Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yurt living

I've had some requests for updated yurt photos.  So here are some.  I actually have added a railing to the deck since I took the photo.  I need more interior shots also, but that would require more clean-up than I am willing to do right now.  I'll try to post more soon.


Today was a very good day. Mama made mare than 5 loves of nice, warm, yummy bread, which I have been missing for sooooooo long.

When bread was first invented it probably was hard and hurt your teeth. But people definitely liked it. That's why it evolved to be the good bread that's now in my tummy.

If you want to have some of this great stuff, I'll put down the recipie.

Donner Lake

Two days ago Papa, Sophie, Eli, and I went to Donner Lake with Grass Valley Charter [Mama didn't come because she wanted to stay with the animals]. I learned a couple interesting facts but some I already knew. I will tell you what some of the interesting facts I knew and didn't know. I think that the most interesting fact is the snow the Donner Party had to deal with was 20 feet deep. They know that because when they where building shelter they could only cut off the tops of trees! The second most interesting fact was that when people died the rest of the Donner party ATE THEM!

Now I will tell you the story of the Donner Party. Many people wanted to move to California including the Donner Party. The Donner Party was a train of wagons who wanted free land, nice weather, good farming, to get away from sickness, and maybe even to do something new. If you would like to hear more, call me.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A few weeks of photos

Our regular computer has been down for about a month.  We have been able to continue posting, but have not been able to upload our photos.  Tonight, I worked out a way to get at our photos and I have gone back and added some photos to some of the earlier posts made during September.  Check them out!

Also, you can watch the birth of Opal's kids here:
Video link (if this doesn't work, go to Juliana's Facebook)

In addition, here are some shots from the past few weeks that may or may not relate to a specific post:


Opal and her newborns (and Magic and Sophia), Sophia's dollhouse doghouse, Grace's harvest

One of Opal's babies in cape, S and G on their way to the Taylor Swift concert 9/3/11 [removed]

You may be wondering where Eli is... we will track him down and put him in front of the camera soon.



The Santa Cruz Mission

Papa wanted me to blog my info on the Santa Cruz Mission on the blog so, here it is.

Mission Santa Cruz

Fr. Fermin Lasuen founded Santa Cruz on August 28,1791 near the San Lorenzo River and Monteray bay. Then, in October he founded mission Soledad. Both turned out very troublesome.

Mission Santa Cruz was a mission that all ways seemed to get into trouble. In 1799 a rain storm hit Santa Cruz so hard it had to be rebilt! Then, in 1812 Father Quinta was tricked into visiting a 'sick' native amarican and killed. be continued...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Newsflash: Goat Babies, Round 2

Today at about 4:30pm, Josie, Diego and Ferdinand were born to Frida the goat.  We were at the library, but the neighbors children, Ruthie and Caleb (special thanks to them!), called with the news.  We rushed home in time to see the afterbirth and 3 still-wet babies scrambling about.  Now we have 10 goats: Magic, Opal and her 4 kids, and Frida and hers.  And I now share a birthday with 3 (temporary) family members!  (That's right, we are not keeping all the babies beyond our year in Auburn.  If you are interested in providing a home, let us know).


Thursday, September 22, 2011

the (almost) teen brain

A few new learnings from Lauren Kessler's book about the adolescent brain: (called My Teenage Werewolf)

The brain grows and changes as much between ages 12-20 as in toddler-hood.
Brain cells are "blossoming" and being pruned continually.
The prefrontal cortex, region in charge of rational thought, moral reasoning, emotional and impulse control, is the last portion of the brain to myelinate. Because it is not fully functional in adolescence, the brain may default to the primal fight-or-flight, emotional portion, the amygdala. Teens need 1.5 hours more sleep per night than adults, but don't get sleepy (melatonin delay) until around midnight. So they may be chronically underslept.

And I remember well enough that it isn't easy to be this age.

I hope I too can get the emotional and reactive "lizard portion" of my brain under better control, and parent instead from a place of understanding and deep love.

