Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flowers, Destruction Dirby and More Flowers!

Hello from Windmill Farm:
I mentioned last time I would tell you about our last few busy weeks here at the farm.  It has been our local fair week and both Frank and I were asked to help out with different projects.
I was asked by Mrs. Earley to provide all the flowers that would be at 14 different tables for an event called Taste of Butte County.  The businesses in our communities of Chico, Paradise, Gridley, Durham and other areas bring their products to this evening event, had out information and tastings.  Wine is served and many local wineries have tastings; so do local olive oil companies; cheeses; nuts; jelly/jams; etc.  The gallon glass containers were given to me and I made the arrangements.  She also needed some small arrangements to be placed in glass containers on the long table where people can sit and eat or relax and talk to the vendors.  Frank put chicken wire across the top so I could keep the large arrangements from drooping.  I made the floral arrangements and then Mrs. Earley came in the evening and we covered the containers with western red bandannas, tied burlap strips into bows; and then put together all the small flower arrangements for the tables.It took me a while to pick all the flowers that were going to be used in the arrangements.  Nothing more beautiful than a cart full of limelight hydrangeas!
Car full of flowers

 We delivered them the next day and everyone said they looked beautiful when the event started later that evening.
Frank was asked by two people to paint their cars for the Destruction Derby's that were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday evenings.  Have you ever been to a Destruction Derby?  They are actually lots of fun.  Nothing more fun than to watch cars, on a muddy track, running and banging into each other.  There is noise, smoke and lots of yelling.  Frank helped paint the 777 car and completely painted the #20 car.  It started out gray, then he put on chevron purple strips, then glidder was added and then numbers and more shiny stuff.  That car was owned by our friend Sarah Reynolds and this was her first race and she did fantastic.
Monday night we were just settling in for the evening after a busy week and I received a telephone call from a friend, Lisa who is a Floral and Wedding designer.  She had received a late call asking her to put together some arrangements for an event, the next day in Chico.  Lisa doesn't have flowers on hand normally, she orders her flowers as needed for weddings, etc.  She called me as she really needed some fresh flowers.  They came over and at 7:30-dark we were out in the fields and yard picking whatever she thought she could use.  Lisa is one talented lady and out of this and that, there are the arrangements made by our Windmill Farm flowers.

One thing we have learned from our farming experiences is that people feel a real connection to who we are and what we are doing.  Because most people know that this is our home, we are pretty much open during the season all day, every day.  I guess we have all gotten accustomed to having businesses open all the time.  Gosh, would I be upset if I went to Target at 7:30pm at night and they were closed!!!  But our feeling is that we ARE a business and this is the time when we make our $$$ for the whole year and if we have produce; or have flowers; or can provide a service for someone, we will do whatever we can to make it happen.  And we love our little town of Gridley and feel pretty good that we are part of the community events.
Oh, bye the way, I will be giving an applesauce canning class September 18th and Lisa is going to give a class on floral arranging sometime in September, she will be giving me a date soon.  If interested in those classes, email me and I will put you on the list to be given more information.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hoosier Cabinets and Bin Tables

