I left Google exactly a year ago today, which also means today marks the first birthday of this blog. But rather than look backwards at the year that was (as awesome as it was), I’m going to look forwards and celebrate the beginning of Year Two. Admittedly, when I started this blog, I had no idea whether there’d even be a Year Two. Hell, when I came down from the woods three months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if there’d be an Year Two. I might’ve told you that there was a good chance it’d just be Laptop in a Cubicle in 2010…
But here we are. It’s March. The days are growing longer, and even in this foggy city of San Francisco where I found myself taking refuge for the winter, the sun is starting to make itself conspicuous, more often than not. And like a bear awakening from hibernation, I can feel my heart stir. My mind, more so than in weeks past, is drifting back towards Serenity Valley. If there was any doubt in my mind whether I’d go back when I came down from the mountains in November, cold, filthy, and broke, there’s no longer any doubt. I’m going back. With my laptop and a rifle, I’ll go again.
I’ll also bring some soil and gardening equipment. My goal for this year is to start a garden, and the planting season is rapidly approaching. And so is the dry season. That means I need to start collecting water. The area gets 3.5 to 4 inches of rain in March, a little under 2 in April, around 1.5 in May, then less than an inch for a few months after that. So, I need to go set up a water collection system soon. Even then, I might not be able to collect that much water, but hopefully I’ll get enough for a tiny garden. At the very least, I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two, and probably have some fun.
The tentative plan is to make it out there once this month to setup a water collection system, then go back next month to start a garden. I’m doing some traveling in May, but hopefully I can spend most of the summer months up there. There’s a lot to figure out in the mean time, but I’ll be sure to keep the blog updated… Welcome to Year Two.
Well, I’m with you on the garden. I actually ordered seeds to try my hand at sprouting and growing *something*. The seeds haven’t arrived yet. I started out thinking I would rent a tiller, dig up a plot in my daughter’s back yard, and amend the soil, do it right, but now I’m leaning toward container gardening at my small place. Maybe both. Best of luck to you. I am glad you are still on your Laptop and a Rifle journey. I left my city job and later, moved to a tiny isolated town. My friends in the city think I’m nuts. I need company/validation!
Nice to see a new post and nice to hear you’re headed back.
Your gardening comment caught my attention and wanted to share a thought I’ve been noodling over. Instead of, or in addition to a veggie garden you might want to do a little research into native fruit/nut bearing trees and shrubs and then walk your land in search of places that seem to already be supporting plants.
A piece of land with some native or compatible food bearing plants will come in handy. My inlaws farm (near Colusa, CA) has a dozen very old walnut trees along one irrigation ditch and they provide the extended family free walnuts year round (if harvested and sotred correctly). So imagine a property that has strategically planted food bearing plants here and there helping to support you year round.
This might also be useful for selecting plants… it’s a foraging guide: http://frugalliving.about.com/od/newyears/a/2010_Foraging_Calendar.htm
The other related comment I had was that it might be useful to study how the Hopi and ancient residents of Chaco Canyon learned to use what little rain they have to farm their land.
I stayed with a family in Shungopavi (Second Mesa) for a couple weeks at a time two years in a row during high school. They farmed a little piece of land the old fashion way… which involved diverting rain water to irrigate the plants.
I wasn’t there long enough to learn anything really useful but I bet if you did some research you could find many useful methods of farming arid lands worked out by native peoples from many different cultures.
Thanks for the comments Michael. Foraging sounds like a great idea. At the very least, IDing all the plants on my land probably won’t be a bad idea, even if they’re not edible. When I was up there in the Fall, the only known edible plant-matter I could find were acorns from the oak trees, but then, there’s a good chance there’s more there that I’m unaware of.
As for gardening in arid places, learning about what the Natives did sounds like a great idea. I’m also looking at a couple of books on “desert gardening”.
Concgrats on your Second year!
I’ve enjoyed your blog (but then I wouldn’t write if I didn’t enjoy your blog).
I too was caught by the garden comment. Some things I’ve learned in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. You may very well need to fence in any area you grow food in. There is a plastic fence material that is pretty expensive but does a good job of keeping the deer out and it’s a lot lighter to put up than metal fencing. We have deer and rabbits around here a they can mow down anything you would want to keep, but they don’t graze the lawn – Damn -.
As far as water goes, there are “dryland farming techniques” folks who have lived in the area may have some ideas on how to proceed, as well as your local Ag. Extension Office.
A long time ago I had heard of a thing that was called a guzzler. It was some big tarp (water proof) that was laid out on a hill side. When it snowed the snow would melt and be directed into a storage tank. In this case it was for watering live stock but maybe this brief description would give you an idea. Kind of rain water harvesting but using a hill instead of a roof.
Good luck and keep us posted.
Thanks for the comment. The water collection system I’m planning on setting up is indeed basically a tarp, that gathers water into some tanks.
Best of luck to you this year Ryo! and thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
Good idea about the plastic fence – it’s light weight and easy to work with. However it may not stop small raiders from chewing through. Depends on what you have cruising your perimeter.