We spent this past weekend at the small farm we share with my brother (Peter) and sister-in-law (Sieglinde). It’s 40 acres of olive orchards, meadows, fruit trees, redwoods, pines, bays, and madrones on a rural subdivision called Gualala Ranch. The Gualala Ranch is comprised of 3,000 acres that was divided into 40-acre parcels along with swaths of common land back in the early 1970’s. We lived there full-time from 2005 to 2010 but with Luisa’s increasingly-impaired mobility — thank you, spinal stenosis — we decided to live in Sebastopol and spend weekends and vacations on the farm. Peter and Sieglinde raise olive trees and make wonderful, extra-virgin organic olive oil under the Olive Branch Farm label. They also sell fresh, free-range, organic eggs. We’ve shared the farm with them since the four of us bought it in 1992.
On Saturday morning we met up with our twelve-year-old granddaughter, Marley, and then headed to Olive Branch Farm. It’s a 90-minute drive from Sebastopol. We like to take Highway 116 from Sebastopol to Guerneville, then along the Russian River and all the way to Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean. We make these trips in daylight relishing the miles of forest and of gorgeous views of rocky coast before we turn inland and start to climb at Myer’s Grade Road.
How a helping dog helps!
This was the first time for us to take our new dog, Misha. Misha is a 10-month-old female, Newfoundland mix. Our plan is to train her to help Luisa. “Misha, bring me the phone. Misha, pull the wheel chair . . . Misha, bring me a beer . . . peel me a grape . . . ” You get the idea.
At the moment, what Misha does best is redesign the landscaping in my Sebastopol back yard and initiate rough and tumble games with our two, 10-year old Dachshund brothers and our 6-year old Corgi. The Corgi will, on occasion, reluctantly agree. The Dachshunds? Never! With them it’s curled lips, teeth and snarl.
Frankly, I was worried about the trip. When our kids were little, fights between siblings could be controlled by, “I’m pulling over at the next turnout. Then watch out!” or “if I hear one more person yell about being hit, we’re going home.” Unfortunately, such threats don’t work with roughhousing dogs. But, the trip was fine. All critters were on good behavior.
The weather at the farm was perfect for sitting in the sun and reading, which is what I did most of Saturday and what brings me, finally, to what I’m reading now. (To be continued in my next post.)