Grow Your Own. Life on the Ranch.

Living on a ranch has it’s down sides.

The Generator.

The Genorator

Whenever I we drive up to it, I see this…

Remember this furnace in Home Alone? Kevin is a child left behind (on accident) to fend for himself while his family goes on a Christmas vacation. His arch enemy in the house is the basement furnace that periodically laughs and heckles him. It’s quite scary. Until finally Kevin gets fed up with his childish fear of the furnace and yells, “Shut-uuuup!”. Immediately the furnace becomes inanimate and Kevin nods his head approvingly as he calmly walks back upstairs.

That’s how I feel whenever I’m in the presence of the generator.

It’s really loud.

It’s really smelly.

It’s basically the equivalent of a semi-truck engine and you have to start it with a little switch located on the generator. Yikes! The worst part is that starting it is the only way I can run my space heater and come summer, the AC. Fortunately, we installed a propane heater for the time being, but there are times when it needs to be started. Most of the time the ranch operates on a battery bank. Think 10 car batteries. A few hours in the morning and a few hours at night my father-in-law starts up the generator to charge the batteries and to provide more electricity so we can do things like the laundry and vacuum. The batteries just aren’t strong enough to power those things without being completely drained. It’s happened a few times so far, where I’ve been home on a Saturday and left the lights in the shop on and the batteries were drained. The lights in the house start to pulse on and off to let us know that they are low. Only thing to do is either turn off all the lights… or start the generator. Which one do you think I do? Someday I will have to face my fears, but that day is not today. But I promise to get video if it ever happens.


Now onto the sunnier side of ranch life. We are finally starting to get projects done, even during tax season. With Phillip working 6 days a week (CPA), it’s hard for me to get any projects done around here alone. I do as much as I can without the muscles and the know-how, but I don’t get very far. I’d like to say that I’m the brains and he’s the braun of this whole operation, but that’s not true, he’s really both.

We accomplished two raised beds in our front yard for easy access, because we have no door out to the back yard. We planted 2 types of tomatoes, 3 types of onions, 5 types of lettuce, bell peppers and herbs. I wanted to make cinder block raised beds, because I’m a little obsessed with cinder blocks at the moment, but we still had a lot of broken concrete available. It’s free, so we went with that. Normally raised beds are made with wood, but cinder block is $.80 a piece. Wood is expensive.

Here’s are examples:

Instead of going to buy cinder blocks, we decided to use up the rest of the concrete pieces that we used to make our patio. We didn’t use any mortar, just piled them and filled it with dirt. We threw a railroad tie on their for good measure. We also used the bathtub that housed the kegs for our wedding, as our herb bed. We used regular soil from around the ranch, but we put mulch on top. I’ve done a small amount of gardening in my life, mostly herbs, so I’m planting this garden while asking as many questions as possible and consulting a garden book. Phillip, on the other hand has been gardening for a while and knows way more than I do. He explained that Mulch helps keep the moisture in, especially with raised beds because they tend to dry out quickly. Make sure to use mulch that has been sanitized, because you don’t want to plant veggies in cow manure. Ew.

Inspired by a recent article in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, where a garden was featured with a small raised bed of different types of lettuce. So we planted six different types of lettuce, from Kale to Radicchio! They are a cold weather crop, so we are taking advantage of whatever cool weather we have left here in SoCal. It usually stays pretty moderate until June/May.They can be planted pretty close together and will look really neat when they are all full and different shades of green and purple.

Herbs in a tub. I’m going to add to this, but these basil and cilantro plants will become big bushes soon. I’m going to continue to plant around the tub to make it look good. Right now it just looks like a tub, in the dirt.

While at the local nursery, I also caught a glimpse of something we could make for our garden area. Bird houses!

Raised beds

I also began making concrete planters. First it started with a pin on Pinterest… it always does. Then Phillip told me how to do it. Then I did it and it came out perfect. Now I want more. I recently bought a big bucket from Target and I’m going to make a huge planter with it. The equivalent of this in a ceramic or terra cotta pot is over $100. Cement is cheap, easy and you can dye it colors! I’ll show you what I have so far, keep your eyes pealed, I’ll post on how to make them soon. I’m trying to find fun and creative things to use as molds, to pour the concrete in. Let me know if you have any suggestions.


DIY concrete pots.

On another note, we bought more chickens! We are now up to eight! Our neighbor gave us an old chicken coup so we are in the process of fixing it up a bit. As soon as the little chicks are big enough, we’ll put them outside with the rest. Our goal is to be able to have an abundance of eggs to give away and/or sell. These chickens get to run around and eat grass and bugs all day… don’t they sound delightful? Really, they produce some of the richest colored egg yolks I’ve ever seen! See the comparison between store bought yolks and ours. The egg on the far left is from one of Phil’s mom’s chickens.

A local feed shop had a “chick” day, where they sold 1,000 chicks on a single Saturday! Tis the season!


We have also started construction on our climbing wall for the inside of our garage. Yes, it seems disjointed to have a rock climbing wall on a ranch, but that’s the way it goes. We are urban dwellers living in the sticks remember? Going to the climbing gym all the time is a good way to work out, but it gets expensive and time consuming. We plan to put up a “traverse” wall in the garage so we can get a quick work out in. We can also arrange the climbing holds in various ways so we can work on particular movements/weak areas. We don’t know how much we are going to put into the wall, but for now the plan is just a short traverse wall so we can climb back and forth to get a good workout. I can’t wait to post pictures.

Climbing wall construction begins!

I’ve got so much more to talk about, but it’s best in small doses, no? I’ve got a ton more lined up and many projects underway!


Update: I did it!!


6 thoughts on “Grow Your Own. Life on the Ranch.

  1. You can do it, Tricia! I’ll admit it, tho. I’m a bit intimidated by that generator, too. When we’re in town, I’m always happy to let Andy be the one to deal with it when the others aren’t around.

    Love the gardens and projects! :)

  2. I’m obsessed with this! I want to come live on the ranch with you :) Can’t wait to see the rock wall when it’s done – what a fab DIY project! Just added your blog to my Google reader – love it Tricia!

    • I’m so glad you like it! I’ll post pictures soon and very soon. You are always welcome here at the ranch! Can’t wait for your book! :D :D :D

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