Perhaps the next time someone throws a ketchup packet into the ceiling fan at Fosters Freeze, or calls his sister a b----, loudly, in front of company, I will take three deep breaths before acting.

dreaming a little dream

I'm a little bit in love with this place.
Today I got to dreaming about our future together.
Joey had brought home a truckload of dusty black soil.
The garden we planted in the foundation of the old house is mostly clay. It needs a lot of work.
So we're working on it. But it's too hot for shoveling long... so I wandered over to the pasture to visit the animals.

I checked Frida for signs of impending birth. Her udder looks to have been inflated with a bike pump, unevenly. She swings her legs round the sides to avoid jostling it. But right now she is just laying in the shade chewing her cud.
If one of Opal's babes comes by, she bites its ear. Hard. It's hot, she's pregnant, and over being any kind of friendly.

Most of the kitten-sized babes are in a pile behind a board leaned against the chicken coop. Panting.

Magic has a swollen right foot, and puts it down tenderly. I can't see any thorns or cuts when I inspect it. I give her a rub, which she appreciates. The goats have been adjusting their social order since the kids arrived, and Opal has been mean to everyone. Magic has been making some upset sounds I haven't heard before. I guess being the matriarch can be stressful. But she seems to love the babies. She is more attentive and affectionate than their mother, who seems overwhelmed by the constant suckling demands. Sometimes she does a fancy cloven hooved jig to avoid her babes' approach.

Inside the coop, one of the hens is complaining loudly. Her favorite (of the 9) nest boxes is occupied, and she prefers not to wait. The ducks, drifting in their kiddie pool, join in the din.

The ducks started laying this last week. They share a nest in the dog crate and take turns laying eggs, and supervising the clutch. We leave a few, but eat the rest.

A few of the plans I have been hatching for this place:
Improved soil fertility and soil structure in both garden areas
extending the upper garden into the surrounding orchard
a handbuilt cobb bread/ pizza oven in the garden
a planting of bare root raspberries, grapes, mulberries, blueberries, and strawberries this winter. And roses.
a series of spring fed pools (stock tanks?) for cooling off in the Summer's heat
a sleeping platform adjacent to/ over the creek
a greenhouse...

It pleases me to imagine a long term relationship with this place. It pleases me to imagine being old here. Making a Thanksgiving dinner with our own harvest. Taking jars of things off the shelf we'd grown and preserved.
I've just read the book The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball, and it delighted me to imagine making a radical change, as she did.
She met someone she loved, left her city home, and became a farmer.
And the real losses and tragedy of their first year resonated too. That is part of it too, I guess. I'm learning it is. But I've been sleeping better lately, after a period of not.
Dreaming sweeter little dreams. Of this place, and these people I love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Newsletter: A Mysterious Sickness

After tragedy hits 5 chickens, Miel, daughter of a victim, became very ill. One night after coming home very late, the Stewart family walked into the chicken coop to count the chickens. They heard gurgling noises. Startled, they ran to get a flash-light. After more investigation they realized it was Miel, the daughter of one of the dead victims, Soul Sister.

Miel's mother and 5 other chickens were the victims of a dog attack 4 days before: massacared by the Stewart's family dog while they were away for the afternoon. Since they were away, it wasn't until some hours later that the Stewarts got a call from a neighbor saying there were a couple chickens laying dead on their yard. Of course the Stewarts rushed home as quickly as they could. Sadly, by the time they got home, the 5 chickens where dead. Maybe Miel's sickness could be because of stress from this event.

When Miel got sick, the Stewarts were very afraid that they would loose another. So they separated Miel from the other chickens in case she was contagious and gave her medicine in her water.

They kept that up and 2 days later Miel was better. The Stewart family had no idea what this sickness was but will continue to investigate.

