Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Glorious Sighting

Monarch butterflies used to visit MuRefuge in the Summer; of late not so much. Fall migration seems to bring Monarchs passing through routinely. However, while I was at the O.Co Coliseum this Thursday past enjoying an A's game, Dwight caught this glorious sighting on camera. 

And then he looked closer at the native milkweed and saw eggs the Monarch butterflies had deposited on a number of the plants' leaves.

Look closely and you can see the little single, white dots, eggs.
It was pretty windy so she chose the
shortest milkweed plants
to lay her eggs.

Since Dwight's glorious sighting, while working outside here at MuRefuge, I too have been blessed with similar sightings. Monarchs are such regal BEings and gifts to each of who are fortunate enough to see them. May we lament (and perhaps change some of our practices?) the rapidly dwindling population here in our Northern Hemisphere.

At this glorious sighting caught on camera, feel free to

Monday, June 8, 2015

Almost the Height of Summer

The Summer Solstice, the height of Summer, is quickly approaching, although it seems Spring has just arrived at MuRefuge. Here the temperatures have been subnormal for this time of the year. There has been very little sunshine until the past few days.

Point Reyes Meadowfoam surrounding our
MuRefuge sculpture, which Dwight made some while ago,
located between our driveway and front entryway.
"Mu" means "all or nothing" in Japanese.
A perfect name for our 3/4 acre here in West Sonoma County.
Point Reyes Meadowfoam up close and personal.
The seeds were gathered by and purchased from
Larner Seeds in Bolinas, California.
There has not been the usual several weeks of record breaking heat to finish off the Cascadia pea plant which prefers coolish weather. This variety I grow for both the pods and peas as well as the "shoots" for salads. This variety does produce longer in warmer weather than most AND is extremely tasty as peas and pods.

Cascadia peas producing the superior flavor pods, shelled peas and shoots.

Pea pod,s pea shoots, French Breakfast radishes, green onions, chervil salad
with kefir milk, olive oil and chives dressing. A delish! light evening meal.


For a girl raised in Iowa, the land of corn growing, I found out I am ignorant when it comes to knowing about corn. My knowledge seemed to be totally limited to "field corn" which when I was growing up was not tainted with GMOs or hybridized to be "sweet". Corn was just corn. Well, in my discovery learning I found out that corn, Zea mays, of
Three Sisters, is categorized into
  • Sweet corn, 
  • Flour corn with kernels relatively soft for grinding into a fine flour for baking, 
  • Dent corn with kernels that have a floury center surrounded by flinty edges which is traditionally used for hominy and masa for making tortillas and tamales, 
  • Flint corn which is high protein and contains a hard and translucent kernel for grinding into polenta and meal rather than flour, 
  • Popcorn which of course we all know how to use.
In both Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass and Carol Deppe's The Resilient Gardener information about planting Three Sisters was gleaned. The microclimate and the gardening space, as well as my gardening knowledge, was reason for adaptation in planting corn, beans and squash here at MuRefuge. AND this new to me project, I readily admit, certainly does push my One (Enneagram type) button of perfection, not Divine perfection but rather the human, individual idea of perfection. The realization that Three Sisters plannings historically thrived and failed is a comforting thought; soothing my fear of not doing this perfectly.

Hopi Blue Flour corn growing in the warmest location here at MuRefuge.

Anasazi corn growing in one of the longer basalt block veggie beds.
Note in the back right of the corn a lemon cucumber has been planted.

This past week Fortex French fillet beans, soaked overnight in comfrey tea, were planted around the corn which has been slow to grow with the cool weather here at MuRefuge. Once the beans are up and growing to twine about the corn stalks, both Summer and Winter squash seeds will be planted. The big question is whether the weather will be favorable to all these plants companionably growing together.


In the last couple of weeks a Red shouldered Hawk has been visiting regularly, swooping through the trees in search of food.  A few days ago Dwight saw the hawk plunge to the ground, capture a gopher, and fly off to enjoy a meal.  Usually it has been sitting up in the Oregon Oaks behind our house looking down around the bird feeder for the small birds that are its favorite food.  As the hawk arrived the birds quickly disappear and all is quiet until the hawk flies elsewhere to hunt again.

The Red shouldered Hawk waiting patiently for lunch.

Last season there was a plethora of baby deer, both twins and single babies. One of those sets of twins are boys with antlers visible with almost daily growth. This season in the megadrought only one pair birthed several months ago and just a few weeks ago a single baby deer. The wildlife seem to be attuned to the change in rainfall since it affects their food supply.

Baby turkeys in abundance in most years past are also in short supply this year. Three moms bring their brood down to forage beneath the bird feeders. There are only six total this season. And how Shasta loves to chase them to see them fligh up into the trees, bushes and atop the house. We have pretty much trained her not to do that to the ducks who call MuRefuge home, too.

As each of us express our gratitude to Mother Earth may we