Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Logo & Great Canning/Spa Day

Here is our new, 2012 Windmill Farm logo. It was designed by the very talented Gridley Graphic Designer/Photographer Sarah Tamagni. She was so patient with us as we went through the process of adding/subtracting/editing ideas. Frank and I could not agree on the final logo due to the fact that she designed 3 separate ideas and we liked them all. So contrary to what most people advise us, use only one logo so people associate your business with it; I may use one of the other designs occasionally, when doing price labels; or canning labels or letterhead just for fun.
We had a very special day on Sunday, November 6th. Windmill Farm had been asked by a lovely lady in Auburn if we would host a Mother/Daughter day at the farm and provide a canning class; lunch; and a mini spa. With that theme, the word got out and before we were through setting up the day, we had 14 people signed up. Luckily, I had my wonderful daughter Celli and husband Frank to help me out. Since it was raining on the scheduled date, we set up the canning class in the house kitchen (instead of the outside sorting shed kitchen) and the spa part of our day in the front room. Dru Otten and Kathy Turner, my very special esthetician/massage/aromatherapy expert-friends really made everyone feel relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated with paraffin hand waxing; arm/hand massages; and mini facials.
The day started out early with people arriving around 9:30am. After a tour of our house and farm, the applesauce canning class began with a hands on education with everyone participating in all the aspects from peeling the apples, to the water processing part. Our Windmill Farm lunch used the "apple" season theme and provided a fresh green salad with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cut up apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, Feta cheese; we had chicken breasts seasoned with fresh Meyer lemon juice and garlic; side dishes of homemade applesauce and fresh strawberries. For dessert I had made apple/raisin cake and a lemon/lavender cake.
After the lunch, our guests moved to the front living room where the mini spa treatments began.
Celli and I had prepared a small parting gift for everyone which contained a gift bag full of fresh pomegranates, persimmons, Meyer lemons, 1/2 dozen free range eggs, springs of fresh rosemary and mint, a remembrance for their day at Windmill Farm.
We all had such a wonderful day together and it was so fun to see mothers and grown daughters working side by side canning; chatting away at lunch and relaxing together as they each had their hands/arms massaged.
Next week, we will be putting together our end of the year Harvest Basket for our CSA members. The basket will have two varieties of persimmons, pomegranates, egg plant, carrots, beets, Meyer lemons, Indian corn, walnuts, potatoes, fall flowers and a few other surprises. We put a fall basket together last year and it was very well received. A member gave it as a hostess gift when they went to a friends house; one member brought it to work and shared the contents with her co-workers. One member said they took almost everything out of the basket and used it as her table decoration at her Thanksgiving dinner and later ate it!!!
Frank and I feel very blessed to have met such an inspiring and giving network of people in our community. If we had not started our CSA business, we would have not been able to meet such wonderful people as we have during these last few years. Yes farming is lots of very hard work; is filled with lots of worries, just like any other business; but boy what fun it is too.
Until next time-F&P

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where Did the Summer Go!!

I had great intensions with keeping up my blog, but honestly, I have been using Facebook more regularly. We had a very good CSA season in spite of the late spring rains which caused me great distress with the weed problems. Looking back now, it was a good year.
Each year, we continue to learn about what, when and where to plant our various crops. Frank and I had 22 weeks of CSA basket deliveries and never missed a week due to low crop yield which we are very thankful.
Some of the highlights we had in the season are a wonderful crop of fruits and the flowers were pretty great too. I believe in my 2012 gardening plan, I will be planting many more varieties of flowers so my arrangements that I offer can be varied throughout May to October.
This year we opened up our house and farm to a few new adventures. One event was a Windmill Farm Tour/Tea/Spa day where we provided a tour of our 1930 year old farmhouse, our yard and fields. We served various desserts using our farm produce and herbs; and the yard was set up as a day spa with herbal infused feet soaks. There were personal hand and arm rubs for refreshing and revitalizing skin and circulation provided by Estheticians Meredith and
Kathy. The setting of the spa was around the water fountain and under our 100 year old walnut tree which provided a relaxing and refreshing afternoon for those that attended in spite of the warm day.
In September, we provided some fruit and vegetable canning classes which have been well received and lots of fun. Having a group of ladies around our large work table in the sorting shed all chatting and making canned tomatoes was quite inspiring. There is a renewed interest in not only growing your own food but in canning it, to enjoy throughout the winter months and it was so wonderful to have women of all ages learning how to preserve food. They were able to go home with a booklet of information, the hands on canning experience and several jars of the
completed tomatoes.
Coming up in November, we will be providing two classes. One class will be an applesauce canning class using the fall harvest apples. Another set of classes are quite different. My daughter, Celli and I will be putting together a fabulous class teaching people how to make their own laundry soap and fabric softener using only natural products. And the participants will be able to select their own herbal scents and take home their completed project. The cost savings for making your own cleaning products will really be a surprise plus you will have full control over knowing
what is exactly in your products. After this class we will continue this theme and teach you how to make your own fabric starch and even room fresheners. I don’t know about you, but I spend a great deal of money on all of these products and we can show you how to make them yourselves, even busy working Moms, will see how easy and inexpensive it will be.

