Trailers and Tool Sheds

We have been starting to feel more comfortable on our homestead, though I still miss the home we owned in the valley for the past 25 years.

Building a Storage Shed

We made shelves for almost every wall, nook and cranny. Storage is key in a travel trailer!

We have added shelves for more storage units in our travel trailer, which is our current “home” while we build our new home.  Ray built me a nice shelf that fits over the sink for oils and vinegars and stuff, and then another spice rack to hold all those little bottles of spices and such.  We also put one of those over-the-toilet storage thingys in our bathroom, which helps tremendously.  Ray also built a drawer inside my closet so that I can utilize the space all the way to the back.

Build a storage shed

We found these wire racks at a local dollar store, Ray mounted them on a board and – voila – spice rack!

I will be honest with you – downsizing from a 2,400 square foot home to a 26 foot travel trailer has been difficult.  It seems we are always on top of each other, especially now that winter is coming and we had to take down our dining tent and outdoor living gazebo.  While we can still get away from each other on our five acres, we are side by side when in the trailer.  Literally!

That’s the good news.  The bad news?

Travel trailers were not meant to be lived in.

Case in point:  Ray spent the better part of a month replacing the bathtub/shower in the trailer.  Why?  Mostly because of carpenter ants!  Those little critters got into the wall studs of the trailer in the bathroom area.  We aren’t sure if it was the ants that weakened the structure which caused the tub to crack, or if the cracked tub leaked and dampened the wood, attracting the carpenter ants.  Either way, Ray had to replace a lot of wood and shore up the structure of the trailer before we could even address replacing the tub. Perhaps if the travel trailer had been traveling and not parked in one area for a couple of years, the carpenter ants may have found the trailer less tasty. That all happened in October, when it was still warm.  Thank goodness, because this is how we took our baths:

Building a Shed

Yup – this was our bathtub for a month! Next spring we plan to use it as a small pond with water plants in it. This will be great for our honeybees!

We bought this stock tank waterer at our local Tractor Supply store.  The guys at the store probably thought we were crazy when we sat in it to make sure we fit (especially Ray, who is 6’2” tall), but this was how we kept ourselves clean while the bathroom was being repaired! When Ray was halfway done repairing the bathroom, we stayed in a hotel while visiting relatives, and I will admit that I may have taken a long, hot, shower.  Two in one day.  I know we are in a drought situation, but those hot, wonderful showers were necessary for my sanity!

Anyway, with all the preparations and a new bathroom, we were ready for whatever winter was going to throw at us.  We had plans to start clearing the site for our garden and the chicken coop, finish clearing where our new home will be built (the architect’s plans arre coming soon, I can’t wait to show them to you!), burn the brush piles we had amassed, and on cold, wintery days, read and research new projects, order seeds, etc..  Well, the cold, wet, wintery days have arrived, but we can’t get these chores done – yet.


Remember when I said travel trailers are not meant to be lived in?

Well, when we got our first snowfall, it was cold.  Really cold.

Even the olive oil got too cold!

Even the olive oil got too cold!

Sure, we have a propane heater in the trailer, but it seemed it was running all the time – even when we had the thermostat set at 60 degrees!  Our travel trailer has 2” x 2” framing and very little insulation.  And the windows are single pane.  Even with the miniblinds shut and curtains closed, we could still feel the cold coming in.  Brrr…

To make matters worse, the air inside the trailer was very, very humid.  Every time I did dishes, cooked, made coffee/tea or we showered, the warm water evaporated in the cold trailer air and caused extreme humid, which is not good.  Our windows started weeping water.  The metal door was dripping wet.  Our clothes were always damp and, yes, even our bedsheets and blankets were damp.

This wasn’t going to work.  It was only November, with the coldest months come, and I was miserable.  And if I am miserable, poor Ray was even more so 😉

We decided that our best solution was to move into the tool shed.

The tool shed that has 6” very well insulated walls, a strong and very well insulated metal roof, a double pane window, and a sturdy bunkbed!  Remember our little wood stove we bought?  We would install that in the tool shed also!  Instead of burning an exorbitant amount of propane to keep barely warm, we would burn free oak wood and stay toasty warm.  Sounds like a great plan, right?

The only problem was that the tool shed was full of…   well…   tools!  We had to build something to put the tools in, and found a great shed kit from a big box store on sale.

