For your viewing pleasure, the new northerly finca (and views therefrom)…
Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
Perspectives on electoral systems, constitutional design, and policy around the world, based primarily on my research interests.
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26 April 2013
07 May 2012
23 August 2011
Just after lunch today, I saw the unmistakeable shadow of a large bird arriving at one of the trees just outside the house. I went outside and noticed two birds in the tree: an owl and what I believe to be a golden eagle that we have been seeing around lately.
The owl (a barn owl, I think) is peeking over the branch that heads off towards the right of the picture. The eagle is in the upper left.
We have an owl nesting box on the finca that has been in use since April, and we hear screeching every night. But I have not seen one in daylight before.
I am no bird expert, but the other one does not look like the hawks that frequent the place, and is much bigger than the hawks, in any case. It is quite likely a golden eagle. A couple of days ago I saw it feasting on a squirrel, so it is most welcome around here (as are the owls and hawks and anyone else hungry-for-squirrels).
Given that camera I had immediately available, and the need to shoot from some distance, the picture is not the clearest. But what a thrill to see these two in the tree!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (1)
11 July 2011
16 May 2008
There is nothing quite like a late spring, unseasonably warm day, as the sun sinks low to the west. The neighbor’s grape vines (lower right) are fully leafed out, and the canyon’s duck pond still holds water from the winter rains.
At sundown it will have been 27 days since the full moon of Aviv, in case anyone is counting.
20 March 2008
So, it’s the full moon.
And just yesterday morning it was the vernal equinox.
In honor of its now being “officially” spring, according to the solar calendar, here’s looking at one of the first fruit trees to bloom every spring (the Kuban Burgundy plum, foreground), and one of the last of the peach/nectarine varieties to reach full bloom (the Panamint).
If I did not know any better, I might think it was Pesach; …the full moon after the vernal equinox…
But, wait, it’s a leap year. Still a month to go. That’s good, because it seems like the perfect evening to raise a toast to spring. It is, after all, a religious obligation on this night.
09 December 2007
The snowfall got pretty low overnight. I can’t remember the last time I saw snow this low.
This view is from the highest point of the finca, just past the final stop on the Ladera Frutal Incline Railway. The view is to the northeast, towards the Palomar Divide. In the foreground are the massive avocado groves on the other side a narrow canyon, and just west of Interstate 15.
These mountains are about 15 miles away, though on a clear day like today, the sure look closer. Parts of the lower elevations on this snow-dusted ridge burned in the Poomacha Fire during the wildfires of late October.
Update: Next time the ridge was visible, on 15 December, the snow appeared to be gone already. That did not take long.
05 August 2007
For whatever reason, the photo I posted back in March, 2006, of these Tecate cypresses days after I planted them is one of the most viewed images in the Ladera Frutal flickr photo set. (Folks can’t resist those baby pictures!) So, it’s time for an update.
Here are the trees at about a year and a half in the ground. Pretty impressive. The tallest ones are about four feet tall, compared to six-to-eight inches when planted.
The first three trees closest to the camera are in little fence enclosures. This is to protect them from marauding pests. Why just those few trees? Because the “pests” in question are the garbage-collection workers, who can’t resist throwing barrels after they have dumped their contents. One day, one of the trees was crushed under a barrel, though it came through the ordeal OK. (Last week, the largest one almost got run over by a forklift being used by the pickers of our grapefruits, but it, too, came through just fine. But it is a dangerous world for little trees!)
The first few are also notably shorter than all the others, except for the very most distant one (not visible here). The end from which I took the camera is a bit more shaded by the eucalyptus trees across the street. I can’t really complain about those trees, though. Notice all the free mulch!
05 July 2007
This fire did not burn for long, and only briefly threatened a few homes a short distance away from the finca. But it is never a pleasant sight. Or smell. As can be seen in the photo, the smoke began to settle in the canyon. It still could be smelled later that evening, even though the fire was almost fully out by 1:00 p.m.
This canyon is an almost perfect “smoke sink.” When we had those catastrophic fires all around San Diego County in October, 2003, the day the winds died down, the smoke was like a dense fog in the canyon.
