Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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Green Riddem Dub

Shape dat sound..
tumblin’ down
makin’ movement
ruff ennuff



‘Cause when de music met I-Tops
I felt de sting,
knew de shock  

I could do,
and ride de rock


Out’a dis rock shall come a greener riddim,
Even more dread than what the breeze of glory bred



Vibrating violence is our only move
rockin’ wid green riddim
the drought and dry root out


~Linton Kwesi Johnson~

‘Street 66′


Outlaw organic farming??? Naw, no way.


It appears that the people with the most courage
were the first to die here.
Maybe that is true everywhere
~Elena Filatova~




   ‘Landscapes of Fear’  is a truly horrifying book documenting human rights abuses and natural disasters that have plagued mankind for millenia.  The psyche of man might be constructed to always have to fear.  In the history of man, has there ever been a time that we as a species were not always on the verge of annihilation through starvation, climate changes, species die-offs, and predation by neighboring peoples?   When a people has lost fear…. might they be the most likely ones to be killed? The ones who refused to store foods during times of plenty…. the ones who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn’t.  Such ones fail to pass on their ‘brave’ genes to the future generations. So we as a species even when the going is easy, tend to exhibit irrational fears and anxiety.  But since this is part of what makes us successful as a species… we must observe and learn from this behavior. And one of the largest issues of anxiety is the political process. Just as any new despot or King will cause anxiety among all subjects until they fully understand the agenda… so we have people worried that the present new US administration in its seeming zeal to nationalise the monetary and some businesses will also nationalise the agricultural system.



    The seeming locus of this ‘take-over anxiety’ is a new bill HR875 and S425 wending its torturous way through the House.  Folks, don’t worry so much about this… the Feds are not likely to nationalize agriculture, nor will they be arresting homeowners for planting home gardens such as some people seem to fear.



   Some of the videos I have seen seem to point to some regulations that the Feds wish to implement that will regulate what farmers can put into their soil, what pesticides they can use, and what medications to give their animals. This is nothing new… once we went for a Federal system of organic standards, it was an open invitation to have people 2,000 miles away tell farmers how they must maintain their soil. We have been under the umbrella of Federal standards for about five years now…. we have had to modify some of our cultural practices to fit with the scope of what non-farming  administrators a continent away desire. We have been ‘encouraged’ to allow the grasses and weeds to grow between the plants to build up the carbon levels in the soil. Yet we are encouraged not to import additions such as manures and mulches, all of these inputs might contain pathogens or pesticide residue that would be put into the soil.  This is the kinds of regulations that the new farm bill will likely contain. Nothing new… once the people holler that they want governmental oversight on farming systems, you will get governmental interference. The only thing the farmer can do is modify his practices to suit his overseers and keep out of trouble…. any additional costs must be passed on to the consumer…. it’s the same story that’s gone on since the advent of agriculture.  It’s the ‘Golden Rule’, those who have the gold, make the rules. 




   Don’t worry about the videos such as these below….





   Now, for the record, I am all for organic agriculture, I do not go along with some who say we cannot feed the population with organics.  I also don’t like GMO at all, and would wish to keep all GMO’s out of our county. These bills would prohibit any county from declaring GMO’s prohibited in that county, but really, is this any different than the Feds always assuming control as they have done for the last eighty years? The Federal gov’t is bigger than the state governments, and can kick their butts anytime it wants to (it’s been done before).  So while there might be a great many things in this bill that I disagree with…. based on the history of our country, and the increasing Federal role in all our lives (and seemingly begged for by ‘The People’),  it is not a big stretch at all to have the Feds telling us what we can and cannot put in the soil.   In short, don’t worry that this bill if passed (I hear rumors it is already dead in Assembly) you will have to record any plant you planted in your home garden, be prohibited from raising your own meat animals of have some beaurocrate come along and tell you when and what and how you must combat insect pests.   It comes down to the landscape of fear…..just as the body has a need to defeat pathogens, and might turn on itself if kept in a ‘too-clean’ state,  we humans have a need to fear, and when most of the trauma has been taken from our lives by handing over power and control to the government, then the Boogeyman must become the government…. until the government wants you on its side and transfers fear from it to another Boogeyman.

