Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sometimes You Just Have To Go For It!!!

Frank fell not only once, but twice about 2 months ago.  He is the big strong guy who can do anything and spends most of his days building things or repairing things.  He is one of those gifted people that can design a patio cover, figure out what he needs in the lumber; builds it and paints it mostly by himself.  Then he can repair my dishwasher; do all the tractor work on the farm; restore his old 1957 Jeep truck; fix a friends 1970s window moldings in his car; the list is endless.
So when he slid on the wet concrete floor in his shop and pulled something very serious, he couldn't believe how little he could do without pain.  We did the gambit of doctor appointments, xrays, specialist.  It was really worry-some to think he may have cracked or broken his hip.  In the end, luckily it was a very severe pulling of muscles and tendons that just needed rest, ice and medication to heal.
I guess what it did to both of us, is show us that we aren't young chickens (rooster) any longer; that our property keeps us busy every single day, physically and what would happen if one of us couldn't continue to work?  Frightening thoughts because we both love what we do and love the life we have selected for this phase of our senior lives.
He is recovering, not 100% but he is now back in his shop doing small projects but learning to rest when his hip starts hurting.  He has been on his tractor a few times, mainly because he says it doesn't hurt that much to just sit and disk the field.  And he has mowed the back side field area several times that he started watering and grooming since last year.  It now looks like a golf course.  They may be weeds but it looks beautiful!!.
My main point about this all is I have worked all summer to really have a spectacular flower garden to cultivate my expanded flower business, with Frank's help.  It seemed that August was a perfect time to open up my gardens to classes and tours.  So I scheduled 2 classes in August. The first one was right after he fell and I wasn't having very many people sign up for it.  If anyone has ever been in business will know, you never can predict the public.  But it seems that once kids start back up to school, everything dies down.  
Possibly because families have so much to plan for; so many items to purchase-school supplies, school clothes, still paying for their last vacation before school starts.  Whatever it is, I just decided to cancel the class.  I needed Frank's help to finish up a few projects before the class and he couldn't get to them.  All the apples started falling on the ground so the orchard looked a mess.  And just before
Frank hurt himself, he took every single thing out of the garden shed and riped up the floor.  Water had gotten under the floor and it was becoming unsafe.  But that meant every tool, every rototiller, ever sprayer, every can, ever clipper, every-well, everything was all out in the side yard and it looked like we were going to have a yard sale!!.
My sorting/floral design shed is next to the garden shed so of course, it bothered me to have all that stuff out if I was going to have a farm tour and floral arranging class.
As my 2nd farm tour and flower arranging class date loomed closer, I thought, well, I may have to cancel this one too.  Frank was lots better but the garden shed was still in the same state.  I did get all those apples sorted and raked up, it nearly killed me without Frank's help.  I did get all the weeds pulled in the gardens, only by getting up earlier in the morning to get an extra hour in out back before it got too hot.  I did get the lawns mowed; I did get the sorting/design studio cleaned up.
But then, I only had 2 people signed up for the class.  Bummer, what was the problem??  If there was a flower farm near me, you can bet I would be signed up to take a tour and flower arranging class!!! I started to doubt my new business venture for 2016.
I read on a Facebook flower page about a girl in Washington State that just had her first flower farm open house and sold 40 flower bouquets and had a flower arranging class.  She used the Facebook "Boost" to advertise.  I messaged her about more information.  She helped me out but stated she only had 4 people signed up for the classes but decided since she went to all the trouble, went ahead and had the open house.  She was so glad she did, she sold all those bouquets to people touring her farm and got the word out in her area about what she did..
I decided to Just Go For It!!!  The property is never, really perfect, there is always something out of place or something that needs to be done. Even if there is only 2, those people have been planning to come for a month, a Mother/Daughter couple who were very, very excited to take the tour and class.  In fact the mother drove from Fresno for the weekend so she could attend.
On Facebook, I went for the added "Boost" about 5 days before the class.  Hit the social media and made plans on what I was going to do.  Frank helped as much as he could.  
Three days before class, someone called asked if there was still room!!! Heck yes.  Two days before the class, another person asked if they could come, they just heard about it.  You bet!! One day before the class, another person called to attend; The class started at 10:00am on Saturday.  
At 9:00 am, another person, a friend of someone who called the day before asked if she could come too!!
So in the end we had 7 people and it was a blast.  Everyone had so much fun, they got to cut hydrangeas and green fillers; pick their vases; learn about making flower arrangements; picked dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, echinacea, gueen's anne lace, celosia and more from the flower gardens.  

Each person left with a couple of bouquets, new friendships and a new love of our Windmill Farm.
See, sometimes you Just Have To Go For It!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Anniversary Flowers; Crochet Class A Winner

I was asked to do flowers for a one year anniversary party.  The invitation stated "help us celebrate one year of marriage and 157 years of birthdays".  Isn't that cute?  I love, love stories that happen late in life.  
I do not know Mel, the husband well, but I do know that my friend, the bride, her first husband died several years ago and they had a long and happy life together.  
All the time I knew her, she was a busy, busy single lady working for our local city government and was also Mayor of the town.  She is still busy, but now she has a loving husband to be with her wherever she goes.

She wanted the flowers to look similar to the ones I did for her wedding.  I went back into my photos to see and tried to do similar but even better!!!  

