Friday, December 3, 2010

The Decorations Are Up!

I can’t believe it, but our daughter beat us this year by getting her Christmas tree up and decorated before we did. We have always had this tradition of going out the Friday after Thanksgiving to get our trees. In the “old” days in Nevada County, you could go up into the high country and cut trees on property that was owned by people you knew. And where you got permission. Some years later, our neighbor started a Christmas Tree farm, so we would go cut a tree and have it home and up within an hour after cutting it down. Our very first tree in the home we built in 1977, a friend of ours gave us a 20 + foot tree for our entryway. It is still the most vivid memory I have of that Christmas as that tree was so spectacular. The entry had 25’ ceilings and we had clear story windows above and on each side of the front door, so you could see that tree about a mile away with the lights on as you drove up to our house. Frank had heavy wires all over it tying it down to the back wall so it wouldn’t fall down. It even came with a mouse, that later came out from the bottom of the tree while we were having dinner. It was so big, it could have had a bear in it and we would not have seen it!!! Just kidding.
This year, Frank built me some Outdoor Christmas decorations that follow the theme of re-use, re-cycle. The stocking, tree and ornament decoration is made from old corrugated metal left over from the siding on the shop. Frank cut out the shapes, I painted and decorated them and our son-in-law Chris and Frank mounted them to our old railroad cart out front. I think they turned out pretty cute!
I have decorated a 3’ Christmas tree in my office where I am a lot of the time during the winter months; I do a great deal of farm business, planning, record keeping on the computer. I decided to do my tree simple and natural. I cut up pieces of burlap and tied them on the tree limbs. I had some French writing on a ribbon that I used to swag around and also put pine cones and faux birds on the limbs. My favorite is a swag of white buttons attached on a long wire and it has words on old fashioned labels saying “BELIEVE” that I purchased from my friend Mary Lake Thompson who has a fabulous shop in Oroville.
The Harvest CSA Baskets went very well, they were filled with shelled walnuts, two types of persimmons, pomegranates, applies, kiwis, dried apricots, egg plant, the last of the peppers, Indian corn, free range eggs and a fresh bouquet of flowers and herbs. I thank all my wonderful CSA members for a year of support for this small farm.


Farmers don’t ever stop thinking about farming even though the weather stops us from going outside. It is one of my favorite times because I keep records of the seeds, planting times and yields, during the summer and now is the time I organize them, writing down the successes and failures. Then after the 1st of the year, I make my lists of plant types and get my seed orders ready to fax into the seed companies. It is also a great time to look at the 2010 pictures I took of the farm to remember just how great the gardens looked, especially after a good weeding and mulching when the rows look so perfect.
Yes, it is the season to be hopeful, thankful and appreciative for all things wonderful like Family, Friends, Faith and Farming.
Merry Christmas from Frank, Bella, Annie, Piper and I at Windmill Farm to you.
Happy Holidays,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Persimmon Cookie Recipe


Here is an old family recipe going back 4 generations, for Persimmon cookies. They are so fabulous, even my two darling grandchildren love them.

Cookies
Persimmon Cookies
from Yolanda Carli-(Frank's mother who got it from her great Aunt Marie)
2 Cups Persimmon Pulp
2 Teaspoon Baking Soda (add soda
to pulp)

2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Butter or shortening (cream
sugar & shortening)

2 Eggs (add beaten eggs and mix
in sugar mixture, then add
persimmon mix to sugar mixture
and mix well)

4 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon each of: Salt,
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg (or
allspice)

Sift dry ingredients, add to sugar
mixture and mix well.
Add:

