Friday, July 25, 2008

Music Hath Charms... soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

Written by William Congreve (1670-1729) for the first act of his play, The Mourning Bride, this statement still rings true.

I have had a piece of music that I "play" to myself when I seek peace and tranquility. Absentmindedly I search my I-tunes library looking for it, always hoping to find it and then I realize it is not there.

When I was in 9th grade, my father bought a record of Spanish guitarist, Andres Segovia. It was called, Platero y Yo. The first song of this collection is what I have played over and over again in my head for most of my life. The song is: Platero y yo, Opo. 190, I.Platero. I, like the trusting and foolish teenager I was, let a friend borrow the record 30 years ago and never saw it again. Not only that, I could never find that record in the stores.

My father took me to see Segovia perform, just the two of us. It was such a beautiful experience and a happy one for Segovia. He had just turned 80 AND had JUST fathered a child. Needless to say, I never forgot any of that night.

After years of singing/replaying these pieces in my head, today I found a collection of his on I-tunes and downloaded it.

I am sitting here, listening to Segovia's playing, typing away, and feeling very "blissed out". Que Tranquilo!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Green Kitty

Our dear kitty, Julian, aka J-Boy, Sputnik, Gray, loves to eat greens. He will eat cabbage, lettuce greens out of the salad spinner, celery leaves out of the grocery bag, whatever he can sink his teeth into. He is a salad opportunist.

I caught him today happily munching away, like a little happy bunny, on the newly picked lettuce we just brought home from our third farm site, the Ruff Garlick Patch.

Daddy/Farmer Jeff doesn't know that Julian ate a little before he don't tell him, okay?

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Real Cost of Organic Produce

We grow produce organically. We are not certified as an organic producer, however, we follow all of the same rules of pesticide control (natural/insecticidal soap) and fertilizer (natural/fish emulsion) that certified organic farms use.

Farmer Jeff and I repeatedly hear, while selling at Farmers Markets, that the produce sold at said Farmers Market is expensive. Not only is this a "probably won't break even this year" endeavor (land cost, materials cost, labor cost, fuel cost) but "we" farmers sell our produce for less than what SAFEWAY is charging!!!

Tonight, just for comparison (and to counter all of the folks that complain about the prices!) we went in Safeway grocery store to price the produce.
Organic Swiss Chard: $2.89 per bunch. We charge $1.50 per bunch. The difference? Ours weigh exactly the same and were grown no more than 4 miles away. They are also picked and sold on the same day.
Organic Tomatoes - Standard Variety: $4.99 per pound
Heirloom Tomatoes: $6.99 per pound.
Eastside Farm Tomatoes: $3.00 per pound; we pick and sell on the same day
Non-Organic Nectarines: $2.00 per pound, same price as our...but we couldn't give them away. No one was interested.
Non-Organic Cucumbers: $1.00 per cucumber, same price as ours, but ours are organic.

So, now I know what people will pay if they buy it at the regular grocery store. I can only guess that those complaining at Farmers Markets just don't pay attention to the prices in the stores.

There are so many great reasons to buy from Farmers Markets:
  • The produce is picked at its peak.
  • The food is grown on a small scale
  • You can support your local farmer
  • The food is grown locally (usually! Be sure to ask where the farm is!)
  • Less gas is used to transport the food than if grown out of the area
  • More varieties are available of each food group because mass produced produce only uses a few varieties due to "heartiness" or decent if picked while green.
We hope to see you at Market! Happy Tuesday! (Bring your own bags!)

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Proustian Moments at Farmers Market

French author, Marcel Proust, wrote a twelve volume novel, Remembrance of Things Past. In this novel he is transported from his dull life and connected to pleasures of life as well as forgotten memories because his mother gave him a cup of tea with a madeleine almond cookie.

Working in the food business for many years, and now as a purveyor of fine fruits and vegetables, I am the happy recipient of peoples own Proustian moments.

Yesterday, while at the Windsor Farmers Market, a gentleman came to our booth in search of rhubarb. This is not a usual request. It so happens that at the Ruff Patch, growing right now, is a big green rhubarb plant and a couple of small red rhubarb. I told him about these plants, fully expecting that he would NOT want the mature green kind. Surprise! He does!

He started to tell us a story of summers at Grandma's farm, where he would go out in the field with the rhubarb, taking with him a knife for cutting the rhubarb and a shaker of salt. He would sit on the ground, take the stalk of cut rhubarb, sprinkle it with salt and then suck on the stalk. This, for him, looked like heaven. He was transported to that moment while standing in front of us.

I alternately felt like a voyeur and an honored recipient of his memory. I will share more of these Proustian moments as I receive them. Feel free to post your own!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 14, 2008

Farm Video

How crazy are we? We are so crazy that we are farming on 3 different properties! This is a video of our third and largest farm plot. It is at the house of our friend, Larry Ruff, so it is called, "the Ruff Patch".

