I finally got myself up into an airplane this week and am flying again. Lake County is stunning from the air, though I can see problems from a very different vantage point. For example, the algae is blooming in the Lake and from the air, the green streaks are sobering. Likely, the algae will do this until the lake water cools.
I also flew over Dancing TreePeople orchard where I got a good look at "The Big Picture". In a word: it is DRY.
The TreePeople are NOT dancing--they are trying to survive the heat and last year's pruning. From the air, I can see that these trees are clearly stressed. The former owner told me that they hadn't been watered for the past few years because it is not "cost effective." They seem to really need it and I feel bad that I didn't catch on sooner. In any case, I couldn't water if I wanted to--the irrigation system isn't fuctioning and needs replacement.
When I returned to the orchard after my flight, I took a long walk. The weeds from the summer rains are now completely dry. The ground literally crunched under my feet. I noticed that the trees hold very few Walnuts this season, and the squirrels are claiming a large portion of the meager crop. My neighbor, Raphael (the local expert), told me that this is a very bad year for walnuts because the late June rains prevented pollination. I'm certain that my crop is even worse that most.
I have decided that I need to focus the next weeks and months here on capturing and storing water, without which this land will be a desert soon.
Looks like I will not have to spend much energy on harvesting walnuts this season and can concentrate on irrigating these trees. Assuming they make it, perhaps next year will be better.