Big picture, what should humans live in?


Not quite sure of all the steps, but I started out looking at something about sustainable housing and ended up on a very interesting website about cities, towns, suburbia, and farms and historical versus modern designs.  What I thought was cool was how the most beautiful cities in the world really are the ones with narrow streets and a lot more walking people than cars. I remember reading Human Scale several times, the last time a couple years ago, and being really fascinated by so much of what I expected to be a really dry book.  I definitely recommend you find it in a library or something.  There is a lot of cool info like how far away we can recognize humans we know and how if a square or public space is bigger than that distance we feel small and disconnected.

Anyway, I have not thought much about the actual city life in Europe.  That is, I love reading books about Europe, talking to people who live there, and am very interested in history in general, but for some reason I had this idea that most of those picturesque, winding little streets were mostly shops now.  I did not realize how many of them are still homes.  It’s weird discovering these blind spots in oneself…  Anyway, the site as a whole appears to be mainly about stock markets and currencies and trading, but the articles on cities and suburbs are really well written and have lots of great photos.

Harry Potter and Traditional Cities

Of course, I am living in a not-quite-rural, not-quite-suburban, situation and am very car dependent, so my blog is mostly about making the most of that sort of circumstance, but I have always wanted to have about 60 acres of well watered land to care for.  I never ever could understand the desire to live in a city, but after viewing those articles I could actually imagine doing so pretty happily.  I still prefer country life, but this definitely was a fascinating and inspiring series of articles and makes me a fan of the traditional style of city.  We all know suburbs are going to have to disappear as oil gets more and more expensive, but here is something that looks like a much more delightful way of living.

Y Girl


Frog ponds and West Nile

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It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people who would like to put in frog ponds but are worried about mosquitoes and diseases, which is certainly something to think about.

The life cycle of mosquitoes can vary depending on temperature.  I have heard that if you disturb the water by stirring it every few days that the larvae will die, but it looks like that may not be true.  I am going to keep an eye on my mini frog pond and if the frogs are not sufficient to keep the water clear of wigglers then I will get one or two minnows from the feed store and let them keep the bugs and algae down.

I do know that after years of living next to a large pond, I have been bitten more at other people’s properties where there is no standing water than I have been next to the pond, which had gazillions of frogs, waterfowl, some fish, and bats.  As long as you keep an eye on things and you are educated about life cycles and predators of pests than you can figure out how to proceed.

Oh, and I have not yet had a chance to look for frogs to “plant” near my bucket pond, but it may not be necessary – yesterday evening I saw a frog hopping away from the pond into a rosemary bush, so it seems they have already found it!  I did some research over the weekend and I think the frog I see most often around here is the California Treefrog.  It was kind of fun to find out that frogs are such an important indicator species of the health of ecosystems and realize how many there are in this area!  In spring the large pond tends to be full of these Yosemite Toads, as near as I can tell.  I’m not sure how many there usually are in the pond at breeding season – I remember springs where it seemed like there were hundreds, but it sort of depends.

If anyone has or puts in a frog pond, send me a picture and I will feature it!

Y Girl

About My Habitat – Part Four: The Hill


The previous owners of this property used to stake their mini goats out here to graze, but really I think it is too steep in most of this area to do anything with.  Better to leave it alone and keep it covered with the cottonwood and willow leaves from the lawn above.  It’s kind of cool, about ten years when I was still a kid I remember seeing a litter of red fox kits playing on the road right here.

They were totally adorable and reminded me of kittens with the way they pounced on each other.  My siblings and I were cooing rather loudly and I know the kits heard us but they just kept playing.  Really cute!

Also, late last summer I heard a whoosh outside of the window as I was working inside and looked out and a red-tailed hawk had landed on the sunny slope and was sunning itself with wings spread wide.  Here is the extremely blurry picture I managed to get before it flew away again.

It’s terrible quality, but I’m including it for evidence…  If you can even tell it’s a bird, LOL!

Here is a closer look at the slope when not covered by leaves.  These are very tough plants – I am not sure what they are called.  We used to call them clock flowers because when the long pointy seeds dry up they curl and burrow into the ground.  You can hold them in your hand, separate the tip, and watch it wind.

I used to often see a coyote crossing the road and going under this tree, but after moving the dog near there it seems to have changed its afternoon route.

So, that is the super hilly part of the property.  Because it is a small property and because I will be picking up some of the dead wood, I would say it is zone 4 in permaculture terms.


Y Girl

About My Habitat – Part Three: Front Yard/West Slope


The front yard is where the great views happen that everyone oohs and ahs over.

Of course, the house being on the side of a hill means that there are pretty much constant winds year-round which rattle the house and make heating more expensive in winter.  Oh well.  There is still wind in summer, which is nice then.

There used to be an orchard here, but it has never done very done very well because the dirt on this slope is totally pathetic.  Only one of the fruit trees is still alive and I want to revive it and really get it strong this year.  It bloomed really well for several weeks this spring, even despite a heavy snow.  We’ll see if it sets fruit.  I think it might be a nectarine?

I also want to add as much humus as possible to the soil all over this slope.  Even the native grass has a hard time getting taller than three inches here because the dirt is so thin and stony and dries out extremely fast.

The beautiful green grass is almost at the peak for this year.  Already, agh!  I love, love, love green and when everything dries up it makes me sad…

All the  pictures were taken standing in the same approximate area as the mini frog pond, next to the front porch.

Below are some pictures of this same slope just three weeks ago.  I adore snow, even if it did kill my about-to-sprout morning glories.  We don’t get snow often, so it’s always a treat!

So yeah, this is a difficult part of the property that I want to finally tackle and see what can be done to improve it.

Part Four

Y Girl

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