Saturday, July 23, 2016


view driving home of Roblar fire smoke
Safe From the Roblar Fire.
It's south of the ranch. 
Hundreds of Marines
and firemen dig barriers, 
drop retardant and water. 

We are in good hands.
I'm unprepared. 
Need to weed wack larger perimeter. 
Need to practice fire drills,
Need to place valuables in storage, but where is safe?
Another disaster, terrorist attack, plume of smoke. 
Stop travelling?
Stay away from crowds?
Get a gun?
Wear a bullet proof bubble?

Air quality is awful. 
Stink of burning trash,
not the joyful smell of leaves in Fall.
Smog sticks to clothing. 
Reminds of the
Inland Empire when smog was thick
they told children to stay indoors.
No air conditioning in schools.
The smell of kids sweating on linoleum
desks in a crowded classroom is close
to the aroma of air today.
No sun drying laundry.
No digging the rest of the chain link

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Invasive Thistle

Thistle stays.

Purple faces clay colored hills.
She protects with thistle thorns.
Machete to soil, she returns
with a vast undersea tuber
or spread seeds, she scorns.
This cardoon swims on dust,
as a desert pony trusts
no one eats wild artichokes.
She is

Poem and image Caroline Gerardo Copyright July  21, 2016

Mother Hen DIY Coop

chicken coop in progress

chicken wire coop ook

Chicken Momma
OR Chooks Chookies Kooks and Me

Hatched the baby chickens.
A recent summary of my ranch adventures:
Lost one pullet to pasty butt. Spent three days and nights feeding her drops of vitamin water on the hour. Did you know Siri can learn the names of your baby chickens? This is helpful with an alarm at 3 and 4. Created Kleenex tissue life-safer to keep sick baby from flopping on her back, and the long process of cleaning her bottom. She died.
Next the vicious murder by grey squirrels. I now hunt bushy tails. Two squirrels poked holes in babies and tore one apart.
Horrible deaths, lost sleep and oh my, I’m a Mother Hen.

My house is next to the Cleveland National Forest. Mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons and other predators stroll on my driveway. There are two existing chicken coops. One is oversized and the other smaller one I'm adapting into Fort Knox.
The nearest hardware store is a forty minute drive away. First, I purchased chicken wire. After securing three rolls to the coop and play yard, I learn it is not strong enough to withstand hungry predators. I plan to use recycled materials. Chain link fence pieces, left over siding and a couple metal posts were found on Free-cycle. Five rolls of welded steel wire, 4 X 4 lumber posts and twenty varieties of wire I bought at Home Depot.
Country Living is not photo shooting my ranch for the coop. Painted houses with picket fences and screen windows would be torn apart by animals in a moonlit evening. The play house that your daughters grew out of is not safe enough for my hens. A raccoon tears through plastic.

"Raccoons eat plastic zip ties." I told the handy orange Apron at Home Depot.
Rolls of wire are to connect walls and ceiling for the play pen. I need to stitch the wire together and have no gaps.
"This ook wire with the nice package cutter is perfect." Orange apron tells me.
This product stinks. The cutter doesn’t trim the wire. The spool hogs the ends. Then when you just need a little a long center piece sticks out of the cardboard. As you ease the piece out to cut the rope becomes tangled in under layers. Send "Ook "frustration packaging to your enemies. Let their hands be torn bloody while they pull for the next piece. I never return purchases. Have you waited in line to face the humiliation of being asked why something doesn't work? Ook sucks, see the holes in my hands.

Another trip to Home Depot.
“Do you have metal zip ties?”
Strange facial expression from Orange vest guy.
“Perhaps in the electrical department?” he answers.
“I know metal conducts electricity. I am searching for cable ties that come in packs of 100 or more…”
“We don’t have anything like that, what are you using them for?” Frowny face from Orange vest.
I explain about the coop. He gives me the crazy lady bored face.

"J clips, hog rings, loxit rings and matching pliers?" I say as if speaking a foreign language.
Okay Orange County isn't the farming capitol of California anymore... Time for a real drive.

I make a third trip over the hill to real farming hardware stores.  Grangetto's sales person complements my cowgirl boots. They have barn owl boxes (next project) rainwater retention and grey water systems. I'm smiling. Next stops Tractor Supply and Kahoots.  

When I am finished I will post images of the darling Spanish Style Chicken High Security Vault and the shoot that opens into a play yard.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quran #prayersfornice

5:32 Quran

whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ


celui qui tue une âme à moins d'une âme ou de la corruption [ fait ] dans le pays -

il est comme s'il avait tué tous les hommes .

Et celui qui sauve un - il est comme s'il avait sauvé l'humanité entièrement .

Et nos messagers avaient certainement venir à eux avec des preuves évidentes .

Alors, en effet beaucoup d'entre eux , [ même ] après que , dans tout le pays ,

étaient transgresseurs .

