Saturday, November 26, 2016

......farewell, it's been eight years

What started out as simple postings for my grand kids....... to follow the progress of a new project....building a farm from scratch.....and then having the postings ended up being a popular blog within the Sacramento Bee online newspaper....is quite amazing. Time has come to stop writing the stories.......the farm is basically finished now. Instead of blogging.....I will be fishing.

This coming year 2017 ....all the hard work of eight years will finally pay off. The orchards have grown from 3 foot tall "whips".......to trees that are now 10 to 14 feet in height. Fruit is borne in vast amounts. All the mistakes of caring for orchards has passed....and boy was there ever a lot of mistakes! We did however make the right decisions of what type of fruit to produce. Plant produce that one normally never finds at the local Farmers Markets.....the supermarkets......nor at the local fruit stands.....thus we have zero competition. Blood oranges are sold out within a few weeks. Pluots....the demand just keeps getting humongous. The figs attract buyers from the Bay area...and then our peaches are grabbed up nearly within an hour of setting up on the sell tables! Boysenberries of all berries....proved to be the best seller of the farm. We have 25 solid crops that yields a high demand.

Our ground crops over the years were plagued with the learning curve of irrigation systems to those damn jack rabbits....all which were resolved with higher learning education :-) and rabbit proof fencing......and having three Aussie Shepherds that enjoyed catching a meal once in a while. Time taught us that growing "salad" vegetables and most squash.....was time consuming and hard to compete with local store prices....which much is imported from cheaper countries such as Mexico. Most squash we grew required too much time educating clients on what it was and how to prepare. 

Now we specialize in melons. Black Mountain and Orange Glo watermelons. Hayle's Best cantaloupes that has old time flavor.....huge in size. Our specially selected tomatoes varieties ....have become a big demand since we harvest only when absolutely ripe......and that is our secret to why our produce has so much flavor...we harvest ripe. Everything on this farm...we harvest ripe. Oh....the lessons we have learned over time.

Social networking .....use of the internet such as Craigslist....blogging....getting involved with the local events is a must for the promotion of a business. I was lucky to have a background in business and with working within the web. Much of this is time consuming...usually at night after a full day in the field. A great web page had to created and maintained ......to great advertisement ....all took takes time....time...and still some more time.

Much of the infrastructure projects are completed.......the farm house is now finished with the upgrades. Fruit stand and the chicken coops are up. Just a few items to do such as finishing the upstairs of our barn...putting up a very large greenhouse. The started installation of a white fence around our barn... pastures and grow fields....to make this joint look more "farm"......will be done at a slow pace.

So...was it worth the hardships....stupid mistakes ....chasing 3 horses down the street whenever they broke a fence....covering citrus trees at two o'clock in the mornings from frost .....?

Hell yes.

Monday, November 7, 2016

.....those attacking glochids

This post is solely dedicated to the victims of a glochid attack. That's right...I am referring to those tiny invisible thorns that are on a so called "thorn-less" cactus pad .....we always get a few of those during embedded into us....during the harvest of prickly pear.

Forget the tweezers....and that magnifying glass with futile attempts to dig out the glochids. Spread rubber cement spread over the injured skin; let dry. Peel the glue off and the spines with it. Dont like that glue idea? Then use a strip of duct tape....place down over the area of attacks...then pull off.

Works like a champ!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

....is it merely another chimera?

GreenWorks 22342 40V 20" Cordless Pole Hedge Trimmer......just saved me a few days of work......and saved me from having to hire some help.

One of the big seasonal worst jobs here at the farm has now become topping off the fruit trees. Weeds are still in first place for worst job. We have over 500 trees on this farm....so one can imagine dragging a tall....heavy...bulky fruit ladder around. Not a lot of fun......and now there is no need for it.

More light....more fruit......is the reason why the trees get topped. However.....my reason is really is this: keep the trees no taller than 7-8 feet to make harvesting fast and easy. Those monster 3 - legged 12 feet high fruit ladders shall not be used on this farm. It takes lot of energy to step up and down all day long......and it takes time to maneuver around each tree. Fact is...many farms have started to plant their trees much closer...yet keeping them shorter. All in the name of saving money.....and perhaps to lower the risk of injury.

I know...you the reader is thinking....."that piece of junk trimmer wouldn't cut a piece of butter on a hot day". Well.......it does! Buzz goes the 5/8 branches with no trouble. This tool has a reach of 12 feet.....and as seen in the posted picture...a flexible arm. Battery life is a strong hour......and that is why you buy an extra one or two batteries. Charge up time is 15 minutes.

