Winter Freeze

We finally got our first real cold day at The Golden K.  When we woke up yesterday morning it was in the low thirties.   I know for many of you that’s not cold but for us suburban transplants it is.  Mostly because it never really warmed up.

Kali and I went out for our morning walk after me bundling up with about three layers and a scarf – which I never wear.  Kali, being a Golden Retriever, has built in double coats so she was fine.  The crisp air felt great as we walked along our normal route going down to the main road, picking up our newspaper, and then heading up our property the long way around and finally back home.

I’ve been looking forward to winter up here on the hill where it will be cold with an occasional dusting of snow.  Not enough to have to shovel but enough to just hunker down and enjoy the season with a good wood fire, some smooth brandy, and a football game or two on Sundays.  But in reality I’m sure there will be some things that grow old quickly like a chapped face from that early morning walk, broken water pipes, and dealing with a puppy who just wants to be outside no matter what the temperature or precipitation.

But it’s all good when you have a romantic perspective at 3100 feet.  For that we are blessed.

The girls did their best to keep warm (like it was hard to do with a wood fire, a propane stove, and each other to stay warm!).

 

The freezing temps are good because it kills bark beetles; freezes those little bastards balls off  🙂 but what we need is more of this.

Here’s to a wet, wet winter!  Pray for rain.

I'm Looking Up

I walk around looking up in the air a lot these days.  With my neck stretched as far back as my spine will allow I walk and  look up at the tall trees.

We have hundreds of trees.  Oak trees, cedars, manzanitas, and pines.  The beauty they bring to the Golden K here within these Sierra Nevada Foothills goes beyond words.  But it’s the pines that cause me to arch my back, stretch my neck and gaze upwards. The pines are terribly stressed from lack of water and crowding.  This makes it hard for them to produce the necessary sap to fend off bark beetles from boring in, reproducing, and ultimately killing the tree.

I spend a lot of time placing hoses with deep watering spouts in the dirt around as many of the pines that I can reach.  We’re fortunate that our irrigation uses well water and I can liberally inject water into the ground in an effort to help the trees stay alive.  We had 14 of the largest pines around the house injected with chemicals that will kill the beetles if they invade the tree.  The success rate is about 95% if the tree is treated before the beetles attack.  It would be cost prohibitive to treat every single tree on the property but it’s also very expensive to have trees removed.   It happens fast.  One day a tree can look healthy with vibrant green needles and the next day you may notice the needles throughout the entire tree fading into a dull grayish green color and ultimately – within a couple of weeks – the tree is burnt toast.

When we bought The Golden K last December we knew there were 15 dead trees that eventually would need to be taken down.  A few weeks ago we noticed four trees with needles dulling.  Upon closer inspection we saw dozens and dozens of holes in the tree with tell tale red boring dust from the bark beetles as far as our eyes could follow up the tree.  These trees are goners so the count is up to 19 that we are aware of.

I walk around our five acres with a combination of awe and wonder at the beauty of it all.  I also walk around with a bit of anxiety and worry that seemingly healthy looking trees may be infected with beetles and I don’t know it yet.  I feel sad when I think about the drought not ending soon enough and the face of the foothills, and The Golden K itself, may look significantly different in just a few years.

So I’m looking up.  Looking up at at the pine needles in the tree tops that soar above the Golden K.  I’m looking up in awe of Mother Nature.  But mostly I’m looking up and praying for rain.

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View from The Golden K deck waiting for rain 

Where’s Kali?

What a glorious morning along the creek trail it was!  I think it must be “that time of year” when I know colder and (hopefully) wetter weather is just around the corner.  The creek and duck pond seemed more beautiful than ever during our walk this morning.  It won’t be long before the shorts, golf shirts, and flip flops are replaced by jeans, hiking boots, and a wool jacket.  December through February can get mighty cold (well cold for us CA wimps) dipping down in my area to the mid twenties in the morning.  But for now it is warm, sunny, and still flip flop weather even at 7:00 in the morning.

This morning Kali guided me through an area of the pond that is surrounded by low dry golden foliage (because it was dead due to the drought).  None the less I found it strikingly beautiful with colors that closely matched Kali’s fur.  Almost like camouflage for her.

So, patient and as always a very willing subject, Kali sat amongst the dry straw-like weeds and allowed me to take a few photos.  It was a great morning and I will miss the sun and warmth as I begin my annual ritual of lamenting winter.

Where's Kali?

Where’s Kali?

Fixated on ducks or just being patient?

Fixated on ducks or just being patient?

Good girl!

Good girl!

A glorious autumn morning.

A glorious autumn morning.

Ducks Like Rain!

It’s still too early to expect it.  All we can do is hope it eventually arrives.  If it doesn’t get here soon we are in deep trouble.  Especially our farmers, our ranchers, and our eco-systems.  Yes, I’m talking about rain – or lack of it – out here in “droughtville”.

“They” say El-Nino is coming.  I hope whomever they are know what they’re talking about!  I’ve never been a fan of rain but lately I find myself praying for it!  Many of my neighbors are replacing lawns with drought resistant plants, rocks, stones, and cement.  Yuck!  Suburbia is all about green lawns, lush parks, and strip malls.  Ok scratch the strip malls;  we could definitely do without any, or at least with less, strip malls. But I’m holding out one more year and, at least for now, the lawns are staying.  I’m giving the grass enough water to keep them alive but not so much as to exceed our mandatory reduction percentages.  My five minute showers in the morning have been pared down to two minutes and I’ve allocated that water to my lawn.  Well at least that’s my rationalization…

Meanwhile, we did get some rain this past week.  It wasn’t much but it was rain.  A steady drizzle.  Precipitation.  Whatever – we’ll take it.  Even with that little sprinkling the yards around the neighborhood seemed to come alive.  More importantly it surely helped the firefighters around the state battling a number of record setting wildfires.  The drought resistant plants could give a hoot but the rocks and stones sure looked pretty when they were wet!

Even our creek and pond seemed to come alive.  The water levels with even this little bit of rain seemed to rise a couple of feet.  This morning along our walk the duck’s seemed happier.  Seriously.  They were swimming and preening with newfound gusto.

There was a male in the middle of the pond quacking loudly and proudly as if to say, “Ducks like rain!”.

The duck caught Kali’s attention for several seconds and I believe I saw her smile as if to say, “Hey feathered friend – I’m happy for you”.  I smiled too.  Seeing the pond and creek looking a little bit like it’s old self made me happy.  And for a few seconds on this glorious sunny and warm morning time stopped and it was just me, Kali, and mother nature enjoying a moment.

It's nice to see the water levels higher - at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

It’s nice to see the water levels higher – at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

I guess Kali and I got a little too close for Mr. Heron’s comfort and he flew off to the other side of the creek.  Have a great day BH, enjoy the water and sun.

If you’ve made it this far down the page and post congratulations!  Your reward is the full lyrics of “Ducks Like Rain”.

DUCKS LIKE RAIN by Franciscus Henri

Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack! Quack! Quack!

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks llike the rainy weather,
Water running off their feathers,
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle,
Water knee-deep in the puddle,
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…