Wednesday, May 30, 2018

IF YOU WANT TO BE A FARMER OR GARDENER, YOU CAN'T BE AFRAID OF BUGS

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?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Planting 100s OF Beautiful Dahlia Tubers-New Farm Classes Set-Kids Crochet Purses

Work is exploding around here.  Everything needs to be done now that the rains have stopped and the warm weather started.  One day it was in the high 50 degrees, 2 days later it was 86 degrees!!!
I have to say that Frank has a bigger jump on his jobs done than I have.  He has his field plowed, smoothed, ridges made, watermelon planted, drip systems in and working; ditch water ridges made and ready for the release of the 2018 allotment of water. His tractors are serviced and ready to go. And his "golf course" lawn of weeds in the back is looking great.
I have been weeding old sections to get ready for veggies; and planting some plugs I purchased, a few rows of seeds; and loads and loads of dahlia tubers.  But I am having a bit of problem with my knee, more than normal old age aches and pains.  I am not a complainer and just normally take my Advil and get moving.  This pain is so severe it is hard to walk.  So I have a chiropractic appointment today, in fact to see if she can sort things out.  Deep down, I am a little afraid, because I am older than dirt, that the problem may lay with my hips, but don't want to think about that yet.
When I am doing well, I work like crazy.  My veggie and flower section is about 50% planted, I would feel better if it was 75%. I am such a control freak, it is hard for me to have any help because I plant certain things in certain places, in certain ways.  Do you have that problem too?? The words stubborn, hard headed comes to mind.


Even though it is April, my Calla Lilys are blooming; Ranuculus, Anemones; Sweet Peas; Roses; Iris; Jasmine; Lilacs; Lavender; Mock Orange.  
The citrus trees are blooming right now too. In case you didn't realize, we are a full fledged produce and fruit farm too with flowers being my main focus these last few years.  So when we walk from the house to the back fields, you pass the roses blooming first with so many neat smells; then you pass the jasmine vines with lavender planted under neath (the sound of bees stops you in your tracks), boy is that jasmine smell wonderful.  Then you walk by the citrus orchard and you think, what is that interesting smell?  Citrus blooming is heavenly. Spring is such a marvelous time of year for all senses.
 I received my main order for dahlias.  I had received a smaller order from another company a few weeks before of dahlias and about 400 glad bulbs, so I was breezing by planting what I purchased.  Then this huge order came and I thought what the heck was I thinking!!!
As an investment, long term, it will be better to have bulbs that come back each year and perennials. I would love to have about 400 peonies planted, I probably could retire as they get premium prices.
But they bloom once and then done, whereas dahlias keep blooming and blooming until fall which are better flowers for my weddings, events and small flower orders.

I worked out the classes and flower events I am going to have here at the farm, for the next few months.

1.  Mother's Day Flower Specials May 13th:  People can choose between a couple special vases + a farm fresh, country arrangement, delivered. $45 for flowers + $5 delivery cost. OR a larger flower BOUQUET (without a vase) for $45 + delivery; and lastly you can order a beautiful plant full of blooms, wrapped as a gift and card delivered. $45
2.   Strawberry Jam/Canning Class-May 16th, Wednesday, 6-8pm. Learn the basics of canning, hands on class, canning strawberry jam.  Each person will go home with jars of the completed jam. $35 includes hand written instructions, hands on instruction, fruit and all supplies provided along with light refreshments.
3.  Cow Painting Class:  June 2, 2018, Saturday, 10-Noon. $45.  I am hosting this class for Artist Julie Engstrom Spohn.  The class will use paper mache, paints and other items where you will create a unique and fun cow painting by the time the class is over to take home.
4.  July-date not set yet, flower arranging class & a Indigo Dying class.  Check back on my Windmill Farm Facebook page, this blog or my Instagram account-windmillfarmofgridley for these dates.
Lastly, I wanted to share with you a little crochet project I just finished.  A dear friend of mine, Debbie occasionally brings her grand daughter to some of our classes.  She is a beautiful and delightful little girl and we always have a fun time when she comes. My grand kids are getting a bit older, so when I saw this small child's crocheted purse on Pinterest, I decided to make it for Debbie's grand daughter.  
After finishing it, I felt that the purse turned out a bit too large for a little girl, so I improvised and made another one much smaller.  Here are the finished projects.
I have my fingers crossed that my knee will be much improved after my chiro visit today.  My stomach has been so upset lately because I keep taking so much Advil/Motrin to ease the pain.
Have a great week everyone!




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