New terraces, hand-built to order





   This is a terrace I’ve been working for a few years. Year by year I have tilled the soil here, working the grasses back into the soil, gradually improving the soil for the plants…. the rocks will break up and become reduced in number.  The flats of this terrace have just now been tilled.

     Notice how I always allowed the grasses on the down-slopeto live. This is so that the plant roots will twine themselves around the soil, holding it in place, keeping erosion away.  Last year I planted Opuntia robusta on the down-slope….. their roots will eventually reach into the flat portions of both terraces pulling the nutrients and moisture they need from all areas within ten feet or so of the plant. The robusta plants grow a bit slow…. it will be four years before they appear to be filling the area in.




   Now we see the terrace with its final grading performed and the Nopalea grande cactus planted…. and our watchdog Whitey who watched every aspect of this operation.


   When you build a terrace, you should make sure the outer lip is higher than the inner portion of the terrace.  This is designed so that any rain will be held in the inner portion, keeping the water from running downhill. In fact, with our terraces we get absolutely no run-off of storm water at all. All water that falls here is captured within the ‘well’ portion of the terrace.  I have placed the cactus onto a ridge that runs along the outer lip of the terrace, this will give me plenty of room to navigate along the inner terrace while picking… the cactus has been placed onto the terrace in such a way that it is raised higher than the ‘sump or well’ portion of the terrace… their roots wil not be in constant water. The soil from the ‘sump or well’ area has been moved to the outer lip of the terrace… this in effect doubles the depth of the worked soil that the cactus has been planted into. All in all, this makes for some really good soil, really good growing conditions.

   The conditions for uor cactus on this hill is so prime…. it is hard to picture better conditions for the plants. The hill is facing due south…. each terrace being raised above the terrace below ensures that each line of cactus will be in full sun from sunup to sundown. The rich well-draining soil has the texture and tilth that cactus likes. Our cactus plants grow very well here, and they are happy plants indeed.





   This is a ground-level view of the new terrace. To the left is the hill continuing upward for hundreds more feet. To the right is the berm that I constructed to plant the cactus into. Over the next few years eroding sediments from uphill will be captured into the ‘well’, and one day I will till all the cactus into the ground, leaving it even richer than ever.



     This design is similar to a terrace design the Maya used to use called cajetes.   Perhaps it is fitting that I use terrace technology developed by the Maya, after all, the Nopalea grande cactus we are using is also from the Maya!


   Sadly, hand built terraces are not very well accepted by modern agricultural standards. The necessity of hand work and the lowered profit potential makes for an ag system that is considered non-viable from an economic standpoint.  Yet these hand-built terraces hold more water, lose less soil, and improve tilth and growing conditions for plants better than could be done by machine only.

   I have put together a webpage with links to terracing studies… concentrating on ancient terraces.  The page is many years old and many links are inoperative, but there is still much info to be gleaned from the remaining pages.

An’ in the Springtime of the year




~Loreena McKennit~
‘The Mummer’s Dance’




An’ in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair.




When owls call the breathless moon
in the blue veil of the night
When shadows of the trees appear
amidst the lantern’s light.


We’ve been rambling all the night
and sometime of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay.


Who will go down to those shady groves
and summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
in the springtime of the year.


The sounds of birds seem to fill the wood
and when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
long past their woodland days.


We’ve been rambling all the night
and sometime of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay.


And so they linked their hands and danced
’round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
when all the shades are gone.


A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
Here’s a sprout, well budded out
The work of our Lord’s hand.


We’ve been rambling all the night
and sometime of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay.



    This song hearkens back to a dark time… a time when the people were hand-to-mouth from month to month, forever worrying about food supplies, plagues and attack.  In those times, one bad harvest might mean starvation for years…. so it must have always been a very relieved people who saw the first signs of spring… the budding of the trees, the greening of the vegetation… the hope and promise of new life.  At this time they would dress in strange costumes and roam the countryside partying and praying for a  good summer and harvest.




   The feelings of those ancient peoples cannot be truly appreciated by those of us in Western society… or can it?  This last week, seeing the plethora of fresh leaves, so early in the season, such a  promise of a large harvest…. it is unimaginably humbling to realize that I am a mere little nothing in the cosmos, that so much of what happens to me is so much out of my control… one big freeze, one huge storm, one locust invasion and we’re wiped out for months….. yes, this week I had just a taste of the enormity that is heaped on rural people overall… and the long-ago inhabitants of the world in which there was no social safety net beyond the village, and when the village is hurting, everyone is hurting.