2 Cups Walnuts
2 Cups Raisins
Mix and drop by spoon on greased
cookie sheets

Bake at 350°F for 10 - 12 minutes

You can easily double this recipe

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FALL HAPPENINGS ON THE FARM


What a glorious and beautiful fall day today. It has been far too long since I have kept up with what is happening on Windmill Farm.
Two weeks ago our wild pheasant returned. I heard him cluck and then he flew over from a huge oak tree to where I was standing next to the chicken house. I was as happy to see him as he was to see me. He was part of our farm in early spring along with a 2nd male pheasant. They stayed around until about July and then they were gone. We had hopes that they both found females that were living nearby in the neighboring orchards but with fox and coyotes all around this area, we did not have much hope. We were very happy to see Mr. Pheasant again and he continues to have the same infatuation with Miss Buffy, one of my pretty Buff Orphington chickens. This morning, I found Mr. Pheasant INSIDE the chicken yard which he soon flew out of as I gave them some morning treats. He enjoyed the corn scratch I threw over the fence to him.
The season for our “Wonderful” variety of pomegranates is here. We picked a few cases that were sold to our friend who is a produce marketing person. He sells primarily to specialty stores up in Northern California. The persimmons are ripe and we have picked both varieties, Hachiya and Fuyu. Their orange colors are spectacular. And about ½ of the Meyer lemon trees are ripe. I also harvested about 3 cases of egg plant, have a little lettuces growing and found some beets that were ripe that I must have missed picking with our last harvest. The real surprise was all the beautiful green and purple peppers that were still on the plants. I picked about 3 cases of the peppers as I know within the next few weeks, with the cold evenings, they will be completely finished. Oh, how I miss being able to go out to the garden and fix our dinners with whatever is ripe, fresh cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, fresh squash, fresh corn, potatoes, beans. Well, it is time for us to rest a bit and for the ground to rest too.
I purchased 300+ onion starts that need to be planted so they will be ripe and ready for my 2011 CSA season in spring. The weather is supposed to be close to 70 degrees on Thursday so I think that will be my task for that day.
On Wednesday, November 10, 2010 I am going on the Farm City Celebration, an Agri-Business Tour of some local farms in the area. My friend Sarah Reynolds, manager of the Organic Farm Llano Seco and I are going and the tour includes a visit to a kiwi farm; the Naumes cherry farm; a prune processing plant called Stapleton-Spence Packing Co and a rice farming operation which includes a waterfowl habitat discussion. I am really looking forward to the tour as I find myself wanting to know as much as I can about any part of food production particularly in our area. I am hopeful I can learn something that Frank and I can incorporate into our small farm business which could be anything from marketing; or soils; or packing and shipping; or pest management; or water management. Should be a fun day.
Frank and I visited our grandchildren for Halloween and went out with them to trick-or-treat. They were so cute, remembered to thank people and looked at every piece of candy put into their bag. Collin is 3 years old now so he was able to walk up to the doors without being helped by a parent or grandma. Precious memories and besides, I got to eat a few pieces of their candy, oh-to make sure they were safe!!!
Celli + kids came this weekend to stay as Chris was away at a retreat. We all went to a big outing on Saturday, to Costco!!!! That is what Farmers consider a weekend outing. Celli wanted to check out the Christmas items for the kids and I had Carli & Collin in my basket to divert their attention. Carli & Collin said they were hungry so we went up to all the food sample booths. We got to taste a new cereal, got to taste a new fruit drink; we got a dog food sample (that we did not eat); we got to taste pomegranate and cranberries covered in chocolate and even got to taste an Italian cream cheese spread on crackers. Celli was so embarrassed we were doing that. Then when we checked out, we all got a hotdog for lunch. And little stomach aches in the afternoon.
The unpleasant news to report is the passing of the Butte General Plan. It has been a plan in discussion and making for over 4 years. I had read the proposed plan a few times within the last year observing the flood concern issues and the long range planning of our county. There were no surprises or concerns for our Windmill Farm. But suddenly, 2 weeks ago, our local paper The Gridley Herald printed a proposed map and information regarding the re-zoning from Agriculture to Rural Residential in certain highlighted areas of Butte Co and that agriculture in the future would be 20 acres +. I got my magnifying glass out to see if I could see my street and there it was, showing several streets all around us. It was like someone had taken a highlighter and drew some lines, carving out our beautiful agriculture land and changing us to residential. Between that Friday and the following Monday, I had talked to our district supervisor, the planning director and the newspaper. I typed up a notice about the proposed changes, had 250 copies made and on Monday, I drove up and down all the streets in my neighborhood leaving the notice in their mailbox. I asked our neighbors if they opposed the zoning, to call various public officials. You cannot believe the phone calls I received and with that, I have transitioned from being a farmer to being a local agriculture saving activist!!! The phone calls worked, because as I attended the next Board of Supervisor’s meeting, the re-zoning of our neighborhood was pulled from adoption and sent back to the Planning Department for further review. Since that time, some other local agriculture property owners have helped me out to send out more flyers inserted into our local paper and we have walked all our streets requesting people to sign our petition opposing the re-zoning. I presented the petitions to the next Planning Commission meeting where I spoke on behalf of our farm, but mainly as a representative of the great people who signed the petitions, which I presented to them. We have just been notified that our supervisor and the planning department have set a Town Hall meeting for November 29, 2010 at 6:00pm, to be held at our local Manzanita Elementary School. This past week, my friends and I are putting together another flyer to make sure all our neighbors are aware of this important meeting so we can state our opposition and ask questions, like why our neighborhood!!! We are all busy and this is not what I have wanted to do. But sometimes, you have to take an active part when your local government makes changes to the re-zoning of something as precious as agriculture land and a way of life for most of the people who live here in Gridley. Thank goodness that the local paper saw it happening and put it into the paper before the following Tuesday ratification. Will keep you posted what is happening.
Making plans for my delivery of our Windmill Farm Fall Harvest Basket. It should be ready to put together by the end of this week for my wonderful CSA members. If I have any extra produce, I can make baskets available to anyone wishing one themselves or as a gift for a friend or family member. Give us a call and I will be glad to tell you what is available in the baskets and the price. We deliver too if within 30 miles from Gridley.
My trumpet tree is still blooming, nature is always a wonder-
Until the holiday season.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On The Farm

