There’s a wild bird caged in the bathroom. Last night around 8:30 she kept crashing into the large north windows in the pitch black and three cats sat on the deck waiting for her to fall. I scooped up the large blue ladder in the corner of the living room, went outside and set it under the window in front of the door. Towel in hand, I covered her up and put her to bed for the night. In ten minutes I’ll let her go into the peach & coral sunrise.

This has been a good year by most late summer and early fall’s measure, as so far we have not had too many fires, smoke, heat or full blown haboobs to make life difficult. Compared to the rest of the country we’ve gotten off easy.

I visited the syrup tree field after morning chores and the trees are holding steady. I say this because all three species (butternut walnut, black birch, sugar maple) are from the east coast which is normally a region of the country that receives substantially more rain then we’ll ever get. There is grave concern over the fate of the Sugar Maple in the north east with climate change already well under way, disease and insect infestation causing widespread mortality and the severe draught they are experiencing this year has not helped. Out here in the rugged intermountain west, in an environment as harsh as this, I find similarities; the trees, like me, are transplants so every transplant gets its ass kicked in the first four years. It’s just like that, and if you survive those first years, you grow stronger. This December marks one year they’ve been in the ground. Over this winter they will put roots down through 3’ of adjusted soil into the continuously moist silt loam residing under the mantle of caliche. See Syrup Tree Field Part I.

The support species are doing better than expected; holding moisture in at ground level.










Not shown are; vetch, strawberry, yarrow, lamb’s Quarter, sunflower, lactusa, and more…it’s been a tough couple of months…those pics are somewhere!

The currants and willows are getting ready for explosive growth next year to provide wind break and shade.



Just outside the Syrup tree field but inside the Gulag, I see the scarlet runners  will provide seed for next year.


The Virginia creeper and hops I put in the ground as tiny transplants (2013) have monstered themselves along quite nicely.











Gotta get that trellis built in the adjoining area soon, these two are out of control. Can’t harvest the Hops this year, the chicken food raiding sparrows have managed to defecate all over the vegetation, that’s another reason to get the trellis up and these two growing in another direction – away from the gulag. Here’s the rule for this property: whenever you see a plant go berserk, thank your lucky stars.

The surrogate mother hen who refused to quit going broody has raised two healthy chicks from fertile eggs (we acquired in a town nearby) and it looks like they’re both going to be boys so we’ll see how that goes.  Mom & sons were moved from the small coop in the Gulag into the main coop in the orchard four weeks ago and are doing fine.


All seven girls, and below, the boys















The chicks are now roosters

Inside the GH the cactus paddles I bought from the local Tienda for 3$ have decided to join us by adding one new paddle each.


Bitsy looks fantastic and is adjusting well to her new home in the Gulag. Long hair cats are way mo betta outside where they can roll around and let nature do the job of combing excess hair. She is free from constant nausea and discomfort from eating her weight in hair on an annual basis. Maybe her midnight attack on my head was a good thing, besides she is helping to keep the pocket gopher population down.


The two rain collection tanks performed well, with only a few minor changes required to keep the water bug free. In the picture below you can see the largest gray pipe collects the water from the roof, the white pvc to the right goes into the GH and is connected to a sink inside. Gravity and the sail boat foot pump provides  ‘pH excellent’ rain water into the GH all year long. The pipe to the left is the overflow.


Now it’s time to build the retaining walls around them. The retaining wall stone will keep the lifeless dirt (we call it moon dust) in place both around the tanks and up against the building.

We off loaded 6 Tons of retaining wall stone by hand from the large truck that handles the landscaping yard waste recovery project. I still haven’t gotten to my tire & bottle sculptured walls, but that will happen either this fall or early next spring.









Next I check to see how my attempts at making vinegar from scratch is working. The latest and newest member, apple, is making very strange sounds during the transition to alcohol. Last night it woke me up. First I thought it was a mouse, sitting up in bed I’m peering into the darkness looking for a mouse in Yoshi’s food bowl, but none were there and then I heard it an effervescent gurgling of millions of tiny yeasts turning sugar to alcohol. That’s Weird.

This is an old house and mice are unfortunately a reality. A couple of months ago the young snake I saw crawl out from under the electric stove was over the top. After rescuing the most recent cats Dora and Yoshi you’d think either one of them would be worth a shit for helping us out here. Dora catches mice from outside and brings them in, then loses them. That’s what you get for providing way too many toys for two cats less than three years old.

I’ve started five jars of vinegar from scraps; peach, grape, two apple, & a red wine and plan to add more as I get the hang of it. I’m trying to ‘get’ the mother literally out of thin air, you know, the old fashioned way. If it doesn’t work I’ll have to order some mother online.**There’s a head of purple cabbage in the shop refrigerator slated to be used for a high school level titration I’ll be attempting one of these days, the test will tell me how strong the vinegar is.

It’s pretty funny I’m always asking myself whoa – what’s wrong with me, why am I so tired?

Ok, this week we unloaded 6 TON of stone off the truck by hand. We picked and processed 600# of apples.

  • Grab one of those chic ‘no plastic’ cloth bags, walk down the hill to the orchard, put 23# in each one
  • walk back up the hill, across the patio, into the house, weigh it
  • back outside and down the stairs to the area we’re using to process apples into cider.

