By Loretta Liefveld
Loretta Liefveld lives in a log home on 3RRL Ranch in Three Rivers, California, where life is one adventure after another — everything has been a learning experience since moving to the country. She writes about learning, living and loving the country life, growing and using herbs and other herbal crafts.
Loretta’s current project is refinishing and cleaning up her log home, deck, barn and garden to get them ready for sale. The home and deck are “officially” done, even though she and her husband still have some smaller tasks left. The garden and woodpile area has barely begun. The barn cleanup is still a figment of their imagination. Weeding, replanting and revitalizing the garden, cleaning out and reorganizing the garden shed, cleaning the chicken coop and finishing customized instructions for the solar system finish out the to-do list — at least for now.
She says, “I’ve always wanted to live in the country, but my occupation required me to live in the suburbs. When I met my husband, and discovered he wanted to live in the country as well, the ‘deal was sealed’. We bought a piece of land and started our journey – at first only on weekends. When my employer began to allow telecommuting, it was like a dream come true, and now I can’t imagine ever living in the city or suburbs again.”
Loretta has always had a garden, and defines a homesteader as a person who embraces living in a rural environment, making their home in a way that preserves the nature of this environment, and living off the land as much as they can, given their particular situation.
Daisy the Australian Shepherd/Golden Lab mix and Hank and Sadie the Swiss mountain dog/pit bull mixes share the ranch with a variety of poultry. Ten chickens: the hens, Christine (Golden Polish), Lacy (Silver Wyandotte), Beauty Jr (Rhode Island Red/Araucauna mix), Black Beauty (Sumatra/Araucauna Mix) and Big Mama (New Hampshire) and the roosters, Brutus (Barred Rock mix), Blanco (Silver German Spitzhauben mix), Red Jr (Rhode Island Red), Jet (Sumatra) and Spartacus (Rhode Island Red/Araucauna mix), and three Silver Wyandotte pullets (one named Spitz after Mark Spitz, the Olympic swimming champion, because she jumped right into the pond with the ducks!). Four ducklings, three mallards and one probably a Chocolate Runner or Cayuga, finish out the livestock on the ranch.
In the garden, Loretta has four peach trees, six apples, a Bing cherry, a Moonglow pear, a nectarine, an almond, a seedless tangerine, and three pomegranates; thornless blackberries, raspberries, and Thompson Seedless grapes. Artichokes, russet and sweet potatoes, asparagus, romaine lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are already planted, and green beans, snow peas, habañero and bell peppers, tomatoes and banana squash will soon follow. The herb garden is stuffed with garden sage, white sage, feverfew, comfrey, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, catnip, stevia, peppermint, spearmint, two kinds of parsley, chives, yerba buena, yerba mansa, lavender, wormwood, horehound, dill, fennel, basil, five kinds of thyme, calendula, pansies, and Echinacea.
Loretta counts canning, dehydrating fruits, vegetables and herbs, freezing, butchering wild game (especially wild hogs), making homemade sausage, making soap, growing and using herbs in cooking, making toiletries and as medicine, gardening, vermiculture, and raising poultry among her country skills. She embraces every bit of country life with enthusiasm.