Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Frank On Gopher Patrol; Peaches are Almost Ripe

 When we disk up the fields and start watering, we start seeing gopher activity.  Gopher patrol is Frank's main delight but he takes it very seriously.  He is very good at it.  No need to show you the hunting photos so don't be afraid to read on.
Even a few neighbors have asked him over to help them with their gopher problems.  They do a lot of damage and can do it in a very short period of time.  Last year we found them under a couple of trees, one of them was our Mission olive tree.  I kept seeing the mounds all around the tree but we were never able to get them.  This year, the tree has died, I think they ate the roots.
Frank has his gopher tool kit; a 5 gal bucket full of traps, brightly painted sticks (he loops the trap straps to the stick so the gophers don't take the traps down into the hole AND so he can remember and see where the traps are located); some 12" x 12" flat boards; a probe; and  a small shovel I found for him at Harbor Freight.
He first probes with his metal stick to find the main runs.  Then he digs a hole until he finds the "in" and "out" holes and places the traps.  Frank pounds in his painted stake and loops the end of the trap wire to it.  Then he covers the hole with the flat board and puts dirt on top of the wood.
His day begins with checking his traps.  Sometimes, being the great hunter that he is, he brings back the prizes to show me.  I am thrilled, but don't really like that part.  Annie and Bella are more excited than I am.  After each time, Frank fills the bucket with soap and water and cleans the traps.  I am really concerned about gophers this year because we are using the heavy landscaping fabric all over the vegetable gardens.  If a gopher gets under the cloth, I will never be able to get him and he could eat rows of vegetables before we could stop him.  So it is important to get a head start in spring to find their activity early and take care of them.
Boom!!!  The peaches were small and green and this last week several trees started getting darker pink.  As we were on "gopher" patrol", we swung over to a couple of trees and had peach snacks.  Yummy!!!  
All the peaches aren't perfect but some are, so come on over to my roadside stand this week and I will have some out there for you.
Keeping busy here at the Windmill Farm.  What are you up to in your gardens, kitchens, house remodels??  Love to hear about them.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

New Flower Farming Books Worth Reading; Trip to Lighthouse; Vegetable Farmer's Market

I can recommend two farming books I read lately.  Most people read novels or history or romance books.  I read about farming and flowers!!!  The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman. Great book about getting rid of waste on your farm, being smart with your tools, saving time and work.  Deadhead, The Bindweed Way To Grow Flowers by Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston. This book just really appeals to me, the way it was written, size of type, direct and to the point.  It is amazing how this couple took only a few acres and has made it into a huge business with great cash returns.  Not without errors and mistakes which they gladly share.  There are very few resources out there that are so right on point and very refreshing that they are so willing to tell you where to purchase items; what tools are working for them; about marketing your flowers.  I have actually highlighted passages, earmarked pages to show my husband Frank; and read it cover to cover and it is a farming book!!!  I highly recommend both these books to beginner farmers and even long time farmers.
Once a year, my daughter, my grand daughter and several other families (all grandmas/daughters/grand daughters) get together for a women's retreat.  It started several years ago when a friend told me about a trip she made to Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse in Mendocino, California with a few of her girlfriends.
 After her telling me what a special place it was, we decided to book a date for her and her family of girls; and me and my family of girls.
It isn't a cheap place to stay, but with 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and a gourmet kitchen, after splitting the costs, it is well worth the costs.  My friend and I went there for 2 nights, 3 days and had such a special visit, I thought we should do it on an annual event.  The Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse has several whale watching and education weekends, for several years we booked our trip around those weekends.
Then one year, the property management said if we all paid cash, ahead of the visit, we could get an additional stay.  That is what happened last year.  This year, with my original friend not coming any longer, we picked up several other families that we all knew each other.  We got the extra day and also decided to pay for an additional day.  
The end result was 4 night, 5 days and believe me, it still isn't enough days to totally enjoy all the beautiful, views and wildlife of this place.

We read together, took lots of walks together, whale watched together, ate fabulous meals cooked by all of us together; watched old movies together; had lots of laughs and a few cries together.  
One of the girls that came with her 12 year old daughter are moving to New Hampshire in a few months and she has been going with the group several years.  
While standing at dusk over looking the ocean with all the kids playing on the rocks and the rest of us watching the beautiful water and skies, it all just got to her, leaving her friends and family.
 but with much support and love from everyone, she recovered and we made plans to visit New Hampshire next year.

We saw whales with their babies and mother seals with babies in the calm inlet waters.
When I got back, Frank and I had a Wellness/Health Farmers Market School events to do.

And I also had a few flower requests.  Things are never dull here at Windmill Farm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother's Day Flowers; Crocheting Jar Cozies; Farm Injury; School Farmer's Market

I have been a little MIA-Missing In Action for a week, but I am back.  I decided to use the cloudy and rain time we had for a few days to make some flower arrangements for Mother's Day-at my roadside stand and to fill a couple Facebook orders that came in. And pick a few handfuls of cherries before the rain.  Bad year for cherries, unfortunately!!!

I am going to keep this post brief because of my 2nd thing that happened to me this last week.  I planted and planted a whole day and was dead tired.  But on my list of things to do, I needed to lay out one last piece of landscaping fabric over the end section of the peppers-that I just planted.  I found a shorter piece, put it down, got my 6" landscaping pins, scissors and went to work.  It was a bit breezy, so
I pulled on one end where there was already a landscaping pin on the last piece, where I wanted to match up, to put it through both layers.  Pulled it up, held the fabric with my left hand, whacked the pin with my right hand.  The pin bounced as whacked and it went right through my index finger clear to the ground.  I couldn't get my finger out without pulling up the pin and then pulling the pin out of my finger.  It wasn't easy because I thought I was going to pass out.
Luckily, I happened to have a dish cloth in my gator so I wrapped the hand up, rounded up Frank for support and went into the house to view the damage.  Oh did I mention it was Sunday, Mother's Day?  I soaked it, cleaned it and bandaged it up.  Since the pike went clear through the finger, it did help to heal.  So being the brave woman, I opted to not go to emergency ward but wait until the next day.
It is this time of year when our Windmill Farm is asked to put on our Farmer's Markets for the PTO groups at schools.

Tuesday was our school event in Placer county and it went pretty well.  Amazingly for this early May, we were able to put on a very nice spread for the Teachers and Staff at the Bowman School in Auburn.

Luckily, my flower orders have been coming in with the use of social media with Mother's Day.  I received an order for 6 floral bouquets for a funeral and had to fit in a visit to the doctor.  Oh yes, my finger did start healing but then it got purple and the swelling had not gone down after a few days, Frank insisted I go  He scared me into realizing what hurting a finger can mean.  So in between weeding, watering, mowing the lawn, making the flower arrangements, I fit in time to get cleaned up to go to the doctor.
Some fun projects I have been working on-Crocheting covers for jars.

Once I get started, I get obsessed and I am trying out using help, jute, plastic twine, yarn with each one looking different.  They look so good with candles in them and I hope to use them for weddings, events, sell or gifts.
Life is good, busy (except for my finger) here at Windmill Farm.

PS-Bella got shaved for the summer and a new dog!!