We hope you will come back to our blog to find out more about these future get togethers at Windmill Farm. See you next time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Treehouse Made By Grandpa Frank




My husband Frank decided to build a treehouse for our grandkids, Carli and Collin in our back yard at Windmill Farm. We have a very stately silver maple directly out back from our house which is a perfect tree for a perfect treehouse. Frank read a great deal about how to attach a treehouse to a tree without harming the tree. He designed it all out around the many large branches and decided to build it out of as many products that were light weight but were also affordable and he used many wood items that we already had around the farm. He made all the windows and the back door himself and cut out a perfect star on the door that can be seen through the treehouse from our kitchen window. The progress was at times slow because he built it all by himself, many times hanging off a ladder very high up in the tree or using a ladder on top of his scaffolding. He was scaring me to death!! He used rough fencing material for the siding and planed it down for the railings, windows and doors. His surprise was to have it finished for our big weekend family get together with our family and grandkids. Carli and Collin were so surprised and loved it so much, especially the pulley system he put in with a basket attached so if the kids wanted anything from below, all they had to do was pull up the basket. Great idea to send up snacks and drinks. We found some cute pink and blue kids chairs that we put on the treehouse deck. What a view they have up in the tree, you can see all around the property, the fields in the back and it has such a fabulous breeze through the branches. Frank and I are thinking we just might sleep up there some warm night, but hope we don't have to get up in the middle of the night for any reason!!!


The treehouse turned out so beautiful, we can't believe what a fabulous job Frank did on it. A true testament to his love of his grandkids. He said his next project is a slide and a zip line!
Other news on the farm is that our CSA baskets have been going well and each week they are filled with at least 8-10 items of fruits and vegetables.


This week we have been using our dehydrator and trying out any fruit that we have available. We did some strawberries which I think were fantastic. Yesterday we dried apricots and nectarines. We are experimenting with using honey/water on the strawberries, dipped in it and then they are dried. We used sorbic acid/water and dipped the apricots in that (a preservative) and then dried them. It took over 25 hours for the apricots to finally be dried.

Next week our relatives from the Bay Area are coming to spend a few days drying apricots in the sun. This is a different process than the dehydrator.


We first wash, slice in half and pit the apricots and place them face up on our large drying racks. We place the racks in our large covered dryer to be smoked using a small amount of sulfur and then all the trays are laid out in the sun for several days to complete their drying. We call it our Italian apricot drying marathon because we get all of Frank's Italian relatives cutting up the cots. As children, their families owned apricot and bean farms and every summer all the kids would cut up cots to earn a little money from their parents. It is a great time for all of us to talk about the old days and here we are doing it again, many, many years later.


My gladiolas have been beautiful this year. Bouquets of them have been available to our CSA members and are sale at Windmill Farm via email or telephone orders.


Working on our small farm here in Gridley is sure a lot of hard physical work. But Frank and I are enjoying every minute of this life and hope you enjoy hearing about it in our Windmill blog. Have a great 4th of July weekend. God Bless our troops who make us all safe here at home.































Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tomorrow is the Delivery Day!







