Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Flowers, Gardening, Decorating, Classes, Farming In The New 2015 Year

A special thank you to all the people who continue to follow our Windmill Farm blog.  Each year brings new adventures, new challenges, new ideas to explore at our farm and our business.  Here are a few of our thoughts, wishes, ideas, goals for the farm in 2015
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FLOWERS-will be at the top of my list to increase, learn more, sell more hopefully!!! They constantly challenge my gardening skills and just learning to pronounce many of their names will be a education for me.  Dahlias are going to be my main focus; adding more pod flowers; having more variety of flowers so that my arrangements will be unique and inspiring to those that receive them; to have flower classes; flower day workshops where people can go to the flower fields, pick and create their own arrangements.
VEGETABLES-to grow and add more unique vegetables to our CSA baskets.  Many of our members have been with us for years so we hope to keep them surprised when they open up their produce baskets in 2015
CLASSES-I feel we have supplied our community with many inspiring and educational classes during the last few years. Some of our faithful friends come to almost every new one we provide.  Frank gave me some new tools to do upholstery work so I want to give some more classes on upholstery in the up coming year.  I have several chairs I want to upholster myself AND to make some slip covers. To start out the year, I am putting together a weight loss informational class.  For myself, that is at the top of my resolutions for 2015.  I thought about having several areas of health and weight loss experts come to speak and give information.  Such as my friend Sarah who does health shakes; Julie who sells Amway products that have a component for weight loss and health; maybe find a Weight Watcher's rep; someone from the gyms in town to come talk about memberships; Yoga teachers, all of these areas that others may find worthwhile to contact on their own.
FARMING:  To try some new ideas about re-arranging our vegetable produce fields to make it easier to bring in the tractor to weed; to try some other water saving ideas; to try some new ways to reduce the time weeding; and I may even see if we can have someone come help me in the garden one day a week.  I had a wonderful and PERFECT young woman last year who happened to attend one of my classes.  She was new to the area but had spent many years working in a CSA farm so knew so much more than myself and was so willing to work as hard as I do too.  That is not easy to find a person who is willing to get on their hands and knees to pull weeds or lift heavy soil or dig; or pick beans in 100 degree weather.  She moved away and I wish I could clone her or at least find someone to help me out in 2015.  If we do, then we may be able to expand our memberships in the CSA business or the flower business.  It isn't easy to do it all, plant, weed, water, pack, wash, deliver produce.  Frank is so helpful to me but he tends all the broken things to do with farming; does all the water developing and maintaining; all the tractor work, all the heavy lifting stuff.  Maybe I need a clone of him!!!
HEALTH AND WELLNESS-luckily Frank and I have maintained our health but we need to do things differently as we are getting older.  But we are also inspired and being asked to teach others about fresh food; buying local; eating right with these new Wellness classes at the school.  After doing a few in 2014 for teachers at various schools, we believe we will be asked to do more of them.  
I hope you make it your wish to continue to be part of what we are doing by "following" us here at the blog or on our Facebook page.  You wouldn't want to miss out would you???
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FAB FARM FRESH WREATH MAKING CLASSES

Our two wreath making classes here at Windmill Farm last week went so well, loads of fun and the wreaths people made were each unique, festive and beautiful!!
Will keep my words brief and just show photos.  We had a great variety of all the types of greenery, there was available, eucalyptus, magnolia branches, olive trees, cedar, redwood, noble fir, ivy pods, hydrangeas, pine cones, heavenly bamboo berries, privet berries, sliced wood pieces, rosemary; bows, ribbons, Christmas bulbs, cinnamon sticks.  Anything I thought people may want to decorate their wreaths.
Refreshments were fresh fruit, cookies, hot spiced cider, dips, dried fruits.  Christmas music going, a heated shop, big work tables and our wonderful and talented local wedding florist Lisa Hunter instructed everyone on the basics of making wreaths.
 


 










It was so much fun, I have so many more photos of other people will post later as I know you were getting pretty bored looking at them all.  Thanks for visiting my blog and hope you continue to come back in the 2015 season!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Upholstering An Old French Chair

My Christmas tree and inside the holiday house decorations are done.  I have wrapped the presents and the outside lights and decorations are done.  It is raining and I still have on my list of items to finish on my "To-Do List" for 2014 is to upholster a chair I purchased at a yard sale for $10.00.  It has been sitting in my garage and I remembered it when Frank pulled down the Christmas items from the garage rafters.  It needs to be done and out of there.
First thing I did was paint it white.  Half way through I didn't like it white so I "washed" the white with some blue paint, I thought the chair looked a little French, which I like and blue brought out the wood details.
The upholstery was already gone and this burlap lining was left.  I did like it the way it was, but Frank thought it looked too too primitive.
I went to a fabric store and found the  perfect fabric to go with the color of the painted chair.
Started stapling and tacking all around with the new fabric.
Even did the arm rest which was already padded.
It was now ready for the trim.  Gosh, did I have sticker shock when I went to purchase the trim, needed about 8 yards at $3.99 a yard at the local fabric store.  I just couldn't justify paying that much, so I decided to stop by a great Upholstery Supply Store in downtown Oroville, called Pond's.  It actually is for auto upholstery, but many items cross over into furniture.  I paid $1.50 a yard for same trim and was very, very happy I tried an upholstery store.  We have gone to Pond's many times for foam, webbing and for upholstery fabric for Frank's 1957 Jeep truck seats he is restoring.  It is hard to find any upholstery stores any more, too bad because I see furniture all the time that would look great if just re-done in a more modern fabric.
The project took a couple of days, off and on working on it. I even put the dust cover cloth underneath, like a real pro and finished it off with felt pieces on the feet so it will slide easily on my wood floors.
 I am happy with the results and happy it is finally crossed off my 2014 list!!! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Farm Wreath Class, Decorating For Christmas

