Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

Through the woods

We had a neighbor call us… she heard an injured dog, or perhaps a coyote that had been yelping near her house… being afraid a dog was caught in a fence-line or injured by the troublesome coyotes, she called us and asked me to go take a look….

The path near the neighbors

The path near the neighbors

 First I had to go through the woods between our houses…. you can see this game path has not had much traffic in recent months. With the rains, the animals have gone higher into the hills for the lusher grasses on the slopes. In the summertime they stay more under the cover of the trees where the water may still run, and there are green plants to eat. In the summertime the slopes are dry and barren.

 

Over or under the log
Over or under the log

You can go over or under the log… depending on your size.

 

 

game trail

game trail

Further on I came to a game trail.. this one has more activity… there is a spring near here….

 

lush hillside meadow

lush hillside meadow

I had to make a detour off the path to avoid a large patch of poison oak that the path wove through. Even though the virulence of the plant is diminished in the winter due to rains washing the oil off the bare branches, I usually try to avoid it.

 

the spring flows over the rocks

the spring flows over the rocks

Here we see the water flowing over the shale rocks.. this photo does not show the scale… the six foot drop this water is taking…

 

succulents in the rocks

succulents in the rocks

These are some local and native wild succulents. They are growing out from the Miocene-age shale deposits. This was the floor of an ocean long ago. But the rock strata of another continental plate slid under ours, and lifted this one high above the sea… some of our neighbors will find seashell fossils in their rocks. I’ve gotten some indications.. but nothing really nice.

 

succulents and a 'nurse plant'

succulents and a 'nurse plant'

A lot of plants like to have a ‘nurse-plant’ growing to their south while young. In our arid and dry environment this can mean the difference between dying from the sun and heat as a baby plant, or squeaking by in the partial shade of a larger plant that will give enough shade to keep the frying summer sun off you. By the time the baby plant is well established and better able to survive, the nurse plant will be getting thin, and eventually dying… this will help furnish a natural mulch around the ‘baby’ plant. Timing and location are critical in nature. Off by a heartbeat, or a foot can mean the difference between life and death.

 

  I never did find the animal… I suspect it was a coyote which moved on as I neared.

Tony and Chica

Here’s a photo of Chica the Chihuahua and the orphaned kitten she adopted 18 months ago. He thinks of her as his mother, and comes to her to snuggle. It’s very touching and cute.

Chica and Tony

Chica and Tony

 Here’s a video of them when Tony was a little kitten…

Misty Hills in Nipomo

Misty hills backdrop high tension lines
Misty hills backdrop high tension lines

The misty hills of Nipomo… high tension lines from Diablo Nuclear Power Plant
Late Dec 2010 between the record-setting storms
But I can never see these types of towers without thinking of Godzilla…
I suppose if I ever see Tokyo I’ll think of him also.


I’m a fan of Godzilla movies.. although I don’t think I’ve watched one for decades. The more campy and silly they are, the funnier. In the sixties we already laughed at them… although the effects were advanced for the time… there was still a delightfully silly element to them… like they knew it was silly, and said “let’s play it as a silly thing”.

‘With a purposeful grin and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high-tension wires down… Godzilla!
History shows again and again how nature puts up with the folly of men”

High noon shade in the canyon

High noon shade in  the canyon

High noon shade in the canyon

   I took this photo at high noon a couple of weeks before the winter solstice. Some parts of the lower canyon never get touched by sunshine for a few months in the middle of winter. It’s a totally different environment than just a few hundred feet higher elevation up the hills. And the north and south sides of the hills are also markedly different. When one grows up in such an environment, it all seems natural, and easy to orient yourself. But to someone from outside… the deep dark canyon, the trees overhanging with spanish Moss…. green moss on the trees and rocks, rickety old trucks on the narrow rutted dirt road… for some folks it’s just a bit too much like the film ‘Deliverance’…. we’ve had a couple of people who were visiting us turn back when they became too scared to venture into the hills deeper and deeper…  further and further away from society and safety….. 

   Yes.. much like the film Deliverance.

Another happy customer

 We got a nice letter from a happy customer.
These are always lots of fun for us…
We don’t get to see people face-to-face,
so having them write to us,
about how much they like our cactus is very satisfying.

We grow and sell our cactus for humans to eat…
but many tortoise lovers find it is one of the best foods for dryland tortoises.
We’re just happy folks like it for themselves or their critters!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

John,

 

The cactus just arrived and has been approved by my tortoises!    
Thanks so much, you can add me to your list of happy customers!

 

I will give your business a plug whenever I can on The Tortoise Forum. 
  http://www.tortoiseforum.org/index.php

A clear day in December

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 We had a lot of rain in December. At one point we got some ten inches of rain in a week. This is about one third of our usual yearly rainfall.  We were forced indoors most of the month… but there were a day or two here and there that allowed us to get some air and take a walk around. One of those days I took these photos…. while walking around our house.  

Mirror-Tree

tree reflection from window in a mirror
tree reflection from window in a mirror

Santa Maria California…. a tree’s reflection from a window caught in car mirror

Rainy and Misty or Rainy and Windy

We’ve been getting lashed with our version of storms the last two weeks straight. Oh yes, we’ve gotten a few days with little or no rain here and there.. and we’re happy for that as continued rain would have resulted in much more flooding. As it is, there have been many California locations hit by small amounts of flooding. But in general we don’t get the widespread flooding of many places in the Mississippi watershed or drainage. California flooding is more likely to be confined to a neighborhood along the base of a hillside, or alongside a creek.

Here are some photos I took of the local area around Nipomo on the 23rd of December 2010. Toppled trees, muddy roads, high winds, and green hills show colorfully.