Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Can't believe it has been so long since we have talked. I kept meaning to let you know what is happening here at Windmill Farm but just didn't get it together.
So in the month of June and July, we have been planting, weeding, watering, mowing.  All that is for sure but then, the heat started up and has not let up at all.
Good News is that Frank built me some new barn doors for my sorting shed/flower design building.  It was open on 2 sides for good ventilation, but some days the wind stopped me from working out there.  So we came up with a design and he built them.  I painted them and Frank installed them.  They are 10 Feet by 8 feet, pretty big doors. They work perfectly!!!.

Bad news is that we had high hopes for a good stone fruit year, but it didn't happen.  We can only surmise that the blooms were there, but because of late rains and heavy winds and then high heats, the buds produced very limited numbers of good fruit.  We still have a few peach trees that may give us some cases of peaches, but cherries, nectarines and apricots were a bust.
Thank goodness my flowers have been happy in the heat.  Getting the seeds and plugs in the ground was a chore though as the ground was either too wet, to windy or then, the heat.  But the dahlias have just been my best investment in time and costs of the tubers.
This year I dug up some space next to the green house that I used to grow zinnias and planted rows of dahlias, by color. 

I knew what the flowers were supposed to look like when I ordered them, but when they actually bloom, that is when the joy of gardening happens.
The flower end of our farming business continues to grow as more and more locals know that I have fresh flowers; the word gets out; and the most important business actions-social media.  I feel our flower farming business has a "style", which I describe to people as country garden flowers. 

The arrangements are natural looking; interesting in shapes and sizes of flowers; and the final touches I put on the finished vases are unique and special-and personal to the people who order them. 
I have been doing more and more mini videos on social media, which is hard to do here on blogger, so I will show some photos below of some of finished products that went out in the last few months:

Here are a few more special occation arrangements grown, picked and arranged right here at our Windmill Farm.

And our adorable grand kids came and visited us a bit this summer and helped me pick some glads.  I sure hope not to be gone so long in the future. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I am going to say some negative things about my kids and people, so stop reading if you think you will be offended. NO NOT ABOUT POLITICS, about insects!!!
While weeding in my flower rows this week, I stuck my hand into a plant and something either stung me or bit me.  It hurt and it occurred to me that I may need to keep an eye on it, but kept on weeding.  Earlier in the day, I had seen a friendly gopher snake so that slightly crossed my mind. I was sweating (yes sweating, not perspiring) it was close to 90 degrees and I had been out in the flower fields for hours and covered in dirt.  It occurred to me that I didn't know a lot of people who would want to do what I do-men or women and I am older than dirt person. Brave the elements of weather and nature, bent over, pulling, digging, hard physical work.  The younger generations, sorry to say this, don't want to work this hard; they would rather pay a "gardener".  Yes they may buy a few 6 packs of annuals and put them into a pot, but the real grunt work, lifting bags of compost, pulling weeds, cutting back dead branches, running a rototiller; fertilizing-all in the wind, cold or heat of a season.
Every time we have people from "THE CITY" or our family comes to visit, we turn on the BUG ZAPPER, super clean the patio and furniture, (they hate to see a bug or frog in the back of a cushion) and I have the bug guy come and treat around the house.  People seem to have developed a low tolerance for anything that bothers them when being outside.  Like mosquitoes; flies; insects that move on the ground.  If the weather is windy, too cold, too hot; humid; they don't want to be outside but stay in a controlled environment - inside.
If anyone is interested in becoming a good gardener or even to move to the next step and become a farmer, weather and insects and wildlife is all around you.  You will become part of it, not that you have to change them.
As an example, we have a 2 tier large fountain on the back patio.  In the early spring, before there is water irrigating; when there are dry winds or long periods without rain, the fountain will be covered with honey bees getting drinks.  I was also told by a beekeeper that they take water back to the hive to keep the hives cool. Every time you walk past the fountain, they are flying all around.  They don't bother me and I don't bother them.  We enjoy the patio together.  Even the dog water dish have bees on the rims, so we put a large rock in the bottom, cresting enough for them to land without drowning.  Every time it seems, our kids and friends come to visit and we are out on the patio, someone screams there are bees and takes off.  We see it as a joy and helping nature; they see it as frightful, potential pain.  How many times have you been stung?  I have been stung a million times in my life and survived.  We used to always walk bare footed in the clover grasses and get stung on the foot several times a year growing up.  Working in the flower garden, at least once or twice a year, I get too close to a bee's flower and got stung.  My fault, minor pain and later discomfort but there are over the counter remedies to ease whatever symptoms. I actually love hearing nature working around me while I am bent over working. 
The sweet peas seem to draw the large black bumble bees. Sometimes the bumble bee and I want the same flower when I am cutting them for a bouquet, he just doesn't want me to have it. I don't scream, or jump around or swat, I keep calm, enjoy them, see what their life is about, which flowers they like.