I can’t believe it has been so long since I have added to my blog. From August to September our days are from sun up until sun down, sometimes even longer than that. Frank has installed a few lights in one section of the garden and also in my sorting shed. When the weather was so hot, during those months, it was a nice time after dark to clean and sort fruit and vegetables when the air was cooler. The time has just flown by with each day filled with watering, weeding, picking, sorting, moving boxes of fruit and vegetables. My favorite thing to do was to pick the fruit trees for an hour or so just as the sun was coming up. The birds and I were the only ones out that early and they weren’t really happy having me up in their trees. When I picked the last of the apples, I found a beautiful bird’s nest and took it to my grandkids. They loved seeing it and Carli set immediately out to make an egg out of a cotton ball and found a bird ornament up in their attic. It has a place of honor sitting on top of a cake plate in their family room. A bit of nature brought inside.
We have since finished our CSA but still plan to offer a fall harvest basket a little later. The pomegranates and persimmons are changing colors and I still have some apples in the cooler waiting for me to make some applesauce. The lemons have started to change from dark green to light yellow and the trees are just loaded with fruit.
Most of the produce fields have been tilled but the tomatoes and peppers are still producing so I just haven’t felt like pulling them up yet. Frank and I planted red and white onions, some leeks, lettuces and beets. The basil still has some usable parts and I saw some cabbage heads that could be harvested. The eggplants have really surprised me with how long they keep producing and I picked a bushel basket full on Tuesday and put them out on my stand. I was surprised how quickly most of it was sold by the end of the day. Oh and I bundled up some Swiss chard and kale and that is out on the stand too.
Annie and Bella ventured with me out to the corn rows in my Gator and we spend a few hours hand cutting down the dried corn husks. I bundled up about 10 bunches, wrapped twine around them and put them out on the stand for my customers. Last year many people asked me for the corn husks around this time so they could decorate their houses for fall and Halloween. They instantly made the front of the house look very fall-ish. Unfortunately, the time got past us when we were going to plant pumpkins so I do not have any this year. I think I had 1000s of pumpkins last year, nearly killed myself lugging them to farmer’s markets, out front at the stand and selling van full to customers wanting them for special kids programs. I do miss them and have received lots of telephone calls asking for my Baby Boos. Sorry about that, I miss them too.
Frank and I are planning on attending an olive curing workshop this Saturday put on by Pam Geisel, Statewide Master Gardeners Coordinator for UC Davis. We took her pruning workshop last year out at her beautiful place called Old Historic Mill Orchard and we really look forward to learn about curing olives. We have olive trees and have put up some in the past just using information we pulled off the internet. They never really turned out that great so this year we will be armed with lots of info from Pam.
We took a short break from all the work on Windmill Farm (AND THE LAST WEEK’S HEAT) and drove up the coast to visit a friend in Port Orford, Oregon. Her area is so beautiful, beautiful beaches for walking, visited a couple historic lighthouses and also took a tour of an old Coast Guard Station built in 1930s. The highlight of the trip for me was a trip to a farm called Valley Flora in Langlois, Oregon. They grow vegetables and flowers for their CSA customers; have a self service farm stand and also provide produce to some local restaurants. Their gardens were so inspirational to me; I just walked down each row looking at the lush lettuces, beets, carrots, fennel, tomatoes, herbs and flowers. They plow their rows using their own draft horses and it is farm run by a mother and her two daughters. I just wanted to get my hands into their dark and rich soil. The one thing about gardening/farming is that you can always learn something new. It was a nice break from our 24/7 working in our own fields. They were having a heat wave, it was 75 degrees!!! Made me laugh because we had just left Gridley a few days before and we were having a heat wave too, 104 degrees. I am amazed what can grow in such cool weather on the coast, just like us but at different times of the growing season.
Already thinking about what I might change in the gardens for next year, might add some new items, maybe even grow some strawberries. Good time of the year to take a few moments and dream! Until next time, enjoy the colors of fall and the cooler weather.








Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peach Season Is Starting

So many people are interested in what farming is all about, I get asked about it all the time. Having spent 27 years working inside an office; believe me, being outside digging, weeding and picking is not work, but a pleasure. Our days are scheduled as to what has to be done to keep the vegetables, fruit trees and farming equipment growing, producing and working properly. Frank and I talk at night about what needs to be done the following day, scheduling our time. If it is the day before a CSA delivery, we spend the day picking, sorting, washing and packing the baskets. If it is the delivery day, I get up very early and pick all the leaf produce, such as Swiss Chard, Kale, Basil + herbs, lettuce if it is available, pick flowers for the floral arrangements, wash the produce and sort. Put my newsletter into each CSA basket, eggs if my customer ordered them, the greens I picked, flowers if they ordered them and then I load the van and do my deliveries. When I return home, I unload the van of the empty baskets, put away all the packaging, and containers to be ready for the next delivery day.
If it is not a CSA prep or delivery day, Frank tends the orchards with his tractor either weed-eating, disking or rotatilling a new section of planting for me. He repairs broken drip systems (I unfortunately have a tendency to hit them either with my hoe or my small hand hoer). We water the back pomegranate and small fruit trees using ditch water so that requires a great deal of preparing the fields for the water and changing the water for the different sections after one section is finished.
Yesterday, I raked up all the fallen fruit under the trees into piles. I sorted the fallen fruit to see if some it it could be used for canning or cooking. I hate seeing a waste of fruit but it is a natural event. The apples drop as they plump up, self thinning. I believe the same is true of the stone fruits. We have had the trees thinned in the past, but the last few years we have decided to leave them alone. We may have smaller fruit but they seem to be a good size for eating, taste wonderful and are not the "show" fruit but they are still great fruit.
As I was finished sorting and raking, Frank came around with the tractor and we loaded it up with all the fallen fruit. This helps in keeping down the rodents, flies and nats that come around if fruit is left on the ground to rot. The dropped bad fruit is put in the compost pile.
Once a week, I clean out the hen house, change their bedding, make sure their automatic watering system is working and clean up around it. The nesting shavings go into my Gator and I spread it out on the newly rotatiled fields for mulch and fertilizer.
At least once every 2-3 weeks, I try and start another planting area of something so that we will continually have new produce to have available to our CSA members, for the roadside stand and for us to eat. I recently planted some beets and turnips and next week I hope to be able to plant some lettuce so we will have some in the early fall cool weather.
And at least twice a week, I spend the entire days weeding. I have loved, loved using the straw in between my planting rows, that has really helped with the weeds, but where there is water, they will be weeds. And if you don't keep up with them, pretty soon, you will have a lovely field of weeds and you won't be able to find your vegetable plants!!
Many days, I never even have time to brush my hair but once in the morning. Many days, I have to take an Advil before I go to bed because my hands and back hurt so bad.
Hard to believe that when I was in the business world, I had a manicure every Tuesday; had my hair done every 4 weeks; went to the chiropractor once a month for muscle strain in my neck and shoulders due to sitting and doing computer work; and I was planning out million dollar budgets and grants instead of planning what to plant next!!! Give me this way of life any day of the week-
That corporate way of life is over and Frank and I wouldn't trade our lives now of hard farm work for anything. When we are asked, our advise to people is:
Follow your dreams, trust in God and you will forever be happy and grateful for where it leads you. Our dream lead us to Windmill Farm and we are loving every minute here and wish we had done this farming full time, 20 years ago.
Happy gardening!




Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picking Weeding Picking Weeding

Those are the tasks each day, picking the cucumbers, weeding, picking the peppers, weeding, picking the nectarines, weeding, mowing, picking the onions, picking the peaches, weeding. Oh and yes, watering, watering, watering.
This time of year, you can't take a day off from working in the gardens because if you don't, a lot can happen. The cucumbers or squash grow twice their size overnight and then they are too large to be eaten. If you don't pick the tomatoes, then they are too ripe to eat for most people, so only can be used in cooking. The fruit on the trees are a constant trial and error. If you pick them too soon, they are green and loose their flavor. If you wait until they are ripe, then you loose 1/2 of the crop to bird pecks or insects entering into the stem area. So Frank and I usually pick every day or every other day on each tree that looks like it is getting close to being perfectly ripe, hand picking just the ones that are ripe and fresh and ready to eat today.
Then the sorting begins. We sort through the fruits and vegetables to weed out the ones with flaws, too soft, bugs, pecks, etc. Those go into our house box to be used for jams or jellys or freezing by us as we cut out all the bad spots. Then the best of the best is saved for my Community Supportive Agriculture (CSA) members and that produce goes into their boxes each week. If there is anything left over, then I put it out onto my roadside stand. If, by chance there are rotten ones, then that produce goes to the chickens or to the compost pile or to friends who have animals.
You might be surprised and dismayed at how much produce is thrown away by farmers or those that sell at farmer's markets. It is an inevitable part of providing fruits and vegetables to the public and most people think all fruit should be perfect looking, perfect sizes, never soft. If you can or freeze or make pickles, preserves, jellys or jams, ask people at the markets if they sell lightly soft fruits or fruits with slight imperfections. They will be just as good to freeze and can, as long as you cut off anything that has bruises or soft spots. And normally the prices per case/lug are a lot less than those that are considered perfect.
Last week Frank and I put up 18 pints and 3 qts of bread and butter pickles. Today we are planning on processing dill pickles. If you go to the store and purchase a jar of pickles, it now costs more than $3.00 a jar. We are going to use the larger pickles from our garden, slice them up and they will turn out just yummy, especially this fall and winter when the cucumber plants are gone. It is a very gratifying feeling to know that we planted the seeds, watered them, weeded around them, picked them and processed them to eat all year round, right here on Windmill Farm. Canning is an "old-fashioned" thing to do, but in these hard economic times, it may be time to dust off that old cookbook, or bring out your mother's or grandmother's recipes and try your hand at canning fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised how much your family may want to join in on the process or how much they enjoy eating canned peaches; frozen peaches; frozen beans, pickles, whatever you decide to do. And you will be very surprised how much money you can save by putting some food aside now for later.
Well, during the time that it took to write this blog, my cucumbers and squash have grown another inch!!! Better get back to work.
Until next time, remember to buy fresh, buy local, know where your food comes from, support your small local farmer, like Frank and I. Get to know your local small farmers, they love to hear how much you enjoy their produce, we sure do.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bountiful Harvest









