Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

Buellton hotel

I went by a hotel in Buellton. I thought it was a pretty nice looking place, so I took some photos I thought I’d share.

The ‘Bullfight’ statue is larger than life size. Very impressive. An interesting fact to notice is the strapped-on pad on the bull’s back. It appears this would be a ‘target’ for the Banderillero to aim for, allowing him to hone his skills while leaving a trained bull uninjured.

This local area was settled by the Spanish in the 1700’s and developed into a thriving cattle area through the early 1800’s, and even to the present day this is ‘cow-country’. I don’t know how much Spanish-style bullfighting was practiced locally… although the locals did have the nasty habit of chaining a grizzly bear into a corral and turning a bull loose into it to fight to the death.


The rain has kept the creeks and ephemeral streams running. The water level in the ground has probably gone up…  this is very important in a low-rainfall area such as ours.

Tao Teh Ching
Chapter 8

The highest goodness is like water.
Water effortlessly benefits all things without struggling.
It is content to flow to the low places that people scorn.
In this way water is in accordance with the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the Earth.
For the mind, depth should be sought.
In conflict, be fair and righteous.
In government, self-mastery, competence and timing is preferred.
The sage does not strive,
Therefore no one can strive against him.

Oh Hail!

We wondered about a nice way to explain the small white spots on the cactus that the hail caused.
Then I decided to make the best of the situation and make everyone happy they got some pretty special cactus….

With each box of Grade C cactus we shipped a small note explaining the hail marks….

“First off, let me thank you all for joining with us in the nutritious and natural organically certified edible cactus!  Part of the fun we get is the fine interaction with many of our customers, and knowing that they like the cactus we send them.

  Another part of the fun is dealing with the vagaries of climate and how that affects the cactus growth.

Well, it wasn’t fun though when we got hail two days in a row last week… and although I thought of swatting the hail with my tennis racket, I knew it was pointless…

But then I realized that not many people are going to get the opportunity to get California cactus with some hail-stone pings….

But unfortunately… there was not enough hail-marked cactus to go around to everyone, so we had to split it up and give everyone just a little to make it fair. So the white pings and dings are your special bit of cactus.. but don’t tell too many people…. This is a once in a year event if that.

John and Vickie Dicus    Rivenrock Gardens”

Hail Damage To Cactus

   We had six weeks of amazing weather from early January to mid February 2011. This unusually warm weather caused the cactus to leaf out much more than usual for this time of year. As a result we were able to ship really fine cactus in the middle of winter.
   But early and false springs can confound when the weather turns back to normal…. and on Feb 18 and 19 we got hit with hail.. which while not unknown here, when it does hit us, we usually don’t really have any tender actively-growing leaves  to be damaged. But after the happy occurrence of the warm spring weather, the beautiful and luscious happy cactus leaves grew out, but they were sitting ducks for hail in February.

   Only one side of the leaves got hit, and most of the leaves were spared damage due to being behind other leaves…

    We’ll be able to sell many of these leaves as Grade C. The small dents in the leaves are cosmetic, and require no cutting away. We’ll make sure to spread the hurt among all boxes.. so no one gets hit with the lions’ share of pitted leaves. Some of them will go as Grade ‘D’…. those folks will probably be pretty happy to get some of these leaves in such fine condition for Grade D.

   The red dots on some of the older leaves are due to drops of water freezing on the leaves and causing a ‘scab’. 

   At any rate… I think  this is all part of the fun in agriculture.. the unknowing, the learning… the loss of control… you can’t hold back a storm, you have to grow things that will survive your local conditions. And it helps to have customers like ours who understand the seasonal variation in the quality of the leaves.. and are willing to live with what the plants can naturally produce without hurting them or the local surroundings.

    Happy plants equals better nutrition



Living fence from cactus

We have occasional requests for unrooted cuttings from folks wanting to plant a ‘living fence’. Such a fence is usually a thorny or thick hedge intended to serve much as a conventional fence but created entirely from living plants.

Cactus is well suited for this use…. there are many species of cactus that have a cylindrical appearance and spines.. others growth a thick hedge of spiny leaves that reach high and wide.  We don’t sell too many really spiny cactus… most of our cactus is selected to be fairly low spine. Still some of our Opuntia cactus could be placed two feet apart from one another in a line… that mass of leaves alone would serve as quite a fence.

Here’s a little video showing some of our cactus


Robotic Cleaning Devices

Robotic Cleaning Devices

   Have you ever thought of looking into one of those new ‘Robotic’ carpet sweepers? They sound really interesting, and an  evaluation I read gave a good report on the abilities of these little helpers.

   What I found most interesting in the article (besides the technical abilities of the machine) was the anthropomorphizing so frequently used throughout the article. Several times the author referred to the robot as ‘he’. It is interesting how quickly we can give attributes to a machine, whether it be ‘she’ for a ship, or ‘he’ for a little machine.

   This thought brought back the old joke that centers around what gender a computer is. In many languages, the Latin and Germanic language groups for instance, you use a gender word to describe any object. In Spanish this is La for a ‘female’ item, i.e. ‘La Mesa‘ is ‘the table‘, and ‘El Diablo‘ is ‘The Devil‘.  Is a computer ‘El Computor‘, or is it ‘La Computor‘? German would be ‘Der Komputor‘, or ‘Die Komputor‘, depending on the gender decided by society.

   Here we have the reasons computers are male or female, depending on a person’s reference point:

Gender and Computers

Top nine reasons computers must be male:

  1. They have a lot of data but are still clueless.

  2. A better model is always just around the corner.

  3. They look nice and shiny until you bring them home.

  4. It is always necessary to have a backup.

  5. They’ll do whatever you say if you push the right buttons.

  6. The best part of having either one is the games you can play.

  7. The lights are on but nobody’s home.

  8. Big power surges knock them out for the night.

  9. Size does matter


Top nine reasons computers must be female:

  1. Picky, picky, picky.

  2. They hear what you say, but not what you mean.

  3. Beauty is only shell deep.

  4. When you ask what’s wrong, they say “nothing”.

  5. Can produce incorrect results with alarming speed.

  6. Always turning simple statements into big productions.

  7. Smalltalk is important.

  8. You do the same thing for years, and suddenly it’s wrong.

  9. They make you take the garbage out.

   I don’t know what the scholars ever decided. Perhaps the issue is still being debated.

Acacia bloom in Jan

The unseasonably warm weather has caused our acacia tree to bloom earlier than I’ve ever seen. This photo was taken in the middle of January 2011.

Acacia bloom in Jan 2011