Living in a Travel Trailer

The first thing we did was clear the site for the shed, level some concrete blocks, add a retaining wall and then put together the frame with joists for the floor.

First, we prepared the build site by clearing off some of the leaf mold and duff and leveling the ground somewhat.  Since this will not be the permanent location for this shed (it will be moved to my new garden/chicken coop area after our new home is built), we decided to just place it upon concrete blocks.  When the blocks were all in place and the tops level, we did add concrete and rebar to the first two rows because of their low position on the hill, which helped make everything more stable.

Building a Box Store Shed

The walls are all built, one on top of another, on the actual floor of the shed.

The shed really wasn’t too hard to put together – that is if you can read a Japanese Cookbook!  Luckily the illustrations were a bit better.  We added extra joists and also bought heavy duty plywood for the floor.  The walls are built on top of the floor, side walls first and then the back wall.  Then, you raise the back wall and brace it.  It was fairly heavy, but Ray and I were able to do it without too much sweat!  Now it was time to raise one of the side walls and attach it to the back wall. Once this was done, the other side wall was next. Once this was done, we stood back to view our work.  Not too bad!

Living in a travel trailer

Moving along…    The walls were still wobbly, but once the loft and shelves were up, it was beginning to be quite sturdy.

The next thing to do is put in A New Shed 8the shelves and loft, which helps shore up and secure the back and sides of the shed.  Once the front of the shed was on, it was time to put up the rafters and plywood sheathing for the roof!  The instructions said to use a comp roof, but we opted instead for a metal roof.  We live in the middle of a forest, and metal roofs are safer in a forest fire situation.  Also, every roof we have on our homestead is used to collect rainwater into large water storage containers, as will this shed.  From what I have read, asphault (or some people call them composition, or comp) can leach toxins into rainwater.  Since we use this water to irrigate our orchard, we prefer not to have toxins!

With the metal roof on, front doors hung and windows installed – this shed is ready for some tools!

Don't Live in a travel trailer

Here it is! It still needs some paint and rain gutters, but it is water tight and already filled up with lots of “stuff”.

And once the original tool shed is empty – we can fashion it into our tiny cottage!  Here is a sneak peak of the inside of our tiny cottage:

Building a Big Box Store Shed

Cooking beef stew on the woodstove in our new tiny cottage!

I can’t wait to take you on a tour of our new tiny cottage!  Stay tuned!


This is where I party:

Our Water Tower

My husband and I have recently moved up to our “future homestead” and will be living in our travel trailer as we are building our new home.  While our Architect and Engineer finish our house plans, and while the building department in our county reviews the plans before they give their approval, we are preparing our living arrangements so that we can live comfortably while we work.

One thing that needed to be done was to build a water tower.  Before the water tower was built, we would pump water from our well into a water storage tank that was sitting on the

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house. Solar panels run the lights, the TV, satellite receiver, fans and a CD/radio.

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house. Solar panels run the lights, the TV, satellite receiver, fans and a CD/radio.

ground, and with a few lengths of hoses, this delivered fresh water into our trailer.  It worked, but we just didn’t have much water pressure.  Sure, we could turn on the water pump in the trailer, but we are living off-grid and prefer to use our solar power for other things – like lights, fans, satellite TV receiver, flat screen television and a CD/radio. Contrary to what some people believe, living off grid is not living like Neanderthals!

It’s important to know that for every foot in elevation, you get almost half a pound of water pressure.  So, if the water source is 20 feet higher, you will have almost 10 pounds of pressure.  Most municipal water systems provide about 40-60 pounds of pressure.

Our main reason to have the higher pressure was to get a better shower.  Without the water pump on, and before the water tank was built, we used to have a trickle, not a shower! 😉  That was very unsatisfying after a hard day of work.

The first thing we had to do was purchase some lumber posts that were tall enough for the tower.  We were surprised to find that our local box store had 20 foot long posts that were 6 inches by 8 inches.  These came at a hefty price (a little over $100 each).  The 2 x 6 cross braces weren’t much cheaper because we chose to use treated lumber.

A water tower

This is some hefty lumber – and fairly expensive also!

