Weekend Coffee Share 

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Have a seat. Can I get a cup of delicious, hot coffee for you? Or would you rather prefer the ice version? What’s the weather like at home?

We’ve had a cooler week, with some light rain. Not like the floods we had earlier. It’s actually been perfect weather for preparing my new garden, with temperatures in the 60’s. It could of been in the upper 90’s, I believe it was this time last year. Then the ground would of been so much harder. I’ve been planning out my garden, and carried out the work by hand. Digging, measuring, and digging some more. (Maybe you’ve been following the progress on Instagram?) I’ve worked hard this week. I feel it in my body. I like the feeling. I feel strong. 

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I’ve been moving some of my things to our new house, and will (hopefully) move the rest this weekend. The plan is to move at least all the heavy stuff today, and sleep in the new house tonight for the first time. I was hoping to have both my horses at the new place by now, but because of circumstances out of my control, Ghost is the only one there. I moved him yesterday afternoon. They were both supposed to come together earlier in the week, but sometimes things doesn’t go as planned. I’m bringing Fancy tomorrow morning, so it’s only two days/nights Ghost is there by himself. Our new neighbor have horses, that he can see, and talk to, so I think it’s going to be OK for a couple days. It is however the first time in his whole life that he is without other horses.  He enjoys company, very much. Horses are herd animals, so that’s to be expected. He is pretty independent, especially for his young age, and doesn’t go crazy without other horses. I take him out alone on walks every day. I started doing that three days after bringing him home in January. As soon as I felt that he would listen to me. (He wasn’t halter  broke when I got him.) I believe our walks, and everything we had to overcome to feel comfortable around humans and our crazy things, (he spent his first almost 4 years in a pasture with very limited human contact,) have helped him to become braver and less herd bound. 

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The story of trailering him to our new house is a story in itself. When the original plan of trailering Fancy (the new, older, already trained horse,) and Ghost together in a big trailer didn’t work out, I asked a good friend if he could help me. He was very willing to help me, but his trailer is a very small trailer. Horses are claustrophobic by nature, and it takes time to teach a horse to be comfortable in a horse trailer. Something I haven’t had the opportunity to really work on, since I don’t own one. I have however, walked by a big stock trailer every day, encouraging him to smell all sides, even banged on the door (to make scary noises,) and we’ve been standing next to it for a few minutes every morning, just relaxing. I usually give him a carrot, or an apple as soon as he relaxes. I tell him “good boy”, and pet him for a while. Doing this before letting him out to the pasture in the morning have been a part of our routine. That’s the closest to trailer training that I’ve been able to do with him. This we’ve done very successfully though. I thought to myself that I’m going to make this tiny trailer a similar learning experience. I would love for it to result in Ghost coming home, but not if the cost is to high. I’m against using force in training. Getting a little out of your comfort zone is necessary sometimes, but I want the end to be on a positive note. 

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For a couple hours I worked with Ghost being comfortable with this little trailer. It didn’t take to long until a couple hooves were in the trailer, I gave him the rope, and let him step up and down as he pleased, but never walk away from the ramp (I do not like ramps on horse trailers, but this one had one.) After a while we had three hooves, then four. He walked in and out a few time, with all four hooves. He had an apple in the trailer. He wasn’t comfortable. He still walked in and out a few times. I was contemplating closing the door, and taking him home. When I asked the owner to the stake to come and close the door, since I was going to be in the trailer with Ghost, while leading him in (there was a small door in the front, where I was going to leave later.) When she came to help us, he said NO, and started to get really nervous. After a few minutes I decided to call it a day, after all he had been so brave and done everything I’ve asked, despite it being very scary. No reason to end on a bad note. I could rent a bigger trailer another day. I told the owner of the boarding facility my thoughts. She offered to drive him in her big stock trailer, if I loaded him. The very same trailer we’ve been walking by every day. I was thrilled. Ghost walked right in the first time I asked, and we were on our way home. I was happy with my decision, and very proud of Ghost. He has a huge heart. He was very happy while exploring his new home, and tasting the delicious green grass. We spent a few hours exploring the pasture together. 

