Living in the Forest
A Photo Essay of What I Might See
My dog and I see plenty of trees in my neck of the woods. That's because my neck of the woods is actually in the woods.
Our neighborhood is in the Sierra Nevada foothills where there are plenty of Ponderosa Pines, Black Oaks, Live Oaks, Cedars and several other varieties of trees.
There are also houses, but because there are no water or sewer lines-- as there are in towns and cities -- the building density is controlled to make sure that residents have plenty of room for water wells and septic systems.
A typical property here has an average of three to four acres, though many homes have ten to fifteen.
Tall Trees everywhere
There are lots of animals here, both domestic and wild.
Most people have a dog, or several dogs. Some have horses, goats, llamas, chickens, ducks and other farm animals.
Seena is our Miniature Pinscher/mix and weighs in at about 12 lbs. She's a shelter rescue and we think she is about 8 or 9 years old. She is a ball of energy and loves to go for walks.
Aside from neighborhood pets and livestock, there are deer, gray squirrels, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possums, skunks and many of kinds of birds. I have had glimpses of a cougar and a bobcat within a few miles of our neighborhood. We also hear reports of bears now and then-- but most of them are in the high country. I have only seen one small bear near our house. It was trying to pick the lock on our duck enclosure.
Besides the trees there are a lot of other natural plants. In shady areas you can find Bracken Fern. They look lacy and delicate, but their tough and flexible stems were a favorite material of Native American basket weavers of this area.
We get a few snowy days each winter. Our elevation is a little over 3000 ft above sea level.
After living in Southern California for most of my life where the weather never changed very much, the snow is a special treat.
The "Winter" shot is from my front window.
We are low enough in elevation that the snow doesn't usually stay around long, so we don't have to do much shoveling.
The roads are cleared quickly.
We have never really been "snowed in" for more than a couple of days, and we are well-prepared for those times.
Seena loves to romp in the snow.
The best part is when the grandkids can come up and play in it.
An organic farm near us grows vegetables, berries and flowers.
Chickens produce lots of eggs, and have a huge garden area to roam in. This business was started just a few years ago.
Many home owners have their own gardens, orchards and poultry. Some provide for their own families and others sell their excess at the local farmers market.
Fences and Neighbors
Unless people have animals, most do not fence their property.
Garden plots need high strong fences because of the herds of hungry, vegetarian deer which roam here.
This modern white fence looks like painted wood, but Tom Sawyer and his friends will never have to paint it because it is plastic and presumably will outlast everything else on earth.
It will not keep deer out or dogs in.
It is only on the front perimiter of the property, so its function seems to be aesthetic only.
The rustic fence is made from split cedar posts that came from an old tree on the land of the property owner.
It marks the edge of a driveway where the property slopes down steeply on the other side. Cedar does not need to be painted and is rot and insect resistant.
Don't know how long it will last, but it seems better with age.
Speaking of splitting wood, many homes have a wood stove and a wood pile for heating.
People use mostly propane or electricity for cooking and heating, but many use their wood stoves in the winter for extra warmth.
The wood stove also comes in handy when the power goes off in a storm. You can even warm up some soup on it.
When walking the country roads, you will see lots of mailboxes, usually several are grouped together.
It seems that there are many more mailboxes than homes.
The truth is, that many homes are hidden from the road by trees, rocks, bushes and brush.
Sometimes you can tell who is new in the neighborhood by the condition of the mailbox.
Those on the end of the row are most vulnerable to being "whacked" by vehicles-- or perhaps a bored adolescent.
(See hub on "how you can tell if you are a Foothill Newcomer".)
Being safe an connected.
I often have my cell phone and camera with me when I walk.
One might need to call for help-- for yourself or for someone else.
When I saw this smoke from a nearby house fire, another neighbor had already called.
Firefighters were there in minutes, but the fire, smoke and water did quite a bit of damage inside the house.
Neighbors tend to mind their own business, but are always ready to help when needed.
Real Deer in the Orchards
Real deer are plentiful, but they usually turn tail and run when I try to take photos
While trying to re-focus on a couple fawns, I took a step backward, into a hole and twisted my ankle badly.
I went down like a tree beside the road.
Seena was lucky I missed her.
A person from the house across the street saw me go down and rushed out to ask if I was OK.
Three other vehicles stopped to ask the same-- including the people who were evacuating from their burned out home.
This was extraordinary-- since these roads almost NEVER have that much traffic at one time.
Another neighbor , whom I had met only a week earlier when searching for a dog-sitter, gave me and Seena a ride home.
I have a fat purple ankle and a lot of nice neighbors.
The 'Vette That Got Away
Grape Stomping Foot
After a week of "RICE" (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) my foot is not as purple and swollen as it was a few days ago.
It still looks as if I have been spending too much time grape-stomping, but I have no wine or grape juice to show for it.
I will probably be hitting the road again in a few days, (though not literally, I hope) perhaps with some protective gear.
Seena looks a little disconcerted as she sits on the bookshelf under the window in the background, but it was not her fault.
It was the deer, or maybe the hole in the ground.