Who would guess it would rain the day before I am supposed to delivery my very 1st CSA basket to my members. I had today planned to pick, wash, sort, pack my baskets. My driveway is full of huge water holes and I am afraid that my cherries on the trees may be ruined. And I was going to wait until this late afternoon to pick the strawberries but they can get ruined in the rain also. I guess that is what being a member of a farm is all about, you share in the bounty of the harvests but you share in the pitfalls of nature too.


The re-purposed, up-cycled feed bags are really fun. I am now making smaller purses out of the smaller left over bag pieces. Maybe next year, I can have a Farmer's Market bag for each of my members and that is what I use to deliver their produce. That would be really fab! A good winter project sewing all those bags. If anyone is interested in purchasing the bags, just email me at windmillfarm@sbcglobal.net and they are cheap to mail to you.I did finally get the last of the potatoes planted yesterday and even watered them. At least they will be getting a good soaking now.

Frank has been working on a small, outside shower on the opposite side of our sorting shed. It is going to be so cute and practical. Sometimes, we are just covered in dirt or mud so we can at least wash off our legs and feet or our whole body before we venture into the house.

I am planning on having some Farm Spa days where we have a few hours of R&R for people to rest in a peaceful setting, tour the farm; eat fresh baked items using farm fresh ingredients; and soak your hands or/and feet in antique wash basins filled with fresh roses or lavender or mixed herbs and have an aromatherapy foot/hand massage by my friend Meredith. If you think you might be interested in the Farm Spa, email, Facebook or telephone me 530-846-3344; windmillfarm@sbcglobal.net.

Frank is still working on the grandkids tree house. He wants a certain siding now so I am sure he will have that finished in a few weeks. He put in a basket on a rope so the kids can have food/drinks or toys hauled up from below, probably by Grandma or Grandpa.

We are sad today as our resident pheasant is not around. He has gotten so tame this last year, he never left the area around the chickens. He would call to us first thing in the morning and any time we were out in the yard hoping to get us to let his family of blond chicken girls out into the fields. Yesterday we noticed he wasn't around and today he isn't either. I know if he was able, he would be here. I fear that the fox has gotten him, or possibly a hunter or even a coyote. We are really missing him and are very sorry he is gone. I would like to think that a female pheasant has lurded him away, but I have my doubts. Very sad.

I will post pictures of our 2011 1st CSA basket. Remember to eat fresh, know where your food comes from, and try to buy food locally grown. We appreciate the support.













Saturday, May 21, 2011

CSA Delivery Getting Close




Finally the Windmill Farm gardens are starting to LOOK like proper gardens. The lettuces are great; the radishes are ripe; the cherries on two trees are ripe; the snow peas are ripe; the onions are ready; the strawberries are producing; the Swiss chard is ready; some herbs such as parsley, rosemary, lavender, sage are ready; the carrots are just about ready. I am hoping to start my first week of our Community Supportive Agriculture (CSA) deliveries next week. I am so anxious to start, as my wonderful members have been very excited to see and eat what we have been growing. As with each year, I always try to state that investing in your local farmers means you invest in Mother Nature too. The first few boxes may be somewhat light but later they get not only vegetables but fruits from our mature orchard, herbs, flowers and free range eggs too. Growing produce for CSA members is like cooking courses of meals. Everything has to be ready together to serve, in a basket but pests, weather, winds and even seeds may not all work at the same pace. It is my job to keep stirring the pots (dirt, water, and hoe) and adjusting here and there to make it all happen at one time to eat.
Frank has tilled a new section for me to plant a second batch of potatoes that should be ready to dig up around August. The 1st batch is pretty much all flowering, a good sign that the digging up time is getting close at hand. The cabbage plants are getting so large, they look like ART when I see them, I must get out there and take some pictures. The tomatoes have blossoms and with the few days of warmer weather have doubled in size. It is almost time to start stringing them to their stands.