For a guy that absolutely hates hard work (me)......this equipment deliveries love!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

.....The Legend of "Stingy Jack"

So.......why do we carve pumpkins...ever wondered that? Farmer Deno had to know...and here is scoop:

The Legend of "Stingy Jack"
People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

Friday, October 21, 2016

.......Insanely fabulous

 This month......it's harvest month for our prickly pear. Dont think for a second that this fruit is "weird". This weekend.....we start making hotcake /waffle prickly pear table syrup. It's like a mild honey flavor. Insanely fabulous.That phony maple syrup you use....is history once you tried pancake /waffle prickly pear table syrup.

Available this coming March.... at our new on line store. There will be prickly pear rock candy, soft candy, concentrate juice and much more cactus products such as our jelly. If you think this is a low end money crop....think again. I encourage the small farmer to research on line.....of the products that are available ....that is made with prickly pear......and the rest of the plant. 
Oil from the seeds......hand lotion from the green pads....burn remedy (like Aloe).... pastries. Much more.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

......siesta time for the employees

It's been a tough work day for the K9 kids. Their job is running off the wild birds that fly into the farm to munch on our fruits. Running off those weird looking cats that sports big ears....aka jack rabbits. Lucky, Black, and Number Four.....they do great work here at the farm.

I suppose their favorite job here is to be the  Farm Ambassadors. We occasionally have farm tours for groups.....and the K9s treats the folks with wagging tails and licking tongues.

No farm should be without a dog or three. Of course.......we had five til last summer.

.....should had done this years ago

If you have followed this blog over the past years.....you would know that we use riding lawn mowers for getting out in the fields. Yes....we have a tow trailer behind for carrying field tools....needs for crop harvesting....transport of harvested crops....and so much more.

The mowers may not have the speed as a quad runner....but does have the power to tow. Also...riding mowers are far cheaper to repair. Not to mention that a quad-runner sells for around $8000.00 .....where the Cub Cadet is $2200.00

Perhaps the biggest advanced is that the visiting family members don't want to "off road" on a riding mower :-) There's another advantage to the mower......it mows! Many times heading out to the fields.....or returning.....we will mow a strip between the orchard trees (or berries). Time saving.

I should have done this years ago....add an tool box and a open carry crate up top of the hood. The tool box is needed.....for the tools slip out of the crate. The crate is great from housing mosquito spray to irrigation repair parts. Life becomes so much easier.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

.....making a gizmo

If you grow any sort of vine type crops....such as berries or grapes....you'll understand this homemade gizmo immediately for it's functional purpose. For about $4.00.....life becomes so much easier on the farm.

Each and every year......farmers train their vines to grow. It's a process that requires lots of pruning and/or tying the vines to a trellis line. Snips and stretch tie vinyl tape is usually used. Snips has a belt holster....the tape has no real good solution to hold it.

By welding a piece of steel re-bar that was bent into a "J" shape...... to a spring loaded one-way latch makes a perfect tape hanger. Simple snap onto your trellis line (steel or other) as displayed.....you now now free to use both hands....and there is no fumbling around looking for the tape. Big time saver. I did after the picture was taken...painted it orange. It was getting "lost" in the vines.

Monday, October 10, 2016

.....we have the best eggs.......hands down!

Our special crop ........very special indeed.....has doubled in size/yield this year. It's a crop that requires very little labor and.......very little water. The thorn-less prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is the perfect plant. You don’t have to water it after the third year......it flowers..... you can eat the pads and the buds..... and it’s evergreen. Plus, if a piece of it falls off onto the ground, it will grow you another plant.

It's harvest time here at the farm.....for the prickly pear fruit. How do we determine when the fruit is ripe? When the birds start pecking away at it! 

 In modern holistic medicine..... prickly pear cactus extract and supplements are used to treat type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, colitis, diarrhea and benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Prickly pear lollipops are sometimes used as a weight loss aid to treat obesity and overweight. The natural extract is a useful remedy for alcohol hangovers, and the plant's gel-like sap is often used as a hair conditioner.

It's amazing that we seem to be the only farm within Sacramento County that grows this perfect crop. Besides all the uses talked about above.......the older ...more mature green pads are processed into chicken feed. That's right....chicken feed!

We have the best eggs.......hands down!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

......the farm is already at work for the Spring 2017

Fall is coming and the farm is already at work for the Spring 2017! Farmer Deno is preparing ground for a new orchard....of a old Turkish variety of "Smyrna" Quince. Makes delicious jellies and pie fillings. Most of you probably never even heard of this fruit. Sort of tastes like a pineapple/pear.

The boysenberry patch is bigger than ever......and it too is expanding. Our fruit stand ran out of berries each weekend (that is good)!

The Blood Plums planted last year produced a few boxes of fruit recently......and according to the folks that were given sample bags of fruit....they were simply the best plums ever! 

Yes....we closed the farm sales a bit early this due to repair all the damage from the broken water piper that bled sand into out driplines, sprinklers, timers, and valves. Two months of repairs....now fully operational. Whew!