Beer — May 18, 2016


Go ask an American about a German tradition! The response you will get in 95 precent of the cases is: Oktoberfest!

As a born German I say: Its just a shame to use the words Oktoberfest and tradition in one sentence. But then you wonder, why do thousands of people want to be part of this festival? Its about BEER! And as a born German i say: YES! Absolutely right.

Brewing beer is tradition since the Middle Ages and even earlier. The Celtics brewed a drink, called „cervesia“, a wheat beer made with honey for the more wealthy citizenship in those days. Apparently the Egyptians created a kind of a barley beer.

The centuries-old German purity law is an impressive accomplishment and has made brewing beer a real tradition. Its says that only hops, malt, yeast and water are allowed as ingredients of beer.

What makes the hundreds of diverse kinds of beer so different though, is, for the most part, its the different kinds of hops. Hops, Humulus lupulus. It’s the taste maker. Its what gives the beer the distinct flavour and the bitterness that we love.

Nobody knows exactly when hops was used the first time in the process of brewing beer. But it’s likely that hops, which original homeland is probably the northern Himalaya, came in the course of the migration period to Europe. Since that time people have brewed beer with it and used it as a preservative. Thank hops that our beer stays good for so long.

So, whenever you like to live tradition in Germany, catch some friends, go to the grocery store, go for some different kinds of beer and sit on some steps downtown on a afternoon in the summer, sip your cool beer, enjoy the hops flavour, while observing your surroundings and make some stupid jokes about god and the world.

Or you buy some young hops plants and start your own brewery.

I assure you, both are bigger cultural experiences, than visiting the Oktoberfest.

Bottoms up!

My rotweiller Xara… — April 15, 2016
A sequence of moments…Elf, Zwölf, Dreizehn… — April 13, 2016

A sequence of moments…Elf, Zwölf, Dreizehn…


I have been here on the Milewide Ranch for some weeks now and my other day life is far far away. Fortunately.

Is there a more creepy conception in life, than having the same routine every day?

I can`t imagine one. For sure, some people like it. Fair enough. And its granted to them. But I`m pretty happy to not know exactly what I´m gonna do tomorrow. or the day after, or the day after, or the next week… Thank you, current of future flowing towards me, to not let me know.


We`re harvesting the fruits of our work already.The chard and the leeks from the garden are doing so good in our evening dishes.

The maples are growing quick and creating this red shadow on the forest ground. I guess one day I need to spend a night underneath them…wake up in a red morning shimmer? Uh yea!

The empty spaces in the olive orchard are now filled by the new, freshly planted, young olive trees.

It is great just having this great experience seeing the results of our actions, growth fostered by your own two hands.


If I want to compare american issues with german issues (sometimes iIlike to do it.) I can see a freaky difference in terms of the natural environment. I mean, at least when you have a look on how young the civilisation of Califonia is compared with the thousands and thousands of years of history in europe, you can tell how untainted and archaic the nature here is in fact.


There is a special difference in terms of the colour `green`. Through a deeper examination of colours in the last years, I can say: there are more diverse `greens`here than in other forests. Might be the manifold amount of different plants and trees or might be a different angle of light. Might be my personal connection with my surroundings. Whatever is the scientific reason, its how I feel.


I found this dark clay around here. I`ve been to the creek and packed my backpack full of this stuff and carried it up to the barn. I spend some hours every now and then on the throwing table to give the clay some shape. Its my meditation.


It feels like this Californian countryside is one of these places where earth is still a bit more alive.

I see trees which are broken and branches which seems to be dead. But when you get closer you can see they are still alive. A loose part of a tree, now growing out of the ground again, and making its hard way through.


On Top

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.

(Gary Snyder)


Trilliums… — April 6, 2016


Oh, I don’t know. I have always called them Trilliums, but a friend who is an herbalist said that isn’t so – but she didn’t know their names. At least they have that three petal look. Anyway, these cuties are all over our oak and fir forest floor. They only last for a couple of weeks, so I thought to post so that you can see ’em. It is SPRING!



more ranch drawings… — March 24, 2016
Cultivating Herbs… — March 16, 2016

Cultivating Herbs…

Cultivating a personal relationship with the plants living amongst us is

a life enhancing endeavor. For many, this relationship begins in

childhood – exploring the forest floor, playing in your mothers garden

or picking dandelions from between the concrete cracks. There is much

you can learn from plants, and so we grow as our relationship with

them grows. The more time you spend in nature, the more you get to

know who the plants are, experience their different faces through each

season, and understand their patterns. We learn which plants are of

use to us as food and medicine, or a pleasure to see and to smell, and

these are the ones we often choose to live in our gardens.

