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Well that didn't work out

About a month ago we borrowed an incubator, got ourselves some fertile chicken eggs, and set to hatching some chickens. The girls made up charts, committed to the idea of turning their eggs three times a day and then... they kinda lost interest.

Us adults did our best to keep up and manage the kids waining interest, but with some crazy weather messing with the holding temp and kids being, well, kids, it didn't go as planned.

The rocks that screwed us

Here's the thing with building a house in California.

Take the cost you think it'll run. Take the time you think it'll take. Take the amount of stress and worry you expect to invest.

Double it. Double it all.

Now maybe you'll have an inkling of what you're up against.

We've been working on putting a house on our vacant lot for almost a year now and we've hit every kind of wall you can imagine. At some point, I'll tell you all about those walls (maybe, if I can find the sanity to do so) but today I want to tell you about rocks.

Most of the area were on is - geologically speaking - called the Lindavista Formation. The rocks found in this formation are relatively insignificant, culturally, but can easily masquerade as something more important. The rocks often have rounded edges, which when broken, can look like grinding surfaces used by Native Americans. So when we had to pay for a archeologist and a Native American to come take a look at the land, our greatest hope was that nothing of significance would be found*. If it was found, we're looking at paying the very same people a four-hour minimum to stand around while we dig up the footprint, at a rather significant cost.

They found this rock:

rocks of significance

In the photo, the left of the large rock shows a slight curve, which they said made it a potential field stone used for grinding.

I find it extremely shady when the people making a recommendation that you pay someone to be on site during digging are the very same people who will be paid to stand around while digging is happening. That sentence didn't mean to be so convoluted, but well, this process is convoluted, so why should I allow you to be comfortable when reading it? ANYWAY, this concern of mine sent me to the ear of a friend of ours, who happens to be a local hot-shot geologist. I asked if he'd be willing to come on out and give me an idea if these people were full of crap or not. He agreed.

And here's the thing, I'm totally OK with the idea that significant artifacts should be properly handled. I just didn't know if I was being lied to or not, as everyone needs to put dinner on the table. And looking at that rock above, I really didn't know what to think.

So Eric came out this morning and took a look. His first impression of the rock was that it was insignificant (which is what I thought!). But what he found next? Well, that is not insignificant.

rocks of significance

You see those thin bits of rock? These kinds of rocks do not naturally break like that. The shape could have occurred when the area was graded in the 1970's, but upon closer inspection of the wider of those two shards, he found this:

rock of significance

"You're going to have to pay them."
"Yeah?"
"Yep. Those may be nothing, but they look like potential tool marks. Tool marks mean there may be more to look at here." He glanced around some. "You have an alternate site for the house?"
"Nope."
"OK, just know this could take longer than expected."

 SIGH.

At least this is coming from someone I trust. And after he left, Mark and I took a walk around the property and came up with an alternate plan, just in case something is found that will take a long time to unearth.

For once, I'm hoping that my land utterly and completely unremarkable, insignificant and boring.

Fingers crossed.

 

*Who can come up with the best "An archeologist, a Native American and a geologist walk into a bar" joke? Winner gets a potentially significant rock from the Lindavista Formation. GO!

Sunday Morning

It's a beautiful morning and I just made a quick circle of the house to check on a few of the trees and snap a few photos, here and there. Mark is hanging our laundry on the line as the sun decided to show his face just as the wash finished up.

The apple tree has added a lot of bulk to the trunk this year, looking good from all the water it received from the upstairs shower, bursting with apple blossoms and promise. But the big excitement for me was seeing that the satsuma is making a sincere effort to survive (pictured). That wee tree is watered from the laundry but is otherwise largely ignored.

The kids are full of pancakes and bacon, the dogs finding spots of sunshine to bask in, the Mister enjoying a chat with his mom in Northern California via the joy and wonder of technology. I haven't bothered to get out of my jammies yet and it's noon. If only I didn't have to be at work in a few hours.

What does Sunday morning look like at your home?

Walking the line

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Lorien and I have often talked about how this land needs a path.

This time, we're not talking metaphorically.

With the steep canyon walls and the odd shape of our property (imagine a broadsword tip, it's kinda shaped like that), if we simply made a path around the edges of the property, we'd get in a daily hike that would actually be exercise. Also, it would allow us to find all the spots where coyotes have dug under the fence to watch the chickens or trot through the trees, sampling bunnies for dinner. It would also give us easier access to the bit of land pictured above, which gets late day sun and while sloped, is relatively flat enough to plant a thing or two.

Today, we strapped a borrowed baby to Lorien's front, whistled for the dogs and took a walk, seeing how much we could actually traverse without too much clambering through the brush. Maya, our dog who will be 13-years-old this summer, was happy to get the walk under her feet despite the fact that her hind legs don't really work anymore. She drags her toes and has one leg that doesn't seem to bend anymore but somehow, she keeps moving. Lorien got ahead of me here because the dog had to stop and rest and I decided to hang back with her for a moment and rub her tired old legs before making the last climb up out of the canyon to the chicken coop above.

And standing there in the grass with a dog at my side, I was reminded how very lucky I am. I managed to make the mortgage this month. There's food on my table and growing in my dirt. I have people who love me. I have a community that supports my ideas and efforts. I have a 13-year-old dog that would still rather take a painful hike than stay behind. I have healthy kids. I have sunshine. I have something that is slowly, but certainly, becoming a tiny farm.

Really, who gets that kind of world to live in?

Not many. And that makes me one of the luckiest people on earth.

Where Do I (We) Fit In Here?

Hmmm... How to begin? It's been a while since I turned my attentions toward this blogging thing. That's ok; writing, while incredibly difficult to start, is actually pretty fulfilling for me once I get into it.

Who am I? How do I relate to this blog? I'm Lorien. Elaine and I met over 8 years ago when our small ones were truly wee and liked each other a whole lot immediately. Over the years that like has turned into love, mutual respect, and deeply fulfilling friendship.

I grew up on a certified organic farm in Maine and we always had people living on our (100+) acres in the summer to help harvest our blueberry crop. This was in the middle of nowhere, so we fluctuated between having 10-15 people around the table in the summer to just us 4 in the winter. Sometimes we'd have impromptu guests, which was always fine, there was always enough and plenty of room. After college mine was the apartment that was always unlocked and often I would get home from work and people were making dinner in my kitchen or, if it was late, already sleeping on the couch. The more, the merrier, right?

So... When I found myself in suburban San Diego with my closest friend 10+ miles away by car, it didn't take me long to feel like an important aspect of my life was not being fulfilled and honored. I've always wanted to live "in community" but not together in the same house. One day, as I was pondering my deeply underwater tract home in the no-person's-land of strip malls and chain restaurants, I started daydreaming.... What if we (my husband, daughter, and dog) could get out from under this home? Where would we go? What would that look like? How could we make it different/better?

Elaine and her family had two separate but adjoining plots of land. They had always planned to build a second home on the second lot but finances hadn't presented to opportunity to do so. I was looking to make a change and longing for more community. What if?  I presented the idea to Elaine and her family. I actually don't remember how that whole scene unfolded or how long it took us to decide that this was the absolute best idea any of us had ever (or at least it felt like it at the time) had. I'm sure there was much jumping up and down and squealing and braiding of hair. And that was just the husbands...

To be continued...