The grapes have millions of buds on their clusters; the olive trees are the same, we will have a very good harvest of olives in the fall. I am not too sure about the apricots, the back field trees do not have very much on them, but the 2 trees in the mature orchard are just so full of fruit, go figure!
Our farm has been asked to be on a panel for the Civic Pioneers Institute, Environmental Quality Day June 15th to speak about farming and Land Use Functions and Processes. Steve Lucas, workshop organizer from LAFCO knows that I have been very involved locally trying to keep our agriculture zoning intact but Butte County is still moving forward to change over 4500 of beautiful, prime agriculture land to be zoned Rural Residential. I just can’t believe they would even consider doing this as Gridley has the best soil conditions, the best growing weather and ample water to grow almost any type of fruit or vegetable from cool weather crops to citrus. Yet they all state they are “PRO” agriculture, what does that mean, except for some areas that they want developed??? We will continue to fight it until the end.
Lots of nice little projects have involved our farm. Mayor Jerry Fichter asked us if we would put together produce to put in two baskets she is planning on selling at the Gridley Farmer’s Markets. I filled it with what we had growing, and it was presented at a Community Action meeting where I was able to give a little talk on CSA-and the importance of buying fresh and local.
One of my egg customers is a teacher at a local school and they are having a special project of showing the kids how chicks hatch. We were asked if we could provide some fertile eggs from our special heritage breed Maran chickens. I was able to provide the school with a dozen and I can’t wait to hear how that project goes. The school is also growing some vegetables on the school grounds and because I had some plants in my new greenhouse, we donated some plants for the children’s garden.
Sarah Reynolds showed a picture of a new market bag she purchased on her Facebook page; it was made from old feed sacks. I fell in love with them and always felt the empty bags were so beautiful, with all the animal graphics and such a waste to throw them away. So I got out my sewing machine and sewed up 3 market bags. Check the pictures out of Facebook-Windmill Farm for all the views. I have some neighbors saving me their feed sacks for horses, goats and chickens so I can sew up some more to sell. Not a bad price at $15, selling them via email, they are destined to draw a lot of comments when you use them for groceries, knitting or at a Farmer’s Market! Thank you Sarah for inspiring me as you always do with your talents!
Maybe if I wrote more on my blog, these wouldn’t be so long, but hopefully I haven’t lost your interest yet.
The next blog will have some comments about how our 2011 CSA season started and hopefully how happy my members are to receive their farm fresh produce from your neighborhood farmer, Windmill Farm.

Friday, April 15, 2011

FRETTING



I can’t help myself, but this time of year, I do a lot of fretting. Some people say worrying, some get stressed, I just fret. I am fretting thinking if I have enough seeds planted; I wonder and fret if the weather will be too cold to put out tomato and pepper plants; I fret whether I should water or not water; I wonder if the weather is not right for pollination of the fruit trees; I fret about thinking if the bees are able to get to my trees in the wind; I wonder if I will have enough produce so that my CSA members will be happy with the baskets when the season begins; I fret thinking about what the gophers will eat. Makes a person a little crazy at times but pulling weeds sure is good therapy, hoe work really helps break down the fretting too. I also knit in the evenings and that is always calming to me. Such is the life of a farmer, fretting and worrying is part of the being actually an employee of Mother Nature and self doubt does creep into your thinking. Once the erratic weather is finished and my plants really take off, I am sure I will feel more confident, I think!! But I can’t help but be amazed and wonder of nature when I stop fretting and see nature doing their thing in spite of all the efforts and fretting anyone does. I am sharing a few photos of some flowers and plants showing their beauty in the yard.

I have been running a “guess this bloom” little contest on Windmill Farm’s Facebook page. It has been fun and I hope my farm, “friends” are enjoying the game. You win a free pound of produce or a dozen eggs if you guess the plant or bloom.

My greenhouse is wonderful, I just think I should have purchased it a month or so sooner (but didn’t have the finances) as I had needed to start the tomatoes and pepper plants much earlier. I guess I may end up purchasing actual plants but that sure is costly since I have to purchase many more than most backyard gardeners. I did plant out more lettuce yesterday from plants that were sown in the greenhouse. I started seeds in the greenhouse and seeds in the ground and the greenhouse plants are twice the size of the ones in the ground.

I started cleaning up my sorting shed in anticipation of using it in a month or so while Frank tiled the floor in the sorting shed little bathroom. I am looking for some old barn wood to put it on the inside walls if anyone who happens to read my blog, knows where I can find any. I plan on white-washing the barn wood to lighten it up since the size is as big as a bathroom is on an airliner plane.