For the past four months while I have been boarding Ghost at Norcal Trailrides, in Anderson (CA,) I’ve been going there twice a day every day. I’m very happy to have Ghost where I live now, but I need to say that Alicia Ryan, the owner of the training facility, have been more than awesome during these four months. The facility itself is more than just kept up with maintenance, there’s constantly improvements being made. The atmosphere is friendly. It’s the first boarding facility I’ve used, and I’ve been to many, in different countries, with zero drama. She offers; scenic trail rides along the Sacramento River, boarding, riding lessons, birthday parties for kids, and colt starting – I’ve only seen happy customers ! I’ve seen clients come and go every day, and never a disappointed face. She makes everyone coming to her facility feeling on top of their world. She’s a really cool, hard working lady. I would highly recommend Norcal Trailrides to anyone in need of training, lessons, or boarding. It’s been awesome  to have access to their indoor, and outdoor arenas while doing the initial work with Ghost. The atmosphere in the stable among the horses is very calm, they all seem to like it there. It’s a great place.

It’s been a rewarding, good week. I see things coming together. That is a feeling I like very much. Spring, I’m ready! Bring it on! How was your week? 

Love,

Ms Zen

Growing Fruit Trees In Containers

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I grew up in a cold place where it was impossible to grow fruit trees of any kind. I love fresh fruit and vegetables, and eat a lot of it. Sometimes it was even difficult to find a variety of fresh fruit in the grocery store, and it was always very expensive. Now I live in California (garden zone 9b,) and my options are (almost) unlimited. I can grow anything my heart desire, with a little effort. I’m in heaven!

Fruit trees take several years of growing, before they produce fruit. I have been moving more times than I can remember the last six years, lived and worked at several different ranches, and been on a cross country trip with my RV. My semi nomadic, adventurous lifestyle, lead me to start experimenting with  container gardening, a few years back. Now I successfully tried growing; different kinds of peaches, cherries, olives, plums, pomegranates, lemons, and figs in containers.

Last year I decided to sell my whole container garden, it was starting to get BIG in every aspect of the word (the trees were huge and many,) before moving to a new place. This year we’re leasing a property, and I will plant a traditional annual vegetable garden. On the side I’m going to start a new container garden with fruit trees. I planted the first four trees yesterday (photo above. Don’t mind the surrounding mess/weeds, we’re in the middle of moving in to our new house.) I’m focusing on trees that are suitable for our dry/hot climate, like pomegranate, and fig trees. I will plant some other trees, but I’d like the majority to be draught resistant.

I’m trying to think of ways to save water. For the past three years I’ve planted my fruit trees in smart pots, durable grow bags made out of fabric. It’s cheap to get used ones where I live (!) They work great for growing vegetables, and fruit trees. Last year I grew tomato plants that was closer to 10 ft, in 25 gallons smart pots. (Here is a post with some container gardening from last year.) The only thing I was concerned about was all the water that poured out on the ground. I’m sure there is a way to work around that, to save that water. Until I figure out how, I’m going to use self watering pots that water the trees automatically. The first week you water on top, after that you fill up an empty space at the bottom, and the plant uses the water it needs. I’ve tried it indoors with flowers, ten years ago, or so. Using them outside, as a means of saving water is new to me. I will keep you posted about how this method works for different kinds of fruit trees.

I prefer dwarf, or mini dwarf trees, for container gardening. It’s easy to maintain a short tree. You can pick the fruit with ease, prune it, and easily cover it with a net if it need protection from birds. I have tried regular sized trees in containers as well, it works, but you have to train the tree from a young age to the form you like. It’s a little more work, but doable. Just don’t let it get to big in the pot. Depending on the tree, I find that 15-25 gallon containers are most suitable. 25 gallons pots can grow a big, productive tree, but are very heavy to move. I have a heavy duty garden cart to move them on, but it’s still slightly challenging to move the 25 gallon trees by yourself. (I’ve done it many times, that’s why I choose to sell my container garden before moving last summer.) The trees I planted yesterday are in 15 gallon pots. Which will work perfectly for a couple years, until it’s time to replant them anyways (before they get root bound.) One of the most important thing when choosing containers for your fruit trees, is that the container drain well. You don’t want the roots to constantly be wet. They need to dry out in between.

If you have a container garden because of limited space, and you buy your trees at a nursery, pick your trees carefully. Try to pick “cone shaped” trees, with branches growing at a 45 degrees angle upwards. It’s easier to keep training that tree in the right shape, that will save you space. (Naturally you don’t always get to be picky, and that’s fine, you just have to work with what you got.)

