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Happy to Be Here

1/21/2014 1:55:00 PM

Tags: Small Homesteading, Country Life, Cowboy, Feedlot, Bulldoze, Clear Land, Build A Home, Weld, Animal Fencing, Small Farming, Woodworking, Iowa, Growing, Cooking, Animal Husbandry, Riding, Horses, Adventures, Self-sufficient, Cattle Ranch, Northern California, Vegetable Growing Issues, Water Issues, Writer’s Block, Poor Soil Condition, Renee Lucie Benoit

Renee-Lucie BenoitThis is my first blog for the Capper Farmer family and, boy, oh howdy, I can tell you I am happy to be here. It’s an honor to be among you, and I can’t wait to join the discussion about all-things-small in farming and homesteading. I even have a discussion point for this introductory blog.

First, though, let me tell you a bit about Marty and me. We’re both “retired.” We became partners late in life, and we’re aligned on most issues and certainly aligned about living the country life and making a go of it from a back country road. Marty has been or done almost anything you can think of. He cowboyed as a young man and worked feedlots horseback. He welded, bulldozed, cleared land and more on his way to building his own home in the mountains above Lake Isabella in southern California. He worked as a police officer for many years and homesteaded on the outskirts of Bakersfield. This is where he learned to weld like a son-of-a-gun. Those throw-away oil field pipes make great horse and animal fencing. He’s not much for farming but can build the heck out of any woodworking or water project. That’s where I come in. I was born in Illinois and raised in Iowa. I think I might have corn coming out of my ears so if I tell a bad joke or two, please forgive me. While I’m not thinking of a corny joke, the Iowa in me is thinking about growing something or cooking what I grow. Next I’m thinking about animal husbandry or riding our horses. Of course, I love to write about our adventures and sometimes I go as far as to create a drawing or two to illustrate said adventures.

me and marty
Marty and me by the snake fence. 

We weren’t always where we are now. It’s been a year and a half since we’re getting back into it. But now that we’re here it feels as comfy and familiar as a pair of old boots. We’re a self-sufficient duo on a 1,000-acre cattle ranch in Northern California, and we caretake the place for the absentee owners. In the bargain we get 5 acres to do what we please with or what Ma Nature will allow us. She’s throwing us a learning curve and it’s fascinating from dawn to dusk and sometimes even at 3 a.m. as I lay awake trying to figure out some problem.

Many of my future blogs will be about our water issues. Others will be about our vegetable-growing issues, which are intertwined with the water issues. Then there are literally hundreds of other subjects that arise on a daily basis. There’s no writer’s block out here. As long as we stick to non-fiction! 

So here’s to a long and fruitful association! I look forward to hearing all your stories and I hope I can add a thing or two.

First question for the family: How have you overcome very, very poor soil conditions? (backstory: we have here what I would call “pulverized rock.” Not soil. Literally ground conditions that hold water for days and doesn’t let it seep in.)



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Post a comment below.

 

Susan Berry
1/22/2014 10:14:06 PM
Hi Renee, Susan from Itzy Bitzy Farm here. So nice to meet you. I started my farming life here in NC but was originally from Massachusetts where there is just about perfect brown loam. Here I encountered solid red clay. So every year faithfully, I added leaf compost, grew cover crops for plough down and added lots and lots of aged horse manure to nearly 2 acres of row crops. Then I went to raised beds and discovered it is easier managing smaller areas and creating perfect soil needs for each different crop. This year I will be doing both row and raised beds, so we can compare notes and wisdom. Look forward to reading more on your adventures and You've joined a great "family" of passionate farmers here at Capper's.

Mary
1/22/2014 1:14:50 PM
HI, Renee, I'm Mary from Old Dog, New Tricks, blog. Welcome! I was raised in Iowa, too, along the Little Sioux River, and know all about the beautiful corn fields! Our soil was BLACK! We have quite a mixture of soil types on our little hobby farm, though. I'm looking forward to your stories and getting to know you.

Kevin N Lydia Kendall
1/22/2014 10:16:59 AM
Hi Renee, Thanks for sharing your story and I look forward to reading your water-shortage stories...we live in central Texas and are experiencing the same drought. We started rain water collection (it will eventually rain, so we will catch every possible drop) in a 1500 gallon tank and plan to get a few more on our 5 acres of sand. We are also gardening on raised beds that are amended with compost and peat, but this year we are going to aquaponics for much of our veggies. Look at youtube for ideas from mhpgardener. Good luck!

NebraskaDave
1/22/2014 7:48:10 AM
Renee, welcome to the Capper's Farmer blogging community. My destiny in life is what I call urban farming. I have purchased a derelict piece of property from the city that was in foreclosure. I'm about two and a half years into developing it into a productive garden. My main section is about 3600 square feet and my neighbor has about 900 square feet that I let him use for his garden. The lot next to me has been abandoned as well so I am creeping over into guerilla gardening about 2100 square feet of that property. Renee, welcome to the Capper's Farmer blogging community. My destiny in life is what I call urban farming. I have purchased a derelict piece of property from the city that was in foreclosure. I'm about two and a half years into developing it into a productive garden. My main section is about 3600 square feet and my neighbor has about 900 square feet that I let him use for his garden. The lot next to me has been abandoned as well so I am creeping over into guerilla gardening about 2100 square feet of that property. ***** You came from Iowa so you know what good soil is supposed to be like. My only suggestion is to make beds and dig in compost or buy a truck load of good dirt to make raised beds. A half acre is a pretty large garden area so maybe only a couple beds a year would work. I catch rain water for my backyard kitchen table garden and actually have a spring to develop into irrigation of my big garden on the foreclosed property. ***** I'm looking forward to reading about all your experiences on Grindstone ranch. Have a great California homesteading day.



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