Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Chicks At Windmill Farm-Loving All Things Beautiful In Nature

Nature still inspires me even after all these years.  The wonder of seeing a plant growing after I place a tiny seed in the ground in the garden. The beauty of fruit trees blooming.  Seeing honey bees congregating in mass at our fountain, drinking water.  The Cecile Brunner Rose blooming with so many blossoms, you can't see the green of the plant.
We have always had animals and livestock during our years ranching and farming.  I love geese and have had many, many little goslings that grew up to enjoy themselves as adults on our pond.  We raised beef cows and during the worst snow store in Nevada City, a mother cow was having difficulty giving birth.  The only enclosure that was dry was our huge greenhouse so that is where we put her to have her calf.  Of course, it wasn't during the day, but at 1 am on a work night.  Baby pigs that escape from their pen to take off and we spend hours trying to round them up.  After giving up, we head back home and all 6 of them are at the front gate of their house wanting to get back into it.
I mentioned before that I used to raise canaries and finches and at one time had 100s of them in outside aviaries.  Beautiful songs, but lots of heart breaks too.  
Chickens have been at every place where we lived, from chicks to exotic to the normal.  I guess I am getting a little nostalgic as Mother's Day is getting close.  But as I watched one of my sweet hens sitting in a nest box for weeks and weeks, I felt sorry for her.
 Most of the time, there wouldn't be any eggs under her.  And I do not have a rooster anyways, but nature is telling her she needs to nest, to make a warm and safe place to hopefully, hear the cheep cheep from a new born chick.  
She fearsley claimed her one spot that she guarded during all this time.  I removed her a few times, much to her anger at me, but within minutes, she would quickly go get a drink, a quick bite of food and then back to her task of "brooding".
I got up early yesterday and did some errands and somehow, I ended up at Wheeler Ranch and Feed asking for 4 baby chicks.  
The last time I raised chicks, I said I wouldn't do it again since it took so much time, sometimes a baby chick wouldn't make and 
I would be sad; I constantly had to make sure our dogs or neighbor's cats would not kill them.  But there I was, determined to make this sweet hen happy for all her efforts.  And I might add, I have done this before and 90% of the time, the brooding hen wouldn't accept the chicks, so they would be raised separately until old enough to be included with the rest of the lady hens.
My thought was that I would wait until dark and put them under her when she couldn't see them, just hear them.  So I kept them in the garage with a light, food, water for most of the day.  But I grew impatient to see if this experiment would work with her, so I put all of them in a towel and gently placed each one under her to see what she would do.

Have you ever heard a mother hen talk to her baby chicks??? Amazing, she calms them, she teaches with her voice, she sends loving cooing noises as they move around under neath her body and wings.  If she doesn't want the new chicks, you know immediately, her sound is harsh, loud, mean.
I waited to see what she was going to do and I only heard the soft cooing sound as they settled under her warm feathers.  So much nicer to stay warm under a down blanket of "Moms" feathers, than a heat light. She was so happy, so proud, she touched each one.  I didn't want to leave, I was afraid one of the other hens in the house would hurt the baby chicks, I was afraid she might change her mind; I was afraid that if she decided to get up, the chicks would fall out of the nest.  But I had to let nature take over and went into the house to cook dinner.  After a few hours, it became dark and I went into the hen house to see what happened.  All was quiet and safe and 4 baby chicks were as happy as they could be and so was the "Momma".
The next morning my immediate thoughts were how the chicks were and how the other hens were treating them and was she going to be a good mother to them.  They were in the same spot, nothing different so my next worry was that if she didn't start moving around, the chicks wouldn't have food or water.  So I picked all 4 out from under her and placed them in the corner of the hen house with water and food next to them.  Boy, the new Momma was out of the nest, all her feathers fluffed up to their maximum, mad as, well "Mad As A Wet Hen", at me for taking her babies.  The mother instinct was working, she chuckled some new sounds and they rounded up around her and she made a nest on the floor in the corner.  One thing I had never seen before, as they were under her in their new location, she started pulling feathers from around her tail and under her and pushing them around her.  She was making a new soft nest for her babies!!! Again, the wonder of nature.  After 6 or 7 more trips to check on her today, all is well and they all seem to be happy as can be.  I tried taking photos of how cute they all are, but some are not as sharp as I would like them to be.  I think my adoption intervention has worked.
I guess as Mother's Day approaches, I do get sentimental about my mother, my grandmother and memories I have of them long past.  And our life together, Frank and I.  The sweetest and dearest event of our lives was when our daughter was born, but it was topped by another wonderous moment to be with our daughter when she gave birth first to our grand daughter and second to be there at the birth of our grand son now giving us our two beautiful two grandchildren.   
From Mary Lake Thompson, LLC
I hope you are enjoying the wonders of spring and nature and if I don't get back here until next weekend, Happy Mother's Day!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Planting Cutting Flower Gardens; Great Great Rag Rug Class