I know, I know, treated lumber has poison in it and it will contaminate the ground.  We considered that, but tossed about the fact that our land is populated by millions (not exaggerating) of carpenter ants and probably more termites!  Do we build a very expensive water tower that will be eaten in a few years by six legged critters, or do we buy the treated lumber and enjoy the tower for at least 20 years?  Knowing that there were no food crops growing near the tower, the tower was at least 50 feet from our well, and our home was also going to be almost 50 feet away from the tower, we opted for the treated lumber.

Building a water tower

Deep holes were dug to pour a concrete foundation for each leg of the water tower.

The first thing to do was to dig the holes for a concrete foundation the water tower legs would rest upon, with room for more concrete to encase the legs.  The holes were dug fairly deep (more than 5 feet deep), rebar was pounded down into the holes at different angles to give even more stability, and almost three feet of concrete was poured into the holes.  Ray had to wait a couple of days for this concrete to set up before he could place the four legs of the water tower on top.  In the meantime, the first side of the tower was built on the ground.  It was much easier that way.  Dear hubby Ray set up a pulley system on one of the tall pine trees nearby, and used the quad motorcycle to pull the first side up into place on the poured concrete pads.  You can see in the picture below that he used both lag bolts and later some carriage bolts to build the tower.

How to build a water tower

Building the first two opposites sides on the ground first, then erecting them with a pulley system, was a bit scary, but it worked!

Once two opposite sides of the tower were up with each leg of the tower resting securely in the center of each concrete and rebar pad, Ray set about securing them together, again with the carriage bolts and some lag bolts.

building a water tower

Getting all four sides of the tower upright was an engineering feat! Have I told you my dear hubby can do just about anything? 🙂

After the four sides of the tower were secure, more concrete and rebar was poured around each leg.  You can see in the picture below that Ray built the concrete up like a volcano around each leg, to help with water run-off.  Once the tower has been in use for a few months and any settling has occurred, we will pour a 6 inch thick concrete pad under the entire tower, incorporating each leg, which will make it even stronger! water tower Iphone

The tower was now starting to look like an actual water tower!

how to build a water tower

4 x 4 treated lumber was used for the deck that the water storage tank will rest upon

The next task was to build a deck on the top of the tower to support the water storage tank. We decided to use treated redwood 4 x 4’s because the deck had to support a lot of weight!  The water storage tank holds 305 gallons. Did you know that a gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds?  So, if my calculations are correct, the deck of the water tower has to hold at least 2,400 pounds!  Sheesh!

Once the deck was built, it was time to hoist the storage tank up. Easier said than done, and I honestly didn’t know how we were going to do that.  However, my dear hubby’s ingenuity rigging up hoists and pulleys eventually got the job completed!  I’ll tell you a secret…  that was really, really scary to watch!

How to build a water tower

I was so afraid that the rope would break or come undone.    Boy, that was scary!

Finally, the intake and outtake pipes had to be plumbed.  The fresh water coming from the well goes into the top bulkhead (hole) of the tank and the water going to the trailer comes out of the bottom bulkhead.  The pump in our well is a very versatile pump – we can run it on either batteries, a generator, or solar panels.  Right now we are using a generator because we have a few trees to cut down before the solar panels will work right.  Once the solar panels are operational, we have a sensor that Ray will install into the tank on top of the water tower.  The sensor will turn on the well pump when the water gets down to a certain level.  With this set-up, we will be able to have our water tank automatically kept full without us even having to think about it!

Now won’t that be cool?

No leaks!  Done!

No leaks! Another project done!

This was another project completed to make our lives easier while we build our new home. We can now have a nice hot shower after a long day of work!

I can’t wait to show you what else we have been doing!


Here is a list of blog parties I may attend: Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop;Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday;Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues;Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWined Down WedProject ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative MusterWednesday Showcase; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs;Green Thumb Thurs;Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs;Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery;Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things;Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend;Show Off Friday;Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party;Friday Favorites;Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share;Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday;Sunday Showcase




What A Day! or OMG!

This could only happen in California.

Ray and I are always checking out Craigslist to see if there is anything we need for our future homestead at a discounted price.  When we saw that someone was selling water storage tanks for more than half the price we would pay for new, Ray called the seller right away, and made arrangements to pick them up the next day.  The tanks were located several miles down the road from our future homestead, so we figured it would be easy to get the tanks into the truck, one at a time, and take up to our property.