Did all of you have a great Thanksgiving?  We sure did, we had our beautiful family and friends over to a full fledged, all traditional style food spread.  It killed me to purchase green beans and what a disappointment they were from our home grown ones.  But what can you do in  November!!!
I made a couple pumpkin pies using my own crust recipe, no store bought already made crusts for me.  The usual cranberry salad made with fresh cranberries, oranges and apples. That is always a hit.
Grand kids made gingerbread men decorated with frosting, raisins and sprinkles.  Turns out one looked like Grandpa Frank, white hair and white mustache.
House was filled with love and joy and 6 dogs-that is always an experience when it comes time to feed them.
Now that December is here, count down until Christmas.  But most importantly, count down until my two farm fresh wreath making classes that are scheduled for this Wednesday, December 3rd and Thursday, December 4th.  Still room for 1-2 people either day.  I had a last minute switch happen with a couple of people as the dates conflict with some local events in town.  
I decided to have the classes in Frank's shop instead of the house to have more room for a few more people and LOTS more messes.  His shop has a huge center work table, heat and space.  Problem is, I have to help Frank clean it up before Wednesday of saw dust and tools.  That is what we will be doing on Tuesday along with cutting lots and lots of berries and greens.
We had so much fun last year at the wreath class.  This time I want to have a photo wall so each person can show off their individually made wreaths.  
Believe it or not, I went out on Sunday and purchased a 9' real tree from a local feed store that sells noble firs.  Frank was such a good sport, he took down all the Christmas decorations from the garage attic and put the stand on the tree and together we moved it to the favorite spot.
Out come the lights, setting up some small faux trees here and there; so far the basics are done.  Now starts the week long putting on the ornaments.  But I am thinking, this year, I want only white decorations.  Possibly paint a bunch of pine cones white; spray Christmas snow on some new bulbs to make them white; white lights, white garland.  Like a tree sitting in the middle of a snow storm.  At least that is my plan for now except it may have to wait as I get ready for the wreath classes.
We want our classes to be a wonderful experience for the people who support our farm, pay their money and are excited to go home with a beautiful wreath.
Will get back to you in a few days with photos of class #1 and class #2.
What kind of Christmas decorations are you thinking about doing this year?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Attended Great Farm Marketing and Social Media Class and Other Farm Projects

Always doing flower projects.  I had an order for 5 arrangements and a surprise how many blooming plants we still have available at the farm.
 Flowers in Cooler ready to be in arrangement.  Hard to believe it is the middle of November!!
I feel like I have been on the road for a week, so many activities and events.  I give classes all year round here at the farm, it was nice to ATTEND a class this week.  The class was put on by Buy Fresh/Buy Local, USDA and Northern California Regional Land Trust organizations in Orland.  The topics were Marketing Strategies and Social Media for the Local Food Economy.
Great speakers, great topics.  Being the "older" generation of social medias, I use them-i.e. this blog, Facebook and a little Instragram.  But to learn how these tools can enhance farming identification, marketing and ultimately-sales of our products was so interesting.  I just need to force myself to venture out and try the big one they talked about, Twitter.
I guess I had this idea Twitter was for the 13 year old kids saying "Was Up".  It appears from this workshop that many people have moved on from Facebook to Twitter for various reasons.  The word count is low so most talk is short. Group talks is an added benefit plus that instant, immediate information about what is happening within the group you belong to.
As one instructor Gina Sims stated, you pick your groups by your interests and if nothing worthwhile is happening, you move on to another group.  Time is so precious to all of us, information has to catch our eye and interest and the article or information provided has to be on point and worth reading by others.  Don't we all feel that way?
I read my emails, blogs, Instragram, Facebook early in morning before I start my day.  You scan through with videos and photos catching most of our attention lately instead of seeing long paragraphs of chatter, sort of like what I am doing now!!!
The point is, social media continues to play a key role in getting information about our farm, classes, baskets, produce, flowers out there.  If I post in one media, it may be missed in another media, such as Twitter or Instragram with a much greater audience.  Farmers basically would rather have dirt on their hands or on a tractor than to sit with their phone or tablet posting photos or chatting.  But it needs to be done, particularly if you are a smaller farmer with varied products to sell.
Frank has been putting up some really great lights around our yard, using old porcelain lights.  I found this one porcelain shade antiquing with a friend and I knew Frank would like it.
In two days, he took and old light down, built a new post, wired it, painted and attached to fence by his shop.

We had this other porcelain, larger shade and Frank re-wired it, attached to a metal post, put a finial on top and connected it to our night time landscaping lights by the front gate.  Oh and he installed the new LED lights to it so it only uses pennies to run.  
Only Frank would say how much he enjoyed these type of projects, he so loves to keep busy.  
At our last house in Manton, we had a 100 year old barn that Frank restored, beautiful 3 story wood structure.  I wish we had it here in Gridley.  Every day Frank says he wishes he had an old barn here at Windmill Farm or at least the $$$ to be able to build one like an old barn.  Boy could I have great classes in an old barn or have it for weddings, events??  That is what keeps us going, those dreams and wishes.
Until next time from Windmill Farm.

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