farming (128)

What Baja Sur Was Like 67 Years Ago

Photo of Ranchera on Naranjos Road rancho about 30 years ago. Below is much farther back.

It’s really unusual to hear about Baja this far back.

Hi Lloyd! My, how tasty a menu of treats your latest flyer presented Geraldine and me! You’re heading to Baja and I first flew down, with my dad piloting his trusty Cessna 180, when I was a junior in high school ~ 1954 ~ and our first stop was at Santa Rosalia for fuel which the sole attendant hand pumped from rusty 55 gal drums into our screened funnel. Dad was raised in France and his home apartment elevator was a classic engineered by Eiffel … so we were impressed to visit Eiffel’s chapel there when the French were mining … Muleje was a favorite overnight and when the prison was operating they freed the prisoners in daylight and on the honor system they returned at night. In the plaza ~ evenings ~ the boys strolled clockwise and the gals otherwise with amazing eyeballing etc. We flew to La Paz and visited, with dad’s insistence, “La Vista Hermosa” which was a whorehouse of renown … We set off for San Jose del Cabo, a tiny shrimper hamlet, and landed on a narrow strip strewn with white seashells and no other planes! We walked to the Rodrigues Posada, the only inn in town, with six, maybe eight rooms! The only gringos who visited there were occasional bill-fishers. There was absolutely NO development there nor at Cabo San Lucas … I’ve been doing Baja in my 17′ RV, a TDI VW Coupe and one winter, after the America’s Cup racing on San Francisco Bay, sailed down with the BajaHaHa cruise and hauled out and trucked home from Guaymas…

I believe we met thru ED STILES, an old buddy, or maybe HUEY JOHNSON whom I’d known in his school-teaching days in Boise before Nature Conservancy and TPL or maybe when you visited the PacNW inasmuch as I live at Rangerville … and Ranger and I went to the memorial pot-luck (Plenty POT!) for Sun Ray up Day Creek … and I know we sent you fotos of the Gnome Dome that the crew built at R’ville, in Alger!

In 1977 I homebuilt a snazzy cabin (#92) at Salmon Beach, under Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, built upon pilings in The Narrows and I’ve often wondered if you ever wandered down to Salmon Beach as it shows the creative flair of community love action.

Enjoy your adventures, Lloyd, and many thanks for catching your admirers up!

Hugs! George Jay, Rangerville in summertime, Oceanside in wintertime

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A Round Barn Rises in Rural America

LOGAN COUNTY, Okla. — A curiosity rises amid the wheat fields along rural Highway 33, which cuts through the town of Guthrie.

It’s an immense, circular building — about 15,000 square feet inside — with a domed roof topped by an ornate cupola and a copper eagle. Standing at 72 feet, it is visible for miles on the flat Oklahoma expanse.

Jay Branson is building it in his backyard. He calls it his round barn, but it’s more of a prairie cathedral.

He has been working on it for seven years. As he builds, strangers come. They pull off the highway, haul up his long driveway and stare.

Some, overcome by the beauty, have wept upon seeing the inside of the dome, with its ascending rings of interlocking diamonds and octagons that Jay cut by hand from poplar wood.

At the top is an oculus, a round opening in the roof, like in the Pantheon in Rome. When sunlight streams in, the effect is downright heavenly.

LA Times
MARCH 9, 2023

Sent us by Maui Surfer

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Shed Covered with Giant Slabs of Slate in Wales

Hi Lloyd.

I thought you might be interested in this small shed, alone in a field up the valley from my home in Southern Snowdonia, Wales. We’re in an area of old slate mining which began in the mid-19th century. and finished maybe 30-40 years ago. The slate slabs on this small outbuilding are between one and two inches thick.

Cheers, and all the very best to you from Corris, Wales.

–Neil Heath

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How We Drained California Dry

A story of remaking the land and taking the water until there was nothing left

Technology Review

This is how we’ve come to the point today, during the driest decade in state history, that valley farmers haven’t diminished their footprint to meet water’s scarcity but have added a half-­million more acres of permanent crops—more almonds, pistachios, mandarins. They’ve lowered their pumps by hundreds of feet to chase the dwindling aquifer even as it dwindles further, sucking so many millions of acre-feet of water out of the earth that the land is sinking. This subsidence is collapsing the canals and ditches, reducing the flow of the very aqueduct that we built to create the flow itself.

How might a native account for such madness?

No civilization had ever built a grander system to transport water. It sprawled farmland. It sprawled suburbia. It made rise three world-class cities, and an economy that would rank as the fifth largest in the world. But it did not change the essential nature of California. Drought is California. Flood is California. One year our rivers and streams produce 30 million acre-feet of water. The next year, they produce 200 million acre-feet. The average year, 72.5 million acre-feet, is a lie we tell ourselves.

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Shepherd’s Hut in Southwest Scotland by John and Lewis Crosby

This all started by finding two rusty cast iron wheels in the nettles whilst on a lockdown ramble during the Covid pandemic in January 2021. I had workshops sitting empty since retirement as a woodworker and was looking for a project.

I decided on a ‘Shepherd’s hut’ seeing as I had a partial starter kit. These were originally moveable temporary night shelters for a shepherd during lambing time on the higher marginal land of Scotland and northern England. The modern incarnation appears to be a lucrative Airbnb rental in which I have no interest, although addressing the chronic housing shortage for local young people does.

Our youngest son, Lewis, was due to return from Canada in the autumn and needed a place to live. That crystallized it. It was now April.

I started with the notion of using locally sourced and second-hand materials but the realities of the world markets were there from the start. Steel for the chassis, plywood internal walls, pine T&G exterior cladding, galvanized sheet for the roof, plus components, fixings, finishes and most of the rest. Only the sheep’s wool insulation and timber framing were local … and the rusty wheels. Two matching rear wheels were specially cast in England at eye-watering expense.

The chassis, 420 kgs of steel channel, was the only detailed plan drawing. The rest was make-it–up-as–you-go according to the dictates of found or bought components.

After four months of working alone, Lewis turned up just as the interior was getting a start. He’s a competent carpenter, so the pace picked up and we were finished by the end of October, 7 months since the first weld on the chassis.

Lewis and his cat now live in it locally.

Location: SW Scotland
Internal footprint: 2m × 5.7m
Height: 2.2m
Power: 12-volt solar panel
Propane cooker. Cat flap. Water collection from the roof and an additional tap supplied by a refillable onboard tank for drinking water. 2 kW wood stove. Double folding ‘Murphy’ style bed, from the underside of which is a drop-down table. Seating on the wheel arches.

–Lewis Crosby

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