This week has been a very productive Windmill Farm week.  We have been laying down landscaping fabric as I mentioned before this year.  That in itself, is a great task considering it is just ME and sometimes Frank to help.  
It wasn't until I was almost on my last big, long run did I get a scare.  Do you remember that I mentioned I purchased it used from a nursery who wasn't going to raise potted plants any longer?  It was already down so they had their workers roll it up in whatever widths and lengths that were already down for them.  
fellow farmer photo
So some were extremely heavy which turned out to be the widest and longest pieces, like maybe 100 feet long!!! Well this one was long and wide so I pulled it to one end of my row and started to open up the 4 folded widths.  I got to about the middle and there was a big pile of dirt on the top side.  I went over to brush it off and out coiled a rattlesnake!!!  It was a young one, but a rattlesnake nevertheless.  The dogs are programmed to know when I scream like a crazy woman, it means something for them to chase or see for themselves.  Frank is also trained, he heard the scream and said "What is it now?"  A SNAKE!!!

Needless to say, after that, I gingerly unrolled the rest of the panels and only thing I found was a couple crickets and a red racer which doesn't freighted me a bit. So 90% of the drip tape is laid under the panels, 10% to go and 95% of the landscaping fabric is done.  The last 2 rows are short rows and I was waiting to use just the short or cut off pieces used on all the rest so I don't have to waste cutting up a really long section.
Floret Flowers photo-my mentor
I torched my holes with my portable hand propane tank on the 1 section of the annual cut flower sections.  And the seeds are in the ground ready for the big rain we got yesterday.  Not to say I don't have a zillion more seeds and plants to put into the ground but the groundwork is done; the base is done; I keep telling myself this extra work now will be saving me hours and hours of weeding work all summer long.
Frank put up the panels for all the tomato plants, pole beans and Asian yard long beans.  I have the tomato plants but the drip system isn't installed yet so that means I will have to hand water if they are planted.  In a couple days, Frank will have that done and in they will go.
My Learn To Crochet a Rag Rug was a wonderful class.
 Sometimes the combination of people just make it special and that is what happened this week.  
I had a couple cancellations, which always disappoints me because my expenses for supplies, printing materials, food, time and fabrics was high on this class.
 But I think everyone learned a great deal, most went home with a very good start on their rugs.  I received some photos of a couple people showing me their progress so I am sure I will be getting more photos of completed rugs very soon.  
My grand door prize were these flower motifs I made from jute I made into a swag.

I will have to come up with some ideas for the next classes.  Right now I am obsessive in making jute, string, hemp, sisal baskets and flower motif swags.  
Each night I try and make a different sized basket using a different natural material.  
Maybe my next class will be how to make a basket!!
The kids and grand kids made a surprise weekend visit which was a wonderful surprise.  With the rain, it was really fun to be able to stay inside and visit, talk, cook and have fun together.  I even showed Collin and Carli how to crochet.  
Until next time from Windmill Farm.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Flowers Flowers Flowers!!

We might have had some rain, but nature was pumping out flowers like crazy.  What a year for roses!!! Our gardens are a wonderland of colors and textures.  I am even getting hydrangeas blooming.

Each day that I go out to work in the garden, I come back into the house with arms full of lovely snow balls; lillies; sweet peas; mock orange; lilac; lavender, lamb's ear, Dusty Miller.  I even have Queen's Anne Lace blooming.
The power of the social media is always amazing.  I showed some photos of my own arrangements sitting in the kitchen and people requested some of these farm fresh country bouquets for themselves.

 I believe people are so happy to receive a bouquet that came right from a garden, not a cold storage unit and then to a super market. I think I was just surprised how many people were yearning for flowers this early in the season to put in their kitchens and homes too!

