Randberg, California - Ghostown near Tehachapi

Posted on November 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

It's nice to get away from Los Angeles. We visited the old mining town of Randsburg, Ca - in the Mohave desert  (circa 1865) -now a weekend spot that brings mostly bikers. Sakai had once considered buying property around here to build his studio. Randsberg was found during the gold rush and when the rush ended, it turned into a ghost town that it is now.  We stopped for a beer at the Joint. We were the only customers but we enjoyed talking to the owners about the history of the town. Then walked around the town a bit. Some souvenir shops for bikers. Most of the antique shops had stuff donated by the miners before leaving town but were closed during the weekday.  It was hard to imagine, this place was more populated than Los Angeles at one time.  I want to come back here again, maybe to pick up an old lamp.

Tehachapi Lilacs

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The lilacs are in full bloom.

Morning Walk - Tehachapi Ranch

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Lilac bush - first bloom -Tehachapi ranch

Posted on April 14, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The lilac bush that I planted two years ago are finally starting to put on some clusters of flowers.  The bush is still small, compared to the lilac bushes that I see in front on people's ranch houses in Tehachapi but one day it will get there. I am tempted to cut the flowers and bring them back to LA but I am going to come back and enjoy them in their natural state.

Spring in Tehachapi -Morning walk

Posted on April 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

With Sakai gone to Europe, I came to Tehachapi alone. But Ana and Kurokin keep me company.  Kurokin had been locked up in the ranch house for nearly a week, so sure enough she needed some fresh air.  Ana and I went for our morning walk around the ranch, Kurokin joined us.  The cherries and apple trees are in full bloom.  I feel at home here.

California Poppies

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)


I love the dessert in the spring, especially when I see the large capets of bright orange poppies spread over the dessert.  I used to call the Poppy Reserve to find out when the poppies were blooming.  We would pack a bento and go see see the blooming fields and enjoy the wild life for an afternoon.  Now that we have a ranch in Tehachapi which is an hour beyond Lancaster, we go by these open fields every week.  During the year, it's just barren but wild flowers bloom in April and May and the sight is breathtakingly beautiful.  Here off of Avenue G in Lancaster, we spotted the poppies.  This year, the poppies are not as prolific as years past because of the drought.  But this patch of land benefited from underground water, perhaps?  The flowers go as far as your eyes can see.  They are so bright and cheerful.  

Snow in Tehachapi

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)


We finally had some rain and snow in March and April. I took this picture yesterday while walking with Ana and feeding the horses on our ranch.  The clouds were moving in.  Ana paused for a moment.  Sorrel, one of the horses, raised his head.  It felt like Ana in an oil painting.  

Snow capped Tehachapi mountains

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Wheat Planting Experiment - Weiser Farms/Hammond Farms

Posted on October 4, 2013 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

October 1.  Mark Stambler, LABB Founder and baker, and I headed out to Tehachapi at 1pm.  That morning, Mark baked bread for his customers and set aside a rye loaf for me.  The smell of freshly baked bread is so nice to have as a travelling companion.  If I didn't think of giving this loaf to Alex Weiser, the farmer in Tehachapi that we were going to visit, I would have started eating it  in the car.

We  were going to meet Alex and his friend, and nature writer John Hammon to discuss the wheat experiment - a project that I got started last year with a seed grant from Anson Mills. A gift of Mark's artisan bread was the perfect way to start the project in Southern California. I have been talking to Alex about growing grains in SoCal for about six months, since I met him earlier in the year.

Slowly it grew  from keeping it to a few rows at Weiser but doing something on a larger scale at John Hammond's ranch.  Hammond's family has been Tehachapi for three generations. His grandfather used to grow grains. The old barn and other structures are still being used for animal husbandry. John is the local nature and history writer.  He also does a lot of writing on the Kawaiisu Indians in Tehachapi. I was delighted to hear that we would be doing the wheat experiement on his land because I only knew him through his writings and was a fan ever since Sakai and I bought a ranch in Tehachapi.