   Spring is here.. hope, renewal, promise, and plenty.



   Pray for it all.









California Wildflowers in Bloom

Oh yeah, Cali can put out some wildflowers…. some hills will be covered in a blue or orange mantle, depending on the season and the species of flower.



We had a fairly decent rainfall winter, a bit more water would have been good, but what came was nice and slow and easy, it settled into the ground, and helped renew the seeds from previous years. The photos here were all taken in one day, mostly on Rivenrock… covered with flowers.



    I was on wikipedia, and entered our town name, Nipomo, and came up with a  nice article on our town, Nipomo.  It includes the famous photo below…. taken in our town, near Rivenrock Gardens. Times was hard in those days.



File:MigrantMotherColorized sm.jpg

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[edit] Summary


English: “Migrant Mother” colorized.
Source Colorized version of “Migrant Mother” photograph by Dorothea Lange. Library of Congress.
Date 02/10/2009
Author Dorothea Lange photographer. Colorized by John Boero
(Reusing this image)
Uncopyrighted derivation of public domain photograph from Library of Congress. See File:Lange-MigrantMother02.jpg.
Other versions


Retouched picture This is a retouched picture, which means that it has been digitally altered from its original version. Modifications: Color added using the GIMP. The original can be viewed here: Lange-MigrantMother.jpg.

[edit] Licensing:

Public domain This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.Note: This only applies to works of the Federal Government and not to the work of any individual U.S. state, territory, commonwealth, county, municipality, or any other subdivision. This template also does not apply to postage stamp designs published by the United States Postal Service since 1978. (See 206.02(b) of Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices).

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Reflections of the past

Time runs in and out
back and forth like the tides…
some say it is lineal….
but it is and it isn’t…
it is real
and it is a figment of abstraction….



A word…
a scent…
a glimpse of life…
And you see that time is abstract….
What happened time and again happens again….
with no change



Time will rush back like a huge wave and swamp you when you’re not looking
anything you see brings back the memories locked away
the vault is always ready to open for time
pray the sights you see from the past will please the present
a life properly conducted can take the wave of memory
and ride it through time to the present



And so, in that wise, time does not exist





1951 GMC

1951 GMC Pick-Up

1951 GMC Pick-Up

I came upon one of our neighbors going about some chores with his 1951 GMC Pickup truck.

Keeping a vehicle ‘until the wheels fall off’ is a very practical way to go through life.

As the years go on, you learn the vehicle, and repairs become simpler.

The insurance and registration fees are reduced.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle…..

Country Living




   Last summer a film crew came from Los Angeles to film a segment in this area…..

   They had already taken me to perform as a ‘Redneck’, but the other actors who were to come from Los Angeles weaseled out of the deal… so the producer asked me if I could find any neighbors who look like rednecks and wanted to be in the film……

   Do I have any friends and neighbors who look like Rednecks? LOL

   It would be a hard thing if she’d asked if we had any neighbors who DID NOT look like Rednecks….

   I called my neighbors on either side, and the guy who does some tractor work here……

   The Make-Up crew was really good. They sat us down and messed-up our hair and made it look wild, they put something on our teeth to make them look like we never brushed….. yeah, we all looked pretty ratty…. ultra-Hillbilly I guess.  It took three days to shampoo the gooey stuff out of my hair…..and it smelled funny.

   We all went and ran around in the woods all night with rifles, whoopin and hollerin….

   The film is now being considered for the LA Film Festival. If it is accepted there, that will be its premier!



Jeff, our tractor guy

Jeff, our tractor guy


Jeff has a motorcycle shop in San Luis Obispo



Avila Beach, a groovy little beach-town


  Avila Beach is a  groovy little beach-town on the Central Coast. I had a little business to do in the town, and thought to take some photos.   Even though this place is only a half hour drive away from us… it is a  spot I don’t tend to roam very often. Avila is a fun spot though…. the town is fun with a great many of small shops selling all the touristy things you’d want to look at… the weather is usually pretty good…. and the scenery is pretty darn hard to beat. 


   One of the charms of these little towns is the casual and dilapidated old beach houses, many built in the forties, and now stand gently greying, becoming more and more dilapidated with their sagging porches, and squeaky floors.  I suspect many of these homes are owned by ‘out of town’ landowners who are just interested in making back their investments, while they wait for the day of their retirement when they will return, and demolish the old house, and build a nice new home.



