Too hot – bleah

Livermore hit 108 degrees today and here it was around 101. No critter was happy about it – horses were cranky ((tho less so when I re-filled their water tank with nice cold water. Cats were puked out under every parked car, bush, etc they could find. Even the wild turkeys were panting – a couple hens with new chicks were hanging out in the side yard under some of the trees. Cats were too hot to even bother trying to catch the chicks. Too hot even for the snakes and lizards – nary a sign of either.

However, not too hot for the cougar, who I saw bounding across the road on the way down the hill today. It was coming up from the creek when I came around the corner and it took off up the side of the hill. Damn they’re fast. Coyotes didn’t make their scheduled visit tonite either. They waiting til after dark before yipping and howling.

Glad the A/C is holding up.

Scorching weather this weekend

Temps are expected to crest 100 this weekend – bleah. We’ve been kinda spoiled so far this season with lots of mild/cool weather. Today that ends 🙁

Ah well – I’ll hork down lots of water and get to work in the yard mowing. And maybe I can get back to cleaning up the home office & paperwork when its too toasty outside. Tomorrow, I’ll get started on installing the new bumper on my Jeep.

The new lil’ chickens get moved to the barn today – the well pump room they are in now is going to be too hot for ’em.

’tis the season

Short update on the wildlife situation. We’re being ‘visited’ by several coyotes now, who seemed to have discovered that chickens make good eating, even tho we no longer let them out. But there is a pack of three decent sized coyotes that like clockwork come by early in the morning (breakfast?) and again between 4:30-5pm (tea time?). We’re missing one of our barn cats – Escrow – the first cat we had when we bought the house. Haven’t seen her in over a week now 🙁

Anyway, we’ve also been having the coyotes in the barn at nite when we go out to bring the horses in – not cool. So, figuring its time to rid ourselves of said coyotes, I put a chicken in a cage out in front of the barn the other nite. No go – noone showed up. However, Lisa got an unwelcome surprise when she headed out to the barn with a couple packages of stale crackers for the chickens. A young cougar – who was obviously curious about the chicken buffet sitting out. Not good. Lisa backed up carefully and came back into the house – at first thinking it was a bobcat, but it was way too large for a bobcat. And the cat backed away carefully, probably saying “ack – human human human – step away, slowly…”

The game warden noted to us that usually she see deer leave an area that a cougar is in, but we’ve seen lots of deer lately. In fact, tonite in the pasture next to the barn, I saw two young bucks bedded down for the nite. So glad we’re now providing a deer-hostel.

So, combined with it being rattlesnake season and now coyotes and having a cougar back, we really really need to take care of the dogs at nite (and ourselves).

Angry wildlife

Usually at this time of year, most of the snakes we find along the road are roadkill – but today on the way down the hill, I found this guy:

I wish I had gotten some video so y’all could hear him. I was amazed at how loud he was. Like many adult rattlers, he was not interested in striking/biting something he wasn’t going to eat. He mostly just wanted me to go away. After taking several pictures I scooted him off the road, probably keeping him from becoming roadkill … and he was loud/riled all the way thru the woods/down into the creek bed. I could hear him up to 50ft away. Good to know for the future.

Yard cleanup

While Lisa was enjoying a day to herself out in Sacramento at the Horse Expo, I spent the days with the dogs and power tools. We got a wood chipper/shredder last month and I put it thru its paces today. One of our willow trees had some broken limbs from the storms over the winter, so I finally hauled my butt up a ladder and cut out the dead/hanging limbs and then generally trimmed up the lower section so it doesn’t look so hippy-like.

The Craftsman chipper is a thing of beauty – I can see why there are warning signs all over it about not sticking your hands into the intake chutes. When it gets ahold of a branch, it really yanks it in and shreds it. For anyone who remembers playing Duke Nukem, I think the appropriate description is “Suck it down”.

After annoying the neighbors with a couple hours of wood chipping fun, I fixed up a new home for the little chickens (and wayward turkey chick we found yesterday). They are now in a nice big watering trough turned nest box, complete with heat lamp. That oughta hold them for another week or two when they will be large enough to split ’em into two groups. After the last time of having them chicks in the bathroom, I opted for setting them up in the well pump room. They seem happy. I’m glad that the turkey is fitting in – I was worried the slightly larger chicks would peck it to death, but it seems like its just one of the gang.

Got some lawn mowing done, a broken irrigation pipe fixed and some misc chores before Lisa got back this evening.


Major pot farm near Sunol busted up

The county sheriff busted up a major pot farm this week near us. Story here.

The road around the reservoir is not heavily traveled (goes down to a single lane for much of it), so its mostly cyclists and Sunday drivers. Guess no one really questioned folks parked on the side of the road near the stream beds – until someone saw a kid in camo scrambling thru the woods.

Glad they rousted the farm even if they didn’t manage to catch the growers. We don’t need those folks in the area – the last thing we need is someone either starting a fire because they had an accident or someone getting shot over getting too close to their operation.

The real concern comes this fall when the CA budget mess may mean a lot of parks get closed/understaffed. That will make this type of thing even more likely on public land.

Cherry season

We still have two cherry trees that don’t have a home yet – so they remain in their pots. But in spite of that, they are making do and pooping out cherries:

Note – this is pretty much all the cherries produced this season. I really need to get these trees a home where they can grow faster.

Very non-June weather

Dunno what’s up this year, but its been cold, drizzly and cloudy now for the past 1-2 weeks on and off. The next several days we have more of the same, with chances of light rain. This just doesn’t happen – its usually pushing 80s/90 by this time of the year. Note: I’m not complaining – I kind of like the variation of weather. Plus its easier on the plants to not be scorching in the sun.

New quarry operation in Sunol delayed

Rah – so, since we bought our place in 2005, we’ve known that there was a medium sized quarry operation that might open within a mile of our place is the Apperson Ranch property. We’ve been dreading the opening due to the projects permitted type of operation – hard rock mining, basically blasting part of a ridge away for rock to make highway gravel, complete with lots of truck traffic and crushers, etc nearby.

However in the past couple months, various conservation groups and the soon to be quarry operator have come up with an agreement to postpone the operation start until 2030 or later in exchange for using one of the existing quarries in the valley.

I got to give my $0.02 at the public meeting at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission meeting this week, along with other residents.

I’d rather not have it open at all, but postponing it until 2030 plus reducing the footprint/impact of the operation is an overall victory.

Details here


We recruiting some replacement chickens today to backfill the chickens who were KIA this weekend – we’ve lost 3 chickens in the past week. Mostly our fault for letting them free-range during the day. The coyote/bobcat/whatever figure out that “chicken isn’t just for dinner any more” and came by for a mid-afternoon lunch. This is all that was left of one of them:

Not much left – feathers, some egg yolk (the poor chicken did try to defend itself by throwing an egg).

Ok, no more messing around – time to erect the electric chicken fencing around the back of the barn.