Come To Our First Activity!

Our first-ever activity is coming up in just a few weeks! We’re building an earthen oven right here at the Leas of Lychten and we would LOVE for you to come. The event starts at 11am on September 15th.


The sign-up for the event is here at the original announcement post:

It’s free, so click over, sign up, and enjoy a delightful day with us.

Contest tonight at 7:30 Pacific Time!

Whoever posts the correct response first wins! (Allison, Ray, Kirstin, and Bernhard are not eligible.)

Come back here at that time to try your luck!

A Beautiful Native Flower: The Bull Thistle

One of the things I enjoy most about the farm is the variety of native plants.  One that’s in bloom right now is bull thistle.

Bull Thistle Flower

The Bull Thistle or “Spear Thistle,” AKA Cirsium Vulgare. Click for huge version.

This plant has a pretty purple flower, and is very like artichokes.  Deer and rabbits eat them, and the field mice tunnel down and eat their roots.

The Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare or Spear Thistle

Doesn’t that look tasty, Mr. Bee?

They also attract bees, butterflies, and goldfinches, and we have all of those here.  I love the many goldfinches that have nests in the trees at the farm.  When we sit on the deck to rest after work, they come perch in the trees and watch us, chirping to each other.

Beautiful, Full-size Pics of the Leas of Lychten plus Thorsday Tractor Pictures.

Here are some photos of the work we did yesterday.  With the help of Kirstin and Jacob Lieuallen, we cleared the road to the garden:

You may click any of these pictures for different size options via our Flickr stream.

We removed an oak tree that fell into the road last winter, and some of the new poison oak that had grown up into the road:

Poison Oak Climbing Into the Live Oak.

Poison Oak, I Will Cut You.

The old poison oak grew into jungle ropes that reached up into the oak and toyon.

A Poison Oak Tree

This is the bad stuff! Don’t eat it, touch it, and CERTAINLY don’t burn it for firewood. Your lungs: think of them.

It was good hard work, and now the road down to the 3 acre garden is clear.

Ray tracts with a tractor.

This is Ray, who loves to trace tracks all over our tract with a tractor.

We can drive the van down there if we want, not just the tractor.

This is beautiful.

Ray makes the road wide while the making is good.

Jacob is a 15 year old friend of the Hamaker family. He is not legally authorized to drive this tractor on public roads.

Jacob, driving a tractor like there's no tomorrow.

Driving is more fun when you’re 15.

Then we hit Patio Burger in town and both Kirstin and Jacob had cheeseburgers.

Driving the tractor backwards and operating the diggy arm.

Sorry, this is not a picture of a cheeseburger.

This little tractor makes us mightier than ten men.  It even changes the shape of mountains, not unlike Thor’s own hammer, but admittedly on a smaller scale.

Eliminating poison oak

Poison Oak, your days are numbered.

It’s a beast and a half, kind of like the Chimera.

Tuesday Book Review: The Woodwright’s Guide by Roy Underhill

The Woodwright’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge

I have read dozens of woodworking books. But with this book, a novice can walk into a grove to read it, and, by the time it’s through, conceive a project, select the perfect trees for it, understand which tools will be required, the methods to employ, and (if an ax is nearby) walk out with the lumber.

The Leas of Lychten is covered with California’s native Live Oak, a beautiful species of hot-burning but unruly wood. It is not a favorite wood for woodworkers in general, but for those who love a challenge, nothing could be better.  Even with just the techniques in this short book, those beautiful oaks will become benches, chairs, arbors, wagons, trim, stables, baskets… maybe even houses.

“The Woodworker’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge” brings all the classic skills of woodworking to hand in a tutorial that weaves physics-based woodworking fundamentals into historical context. There have been quite a few books by Roy, also the host of “The Woodwright’s Shop” (one of PBS’ longest-running shows), but this one aims to bring amateurs the full joy of woodworking without the complications of modern standards. Roy makes the point that while scores of professions comprised the traditional woodworking sphere–for example, carriage makers, their suppliers the wheelwrights, and even their suppliers, the spindlemakers–a countryman woodworker must be able to make every desired wooden product to support a homestead.  That’s the aim of this book, which is why, if you’re a woodworker, a homesteader, or a historian, I whole-heartedly recommend it.

(You will also enjoy this book if you’re one of those people who wants to learn to rive billets into shakes with a beetle and froe, but that’s a rather small segment of the population, nowadays.)

Self-sufficiency: Growing Mushrooms

When you think of living off your land, you may not think of a pile of wet mushroom logs next to your garden, but growing your own mushrooms is a great way to round out the flavor of your dinner and improve your mineral intake.

Fungiculture is not too difficult and can be done in or out of doors. This video shows how one medium-scale farm in the Ozarks does it:

Have you ever considered doing this? Does the video make it look doable or difficult?

Basically we’re taking over the internet. Well, the firewood part anyway.

We want to help you get Live Oak Firewood, and no one else does.  When you search for “Oak Cord Wood in Calaveras County” or a great number of other options, well, I’m sorry to say no one is making much of an effort.  So we are taking a chance on Oak.  We’ve busted out an improved Products page (you can click it up there in the menu bar) that will help you calculate exactly how much of our wood you’ll need to heat your home in the cold months.  You can have a look.  It will help us take over the firewood section of the internet.

Live Oak Firewood

Live Oak Firewood is available by the cord at Leas of Lychten.

