Friday, January 18, 2013

Even farmers need a little R&R

Geese rise to the sun, top.
Skis sink into virgin snow. above.

The geese were thick across the street, spending the night and most of the day in one of the rice fields. They jabber all night long and you can hear them clearly if you open a door. Sometimes it's even annoying! But when I stopped at the gate, dug out my camera and walked across the street to grab a photo of this amazing assemblage it seemed to interrupt their conversation and the next thing some of them were swirling into the sky. It happens that I was at the gate to head up to the Sierra for a little X-C skiing in Hope Valley, Alpine County. Anyone who enjoys this sport should make this stop and right now there is a very thick blanket of virgin snow accessible up there. If you've never tried it, head up there now, corner of Highways 88 & 89, known as Pickett's Junction. Call ahead to find out conditions. Joyce is the sole operator at 530-721-2015.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Coyote spotting on a frosty morn

Lucy, Goldie and Crooked Tail
Sioux-z let the chickens out early today, barely after sunrise, then came back in to work on some laundry. Looking out the window while folding washcloths, she saw a coyote trotting west in our neighbor's backyard, then all of a sudden it stood still. She called and I came over. It took awhile to spot the wily coyote, who was still motionless. We watched for what seemed like two minutes and the next thing we see is the coyote's hunting partner, further away along a fence line. Eventually the one closest to our chickens headed out toward the other and the immediate crisis was over. Of course, we're wondering how many times that pair of coyotes has passed by without us noticing them. Seems chickens have something in common us: We both live in an uncertain world.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Getting to know you ...

Dew hangs from the front gate. Across the road is an organic rice field.

We've all heard about the Lundberg's. You know, the organic rice-growing family up the valley a bit in Butte County. And who hasn't heard of the Capay Valley, that hotbed of organic growing on the far west side of Yolo? But how many Sacramentans know about the vast organic rice fields of Pleasant Grove? In fact, how many Sacramentans even know where Pleasant Grove is? Yet it is far closer to Sacramento than either the Lundberg Farms or the Capay Valley. It seems the very existence of the area is something of a mystery to most capital residents, even though the city skyline can be seen from some of those organic rice fields. So, do you give up? Pleasant Grove straddles southern Placer and Sutter counties, north of Natomas and Elverta, west of Roseville and Lincoln, south of East Nicolaus and east of the Sacramento River. It's only restaurant, the Pleasant Grove General Store, sits at the corner of Howsley and Pleasant Grove roads. Nothing fancy, but friendly and filling for a fair price. And usually full of farmers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Once upon a time in 2013

Smoke rises from the Roseville cogeneration plant.

Making a farm work can only be described as a labor of love. Or a walk on the wild side. Probably a little bit of both. The land offers many opportunities to apply ingenuity and, in my case last year, plenty of situations in which to learn from failure.
I suppose a cold day in January is an appropriate time to be asking a few questions: What is there to be gleaned from last year's efforts? Will we become officially "organic" this year? Will our crop plan finally be closely followed? Will the greenhouse be rebuilt in time? January may be a month for ordering seed and plotting the spring, but on this farm it is also a month of soul searching and dreaming. So here's to a great year for all and now, please excuse me while I go take a walk ...