WE HAVE OWLS in our owl nesting boxes that Frank built. At night, the hooting is so loud; it even woke us up the other warm night as we had the windows open. Makes me happy to know they are helping us with the rodent issues, all part of the sustainability farming that we use. We have a couple left that Frank built that we are selling on Craigslist if anyone else wishes to try them out in their orchards, gardens or fields. They really work. We also have several families in our bluebird nesting boxes too.

We hosted the Garden Club that I belong to, here at Windmill Farm this month. The day was windy but our members and friends braved through it to take a tour of the yard and to talk a little about plants, trees, weeds, whatever gardeners find delightful to talk about. Our meeting went well and it is always a joy to surround myself with people who enjoy working in the yard as much as I do. And we always learn so much from each other and share new yard implements; new composting tricks; new places to tour gardens. I can’t wait until our next meeting in June that will be hosted at Robert and Paddy Bateman’s gorgeous yard. If you are interested in joining our very friendly and non-structured garden club/get togethers, just give me a call or email me at windmillfarm@sbcglobal.net.

So, I have decided to just keep plugging along in my vegetable fields, I will keep hoeing, knitting and weeding and will try to stop worrying. I will just give my frets to a higher person to do all the worrying for me. Besides, he is in control of everything anything, not me. Sometimes I just need to remember that. Happy Gardening!

Monday, March 7, 2011

WINDMILL NEWS



These last few weeks have been pretty much uneventful and not hugely productive. My grandkids have been sick so I haven’t been able to see them and miss them very much. The weather has been on/off rain but we did manage to get some things planted.
The strawberries arrived and all 300 plants are planted. Frank rotatilled a few areas that had some winter cover-crop and I planted Swiss Chard, snow peas, carrots, radishes, onions, beets. I need to get some broccoli going but have to purchase some seeds along with my other summer crop seeds, such as squash, cucumbers, peppers, beans.
Many of our fruit trees are blooming, the apricots, the nectarines, I have one apple variety that is blooming and the peach trees have what I call a “wisp” of blossoms. Just puffs of pink blossoms here and there. If you are reading this blog and do not live in this wonderful and magical land of fruit orchards, you need to take a drive all along Hwy 70 and Hwy 99, thru Marysville, Yuba City and Gridley and check out all the orchards. They are just so beautiful right now with all colors of blossoms. If the air is clear, you can even smell their sweetness.
The flock of chickens are producing very well, getting lots of eggs now from the heritage breeds young Buff Orphington and Barred Rock chickens I purchased a few months ago. Unfortunately, I did have one chicken die yesterday. I always hate that, she was one of my old girls so it was probably her time to go. I sell the eggs and are available by request, call 530-846-3344, cost $3.00 a dozen and I can leave the eggs for you on my fruit stand for a drive by pickup. There is a self service money slot at the stand to leave the egg money.
I attended the most fabulous workshop a week ago called Growing AgTourism for Small Farms put on by Penny Leff, UC Small Farm Program and Holly George, UCCE. They had all types of speakers to address as many aspects of AgTourism that people may have questions about, such as zoning, working through the challenges, social media and collaborations with other operations. I was very inspired and learned a great deal. I thank Penny and Holly for a great class. I am still working with our Neighborhood Group to fight our agriculture re-zoning issue with Butte Co and IF we are able to retain our present Agriculture Zoning, I would like to pursue a few other interests here at Windmill Farm. Frank and I are trying to be as self- sufficient as possible and want to help inform and educate others. We want to be able to put on some canning classes; also show how to dry fruit very easily for kids snacks, putting food by to eat later when it isn’t available (just like the little squirrels!); also like to give some beginning vegetable planting classes, maybe a class on container vegetables or even small plot gardening; and also do school children vegetable gardening classes and/or tours of the farm. At the workshop, they had 3 county representatives to talk about getting farms zoned to do AgTourism. Butte Co representative said it takes a minimum of $1600 for the initial fees to have the county review the request and it takes about 6 months for a committee to evaluate it. Calaveras Supervisor Steve Wilensky said there is NO FEE in their county and they will have an answer for you within a week and they are VERY PRO FARMING and anything related to farming is highly encouraged. Tehama Co department was represented and he said it takes about 2 months and costs around $500. So even though Butte Co states they are “supportive of agriculture”, I think they need to take lessons on how to promote business using their best business commodity, AGRICULTURE, and try and encourage cottage industries within Butte Co.
At least with the rain, I was able to get caught up on my 2010 paperwork and finished preparing my information for my tax guy. Even farming has to be managed in a businesslike manner. I have contracted with Sarah Tamagni recently to design a new logo for our farm. I need one that I can use in a new website I want to create and also to use on signs for my van and front of our farm. Maybe even have some labels made to put on my CSA baskets, business cards, even T Shirts!!!!! I can’t wait to see what she has come up for us.
Plan to take pictures every few days on the plants in the greenhouse to have some posted on the blog and Facebook to show how fast they grow.
The sun is out and I need to get outside myself to take advantage of this clear weather. Until next time, from Windmill Farm.
PS: Frank is building some owl nest boxes to help rid the fields of gophers. And they are beautiful animals to have around.