Baby Gopher Snake from Dave's Garden
While living in Nevada County, we ALWAYS had snakes, and unfortunately, they mostly were rattlers.  We had a huge pond so we did have those beautiful large water snakes and gopher snakes, but rattlers, yes those spooked me.  We learned to live together with the water and gopher snakes, but as a gardener, I did have a bit anxiety during weeding time in my flower beds.  I would pre-agitate the area, making pounding noise; I even brought my cat and dogs out wherever I was working as they were good pointers for these snakes. I NEVER would go out into tall grass or flower gardens without heavy boots on.  Many a time, I would be walking by and something catch my eye and yes, a coiled up rattler.  It didn't mean I never went outside; or I never gardened, I just tried to be consciencious and careful.
In Gridley, mosquitoes are a problem due to the many acres of rice fields in Butte County.  My kids just hate mosquitoes and if outside during dusk and they see them flying around, there is screaming and panic.  I am just used to it and pretty much put on the ointments first thing in the morning.  I find it helps with keeping any kind of bugs I may get outside while working, fleas, big black flys that bite, earwigs.
The family went for a walk along the Oroville Dam afterbay several months ago.  We took a dog and the trail was hard pack rock, easy walking, view of the water, beautiful.  The dog went off the path and my daughter went into a few bushes to get it.  When she looked down, a tick was on her leg.  Screams, panic, more screams-we all had to turn around and go back to the car to go home.  When home, all the kids and herself AND THE DOG had to go into the shower, washed all the clothes and later had a hair check for ticks.  Then the Internet investigation on what ticks cause Lyme's disease, and was that what was on her leg.  Good grief.  In Nevada City, ticks were everyplace, always on animals, I can't tell you how many times I found them on my clothes or in my hair. It was before the Lyme's disease because top billing though, it was just a hazard of living with manzanita brush and dry vegetation. A perfectly nice walk turned into a mother's panic mode.  Is this my kid?  Someone who was raised on a 100 acre ranch with animals and gardens?
My biggest annoyance and pet peeve and sorry, again to offend anyone but here goes.  The people who say they are "farmers", when they have a few raised beds in their back yard and some plants in pots, maybe a few chickens. I love that they are interested in growing their own food or grow herbs/flowers.  But there is a big difference to a "gardener" versus someone who is a farmer, someone who makes a living off what they grown, has 150foot rows, 3 wide plantings, for acres.  That is farming. Or they have hired help come and clean out their chicken coop or feed their animals or hired help to dig and weed for them so their "gardens" are perfect for an Instagram photo.
Every time I open up my garden shed door, I know to look on the floor because there is always a lizard or small snake taking refuge there.  I am happy to see them because it means they are eating bugs in the shed.  I am happy to see the hundreds of honey bees getting water in my fountain to help themselves and their hives, hey bring all their friends for a drink.
I am happy to see the gopher snake because I get so mad at those darn gophers eating my plants. 
And Frank built and we put up all over on the property fencing, little bird houses that each year supply a couple nests full of babies. 

All of them eating flying insects and those pesty mosquitoes.
I am afraid there are several generations of people who want to live in an environment that they say they want to help save, but don't actually want to BE LIVING in it, just observe from a safe and sterile - pest and reptile and critter free - environment looking outside.

Are you cut out to be a farmer?