Wildflower season! News from Las Flechas Farm

Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada Foothills Photo credit: Michael Frye

The Sierra Nevada foothills are gorgeous green in the spring, and wildflowers are bursting out everywhere. Here on the Las Flechas property, I’ve been able to find (besides the aforementioned Henbit Deadnettle), Baby Blue Eyes, Fivespot, Western Buttercup, Miniature Lupine, Redstem Storkbill, Hairy Vetch, Desert Rockpurslane, Spring Madia, Yarrow, Common Daisy, Garden Sorrel, and the unfortunately named Blue Dick, which despite its stupid name, is quite beautiful, with a tall, elegant stem and three or four purple-blue blossoms clustered together at the top.

My friend Michele learned that the Miwok Indians, who have lived on this land for thousands of years, call the plant Oocow. I prefer that. I planted California Poppies, but have not seen them sprout yet, though they are blooming everywhere along the roadside. I’ve scattered thousands of wildflower seeds, and am waiting to see them take hold and flourish. The native varieties are dominant of course, and Hairy Vetch is downright aggressive, taking over flower beds and covering over anything in its path. Beautiful though.

Rattlesnake Aversion Training

Our beloved dog Pete dives headfirst into every bush or gopher hole he sees, so in addition to the recommended series of rattlesnake vaccines — which buy us time in the case of a bite — I got a guy to come out with a bucket of poisonous snakes.

This guy shows up in a Members Only jacket and flip flops, and a Prius full of rattlesnakes. Not at all what I was expecting. The whole process was both terrifying and fascinating. Even with the snake’s mouth taped shut, it’s unnerving to see rattlesnakes hanging around on the property. These fuckers are hard to see, and I pray we never encounter one. But they are native here, and although they say that at our altitude of 2100 feet it is less likely that we will see a rattler, it’s certainly not impossible, so we opted for training, which involved a snakeskin to smell, several live snakes, and an electric shock collar.

Pete moved in to check out this fat bastard below, and the trainer deployed the shock. He told me that Pete didn’t require much juice; he’s worked with chihuahuas who required the full monty. After a series of such exercises, the trainer positioned the snake between Pete and me, and told me to call Pete. Pete took a W-I-D-E path around the snake to come and sit on my foot. Then he went to hide in the juniper bush until the mean man with the 80’s jacket and the shocky collar packed up his snakes in a bucket, tossed them into the back of his Prius, and went home.

Let’s pray Pete remembers.

A muzzled, disgruntled Western Diamondback rattlesnake

The garden is in

Vince built the fence twice as tall as last year, so hopefully this year the deer won’t jump into my garden in the middle of the night to chow down on the fruits and vegetables that have take months to cultivate and nurse along to maturity.

For detailed gardening news, check out my new link, “Garden Journal.” It’s a work in progress.

The Mantle

Have I told you about the mantle?

When I bought this place, the living room was two colors. blue and tan; the grout between the fireplace rock was dark grey, and the mantle was made of the same crown molding that ran around the perimeter of the room at a variety of heights.

Crazy, right? But the potential is there.

Well, my woodworking daughter Maddy, and my woodworking neighbor Karen, collaborated on choosing a log from a collection Karen had built after clearing some land for her garden; they took a half-log, cut and milled it, and began to prepare it to become the mantle. It’s a live-edge beam, mounted to a dovetail box that Maddy built with her uncanny attention to detail; then the unfinished mantle piece sat in Karen’s shop, waiting for another span of time when Maddy could come up and finish it.

The time is now! It is June 2022, and the mantle is in our fledgling workshop.

In this photo, the rounded part is facing down, so you can see the top (where the knick-knacks will go)

I wish you could see the front — it’s irregular and beautiful, just like a tree — and in an upcoming post, you will see it installed in its spot above the wood burning stove. That mantle, made by my daughter with help from my friend, and made from a tree that lived on her property, will now be seated in a place of honor in my home, into perpetuity.

Peace and goodwill.

1 Comment

  1. Allison

    Hi Alex, I’m sitting in a ERWC training workshop with Erich, and he’s directed me over to your blog, where I quickly fell down the well and found myself in Wonderland. What a trip, and also tricky, as we’re meant to be responding to session leaders, and I keep hearing your voice in my ear, yet others are pulling me back to comments that Ginny, or Jennifer are making. It’s not the same without you here. But it looks like you’re having a fabulous life. Keep posting.

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