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Monday, July 13, 2015


Pollinators in Big Valley include a big variety of native bees, flies, and butterflies in various guises - ornate, metallic and minuscule.

A species of syrphid fly on a California poppy at the ranch.

A species of carpenter bee.

Honey bees on the comb.

Enter Dow and Monsanto, intent on helping lazy, industrial scale, corporate farming to produce uniformly flawless produce. You know the story. It's been told for years: monarch butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, and all the other less showy pollinators are crashing.

Home Depot has folded to the pressure from the top. They are doing the evil bidding of the chemical companies. All of their flowering plants are impregnated with the highly toxic NEONICOTINOIDS fatal to all insects and the birds which feed on the insects, which come into contact with the poisoned plants. The seeds themselves are coated with the poison, which then, on a cellular level, is transmitted through the tissues of the plant, toxifying everything from root to pollen.

Just check the little plastic labels which are stuck in the containers with every plant at Home Depot.
Approved by the EPA? And to whom is the EPA listening? Pollinators and birds?

Ace Hardware, on the other hand, along with other companies, is trying to do the right thing by banning the sale of neonicotinoid-contaminated plant stock.

A bluebird day in the hammock, because I needed to rehabilitate for a moment after the preceding bad news.

Now for more horrifying news:

The gorgeous valley to our immediate West at the foot of the Hopland Grade is in imminent danger of being taken over by a "development" corporation based in New Zealand. The plan is for an entirely new town of at least ten thousand people, which would make it the second largest population center in Mendocino County after Ukiah. 
This project has green-wash painted all over it. But local farmers see through the ploy and are fighting hard to preserve our rural open space.
In several ways, the project is the opposite of green. The town would be completely car-dependent since services such as medical, automotive, etc, and employment opportunities are at least twenty miles to the north or south in Cloverdale and Ukiah.

Views from the Hopland Grade of the beautiful McDowell Valley.

Poppy meadow in Big Valley.

A native penstemon

Red shouldered hawk feather. This year they are nesting in the valley oak canopy eighty feet straight up from the kitchen sink.

A scrub jay fledgling was run over by a car the minute it hopped into the road.

A badger, having evolved for millions of years to be the special being that it is, met a tragic end on Highway 20 in the Central Valley just East of Lake County.

Sunflower heads.

Our wood piles, comprised of the big limbs which fall from the Valley Oaks.

Walnuts swelling at Summer Solstice.

Walnut orchard.

Evening light in late June.

Friday, October 3, 2014


At the Kelseyville Pear Festival, the Idol of the Golden Pear was, if not venerated, at least prominently displayed. There is a nostalgic feeling to the festival as it looks back fondly on the time, a few decades ago, when Kelseyville claimed, with justification, to be the Pear Capital Of the World. That was before diesel costs rose and global competition kicked in. The time of the hand-reared and paper-wrapped Lake County Mountain Bartlett has dimmed in an era of mass commodification. There are still many hundreds of local acres of pear orchards, but a pear is now just a pear.

A Norwegian pony.

A super sleek and clean, magnificent percheron draft horse decked out in black leather and silver.

The engraving on the masthead of the now defunct Kelseyville Sun, circa 1927.

The art of commercial lithography, which adorned the pear crates of the early and mid Twentieth Century, is the nearest we've come to distinguished visual expression since the Golden Era of Pomo Basketry. 

Coyotes feasted on figs, plums and ground squirrels by the looks of the fecal evidence.

Bumper mast from the Valley Oaks this year.

Scorched Earth Style Agriculture sadly typifies the vineyard industry, in which habitat is thoroughly slashed and burned, even when there is no reason for it.
This brand new vineyard development desecrated a rich swale of Valley oaks, cattails slough, cottonwoods and blackberry thicket which ran along its northern boundary on Loasa Road.
The habitat there had been a breeding refugia for California quail, bluebirds, red winged blackbirds, and, most significantly, for a threatened species, the California endemic tri-colored blackbird.
Like the prairie pothole ponds of the Great Plains, which are known as the duck factories of North America, and the venerable hedgerows of the British Isles, this habitat was completely wiped out in the interest of maximized short-term and short-sighted profit. It is a benighted and discredited economic model which puts short-term growth above long-term sustainable wealth. 

Valley oak corpses litter the former swale. The formerly rich habitat here would have in no way interfered with the development of the new vineyard. 

The northern anchor of a rainbow, which bracketed Mount Konocti.

The Summer Palace of the Valley Quail.

The southern anchor of the rainbow.

A walk back from town.

Heavy heads.