I was lucky enough to have an interview with the dad in the Stewart family and he said that Miel could have been injured during the attack, but he is not certain. I also did some research. I didn't find a sickness that included all of Miel's symptoms but I did find something called Newcastle Disease. Newcastle has similar symptoms, but spreads quickly throughout flocks. Miel's sickness did not spread. Even though Miel is better, the mystery continues.


This entry is mainly to Mark, Tracey, Ethan, and Elena. But, you can read it:

I'm really sorry that Scouty died.  I wish that didn't happen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Newsletter: A Packed Mother

Is it time? Will we be there when she has them? These are some of the questions that are starting to build up in my mind, as Opal baas repeatedly and picks at her food. This is unusual for her because Opal is usually starving. I don't blame her, Opal will soon be the proud mother of three or four kids.

I spoke to Opal today about what she thought about her soon-to-come babies. She had no comment.

Because Opal didn't say anything, I thought that you might be left hanging [like I am at the end of a Harry Potter book]. You are probably wanting to know: How long is the gestation period?, and many other questions. So I did some research. A goat's gestation period is 150 days. Also they can have from 1 to 7 babies, but I think it is more comen to have 2 or 3. If there are more questions, then you are welcome to write me a comment.

Opal is one of our very pregnant goats (pictured) who is going to kid very soon. We all expect she will have mostly, if not all bucklings. Lately she's been aggressive towards her sister and mounting her pasture mates. She is daughter to Magic and Kentucky, and wife to Buddy (a male goat up the street).

Buddy's house is where we board the Goaty Girls when we are away. Lately we've been holding back because the birth of her soon to come babies. We first met our neighbors Russ and Karen when all 3 goats disappeared one morning. Apparently Buddy has a potent odor. When Magic went into heat, she trailed him up the hill by his smell alone. Luckily, the girls had tags on their collars, and were traceable. We were worried about the goats until Russ called.

The last birth was the birth of Frida and Opal, but we weren't there, so we don't know what it looks like.


Opal is baaing, not eating, and contracting. 1 kid, 2 kids, 3 kids, 4 kids. Opal just had 4 adorable kids.

What we did to assist the birth:
Opal went into her hut. We knew she was hurting because she was grinding her teeth, baaing, and pushing against the wall. She was laying down and getting up. She couldn't get comfortable. We went in with her. Magic, her mother came galloping across the pasture to be with her also when she started to scream. Then, out popped a baby. It was in a fluid filled sac. I cleared the mouth (Mama helped because I thought I might kill it!) We rubbed it down with straw to wake it up. Then we moved it up to Opal's face. By then another had come out. Papa helped with the 3rd, and Grace the last baby. We helped the babies each to the teat to get their first colostrum, which gives them immunity to diseases their mama has exposure to. Magic and Opal were both licking the kids and knickering sweetly in mama baby talk. The babies dried quickly and started walking around within the first 5 minutes. We held them. They are kitten sized. We tied the umbilical cord with dental floss and clipped them.
2 girls and 2 boys! One girl is named Jubilee, the other girl's name is Naomi, one boy is Bambi, and the other Bolt. They play, drink, nap, and cuddle with you.

At left: Photo of author and one of the babies.

Now if you visit the Stewyurt, you can see them in person.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Updates of Auburn

1. 4 New baby goats from Opal!

On Friday they came into the world. Two girls and two boys. That's about all I can think about right know, and I don't want to give it away for my soon to come newsletter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Newsflash: Opal having contractions...and now 4 kids!

We are heading to San Rafael in a few hours... Oops, had to leave as I was writing this because the babies started coming.  Two does and two bucks were just born at around noon today.  Video to be posted next week.  All are doing well and Stewart children very excited.  I'm sure they will write about it here soon.