We use the tanks to store rainwater collected off  the metal toolshed roof and also the metal outhouse roof, which during the summer, waters our orchard automatically with zero pressure, battery run timers.  If you would like to see our system, click HERE.

The next afternoon we set off with cash to meet the seller.   It takes about 1-1/2 hours to get from our current home in the valley up to our future homestead and we arrived about four o’clock in the afternoon at the bottom of the road to meet the seller, then followed him up the hill to his property. When we drove through his gate, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a HUGE marijuana field.


Smack Dab!

The seller and his girlfriend explained that they had just bought the tanks the previous month, because their well had gone dry and were getting water trucked in, but now they were harvesting and no longer needed the tanks. He went on to say that they were harvesting a bit early because they didn’t trust their landlord, who seemed a bit shady and scary to them.

Oh.     Okay.

Right in front of us were the tanks, pretty brand spankin new.  In fact, the insides still smelled like new plastic and the purchase tags were still on the outside of the tank. The larger tank was 1,100 gallons – just like the other three that we already have on the future homestead.  The other was 550 gallons.  We had just paid about $650 for a 1,100 gallon tank a few months ago, and this guy was asking only $400… for both.  Cash (of course).

Ummmm Hummmm.

Just then a helicopter flew overhead very slow and very low.

All we could think of was that these guys were going to get busted RIGHT NOW and we would get caught in the middle!  They might think we were buyers!!!

“Well no, officer….  you see, we were just here to buy water tanks”.

The seller could see our nervousness and laughed, saying that they fly over several times a day, but that he was perfectly legal according to California laws, and that we shouldn’t worry.

R i i i i i i ght.

We handed him the $400 and loaded up the smaller tank so fast it would have made your head spin.  We left quickly (the truck engine was still running) explaining that we would be back within the hour for the second tank. It only took about twenty minutes to get up to our property.  We unloaded the small tank, grabbed some ramps we had to make it easier to roll the large tank into the back of the truck (we actually bought them to load the quad into the back of the truck, but have found them handy for a number of other reasons), and then took the ladder rack off the truck so the larger tank would fit in sideways. Within thirty-five minutes we were driving back up the road to get the other tank.

An 1,100 gallon water storage tank fits nicely into the back of our F150 truck - without the ladder rack.

An 1,100 gallon water storage tank fits nicely into the back of our F150 truck – without the ladder rack.  Of course, you MUST strap it down or it can blow out.  Go ahead – ask me how I know!

When we got about 100 feet from the gate going into the seller’s property, we saw that the road was blocked by two cars full of the roughest looking guys you have ever seen.  They ignored us at first, then reluctantly moved their cars so we could get by.  We waved and thanked them but avoided eye contact.  When we got to the seller’s gate, however, we could see that it was closed, chained and padlocked!  Oh no – had we been scammed?!  We already gave the guy the cash (nervousness can make you stupid), but we didn’t get the bigger, more expensive tank! On top of that, there were two pit bulls and two German shepherds circling our truck.

Just wait – this gets better!

That’s when things really started to get sticky.  Ray got out of the truck (the pit bulls started  wagging their tails) and walked through the gate, into the property.  Afterall, we wanted our water tank!  He was able to catch the attention of the seller’s girlfriend, who came over and explained she had locked the gate because the guys down the road (the ones we saw in the cars) were scaring her.  She was afraid they might try to take her “crop” and she was there by herself.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have a key to the gate, but said her boyfriend would be back soon with the key. That’s okay, we said.  We’ll wait.  A few minutes later, one of the cars that had blocked the road pulled up, and inside was a woman along with three of the thugs we had seen about 10 minutes earlier.  The woman got out of the car, introduced herself as the “landlord” and explained that the seller and his girlfriend were renting the land from her.  She questioned who we were and when we told her we were buying the water tanks, she seemed satisfied with our answer and left with her carload of thugs.  A few minutes later the seller came back and unlocked the gate.

We drove in to the property where our large tank was and discovered that there was still at least a foot of water in it.  Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so you can imagine that there was no way we were going to be able to move this tank until it was empty.  The seller appologized (he though it was already empty) got a sump pump and started pumping out the tank, while we stood around and chit-chatted.  I did learn a little bit about his “crop”.  What was especially interesting was the fact that he said he had about 50 plants (looked like a lot more than that to me), which required approximately 1,400-1,600 gallons of water per week.