Tending to a garden is a very rewarding, perhaps therapeutic

experience, and I feel like growing a garden of medicinal herbs has an

extra special quality to it. You are growing a plant, with the

intention of using it for it’s abilities to heal on a physical,

mental, emotional, and spiritual level. To me, this is a relationship

that is a bit different than the ones you’ve had in your garden


That being said, this is the first time I have started my own

medicinal herb garden from seed. I’ve grown plenty of food, and had

relationships with medicinals out in the wild, but this is a new combo

of the two. I really had quite a good time planting, taking care to

hold and to look closely at each set of seeds. I really took pleasure

in observing how incredibly different all the seeds are. Some are so

tiny (ahem-Chamomile) that I found it impossible to plant less than 5

seeds in one spot because they all stuck to my fingers. Then there are

the hairlike Pulsatilla seeds, or the Calendula seeds that look like

ancient fossilized sea creatures (seriously).

pulsePulsatilla vulgaris (meadow anemone) seeds

calendulaCalendula officinalis seeds

Though they all look very different, the thing many herb seeds tend to

have in common is that they are VERY small. When seeding herbs, you

just want to put them on the surface, and lightly press them into the

soil. (soil should be moistened thoroughly before planting) For some

of the bigger seeds, you can press them in a little further and

sprinkle some dirt on top.

It never hurts to do some research on your own and find out what grows

best in your region, and if the seeds you have selected have any

special needs in order to germinate.

Here is a list of what I have planted so far.



German Chamomile






California Poppy






So far, calendula, chamomile, oats and california poppy, some of my

favorites, are the only ones to have sprouted. I have now placed them

all on heating pads since the temperature in the greenhouse have been

getting pretty low at night. I look forward to the others peaking

their little heads out of the dirt, and watching each plant on it’s

journey through the life cycle. Now it is time for me to water, watch

and wait to see who pops up!

sproutsCalendula Sprouts


Top Five Reasons Farm Life is the Best Life —

Top Five Reasons Farm Life is the Best Life

5.)    The chores – Nothing quite beats getting up at seven in the morning everyday, whether it is raining and near freezing, or it’s already gearing up to be a warm day, you get ready and head to the barn for the morning meeting. First chore, make some coffee before we all turn into zombies. It’s spring as I write this so of course we have copious amounts of beautiful and fragile little seedlings that need to be potted up, watered, or fertilized everyday.
That’s usually the more zen part of the day. Sometimes you have to prep a garden bed, but the weather is starting to change for the worse and you had better hurry. Remove the weeds by the roots, turn the soil, add the compost, and seaweed and other amendments, then plant the garlic. Your muddy hands serve as a reminder of the satisfying work you’ve done.
Every day is like this, sometimes the wheel barrow is broke and you are hauling sacks full of whatever over your shoulder, sometimes it’s chicken manure and there just happens to be a hole in the bag near your face, hoo-ray. Through it all though, the chores are rewarding and not really so bothersome when the scenery is so stunning, which brings us to the next thing on the list…
4.) Randomly beautiful moments on the farm – Everyday, you will find a scene of perfect natural beauty if you just open your eyes, moments that a camera struggles to convey the real majesty of but leaves the observer awed. The sunlight filtering through the withered and bare winter trees on a foggy morning so that every ray seems to have a substance as real as the mist. Laying down in the back of a pickup truck on pile of soil and looking up through the tree branches to the blue sky on one of those lucky warm days in the earliest of spring,
and just watching the branches play with the sunlight, accompanied by the sound of birds. The most amazing sound is the powerful swooshing wingbeat of a raven. Those dark black birds, blessed with a keen mind, caw loudly and with a disturbingly vocal quality, almost like a man imitating a bird sound, and many make unique and ever changing calls and noises, imitated from some unknown source or perhaps part of some unknown language of the species. My favorite sight is caused by dense fog settling in a low valley, creating the illusion that the fog is a body of water and the mountaintops are islands jutting out of a silvery sea.
You can still see glimpses of the trees below which takes on the aspect of an underwater forest. You really can’t beat those moments, and these moments change with every season. That’s why you have to also love…
3.) The weather – I’ve already hinted at it, but the weather is spectacular out here in northern California. I first showed up here in the summer and I was immediately put on watering plants that were in desperate need of it. This could involve watering hundreds and hundreds of plants, one at a time. The winter brings rain, and cold like a Texan wouldn’t believe, or be prepared for.
Evenings are spent bundled up in the yurt stoking as big a fire as our stove will allow, playing board games while our clothing dries by the fire. The work tapers off in the Winter because most of the garden beds have been covered for the winter, and the orchards no longer need constant attention. All of this adds up to more free time, to reflect, to draw and write, or to catch up on a little sleep. Every once in a while you hear a rustle in the woods that lets you know the forest is still alive with…
2.) The local wildlife – The animals around the farm leave little traces everywhere. Deer tracks pressed into fresh mud, or fresh turned garden beds, and it can be much harder to catch sight of a deer when you’re actually looking for one. The elongated and slimy form of the banana slug as it moves at glacial speeds across the forest detritus.
Gangs of turkeys scatter across the road when you drive by, although some become indecisive and risk a high velocity meeting with a vehicle. Occasionally a bat gets lost and finds a nice warm spot in your bathroom for a couple of days.
The pond is now alive with various frogs and insects,
But, the thing that really makes farm life special is…
1.) The People – There isn’t much to say here really. We love each other, we share meals and laugh, and get frustrated, and we do it all together. Without the people: from the foreign new guy who makes beautiful nature sketches, to the iron-fisted, crotchety old boss,
(just kidding, Steve) we wouldn’t be Milewide Nursery, so really I would like to thank the crew for making the farm life the best life.


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