There has been so much happening here at the farm.  I want to tell you more and have photos, but need to download some pictures before I do that.  Little hints are:  I finished the magazine article for Edible Shasta-Butte magazine to be printed in October; we had a huge flower order for local event at Gridley Fair; Frank has been painting 2 cars for the Destruction Derby on Saturday and Sunday.
But early today, my mind was wondering, re-arranging the furniture and thinking of antique cabinets and tables.  If anyone knows me well, they know I have this fetish for old cupboards, cabinets and tables.  I used to have it for chairs too, but have moved on to upholstery chairs.  There is nothing that can get my creative juices going more than to find a fabulous old table or cabinet to fit into my house, somehow!!!
I love Hoosier cabinets.  If you do not know what these cabinets are, they are the perfect, utilitarian, self contained, kitchen of their time.  The typical Hoosier cabinet consists of three parts. The base section usually has one large compartment with a slide out shelf, and several drawers to one side. Generally it sat on small casters. The top portion is shallower and has several smaller compartments with doors, with one of the larger lower compartments having a roll-top or tambour. The top and the bottom are joined by a pair of metal channels which serve as the guide for a sliding counter top, which usually has a pair of shallow drawers affixed to its underside. The whole assembly, with the counter retracted, is fairly shallow. The very early counter tops were made from zinc; then they started making them out of granite.  There are thousands of variations with lots of different accessories, the flour bin and sifter; great glass storage containers; wire racks. Some cheaper ones came painted; some finer ones were made from oak. 
When we remodeled a Victorian house in Grass Valley, I used the top of one over my washer/dryer and the bottom of it as a kitchen island.  I always think about the many pies, breads and family meals that were made with this simple yet well designed piece of antique furniture.
I probably had at least 20 bin tables throughout my life.  I love them, get rid of them; fall in love with them again; then they are out the door. This one is in my office, it came from a 1920s Spanish fabulous house in Colfax area originally owned by Mr. Weimar who started the Weimar Sanatorium; and was in the maid's pantry.  It has the original gray paint on it which I sanded a bit, refinished the top and then put clear coat over it many years ago.  It has the two metal bins below; 2 drawers which I believe were used for silverware and cooking utensils and it is missing its' cutting board.  We had it up at our little cabin for years and was our only kitchen storage unit for a long time.  When we sold the cabin, it came home to my office.  My understanding is that they are basically a baking table.  Flour and sugar were stored in the bins; they would use the top to make their items, roll out the doughs or use the cutting board.  I have had a few that had a drop leaf on the side to use as a table to sit at along with baking.  Here are some other photos of various bin tables:
Some had the most beautiful pulls on the drawers.  The older the table, the more intricate the pulls, one table I once owned had dog heads embossed on the cast iron pulls.
If you look carefully, every bin table is different; just look at the turnings of the table legs on these few photos.  All different.  Some had 2 pull out cutting boards; some only had one drawer in the middle. This last photo is really ingenious.  The table top will pull out and drop down to make one big top. They also made single bin tables.  I am embarrassed to say I owned a few of them too.  They made their way from the kitchen to a side table by a chair in family room; to a side table in a bedroom.  They are so useful anyplace.
I suppose both these old kitchen units, if found today, would be painted with chalk paint.  I think they could have a renewed life in a craft room; in a kids room; or even as a bar in a family room.  Those big metal bins could sure store a bunch of toys instead of flour!!!
From our farm today-have a great weekend and if you are fairly local, come see our fun Gridley Fair.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Visitors to Our Farm; Canning/Drying Peachs and Apples

I wish I could say I have been sitting here in the garden.
 But we have been trying to keep up with the dropping fruit and vegetables that are getting too large.  We sliced peaches, sulfured them in the same manner we do our apricots; and then laid them out in the sun for 4 days to dry.  This week our CSA members received a small baggie to try them out.
We also sliced some apples we had and dipped them in lemon juice, water and a bit of cinnamon.  Then we put them in the screened tray that Frank made last year to dry out in the sun.  Because it has been hot, it only took 1 1/2 days to be perfect.  The screened tray is really handy.  Frank put hinges on it to the top and bottom have screen.  Once I fill up the trays, the top closes down and it keeps all the gnats and flys off the fruit while drying.  I normally use my electric dehydrator, but this year our batches have been bigger and to save money on electricity, it is much quicker and cheaper to use the sun!
We had our family come to stay with us for a few days.  Carli and Collin love to take care of the chickens.  They had brought me the 15+ chicks several months ago and they always are excited to see how they are growing.  One treat that the chickens love is bread.  So they go out and give the chickens pieces of bread which brings them close to to them and to their feet.  Carli got a little scared once when they all got really excited about the bread and Carli started to scream.  I told her to throw the bread away from her so they would move away.
Then our relatives from Los Altos, who love to get involved in anything we do on the farm, visited us for several days. We picked peaches, we canned peaches and we baked many, many mini peach pies.  The idea was to experiment using different types of ingredients for the crust.  The idea is to give a pie to each of my CSA members so they can try them out and later if interested, can purchase pies from our farm.  We were very busy.  I am afraid we may have worked our guests a little too hard!!
PS- Happy Birthday to My Wonderful and Loving Frank.  Today is his Birthday.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Food is Magnet To Meet Wonderful People