Newsletter: Creating Your Own Pond

Creating your own pond ecosystem isn't too hard as long as you can get all parts of an ecosystem in there. We were able to do it by taking all organisms from our own already existing pond.
I asked my dad what one of the the merits of having a pond was. He said that it may draw beneficial organisms to the garden where we placed our ponds in half wine barrels. I also asked him if he felt the pond was stable. He thinks it may need some work because a crawdad got out and probably died in the hot sun.
The first step is to get the producers in there, the very bottom of the food chain. We chose duckweed, a fast spreading and growing plant. It was easy to collect because it floats on the surface of almost every pond or creek.
You then need the primary consumers: the creatures that eat the plants. We chose minnows, a very common algae eating fish that hides from predators in duckweed. We also got another algae lover: a bullfrog tadpole, which is a vegetarian until it grows up. When it does, we will have to release it back into the wild or it will eat everything in the pond.
The final step is to get a predator or a secondary consumer. We chose crawdads (one for each pond) because they will both hunt the minnows and eat them after they die. However, the day after we caught the crawfish, I found it floating on the top of the pond. I thought it had died, but it was just the exoskeleton. It had molted! Unfortunately though the a few days later one did get out and die.
We also got two final additions: our last surviving goldfish and some mosquito fish. Both of these will keep down mosquito population.
In addition to benefitting our garden in many ways creating the pond was a fun, worthwhile project.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Goals and Fun

Today I will write about my hopes, goals and the fun things I did in the last 3 weeks.

Fun: On the first day of homeschooling Papa ate a candle. Later we figured out that it was a slice of banana with a burning peanut in it. The next fun thing I did was I made a mini bunk bed for the dollhouse. I am knitting a pillow and blanket for it. One of the best things I did was I went to Taylor Swift's concert. It was really good.

Hopes: Make a mini canopy bed for the dollhouse, make a mini mission, duck house.

Goals: Grow big watermelons in the garden, finish all the school books.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We just learned our good friends' dog, Scout, died yesterday.  We are so sorry.  We loved Scout too.  He and Rosie came from the same shelter at around the same time and grew up together.  They were good friends.

Too much death and loss, lately.  There is no sense in it.

Goodbye, Scout.


Yesterday Papa, Sophia, and I set up a farm stand. First, we gathered 3 card-board boxes and 1 metal box. When we finished that labeled the card- board boxes we labeled them: Cucumbers $1.00, Squash and Green Pumpkins $4.00, Flowers $3.00 each bouquet. Papa made a table and painted it.

Also, Mark and Tracey wanted to know my squash soup recipe. So here it is:

Squash Soup

Cut a squash in half. Scoop the seeds out and put them in the compost. Put the squash on a cookie sheet face up (peels and all except for seeds). Then put an onion or two on the cookie sheet with it. Also a big apple and a head of garlic. After that, paint the squash and apple with oil. Then put the cookie sheet with all the stuff on it in the oven at 350 until brown and soft enough to pierce with a knife (about 45 minutes or so--however feels right).

When it is done, chop up cookie sheet participants up:
-squash, onion, garlic, apple

When you are done, get out:
-one can coconut milk,
-veggie broth,
-curry powder,
-salt and pepper.
Put all in a pot and heat. When warm, puree until smooth and serve.


Its a lot of work not working

Ok, no one wants to hear it from me, but it is a lot of work not working.  Chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning up, building, gardening, teaching, cajoling, organizing, paying bills, scheduling appointments, planning events, counseling, managing animals, blogging.  Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of fun, but it is busy.

I hope the kids will be back online to share some thoughts and activities soon.  Yesterday we set up a farm stand along the road with flowers, cucumbers, and squashes from mostly Grace's garden.  Grace made a dollar.  Juliana set up a bucket pond in the garden with critters caught by the kids in the creek.  The girls built some miniature items for their dollhouse, we had soccer photo day, we did math, read, the kids practiced their instruments, Eli and I threw the disc to help get me ready for an ultimate tournament this weekend, we watched "Airplane" (a significant step in quality below "Eyes on the Prize").  We'll put some new pictures up soon, but our regular computer has been down for about three weeks and we still aren't able to.

