My Mother and Father had one inviolate rule of parenting (although I don’t believe it was called “parenting” back in the Sixties.) That was the bedtime story. They were convinced that, if each of us were read a story, each and every night from age one to when we demanded they stop, we would grow up to be confirmed readers for life. I think they secretly harbored the illusion that, by age four, my brother and I would be demanding a steady diet of the world’s classic literature.

They were right on the first count. We grew up to be serious bookworms. They were wrong on the second — especially with my brother and especially in his early years. While they thought he would seamlessly segue from Winnie-the-Pooh to Huckleberry Finn to the Russian Classics before he was seven, my brother tended to get locked in on a favorite book and stay there until my parents were reciting it from memory in their sleep. One of his most persistent obsessions was a book called Around and About Buttercup Farm. As literature, it wasn’t much more than a rural version of Goodnight Moon. If I remember correctly, about all that happened was that a little boy ran around a farm saying hello to everything from goats to tree stumps.

In their Seventies, I bet my parents could still recite this entire book from memory.

In their Seventies, I bet my parents could still recite this entire book from memory.

“Let’s read some Grimm’s Fairy Tales“, my exasperated father would suggest.

“How about a nice couple of chapters of The Jungle Book? There are wolves and tigers in it”, my mother would cajole.

“Please, please, anything else but this book,” they both would finally cry in desperation.

No luck. For the longest time, it could only be Around and About Buttercup Farm.

Several decades later, I think I finally see what my brother was on to. There is something comforting about just making a usual circuit and ensuring that everything and everyone is right where they need to be. When you have a farm, as we do of sorts, it becomes even more soothing.

So consider the following post my updated unabridged mostly illustrated version of Buttercup Farm. Call it Around and About Two Terrier Vineyards. It’s destined to be a children’s literature classic.

First we head out to our “forest” path down near a seasonal creek and a stand of Redwoods. But first, Lucy backs into a Stinging Nettle and has to rub her furry bum in the cool grass.

Hello Lucy! And OWWWWWWW!

Hello Lucy! And OWWWWWWW!

Meanwhile, Oscar acts as scout, checking over the steep ledge and blundering into a stand of new wildflowers.

Hello Oscar. Hello wildflowers.

Hello Oscar. Hello Wildflowers.

Once down at the shaded seasonal creek, we are astonished to see what we think are Giant Pacific Salamanders swimming in the pool below the waterfall. If Wikipedia can be believed, the Giant Pacific Salamander can bark like a dog. We didn’t hear this one over the yelping of terriers.

Hello Pacific Salamander (if that is what you are.)

Hello Giant Pacific Salamander (if that is what you are.)

Once at the Redwood stand, we were shocked to see that many of them had ripped bark as if something with very long claws had been raking at them. I’ve heard that this can be a sign of Bobcats or Mountain Lions (we’ve sighted both up here). But the marks are way too high for even the tallest cat to reach. And I can’t imagine one clinging ten feet up by one paw as it skritches with the other.

Hello poor Redwood. I hope whatever is bothering you now leaves you alone. And I hope its not BigFoot.

Hello poor Redwood. I hope whatever is bothering you now leaves you alone. And I hope it’s not BigFoot.

We leave the forest and head for the sun-baked vineyards. This is the upper vineyard, planted mostly with Cabernet. The colorful flowers are part of our “Insectaria”, plantings designed to attract beneficial birds and insects for biodynamic pest control.

Hello Flowers, Vines and Beneficial Insects and Birds! Everybody keep feeding someone or eating.

Hello Flowers, Vines and Beneficial Insects and Birds! Everybody keep feeding someone or eating.

Below is a close-up of Vine Two in Row Six of the upper vineyard. I’m going to be taking a picture a week of this Featured Vine from early growth through harvest. You can follow the lifecycle of a wine grape in this Flickr set.

Hello Vine Two. Hello little bud things that will briefly become flowers, then grapes.

Hello Vine Two. Hello little bud things that will briefly become flowers, then grapes.

Meanwhile, there are wildflowers everywhere. Hah! I bet you thought this one would be a buttercup. Nope, it’s called Diogenes’ Lantern, after that poor old Greek philosopher who allegedly ran around Attica searching for an honest man.

Hello Diogenes Lantern. Let me know if you find that honest man.

Hello Diogenes’ Lantern. Let me know if you find that honest man.

Heading back to the barn (and temporary living quarters) through the orchard and the lower vineyard (mostly Rhone varietals), we notice that things are already looking parched. And it’s only April.

Hello Lower Vineyard. Hope we get a little more rain for you.

Hello Lower Vineyard. Hope we get a little more rain for you.

Back down by the barn at the Kitchen Garden, we’re shocked to see that the recently released Lady Bugs aren’t eating their way through our aphid infestation. They seem to be MATING.

Hello Lady Bugs. Stop that nonsense and start eating aphids!

Hello Lady Bugs. Stop that nonsense and start eating aphids!

Then we are distracted to see half a dozen Turkey Vultures circling over the barn. Especially since I found out they hunt by smell — and eat dead things — I’m wondering if it’s time to turn the compost pile.

Hello Mr. Turkey Vulture. What bad smell is lingering over our barn?

Hello Mr. Turkey Vulture. What bad smell is lingering over our barn?

That’s our circuit. But like Around and About Buttercup Farm, we’ll be doing it again and again and again. Tune in every night just about Story Time.

P.S. To those of you who are “discovering” this crazy place now that Bossy has featured me as a blogger and The Women’s Colony has reprinted one of my travel posts, WELCOME. Set a spell. Glad to have you. We’ve got a (virtual) glass of wine around for you somewhere.

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