50s Cowboy Fun

I found this neat vintage advertising image from the 50s on Tumblr. One expects Roy Rogers, Gene Autry to come riding into the picture any minute too!That reminded me of how I used to wait for the Roy Rogers TV show to come on after Disney’s (original) Mickey Mouse Club show when I was quite little.

Of course I was excited about it because of the horses! I thought Trigger was very elegant–nothing like the small gray Shetland I was riding! (Though wasn’t I lucky to have him!)


Roy Rogers - Shriner visited the CNE in1954

Roy Rogers – Shriner visited the CNE in1954 (Photo credit: antefixus21)

Biography (TV series)

Biography (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1955: ROY ROGERS & TRIGGER CAMERA. Herbert Geo...

1955: ROY ROGERS & TRIGGER CAMERA. Herbert George Co. Chicago, Illinois. USA (Photo credit: Coleccionando Camaras)

gene autry paint book

Gene Autry paint book (Photo credit: emma.maria)

English: Gene Autry starring in the movie &quo...

Gene Autry starring in the movie “The Black Rider” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Laying Hens


The two older reddish hens, the Buff Orpingtons, have started laying! Fran is getting one or two eggs a day regularly now. Sophia’s hen, Layla, the white Plymouth Rock, is a bit younger and hasn’t started laying yet.


Here’s Justin feeding them some chicken scratch.


Along with the excitement of finding an egg or two every day of our visit, we’re enjoying the spring grass covering the hill.

I also got a new pipe corral and a 50′ round pen where we can work the horses before riding them, so it’s starting to look more like a real horse operation.

Here are two views out by the corrals, looking toward our neighbor, Robert Poole’s, place. He’s known around the Redlands and Santa Monica farmers’ markets for his fine produce and his youngberries, in particular.



Now here’s a photo of me on Sophia’s buckskin Appy pony, Allie, and Justin on our sweet 25-year-old Arabian, Syri.


Ten Acres, Two Horses, And A Billion Termites

About three years ago, I first noticed some mud casings covering dead sticks and weeds on the ground on the back part of our ten acres. I couldn’t figure out what kind of creature was making the casings, because I never saw anything inside of them.


I saw and more of the mud tubes without ever seeing what might be making them. Until it rained two weeks ago.

I was out looking at the terraces on one side of my hill with my neighbor, Gary, because we’d had problems with run-off from my hill for the first time ever.

Gary had commented how bare the hill was, but I never connected that with all the mud tubes I’d been seeing. I poked at the tubes like I always do, and for the first time saw little critters–little, white grub-like insects. My neighbor Gary and I both said “Termites!”


He knew they were some kind of subterranean termite, because they were living in the soil far away from any building. I had no idea termites could live in the ground and eat woody dead plant matter.

Here are some examples of their handiwork




Here are mud tubes that the termites have made over the stems of living buckwheat shrubs


I started scouring the Internet for information and found images of something that looks most like what I have. They live in soil, make mud tubes, and are common in Texas grassland. The species has the common name desert termite.

I haven’t had a definitive ID of the kind of termite these are yet, but I’ve talked to a couple of experts through San Bernardino County Agricultural Extension and to an entomology professor at UC Riverside. They may be Western Subterranean termites, or something else, but what they are is a mixed bag:

On the one hand, these termites aerate and help create soil, like earthworms do. On the other hand, they devour old roots and plant matter, so they take away things that hold soil in place, and therefore are contributing to erosion–at least on my terraced hill.

Here is a close-up of the critters, for you amateur entomologists out there


The only remedies I’ve heard so far are spraying or simply harrowing the soil to disrupt the nests (one colony can contain millions of termites!). disrupting the tubes allows ants, their natural predator, and the elements to get at them.

Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you updated on the battle with the termites for Tiger Tail Terrace!


This is Syri. She is my 25-year-old Arabian mare, born right here on the terraces on Cinco de Mayo, 1987. She spent a few years at a boarding stable down in San Timoteo Canyon after my parents left the house and moved in with me in L.A.

I brought her back to the ranch once I remodeled the guest house and we were able to have a renter/caretaker living here. I did the guest house before the main house for that reason. Sometimes I think I did the whole remodeling project just so she could come back.