She has been so supportive of our farm from the very beginning when I started and it was a real honor for her to ask me to do the flowers for this one year anniversary.
They were fun to do because she likes all the colors I like too.
You will notice my green chalkboard.  It is an old school one and has a ledge at the bottom for chalk.
I had lost it for almost 6 months and finally located where I last left it at a Wellness/Farmer's Market job.  I am so glad to have it back, it is one of my favorite chalkboards that I use for our produce sales and flowers.
After my flower order, I had a "Learn To Crochet A Granny Square-It Isn't For Grandmas Any Longer"-class.  There is a great deal of preparation to my classes that most people don't even realize.  I have to make sure I have patterns; all the supplies needed like crochet hooks, yarns, instruction materials, comfortable setting; food; good lighting.  There is always a little nervousness just before the class as I want to make sure my students get their money's worth and have a good time too!!!  But what a great group of people that attended, so excited to learn.  

This class, I decided to try and keep everyone at about the same level as we learned how to crochet the first row; then the second row, etc.  I think sometimes if someone has a little more ability or skill, they move ahead faster than the rest.  And some people feel that they may not be capable to do the tasks.  
Almost everyone finished a good sized granny square and by their last round, they weren't even paying attention to the pattern.  As it happens to me, when I teach the classes, I sometimes forget to take photos.  So I only have pictures before anyone arrived.  Boo hoo.  Maybe when a few students finish up their projects, they will send me pictures of their finished work and I will post in another blog.

This year I decided to enter a few of my flowers in our local county fair.  I am almost embarrassed to say I am in case I don't even place.  How can a flower farmer not even win a flower show??? So there it is, it is out there, I will have some of my flowers on display next week.  I hope I can report a 3rd or 2nd place in a couple divisions.  We shall see, it has been so darned hot, everything is really struggling, even the sun flowers have some droop.
I hope you have been having fun in your 2016 summer. Leave comments if you are enjoying the blog.  Love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Apricots Cut and Dried in the Sun; Slicing, Dicing Apples to Dry In The Dehydrator

Summer time fun with the grand kids this last week.  It was a "BIT" cooler, in the middle 90 degrees instead of 104 degrees!!!  It starts up slow, but by 2:00 p.m. everyone moves inside.
Our everyday work is, most of the time, fun by our grand kid's point of view and by many people who come visit the farm.  The crops and animals on the farm dictate what happens each day, along with the weather.
Celli, our daughter, son-in-law Chris and the kids helped cut apricots the first of the week they were here.  Then the parents left and we had the grand kids Carli and Collin for the rest of the week.
We have a couple of late summer apricots that were picked a few days before they got here, so we decided to have a family cut the cots afternoon.  After filling up all the trays, we put them into the box that Frank made with wheels, we did a light smoking of sulfur (an old family recipe and tradition for keeping the color and preserving them) and then out into the sun for about 3-4 days.
The last of the BOZZO peach trees were ripe and ready to pick.  We call them BOZZO trees because a neighbor farmer named Mr. Bozzo and his son, Matt Bozzo asked us if we wanted some small peach trees to plant. The original old peach tree had been in their old farm for years but was dying.  The family took grafts and planted seeds to start other trees like this old cling peach tree.  They had several left over from planting what they needed.  We said YES!!  This is year 3 and each tree is loaded with a light pink almost yellow outer skin.  Very little pink on them.  Carli and I picked two trees, I picked the last 2 trees early this morning.  Summer mean Frank and I eat fresh cut up fruit almost every night with our dinner.  Peaches, strawberries, applies, blackberries are a staple with an occasional cantaloupe and watermelon. Yum Yum.
The apples have been dropping like crazy.  I never seem to have the time to thin those trees out so when the wind comes up, nature does the thinning for me, but leaves a bunch of apples on the ground.  We used to have a friend that raised pigs so he would come and get the grounded apples.  They have to be raked up before picking, otherwise you end up slipping and landing on your back.  It is like roller blading apples!
Carli, Collin and I sliced apples also this week to be dried in the dehydrator.  We had a bath of lemon juice to keep them from browning; and another bath of water, cinnamon and a little bit of sugar.  I used the sugar
because we were drying Granny Smith apples and they are bitter.  I did the slicing because it is dangerous for little fingers, they did the dipping and placing out on the shelves to go into the dehydrator.
The next morning, they were perfect, like apple chips.  I picked tomatoes, a special order for a customer while Carli picked up all the dried apples and put them into plastic bags.
Then Collin, Carli, Frank and I went out to check on the cots.  They were perfectly done in the sun.  So we all pulled up the cots from the wooden trays and also put them into plastic bags.  Sometime this week,  I will weigh and put both the dried apples and cots into smaller bags to sell here at Windmill Farm.
Each night, as the temperatures got cooler and the sun was going down, we all went back out to the fields for some evening fun.  The kids are old enough now to drive the Gator's by themselves.  Since we have a his and hers Gators, each one was able to drive around the property while I did some evening weeding and watering in the garden.
Then when it was very dark, we moved into the center of our field that isn't planted to shoot off these lighted,
whistle, slingshot rockets.  I randomly threw these into my cart at Target the other day because they looked like fun, "rockets" "LED lights" makes noise all elements for fun in a night sky. Well they have proved to be great, great fun for several nights in a row.  We started out sending them up in the lawn, but they kept getting into the big Maple tree. The package says they will go up 120 feet and they do!!!  
We took our cell phones out into the field for another treat.  Star gazing.  Our phones have an app that when you point it into the sky, it will outline the stars and planets, and give you information about them.
One really weird and interesting thing it also does?  Tells you the plane identification number when a plane flys by too.  
I guess the biggest reward is when your grand kids say that they don't want to go home.  Frank and I sure enjoyed their visit and miss them now that they are gone home.  Can you believe it?  Next week school starts for them, unbelievable.  The school systems have ruined summer vacations, what ever happened to schools starting AFTER LABOR DAY in September???
Hope you are having fun this summer too.