Driving out to Tehachapi is a weekly routine for me. Mark had been out here before to look at the train tracks - the famous Tehachapi Loop.

Here is Mark and Alex Wesider with Mark's loaf of bread.

We will plant 2.5 acres - on John's land and at Weiser Farms - both very near each other, and just 10 minutes away from my ranch. Alex is looking at the fallow land that we ill use at John's place. His grandfather used to grow red fife - an heirloom variety and oats.  Alex also wants to grow oats.

Here is a picture of the Tehachapi grain gang - from right, Alex, Kim, Kiya, John and me.    

Kiya is feeding the baby chicks. Kiya is a Kawaiisu Indian name.

John gave us a tour of the farm. He has an old mill that still works. John is demonstrating how the grain is fed.  You get him talking about local history and plants, he is a wizzard.


Alex brought some peppers for John and Kim.  

A lovely day in Tehachapi -  A good beginning.

Buckwheat Experiment

Posted on September 7, 2013 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Last month, Glenn Roberts from Anson Mills sent me 150 lbs of buckwheat seeds.  He has been giving me seeds of all types to start a grain hub in Southern California.  Buckwheat is a grain that we treasure in Japan.  When the seeds are milled and made into flour, they make delicious noodles.  But what is essential is that the seeds are picked, dried, milled and made into noodles in a timely manner so they don't loose their freshness and flavor.

I have been buying my sobako (buckwheat flour) but as I get more passionate about the practice of making noodles by hand, I have developed a desire to grow my own buckwheat.  We tried growing it in late October on ou ranch in Tehachapi two years ago and the frost killed the buckwheat.  This time, I have tilled one long row, irrigated it and planted seeds in late August and the buckwheat is growing.  Some deer have picked on the sprouted leaves but I keep putting more seeds in and hoping that the deer will go away. They are in some ways doing the job of thinning the buckwheat sprouts so it may all work out in the long run.  I am hopeful.

Bird net for the grapes -Tehachapi Ranch

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)
If we can keep the birds and dear away from the grapes, we will have a harvest party!

Daffodails brighten the high dessert

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)
During spring time, Daffodials come up and brighten up the dessert.  The flowers remind me of the ranchers inhabited the land before.  I spent the whole day pulling weeds, mulching and planting more seeds.  Ana keeps me company.  

Spring in Tehachapi

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)
The cherry and almond trees are the first to bloom in Tehachapi.  I hope the weather stays stable so we don't loose the fruit like we did last year from the late snow.

Morning walk - Tehachapi

Posted on March 2, 2013 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Pruning old vines & Sowing wildflower seeds

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

There is always work waiting for us in Tehachapi.  If we could be there everyday to attend to the ranch, it would be an ideal situation but at the moment, more than half of our time is spent in Los Angeles.  Coming to Tehachapi is a getaway.  

This time of the year is especially quiet and the weather is always changing.  We had light rian the whole time and the temperature was in the 40s.  Unlike Los Angeles that has been on the 60s, it's winter here and some of the rain turned into snow in the hills behind us, giving it a light white coat.  

I decided to plant some wild flower seeds.  I have accumulating a collection of seeds - poppies, lupine, mixed wild flowers.  When we first bought the land nearly 18 months ago, we saw a lot of wildflowers in our fields but last season was dry and hardly any wildflowers in sight.   This year, we may be lucky.  The hills are getting greener and we may get a few more showers and snow.  The high dessert is unpredictable.  I hope my wild flowers bloom. I planted them near the mailboxes so people can enjoy them as they are driving down Balducci Road.

