2005. The hunt has been on for a new farm.
We’ve decided to focus on land around Redding as it
offers close proximity to mountains, cleaner air, and a place
for me to finish up my teaching credential program. And, fingers
crossed, we’ve found our new farm.
The spot we’re hoping we’ll move to is a little
5-acre farm about ten miles outside of Redding in a small
town of 800 people. It’s set amongst larger ranches
with families who’ve been there since the late 1800s.
Our water source will be a local creek and lake, and the soil
quality seems a bit loamier than the red clay and rocks the
area is known for. I feel nervous talking about it since our
offer hasn’t been formally accepted yet, and California
real estate (well, everyone’s real estate, really) is
going crazy. But it’s what’s been going on around
here in the last month, and it’s what I think about
almost every waking moment.
I’m already feeling disconnected from this spot. We
lost another young hawk in the last month – must be
a bad year for them. It’s hard to understand since we’ve
been battling rats eating our potted plants. Seems to be plenty
of food around for them. We’ve pulled most of our plants
out of the ground and have them in pots. Watering is a big
chore for us since the heat dries out the pots quickly. We
still have our garden in, and I’m hoping we’ll
get some tomatoes and tomatillos before we move. We have nectarines
from my grandpa’s old dwarf tree ripening. I wish I
could take all of his plants with me too – the nectarine
that’s still alive even though a backhoe knocked it
down while installing a new leach line last summer, the black
monukka grape we pruned down out of the olive tree it had
been growing up into for the past who-knows-how-many years,
the pomegranates that thrive despite years of neglect, and
the giant grapefruit that nearly died after my grandpa brought
it over from a neighbor’s house more than fifty years
ago but now puts out so many grapefruit that they litter the
driveway and serve as makeshift fetching balls for my Queensland
It’s funny, writing this makes me realize my feelings
about this place are a choice. I suppose it’s easier
to tap into my love for this place than it is to distance
myself, but distancing is what I choose now out of necessity.
Nevertheless, I think this move is going to be a good one.
My boyfriend moved to this farm to help me with my dream and
now I’ll be doing the same for him. He’s going
to be buying this farm, and I’ll get to repay him for
all the free labor he’s done on my farm. It will be
good for me to listen to his ideas for a while and take a
backseat in the decision-making department. I think most of
my friends would say I can be a little bossy sometimes.
It seems we saw the new property at just the right time to
sell us on it. As our potential neighbor drove us around in
his 4-wheel, all-terrain buggy, we saw monkey flower, mariposa
lilies, brodiaea, and numerous butterflies flapping out in
front of us, including Alec’s favorite, the pipe vine
swallowtail. I bought him a native pipe vine last year for
his birthday and we wondered how long it would take for a
swallowtail to find it down here in Hilmar. It won’t
take long on the new farm.
Meanwhile, it feels like the right time to be getting out
of here. We have swarms of mosquitoes – we think they
are breeding at the neighboring dairy. As I was out on my
daily run yesterday I found our neighbor was pumping his lagoon
water out of his field and back into the irrigation canal.
A big no-no for sure. And another dairyman down the road is
battling the high water table that is a result of all the
water they pour on the corn during these hot summer months
to install a pipeline to save his forage crops. While they
struggle to dry out the trench they’ve dug, the dry
sandy soil blows throughout our neighborhood. I wonder what
will become of this place my family has lived in for four