PER WEEK!  No wonder his well went dry!

At our home in the valley, we are only allowed to use water outside two times a week, along with quite a few other restrictions, and this guy is using at least 1,400 gallons of water PER WEEK on a marijuana crop! At our valley home our water is on a meter and we pay for every drop. But this guy could use as much water as his well would pump.  We have been reading reports about how some commercial marijuana growers are diverting creeks and streams for their crops, which is causing serious environmental disasters here in California. It wasn’t such a problem several years ago, but now that we are in a serious drought, the problem of illegal growers killing fish populations by draining and polluting streams and lakes is coming to the forefront.  Unfortunately, these lakes and streams are also where our drinking water supply comes from.

Don’t misunderstand – I am not totally against using marijuana as a medicinal herb if you really need it.  But, I believe these big commercial grows are wrong.  Just sayin’ 😉

So, as we were finally getting the big tank loaded up, the seller tells us how they think their landlord is trying to “bump them off” so she could have their crop, and that they had been hearing strange noises at night.  They pointed out five trailers that had been left on the property by the previous “farmers”, full of clothes, food, etc., and wondered if they had left in such a hurry they couldn’t take their belongings.

Well… who do you think shows up just then?  The landlord! The seller met her out of hearing range, but it was evident that they were not happy with each other.  Luckily the thugs stayed in the car.  In the meantime, his girlfriend quietly retreated into their trailer.  Ray and I put our heads down and tried to pay attention to our own business, rolling the tank onto it’s side so the last of the water was poured out, and positioning the tank where it could be rolled up into the truck.  Just then, the girlfriend came out of their trailer with an AK-47 strapped across her shoulder, and started walking through the “farm” as if she were guarding a prison gate!

Seriously!  Cross my heart, this is a true story!

We were no longer nervous at this point, we were just plain scared.  What had we gotten ourselves into?  It was time to go. The tank wasn’t completely empty, but we muscled that sucker into the back of the truck anyway! Ray and the seller shook hands, we hopped into the truck and pulled out of the “farm” onto the driveway, afraid that the road would be blocked again.  It wasn’t. Whew!  I don’t think I actually took a breath until we got to the end of the road and turned onto the highway to get up to our future homestead!

Water Storage System

Here is the smaller tank – 550 gallons. It was in excellent, almost new, condition.

Will we ever do that again?  HECK NO!

Storage System for Rainwater Collection

We placed the 550 gallon tank above an 1,100 gallon tank, so it can refill the lower tank, for a total of 1,650 gallons of water to irrigate the orchard.  That’s not counting an 1,100 gallon rainwater collection tank behind our tool shed and another 1,100 gallon tank behind the outhouse.

But we did get some nice water storage tanks for $400! 😀

We now have four 1,100 gallon tanks, one 550 gallon tank and another 325 gallon tank for a total of 5,275 gallons of water storage space!  This should be plenty of water to get the orchard through our arid California summers.  We will also provide a map of our property and placement of our tanks with our local CalFire office, just in case they need it to fight a wildfire on our property.

So, what do you think – are we crazy or not!

These are some of the places I party:  The Backyard Farming Connection Hop; Show & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden PartyBrag About ItTues with a Twist; The Scoop;  Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues; Tuesdays at Our Home; Turn It Up Tues; Lou Lou Girls; Down Home Blog HopWicked Awesome WedWhatever goes Wed; Show and Share Wed; Wined Down Wed; What We Accomplished;  Wake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings;  The HomeAcre Hop; Share Your Cup Thurs;  Home and Garden Thurs;  Mountain Woman RendezvousCreate it Thurs;  Think Tank Thurs; Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thurs Inspire Us Thurs; Inspire or be Inspired; Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects Party;Farmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Anything Goes Linky; Show Off Friday; Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Savoring Saturdays; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Show Stopper SaturdaySimply Natural Saturdays;Strut Your Stuff Saturday; Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Saturday;  My Favorite Things;  Serenity Saturday; Simple SaturdaysFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Homesteader’s Hop; Sunday Showcase

Our Homestead in Drought

We took a vacation up to our future homestead this past week and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  Our friends Shelley and Bruce invited us over for a Fourth of July Party and we had so much fun visiting with lots of our neighbors.  We met the “new guy” who just recently purchased property in our area, made some new friends, and Ray found a new fishing partner!