I will keep adding trees to my container garden throughout the season, when I get a good deal locally. My goal is to have a variety of fruit trees, so that there is always fresh fruit available, year round. It is actually possible here. I sometimes barter working a few hours on someones place, or with someones horse, towards fruit trees, or fresh produce. The farms and ranches in our area are usually very busy during spring/summer, and appreciate the help. If you want to know what these two strong arms worked with today, check it out on Instagram. (It’s going to be 30ft x 30ft when it’s done.) I assure you I don’t need to hit the gym today, and I won’t have to do it tomorrow either..lol. I love this time of the year!

Are you interested in container gardening? Have you tried it? Do you have a container garden? Are you interested in trying? What type of fruit trees thrive in the climate where you live? Tell me about your garden!

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

 

Shasta Dam – Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail

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Amazing nature feeds my soul, keeps the smile on my face, and helps me stay grounded. In the weekends, either Saturday, or Sunday, we usually make a day trip to a beautiful location in northern California. When we get there we hike for at least a couple hours, often 4-5 hours. We have some places we come back to time after time, that we know we like a lot. Some weekends we try new spots. This routine gives us something to look forward to, and the exercise encourage us to be active the rest of the week as well.

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Last Sunday we went to Shasta Dam. We’ve been there many times, and it is a favorite. First we walk out on the dam. Just strolling around, enjoying the scenery. It’s a concrete arch-gravity dam, across the Sacramento River.

The first photo in this post is of the reservoir. Standing on the bridge looking to the right. It’s actually California’s largest reservoir. Shasta Dam played an important role in World War II, providing massive amounts of electricity. It is still an important provider of hydro electric power. The second, and third photo, is looking down on the spillway, on left side.

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When we get our fill of scenery from the dam, we get our backpacks from the car, and head out on the Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail. Along the trail you can view the dam, and Mt.Shasta, from a distance.

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I love this trail. We had our picnic lunch next to where my daughter stands, in the photo above. The trail has several creeks along the sides, and you cross a few bridges. The forest is dense on both sides. Lots of manzanitas, pine trees, scotch broom, and various other brush (including poison oak. I actually made up a little game, to encourage my daughter to avoid poison oak. Every time she saw poison oak, she pointed it out, and got a point. Ten points gave her a small price.) This time of the year there’s lots of color, yellow, purple, blue, and green. The air is so fresh, scented by pine and flowers.

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My faithful hiking buddy loves this trail as well. We usually stop at every creek we pass to play. Both my daughter, and my dog loves water. I kind of have to stop..at least for a few minutes. The thing with this trail is that you can hike as long as you want, and then turn back to the parking lot, the same way you came. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience no matter the distance you hike. If you want to hike the whole thing, it’s 16.8 miles. I haven’t done that yet, since my daughter have been with me every time I hiked this trail. Originally this ditch brought water to the gold miners in the area.

The difficulty of the trail is moderate. Some hills, but not steep ones. It’s a very well maintained trail, with great footing. You will probably see some mountain bikers on the trail (they like to ride the whole trail,) and maybe even some equestrians (usually on the southern parts.)

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View of Shasta Dam, and Mt.Shasta from the north section of the trail.

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I very much enjoy seeing the dam from this point of view. I used a telephoto zoom lens to take this photo, and the next.

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The dam itself is extremely popular for boating in the summer. I haven’t tried that yet. When I drive by during summer it always looks so crowded, and that’s not really my thing. (I’m sure you can find less crowded times, and that it is wonderful to go boating at those times. It just looks crowded every time I pass by.) The trail however is wonderful to do all year round. Be sure to bring plenty of water, every season, but especially during the hot months (April-Oct.) I highly recommend hiking in the morning during those months.

Do you feel like visiting Shasta Dam yourself? Maybe give the ditch trail a shot? The trail head (well marked, just before the parking lot,) is right next to Shasta Dam’s visitor center, and there’s plenty of parking space. You can take a tour of the dam, and visit the inside of it. I haven’t done that yet, but I would really like to do it in a near future.

This is the address to the visitor center: 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd, Shasta Lake, CA 96019.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy Trails!

 

Love,

Ms Zen