François Hollande 
look at the Great

"By the Sword and the Cross"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

War on Squirrels


Off rid journey takes a turn.
Roads have narrow parts. Vehicles coming down hill
backs up to allow the struggling a way.
Start with pastoral ideas of turning weed acres into garden.
In plans I drew the compost and hugelkultur beds on the lower acre,
a bit removed from the main house.

After a month of machete, then dig and
pull the heat of summer takes most of the invasive, alien and
not native weeds to dust. They will, like Schwarzenegger
in the Terminator,"be back..." in the spring.

I have two chicken coops. One I remade it into Fort Knox.
I also prepared a "play yard." for the baby chicks. The play pen is an
old dog run with four foot high chain link. This I fortified with chicken
wire and galvanized one inch wire mesh from sides and top. I was thinking
that the only daytime predators were hawks, owls and perhaps the eight
Great Pyrenees who guard the ranch below (they enjoy a wander romp,
coming to my house for treats and to chew up hoses. Don't get me wrong,
Great Pyrenees are bred as guardians but these pups might step on the
After nursing babies in warming lights and washing bottoms. I'm mother hen.
I hadn't planned on grey squirrels. I trapped mice and rats but squirrels were not
in the plans. Bunnies- yes - but not squirrels, until yesterday.
Ground squirrels (grey ones)  kill chickens for territory or sport.
This I read after the murder of three month old chicks.
Murderous rodents.

War on squirrels begins.
Sound the fireworks. Load my 22, and the sling shot.
No pass on this road up.
For those who want to comment.
Don't say you feed squirrels peanuts.
Posted below images of other projects
to distract you from furry tails.
succulent coffee table below
and using old copper sheeting as
succulent planters.
The copper will turn verdigris soon.
In discussion with my sister Nori yesterday I
spoke about my home made craft projects.
I'm always making things to give away as presents
Last Christmas maybe you received a herb candle in
a wine bottle or a herb wreath? Pretty things take
twenty some hours to make. Perhaps this year it
will be sunflower seed wreaths or sun dried tomatoes?
See how sweet my tone turned I didn't say a
fur trimmed sweater.

Caroline Gerardo Copyright July 10, 2016 story poetry images are not released 
for any use

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Eight miles on Ortega Highway. Find the red gate. A skull and cross bones sign on recycled cardboard posts before the electronic eye.  The metal is smashed on the right.  Look for the transponder hidden, a geo code.
Drive 18 minutes past poison oak. Don't pass neighbors in pick ups with gun racks. Wave at vehicles driving down stream.
The house is haunted. Its not the first time I cohabited with ghosts.
A cabin with river rock facade. Built in the turn of the century with modern plumbing, solar panels, generator and no cell service. No booster corrects the lack of phone availability.
It's summer. Evening breezes push through the black Pines in the front. Tonight it's crisp but no wind. A  friend at work has an earthquake predictor application on his desktop. Every day he shouts out that if the sunset is red, the San Andreas Fault takes revenge.I forgot to take note of the sky at 7:42 P.M.
Dinner made itself in two crock pots. One has chicken with pineapple and soy sauce. Hawaiian rice waits for a stir. Remaining duties: steam broccoli and combine the salad items in the glass containers. Before setting the table, I sit to check a few edits on the work in progress. Carson's laptop is open in the empty seat next to mine.
The iron chandelier overhead begins to sway. It rocks. There's a sound of beep ping of a Casablanca fan or iphone ring tone. Is it the laptop? No it's an earthquake.  One is is due.
"Get in a doorway the big one!"
Flashes where cities burn down and thousands injured without sanitation run through my mind. Did I store enough water, bullets, bandages, dry food, matches and more bullets? My children (college students) follow orders. They join me under the beamed doorway. We watch as the ancient chandelier crashes on the farm house table where I was seated and destroys my son's new laptop.
"House is solid. No shaking - only see it move!" My son points to the million shards of glass and metal on top of his treasured MAC. He puts his arm around his sister's shoulder to relax her fears. At this second I'm proud he isn't concerned about the value of things but the love between us. Then his facial expression changes examining his fish tank with the one remaining fighting fish.
"If it was an earthquake everything would be moving. The water is still."
"Without phone service it's hard to check with if there will be aftershocks," daughter worries.
"It's a fault in the chandelier," he answers.
"Ghosts." she says.
I frown. Rather than skeptical, accept poltergeist theory, "We're kind people. You can stay, we won't harm you," I say with emphasis.
"Mom, don't be crazy."
"Can't hurt." I shrug,  "I'm not prejudice against ghosts."
My kids laugh. Daughter runs her fingers through her bangs, shaking off fears.
The electrical cords that connect with the wires above have wires rusted and frayed. Crystal bells that held the energy efficient bulbs are in pieces, crumbled as plastic wrap.  Carson's new Apple laptop is in worse shape. With the lid opened and light on with thousands of  pieces of the machine scatter. Did the lithium battery  explode?
Our team hugs. We are safe. Another expensive fix ahead, but we survive.