Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A sad day...

The apple orchard across the street from us was cut down today.

During season, everyday, I would retrieve my mail and pluck a fallen apple from the ground.  I wouldn't pick from the tree, it wasn't mine.  But once it fell on my side of the fence, I would grab a beautiful Golden Delicious from the grass.  I swear it was the best apple I have ever tasted and I experienced that revelation every time I bit into one.

Each morning I would be greeted by these trees as I travelled down my driveway toward the orchard.  Today, I heard the sound of chainsaws and looked east down my drive.

There was nothing.

Not an apple tree in site.  All of them cut down.  I wished I heard the chainsaws earlier so I could've pleaded to PLEASE - keep - that - one - tree.

My kids cried upon hearing the news.  As sad as it was, I was proud of them.  My bees will miss those sweet blossoms. and my trip to the mailbox will always be a sad reminder of a very delicious past.

Sonoma county needs a moratorium on new vineyards planted.  Yes, I planted a small, 3/4 of an acre vineyard on my property.  It actually restored a horse property that was compressed and void of life.  But over the last seven years of learning about the area, I would've done it differently.  There is so much more we could do with a small chunk of land that has a very far reach.

Personally, our quality of life has taken a substantial hit.

I used to say we were in jeopardy of becoming a mono-culture.  I'm afraid it has happened right under our noses.

Please send this to friends.  Not for the blog - for the earth.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Time to put the bees in.  After we lost our hive last winter, we've established two new hives on our property today.  We are thrilled.  BeeKind, in Sebastopol is a great resource and caters to all levels of expertise in all things bees.  Doug is a great help and provides "local" Queens (bees) if you prefer.

And it was a beautiful day to welcome our new friends (20,000 of them) to their new home...

First, we place the box full of bees in the hive.

Then we slide the Queen's box out of the swarm.  This is a bit nerve-wracking as the bees end up all over your hands while you are trying to work.  The sound of all those bees buzzing doesn't help.

The bees that cover the Queen's box need to be brushed off.  We use a small bunch of grass to do this as Bees are not defensive against plant matter.

Though we ordered two local Queens, one of them was an "Italian" Queen.  She is absolutely beautiful with a red mark on her body; very easy to spot.

There's a little cork in the side of the Queen's box.  You remove that cork and replace it with a tube of sugar that takes the other bees two days to chew through to release the Queen into the hive.  Tuesday, I'll check to make sure she is out of the box so I can button things up.

We like to harvest our honey in September.  It has a wonderful earthy flavor, but the yield is lower because the bees need more of their honey to survive the winter.  We just don't take that much.

It's a very rewarding hobby that is extremely helpful for our environment.  If you have a backyard, you can have bees.  In fact, I was impressed at how many folks from the Berkeley area came to pick up their bees from BeeKind - two of which were rooftop bee-keepers.

They are very gentle animals.  Do it.

No humans were stung during this procedure.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the Apple Blossom Parade today.  What a thrill.  What an exciting day in Sebastopol.  I noticed yesterday that people were already staking out their spots on the street in the late afternoon sun.  And it was just as beautiful today - not too hot as it sometimes can be.  Glorious.  If you don't mind, I'd like to share some images I walked away with.  It's always a great day!

1959 Chevy Kingswood

Marching Band

Analy Pre-School

A man walking his Llama

The ever-present Shriners (clown sold separately)

Sebastopol's Citizen of the Year

And what's a parade without a Beauty Queen?

(Are those Shriners in the background?)

All-in-all a great day.  Saw lots of friends.  Ate some great food and celebrated the rich heritage of Sebastopol and the surrounding area.  I even had an apple.  Onto the fair!

Sebastopol's future

Sebastopol City Manager Larry McLaughlin said today that the public will have adequate time and opportunity to comment at the April 23 joint Sebastopol City Council and Planning Commission meeting during which the SSU Students report will be presented, and will not have to submit written questions as previously announced by the Planning Department.

This is an important meeting that focuses the new General Plan.  If you'd like a voice in the future of Sebastopol, you must attend this meeting.  Bring your ideas and voice your concerns.  But, show up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CLIFF SWALLOWS ARE DYING in Caltrans netting under Petaluma River Bridge

Cliff Swallows - state and federally protected - are dying in Caltrans netting under Petaluma River Bridge.

For more info:

Please spread the word. 

Wildlife advocates decry bird deaths in netting at Petaluma highway project

Swallows caught and dead in the nets under the Highway 101 bridge over the Petaluma River in Petaluma on Thursday, April 11, 2013.

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Petition: Caltrans, USFwS, California Dept of Fish & Wildlife: Take down the bird-killing netting under the Petaluma River Bridge


The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) has placed exclusion netting underneath the Petaluma River Bridge. The purpose of the netting is to stop migratory Cliff Swallows from nesting at a site they have flown 6000 miles to reach. A site where they have nested for generations. The birds become caught in the netting and die a slow death as they struggle to get free. The subcontractor, C.C. Myers, Inc., who put up the netting, and CALTRANS, are violating the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty which forbids the killing of migratory birds unless a "take" permit is granted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. CALTRANS has no such permit. Sadly, the agencies tasked with enforcing this law have chosen to "look into it" instead of requiring the removal of the netting while a new solution is worked on. Over 100 birds are known dead, as of April 15, 2013. Many more have died and not been counted because every night the C.C. Myers company uses a boom truck to send its workers out over the Petaluma River, up 100', to remove the bodies and reattach the netting. This is destruction of evidence in a criminal case that they should be charged with. We demand that CALTRANS TAKE DOWN THE NETS NOW! Watching a bird struggling in a net, while surrounded by its dead flock mates, is a heart wrenching sight, and an act of animal cruelty, in addition to the violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty. All attempts to contact CALTRANS have been met with a wall of silence, our enforcement agencies, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and US Fish & Wildlife Service have the power to make this stop and have chosen not to do so. We demand an end to the killing of these beautiful birds who benefit all of us by their copious consumption of flying insects, such as mosquitoes.