We had another rooster that was all black and super shiny, he had an almost creepy vibe to him, so his name was “Slick”. We had a hen that was very popular and she had such a pretty “coo”, that we named her “Beyonce”.  “Goldie” was our only golden colored silky. “Pierre” was another rooster that was a little “mad”. He seemed to have an attitude about anyone that crossed the sidewalk in the front yard in a manner that disturbed him.

Once we were going to football games every Friday the coyotes and foxes seem to know that it was their turn to observe the chickens. We would often get home late, and just walk over to each one of the many chicken homes and shut the door. We would get up in the morning and unlock the door and notice to our surprise and bewilderment that there seemed to be fewer chickens. Each week that went by, more and more chickens were missing. The coyotes were getting a little bolder, maybe they had the mentality of “hey, they got a lot chickens, we can help take a few off their hands.” Well, they did just that. I wasn’t Super Pissed until we had to go back to buying our own eggs. I mean really, what kind of country people are we if we can’t even supply ourselves with our own eggs?

We got down to one little hen. “Dovie”, she was super small, and always hung out pretty close to the house. We didn’t collect her eggs because they were so tiny. We usually just gave them to the cats. She also would eat breakfast and dinner with the cats from the same bowl, and the cats never minded about eating with her, instead of eating her. I accidentally shut her in the stall with the goats, and it didn’t end well for “Dovie”.

After learning that the coyotes and foxes can do their own reconnaissance, we decided to wait to have more chickens when we had fencing around the chicken houses. At the present time we have a few chickens. We don’t have a full 100 again, that will have to wait a while, but we do have fresh eggs and that makes me happy. The dogs are even treated with an omelet every morning, so it’s in their best interest to make sure we don’t have any coyotes doing any probes on the farm.

country, farming, food, Happiness Project, orchard, San Luis Obispo Sites, trees, vacation rental, Wine Wednesday, Winery

Halter Ranch

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. Marilyn vow Savant

Recently, I was given the assignment to interview and wine taste my way through Halter Ranch for SLOW Wine. Slow Wine and Slow Food is a movement that was started in Italy, and has made it’s way over to the states. It’s really an old idea, one that our ancestors used to value… food that is good, clean and fair.

I was delighted to meet Kevin Sass, the winemaker. Kevin was extremely generous with his time, and spent so much time taking me to locations throughout the ranch, and answering questions that he has probably answered thousands of times. I was very appreciative that he met with me, and spent so much time tolerating my interrogation.

Besides the wines being beautiful, so is the property. The iconic bridge is relatively newer. I love that the bridge gives the property a distinctive old character.

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Inside one of the buildings in the corner are artifacts that were found on the site. IMG_0590

These vessels were most likely used to pound acorns. Which were a common staple food of the Native Americans in California. Maybe even some the acorns came from the Ancestor Tree. IMG_0584.jpeg

The Ancestor Tree is the largest Oak tree on the Central Coast. It is even documented in the California Department of Forestry. Halter Ranch even has a wine that is named after the iconic tree. It is such a source of pride for them that they hold special picnics under the tree, and excursions in a jeep are made to the spot. It really is a special area. One can almost feel the reverberation of ancient history the tree exudes.

Down in the caves, there is a special dining table for gatherings that are intimate. Plus, the intoxicating aroma of all those barrels that are stored in the caves. IMG_0597.jpeg

Halter Ranch doesn’t only care for the environment, their quality wines, but also their employees and the community.

The owner recently gave a BILLION dollars to conserve land around the world. The ranch includes corridors for the animals that pass on the property. Their wines are made with care from the time they hang on the vine to bottle. The ranch is SIP certified, and they won the green medal for  sustainable wine growers. IMG_0601.jpeg

The wines I tried were 2017 CDP (Cotes De Paso), it is a cuvée, that marries Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Tannat in the most elegant manner. The aroma of strawberry jam, cinnamon, lavender, waken your olfaction. One of those wines that is better when you’re taking your sweet time to really enjoy and savor. It has a long lasting finish, and is jazz smooth.

I also tried the Vin de Paille. The production of this wine is done just as it is in France. The grapes are dried on straw beds for 40 days, and then they are pressed. After pressing out this golden juice the wine is fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels. The aroma of the honey hit me first, and the essence of orange and bergamot seem to seduce you into taking more of the wine into your nostrils for another deep inhalation. The taste lingers in your mouth, and it was instantly one of my favorites. I haven’t been able to find this kind of flavor outside of France or Hungary.

Did I mention that Halter Ranch even has several different types of accommodations? Well, they do. I am providing a link to Halter Ranch, so you can check out the website yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

farming, Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Terreni D' Oro Tuesday, vacation rental, Winery

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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