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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gardening Should Be Fun

Today the weather is horrible, raining and very windy here at Windmill Farm. So I am inside at my computer, but my thoughts are of outside wondering what is happening in my gardens and yes, all the work that needs to be done there. But it does give me a time to reflect ABOUT gardening and how it has always been a wonderful part of my life.
I have been gardening since the first year we were married in 1968. Over the years my gardens ranged from acres and acres to small container gardens we used to call grow box sizes (now called raised beds). Some years the gardens were fabulous; other years it would be a disappointment. No matter what or how I plant vegetables, flowers or herbs, no matter the size of the space, I always tried to make my gardens as beautiful, interesting and as fun as I could.
A few years ago, my sister-in-law built a house and hired a landscape designer to do her yard. I was interested and intrigued about how someone else could decide on what a person/client would plant and where the plants would be placed. Yes, my sister-in-law had input into what colors or varieties of plants she liked, but her input was in more of her “style” for the landscaper to interpret into the final garden look.
The first few years as her garden grew, it was very nice, I have to say, so perfect and uniform, unlike my gardens. But they were rather, should I say, “predictable”, somewhat stylized, uniform, concise, and obvious. I guess I couldn’t warm up to it because it was just toooo perfect. On the plus side, the garden plan included seasonal changes so that she always had something blooming with color, Something I constantly strive to have in my own garden. Her garden did not represent my sister-in-laws style or of the house, nor was it unique and clearly didn’t include any areas for dogs, children or any whimsys such as birdhouses, statues, orbs, concrete frogs, etc. There were no fun areas for wonder, for sitting and dreaming, no areas to watch bees or butterflies. It was very manicured and precise, a place that was pretty, but just don’t walk on it and don’t mess it up with a crochet game or a puppy!
Last week I had a yard sale which brought a great number of people into our yard, expressing a variety of comments about the landscaping. Some people remarked that it reminded them of English Gardens or County Gardens. A few people commented what a bunch of work the place must take. One lady even gave me her telephone number because she said she thought we should be friends because we liked the same things, reflected by the yard!!
I even saw a young family with children looking and pointing to flowers blooming, a hummingbird on the roses; and touching a bush I call a Tea Tree bush. The mother was talking to the children as they asked questions, definitely enjoying the beauty of spring. At the end of the day, it was interesting that anyone would comment about the garden who came for a yard sale. It was a nice feeling though that what Frank and I do here, can impact and bond together other lovers of gardening.
Whenever we are driving around our community, I constantly look at how people tend their yards and pause at ones that are especially unique and beautiful.
My main point of this blog, in a long and round-about way, is to tell people to make gardening and landscaping who YOU are; to include plants and fun decorations that YOU and your family like and enjoy; to be usable, functional and beautiful. It should be gardens for family recreations, for beauty and for life.
Enjoy yours, don’t fret about mistakes or problem areas, have fun with it!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Reuse Reduce Recycle

Recycling is sure important today. Like most of you, I really try the best that I can do to recycle. I have a special basket for plastics and glass; a special place for cans; we keep all scrap wood to reuse for fencing and any normal farm usage; we save all our empty plant containers to give back to our plant suppliers; we reuse garden hoses that break, cut them up and put them where we only need short hoses, even have a very short hose that goes into our dog's water dish; Frank uses my empty laundry detergent bottles to store his used tractor oil and takes it to the recycling location and the list goes on at Windmill Farm.

But the best and latest Reuse, Reduce and Recycle project here has been our new sorting shed. The story is worth telling because it is pretty fantastic, so please read on.

For 33 years we lived and worked in Nevada City, Nevada County, California. We built an adobe house, the only 2nd one in Nevada County in 1973. In 1975, we built a car port using very good strong and large lumber supports and we used it until we sold our house in 2003. The new owners didn't like the carport, so after buying our place, a year or so later, asked a mutual friend, Joe to tear down the carport and they built a new structure. Joe carefully tore down the carport, the aluminum roof and all the large beams and had it stored behind their garage. After a few years, the new owners decided to move to Arizona and sold our old house to someone else. Before escrow could close, all items had to be removed from the property. The owners asked Joe to burn them but before he did, he asked Frank, if he thought he could use the wood for something and Frank had just the project!!!

Frank had wanted to build me a sorting shed, a place to take my produce right from the field into a cool and shaded place to clean, wash and sort out vegetables and fruits. Most farmers who sell their produce, use them. He built the shed using all the same lumber, beams, roofing materials from our old, 1975 car port. Frank had built the carport in 1975 and rebuilt the same carport in 2010!! The lumber still has the same paint that I had painted, who knows when and is basically installed in the same shape and dimensions as the old carport. Talk about coming back home!

But that isn't the best part of the reusing, recycling, story. In our same 1973 Nevada City house, the new owners did not like our light fixture that hung over the kitchen stove. And they wanted to change out the ceiling fan that hung in the entry way with 16' ceilings. They had asked Joe to take the items down and to hang up their replacements, which he did. Since Joe ( who always lived in Nevada County) moved to Gridley sometime after we moved here too, on his way home from doing that job, he asked us if we could use the fan and light fixtures (also purchased in the 1970s and used by us for 30+ years). Frank said yes, and they have been stored in our garage for about 2 years waiting for a new usage. Well guess where they went? The light fixture now hangs over my sink in the sorting shed at Windmill Farm. And the 30+ year old fan and light now hangs and works in the shed also. The light was brass so Frank spray painted it black and revamped the fan to make sure it was working well.

And there is more!!! A friend knew of a person who's barn had blown down in last years winds. He had the corrugated tin available that Frank wanted to use for the shed sides, so Frank picked up sheets of the old and used tin, and installed it on 2 sides of the shed.And the last part of this recycle, reuse, reduce story is about the sink. I needed a sink with counter space in the sorting area. While shopping at the local Mac's hardware store, they had a commercial, restaurant sink that I saw and asked about it. It wasn't for sale but they gave me the name of a restaurant and grocery used equipment store located in Knight's Landing. Frank and I decided to go one raining day last week and found the most fabulous, used, 2 sink, 10 foot long stainless steel sink at a fabulous price, along with some used metal shelving that I am using in my refrigeration unit.

Frank installed the sink, put the corrugated metal all behind it, finished up the last of the details in the sorting shed and it is ready to go when the produce is ready!!! Walking into the sorting shed is like walking back into time for Frank and I, an ultimate recycling project. Boy, if walls could talk--