The weather is cooling. The wind is blowing the smoke away. It is a beautiful day on the ranch this Sunday. There is always so much work to do, but on such a special day, I had to take time to appreciate the honor I have to caretake this land, in this place, at this time. There is no better way to process these feelings than to walk the ranch. The smell of tarweed mixes with the dust of soil that is way too dry. Then cow pie. Then warmed oak bark. A little smell of stagnant water as I cross the Spring Creek and head up the hill. I notice the crunch of grass made brittle by drought. Top soil kicks up with each step of my feet and dog paws. As I get closer to the ridge, the wind kicks up tickling my skin. Although there is a lick of cool in the air, the sun is up higher now. The heat feels like a rug burn on my bare arms – hot and focused. As long as I keep walking, the breeze cools my skin. The dappling on the hillside give the dogs respite from the sun. Then, overhead, the call of a red tail hawk. It floats aggressively on the whipping wind – up high, then suddenly gliding close over the earth. As I watch in awe, a second red tail calls and floats close, over me. The dogs want to give chase, but they instantly know they are defeated as the wind takes the second hawk away as rapidly as it came. I come upon a slope of dead oak trees, victims to the last 5-year drought; there is a temporary grave site of a young hawk that likely chose the wrong territory to settle. Its flesh is no longer there, but its feathers are spread across the grass, reflective in the light. I give an offering and my thanks to the young hawk for its life and its feathers. Chiokoe uttesia in werweria, in jali’i. Se enchi nake. Se enchi nake. Ne te visawame. Its feathers will be used to do good, and in that way, its life will continue.
I saw just one butterfly when I got to Odom Creek. It was a little blue copper. I love those. The dogs took a swim in the large spring. It was a great morning.
Log Pile Dam Structure
A log pile dam is a low cost, low hardware method of slowing water down in a stream. I was able to build the pile mostly on my own. To get the larger logs into the pile in the creekbed, I used other narrower branches as leverage. Then, I used brute strength to edge one side or another of the log into place. Even with all the progress, there were several large, heavy logs I did not have the strength to move, but were needed for the top of the dam. I needed a stronger person than me — HEEYYY DAAAAVVVE!!
I am anxious for rain so that I can see how well this will work to back up water, even a little, in the creek. Thank you David for your help. I really needed it.
Va’am into Sewam (Water and Flowers)
In my last post, I lamented about a water dilemma. I am running out of rainwater but do not want to irrigate from my well. Finally, I made the heartbreaking decision to irrigate with the well water. In the end, I decided I could be super miserly on household water usage. This way, I would create less impact on the well and the oaks that depend on the groundwater. I am so close to the rainy season and so close to the dormant time for many of these native plans that it made sense to do this. David built the irrigation lines, and all the plants have a 1/2 gallon dripper on them. The system will be set to water so that the plants get 1/4 gallon maximum. Hopefully, the rain will come soon, and I will not need it long.
A wonderful advancement of this project will be working with the Watershed Progressive. They will be installing a professional rainwater irrigation system. We will also be adding another 2,500 gallon tank. The system will have high tech features to know the weather and the soil moisture so that water will be added only if needed. It also comes with an app so that I will be able to monitor system performance and needs. I am very excited. The system should be installed early in the “rain year”. I don’t want to miss too much rain storage. David is so happy to not have to set up my “poor girl’s” rainwater catchment system. The new system will allow me to expand my plantings, especially as the earlier plants mature and need less or no supplemental water. It will also enable me to continue to do this work without the limitation of the watering effort and the break down of my body. I cannot underscore how important this is to my continuation of this work.
TA Portion of the RCD Grant Gains Steam
Staff at the Miwumati Family Healing Center, a program of the American Indian Council of Mariposa County (aka Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, have been collaborating with me on the hiring of a Pollinator and Garden Advisor for the Center. The Tribe has been focusing on Indigenous food sovereignty programming, including starting a garden. The new hire will not only focus on traditional food systems, but will be learning about pollinators. They will then help others in the community expand their pollinator habitat. I will be working with this person as well as other experts to build this capacity. This is very exciting.
Thinking of the Future
As the growing season nears its end, I have a little more time to think about the future. The Xerces Kits will arrive in November. The Tribe’s Pollinator and Garden Advisor will assist me in helping others get the dormant plants into the ground. We will be focused on planting in typically wet locations – like creekbeds and springs. I also would really like to create a beaver dam analog on Odom Creek. I spoke with the Watershed Progressive about this. They are learning how to do this work themselves. There may be the opportunity to have a clinic on the ranch to help others learn about implementing these on their parcels for the benefit of wildlife as well as livestock, which can benefit from the flooded areas that will grow more grass. There is always so much to do, so many ideas. No matter the workload, it truly is an honor and a privilege to be on this land, to work with so many outstanding humans, and to be doing work that makes – at least this small part of the world – more habitable for butterflies and other pollinators.