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.

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