Frank and I can’t be thankful enough for all the great vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers that are being produced right here off of the land at Windmill Farm. Of course, it doesn’t happen without a lot of very hard work, pre-planning, and just plain luck too. I had my doubts about a month ago as to whether we would have enough produce to supply my wonderful CSA members with baskets full of products, with a little to spare for my fruit stand. Some weeks were pretty close but not now.
As I had stated in a previous blog, we were fortunate enough to be contacted by Pick A Peck of Pickles family and began a business venture together in that I would provide beets and beans to them for this summer to be used in their specialized jarred foods. With Windmill Farm’s produce, they could acknowledge to their customers that the food that they were processing was very fresh, came from a farm with at least good sustainable practices and that it was grown local.
I didn’t think we could meet their 400 lb. need of beans initially because of our unpredictable spring. It was a late start, but I am happy and proud to state that we delivered 42 lbs of beets to Pick a Peck of Pickles in June. And last week, we provided them with 100 lbs of fresh picked green beans on a Thursday; the next Tuesday we gave them 72 lbs; and yesterday, Thursday we gave them another 64 lbs. We are picking at least 20-25 lbs of beans every day and the plants show no signs of slowing down. AND I have 3 more rows of beans just starting to produce. I will meet their production needs and surpass it. My CSA members will be eating beans all through the summer!!! I even plan on running an ad in our local paper to sell our excess beans by ½ flats to whole flats of beans for the people who may be interested in freezing or canning them.
Another harvest that has really surprised me with their bounty is my flower section of the garden. I made a few mistakes in my selections of flowers, but in general almost all of my plants are just beautiful. Llano Seco, (an organic beef and pork business in Butte Co) business manager, Sarah Reynolds came by a few days ago as she needed a special flower arrangement for a food show that they were doing. We put together a fantastic arrangement. Sarah was so pleased, she came again last evening to the farm with 2 of her favorite large vases and together we picked and arranged a couple other arrangements. My CSA members routinely request an arrangement of flowers to be included in their produce baskets.
Everyone’s favorite flower that we grow here is the Limelight Hydrangea. It is so spectacular, it only takes a couple in a vase and you don’t need anything else. And it dries so well, I have several vases full around my house from last year and the year before and they still look as fresh as they did when I originally picked them. I have occasionally seen them for sale and they are sold normally for about $5.00 a stem. I provide several stems, along with many other fresh cut flowers in an ample floral arrangement for between $4-$5.
Tonight, we ate for dinner a salad made of tomatoes, peppers and 3 different varieties of cucumbers. We had corn and sautéed squash with onions. Dessert was peach cobbler. All the fruits and vegetables, even the onions, were grown right here on the farm and were picked about 30 minutes before I cooked them.
Yes, we are having a bountiful year and we are very blessed that all our hard work is finally showing results.
Stop by any time at our roadside stand to try out our produce or if you are interested in trying your hand at either drying fruit; or canning peaches; or freezing beans, give us a call. We will do our best to supply you with the freshest and tastiest fruits and vegetables to meet your needs.
And a special Thank you goes to my CSA members for supporting us so that we can keep small farming businesses, like ours, alive and well.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th July Weekend

