Flora and Fauna

An Absence of Deer

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 11 comments

An Absence of Deer

I’ve written a number of posts over the years of about our frustrations with trying to grow fruit trees, and vegetables, under tremendous deer pressure. I never expected to write a post about a paucity of deer on the farm. Usually we’re posting about deer that have raided the orchard, repeatedly,  and the kitchen garden. But this year, something has changed. The honest truth is, despite the occasional frustration at nibbled fruit trees, and devoured cucumbers, I love looking outside the window in spring, and seeing young fawns playing, and deer grazing on the grass, just outside...

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California Giant Salamander

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 16 comments

California Giant Salamander

This morning was perhaps as near to perfect ‘salamander weather’ as one could hope to find mid-summer here along the coast. The coastal marine layer was so thick early this morning, there was actually some measurable precipitation. Not really enough to call it rain, per se, but the 0.03″ that misted across our woodlands this morning was enough to make everything outside damp, and give the air a fresher, more clean, aroma than it’s had in weeks. As my neighbor was attempting to leave for work early this morning in the drizzle, he stopped and called our attention to...

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Bilateral Anophthalmia in a Coast Range Newt

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 13 comments

Bilateral Anophthalmia in a Coast Range Newt

It’s no secret that California is now rushing headlong into its third year of drought. Hills and fields that should be emerald green at this time of year are still end-of-summer brown. Headlines are filled with stories about water districts implementing mandatory conservation measures, reservoirs and lakes are critically low, wells are running dry, fields are being left fallow, and established orchards left to wither and die.There are many things we can do as humans to control how much water we use, or waste, over the coming months, knowing that we are unlikely to receive enough...

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Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Fungi | 11 comments

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Our Mushroom Monday posts have been scant for the last year, and with good reason. In the midst of a drought, with no rain forecast through at least the end of the first week of January, 2013 has now been officially ruled as the driest year on record in the San Francisco, and Monterey Bay, areas.However, considering how bone dry the farm is at the moment, you can imagine my surprise on Christmas Eve when I bumped into a rather robust cluster of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), growing on a fallen decaying tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) trunk.These are growing a mere 20 feet behind...

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The Writing Spiders Return

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 18 comments

The Writing Spiders Return

I realize that I’ve posted about writing spiders before, so for more information about their feeding habits, and web construction, you can see the previous post here. However, this morning I encountered not one, but TWO species of Argiope spiders, suspended in their respective webs, less than a foot apart from each other. I was a little surprised to see them though, as I don’t usually expect to see many of these spiders until mid-late October. I first noticed this very large female Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) a few days ago, tucked into a prostrate rosemary shrub...

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Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 35 comments

Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Since we first moved to the farm, each year, around mid-late winter, I’d occasionally see a flash of copper and green whiz past me in the garden. Only catching a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, I assumed they were simply migrating Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) passing through. Then last April, every time I walked down the farm road, near a particular live oak, I’d predictably get dive-bombed, and chirped at, by a very agitated hummingbird. I spent some time watching to see where this bird would land, and eventually she landed squarely in her nest. If I hadn’t...

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Cross Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus)

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna | 26 comments

Cross Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus)

October is clearly orb weaver month, and not just here on the farm. Suddenly out of nowhere it looks as if Nature herself has decided it’s time to decorate for Halloween. There are spiders, and their webs, all over the trees, and shrubs, and every morning the woodlands seem to be draped with new webs.  We won’t need any fake spider webs for decorations this year! This week the Cross Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus) seems to be the most prevalent species here, both in the garden, and around the house. I’ve found many individuals of this species, in various stages of maturity,...

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Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis)

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Plants | 32 comments

Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis)

It’s mid-September, and the vast majority of endemic native plant species are done flowering for the season. However, in the last couple of weeks, one hold-out, Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis), also known as Chaparral Broom, has only just begun to bloom. Like many late-season native blooming plants in this region, Coyote Brush is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), despite bearing little resemblance to a sunflower whatsoever. Coyote Brush is a very common species found in coastal sage scrub and chapparral communities throughout north and central California. It is not a...

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