Food Chain Farm

Going on Vacation

Going away for an extended period of time is a challenge.  When we are on an extended trip, there is the worry and anticipation of what is going on at the far while we’re away.  Jim is seriously talking about setting up a webcam.

Of course, we have a “house-sitter who comes in every day to water and feed the cat and birds and check on things,  but mostly the farm is all “automated”.  By this I mean that all the raised beds, about 24 of them are set-up to be watered automatically.  Each timer can be programmed to water on a different schedule so the place is humming all the time and usually everything runs smoothly.  However, if a rabbit decides to nibble on one of the plastic tubes, disaster strikes with water spurting into the air instead of going to the plants.  With everything protected with chicken wire it’s usually not a problem.

We worry about our cat - he has to compete with other animals for his food – in the daytime with the crows and at night with the raccoons.    He is, of course, helping himself to animals all around him – his favorite is lizard but will grab a bird also.  When he is walking around with a mouse or mole in his mouth he is doing his job since they will ruin the garden.  I always worry that he will disappear – there are lots of coyotes around and no other cats, so he is always in danger.  So far so good, he is savvy and cautious but I can’t imagine he’ll live to old age in our neighborhood.

Recently a mountain lion was spotted in the neighborhood. For a few days, the cat was extremely nervous, but then he settled back down to his laid-back self.

The farm continues through its growing cycles whether or not we are there, so we usually run around like crazy finishing chores that need to be done before we leave.  Traveling in the spring is challenging because plants should be in the ground before it gets hot and dry.    The actual “putting the seed in the ground” part is easy.  It’s all the other steps that take so much time and effort – adding wheelbarrows of new mulch and fertilizer, setting up the new irrigation system and finally covering everything with chicken wire. 

When we travel, we are often missing some of the wonderful fruits and vegs that are ripening all the time such as strawberries, blackberries or mulberries.  In the fall it’s tomatoes, peppers and other summer fruit that are just winding down.  Citrus is ripening year round.  I created a map of the garden for our friends who came over to pick in our absence.  I am very grateful because I hate to see all this bounty go to waste.  I am always making trips to the local food pantry to give away what we can’t use ourselves.  The best time to travel back east is in Late Sept, October when fall is arriving and the weather is good.  Back it California, we are deep into the fire season where it has not rained since March and everything is bone dry.

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