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW GREENHOUSE

When the temperature gets warmer, Frank and I get so motivated to get started on our garden. We purchased a kit greenhouse from Harbor Freight and Frank had it together in no time. I had watched a few YouTube videos on people putting one together so had anticipated at least a 3-4 day project. Frank had the actual greenhouse up in about 5 hours. After he had it installed, he made some benches and it is now ready for me to start my plants. I plan to use it mainly for starting seedlings and getting a head start on tomato plants.
Friday was such a beautiful and warm day we just couldn’t help ourselves wanting to be outside all day long. We cleaned up all the dead vegetable plants and flower plants left over in the fields from last year. Pulled up all the drip system tapes and then Frank hooked up the rotatiler to his tractor and did most of the areas I am planning on planting the early spring plants.
I had received a call from Lassen Canyon Nursery that my strawberry plants will be shipped on Monday. They are such wonderful people there, so helpful and willing to provide any information you may need.
On Sunday, Frank put the boxer/bedder on his John Deere and made 4 – 130 foot raised bed rows for my strawberry plants. We then laid out the plastic sheeting over the top of the rows and spent the next few hours shoveling dirt all along the edges of the plastic to keep it down so it will not flap in the wind. Underneath the plastic is the drip system tape that Frank will hook up in the future when we need to start watering the plants. I was very sore at the end of the day!
I purchased 3 types of strawberries, 2 are called June bearing-Chandler and Stella varieties. These types are good producers for our area and will provide large and delicious strawberries in early spring until mid summer until it starts to get very hot. The 3rd variety is called San Andreas and is a Day Neutral, meaning it will produce plants from May to October. Apparently, strawberries produce not only due to the weather but the number of daylight hours. They told me that the plants are shipped frozen, that is interesting. I heard it is supposed to rain so I guess I will be planting strawberry plants in the rain!!!
An aspect of using sustainable farming practices is to try and use natural pest control measurers whenever possible. One way that I try and do that is to have bird houses mounted around my gardens. We have blue bird houses that Frank made a few years ago, on every other fence post edging the spring garden section. All the birdhouses were full last year with bluebirds, except one that was taken over by some swallow looking type birds. We also encourage birds by the use of water features around our yard and gardens. The large fountain in the back yard has so many different types of birds that use it either to drink out of it or take baths. In the summer evenings, a couple pairs of doves take their evening drinks. The birds supply such beautiful sounds during the day and are eating up all those bugs too.
The Gridley Herald published a wonderful article about our Windmill Farm on Wednesday. The publisher, Lisa VanDeHey was so sweet and said some very nice things about our place and our efforts to grow the very best tasting fruits and vegetables for our CSA members and people who purchase our crops from our self service stand. Thank you Lisa!!

