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Biannual Reports
Ancient Oaks Farm

to the Kriz Family, report #2

May 12, 2001
From: Bruce Damer
To: Joe and Donna Kriz

Dear Joe and Donna,

Well it has been a while since my last report to you (Dec 99) but I wanted to give you another update and include some mail that came in the box for Kriz family members (they might want to file changes of address for these). I hope you are well and your new home is all finished. Ms. Galen and I sure enjoyed the pictures you sent and showed them to Joyce Robbins who was very happy to see you both well and your new place. Joyce would love to hear from you sometime Donna. I also included Jack’s card from the realty office if you get a chance to drop him a note as he inquired after you.

The big projects

Ancient Oaks continues to amaze us and show us the way of what to do at each step. We seem to uncover some new piece of your fine work here every week. The big stuff done in the past year and a half, for your information included:

  1. Redid roof on house with full flame melted brie material, no more leaks!
  2. Replaced fed pacific electrical panels in house and barn and installed surge protectors on both
  3. 200 pounds of tomatoes from the greenhouse last year!
  4. Built out rooms upstairs in barn (more below).
  5. Completely replaced all grass/weeds/berry in areas by house with gardens and ice plant
  6. Cut down big rotting oak by back of house, next to master bedroom, was worried it threatened the house and now we have 3 chords of wood.
  7. Held another wedding here for friends, back in October (how many weddings did you hold?)

I have included many photos below from the past year and a half here.

Road plan

I am considering the crazy plan of building a road leading from the back parking area (by the stage) out along the other side of the creek and all the way down to Bear Creek road. Two reasons for this.. to create a totally private entrance to this place not part of the community road and to give us 100 feet more visibility for the speeders zooming to the left on Bear Creek road. This will also allow us to push back the poison oak and open up access to the hillside area. I know this will be an expensive proposition but it is a long term dream. A friend of ours was hit trying to make that left turn onto Bear Creek, car totaled (she was ok thankfully). Couple of questions for you if you have a moment.. Joe, do you have any advice on this? You had a road back in that area  (or trail) originally? County, inspectors, all that? Did you ever consider doing this? Anything about the land one should know before attempting to grade thru this area?

Cleaned up water, now power!

You might recall last time that we managed to get SLV water to put in new mains and move Candy’s property’s service and meter across the road. Well, we have figured out a plan to move the electrical service by installing weatherheads on the house and barn and taking the power right off the pole. Gordon would then have to do the same as we would be removing the pole altogether, and removing the hazard of those buried 100 Amp lines. I plan to pursue this this year. I would hope we can string power from the weatherhead on the house to the existing one on the barn. All this remains to be run by PG & E. Any advice in this area would be much appreciated.

Clearing the brush

We are continuing to clear out brush and the area behind the stage all the way over to the back road is clear and bombed with roundup to control the berries and poison oak. We uncovered a stone path and the many fruit trees (cherry?) that you planted there. Also uncovered was a large rotting redwood log. Any idea of when that came down? Must have been 100 years ago! We have also cleared a bit on the hillside and plan to try to clear out all brush and poison oak with a high mower when budget permits.

Documenting the history of Ancient Oaks

Any old or even recent pictures you might care to make copies of (I will reimburse you) of Ancient Oaks here including documentation of your many construction projects would be much appreciated! I am building a history of this place and pulled all the county records for a basic background. I will include here a printout of the documentation I have so far, including only one picture of the house, from the early 60s. Any gaps you could fill in here would be kindly appreciated.

By the way, do you know much about the early history here, including the original construction dates of the house, barn, and prior families?


Well before he died, Blackie left 10 more progeny with neighbor Joyce’s cats and we adopted two, Mix and Max, happily living here in the footsteps of their father (pictures below in photo gallery). We also adopted two pot bellied pigs from Bob up the road here and Mama is 140 pounds and pregnant. They are living in the horse stalls at night and the outside pens by day (saves me having to weed whack!). So the barn echoes again with animals.

Barn Construction

Upstairs a work crew helped me to join in the third “balcony” room into the other two and create a single space, all framed in, with doors. Initially I am putting in a museum of old computers there, but this is also the location of the company offices, complete with internet connection. We hope to construct a music studio for Galen down in the “dance studio” room. That is if I can control water seepage!

Fencing and Gates

I am also considering putting fencing along the community road and gates, for more privacy (we do get along with all the neighbors though). Did you ever consider fencing in the property, and did anything stop you?

Handling the Water

Solved some of the water seepage into the barn during rains. When the new water mains went in this went way down but after rains there is a healthy flow of water into the barn. One day it dawned on me that this water was actually coming off the barn roof, which flows off and behind the tall retaining wall around the back charging quite a reservoir that comes up in the barn for some months. Putting plastic tarps to force the water down into the walkway between the barn and the retaining wall reduced that flow. So now I have bought all the gutter material in the world and will be installing pretty comprehensive guttering on the barn and more on the house.

I also experimented with plastic tubes taking water off the house all the way into the creek. Call me crazy for trying to lessen or control water here. I know that we must have springs running underground pretty much all year. Did your terracing control the water? What did you have to deal with? I note small holes at the bottom of the “fighting cocks” retaining wall, to relieve water pressure there, and also dampness in the stage area asphalt, so there must still be serious springs running underneath the property. Any advice or history of how this water was coming from and dealt with would be appreciated.

Last questions, septic etc

Joe, where is the septic leach field located? I think it is by the laurel going out along to the concrete pad where the steel shed (was)? Or does it extend down toward the fire pit?

Galen also asks:

Again, any pictures at all or writing about how you did such a wonderful job here would be appreciated. Its all a bit of a blank to me. All I recall is your stories and descriptions when we walked around (like the apache Indian chief authorizing some of the tile patterns?).

Warmest regards to you and please stop in for a visit any time (let us know ahead of time).

Bruce and Galen

(PS Jim Essex moved on some time ago)

Photo Gallery

I am including these photos to show you much of what we have attempted to build on top of the fine foundation you built for many years here. I hope these are interesting to you!

Galen with the pigs, Mama and Theo

Max, Mix (from Blackie) and Min (Galens)

Computer museum in the barn

Installing new windows in the barn, with snow outside!

Putting the “lid” on the third room

Getting set to put the new doorway through

Framing in new windows in “balcony” room

Conduit for phone and internet to barn

Amazing snowfall

Wintry views

Getting set to fall the big oak, rotting down to the roots

Its down!

Tarps to redirect roof water: experiment

Tube coming off downspout in house to creek

No more weeds, ice plant flowing

Ice plant at front, “greeting bear” and new water meters

Wonderful Wisteria!

Galen’s flowers

Blossoming apple tree

Wisteria by stage

Rototilling upper meadow to plant nitro fixing rye, fava and vetch, jan 1, 2000

Setup for wedding of Lee and Ron

Setting up tables for wedding, look familiar?

Wedding ceremony

Leakage by Fighting Cocks, any clues?

Fall colors on maple

Carrots from greenhouse

2000 a bounty year for acorns!

Mosaic with snow, art and nature

Fall leaf

”Postcard” view from barn

That’s it, see you next year!

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