Been doing stuff, but not posting. Among other things:
Went up to Sacramento to drop off the women folk for a bridal shower for the younger daughter. Collected the future son-in-law, and we took a drive up into the foothills of the Sierra to visit a family friend of his who is doing what I would like to do: living on a few acres out away from the urban areas, where he and his family raise a lot of their own food.
It was cool. He is a very nice man with a nice family. His little micro-farm (7 acres) is located along some south-facing hills, with a a little valley running down the middle. The houses (the one they live in, plus a 100 year old ruin that they restored & rent out through Air B&B) are on the higher end of their little valley, with pastures below, ending in a pond at the bottom. Sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Fruit trees both in a deer-fenced garden area and distributed around the property. A view for miles across the larger valley from the back porch. Beautiful.
Our host was able to point out a dozen important things I’d have likely missed. One needs irrigation district water to keep things green for the cows; city water, if you can even get it, soon becomes too expensive. Having the irrigation canal run up above his property means he doesn’t need pumps to run his sprinklers. The little valley he’s on has soil 4′ deep before you hit the granite that the Sierras are made of – some nice looking sites have little or no soil.
And so on. On the downside, being out away from civilization means mountain lions are a real deal – one had killed and eaten one of his sheep just the day before. The nearly-stripped carcass was still out in the pasture. Yikes. He keeps his shotgun handy, but he’d need to see the big cat to shoot it. And then there’s coyotes. Hawks and foxes kill his birds. The cows are too big for the mountain lions? At least, once grown a little?
Anyway, what an adventure. He and his lovely wife asked exactly what I’m looking for, and said they’d keep an eye out for suitable properties. They also recommended praying to St. Joseph – which we’re already doing.
The ‘neighborhood’ if you call it that consists of other small farms. Everybody knows everybody. Our host was surprised we’d driven up without anyone stopping us – he said all the neighbors watch for cars they don’t recognize, and then, in a friendly way, stop them and ask them who they are looking for – a real question, as it’s not like looking for street numbers in suburbia. One could get lost. But this also serves to reduce possible miscreants from just driving around.
He sang the benefits of raising kids in the country. In this context, he told me about the horsemanship requirement of Wyoming Catholic College. He said that it used an optional one semester deal, but now is required for the full first year. The college discovered that kids got invaluable knowledge and core lessons in basic reality, from learning how to get a big, opinionated animal to do what you want it to do, and from learning how to care for that animal. Any delusions one might entertain about the existence of objective reality die a quick death once you’re on the back of a horse.
The visit was a wonderful experience. While I personally would limit myself to garden, orchard, chickens, and maybe a pig, the kids are talking about sheep, goats and cows for milking. Right. Well, if they do the work…
All this is contingent on getting this house sold, a task I need to focus on with increased urgency. Given the news that is trickling out from San Francisco and L.A., I got to wonder: how many people really want to live in California anymore? Then I recall the stories I’ve read about the Russians hauled off to the gulags in the middle of the night, who believed it was all some big mistake, and that Stalin would certainly set it straight as soon as he found out about it. Our modern, well-schooled front row kids are even better equipped to comply. They got all those gold stats and pats in the head for doing what they were told to do, to believe what they were told to believe, and to despise those who failed to do as they were told and failed to regurgitate upon command. So, as long as they are told nothing is going on, they will prefer to deny the evidence in front of their eyes, or minimize it, or think it’s an exception, right up until it’s their turn to be the carbon that gets reduced.
“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”That Hideous Strength CH V
“That shows you’re still in the nursery, lovey,” said Miss Hardcastle.
“Haven’t you yet realised that it’s the other way round?”
“How do you mean?”
“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All
our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in May-fair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”
“As one of the class you mention,” said Mark with a smile, “I just don’t believe it.”
“Good Lord!” said the Fairy, “where are your eyes? Look at what the weeklies have got away with! Look at the Weekly Question. There’s a paper for you. When Basic English came in simply as the invention of a free-thinking Cambridge don, nothing was too good for it; as soon as it was taken up by a Tory Prime Minister it became a menace to the purity of our language. And wasn’t the Monarchy an expensive absurdity for ten years? And then, when the Duke of Windsor abdicated, didn’t the Question go all monarchist and legitimist for about a fortnight? Did they drop a single reader? Don’t you see that the educated reader can’t stop reading the high-brow Weeklies whatever they do? He can’t. He’s been conditioned.”
Little by little the whole thing came out. These were the refugees from Edgestow. Some had been turned out of their houses, some scared by the riots and still more by the restoration of order. Something like a terror appeared to have been established in the town. “They tell me there were two hundred arrests yesterday,” said the landlord. “Ah,” said the young man. “They’re hard cases, those N.I.C.E. police, every one of them. They put the wind up my old Dad proper, I tell ‘ee.” He ended with a laugh. “’Taint the police so much as the workmen by what I hear,” said another. “They never ought to have brought those Welsh and Irish.” But that was about as far as the criticism went. What struck Mark deeply was the almost complete absence of indignation among the speakers, or even of any distinct sympathy with the refugees. Everyone present knew of at least one outrage in Edgestow; but all agreed that these refugees must be greatly exaggerating. “It says in this morning’s paper that things are pretty well settling down,” said the landlord. “That’s right,” agreed the others. “There’ll always be some who get awkward,” said the potato-faced man. “What’s the good of getting awkward?” asked another, “it’s got to go on. You can’t stop it.” “That’s what I say,” said the Landlord. Fragments of articles which Mark himself had written drifted to and fro. Apparently he and his kind had done their work well; Miss Hardcastle had rated too high the resistance of the working classes to propaganda.That Hideous Strength, CH X
The kinds of properties I am interested in have been driven up in price 30-40% in the last 20 months – but so have houses in my neighborhood. But how many people really want to go the Green Acres route? Most just want a safer, less crazy city or suburb that reminds them of where they used to live, circa 2015 or so. But enough people evidently are thinking ‘county’ to make it interesting.
The market has cooled in the suburbs, but I don’t know it that’s the usual winter slowdown or if it betokens more than that. Bottom line: I need to get this place ready to sell now. While, of course, also doing Christmas, New Year’s and younger daughter’s wedding.