Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today was Wil's graduation from high school ceremony. Basically it was much the same as when Carli graduated, only maybe a little worse! My husband left right after Wil walked the stage because he said he was getting a headache. I left shortly after for much the same reason.

There were student speakers from each of the five continuation schools. Then the Assistant Superintendent of the Kern High School District gave a brief speech. Each school's site administrator then read the names of the graduates as they walked across the stage. Today's ceremony seemed a little shorter than Carli's. Maybe the speeches were shorter, or maybe it was because we left before everything was done. Mercifully, Wil's school was the second to receive their diplomas.

Wil walking towards the stage during the graduates' entrance.
Shortly after Wil entered the stage. His site administrator is the lady on the left in blue.
Zooming in on Wil.
Barbara Kenney, Vista West High School's site administrator, reading the names of the graduates.
Receiving his "diploma". (It's really just the cover. They get their real diploma after the whole thing is done.)

The Kern High School District Continuation Schools Graduates of 2009.

YAY! He got his high school diploma!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Proof Of Life

As you can see in the photo above, my pasture seed appears to be germinating. I'm trying to steer clear of the especially bare areas so they can hopefully fill in nicely. The rest of the pasture area looks nice but I'm not sure if that's from the new seed (which is hard to see where there's already grass) or if it's just because I've been constantly watering. Either way, it is looking better so for now I'll just continue.

Imagine my surprise when I found some fruit on my brand new baby fruit trees! This is a gala apple.
This is a Fuji apple.
This is our avacado. We've had it for a couple of years now and it's not really in a good place. It is planted underneath a camphor tree that I wanted to cut down but my husband likes it too much. And the poor avacado is suffering now. It's still trying though and we found three avacadoes on it this year. That's the most we've ever gotten from it so far. The tree isn't that big yet, so I may try to relocate it this winter.
Otherwise, one of our neighbors catty-corner from us has a nice avacado tree and he always shares with us every year.

My latest purchase and bout with insanity involves buying moringa seeds. I read about them on another blog and looked a little further into it. The cost was only about $13 for 10 seeds and I thought it wouldn't hurt. Not only are they supposed to be beneficial for humans but they are also supposedly good fodder for animals. We'll see how that works out.

As expected we are becoming inundated with zucchini and squash. I don't mind a bit. I found what I hope will be a good way to save them. It involves blanching the sliced veggies for three minutes, placing on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freezing. Once they are frozen they are placed in a zip lock baggie with as much air sucked out as possible. Since they are individually frozen you only need to take out as much or as little as you need, keeping the rest in the baggie.

So far the freezing part has worked out perfectly. We haven't yet tried to cook any of the frozen stuff to see how it actually works out, but I'll be doing that soon, just to make sure it's worth the trouble.

Meanwhile... Zucchini bread, anyone?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Memorial Day today. We did some yard work, replacing broken sprinklers. While at the hardware store I got a new flag. Our old flag was a "coffin" sized flag and I don't even know where it came from, but now it's old, faded, and ripped and we don't fly it anymore. I'm not even sure where it is. But now we have our new flag and I'm happy to have it up.

Have a great day and remember our veterans!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not So Welcome News

We received some bad, but not totally unexpected, news today. My husband will be a victim of the bad economy in about three weeks' time.

He was informed this morning that he, along with two of his coworkers, were going to be laid off. In one respect we are not so as unfortunate as some younger people who have received the same type of news. At least we are getting paid a monthly retirement from his previous employment. He had taken this county job in order to have paid medical insurance for our family, "extra" income, and to give him something to do.

The medical insurance is what concerns me most at this point. For people our age and with a teenaged son still living at home the cost of insurance is quite expensive. It may sound callous and I certainly don't mean it to be so, but the sooner we can get Wil out and on his way the better off we will be.

We had quite a problem with Wil and the Coast Guard thing. He hadn't taken his ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test in high school so he has to take it now before he can actually enlist. When he went to the recruiter in Fresno they had given him the "Request for Examination" form but put the wrong birth date. Three weeks and two phone calls and an email later we finally got the corrected form. Now we are waiting for the call back from the facility where he is supposed to take the test so we can make the reservation and he can then actually take the test!

It seems to me they would be jumping hoops to accomodate these young people who express an interest in enlisting.

In any case, we may have to tighten our belts just a tad but we should be okay.

Meanwhile I thought I'd post these previously unpublished pictures.

This is the dragonfly that visits us usually in the evening. I love the blueness of the sky and the laciness of his (her?) wings. (Click on any picture to enlarge.)
Are you ready for something really silly? This is my granddaughter sitting in her doll stroller. (Her mom drew happy faces on her cheeks.) She loves to sit in the stroller like it's for her, not the dolls.
I managed to talk her into at least holding her baby so I could take a picture. Usually she doesn't want anything but herself to sit in the stroller. It's her or nothing! (No, she's not spoiled a bit, why do you ask?)
And finally a picture that makes me smile. Here she is in the garden behind the beans, now almost nonexistent thanks to the gophers! I often would love to know what she is thinking!
Aahh, to be so young and carefree and living in the moment.

