PLEASE HELP THIS FAMILY

We are trying to help our friend Paul and his six-week-old son Joe deal with this unimaginable tragedy. Melanie was a radiant joy and an inspiration to us all. Please donate if you’re able. Info below.

https://www.gofundme.com/emergency-infant-care-fund-for-baby-joe

“The Hi-Desert community is bereft to learn our luminous friend Melanie Buck died suddenly and unexpectedly at home in Landers, CA, leaving behind her 6-week old infant son Joe Claude, and adoring husband Paul.

This is an emergency fund to hire an infant care specialist to help Paul feed and care for baby Joe in these precious early weeks of life– an overwhelming time for any parent, let alone a grieving father.

ABOUT MELANIE: Melanie Buck was a communications officer in the US Navy before launching her landscape design firm which she ran for 15 years in Los Angeles. Since moving to the desert five years ago she continued to bring her boundless energy and warmth to all around her, especially to her job as a librarian at the Joshua Tree public library, where she was beloved by all, from eager young readers to old-timers using a computer for the first time. She raised goats, gardened, and brought into the world baby Joe with the love of her life, Paul. Words cannot express how deeply saddened her sudden loss has left the Hi-Desert.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Donate.
Home visits from a infant care specialist cost $25+ / hr.

$25hr x 30hr week x 6 months = $18k.

Help us raise the funds to provide professional infant care to help Paul and baby Joe get through the next six months, from helping infant Joe transition from breastfeeding to taking the bottle (enough breast milk has been donated to last 6 months) to giving Paul a respite during this unimaginable time of loss.

HOW THIS WORKS: Every cent of this campaign will go into paying a part time baby nurse. Please share this link on Facebook, your Instagram profile link, and through email– Paul and baby Joe need our love and help, and this is a direct way to support them. There is no deadline, no minimum limit, and no amount too little– every little bit will help this baby start his new life without a mom. We can help make that transition.”

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PROGRESS REPORT: SUNEVER FARMS

Almost done! Had my architect hat on all summer. Farmstand, greenhouse, production kitchen and trailer office. Whew. Can’t wait to show you. And if you need cool stuff built in the high desert, Aaron Wood and Harrison Fraley are your guys.

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HOMESTEAD CAMP CABIN TIME

Our Homestead Camp Cabin (pictured above, at a recent sunset) is available for rent to peaceful travelers. It’s like camping in the desert — only you don’t need to bring any camping gear, you have a built shelter to sleep in, and there’s a hammock, outdoor kitchen, shower and toilet all to yourself…on five acres of unfenced land, inside a wildlife habitat corridor!

Now — Fall, which usually lasts til mid-December — is one of the two best times of the year to be in Joshua Tree (Spring is the other), as daytime temps have cooled and nighttime temps are still warm.

Be our guest!
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5142780

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FALL IS FINALLY HERE

(photo by Angela de la Agua)

Daylight temps are finally falling after a very long, very hot and humid summer out here. Nighttime is gorgeous, it’s warm and pleasant enough that you can still sleep outside. Ah, autumn!

We still have some nights available for the fall in the three homesteader cabins (5 acres, 2.5 acres, 5 acres; $70-$114 nightly) we rent out to peaceful travelers.

Info on cabin rentals:
https://jthomesteader.com

Be our guest — we’d love to host more folks who follow our blog!

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OBSERVE YOUR STEP

Almost stepped on this lady yesterday morning 920am underneath one of our jujube trees at Sunever Farms. Literally jumped backwards out of my sandals. She never rattled, never shifted out of her coil. I got my sandal back with a stick and then took this (um) sub-optimal photo. She was awake and flicking her tongue. Maybe catching spray from the water coming out of a leak in the tubing? Not too big. Whaddya think she is…?

[ANSWER: Probably a Green Mojave rattlesnake, possibly napping after a kill, or hiding out, waiting for prey to come to the water…]

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ENRICHING THE HABITAT

The folks at Native Seeds/SEARCH are the real deal. Amazing selection of desert adapted seeds of all kinds, including rare kitchen garden edibles cultivated by Native Americans in the southwest. A nonprofit with a mission of crop diversity and regional seed sovereignty.

Here’s their listing for their Desert Tortoise Mix:

A mix of Southwest native wildflowers favored as food by desert tortoises. Varieties are fast growing and can tolerate munching abuse. This mix is great for any garden!

Mix includes 8 species including Desert Marigold, Mexican and/or White Evening Primrose, Globemallow, Summer Poppy, Parry’s and Palmer’s Penstemons, Desert Senna, and Desert Lupine.

Available in two sizes: Small (1.5 g and covers approximately 30 sq. feet) ($2.00), and Large (0.5 oz and covers approximately 100-200 sq. feet) ($12.00).

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DATE PALMS FROM MIGUEL

Our neighbor Miguel just gave us 3 female Date Palms, volunteers from his mother tree that have already started producing fruit. What a special gift as only 1 in 10 Palms are fruit-bearing females. Date growing is very science-y and involves getting a lot of things right, including hand pollination with paper bags. He’s gonna share what he knows and maybe in a few years we’ll be harvesting. To the tune of 300lbs per year, from each tree. Which sounds insane to me. Desert dreams #joshuatree #datepalm

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FRUIT TREES IN THE HI-DESERT

Here’s a bit of info on the fruit trees that are doing well for us.

