A stroll into fantasy

I love walking in the forest on a crisp morning. Birds singing and bugs humming, early sunlight filtering through the the luscious shades of green, accenting the dark and sturdy tree trunks reaching out of the fertile ground. The light scent of ferns and wildflowers intermingled with musky wafts of composting leaves and rich soil… I breathe in deeply and release any tension as I take in the beauty and continuity of nature, of life, really.

Thoughts, worries, doubts, regrets vanish as I see potential for play all around. An old stump rises out of the ferns. Roots above ground form a cave, and at a glance it looks as though a scene for a fairytale… I stand and watch waiting for the slightest hint of movement suggesting I stepped into a different world of magical creatures. I imagine tiny fairies and unicorns and sourcerers… For a moment I wish to live in that world. Just a tiny figure disappearing among ferns and stems without making a sound, safe from the pressures of life.

And for a moment, as I gaze into the tree tops high above me, I realize I am that tiny figure, surrounded by a world much bigger than the everyday woes and duties we call reality. A world full of possibility and opportunity and freedom. 

Farm Fresh

There is nothing better than farm fresh.  Here is such a good meal in one “small” batch… Just add chicken breast or bacon or trout… Yum.

I love raising colorful food. And flowers. And this year I have a thing for purple… From purple peppers to purple poppy, things are just looking gorgeous. Hmm… Wonder if there are chickens that lay purple eggs 😉

Beautiful Food

There is nothing as gratifying as a bowl of beautiful food. A work of art created in collaboration with mother nature.

Running my CSA by myself, without hired help, has its challenges and rewards alike. Some tasks seem daunting, like planting countless flats of seedlings by hand, trellising 250 tomato plants in a hot hoophouse, or pulling weeds out of rows and rows of lettuce, spinach, carrots and so on.

But the rewards are plenty. There is the quietude and serenity of my communion with nature. No noisy tractors or machinery to disturb the harmony of birds singing along with the breeze playing in the trees and grasses all around me.

And of course there is the deliciousness of picking the fresh, plump squash, huge buttery lettuces, colorful duck egg sized radishes and bunches of lush and crunchy baby spinach… Handsful of green and purple beans, clusters of ripe and juicy tomatoes, aromatic bulbs of fennel… Beautiful food. Fresh, organic, home grown, bursting with flavor and love…

I am proud to say: “Yes, I grow this!”

Grateful for the Rain

Although I have a few less members for my first season than I had hoped and needed in order to hire help, I am enjoying the fact that I can actually skip using the tractor for a lot of the planting and just crawl along the rows on my hands and knees and plant my kale, broccoli, onions, cabbage, squash, beans, celery…(the list goes on…) by hand. Yes it takes much longer, and is much more taxing than with two people riding on the transplanter. But it is also enjoyably quiet and peaceful.

Today we rushed and with Kate driving the tractor and myself on the transplanter, we got in several rows of potatoes and sweet corn before lunch, and then, just in time before the storm hit, got the summer sqash in the ground. The first raindrops fell as we put the tractor in the shed and the tools tucked away. And then it poured. Thank heavens. Because the poor fresh transplants that went in the ground over the past two days looked pretty pathetic sticking out of the hot, dry soil.

With a lot more rain expected the next couple of days, I am quite grateful for the break from kneeling on the dry hard soil, shopping, relaxing and regrouping, and turning my focus to the hoophouses. 

Spring has arrived

The weather continues to get warmer, birds are singing and building their nests, and our greenhouse is filling up fast as we plant our carefully selected seeds and watch as tray after tray sports happily sprouting seedlings. 

Hoophouses are prepared for planting carrots, beets and green beans in a few days… A new deer fence is going up around the garden, and we are getting ready to fire up the tractors and spread that compost,  

Yep, spring is in full swing and things here on the farm will keep moving swiftly from here on out.

Barn Cats

Rural areas have plenty of them. In fact, many farms have large colonies of 30 or 40 or more… Barn cats. Feral cats, mostly. Some fairly friendly and curious.

Every farm I have visited is feeding their cats and cares about them greatly. But because it is costly, farmers just cannot keep up with their vaccinations or, most importantly, getting them all spayed and neutered. 

Sadly, any healthy and happy barn cat population can be decimated in a blink of an eye by only one visit of a passing stray tom that brings in diseases such as feline rhinotracheitis (upper respiratory or pulminary infection), FIV, or feline leukemia which are easily spread by sharing water and food sources. Once infected, treatment, if at all possible, is costly and difficult. The only way to eliminate the virus from the farm is to put down every last cat.

Recently a neighbor’s barn cats have started sneezing and getting runny eyes. A sure sign of rhinotracheitis, caused by the feline herpes virus. I am trying to help catch the sickest so they can get antibiotic shots, and giving L-Lysine in treats and liquid form to build their immune systems and recover.

I am also researching possible forms of antibiotics or other treatments that can be administered in food to reach all the kitties.

Having been involved in animal rescue for a good 20 years in Los Angeles, I feel quite strongly about caring for all animals, even those who are not snuggly and friendly, or in farmer’s terms, useful. They do rely on us.

Together with a friend, and hopefully the support of our local vets, I am working on creating a program to fund and host annual spay/neuter and vaccine clinics, and to make medications and treatment for sick barn cats available and affordable.

Wish us luck, I will keep you all posted on our progress. If you have ideas, connections, or time and energy to help us with this project, please contact me! All support is appreciated.

Purrs!

Winter

It is snowing. I love watching the big flakes swirl and dance in the air and like a glittery powder cover the puffy pine trees and line the bare branches of the giant oaks around the house. It is beautiful for sure. And sitting by a warm fire, sipping hot tea, gazing out the window, I can say I love winter. But it is also harboring a sense of isolation as the below zero temperatures stifle my sense of adventure and activity… 

I started helping out at a neighbor’s horse ranch and there are a couple of unsocialized stud colts I want to work with. But as the only space available is the outdoor round pen, my enthusiasm to spend time with the colts takes the back seat to my desire to stay warm and comfy and dry indoors.

I am longing for milder temperaturs and brighter sunlight to lift my spirits, and for the energy to rise up and take on the world. Luckily the forecast for next week promises milder weather. 

Wishing you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year

May all your dreams and wishes be fulfilled and your resolutions successful.

My resolution is simply to love and appreciate myself and everyone and everything around me a little more today than yesterday, and a little more tomorrow than today… And to live life full of wonder and joy.

Brightest blessings.

Dig a little deeper to have more fun and don’t be afraid to let it show 🙂