   In some of these areas, you can see a row of these fifty year-old homes, with a  sprinkling of new homes where old ones have been removed.  I’d imagine these lots are very pricey…. yet once you have one with a home, you’d probably have no difficulty renting it out, regardless of the appearance.

We’re Back, We’re Nationwide!

    Just last night we released our first cactus-buying opportunity of the new year in our mailing list…yes, this week our cactus have now grown enough to open purchases to the members of our mailing list. Waking this morning… I saw one was from a  customer of ours in La Grange Texas… every time I see that town name… I think of one of my favorite musical groups… a little ol’ band from Texas…  ZZ Top. So of course I ended up going to YouTube to watch them….





 We’re happy to be able to say that this harvest is shaping up to be one of our best yet…
   The cactus is growing out very well, orders are sliding through the wires onto the printer, and within days will be picked and shipped right off.  We’re underway again… we’re Bad… we’re Nationwide!





~ZZ Top~
‘Im Bad, I’m Nationwide’



Well I was movin down the road in my v-8 ford,
I had a shine on my boots, I had my sideburns lowered.
With my new york brim and my gold tooth displayed,
Nobody give me trouble cause they know I got it made.
I’m bad, I’m nationwide.




   We have big plans for this year…. this is the year that Rivenrock breaks-out and does some awesome stuff!   All of these years of slowly building a client list… maturing the cactus plantings,  and cementing a reputation for life-giving nutritious cactus for Man and Beast is coming to a peak of performance this summer. We expect to be very busy growing, planting, picking and shipping this year.  We’ve been selling nationally for over a decade now…. and now we have International exposure coming also! Yes, this is the year we are exporting under agreements between nation-states…. more details will follow in coming months… but this is just the beginning.



Then I decided, since my beard is so like theirs, I’d watch the Reggae Music Video a friend asked me to be in for his band… and since these guys are so talented, and their message is so positive, and life-affirming… it was worthy of being in the same list with ZZ Top.










My memory is just a document
the rest is still a blur
I don’t know much
but what I do know for sure
is there are no guarantees
you cannot categorize me
as long as I’ve got my dreams
it’s only me

I’m a man of little means
pockets torn at the seams
I work hard like a slave
for the dreams of a King
Give thanks to every sunrise
on my way to the top
There’s Blood Sweat and Tears
on every stage that we rock
Wear our hearts on our sleeves
whether you hear us or not
cause we play for the cheers
with everything thing that we got


It’s our Reality Show
it’s like “Lights, camera, action”
and “Stay Tuned for the Coming Attractions”

   Yeah, they’re a good bunch of guys… and so positive in their outlook….
   Attitude counts for almost everything!


 Stay tuned for the coming attractions!




Record low Calif temps

  I am thinking more and more that we are done with the temps into the low thirties that causes damage to the newly formed cactus leaves.  We now have thousands of leaves growing out, most of them the size of an ear… we jokingly call them ‘Tyson ears’.  But at this stage they are extremely susceptible to injury from environmental causes. Their tender growth is fragile,  and damage on any small leaf like that grows out as damage on the larger leaf, but then looks larger also.  One frost here could cause much damage, and I tend to keep an eye on the temperature forecasts.  As the last few weeks have gone by, and we continue to have mild temperatures in general… I am getting a bit lacksidaisical. So it was a good shock to me to read of two areas not too extremely far from here that got some record cold last night.. from the www.wunderground.com site, an advisory at the bottom of my screen…



… Record low temperatures set early this morning…


a record low temperature of 27 degrees was set at Lancaster CA
today. This breaks the old record of 28 set in 1996.

A record low temperature of 30 degrees was set at Paso Robles CA
today. This breaks the old record of 31 set in 1964.




   Now, Lancaster is a three hour drive, and in the High Desert. But Paso Robles is only an hour from here, although our temperatures are much milder than those of ‘Paso’.  31 degrees for even a few hours could cause some harm to the fresh leaves.   I’ve got to keep an eye on the weather for a few weeks yet. But as it is, for the last month or so, our temperatures have not gotten into the thirties… oh yeah, bring on that warm weather, and lots of cactus leaves!