I've been told my posts are a bit lengthy, so I'll stop.  Plus, I got to get back to not working!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eyes On the Prize documentary-- Interview responses

1. The Civil War created what freedoms for black American citizens?
Sophia: They didn't have to work as slaves anymore against their will. They got some more rights.
Grace: That was about making the slaves free in the south.
Eli: It freed them from slavery

2. What was/is segregation?
Sophia: It's splitting up black and whites in stores, buses, water fountains.
Grace: When the Blacks have different water fountains than the whites, and have to go to different schools. It separates them.
Eli: It's the separation of races-- in this case black and white.

3. What did it look like/feel like in every day life for:
Black folks in the South?
Sophia: Blacks felt excluded. It felt mean. Like they didn't belong there.
Grace: They just didn't like it. Confused. They didn't get as much good things as whites. They probably felt it wasn't fair. They couldn't sit at lunch counters.
Eli: I don't know. They were made to feel inferior. Unfair.

for White folks in the south?
Sophia: Some liked it and some didn't.
Grace: Different for some than others. Those who liked it probably thought blacks were gross. They thought the (Whites) should have all the better stuff.
Eli: Depends on the white person.

4. What are some examples of how people exerted pressure to change the segregated South?
Sophia:They did boycotts and just sat down in white waiting rooms and restaurants, they sat down in the front of buses. Water fountains too. They went to white schools.
Grace:They sat at lunch counters and wouldn't get up. They wouldn't fight back. They protested and boycotted the buses for about a year. They were just walking to work. Martin Luther King made speeches.
Eli: Boycott and march.

5. Why did many whites resist the change?
Sophia: Because they grew up like that and thought it was supposed to be that way.
Grace: I don't know. They had segregation for all those years, it had always been that way, been in their families. Their moms and dads didn't want change.
Eli: They resisted violently. They hadn't grown up with it and couldn't change now.

6. How did those white citizens justify resisting integration?
Sophia:They thought black people were okay with the way things were.

7. What did activists risk in being involved in this movement?
Sophia: Going to jail, getting hurt or killed, fined.
Grace: They could be put in jail, or be killed: shot or bomb their houses. Getting beat up.. Or if they talked to a white person, someone coming to get them and kill them.
Eli: Imprisonment. Death. Getting hurt

8. What is nonviolent resistance?
Sophia:It means making signs, boycotts and just sitting down in places.
Grace: Protesting and not fighting back.
Eli: Not fighting back physically.

9. About how long after the Civil War did segregation start changing?
Sophia: A long time. Was it 100 years or so?
Grace: About 100 or 60 years later.
Eli: A long time.

being up late

I'm someone who must work out my anxieties in sleep and dreams.
Often the scary ones wake me at 3:30 AM.
Funny, because when I'm at work, that is the hour I am most befuddled and sleepy.
I won't tell you tonight's dream, but now Joey is patiently sleeping with a pillow across his eyes while I cruise open-late crafting sites. I've no inclination to start a project, but I'm comforted knowing there are wildly creative people out there making stuff.
Strangely comforted.

Here are tonight's favorites:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Tragedy

Today while we were at the Grass Valley Charter School Rosie did wrong.She killed 5 of some of our dearest chickens. One a 9 or 10 year old chicken named Soul Sister, a 5 month old pullet named Buttercup, and some 3 three month old chicks that we got on craig's list, which I wrote a few blogs about in the past.I am willing to let that one go for the moment but, that one might all ways stay with Rosie. I apologize to our neighbor who originally came down to give the chicks water and found the girls dead. If I were him I'd probably run up and down the hill screaming.


I'm too sad to say much now, but know that while we were in Grass Valley today, Rosie dug into the pasture and killed the children's 3 chicks, another hen who'd just started laying, Buttercup, and our eldest hen, Soul Sister. She was at least 10 years old, and "mother" to many of the other hens.

Earlier this month she killed Little Red. That is 6 loved chicken pets.

