Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's A Great Time For Farming!

The sun is beginning to peak through the mist. I have 85 artichoke plants sprouted (of 300 planted) and will order more seed today.

The vernal pond on my property is beginning to form: I can now chart where the low spots are because they are filling up first. Last year, it attracted ducks, geese and egrets at various times. I was really worried because this pair of mallards -- obviously deeply in love -- were spending one heck of a lot of time and I was worried they would try to raise a family there only to find that it would all dry up about mid-April. Then what would the little ducks do? They must have been empty-nesters. Perhaps I should name it "Golden Pond" in their honor.

Well, time to get out and do something!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Farmer For All Seasons

Who said farmers take the winter off? I've got onions to get in the ground and a thousand things to do. But another priority rose up yesterday afternoon: Getting that dead skunk off my road! A car hit it right in front of my place and my wife, the ever lovely Sioux-z, and I were smelling the little critter off and on all night. It wasn't till the next morning that Sioux-z found out what happened, and I didn't find out till almost midday and after thinking about this dead skunk in the middle of my road (literally, right on the broken white line), I decided to move it because surely more cars would run over it and more choking stink would invade my nasal passages. So off I went in search of a plastic bag. As I bent down to pick up the poor creature I was impressed by its fur: soft and dense as a cat's or even a mink. I felt sorry for it. But yet I didn't want to touch it. I tied the bag and then added another, then put it in a plastic bin with a lid near the garbage can. Later, I smelled it again. Now the bin sits near the front of my place, away from the house near the barbed-wire fence, waiting for Sunday to be thrown in the trash. An ignominious end to the little creature.

Well, time to go plant onions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Going Backwards To Move Forward (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Ubuntu)

Went  to a get together in South Sacramento yesterday afternoon of people interested in improving access to healthy, fresh foods in that area. Sponsored by a group called Ubuntu Green. I figured Ubuntu Green was a person and at first I even thought I met him at the conference but that turned out to be incorrect. I thought I was meeting Alvin Ubuntu Green.  But it actually was Alvin of Ubuntu Green. Ubuntu, it turns out,  is a South African term used to denote how people depend on each other to build their future and generally get along in this life and this group has applied the "ubuntu" concept to "green" goals, thus the name of their organization. They are gathering people together to try to gel some kind of plan for making South Sacramento a healthier place for the people who live there. Their challenge is getting the people who live there to buy into the concept that something can be done and then encouraging them to do it. I wish them great success.

I, for one, would sure like to be a part of their vision. I dream of driving a truck filled with my heirloom veggies from street to street in that neighborhood, selling great produce and maybe even some other staples, like milk and eggs and bread, to residents at a reasonable price, competing with all the fast food outlets selling overpriced and unhealthy, but tasty, junk food. Mine would be a rolling farmers market, if you will. Something to help people back into a world where we make our own food from raw materials.  And where everything we eat doesn't have to be peppered with preservatives and sealed in a hard-to-open plastic bag for extended shelf life. To some people it may sound like going backwards in time but it is my belief that sometimes we must go backward to go forward. And this is one of those times.

I noticed this in a conversation with a person from the Sacramento City Unified School District: She said their kitchen help is used to getting everything ready to go: Open a bag of perfectly clean lettuce and voila, a salad. Etc. Etc. Buying from small farms would mean having to clean lettuce, wash potatoes, scrub carrots. How could they do it? Although sharing, and promoting, the Ubuntu Green vision, she knew it would be impossible to wash lettuce and scrub potatoes in a kitchen that puts together lunches for 700 with a staff of four (full and part-time). And she is right! My thought: they need more employees! Work is good! The extra employees would earn money and spend it in OUR community. And small scale is better than giant corporate farms. The profits of giant corporate farms end up far from here and I suspect whoever cleaned that lettuce or potato for the giant corporate farm got minimum wage and no health insurance. It may even have been a machine, not a human. And sure, the farm may be in Coachella or Kingsburg or Kern, but the corporation is probably based in Delaware! The owners and stockholders reside far away in huge houses behind locked gates. Why give them all the profits? We have people right here in River City who need jobs and health insurance. If you ask me, every bag of fumigated, perfectly clean lettuce we buy reduces our ubuntu, if only a little tiny bit.

Have a great day!

Winter's coming on strong and so are my thoughts about the spring

I'm hoping to have delicious artichokes by mid-May, along with Fava beans, onions, shallots, beets and radishes. Maybe some potatoes, too. And a limited supply of blackberries. Probably have a little chicory, too, along with some other greens. Rapini, anyone? Maybe I'll really get the roadside stand going next spring. That would be fun!

The cold weather kind of slows me down and turns my brain to thinking: What about changing the name of the business? I have some ideas for a new name and they all have "farm" in the title. If I make a change, it would be to my little plot of increasingly organic soil a name. Something to reflect the love of the land and the creatures that dwell thereon, of which there are many.

Accepting all suggestions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's the time of the season....

Funny how time changes everything. My many tomato plants that were struggling in the heat of August ago are perking up a little now with the cooler evening weather to encourage them on. It's all for naught, however, as the fruit they set at this stage of the game will never have a chance to ripen. But if the energy arises in me, they will make good tomato relish.

In another part of the garden, some 150 tomato plants didn't go into the ground until July 1 are now in a race with nature to deliver their bounty before cool weather thickens the skins and mushes the flesh of their ripening fruit. Some have already won this race but others appear to be in a dead heat with Mother Nature.

The fall comes on cruelly: As the weather cools, pests multiply more quickly and plentifully. Witness the fruit flies exploding upon a split tomato or the white flies multiplying under the spreading leaves of zucchini, which are also fighting a losing battle against powdery mildew. And the stately okra plants, some now seven-feet tall, are beset with aphids on the youngest flowers, something that didn't happen a month ago when the days were longer and hotter and the nights stayed in the 60s.

Summer is losing it's battle. I just hope it will put up the good fight until Nov. 1 .....