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.

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