Maybe not.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From Pig To Pork

Remember these two? One of them was ours.
Wednesday I went and picked our pig up. This is what it looked like.
And now it's in the freezer. We had some of the sausage tonight, and I've got to say, it was outstanding! (Notice the one remaining gallon of sheep milk from this year.)
Although I was excited about all that pork, it sure didn't impress this one!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

W For 2009

Mom and baby are doing fine. Ladysmith is beginning to show her age with a lot of gray showing up in her face. (I know how she feels!) She's eleven years old now, which is middle to early old age.

As long as she keeps having babies and the births are trouble free then she will be able to stay. How's that for pressure! This year's heifer calf is a real cutie, as usual. The green color in her left ear is what's left of the tattoo ink. I tattooed her last weekend.
Every Dexter is supposed to be tattooed and the number is then recorded on their registration papers. I never had a system of my own so I follow the recommended simple guidelines of farm letter, calf number, and year born. This year's letter was "W". This calf's number is "W1W", meaning W for Wilamar Farm, 1 for first (and only) calf born in 2009. The system isn't totally foolproof, as obviously there may be other farms using the same system and end up with the same tattoo. But if you throw in a brand, freeze mark, and or ear tags, that helps even more, since everyone with a brand has their own unique pattern. We do have a brand but have not yet used it.

Maybe we will if we ever move to a bigger place where I can then have a few cows, rather than just one at a time.

Perhaps it will happen. Some day...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In The Garden

Most of the garden is doing quite well at this point. I do have to make sure it gets watered every day, as our temperatures have been in the upper 90's.

Especially vulnerable are the squash plants. If they don't get watered before noon they tend to get very droopy. But then I fill their wells with water and 20 to 30 minutes later they look good as new!

The tomatoes are getting big and plump. Now they just need to get nice and red and ripe!
The black beauty eggplants are getting flowers, thorny as they are!
Our grapes are going gangbusters! They have clusters everywhere.
This is the most beautiful green bell pepper we've ever had!

One side of the beans are doing well.

This is the side that the gopher(s) have ravaged. Not looking so good!
And the okra isn't looking too great either. They look like maybe some sort of bugs have been getting at them. Haven't seen any though.
And this guy silently sees it all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yard Work = Dirty!

When we got home from the Congressional Art Reception on Saturday it was time for me to go into the yard work mode. Earlier in the week I had aerated the entire yard with a core aerator (this model) and then followed up by spreading a weed and feed fertilizer.

Saturday I decided to put out the pasture mix seed, then mow everything.
It all went very well, and when I was done the first thing I had to do was take a shower. The dirt and dust from mowing ended up all over me.
The shower felt wonderful!

Now I am keeping everything watered and I hope my plan actually works for a change. I'll let you know...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wil's News, Part III

Today was Wil's third thing. Some of you were able to find the answer to the clues I gave in the post Wil's News, Part II. Above is the letter Wil got, inviting him and his family and friends to the official reception of the Congressional Art Competition for High School Students.

These cookies were made by Smith's Bakeries. These are the ones that the "Almost Smith's Cookies" are about (without the fancy Congressional stamp).Here is Congressman Kevin McCarthy giving an interview to one of the local television stations.
The Congressman and Wil are looking at Wil's piece he did for the competition.
He was very gracious and accommodating and posed for pictures with the students. Here are he is with Wil and Wil's art teacher, Vicki Smart.
This is Wil's art, an abstract in pencil that he inexplicably titled "Lemonade".
There was a pretty good crowd, and they listened as Congressman McCarthy gave out special awards.

This is Taylor, a friend of Wil's, receiving her special award for third place for one of her photographs. The tall guy in the back is also a friend of Wil's. His name is Zach, and he won second place for "computer art".

This is Taylor's third place photograph entry.

The following photo was not in the competition, but it is also by Taylor. You can see that she is a very talented photographer. She has not had any lessons in photography and is a real natural. I'm jealous!

So who knew that li'l Wil had such artistic talent? Well, my sisters and I knew from when Wil was very young that he had it in him. Both my sisters are very talented, the oldest musically, and the next oldest (the cheesemaker) is a proficient sketcher and painter who really needs to start painting again!!!

Anyway.... Here is something Wil did when he was about four. It's on the back of an old business card. (I think it's a dog??)

And here is something Wil did on a white board when he was about 13. It's of Chester sleeping on the sofa. I knew the picture would eventually get erased and I tried to save it with this mini-polaroid. I carry both of these pictures in my purse.

Wil didn't place in this contest. There were a lot of talented young kids there, for sure! But who knows, maybe one of these days he'll be able to sell his paintings for thousands of dollars and he can then buy his dear old parents the ranch his mom has always dreamed of!

(I think I figured out the clicking on the picture problem. You should be able to click on any of these pictures to see them enlarged.)