Eventually, we want you to see a great many options when you Google something like “firewood in sacramento“, all from us, no matter what city you type in there.  So we’ve listed all the cities in our delivery range on the Products page.

(For those of you who do not yet see what I did there, it’s called “Search Engine Optimization.”  I’m making all these words line up in a strategic way such that more people will come to our site when they’re looking for firewood.  It’s clever, but I didn’t invent it.)

So enjoy a warm, delicious Winter once all this heat nonsense is over.  We’ll be happy to brag to each other about how many cords of hardwood firewood we’ve delivered.

No, the Leas of Lychten is not part of Farmville.

We got over 450 requests via Facebook’s Farmville App this week, so it’s time to clear up the difference between real farms and Farmville… with a little help from a farmer named Briggs.

By Brian Briggs:

As a player of the game, and a former farm boy, I’d like to provide some insight as to the differences between the game Farmville and actual, real-life farming.

Farmers spend most of their working hours outside with the livestock, or in the fields with their crops.

Farmvillers spend most of their working hours indoors,on the computer, clicking the mouse.

Farming can be a dangerous profession with big machinery and sharp tools.

Farmville can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome with all the small mouse movements and constant clicking.

Farmers love the land, and will farm until the money runs out. Doing anything they can to keep their land in the family.

Farmvillers get bored after a couple months and abandon their farm leaving crops to wither and die

Farmers make good neighbors, except for the smell sometimes. Farmvillers make annoying neighbors, filling your Facebook feed with their awards and lost animals, and they smell.

Farmers spend real money to buy real fuel to power their real tractors.

Farmvillers spend real money to buy virtual fuel to power their virtual tractors

Farmers offer their harvest at market providing sustenance for people around the world.

Farmvillers provide a market for virtual Halloween decorations for their farm providing sustenance for programmers at Zynga,and an easy target for derision from geek humorists like me.

Farmers fear the day a plague of locusts or some plant disease will kill their crops.

Farmvillers fear the day their raspberries will be ready at the same time as that really long meeting and their crops will die.

Most farmers would be bored out of their minds playing Farmville. Most Farmvillers are bored out of their minds playing Farmville.

Thanks for clearing that up, Mister Briggs.

Co-Founder Ray Hamaker’s Vision for the Leas of Lychten

This is an excerpt from an interview with Leas of Lychten co-founder Ray Hamaker:

Grampa Smith (“Smitty”) always said that he wanted a place for the grandkids to “just go have a weenie roast”.

The Camp Fire by Y. Winslow Homer

The Camp Fire by Yankee Winslow Homer

There were many times that we went some where to just have a weenie roast. There was always more to it than cooking hotdogs on a stick over an open fire. There were stories of “side hilll galoots.”  No one could tell the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff like Smitty could, and although his voice was not “opera quality,” it was his singing along with Pop’s that gave me a love of song that I hope has filtered down to all of my children. Skills were taught and learned, like what kind of stick will hold your hotdog and how to use a knife to cut and sharpen it. And games were played. I remember chasing rainbows to see if it looked any different from the inside. I never found out…too slow.

As I have grown older one of the things that has been taught to me is the need of a place to be able to get away from the hubbub and bustle that is ever present in the city. As I write this I can hear the revving of car engines, probably local kids street racing, the constant thrum of the freeway, a distant siren.  Popping noises.  This close to The Fourth, it could be firecrackers.  If it were closer to September it might be gangs seeking control of the school parking lot, a helicopter in the distance, cop or life-flight who knows…oh, and on this night I don’t hear neighbors fighting.

[Church leaders] for years warning us to put in a year’s supply always sounded like good advice…. But I’ve noticed that that clarion call has not been sounded of late. To me the silence is deafening.

Being prepared as a scout helped me to understand that there is a need to be ready for more than just a camping trip.

A place for fun.  A place for family.  A place for preparation.  A place of refuge.  A place of vision.

Do You Want to Come Help Us Build an Earthen Oven? (with video)

We’re building an Earthen Oven for our first semi-public event on September 15th, 2012!

You are invited to come, but the address of our farm (near San Andreas in Calaveras County, CA) isn’t public yet.  So how are you going to get there?!

Join our email list and we’ll send you all the driving instructions and any further details.  There’s a sign-up right here.  All we need is your name, city, and email address.  (And if this form is already half-filled out, it’s your browser being creepy, not us.)

This is an opt-in email list and we’ll be using it to contact you about events and news at the Leas of Lychten–stuff you don’t already get from the blog.  Spy stuff.

And THIS is how we’re going to make it:

Please join us for our first activity!  We’re planing more events for later in the year, but this is your first chance for an exclusive experience on the Leas of Lychten.

  • Tuesday Book Reviews:

    "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka
    Our review or Amazon:

    "Grow Your Own Fruit" by Carol Klein
    Our review or Amazon:

    "Hobby Farms Magazine"
    Our review or Amazon:
    Order Hobby Farm Magazine
    “The New Self-Sufficient Gardener” by John Seymour
    Our review or Amazon:

    "Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire, and Emergency Use" by Art Ludwig
    Our review or Amazon:

    "The Woodwright's Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge" by Roy Underhill
    Our review or Amazon:

    "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" by Caleb Warnock
    Our review or Amazon:

    "City Chicks" by Patricia Foreman
    Our review or Amazon:

    "Making Your Small Farm Profitable" by Ron Macher
    Our review or Amazon:
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