Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Living with oranges and critters

Someone told me a little while ago that he'd heard Riverside (the home of the parent Navel Washington) is the next Orange County. To me, that says 2 things, that we're experiencing tremendous growth and that our orange trees are disappearing.
A few years back, I discovered that the orange groves were moving out to the desert. At that point, I was told it was because it was cheaper to grow them out there. But I understand now that the truth was that the land here was already becoming too valuable for housing.
The signs have been here for a while. First, they stop watering a grove and let the trees die. It's a sad sight. Then they bulldoze and the markers go up. If it's an expensive subdivision, they leave an outer swathe of trees to give the homes privacy. There are some gorgeous and very expensive tracts where the hoa fees are extremely high, in part to pay to maintain their groves. The homeowners have the right to pick the fruit, but they mostly don't, so it falls, and the gardeners clean it up.
There's a grove we've been going to for years on Victoria just north of Jefferson to supplement our own trees. Their big bags of navels in the winter are $6 apiece, and their bags of valencias are $5 in the summer. They also sell other fruits and vegetables as well as potted plants.
I also visit some friends of ours who live in a tract with orange trees and pick some of their fruit. One of them can't take the acidity--what a pity!
The trick is to squeeze about 20 at a time and drink it quickly with a group of people. Forget about soda and alcohol for parties, I'd rather serve orange juice. It's completely the opposite of when I was growing up in Hawaii and oranges were a rare treat and to be savored. My little girl guzzles hers, and I refill her cup immediately. Our compost pile got as big as a starter house, so I've been putting the rinds out with the weekly green pick-up. I found out the hard way that you can't squeeze and then chill navel orange juice--it gets bitter tasting. Hmm, so that's why all that orange juice in the cartons is from valencias.
But for homeowners who are surrounding themselves with fruit trees, I must warn them that the critters that populated the groves are still with us. I was showing property to someone from out-of-state, and she commented on barriers that looked like they were intended to keep critters out. Under my breath, I told her that I would explain after the seller was out of hearing range.
You see, I'm not going to not tell people some of the facts of life of the Inland Empire. I'd rather tell them upfront how to maintain the property that they're going to pay a lot of money for.
For truth be told, we have ... critters. There are the obvious ones, such as coyotes, possums, skunks, owls, rabbits, and so on and so forth, and then there are the rats and the ants.
In addition to the typical Norway rat, we have tree rats, which are smaller. Rat abatement is a daily fact of life along with gopher abatement. You can't get rid of them, so you have to keep their population under control to make up for how well fed they are. We had our house sealed up and trapped the ones who were indoors, and now we pay for monthly refilling of outdoor bait stations that our dogs can't get into. This means that occasionally, I run into a rat carcass, and I carefully use a rake to push it into a bag. I'm not as squeamish as I used to be, but it's still a painful process. Luckily, we don't have a kangaroo rat habitat near us as they're protected.
Another maintenance issue is ants. We get the perimeter of our house sprayed several times a year to keep them at bay with occasional emergency calls when they start trailing indoors.
The oranges may be nearly gone, but there are home maintenance issues that will be with us for a while.
Here's a Press Enterprise article about the parent navel tree:
http://www.pe.com/localnews/riverside/stories/PE_News_Local_B_navel19.58c.html

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