Lastly, a friend of mine suggested I mention to you about a family story cookbook I wrote. I put together this cook book as a Christmas gift to our Carli side of the family and it came about because my husband’s family is Italian and the whole family always spoke about wonderful cooks in the family history. It was a 6 month project of compiling as many Italian recipes from as many relatives as I could, which included back five generations to the present. The book contains old photographs and short biographies of the people whose recipes are featured. Because I had to have a certain minimum printed, I happen to have extras if anyone wishes to purchase one. The actual cost of printing, $15.00 each (+ mailing cost) is the price. Just email me if you might be interested in one and I will be glad to mail it to you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

SMELLS OF SPRING

I know it isn’t officially spring and actually still in the middle of winter. Since we have had these few days of beautiful sunshine, the earth and air smells like spring. I swear that even some of the plum trees on nearby orchards have a dark red tint to their branches that look like they may be ready to bud out.
We have been fairly busy on the farm, trying to get some things done in between the fog and sun. Winter is always a time to maintain farm equipment. Frank took apart the gators to service them and one of them needed tires. He sent off the carburetors to be rebuilt which I don’t even want to know how much that will cost. He is planning to change the oil on the John Deer so it will be ready to go as soon as the fields dry out some more.
This year’s Christmas had a more practical theme to it. We gave mostly gifts of learning and usage. We gave Frank 2 new gator tires as a Christmas present from Celli and Chris and me. Frank and I gave Carli special art lessons as she is truly a very gifted child with her drawings. We gave Collin classes that he just loves, gymnastics and I gave Celli a gift certificate at her favorite fabric store, Beverly’s. Frank gave Chris a remote controlled helicopter so he and Collin could be outside and play together with it. And Frank and I paid to have family portraits done by Sarah Tamagni Photo, a young local woman who is fantastic. She came out after Thanksgiving and spent several hours here at the farm taking pictures of our kid’s family, grandkids alone, kids with grandkids + dogs; and pictures of us and the whole family. We recently got them back and the pictures take your breath away and bring tears to my eyes, they are so beautiful. Sarah was fantastic with everyone and all the distractions that were happening at the time, with the grandkids and 4 dogs! What a gifted young woman, we will treasure these pictures for a lifetime. I highly recommend her to anyone and her prices are so reasonable and she gives you all the pictures on a disk, they are yours to use as you want. Most photographers will keep them and you have to get prints from them which costs so much. Thank you Sarah for the wonderful photos.
Frank had suggested that we should grow strawberries and I had not been interested previously, but after visiting an Oregon CSA and seeing their crops, I have changed my mind. In early spring, there isn’t any fruit ripe to add to my CSA baskets, the strawberries will be an excellent addition. I ordered 300 plants from Lasson Canyon Nursery and they will arrive the 1st week of March.
The potato starts should be in next week and we plan on planting them so we will have some early potatoes in our CSA baskets. We also will be staggering the planting so we hope to have potatoes at various times during the whole season.
Frank and I have eyed a relatively, reasonably priced greenhouse from Harbor Freight company. It still takes capitol, but my wholesale starter plant man won’t have any plants available for me this year. He has 3 huge greenhouses and grows starter plants that he normally sells and uses himself as he sells at Farmer’s Market. But he said this year he is selling at the big Sacramento Farmer’s Market and will need all the plants he has to use himself. Having plants early to put into the ground gives a farmer a slight edge to getting crops out there to be able to sell or provide to CSA members is what the business is about. And trying to keep all costs down is right up there too. In Gridley, our weather is normally very warm most of the season, so the greenhouse will be used mostly for starting up plants and maybe we will try and keep some potted tomato plants in there in the fall to have some tomatoes later in the season.
We finished up pruning all the fruit trees and grapes and then Frank used the chipper mower on them which mulches up the branches into beautiful small chips that we leave around the trees for compost. When we did the cherry trees, I saw that the branches had little buds on them. So I brought a big armful of the smaller branches into the house and put them in a big old crock to force them to bloom. There is nothing more beautiful than an arrangement of either cherry blossoms or apple blossoms, well maybe a bouquet full of pink peonies, pink roses and pink hydrangeas!!!
The 2011 CSA season for memberships has started and I can’t believe how many people have contacted Windmill Farm to be a member. It seems like there has been an explosion of interest in sustainable growing and eating healthy. Our farming practices have always been sustainable and we feel like we do everything we can do to make our soil better and our crops as fresh, nutritious and to use none or as little pesticides as possible.
Frank and I are fairly rare in the farming business. We are senior citizens and do 99% of the farming ourselves. We are living our life’s dream and hope to be able to continue to be outside, grow wonderful crops, and live in this beautiful agriculture area of Gridley, for as long as we can.
Until next time.

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