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American Girl Dolls

“Just don’t pretend you know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t. Stay open to them. It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple.” Anne Lamott

It seems like yesterday my daughter packed up her 20 American Girl Dolls. We moved to the country, and she started collecting animals.

In the last five years that we have lived in the country, we have had chickens, cats, ducks, cows, goats, miniature donkeys, sheep, and dogs. She and I have stayed the night in the barn (very cold, and very uncomfortable) to make sure the baby goats make it. Got up earlier than we ever wanted to warm up bottles and go feed the babies. She has been a trooper through it all. Embracing country life like it was something that is meant for her.

She has even saved countless little lives of birds, dogs, cats, and even a deer.

We fed it some goat milk until it was strong enough to walk, and then took it to a refuge. They wrote to us to let us know that it was getting stronger, and they would release it when it was more mature.

She graduates soon, and will be heading off to college. The years of her polo playing, powder puff, and hanging out with her high school friends will be in the rearview mirror.

Some of the animals…

I know my husband and I are so happy that her high school years have been everything that she always wished. I loved teaching her how to drive, and make soap. Now, as this chapter of her life comes to close, and she is about to embark on her next chapter. I just want to say what an honor it has been to raise you into the young lady you are now!

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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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Traveling, Pouring, and Having Fun

“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.” Henry David Thoreau

 

One reason why I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog is because I haven’t been able to keep up with my own life.

Honestly, I need a vacation!

Recently, I have been gone just about every weekend. A few weekends past, Sunni and I went to Los Angles. OMG! So, in Los Angles double yellow lines are only suggestions to the people that reside in the area. If you are a visitor in the area of Los Angles make sure that you remember that it is like driving in the wild, wild, west. If you’re in the fast lane, you better being doing at least 70 MPH. AT LEAST…wink, wink.

When I am done working at a venue, I like to take a little side trip to learn something. This particular time, it was going to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Sunni and I rented the head sets, and were off on our adventure through the Mission. It was so beautiful and informative. Here are some photos of our adventure…

 

 

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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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Oso Libre

My husband and I met Chris through another friend. We knew him before we owned a winery ourselves. Roberto and Chris took a trip to our 500 acre ranch, where Chris fell in love with our land. He uses the land for his cows. His cows run on the ranch before they go on to become his famous angus burgers.

His family got the name Oso Libre (which means free bears) from their name… Chris and Linda Behr and one of his sons Jeff Freeland and his wife Elizabeth…with the blend they came up with Oso Libre…pretty cool!

I can personally attest to the quality of the wines. One of my favorites, is the 2014 Volado Viognier, it’s crisp, and dry, yet refreshing. I believe every time I have been over to visit I have to purchase a bottle of it. It goes so well with chicken or fish. Although it is fantastic when paired with a meal, it is good enough to stand alone.

The tasting room is beautifully decorated, and the ambiance is warm and inviting. It is refined elegance! The staff welcomes everyone that comes through the doors.

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Cow Nest

It has been so wet here lately that I felt bad for Luna and Stella. I took at bail of hay down to the pasture to make a little nest for the girls. It was a hit, and the girls loved it, and here is my proof…img_9201

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Hidden Hills

When we were in our “dream building” phase, one of the things we wanted was an olive grove, and we finally found it. Hidden Hills gave us everything we wanted in an olive grove, we have olives, and a vacation rental. The olive trees are now being taken care of, and lovingly be watched, pruned, watered, and then in November…they will be harvested.

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The property has a wonderful history too. The place was built as a bed and breakfast. There was a keeper of the house that grew a garden, and the beds are still on the property. There is a gentleman’s orchard with apple, pear, plum, and nectarine trees. There is a green house, and it was once was filled with the fragrance of basil, vanilla, and flowers. The attendant of the house used to put fresh flowers in each of the rooms, and the cottage. There is a chicken run with hen houses. The attendant would gather eggs from the hens each day.  He made fresh dishes that were made from the food that was gathered from “Hidden Hills“. These are all aspects I love.