We buy online from Bay Laurel Nursery: baylaurelnursery.com

They are fantastic. We order in fall and they ship bare root trees in February.

I usually buy things with the following characteristics that seem to matter a lot in the desert:

–low chill hours (because our winters don’t get that cold)
–early ripening (so the fruit doesn’t have to make through our long, hot summer)
–self-fruitful (i.e. self-pollinating so you only have to buy one)

Here’s a complete list of what we’re growing that’s sourced from Bay Laurel Nursery, with descriptions taken from the Bay Laurel website. Arctic Star Nectarine and a Blenheim (Royal) Apricot are doing particularly well after only a few years in the ground

Eva’s Pride Peach – Standard
Delicious, very low chill yellow freestone peach is medium to
large, firm, with sweet flavor. Ripens late June/early July, midway
between May Pride and Mid-Pride. 1-200 hrs. Self-fruitful.

Arctic Star Nectarine – Standard
Earliest to ripen of the white fleshed nectarines. Low in acid,
super sweet with no tartness. Semi-freestone, snow white flesh with
beautiful dark red skin. Rave reviews in trial tastings. Ripens mid to
late June. Low chill, only 300 hours. Self-fruitful.

Babcock (!) Peach – Standard
Longtime favorite white fleshed, freestone peach. Sweet and juicy,
aromatic, subacid. Ripens mid July. Widely adapted: low chilling
requirement, yet not early blooming. 250-300 hrs. Self-fruitful.

All-In-One Genetic Semi-Dwarf Almond on Nemaguard
No. 1 almond for home orchards. Heavy crops of soft shelled nuts with
sweet, flavorful kernels. Hot summer required to ripen; ripens late
September to early October. Fifteen foot tree, very winter and frost
hardy, probably to zone 5, but with better results in zones 8 to 9.
3-400 hrs. Self-fruitful.

Blenheim (Royal) Apricot – Standard
All-purpose freestone, sweet, aromatic, flavorful. Long-time no. 1
apricot in California. Early bloom. Late June/early July harvest. 400
hours or less. Self-fruitful.

Burgundy Plum – Standard
Sweet, juicy and pleasing mild flavored plum with maroon skin and
flesh, small pit and little or no tartness. High taste test scores.
Very productive. Tree has narrow, upright habit. Prolonged harvest,
late July to mid August. 300 hrs. Self-fruitful.

Royal Rosa Apricot on Myrobalan
Extremely vigorous and more disease tolerant than other apricots.
Bears young and heavily. Sweet, low acid, fine-flavored fruit ripens
very early, in late May. Pollenizer for Flavorella plumcot. 500 hours.
Self-fruitful.

Arctic Star Nectarine on Citation
Earliest to ripen of the white fleshed nectarines. Low in acid, super
sweet with no tartness. Semi-freestone, snow white flesh with
beautiful dark red skin. Rave reviews in trial tastings. Ripens mid to
late June. Low chill, only 300 hours. Self-fruitful.

May Pride Peach on Citation
Very early ripening peach for warm winter climates with delicious,
sweet, tangy, yellow semi-freestone fruit. Ripens in late May/early
June; very large for such an early peach. Large, showy pink blossoms.
150-200 hrs. Self-fruitful.

Pakistan King Mulberry
Large maroon to black fruit is 3 1/2 to 5″ long and very sweet with a
raspberry-like flavor. Multi-month long fruiting season. Cold hardy to
USDA zone 9, maybe 7 when mature. Frost sensitive when young. Sweating
is recommended in dry, cold or windy climates to encourage bud break. Self-fruitful.

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POST NO. 401

This blog isn’t as active as it once was, but that’s mainly cuz we’re doing other stuff elsewhere, and not everything quite fits the theme here, such as it is/was. Here’s where else you can find us:

Stephanie is active on Instagram in two places:

JTHomesteader: “Homesteading life in Joshua Tree, California. Vacation rental cabins and more”

Sunever Farms: “A ‘desert food’ arid lands farm and nursery under development on 20 acres in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree”

Jay has a personal Instagram account: random stuff that interests him

and Jay has “Landline”, an irregular TinyLetter available as a free email, archived online: “A small bailiwick outside the unceasing current of cruddiness: Irregular epistles intended for friends, colleagues, Arthur heads, pastoral people, plant people, rural country people, dharma people, herbalists, wild people and other curious sweetfolk.”

Sorry we’re so dispersed, but that’s how it is. We’ll keep updating this blog, but if you want to find more stuff from us more regularly, now you know where to go. Thanks again for all the feedback and kind words.

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NEW QUARTERS

Stephanie says:
Not the gorgeous shot we typically aim for, but wildlife photography is tough folks! What’s important here: We are welcoming our first desert tortoise to the food oasis at Sunever Farms. She’s built her burrow in a swale right up against a newly planted Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana). A good omen!

Jay says:
I love this. A bit more info: I made the swale by piling up branches and trunks from the dead asian pear trees that were on the property, then mounding with sand and dirt, forming a trench and a swale at the same time. The dead trees provide undergirding and also retain moisture. And now it looks like they’re acting the same way as creosote tree roots do — providing a space where a burrow can be safely dug by a wild animal. So awesome.

Stephanie says:
It’s part swale and part ‘hugelkultur’ planting bed.

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