We are growing all kinds of vegetables and fruit there, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, over an acre of corn, rows of basil, arugula, Italian parsley, baby pumpkins, butternut squash, cucumbers, drying beans (Jacob's Cattle), watermelon, peaches, pears, plums, pluots, apricots, apples, grapefruit, lemons and other things I know I am forgetting!

We are having fun!!!

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farmers Markets

Here we are at the Farmers Market in Healdsburg on Tuesday night. This past Tuesday was "fry an egg on the sidewalk" kind of hot. I was wicked cranky until Farmer Jeff brought me several cold glasses of water!

We are now selling: bright lights Swiss chard, collard greens, 9 kinds of summer squash, pickling and Armenian cucumbers, and, drum roll please, TOMATOES!!! As of tonight, we have not found any "large" ripe tomatoes, still selling green tomatoes and giving away recipes for fried green tomatoes.

We are delighted to have 16 different kinds of "cherry" or little tomatoes such as: Matt's Wild Cherry, Cheeseman's, Sprite, Sweetie (my current favorite), Mirabell, Yellow Marble, Snow Queen, Black Cherry, Brown Cherry, and Isis Candy, among others.

Getting ready for market takes a couple of hours. First I collect eggs and wash them all, dry them, package them (of course they are color coordinated!) and then label them. Then we pick squash (all nine kinds!), pick tomatoes, check the okra to see if we have any ready, pick Armenian cucumbers, pick pickling cucumbers and then on to the raised beds for chard and collards.

I kinda blew it yesterday. I sprayed the chard and collards with an insecticidal soap which also contained garlic and a little peppermint oil...After I had completely emptied the bottle I read the directions, "apply at dusk for slow drying". GREAT...well, today I see that it completely burned the chard. They will still taste good, but I can't sell them at market tomorrow. Sigh...
(This is a picture of last Sunday's market in Windsor)

We pick the chard and place it directly into an ice chest with ice and cold water. It really helps the greens to stay crisp. Once we have picked everything we bring it into the house and package it or carry it directly to the old truck.

Today I did a little cleaning of the garage to gather a "kit" for market which included bungee cords, tape, zip ties, scissors, water cups, our market sign, rubber bands, and whatever else will fit into the kit.

We love selling at Farmers' Markets. I have made friends with the people we meet at market, going so far as to invite a woman I met last week to join my knitting group! I look forward to seeing the families out for a stroll, engaging people in conversations about our colored eggs, our beautiful produce and just saying hi. If it weren't for the space age blue tooth phones in every other persons ear, I can almost feel that I have traveled back in time to simpler days, days of locally grown produce and folks that know the farmers that grow their food.

Wait a minute...that is what has happened!!! Yeah!!!

One of the fun markets of the week takes place on Tuesdays in Healdsburg. It has the added benefit of being the social event of the week for our little town. Through the summer on Tuesday nights from 6-8 pm, there is a concert in "the Plaza", a.k.a. our town square. One night it might be jazz, another night swing music or big band or blues. No matter what, the square is filled with families and friends out enjoying life.

Thursday night in Windsor is a very relaxed market. Entire families turn out for time together. There is an area for kids to play, a band playing, every other Thursday night there is even a classic movie shown. Once again, we get to see familiar faces. Last year I watched a posse of girls that hung out together, this year they have discovered make up and boys and don't hang out together. Pregnant women last year now pushing strollers, kids growing up, and some folks not with us any more.

This is our life. It is a full, rich and wonderful life. I am thrilled to be living it to its fullest!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eastside Farm Girls at Play!

It was such a gorgeous day yesterday that I just had to let the girls (and guys) out to play! They LOVED the grass and picking around in it gave them such joy!

I had to laugh when Tyner ran over to me, asking for more of her special food. I swear that girl eats a LOT! She had such fun running around.

I also couldn't help myself. I am (shhhh!!!) so in love with our rooster, Eric. I followed him around and took several pictures of him. I think this is the cutest one...

We are selling eggs now at 3 different Farmers' Markets and find ourselves running out before we are out of customers. We also heard that our favorite live chicken store had in a fresh shipment of chickens, so Farmer Jeff and I EACH bought 3 chickens that are due to start laying in 4-6 weeks.

We ended up with 2 Red Sex Links (they were bred with White Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds), that are red with white tail feathers and 4 Rhode Island Reds that are red with black tail feathers. You may recall the movie we had for the new nesting boxes where Ruby couldn't make up her mind which box was perfect. Ruby is a Rhode Island Red.

When the chickens are out of their pen, the dogs are either locked up in their pen or in the house. Let me tell you, it was not a perfect arrangement for them. To add insult to injury, Ginger has taken over one of their favorite sleeping spots.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I leave you with a picture of the new "Queen of the Dog Bed".

Labels: , , , , ,