Between clearing an area to place a shipping container to use as a storage shed, getting our valley house ready to put on the market, and  bad nonexistent internet service on the future homestead, I haven’t been blogging much lately. Plus, I found out that I have bursitis, tendonitis and a probable healing rotator cuff tear in my right shoulder… and I’m right handed!  Ugh!  Hopefully physical therapy will get me back on track.

The drought here in California isn’t getting any better.

California lake in drought

This high mountain lake about 1/2 hour from our future homestead is usually one of the last lakes to get drained in the fall. At this time of year the water is usually way up and spilling over the dam.  Unfortunately, it’s already pretty low because there just wasn’t any snowpack to fill it up.

Anyhow…  there are a lot of things happening on the future homestead:


The gooseberries are starting to ripen, though because of our drought I don’t think we have half as many as we did last year.  In fact, some of the bushes that were loaded last year have only a dozen or so gooseberries this year.  It’s a shame.  However, I do think I will get enough to make a batch of gooseberry jelly.


The blackberries look even worse.  The berries that are developing look very small and will probably be very seedy, and I think it’s too late to water them, though I don’t think I would anyway.  While I know they will still make a great jelly, I was hoping to get some nice juicy ones to can into pie filling this year.  This is the recipe I wanted to use:    Maybe the hubby and I can take a ride down to our local creek and find a few plump, ripe berries.

ripening rose hips

Even the rose hips that I planned to harvest this year for a healthy and delicious tea are already starting to ripen, which is way earlier than I remember this happening in previous years.  At least they look somewhat plump, despite the drought.  I guess I will just have to harvest earlier than I had planned.

woodpile torn up

And then, near our campfire ring where our wood  is  was stacked, some critter tore it to pieces and made quite a mess.  I assume whatever it was (bear, raccoon, dog), was going after some critter that had made a nest in the woodpile.  Unfortunately, if you look at the bottom of the picture, you can see the beginnings of a poison oak bush, which is why I didn’t clean up this mess right away.  UGH!  I hate poison oak and unfortunately it likes me! 🙁  I will just have to keep my Technu and Stri-Dex pads on the ready.

Along with all the bad news due to our current drought here in California, we still have some good to report:

irrigation using rain barrels

The new zero pressure water timer and irrigation system we set up for our raised boxes is working well!  These tomatoes have absolutely tripled in size and are in full bloom!

ambassador walnuts

Our two year old Ambassador walnut tree has seven walnuts on it!  Heavens to Betsy – they aren’t supposed to produce until they are at least five years old, but this one seems to be extremely happy.  We weren’t positive that walnuts would grow well in our area, but apparently they do!

Redhaven Peach

Our Redhaven peach tree has three nice peaches on it, and at the rate that they are taking on color, they should be ripe in about a week.  Unfortunately our apricots didn’t put on any fruit this year, probably because we had a snowstorm just when they were starting to bloom, and the few cherries that we had were eaten by birds.  But, we are very hopeful that within a few years our small orchard will be providing us with lots of fruits and nuts!

purple thistle to make vegetable rennet

Finally, the purple thistle is starting to bloom again.  Apparently they aren’t bothered much by drought, because they seem to be as numerous and as big as they were last year! It’s time for me to start harvesting the purple thistle (before the down develops) so that I can continue my experiments with using it as a vegetable rennet to make cheese.  Now that our local natural foods market sells raw goats milk, I have all I need to make fresh goat cheese!  Click HERE to read about how to make rennet out of purple thistle.

Because of this drought we are seeing a lot more beetle activity and wasps on the future homestead, partly because they didn’t die off during the winter because of our warm temperatures, and partly because the drought weakened trees aren’t able to resist the beetle invasion.  We may lose some of our pine trees because of this. 🙁

On the brighter side, our well seems to be holding it’s own.  So far.  Since we were able to get three 1,100 gallon water storage tanks full from the winter rains, we haven’t had to pump much water from the well, which is a good thing.

Until next time – stay happy, healthy and as honest as you can be.



The Self Sufficient HomeAcre



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