Rosie is tethered now, and away from me. Which is good, because I could do her harm now.
This is my new policy for her. No longer a free country dog, but a dog with earned boundaries from now on.

The girls have approached me about this. They feel it is cruel.

They have already forgiven her!

I am amazed, and puzzled.

I suggested that this dog, and chicken ownership were incompatible. That we needed to make change. They would not consider finding Rosie a chicken-free household.

In considering our different feelings about this situation, I settle on this.
They are not parents.
Yes, they've suffered a huge loss.
But watching my children, react to this loss AGAIN (in addition to the loss of the hens), has hardened my heart to Rosie, irreparably I think.

(And I know she's doing what natural dogs do. And I said this to the children, but....)

My job is to protect my children, and I have not protected them from this adequately.

It's heartbreaking.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

likes and hopes

Some highlights of this year are: getting chicks on Saturday, going to a music concert, and meeting new people. This Saturday we were looking on the computer when we saw an ad on craigslist for some chicks that were about 3 months old. We called the guy and he warned us that lots of their feathers were plucked out. We wanted them, so we told him we'd take a look. When we got there, he brought us over to them. We got an Americauna, a Barnvelder and a Light Sussex. Then on Saturday, we went to a Taylor Swift concert. Ben, our uncle, bought us 3 tickets for our birthday. At the concert, there were fireworks inside and glittery snow sparkles fell onto the stage when she sang "Back to December."

To do well in school, to take better care of our animals, and to treat Grace better.

Something I Miss

When I lived in San Rafael I was able to ride my bike in to downtown to buy something or go to the library. I can no longer do this in Auburn because we live so far away from every thing so every time we go into town we have to drive for at least 15 minuets. to do any thing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Doing what feels right

It feels right and good for my work to be what it has been these past couple of weeks.  One of my primary responsibilities is responding to: "Papa, can you help me?"  Yes!  I have the time, energy, and patience.  I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

a run, wild grapes, and a goat house

Today I ran. And swam. Not far, but it feels right to have started again.

The local racquet club will let us try them out (free) for the month, so the girls and I will lounge poolside tomorrow with a picnic lunch. Joe and Eli will be in San Rafael for a couple days, so it's just us girls. Feeling kind of excited about that. The library, sewing projects, a matinee... dinner out.

Grace is a gazelle and bounds uphill in crocs. We're exploring the idea of training for a half marathon together.

Running our own neighborhood circuit, we grew interested in collecting seed spikes from the wildflower/ herb mullein, and blackberries, and cat tails in their various stages of maturity, and wild grapes. We thought we'd collect a bucket of acorns, and process them into mash like the Maidu indians. I remember making acorn pancakes with my friend Caroline when we were 12. We'd read My side of the Mountain, and might have tamed a hawk fledgling to hunt for us, and sewn a buckskin suit with a bone needle too, but the acorns were easier to find. I think we missed the step of leaching out the tannins, because the pancakes were inedible. Ours will be better.

Joe built a goat house today, with all the best features, for free! Materials were reclaimed from the old chicken coop and garage. It has a lovely view of the pasture through it's own window, a tall sleeping bench/shelf, and a roof overhang that creates an outdoor rain shelter and milking area. I'm delighted. Babies are coming soon, so we needed that. And it means their old metal sleeping shed is available for our gardening gear.

I've been trying to root some rose and hydrangea cuttings. Today I noticed roots on the hydrangea leaves I left soaking in a tea cup of water. Those dipped in rooting hormone, in soil, look dead, though I continue to water and wish over them. I'm interested in seed saving and asexual propagation. "New" store bought plants are pricey, yes?

Life is sweet today also.
Thanks for checking in.

what's happened so far

So far I've done a lot. I have started soccer and karate. I have also been starting working on things for my bar mitzvah like Spanish trumpet etc and projects such as a bow and arrow something to do with bottle rockets.
I have also been getting a little ahead in school work. I am learning about the Byzantine Empire and doing multiple step algebra problems.