This was nothing like October, 2003, fortunately. (See NASA’s striking photo of those fires.) And this fire was farther away than the small fire directly across the canyon in February, 2006. This is fire country. Keep that brush cut.
28 June 2007
At one time, avocados from high up the steep fruited slope of Mt. Ararat were brought down to trucks via this rail car, which ran on a single track.
In our shed there is an old motor, and around the grove there are several old bins that would have been placed on this car.
The second photo shows the line from farther up, above LF HQ, the house, and the valley so low (note the banana grove, before the freeze, just above HQ). Alas, the line is not functional. I have always fancied the idea of making it work and planting the highest part of the slope and using this line to get me and materials up the hill. However, it would be costly–and probably not very safe.
I have had a few people come by the finca who have been associated with the avocado business for many years and they usually say they have heard of these devices being used in the area, but are not aware of any other tracks still in place, let alone working systems.
Of course, in some other parts of the world, one can find working systems similar to this–for instance in some Italian vineyards.
16 March 2007
We regularly see a road runner around the rocky parts of the finca (and sometimes even running along the road). One morning it was sitting on a rock just below the house, making a call that can best be described as resembling a whimpering dog. (The other sound I hear a road runner make might sound sort of like “beep beep” if you have a good enough imagination.)
We also have egrets. (I am not bird expert, but I think this is an egret.) I have seen them in the area frequently, as we do have wetlands below us. However, recently for the first time I saw one up high at the edge of the Hass grove and just a few steps from the back door of LF HQ.
As I approached it, the bird took flight.
09 March 2007
Ladera Frutal’s south-facing slope is blessed with abundant sunshine (at least outside of May Gray/June Gloom season), so why not take advantage?
No, this does not let us go off-grid. It does not generate any electricity. But it does make the water really hot, without using electricity or gas to do so. These panels are connected to a water-circulation system and hot-water tank, so that any time the sun is shining we have hot water without using any electricity or gas. (The rest of the time it is on electric back-up.) Electric water-heating is expensive, and this area has no gas utility. We preferred not to have any gasoline bombs (a.k.a propane tanks) on the finca, so this was the perfect solution for saving on the bills, avoiding a fire hazard–and conserving resources.
Look closely near the bottom of the photo and you can see the patch in the driveway where our contractor put in the pipes between the house and the panels. (It was done in 2002; by now the new concrete has faded and is much less visible than it was at the time.)
Well beyond the white wooden fence is a neighbor’s Hass grove that had almost no freeze damage. At this elevation on the north-facing slope, groves were badly damaged. Here on the south-facing slope, we fared much better. And we get lots of sun for solar panels.
04 March 2007
These were the first flowers harvested from the small Ladera Frutal rose garden. They perfume LF HQ nicely.
And thanks to Pizza Port for the winter-seasonal vase.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (1)
22 February 2007
I guess our quiet little pocket of San Diego County is on the map. Coming soon to a B&B near Ladera Frutal: “Tori & Dean: Inn Love” (cute, isn’t it?).
The linked story notes that Tori and Dean will not be the first celebrities in the Fallbrook/Bonsall area. It mentions Frank Capra. But it fails to note Cigar (whose one-time home is visible in various photos I have posted here of the view to the west) or, more importantly, Duke Snider.
06 February 2007
Well, this was a stunner.
It was hot during the day (5 Feb.): 87. Even in the morning it was very mild: low of 45 at the corralito and 54 up here at LF HQ. What a far cry from exactly three weeks ago, when the lows were 23 and 27.
Moments before I took the photo above, I snapped this one, looking off to the southeast.
I like the way the fruit (and, alas, the freeze-burned trees down the slope) pick up the red tint from the sunset, along with the reflections and lights on the distant slopes.
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F&V time: This blog's date function is so set as to start a new day at approximately local sunset. (Why, if we have "day" and "night," should a new "day" start in the middle of the night?)
FRUITS: Support your local, organic growers; and, plant vines and fig trees and pomegranates for the generations to come...
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