When I was young, wearing perfume was so important to me. Getting that special bottle of perfume for Christmas was the best gift. Now that I am a Grandmother, I don’t even own a bottle of perfume but my favorite scent to have on my hands or in the house is Basil. Silly, but when I pick Basil, I always bring it to my face to take a whiff of the magical smell and as I cut it when preparing foods, I just love how it radiates into the kitchen and how it makes everything taste so fresh and wonderful. I have a very long row of basil planted out in the garden, but each year, I always have it planted in several places very close to the back door of the house. That way, if at the last minute I want to have Basil in pasta, or chopped on top of some squash, it is right there close by the kitchen.
When my daughter and I would go antique shopping when she was young, I would test her at the stores to see if she could tell the difference in types of silver, sterling silver, coin silver or silver plate. I thought that teaching her about silver were good lessons in knowing about the finer things in life. Seemed important at the time 20-25 years ago!!
Now I test my grandchildren but in different ways, in the garden. I pick vegetables or fruits and I have them tell me what they are; or I pick pieces of fresh herbs and I have them guess tell me if it is Thyme or Oregano or Sage or Rosemary. They call everything I pick, Basil because they know I like it the best and besides, they are only 3 and 5 years old. Most of the time, they do pretty great. The only other scent I love as much as basil is the smell of lemons and limes. What heavenly smells.
I have had such high spirits about the garden lately, not only how it looks but how it is producing. But yesterday, I was so discouraged because I found 2 large gopher mounds, one in my beautiful cutting flower section and the other in the fruit orchard. And I found 2 bean plants cut off or chewed off right at the base of the plant. Having had lots of experience with gophers, they don’t always eat plants from below. They will also come out of their holes and eat from above.
Rosie, my garden shed resident cat in the past has done her best hunting around the place, but she has an unlimited supply of cat food at her disposal in the shed. So I think she doesn’t go too far from her perch on the garden shed window sill, unless a mouse or gopher happens to walk by just below it!!
Once gophers start eating beans, it can be devastating. They have to be dealt with swiftly before their numbers multiply and expand. Last year I had the most beautiful crop of beans that were at least 3 feet tall and the plants were full with beans just ready to pick. In less than a week, I had lost about 2/3s of the crop to gophers.
I have started putting out the green beans and flowers at my roadside stand. I held off for a few weeks as the weather was so hot, I was wasting the produce and did not want my customers to end up with soft fruits and vegetables.
This weekend is the 4th of July. At Windmill Farm, we fly our American Flag every day. In fact, we have many flags flying at all times, along our fence out front, on my farm stand sign and in front of Frank’s shop. Particularly this weekend, we want to extend our sincere love, thanks and appreciation to all the wonderful military men and women past and present who have made sacrifices. Thank you for the sacrifices you and your families have made so we can all live in freedom. You are in our hearts this weekend.
God Bless, Happy 4th of July and Happy Gardening!! I am off to get me some gophers!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SUMMER IS OFFICALLY HERE


Today, June 21st is the official first day of summer!!! Thank goodness it has finally arrived.
The fruit and vegetable gardens are doing well, even though it is a real struggle to keep up with the weeding and watering. The last bit of rain we had, caused another crop of weeds even though I have a thick layer of straw in between my vegetable rows. I just get the bean section weed free and then I look over to the tomato and pepper section and that needs tending. But that is the world of farming. Have you ever seen a hammock in the yard of a farmer?? Or should I say have you ever seen a farmer lying in a hammock?
The only time Frank and I sit down is when we are exhausted at the end of the day. We have two favorite spots to sit, in the last light before evening. We either sit in front of the garden shed to look at the fruit trees or we sit in front of the sorting shed and marvel at the vegetable gardens or just to listen to nature around us.
around us.
In early spring, Windmill Farm and Pick a Peck of Pickles went into a joint venture where we would grow beets and beans for them to be used in their jarred vegetables sold in the Bay Area. Our beets became ready this last week and Eileen came and picked them up. In a few weeks, our beans will be ready to be canned by Pick A Peck of Pickles. Check out their website and facebook at: http://www.pickapeckpickles.com/