Wild Parrots - Pasadena

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)


Today, I counted 21 wild parrots on my neighbor's maple tree.  I  meet the wild flock up close during the last week of our year in Pasadena.  We are moving to Highland Park.  The parrots' screaming voices wake you up in the morning like a noisy dream. In the afternoon, you hear them again, but it's more of a yearning to get home, wherever that maybe.  They remind of me of the crows in Japan and how my mother used to sing crow song whenever she saw a flock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Fall in Tehachapi

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (2)

Back at the ranch for a couple days of rest.  I have been working 24/7 since August on Common Grains. My blog got completely neglected.  Fall is a good time to begin again.  I worked hard pruning the old grapes vines and apples trees past spring in hopes to bring them back to health.  Healthy they became but the wild animals feasted on most of  the fruit while we were absent. I walked along the grape vines and couldn't find a single grape on the vine.  We hope to spend more time on the ranch, after we finish restoring our house in Highland Park.  I am happy to just be in Tehachapi, whenever I can.

I love our trees.  We walk around the property and visit each tree everytime we are here. We have lots of mature trees and about 50 new trees that we planted this year.  Popular, sycamore, maple, apricot, persimmon, walnut, ash, cherry... Half of the new trees were damaged by the critters but those that survived the ordeal are doing okay. Sakai's mended the broken branches and put in an irrigation system that is working, finally.  We want to plant more trees next year. Figure trees take about 15-30 years to mature.  if we could stick around for awhile, this ranch is going to look amazing.

The apricot tree is particularly gorgeous in red. 

The old walnut tree gave us so much joy this year. We didn't even know what kind of tree it was for a long time.  It produced tons of nuts. The green fruit cracked open and some of the nuts had fallen on the ground. The critters ate about 1/3 of the harvest but there were plenty more to be had so Sakai brought over a ladder and we spent the morning picking the nuts.  Ana and Kurokin came along and sat under the tree and kept guard.  I'd never seen walnuts this big.  

Mission Fig Tree - Tehachapi

Posted on July 13, 2012 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (2)

Since we bought the farm (Sakai and I have decided to start calling it a farm instead of a ranch, as it once used to be a berry farm), we have planted many trees.  Oak, maple,  poplar,  cedar, cherry, plum, lilac, yuzu, persimmon, etc. The tree we planted most recently is a fig tree.  It was a gift from my friend Marissa.  Initially, she wanted to give us three trees - two in memory of her deceased parents and one for herself to remember her ife in California since she will be moving permanently to Vancouver in the Fall.  By planting the trees, she would always have a place in Tehachapi with family roots.


When we visited the local Tehachapi nursery to buy the trees, we came upon this attractive fig tree. Marissa saw three brown figs growing on it.  Figs is an ancient tree with european roots like Marissa.  It was an elegant tree.  We decided this was the tree to get for the farm and did not look further.  We ordered the tree and planted it.

Marissa has called to find out how the tree was faring.  During our effort to plant new trees at the farm, we lost have lost some.  It's tricky when you are going back and forth between LA and Tehachapi.  Some trees failed because they didn't adjust to the change. Some needed better irrigation.  A couple of young trees were snacked by deer and cows.  But the fig tree is doing fine.   Marissa picked a sunny spot for it where it can be safe from the occasional strong winds of Tehachapi.  We can admire the tree right from our porch every day.  It is already shooting off new leaves.  I can't wait to try its fruit.  It would be fun to have Marissa back on the farm when that time comes.

Cherry Picking - Birds of a Feather - Tehachapi

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (1)

When it comes to fruit,  birds can detect what's ripe faster than any other creature on earth.   For two seasons in a row, our cherries have been eaten by a flock of black birds before we could get to them. We were waiting for the optimum moment to pick, and of course, so were the birds.  In only a few hours, every single cherry on our two trees were gone, pit and all.   But that's okay, there is still plenty of fruit in the valley.  On Saturday, we went picking for cherries at the cherry farm nearby.  For $3 a pound, the branches of the cherry trees were drooping from the weight of the fruit. The cherries were ripe and juicy but not too sweet.  They had bing and queen ann varietals.  I ate about fifty cherries while picking and we are still enjoying the harvest.  Next week, I am going to get some olilaberries and rasberries at Tangleweed Farms.The berries should be ripe by then. 

Snow - Tehachapi life

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)