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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