In this photo she’s trying on the new halter and lead rope we got her at Calabasas Saddlery. They’re sold as a matching set nowadays, and I think the black really pops against her bright chestnut color, while the plaid is an unexpectedly tasteful touch!

Yellow Child’s Desk & The Buff Orpington Chicken

Here is the little desk I wrote about in a prior post. I love the white drawer pulls, which are the perfect accent to the vibrant yellow.

Right now, it’s early morning here in Redlands; the day’s heat hasn’t come on yet. Luckily the forecast says it’ll be cooler than the 100+ it’s been lately. We came in late last night from the city, where it was also incredibly hot, and we had to stay inside because of smoke blowing our way from a brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass.

Sophia, my daughter, is already out helping Fran, our renter and caretaker extraordinaire, feed the horses and the two Buff Orpington pullets. Here she is with the two of them when they were smaller.

Buff Orpington chick

Sophia w/Buff Orpington Chick

I hadn’t heard of this breed until Fran and her husband Bill brought two chicks to add to the little flock (which is now back down to just these two).

Bill bought them solely because of the name! As a poet, I can absolutely relate to that! HeĀ told us he’d always remembered the name from when he was a boy listening to the Dagwood radio show, which ran from 1939 – 1950. The show was adapted from the comic strip. On the show, “Buff Orpington” was the name for two characters, a stereotypical fat-cat rich man and his wife.

“Mr. Buff Orpington” does sound rather preppy and pretentious, but Orpington is actually the name of a town in England after which the breed was named. And how snobby, really, can anyone be whose name is the name of a chicken breed? Obviously the Dagwood & Blondie crew we’re getting in their satirical digs!

Italiano: Primo piano frontale di una gallina ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found this great post about these chickens, “Buff Orpington: Our Favorite Backyard Chicken Breed.” It’s a blog called “The Tangled Nest” (http://thetanglednest.com/2011/03/buff-Orpington-our-favorite-bakcyard-chicken-breed/ ).

Check out this lovely site, subtitled “Cultivating an Urban-earthen Household,” for more info and photos of the Orpingtons, and so much more.

The blog author (and nature writer) Lyanda Lynn Haupt describes the Buff Orpington as “the classic Beatrix Potter chicken, the round barnyard beauty with the many-toed socks that Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, the hedgehog laundress, found so troublesome to wash.”

I’m all for a chicken with a good cultural pedigree!

Mr. Ed’s Storybook Ranch Stable

As a horse-crazy girl, I was a big fan of the TV show Mr. Ed, which ran from 1961 to 1966. A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that the show was set in a storybook ranch house. Now that I’ve looked at a few clips of the show on YouTube, I see that the house is more of a modified storybook ranch–it was two stories and didn’t have diamond-pane windows in the front. However, it did have the double Dutch doors in front and a wood shake roof, along with brickwork in the front.

I also had no idea that the car Wilbur Post had the show was a Studebaker Lark. Until last year, we had a Studebaker Lark that my dad bought from a friend in the 80s.

The new hen coop out at the corrals and the young hens!

Our first week on the terraces

For the first time since about 1993, I spent a week in my childhood home. I began cleaning it out and renovating it after my mother passed away in 2008. It’s now almost all refurbished (just the yard left to do!) and refurnished.

It’s lovely to see the sunrise over Mt. San Bernardino and, at the end of the day, watch the sun slip away to the west past Loma Linda.

We rode our two horses–one of whom is almost vintage herself: Syri, a chestnut Arabian mare with four white stockings and a blaze, born here on the hill in 1987. The other horse is my daughter’s buckskin POA (Pony of the Americas). She’s quite a looker, if a bit bratty.

We also continued outfitting the kitchen, and I enjoy seeing the old sets of Bauer and Lu-Ray Pastel dishes arranged in the simple ash cabinets of which my dad was so proud. As children of the Great Depression, my parents saved everything from rubber bands to mayonnaise jars. After two estate sales, 80+ bags of trash, and three Dumpster loads, I kept a random selection of dishes, utensils, and linens from the 1920s through 1980s. I’m most drawn to the 60s pieces, especially those in mod orange and yellow which were my mother’s favorites.