The goals for the place…get the olives in great shape for the fall so we can go back to having “Hidden Hills” as a label. We will then be able to sell the olive oil in the tasting room. Fix the barn, and have an intern trade housing for maintaining the gardens, greenhouse, and chickens. Gathering the fresh items to give to each of the vacation rentals. Each of the baskets would include olive oil, wine, fresh herbs, chamomile, lavender, homemade soap, homemade lotion, honey, eggs, and bouquet of flowers. Maybe even a postcard of the property.

There is also a pool, spa, and outdoor kitchen at the property. If you would like to stay at the property, make sure you go to Paso Robles Vacation Rental.

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Honey Healing

One of the first weekends we were living in the country, this happened…

I was taking both of the dogs (Cane Corso females) for a walk. Since we were new to the country I did not want to trust to just let them out in the yard. Now, our yard is 42 acres. There are coyotes and other animals around here. I was gazing at the stars when all the sudden Sadie pulled really hard, and I did not let go. I was pulled across the rocks like I was a rag doll. I screamed, and Sheba stopped. Sheba stayed right by my side, and Sadie was running after what ever it was that was near our house. I limped back into the house with Sheba.

I went upstairs and washed my legs with soap and water. I had to take a wash cloth to get all the debris that was embedded in my legs. My left leg looked a lot worse than my right leg. It burned like hell…it was really painful. I took some honey, and put it all over the wounds, and took another wash cloth that was damp and kept it over the wound.

I kept the wound clean every day, and also added honey to it every day. By the third day it was really looking so much better. By two weeks it was healed. I believe I was in less pain, and it healed faster with the honey.

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Goat Photo Bombs

With all this crazy, wonderful rain, we have to move the goats to the stalls. This is also the time of the year when most of the females are looking VERY pregnant. They love hearing me walk near the stalls in the morning, because that means one thing…FOOD!

Nothing ever goes to waste around here. After we have had the apples for a weekend, we take them back to the farm. The miniature donkeys and the goats enjoy the apple treat. I usually have to hold on to the apple to get them to get the apple started. After a few bites, they are good to go on those apples.

Anything that is not good to give to the goats, or miniature donkeys goes to the worm farm or the compost pile. We are trying to make our vineyard as sustainable as possible, as well as our farm.

Without further delay, here are photos of the crazy goats…

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Cinquain Cellars

Beth and Dave Nagengast are the owners of Cinquain Cellars, which has some awesome wines. Cinquain Cellars is on the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail, and is open with an appointment. They are also open during our special weekend events that the trail offers.

This simple 5-line poem, called a Cinquain (pronounced sink-cane), embodies the spirit of Cinquain Cellars, from nurturing 10,000 vines on their estate vineyard, to crafting small lots of artisan wines for your pleasure and theirs. They like to think of their wine as bottled poetry and hope you will agree.

If you’re interested in knowing more, here you go…The owner and winemaker, David Nagengast, graduated from the Fresno State University Enology program in 1985 with the dream of someday having his own vineyard and winery. In 2000, the search for the perfect site culminated in the purchase of a small hillside property, overlooking Hog Canyon and the Estrella River basin from 1000-ft elevation, in the Northeast area of the Paso Robles Estrella Appellation. In 2002, the 14-acre vineyard was planted with 10,000 vines including nine different Bordeaux, Rhône, and Port varieties. In 2007, the construction of their simple 1200 square-foot winery was completed. And now, after 31 years of making wines professionally for a variety of small and medium sized wineries in Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Clara County, and Oregon, the culmination of this dream is evident with the establishment of Nagengast Estate Vineyard, Cinquain Cellars and the availability of 1500 cases annually. Please, don’t be shy about making an appointment, they are happy to share their beautiful facility with you.

http://www.cinquaincellars.com/#contact

 

Here are some fun photos of the property…