We had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Our children and grand children came to stay the weekend. Celli had an idea to go for a nice drive to look at Forbestown, in Butte County. It was a wonderful, fairly short drive and we were so surprised to find the Forbestown Museum open. I would like to highly recommend this Museum to everyone!!! The tour guides were dressed up in period costume; there is a 3 story museum full of items donated by local families that were used by the families from Forbestown. And then in the back is a town built, replicating all the types of businesses that would be seen in a 1800s-to early 1900s working town. There was a Wells Fargo Bank; a Jail; a Cigar/Grocery Store; a laundry business, a blacksmith, a church a schoolhouse, complete with a working bell and many more buildings and mining and lumber artifacts. All the buildings had furniture, pictures, rugs, and items showing people what was used during that time. And in the center of the “town” a few of the museum guides prepared ice cream sundaes or cones for the visitors. It was a delightful place for all ages to enjoy and a place that we will go back many times to in the future.
When we got home from our little trip, for dinner, the grand kids helped me pick some fresh green beans; fresh squash, cut some basil, pulled up some carrots and onions, picked a few cabbages and picked peaches all from our garden. We cooked the squash with some butter, our onions and the fresh basil. In another pan we sautéed our onions with garlic and bacon and about 5 minutes before the meat was ready, we put in the fresh green beans, mixed them up with the bacon, garlic and onions and put a lid on it to cook. They weren’t cooked too soft, just crunchy enough. I shredded the cabbage, mixed some red wine and white vinegar, mayo, a little sugar into it, salt and pepper, celery salt, and made this old fashioned cabbage salad. Some people put shredded carrots in these types of salads too but I didn’t add them this time. Carli and Collin had eaten most of my carrots before we even got them back to the house. The peaches were sliced and we had such a wonderful dinner that had only been picked within 45 minutes before we ate them. The fathers, mothers and kids all had a great day.
Enjoying the fruits of our labor gives our soul the best rewards with the added bonus of having your grand kids participate and learn about how food is grown and the flavor it has when it is freshly picked.
Life is wonderful here at Windmill Farm.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Planting Vegetables with Flowers

Another great week of CSA delivers. I have the best members, they are so wonderful to email me how much they have enjoyed our produce. Some have mentioned how they prepared the items in the baskets and in the newsletter I have prepared for next week, I am including a recipe that one CSA member wants to share with the rest of our members.
This week in the baskets was kale, Swiss chard, French radishes, beets, snow peas, lettuce, cherries, apricots, basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Next week we will have pretty much the same items but the cabbage may be ready and I have some Rosa plums to add along with the other fruit.
Celli, our daughter made these adorable and practical basket liners out of the cutest fabrics. With the warmer weather coming, we thought the fabric liner will help keep the produce as fresh as possible and be able to keep the sun off of the items when they may be sitting on the member’s front porches. I tied the tops of the fabric with an old fashioned clothes pin so there was air circulating through the baskets delivered this week and it helped keep the moisture inside. Celli is so talented and she sewed a huge amount of them all within a few days so they would be ready for my deliveries. And they are reusable!!
While I was watering yesterday, I was looking at a few containers I have around my flower gardens near the house, and marveled at how much the plants had grown. This year, in the few places I normally plant annual flowers, I decided to plant vegetables. Like I don’t have enough land already planted in vegetables, but I wanted to provide a test, that it doesn’t take a lot of space, time or money to provide food for a family.
On the side of the garage, I have a squash plant ready to bloom planted right next to mum plants and a delphinium. In an old wheel barrow being thrown away, I planted lettuce and spinach. I took an idea from a friend of mine about using water troughs for large animals as planting containers. I found one recently at a farm sale where the bottom was rusting and had a few holes. Not good for watering horses, but excellent for drainage of soil and plants. I picked it up for $15.00, filled about 1/3 of it with broken clay pots, some potting mix and great Gridley soil and within less than an hour, it was planted as my herb garden. In some decorative pots by the back door that had inpatients in them last year, I planted kale and arugula. Right now the arugula has the most beautiful blossoms and most people coming to our door; don’t even realize that it is lettuce, not a plant. I have my most commonly used herbs planted next to the back door, along the house, under my rose bushes and butterfly bushes. It is great to have them so handy to go out and pick them as I am fixing dinner. The basil is always my favorite and I have that planted everyplace there is an opening in my flower beds. I believe you can never have enough basil and it can quickly make plain old pasta into a fabulous tasting dinner.
If you are going to have a spot where you are going to water, plant something you can eat AND the flowers, it will be a winning combination-food and beauty. Happy planting!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

1st CSA Baskets Delivered!!!