I try to accommodate my customers no matter the day or time, by having the flower items ready when it is convenient for them.  One cute girl wanted a bouquet ready for her on her way home from picking up her kids from school.  Another lady was taking her grand kids shopping in Chico, but wouldn't be going through our town until 6-8pm.  No problem for me, this is our home, we are normally always here to make it happen for them.  She texted and Facebooked me when she was leaving Chico and when she was getting close to our roadside stand.  I put the bouquets out in cute farm style galvanized containers and she is going to drop them back to me another day when she is traveling through our town.

Our little farm has been known for produce for over 8 years now, but I am very happy to see that people are thinking of us more and more for their flower needs also.

My "Learn To Crochet A Rag Rug"class is coming up on Wednesday, full class.  My table is covered with fabric, needles, instructions, cutting boards, cutters and door prizes ready to go.  The day of the class, I always try and have a fresh picked flower arrangment as one of our door prizes for people to take home after the class.  That and a dozen farm fresh eggs.  In our rural environment, people really enjoy and appreciate gifts from people that are hand made, farm fresh, 

Flowers bring everyone so much joy.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring On A Farm - Disking, Mowing, Grading, Raking-Work Work

I ache in every part of my body.  Before and since Easter, the weather has been without rain, the sun has been out and we have had a clear view of what has been happening in the fields.  The weeds are high, the tree pruning are still on the ground, there are piles that need to be mixed in the compost bins, and there are loads of fallen leaves and trees branches still needing to be raked and cleaned up.
Gosh about a month ago, I thought we were ahead of the game.  But the wonderful rain just gave everything a serge of growth.
Frank disked the field except for a huge pile of the larger limbs that could not be run through the chipper.  
I spent a day picking up the last remnants of last years black plastic that came up to the surface after the disking.  I hate that stuff!!!
Frank and I each took a row of trees and picked up all the pruned branches up off the ground and put them into the pile to be burned.  
The last time I raked up some piles, the chickens have since gotten into them and they all needed raking up again.  This time, they got picked up by Frank's John Deere.
And then there is the side yard, out of sight, out of mind.  There are a few very messy and large trees on that side of the house.  A big Sycamore, a Redwood and a Pecan tree with ivy under neath it.  About a month ago, I had started raking and piling and even started to cut back the ivy.  Then the rains came.  But yesterday, I was determined to get it done and I did!!  Sycamore trees are pretty but their branches are fragile and we always get tons of small to large branches that fall.  I think I made 5 Gator full loads to the compost and chipping area just from that section of the yard.  After wards, Frank mowed down all the ivy and it now looks like a whole new area never discovered before on our property.
I have also been working on putting together my next class, the Learn To Make A Rag Rug Class, set for April 20th, 6-8pm.
 I like to provide some supplies so people can learn in the class and then go home and finish their projects that they learned.  I ordered the rug crochet hooks and made some example rugs using a couple different products I want to show people.  
Do you have a huge stash of fabric and don't know what to do with some of those ugly fabrics?  Rag rugs are a great project for that, it is amazing how good some of the weirdest fabrics look in a rug.  And the rug will last a long time, can be washed and can be made into any specific size you want.  Give our farm a call or email to sign up.
My friend Sarah, invited me to take a class with her in Yuba City at a new gift store.  It is going to be so much fun, it is a painting class where everyone in the group paints the same picture.  This picture is going to be of a cow.  It will be interesting to see how other people put on classes so that I can compare it to ours, we always like to improve upon what we do.
Frank is always so clever and talented.  While I was in the house cooking a few afternoons ago, he came into the kitchen to show me something he made, a knife!!!  
It is so beautiful and interesting.  He had a piece of metal and just decided to shape it, then make a wooden handle for it.  After having me try it out in my hand to cut a few times, he took it back to his shop and did a few minor alterations.  The next day, he came out with a 2nd knife he made for his cousin in Los Altos.  She is a keen cook and loves anything Frank makes.  He is always fixing something broken on the farm, it is nice that he took some time to enjoy being creative.  The knives turned out beautiful!!

Next week I hope to have all my dahlias planted along with peppers and tomatoes.  My goal is to have double the amount of flowers I have ever grown this year.
I heard we are going to have some more rain towards the end of the week and it would be great for the plants if I manage to get them into the ground by then.
Enjoy the spring weather.