I can't believe the gifts of friendship we have received recently, all because our farm's produce brought them to us.
We received a call from the parents of one of our daughter's friends, that had moved to Paradise to retire.  They wanted to know if they could stop by as they had heard we sold produce, which they did.  Frank and I were right in the middle of cutting tomatoes to sun dry them.  The couple was so excited to see what we were doing, they wanted to help.  So we quickly got a huge amount of very ripe tomatoes cut up and set out the screens on the saw horses to dry.  We took them out to the garden where they picked the vegetables that they wanted along with picking some dried beans.  A few days later, they called and said they might stop by to leave us a few gifts.  She had made some delicious beans with ham hocks using the dried beans she had picked and shelled; she made us a peach/nectarine cobbler using our fruit; AND they brought us a garden cabinet that they had made using re-cycled wood, pulls and baskets found at yard sales.  Needless to say, it was such a surprise and a wonderful- way too generous gift/s.  Since that time, they have become Windmill Farm fans and very good friends.
Some people we have met are seasonal friends.  We only see or hear from them during certain fruit or vegetable season.  One dear couple LOVES to can peaches.  Not just any peaches, only a particular variety of CLING peaches.  She sets aside a certain period of time just for canning when her friend comes to visit her each year.  She delights in arranging those fun visits whenever I let her know the time is right for cling peaches.  She and her friend spend days peeling and packing jars of fresh peaches from our farm.  Occasionally, in the winter she may call me letting me know they are eating the peaches she canned and how yummy the flavor is and how much she appreciated me saving her those special peaches just for her.
Another seasonal friend/s revolves around Meyer Lemons.  One day in early
winter, I was out front raking leaves when some people stopped at my roadside stand to look at the Meyer lemons we were selling at the time.  So many people stop and look or purchase what we have, but I don't always see who they may be as it is a self service fruit stand.  This time the man waved at me and asked if I could answer a question about the lemons.  I gladly stopped raking to talk about food!!!  While talking for some time about lemons and other things, Frank heard us and came over to the stand too.  We were out there for well over an hour and felt instantly connected to this fun couple.  The man had gone to school in Gridley when he was young but moved away and he and his wife live in Arizona.  A few times a year, they come visit a friend who happens to live on our street on their way to their 2nd home in Northern Oregon.  They had asked their friend to look out for any Meyer Lemons to buy and their friend remembered my stand and told them.  Well, they ended up reading this blog; sending us emails; and we have become very good friends. We see each other several times a year and every time they pass through Gridley heading North, we load them up with eggs, fruits, vegetables, hugs and well wishes. Oh, and their friends on our street who we never knew until we met the Arizona people? They have become great friends too!!! The Meyer Lemons brought us all together.
In one of my previous posts, I told you about the person who wrote me a very nice email after following my blog about the farm.  She is a life long maker of beautiful braided rugs. After chatting back and forth for several months, we met in person and she agreed to finish my mother's rug that my Mom had started more than 40 years ago.  This last week while delivering our CSA baskets, one of our stops was at her house to pick up the finished rug.  What a fabulous surprise to see it done.  Not an easy project when you think that I did not have any of the original wool pieces my mother used so she had to find some wool in her stash.  She said she ended up going to some thrift shops looking for wool jackets or wool men's pants to cut up to use.  I am so pleased with the results and I can't thank her enough.  She showed me some intricate designs in the braiding that I had not noticed previously, I know my mother would be happy and we have a new wonderful friend that we would have never met if it wasn't for growing fruits and vegetables; and the farm blog about food, gardening, flowers, design and life on a small farm.
Call your local farmer; stop at a local farm stand; order some local fresh cut flowers, you might be surprised to find a kindred spirit, a life long friend along the way.  Until next time from our farm-