In spite of the rain, we were able to put together a wonderful CSA basket for our members, 1st one of the season. In the basket was fresh basil, rosemary, cherries, beets, French radishes, kale, Swiss Chard, bag full of spring lettuce, fava beans, snow peas, red and white onions, a ½ doz. Free range eggs, sample pound of grass fed beef from Douglass Ranch, sample of sausage or bacon from Llano Seco Organic Pork Ranch, and a sample bouquet of fresh garden flowers with lavender, roses and hydrangeas.
I had a chance to meet several of our members in person and it was so nice for me to connect with the people who eat our produce. That is the best part of community supportive agriculture. The members help me, a producer of fruits, vegetables and herbs and in return, the members get to eat fresh picked items directly from the people who grow their food, the farmers. It is hard for us to leave our fields to go to Farmer’s Markets or find businesses that will buy from small producers. CSA membership is a wonderful way to help me schedule my time in the fields and time to deliver to our members.
We received many positive comments about the baskets. In our effort to keep our costs down and to also be conscience of being able to re-use, re-cycle, I am having our members give back to me all the packaging items. That includes the bottom plastic liner, the clam shell packaging and the jars used for flowers. My daughter, Celli makes these cloth pouches for my granddaughter, Carli to put her school sandwiches in so they are not packaged in a plastic bag. I don’t know the name of them but it provides lunch bags that are re-usable and washable.
Celli has made me similar items, cloth liners for my CSA baskets in all of these fabulous prints and colors. We will be using them on our #2 delivery date. The cloth liner will be useful to keep the items cool and also to cover up the produce when I leave the baskets on doorsteps. That will keep the moisture in the items, keep pests off until my CSA member returns homes from work or is able to put the produce in their refrigerators. The cloth liners are re-usable, washable and saves on having to use plastic. AND they are cute too!!!
We will have more cherries coming from our trees and the apricots should be ripe by next week. Hopefully, the crop will be large enough to provide my CSA members to receive cherries and apricots in the next 2 baskets and also enough to sell at myself service roadside stand out front of our house. I have signed up for the Gridley Farmer’s Market, Glenn Co Farmer’s Market and the Colusa Market. But at this point, if I have enough extra produce, I would rather add more CSA members from my “waiting list” than do the markets. It is a great feeling to know we are feeding families from Windmill Farm. It makes all our expenses and hard work worthwhile.
A big Thank You goes to my terrific members, customers and supporters of Windmill Farm. Keep checking back because we have the following items planted: eggplant, green beans, snow peas, 4 different types of squash, corn, 5 different types of cucumbers, peppers, heirloom tomatoes, hybrid tomatoes; potatoes, cabbage, green onions (scallions) , red and white onions, beets, kale, Swiss Chard, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano and loads and loads of cut flower plants.
And then we have all our fruit trees such as apricots, cherries, and 6 varieties of peaches, pluots, pears, plums, apples, nectarines, table grapes, pomegranates, figs and persimmons.
We will keep you posted on this blog or my facebook page “Windmill Farm” so you know what is available and when it will be available to you out at our roadside stand, to our CSA members or at the Farmer’s Markets.
Frank and I want to give a special thank you to all the men and women in the armed forces for the sacrifices they have given and want to extend to them our love and prayers during this Memorial Day Weekend. God Bless You for making America safe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First Gridley Farmer’s Market



Hello from Windmill Farm. Tuesday was the first night of the 2010 season for the Gridley Farmer’s Market. It has moved from being downtown Gridley to the parking lot of Ace Hardware right off of Highway 99. The vendors all believe that the attendance will be much better with the exposure to the large numbers of cars going by Hwy 99.
It was fun seeing all our friends that we had not seen since last October with the last market day. I personally did not sell anything from our garden, but went to help and support my friend Tina, owner of Happy Chick Farm to sell her eggs. The display was so cute, straw in a bushel barrel with a mound high of farm fresh eggs. You pick your own to put in your egg carton which seems to be a lot of fun for people to do or their children to do.
Next week, my produce will be ready for our first week of deliveries to my CSA garden members. The cherries are ripe, along with Swiss chard, kale, beets, radishes, lots of lettuce, onions, potatoes, snow peas, rosemary, basil, possibly some potatoes and parsley. My farm fresh, free range eggs will be available and if I ever run out during the 2010 garden season, then Happy Chick Farm, will provide the fresh eggs. I have some roses and hydrangeas blooming for a fresh flower arrangement. I also have the partnership with Douglass Ranch, who raises grass fed, no hormone beef; and Llano Seco Organic sausage and bacon. Gosh, if we ever had some really warm days, we might get the rest of the garden moving. I have never seen so long of a spring here in Gridley. Usually at this time, I would be complaining about the heat!!
Windmill Farm hosted a local garden club last Sunday and we all had a wonderful afternoon. It is always fun to have people share and appreciate our gardening efforts and it is also helpful to have others make suggestions to solve some plant problems.
If we have enough cherries after we provide our CSA members with their shares, I hope to sell some at the Farmer’s Market and at my roadside stand. Frank and I have eaten so many; we both got a stomach ache last night. We have put our netting over the trees so we do not loose so many to the crows. If they would just eat the whole cherry, I wouldn’t mind, but they peck at it once and then move on to another cherry, wasting so many to rot. Bella, our cutie German shepherd who is now over a year old and weighs about 70 lbs keeps getting caught in the netting when we are up in the tree picking. Dogs are so helpful in the garden!! Bella and Annie both love it right after the garden has been watered. They just look for the mud puddles. After I garden, I wash up at the faucet and both of the dogs just stand next to me because they know they will be next to be washed down from the dirt and mud.
Life is great here at Windmill Farm.

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