Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hard to Keep Up With Everything

This is the time of year that it seems to be really hard to keep up with everything. 
The weather is hot so there is the extra watering.  We had a surprise rain storm one night, goodie!!  But that meant all those weeds in the open spaces started to grow. 
After one crop is finished, we like to disc up that section and let the soil rest, so the carrots and beets and onion section was open dirt.  Well it now has weeds.
Everything seems to be growing well, producing like crazy.  Goodie!!!  But that means you have to pick the produce quickly or it is too ripe or too big, too soon.  I can't miss one day.
The bugs are out, the ground squirrels are out, and they are eating the cucumbers.
Speaking of cucumbers, it is time to re-plant so I can have a later crop towards end of summer.
Peppers plants are so full of peppers, they need staking or stringing.  Speaking of peppers, the shade cloth needs to be spread over it as it is so hot, they are getting burned.
The flower gardens look beautiful but one row looks like they need watering but they all get the same drip tape watering.  Upon close examination, there is a break in one of the lines (probably from weeding with the hoe) and most of the row isn't getting water.  That needs fixing.
In the dahlia patch there is too much water, I put too many drip tapes and they are not liking so much water, I need to remove and plug 1-2 rows of the drip tapes.
The weeds are high around the base of the pomegranate and fruit trees, we need to weed wack or weed eat around them-all 250 trees!!
Speaking of the trees, we flood irrigate the trees a couple times a summer and it is time to do that which requires digging trenches, tractor work for Frank.
The pumpkins got planted in 4-200foot rows.  The plants are up and doing well, but so are the weeds.  They are up as high also and need hoeing.  I really hate using black plastic weed cover on rows as horrible on environment, extra work and $$$ when you put it down, a mess at the end of the year to pull up but BOY is it great to not have the weeds.
I need to do some personal canning.  I need to schedule a canning class as everyone is asking for one.
Speaking of classes, I have a "Learn to Make Healthy Smoothies" class set for August 7th, 6-8:00pm if interested.  Great way to use fruits and vegetables to help with various health issues. Sign up if interested.
Classes mean I need to clean up my sorting shed, where I put together our CSA baskets, but also give the canning and various summer classes.  It seems to become a catch all for boxes, baskets, jars, bags, produce let on counters to be put away.  Add that to "the list" to clean it up.
While I am out there, I need to put together some produce to put out front of my self service fruit stand.  People keep coming by but I can't sell produce if I don't have it out there for them!!
Lawns need to be mowed.
Hydrangeas need to be cut so they may get another bloom before fall.
Chicken house needs to be cleaned with new straw put down.  Speaking of chickens, I need to get more feed, I am almost out. 
I have had 3 calls already before 9:00am people wanting to purchase our chicken eggs.
It is Sunday morning, no resting today. Farmers do not have weekends off. 
Off we go to try and scratch a few of these items off of our "to do list".  This is what I would rather do, a wonderful afternoon nap in the shade. NOT!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Farm Front Gate Always Open

When we lived in Nevada City for over 30 years, our house was located at the very end of a dirt road which was about 1 mile off of a main road with only a few houses close by us. If someone came to the door, it was because they were either lost; a relative; a friend or someone who you had arranged and knew they were coming at a specific time.  Nobody ever came by to just "drop by" to say hi.
After moving and farming in Gridley, we started to get back that sense of old fashioned neighbors stopping by to just say "Hi".  It took some getting used to having people ring the front door bell.  Frank and I still jump in our seats when the bell rings.

People will just stop by, saying they were in the area and wanted to know if we had tomatoes or eggs; or a neighbor who got our mail by mistake; or the neighbor's kids coming over to sell Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scouts.     Whenever I am out front raking or working on fruit stand, people always stop who are driving by to ask about produce or the house, or just to introduce themselves to us.  Just being "friendly".  What a shock that is now adays!!! 
The power of food has opened up our gate to so many wonderful people we would never have had a chance to meet.  The power of something simple, like us raising chickens and putting out an "Egg" sign.  We get more calls asking about eggs than any other item we sell and people are always so nice and understanding if the hens aren't laying because of the heat or they have to wait for another few days to get a dozen.  They are so appreciative, so happy to be able to buy something so fresh, so "natural".

Living in a small community, we are connected to people, even if by a simple thread of a roadside stand; some chicken eggs; love of flowers; love of old houses.  We were talking to someone at the hardware store the other day and Frank explained to the people where we lived.  They replied that they knew who we were, telling us we were the ones who moved into the "Haven's" old house; have the roadside stand; sell eggs; sell produce; always have decorations on my gate or front door; blah, blah, but in a very nice way.  It still surprises us how much people notice or know about us-strangers.
What I realize is that when we are a farmer, especially a local farmer, we belong to people; we are connected to people through food; they are proud that we are a small farm trying to make a living; they are proud that we live in their neighborhood; they support us, they like what we are doing.
And we are so proud and happy to have found this wonderful place called Gridley to call home and to have re-discovered the notion of "neighbors"; "community" good "friends".  Stop by sometime, the gate is always open. Stay out of the heat

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Making Jam, Cucumbers Loving the Heat-I Have Fallen In Love With Succulents

What can I say about the heat here in Northern California.  I am just fine with anything up to like 90, 91, 92 even 93.  But when it is high 90s and into 104 for several days in a row.  I am wilting.
But farming doesn't stop because I am having a hard time dragging myself out to do watering, weeding, evening planting, picking.  The days just start a few hours earlier, then I stop about being out in the direct sun around 1pm.  We picked cucumbers today and I was amazed at how many cases we filled.  They just love the heat and there are many, many blossoms still coming.  Gaspacho is on the menu for tonight!
The last few days, I have spent the afternoon after working in the garden, in my sorting shed.  Believe it or not, canning!!!  It is in the shade, has a fan, music, and when it gets really really hot, I hose down the concrete floor and it just cools off again.  And any mess can be easily cleaned up outside than inside the house.
On Sunday I was in the middle of making the last of the apricots into jam when I got a call from a friend, Sarah.  She wanted to buy some beans, apricots, potatoes and a few other things because she and a girlfriend were planning on canning some items to enter into the fair this year.  I invited them all out so we could can together, which is much more fun than being by yourself.  After a few hours, we had jars all lined up on the table, 3 canners cooking and a sink full of bits and pieces of too ripe cut up vegetables and fruit that was going to the chickens that didn't make it into canning jars.  What a rewarding hot afternoon, we didn't even notice it had gotten over 100 degrees we were so busy.
All my life, I have hated cautus and succulents.  Who knows why, I just thought they were so boring, nobody ever wants to smell them and they were always rough and un-interesting.  Well never say NEVER!!!  I started liking them last year as they were creeping into my world of Pinterest and gardening magazines.  The way they were being displayed got my brain thinking I might be able to have one or two-maybe.  I suppose what really changed my mind is that the succulents started being grown in containers that I like, such as galvanized buckets; or wheelbarrows; or antique pottery. (Pictures from Pinterest)

Then one day I was shopping in a local, antique shop and in my favorite booth, the vendor had about 6-8 of the cutest BLOOMING succulents in antique ironstone pottery items.  I bought 4 of them and they are still on my kitchen table.  I am now dreaming of taking two of my old galvanized big farm buckets, filling them with the necessary succulent soil and creating my own ice plant/succulent garden.

A person can never be too old to try something new.