Do this, while checking on the chickens and swapping out their water & feed. I hauled 160# in one shot yesterday morning.

Then we needed to get the freezer out of the Q-hut on a dolly to freeze the cider – he wanted to haul it out sideways, that way we didn’t have to go back up to the shop and use the refrigerator dolly and ‘up end’ the thing, so he says ‘here help me push this’ and leans into the front end of the….12 TON fire truck, so like an idiot I put some back into it, back forth, back forth, rocking it so on the what 20th one we could push it back four feet? We ended up up-ending the freezer (the narrow way) and used the refrigerator dolly. By the 540th pound of apples in three days, we went and picked more and then I went outside and chopped wood and hauled that into the house.

Where’s the Advil?

I once met a 78 year old rancher in Oregon who had some pretty good lines. He’d say ‘if it wasn’t for whiskey and hot baths I’d be a dead man’. Now I get it.

On my way out of the Gulag and to the house, I pass two overplanted areas to my left and right, each containing new peach trees planted in 2014. The one on the left went nuts this year (remember this is good) putting on 7 feet of growth and tons of fruit, except they looked wrong, like the tree had over-exerted itself and put out these green/gray mottled fruits. Large yes but rock hard even a month ago.  I left it at that.










What a couple of moroons morons*

Will happened to pick one, cut it open in the kitchen and call me over – hey look at this!











Here they are cater foo foo style










The tree’s tag says: Indian Free peach – what the?  Gee I wonder if there’s a cultivar named White People Free Peach.

Here’s the info:


Indian peaches are an Old World fruit. Spanish explorers brought the Indian peach to Mexico during the 16th century. A century later, explorers discovered Indian peach trees being grown by native tribes in Southeastern United States. Unlike most stone fruit, which are grafted from budwood, the Indian peach is readily grown from seed, thus making it easily transported and sown. Indian peach trees were one of 38 varieties of peaches selected for Thomas Jefferson’s South Orchard at Monticello, where the peach trees still grow today. They are a relatively novel variety though, found rarely outside the U.S. and never in a supermarket. Their presence is scarcely made at summer farmers markets, specialty markets and roadside fruit stands.

Now onto the serious stuff, fire.

August and September are really dangerous months here. A fire can start and spread miles in minutes taking everything out in its path, killing animals, birds, destroying structures and leaving desolation. This situation, taken so seriously here in the Columbia Basin, is part of the daily weather forecasts and updates issued by the Underground.

We have realized this for quite some time, and while we’ve made provisions for fire break roads in strategic places on the property, and are in the process of setting up tanks and keeping the cistern full and know that it only takes 15 minutes for the volunteer fire department to show up (ask me why we know this), we still aren’t taking full accountability for what happens in that 15 minutes.

Quite a few Americans have a hard time with this concept: total absolute self-accountability, which historically has fallen in and out of favoritism.

Concept: if we don’t want the place to burn to the ground it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t occur, as opposed to what has become the infantilized whine of Standard America; but I thought my insurance covered me! This is an outrage! Why couldn’t the volunteer fire department get here quicker? It’s THEIR fault this happened! Son of a Bitch I was watching TV (or diddling myself some other way) and looked out the window to see this! The government needs to do something!

Outrage has become the drug of choice for many Americans.

 Let’s review from the last blog  “In a functional system that can be trusted to comply with the social contract me specialist, you trustworthy centralized system, that system is now in decline and hurdling towards dysfunction and the former system has left a giant vacuum where generalists (average person) were replaced so quickly and the information forgotten so entirely that now most of us who are trying to turn relics into resources are having to rely on Google instead of grandma.”

So we bought a fire truck.

This fire truck.












Here’s the add:

This 72 Ford Van Pelt Fire Truck ran & drove good when it was last used over a year ago. Has been sitting due to so many other projects that they had going. Due to the property on which the truck was parked at the time was in the County but now is in the City limits of Pasco. So due to regulations had to be moved.
It was driven here, but will need a fuel system/tank flush & carb will need to be rebuilt.
It has a clean 534 CID engine, with only 60870 miles on it. The truck runs strong, its carburetor needs to be rebuilt as the power valve is out or needs replaced.
The water pump delivery system all worked good before it was parked, it is thought to have a 1500 gal tank. I have added photos of the gauges/instruments.
The title is missing & the previous owners now live out of state & have not been able to be contacted.

Perfect for so many reasons

Low mileage

We don’t need a title; it’s never leaving the property

Going price for this truck $6k

Parts are easy to find

Owned and cared for by the Yakima fire department for majority of its life

We both have the experience required to restore this truck to usefulness

And as any of you know who have worked on cars & trucks built in the ‘pre-digital’ age, these are the kinds of vehicles you want to have and restore.

Remember: turn relics into resources

Purchase price & towing 100 miles = less than $2,000

And I like the color.




* while many people thought Bugs Bunny was saying maroons and meant moron in his Brooklyn vernacular, I looked it up. He wasn’t. Here’s the definition from some of the darker days in history:

**Between the time I wrote and posted this I found two incredible sites on making vinegar- so great – that I ran outside and made two gallons of cider (will helped of course) put in two glass gallon jars (remember the nice lady at the store?) and they will develop mothers I can use in the rest of the vinegar to kick start them.